Sunnysiders take different paths to finding success at Portland Marathon


First grade teacher Doris Matson is pictured in front of her classroom, where she has a display board about the Portland Marathon, as well as math story problems for students to solve based on the travel and training associated with the marathon. "It's a way to apply real life to their story problems," she says.

One was sparked by a remark about his weight and the other received a boost from beyond.

The result was that Sunnysiders Ryan Maxwell and Doris Matson both found success this past weekend at the Portland Marathon.

It was Maxwell's third marathon, second at Portland, and his time of 3:12:18 garnered him first place honors in two categories: the Clydesdale (runners weighing 200 lbs. or more) and the Pump and Run (runners who bench pressed at least 205 lbs. the day before the race).

Maxwell's time placed him 217th out of 7,397 competitors overall and 42nd in the men's 35-39 age division.

The assistant Sunnyside High School principal said his drive for running started six years ago when a teacher at the school teased him about his weight.

At the time Maxwell weighed 260 lbs. and has since dropped to 198 lbs. He qualified for the 200 lbs. and heavier division at Portland because the gear he wore put him just over that weight.

"It was the best thing that ever happened," Maxwell says now of the ribbing he took over his weight.

It is one thing to lose weight, quite another to run a 26-mile race and finish strong.

Maxwell attributes it to a training regimen he follows. On a calendar scratched out on a piece of paper he shows a workout that includes long runs as well as cross training by bicycling.

His runs follow along Sunnyside's Harrison Hill, then out to the Prosser Starbuck's and back. He's religious about it, even getting out and about at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to maintain his workout regimen.

For Matson, running, well, runs in the family. Her father was a runner and now Matson's daughters run.

She says it was about three years ago when she started thinking of running a marathon in addition to shorter distance events.

First up was a series of half-marathons and then Portland, her first marathon.

"My goal was to break 3:40 and I got under that," she says of her time of 3:34:06 - which was good enough for second place honors in her division of women aged 50-54. She crossed the finish line 749th overall out of 7,397 runners.

Matson's preparation involved a trainer, who provided a regimen that got tougher as she got closer to the date of the Portland Marathon.

The trainer, who lives in Tacoma, followed Matson's progress via GPS then responded with an updated regimen.

Matson, a first grade teacher at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School, said the furthest she ever ran in training was 20 miles. "My trainer wouldn't let me run further because it would take my body longer to recover," she said.

Sure enough, during the Portland Marathon she said around mile 21 or 22 her legs started hurting.

Despite the pain, Matson reached a goal set by her and her trainer in posting a faster time for the second half of the run than she did in the first half.

"I flew past people during the last five miles," she recalled. "I must have passed 200 or 300 people."

Matson gained inspiration for those last few miles from daughter Lisa, who jumped in to accompany her.

Matson also drew encouragement from a small bag of her father's ashes she clipped to her race number.

"My dad loved long distance running. He always told us you're not tired until I say you're tired," she said. "I really felt my dad was with me."

Matson and Maxwell took different paths to success at Portland, but both had the same goal - qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Maxwell just missed the qualifying time of 3:10, which was lowered from 3:15 by Boston race officials when he was midway through his training for Portland.

While Maxwell looks like a lock to qualify for Boston in the near future, Matson in her first marathon did qualify for the Boston Marathon, as her time beat the 3:40 qualifying mark by almost six minutes.

She credits another daughter, Duke University student Laura, for helping inspire her to seek out the Boston Marathon.

"She thought I could do the Boston Marathon," Matson says.

And it's also because of daughter Laura that Matson will wait until 2013 to run at Boston.

"She's graduating from Duke next year," Matson said.


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