During her seventh grade year in her hometown of Zumbrota, MN, Ashley Matthys (now age 24) missed the deadline to sign up for the soccer team. She decided to run instead, sparking a fire of passion for the sport. Now, Ashley is looking forward to her first Madison Marathon this November.
Focal Flame Photography, the official event photography service provider for the 2014 Madison Marathon events, asked her about the Madison Marathon and why she chose this event as her first full marathon race.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How many Madison Marathons have you run?
Ashley: This will be my first! I ran the half marathon in 2013 [and spring 2014]. Now I'm ready to take on 26.2.
FFP: Do you participate in other similar events?
Ashley: I have run the Twin Cities Marathon and the Madison Half Marathon in 2013 [and 2014], as well as the Get Lucky half marathon in Minneapolis this spring. I've run a number of shorter-distance races including the UW Valentine's Day 5K, the Crazylegs 8K, the Color Run, and the Ugly Sweater 5K.
ASHLEY'S PERSONAL STORY
FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Ashley: Once I started running, I never looked back, running cross country in high school and then for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Running has become my getaway, my stress relief. It's how I've met some of my best friends (and my boyfriend!) and the way I've made a lot of my favorite memories.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why do you participate in the Madison Marathon?
Ashley: With a gorgeous view of the lakes and the Capitol, why wouldn't I? Madison has been my home for the past year and a half. It's where I trained for my first marathon. I know the loops around both lakes very well. I've heard great reviews from friends who have run it in the past and I'm ready to try out the course for myself. I'm excited to tackle the full marathon this fall!
FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Ashley: I train and run with Michelle, one of my best friends and a teammate from college, who's now at UW. Training would be so much harder without someone running alongside to help me push through those really hot or really cold days. We've gone on 20+ mile runs, early in the morning and really late at night, and covered miles all over the UW Arboretum, downtown, through campus, and on the East and West side. Running is how I've gotten familiar with the streets of Madison.
I appreciate the people who don crazy costumes for these events and provide much needed comic relief, but I stick to my comfort zone, wearing the same thing for every race - my lucky green shorts (green means go!) and my Luther College Norse alumni jersey.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Ashley: Running a marathon is a blast. 'Fun' might not be the first word that comes to most people's minds when they think of pounding the pavement for hours (more likely it's "painful" or "exhausting") but it really is a great time. After logging countless hours of solitary miles, it's like the whole city shuts down to throw you a big party and celebrate your accomplishment. Spectators are such a crucial part of a race; there's a big running community here and many people supporting the participants.
FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that we should know?
Ashley: I'm planning to run the Boston Marathon in 2015!
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2014. The Fall Half-Marathon and Marathon races will occur on November 9 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.
- interview by Deborah Proctor