Chef Matt Part II
Today we dig into what Matt does outside of his job, his cross-country bike experience and what compelled him to take on a 100 mile run. What we love most about Matt is his ability to put forth his heart and how to share in experiences that spread more love and kindness.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies seem to fluctuate with my age. I do a lot of bouldering and trail running with my dog in the forests and mountains of Flagstaff. Outside of physical things I enjoy creating things. I paint and draw, I write poems and songs and even books. I’ve published one book called the “Tour De Compassion” (https://www.amazon.com/Tour- Compassion-Long-Way-Where/dp/1514345374) about my cross-country bicycle ride which you can buy on Amazon.com, and am currently working on finishing up a children’s book about a hippo who’s learning how to find his voice in the world. I am self teaching myself to play piano, looking for someone to get lessons from in exchange for the bread I bake. I love to garden using ideas similar to permaculture. I forage for wild foods and mushrooms in the forests and mountains in the area. At the moment I’m also real interested in growing mushrooms. It’s a wild experience to try to create these fungi under unnatural conditions but the benefits could be huge. There are certain types that can recycle waste products that come from our existence. Some can recycle plastic, others can recycle paper waste, some can clean up oil spills. If we can utilize them to minimize our ecological footprint then I see no better task to become consumed with. I try to exercise my mind as much if not more than my body. I dream really big. It keeps me feeling fresh and alive. When daily activities aren’t in the cards I also enjoy a pot of tea and sitting in silence for a while. The pauses in life allow the space for everything to come together.
Any advice you want to share with others? (ie. How to manage stress….something you practice every day or regularly that helps you…
My advice to other humans is to first have compassion for others and for yourself. We live in a world where we dehumanize people yet we have humane societies for animals. Often times our priorities are a bit off, but it’s easy to be swayed in our society into thinking certain ways. I feel that what everyone wants in life is to be loved, yet we have so much in life that takes us elsewhere. So I guess the overall advice is to act with love always. With that as the foundation for life, everything else comes easy. Treat yourself with love. If people did this then diets are unnecessary for life is a bit more balanced. No shame, no guilt, no hate. Just the love for where you are now and where everyone else is in their progression. Also, try some form of meditation. That’ll help you to see where you are.
While running 73 miles through the mountains of Colorado in 20 hours, what did you discover about yourself?
Was the run aimed at being a transformative experience or was it simply a physical feat you wanted to accomplish/conquer?
My 73 mile run allowed me to find out that I could travel a very far distance on foot. It was a very literal experience for me, however, I was reassured of life’s ridiculous options. My only real training for such a run was a bicycle ride from Seattle, Washington to Savannah, Georgia 6 months prior. After I completed that I moved to be with my dad during his lung transplants. He was telling me that it was the hardest thing he’s ever done so I told him I would try to do the hardest thing I could think about so that we could train together. So I started running 6 miles at a time, twice daily while in Iowa during his physical therapy sessions. Shortly after the transplant there were some issues in the healing process and my dad passed away right in front of my eyes one morning. This is when the run became a transformative experience for me. I needed to run through the situation. I felt I was that figure running on a bridge that was crumbling just behind him, and the only way to make it across was to not let those crumbling pieces catch up to me. I had wild urges to deal with his passing but I saw that running seemed it would be my healthiest and most productive way to process and I wouldn’t end up in jail for doing it. So at this point my running increased. I crept my way towards 60 miles per week as a solid base, and once I moved back to Denver I worked my way up towards 80 miles a week and topping out with one week at 108 miles. I had set up a site to donate money towards the disease my dad (alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency) to help others battling similar issues that he had. I had a bit of a purpose to my madness now. I wasn’t running for myself anymore. I was able start running with hope and some training runs I would visualize my dad running just in front of me and I’d cry a bit, releasing some of the past year that seemed to just rock me. When the Leadville 100 came around, it felt more like closure than anything else. During the run I carried my dads ashes with me and on top of Hope Pass right about mile 40 I stepped off the course for a bit to set him to the wind, overlooking the mountains of Colorado. Once I did this I really didn’t care if I finished or not. I felt I completed my journey just as I needed to. But enjoying pushing myself, I tried to see what I could do. Running through the afternoon and night, my pace slowed to a hobbling walk, I couldn’t move my feet up or down, it seemed the tendons were just blown out. So it began to no longer be enjoyable. I tried to wrap ace bandages around my feet and ankles to see if they were braced in proper position I could keep going but nothing worked. I realized that if I pushed it, it was for my ego. I learned to be compassionate with where I was in that moment. I took myself out of the race at the next checkpoint and was driven back to my campsite to get some sleep. My body was so stressed out that I was twitching and shaking all night and hyperventilating in my sleep, my crew thought I was dying.
Is running something you discovered as a way to meditate, or simply for exercise?
Running allows me to process life, however it’s not meditation. It is connection to breath, and to the moment, but I believe meditation lies within stillness. Running allows for me to sit within stillness with ease.
Take-away from today…
For what it’s worth, this is the third time meditation and finding some time to clear your mind has come up in Game Ready Athlete Features. As we have walked along in others’ shoes, finding time and space to process your thoughts and emotions is something that everyone can benefit from. In a time when everything around us happens so quickly and with the attention of so many others, taking some time for an inward glance at ourselves can help to continuously shape our goals and ensure that our actions are in line with what we require emotionally as humans. The truest way to be one with yourself is to be honest with yourself. So this week, we’d highly encourage you to spend 10 minutes alone on as many days as you can and reflect on the “why’s.” And if you’re a busy body and need an end-point to your process, maybe pick up Matt’s book and learn a little more about his cross-country adventure.