Matt Hanson finished 6th at Ironman Texas despite 2 flat tires during the bike segment. But a 2:41:38 run helped this former wrestler and relatively new triathlon Pro to save his day and find the limelight. We then reached out to him to have a few words with him.
Slowtwitch: Hi there Matt.
Matt Hanson: Thank you for reaching out to me - it is definitely an honor. I am a big Slowtwitch fan.
ST: Instead of this interview, maybe we can just have a wrestling match?
Matt: Sounds good, I’m in. Think we could make a buck or two selling tickets? Maybe turn it into a charity event?
ST: Well, I just knew that you wrestled in college. I actually have no such skills or agility.
Matt: Good, it would be a short match then.
ST: Would that even be a challenge for you?
Matt: That depends on what you weigh. You know, come to think of it, if you are out of my weight class, I better get permission from the coach that handles the wrestling side of things for me, The Real Starky. Maybe you’ve heard of him, he’s kind of a big deal.
ST: I have no idea what you are talking about, but I am 6’2” and weigh 186 pounds.
Matt: Hmmm, we might need to talk to The Real Starky then.
ST: Did you run much in college and before?
Matt: I have run my whole life. It used to be a way for me to spend time with my dad. He would come home from work and we would go on a run together. When I was in elementary school, I would run with him during his warm up. Once I got into junior high, the roles reversed. I ran cross-country and track in both high school and college, but my focus was always wrestling.
ST: Does he still run?
Matt: Yes, it’s great. He started running again a few years ago. It has really been a way for us to stay close. We talk about our training quite a bit.
ST: You certainly ran well in Texas this year. A 2:41:38 is very fast.
Matt: Thanks - it turned out pretty well. It was a bit of a gamble to go out of transition and run the first lap that hard, but I was feeling really good off the bike. I learned a lot about the course last year after melting around mile 22 and thought I had a good nutrition and pace plan for the course and conditions.
ST: What was your target for the race going in?
Matt: My goal was to stick to the process. I was feeling really good about my training and the race plan that Tim Floyd with Magnolia Masters and David Tilbury-Davis with PhysFarm Training Systems helped me develop. If things went well, I thought I was set up to have a great day.
ST: I would think that generally speaking you are happy with the end result, but not all the nuances, including the flat tires.
Matt: Yes, I was very pleased with the race. It was a PR overall, and I had a great run and a pretty good swim. I stuck to my plan on the bike as best I could, considering the circumstances. No one is ever happy about a flat tire, and I ended up with two. When I got back on the bike, I told myself I was just going to have to make it a heck of a run if I wanted to salvage the day.
ST: Are you saying that you did not stick to the plan in terms of run pacing?
Matt: The plan was to settle into pace right away and not make any rash moves until the third loop. I ran by David right at the beginning of the third lap and he screamed that it was time to punch the clown. I had no idea what that meant, but I think I did what he wanted.
ST: Other than punching the clown, what did you take back from Texas?
Matt: Mike Reilly says it before every race. The only thing you can control is effort and attitude. I nearly broke after the second flat. If I would have let that get to me, I wouldn’t have had the great experience on the run. I learned to never give up on a race.
ST: You had the fastest age group run in Kona last year. Was that when you considered turning Pro, or had you planned that before?
Matt: I qualified for my Pro card at IMTX but hadn’t really decided what I was going to do. I think I decided that I was going to take the Elite license after Racine 70.3. After that race, I really started to wonder what I could do in the sport. Up until Racine, I was essentially coaching myself. Right after that race I started working with a coach. I also started talking with the director of Maverick Multisport about the possibilities for 2014 if I went pro around that time as well. I thought I was going to have a better day at Kona than I did, I actually nearly didn’t make the leap after Kona because I didn’t get what I wanted to out of the race.
ST: Talk about that Kona race.
Matt: The race started off really well. I had my best swim at that time, and the bike started off really well. I ended up getting a flat in the rear wheel at mile 60 and one in the front at mile 65. I think I hit something with both tires at the turn in Hawi. I changed one and used fix-a-flat in the other. The tire with the fix-a-flat when down after about 10 miles and I ended up sitting still for quite a while waiting for some help. When I finally got off the bike, I was not happy to say the least. I ran the first 5 miles angry and at a stupid pace. Seeing my family on the second lap brought me back to reality a bit and I settled into pace for the rest of the run.
ST: What is it with you and double flats?
Matt: Honestly, I didn’t have any flats. I just got tired on the bike and decided it was time to take a little break. The first break wasn’t good enough, so I took another one a few minutes later.
ST: Oh, a comedian. Have you considered sponsorship by a tire sealant brand?
Matt: I am always open to new opportunities. However, I think given my history it might be a bit of a gamble for them.
ST: I know you have a Pro card, but I think you are professor at a university in Iowa.
Matt: Yes, I am the human performance program director at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. I teach nutrition, exercise physiology, principles of conditioning, and a number of other courses. The administrators are very understanding. I have definitely been blessed with their support.
ST: So how much training do you get in during the week?
Matt: As much as my coaches tell me to, and my wife allows me to. I have a very understanding and supportive wife.
ST: Rumor also has it that your swim training setup in Iowa is one to talk about.
Matt: Haha, yeah. The only lap pool in the county just happens to be right across the street from my office. It is really a great pool, but it is rarely open for more than an hour at a time for lap swim. It is tough to get the distance in the pool when you are limited to 60 minutes 5 days a week. We’ve been able to make it work out all right so far.
ST: Is it time for an Endless Pool?
Matt: If I could find a way to keep it from freezing in the winter, absolutely!
ST: So what is next on your calendar?
Matt: I am planning on heading to Kansas 70.3 in a few weeks.
ST: Is there anything else to know?
Matt: It has been a great year so far and I’m looking forward to see what’s next. I’m very thankful for the support from my family, coaches, and sponsors.