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Matthew Luke Meyer: Embrace the Suffering and Remember the Joy

We first introduced our Runners of NYC Podcast listeners to Matthew Luke Meyer in January when he sat down with me and Jeanne Mack for Episode 7 of the show. We shared his story about how he got into running despite little exposure to the sport and shaking off unhealthy habits. Since then, Matt lowered his marathon personal best to 2:39:50 in Boston and has continued to establish himself as a fixture within the New York City running community. On Sunday, he will make his TCS New York City Marathon debut. We decided to shoot him a couple of questions to see how he was feeling ahead of the race.

Runners of NYC: Since we caught up with you on the podcast in January, what have been some of the biggest changes in your personal life and running?

Matthew Luke Meyer: I was was able to make it through a whole year of running injury free! I ran Boston in April and absolutely loved it – so much that I’ve already signed up again for 2020. This summer, I had a lot of exciting shorter races and I had a blast. In some, I melted but had a blast doing it.  I’ve taken on coaching more athletes personally and also taken a more active role at Mile High Run Club and Take The Bridge. So, it’s been a busy few months for sure.

RoNYC: Boston was a breakthrough for you. Take us through that day and how you felt from start to finish?

Matt: It was such an incredible day. Boston is unreal, and I really hope to run that race for many years to come.  Once it got started, we were all thrown a curveball with a 75° day after training all winter in the cold. I knew after the first 5k, plans had to change. The day before my friend, LP, gave me some sound advice that I held onto, “Let the suckers go.” Everyone went out so hard and there was carnage later because of it. I spent a lot of this race just trying to stay smooth and strong, knowing how much of the race was left. Seeing the whole New York City squad at mile 20 gave me legs for the next few miles. I didn’t expect to see so many friends out there. I carried that with me up over Heartbreak Hill. The wheels were definitely coming off for the next few and I had to stop looking at my watch. I definitely let my nutrition and hydration go on that day, so the cramps caught me in a bad way. I shifted to just focusing on getting through one mile at a time and eventually one street at a time. But damn…they mean it that’s there’s nothing like that turn on Boylston. I had totally let go of any time goals at this point, but when I turned the corner and saw 2:38:xx on the clock, I wasn’t about to let that 2:40 mark slip away. I’m really proud of that race and the hard work on a hard day.

RoNYC: What’s the biggest lesson that you took from that buildup that you’re really honing in on for New York?

Matt: It’s never one workout that’s going to make or break your cycle. It’s the consistency of the weeks and months that build-up, both in your fitness and your mind.

RoNYC: So, where is the room for improvement?

Matt: Oh! Everywhere. I’ve been working on becoming less attached to pace and basing it on feel, not being scared to go to a dark place and then have to figure things out.

RoNYC: Toward the end of the episode, you mentioned doing a half Ironman. How’d that go?

Matt: Oh wow! It was honestly a blast! It’s so fun to go into something you have no previous experience in and just see what happens. I’ll definitely keep those going, mostly as a fun thing to break up the training. But I’ve got a feeling I need to make a trip to Kona someday.

RoNYC: How are you feeling for this weekend?

Matt: I’m honestly so damn excited. I’ve been holding out on running the New York City Marathon until I felt I could do it justice. I feel ready to go out there and have a beautiful race.

RoNYC: What does that look like for you?

Matt: A smart, strong, gritty race that I feel proud of. If everything lines up, I’m really hoping to get as close to 2:30 as I can.

RoNYC: What are you looking forward to the most?

Matt: This is the first time my parents are going to see me race. I’m holding onto that till the very end when I have to pour it all, knowing that they’re watching at the finish line. And having the whole New York City running community out there, it’s going to be incredible.

RoNYC: Who else has played a big part in your buildup toward this race?

Matt: My team is always such a huge part of my build-up. All the love for everyone at Streets 101 for their support and friendship. Lisbeth, Wendy and the rest of the family at Custom Performance have kept my wheels on this whole year through a long cycle. But a special shout-out to my guy Greg Laraia. I do most of my training solo, but we worked together for some big runs this summer and having someone there made so much of a difference.

RoNYC: When the going gets tough on Sunday – and this isn’t just for you – what are you going to tell yourself?

Matt: Embrace the suffering and remember the joy. You get to do this.

RoNYC: As a big fan of the elite side of the sport, what are you most interested in on the pro side of the race? You don’t get to find out what happens until you pull into Central Park and the big screen flashes the results.

Matt: I cannot wait to hear about how Geoffrey Kamaworor (2017 champion) and Lelisa Desisa (2018 champion) battle it out, especially with Geoffrey coming off his shiny new half marathon world record of 58:01 from Copenhagen. It’ll be really exciting to see what Jared Ward (2016 U.S. Olympian) can do as well with Boston being such a huge breakthrough race for him. (You can’t discount the fact that there’s a battle of the mustaches between him Jack Rayner.) We’ll see if Mary Keitany can get her 5th win in New York City or if anyone can give her a run for her money. There’s such a solid women’s field that can do it. I’m psyched to see what Desiree Linden, Kellyn Taylor and Sara hall can do. And of course, really amped for some hometown heroes like Roberta Groener and Allie Kieffer.

Thanks to Zach Hetrick for the photo taken from the Chicago Marathon. Follow Zach on Instagram. Listen to his own episode of Runners of NYC.

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