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This week's tip:

How I Won the New York 100K


Eddy Matzger winning the 2010 New York 100K (photo: Rob Jackson)

By Eddy Matzger

I thought a fairy tale ending was only the stuff of dreams, but on Saturday the 25th of September, 2010, I floated away from a world class field and won the New York City 100K by a country mile.

The best part? The luxury of soaking in everybody’s whoops and hollers through the human chute that welcomed me across the line. I will rewind and play that memory in my mind for years to come, drawing energy and inspiration each time.

My victory wasn’t a fluke like winning the lottery. It was the confluence of many factors in the right measure, the culmination of a long process of preparation that most people can’t see or imagine. Without some good mental imagery to fall back upon during hard times, it’s hard to muster a continuously dedicated effort  to make it through the early mornings, muscle aches, and boots so soaked with sweat they froth at every set-down.

Here’s the general recipe for my 100K victory:  

Long, easy skates punctuated by intervals

In August, I did high mileage on skates. Whether I was in Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai, or Suzhou, I woke up early and checked Google maps for an approximate direction of travel, then took off and let instinct and good luck be my guide. Many times during these mileage skates, I’d hop in the draft of some vehicle or another and get the heart rate off the charts. That served as my speed work. In Thailand, I had less traffic, smoother roads, and cooler temperatures, all of which allowed me to push the envelope a little farther.

Frequent massage

skatefarmthailand adEven in China, I always look for places that offer Thai massage, since it starts with the legs and involves so much stretching. Depending on desired strength, massage can either be incredibly relaxing or make me sweat to the point of tears. Either way, after 90 minutes, my endorphins have kicked in and my eyes become glazed over. It’s a state of post-workout nirvana that I have resolved to try to achieve more often.

Virginia hills

Hills and hollers make me physically and mentally stronger, and flatten out any incline or decline I encounter elsewhere. The dreaded Prospect Park hill? A mere pimple on the pickle of progress. Even though I’m a California boy, when I tried some of the hills around the Skate Farm, I gained a new appreciation for the flatness of Olmstead’s creation. The Blue Ridge Mountains challenge me constantly and make me excel at places like Prospect Park, where climbing feels more like flying. The proof is in the pudding.

Practicing the basics

I don’t just eat cake to achieve good results (though I know some good bakers whose goodies like biscotti or date oat bars I can eat until my belly is painfully distended). Skate Farms, workshops, road shows and coaching the TWINCAM team in China force me to constantly demonstrate and practice the basics and technical skills that give me an edge not only in speed but in conserving energy and preventing fatigue during competitions, too. If I can always lock on to my balance sweet spot, at no matter what speed,  I’ll never have sore shins. If I can center my weight and focus my strength through my heels, then I engage my glutes, hams, and quads and never get blisters from lifting my heels by pushing off my toes.

Training with skaters who are faster

In China, I coach a group of skaters who live next to a 200 meter banked track. Needless to say, they are incredibly young and fast and can give me a good drubbing. Of course I’ve figured out ways to beat them on their own turf, but for the most part, they kill me. Just trying to keep up and challenge them during intervals makes me able to endure new levels of hurt and achieve new increments of speed.

We also go indoors on a wood floor and turn tight laps that require precise technical skills, spending solid chunks of time seated far lower than I ever skate on average in a marathon.

I get my revenge on my students on the road.

Cross training and tapering

I really started training in earnest for the 100K quite late, in July, with biking. During Tour de France time, I went on long mountain bike rides and got my body used to working for extended periods of time. I just kept turning the pedals and slowly my back and legs got stronger. When I transitioned to China with lots of skating in early August, running was a way to use training as recovery.

Chores around the Skate Farm make me stronger also. Mining rocks is one example: dig rocks out of the ground, roll them up on to a pile and into the bed of the pickup truck, then unload and assemble like a jigsaw puzzle into a wall. Talk about strengthening.

Weed-wacking with pioneer tools is another reliable way to get a whole body workout and forms a big part of my taper before the event. I have a giant scythe that cuts like a knife when I rotate my hips and upper body just so, a triangular cutter that swings like a golf club and requires ambidexterity, and a rake and pitchfork for making haystacks. I can keep my heart rate high without taxing my legs. Later, with straight legs, I stretch my back and hamstrings while pulling weeds from the garden path.

A large reduction in volume with some speed work helped prime me for the three hour effort of the 100K. Competitions on the weekends (US 10K Classic, Duluth, Skate of the Union) counted as speed work, and some easy skates, bike rides, and runs kept me conditioned and in the fighting frame of mind for race day.

Fortuitous race day circumstances

It was my good luck that Jorge Botero was full of beans and took some monster pulls which I hope some day to reciprocate for him. It also played into my hands that Peter Doucet attacked mid-race multiple times during the King of the Hill laps. That made the gap yawn and allowed me to close it down to a manageable distance with a quick charge up the hill. High intensity chasing followed by low-speed lollygagging can cause people’s legs to cramp, which is exactly what started to happen in later laps. I saw skaters shaking out their legs, a sure sign of distress. It was to my advantage that Olivier Jean’’s teammate Luis Carlos Mejia was not obligated to chase what looked like a winning break for them. When Olivier was red-lined and kept drifting out of my draft with two laps to go, I could start thinking of my dad and my sponsor and all the people who’ve ever believed in me.

Training is a strange alchemy that succeeds only when all the elements come together in the correct proportions. The 100K was just such a dream come true.


eddy matzger in shanghaiEddy Matzger is one of the winningest skaters in the history of inline racing and leader of the popular Eddy Matzger SkateFarm and Roadshows. He makes his home in Floyd, VA, site of the Skate Farm. When he's not skating in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, he's traveling around the globe, where he's in high demand as a teacher and coach. His latest venture is SkateFarm Thailand, an all-inclusive skate getaway. His longtime sponsor is Twincam bearings.

Eddy's web site



Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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