Matt Pelletier, aka Matty P, has set the bar high for road racers in New England over the last decade. In doing so he’s sort of placed the bullseye on his own back and now people are gunning for him. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Matty has responded well and has been able to stay at or near the top of the heap even as the competition has heated up. Now the 4-time Vermont City Marathon champion is once again making the trek to Burlington, VT to try add that 5th VCM title to his mantle.
Before we get to the interview, here are some highlights:
Town: West Greenwich, RI
Originally from: Warwick, RI
College & Year: University of Rhode Island 2002
Club Affiliation: Brooks
Recent Race Highlights: 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier
2014 NU Hartford Marathon Winner
2014 Reykjavik Marathon Winner
Marathon PR: 2:17:02 in 2014 at NU Hartford Marathon
Half Marathon PR: 1:06:11 in 2007 at Philadelphia Distance Run
Other Racing Highlights: 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials Finisher (19th)
4 time VCM Champion (2006-2008, 2011)
Matty clearly is one of the pre-race favorites here. Can he get #5? We shall see…
You’ve run well this winter, but haven’t gotten the wins to show for it (Amherst, New Bedford, JJ Ramble). Does that affect your mindset? What about the finish between you and Doyle at New Bedford? Now that some time has passed, how do you look back on that?
In both Amherst and New Bedford, I tried to run another person’s race and both times I failed. I had no clue what the Amherst course was like. I knew there were hills, but I didn’t know what they looked like. The hardest part was trying to run the downhills at Ashe and Sanca’s pace. They were flying. Serafini was pushing hard early and when the pack made a move, I didn’t cover it. They got about 20 sec on me, and I never got back into it. They lengthened their lead on the dirt/slush road. I have a terrible stride, and running off road surfaces just accentuates how bad it really is. They just kept pulling away. I worked hard to pull them back in after we got back on paved surfaces, and I pulled them within about 10 sec. but I used everything I had left, and when we hit the last hill, they started trying to break each other and when they pulled away, I mentally quit. I was very discouraged by that race. I really thought I could hang with those guys, and they’re just at a different level then I am.
At New Bedford, Lou took it out really hard, and I backed off knowing we were running into the wind, and I wanted to save some for the long downhill stretch. After the hard first mile, I just felt flat. I didn’t feel good at all during that race. I had just accepted getting 4th place and being upset with yet another race. Doyle ended up not really pulling away from me, and then we caught Serafini together and mentally I got back in it. Doyle tried to kick from 6 tenths out and I caught him just before the turn onto the final straight. I knew he would come by me (he’d run an 8:06 3K not long before New Bedford). I’m just surprised I held him off all the way to the line.
James Joyce was the first race I actually felt decent at this year. I knew I would PR since I hadn’t run a 10K since 2002 (Walpole, 31:33). I thought I could get under 31, and on a great day, be closer to 30. The course was hillier than Doyle and I expected, and he had been injured coming into the race. I fully expected him to beat me. At the mile, Sang, Doyle and Adam Pacheck took off. I was fine to let them go. I decided I wasn’t going to run someone else’s race, and I was happy at the pace I was running. As we climbed up through the campus, I caught Doyle and Pacheck and never looked back. My splits were very consistent. I was pretty happy with that race. Sang is just another level at the shorter stuff. I was right behind him at Newburyport 2 years ago, but anything below that, and I’m not even in the same race as him.
You’re in very good shape now, obviously with the marathon focus. Do you feel you’re capable of taking that marathon PR now? Any others?
Not racing well has definitely affected my mindset. I think it’s why I’m giving up on chasing 2:15 at VCM. I’m just not sure I’m there yet.
First you had Zablocki tossin’ around the old Matt Pelletier in the backyard, now you have Eric Macknight tweeting at you something fierce. What’s it like to have these younger guys coming up and so focused on taking you down? Is it flattering, motivating or intimidating (or a combo)?
Eric’s tweets don’t faze me. He’s just a hack trying to make a name for himself by forcing himself into the spotlight. He doesn’t understand what hard work is, so he’s trying to piggyback off of my success. It’s sad really.
— Emac (@Emacknight) April 30, 2015
Now Zablocki throwing a rock…that’s intimidating. He’s a guy with some real talent, and a work ethic.
What’s more important to you, getting the A standard or the win?
I’d like to get the A standard, but the winter training didn’t go as well as I hoped. With the new house stressing me out, the win is the most important. I’ll probably be too conservative for the first few miles to be able to get the standard, but I’ll still try to run as fast as my body will allow once we get rolling.
What keeps bringing you back year after year?
I keep returning to VCM every year because it’s such a quality race. The course is fair. It’s not difficult at all, but it’s not a super flat course either. The city of Burlington is great, and the whole city comes out to support the race. It’s a spectator friendly course, and the people are pretty knowledgeable about who the front runners are. The paper profiles them the day before, so people are cheering for you the whole way. The race organizers really know how to put on a quality event. Every aspect of the race goes above and beyond. So many people on that committee put their heart and soul into making this race successful. Jess, Jen, Joe, Lyman, and Zeke are people I consider friends who I only get to see once a year, and not just race organizers. I feel like this race is New England’s best kept secret. The relay had to go to a lottery system because it’s so popular. At the end of the day, you’re on the UVM campus, in beautiful Burlington, on Memorial Day weekend. What’s better than that?