Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quabbin Bike Race

This weekend, Amber and I will be doing the Quabbin Classic Bike race which is a 64.5 mile race around the Quabbin Reservoir. I have attempted this race once before but it became one of only 4 times that I have DNF'd(See Vermont 88.6, Vermont 30 and Duathlon Championships for the other three). This will be Amber's first attempt and likely will have a far better outcome than I did.  The Quabbin Reservoir is the primary source of drinking water for Boston and has a bit of a storied history. In its creation, Massachusetts lost four towns which are now at the bottom of the reservoir. The buildings were destroyed but the cellars remain and you can trace old roads that once led to the towns right to the water's edge. I remember growing up to a scary story of a railroad worker who refused to leave and divers who are exploring Quabbin will still see him riding his train. Not even sure if there's train tracks remaining down there but as a little kid it was a scary story to think that people would be drowned so others could get drinking water. Nothing compared to being murdered for drinking water like in China Town.

Jack soon after a run in with Roman Polanski
So I made a mistake when I registered us for the race. I thought it was a Sunday race but it turns out that it's on Saturday. This stinks since it's the same day as Rich Lavers' Emerson Trail race that Amber and I were both excited about doing. It's unlikely that I will be able to figure out to be in two places at once so unfortunately this means that we will be missing the Emerson Trail race. However, this means you, yes YOU, need to go to show your support:)

So in preparation for this Saturday's bike race, I took my road bike out yesterday for the first time this year. After a few miles, I was just wrecked. I couldn't believe how hard it was to pedal. I knew that I wasn't in great shape but this was ridiculous! I was having to stand on every hill and was riding in my easier gear and STILL very tuckered out. After a few more miles, I finally got off my bike convinced that my brakes were rubbing. And lo and behold! They weren't. BUT... my wheel was. I had been riding my bike with my wheel inappropriately centered so the wheel had been rubbing on my left seat stay for the whole ride. Suffice it to say, after fixing that problem, the rest of the ride went considerably better. Still riding 64.5 miles at race pace is likely going to be quite difficult.

An illustration of what likely will be occurring when Amber passes me in the race-me holding on for dear life
The reason that we're doing this race though is as a nice race prep for Amber's following weekend race in St. George, UT. She will be competing in the US 70.3 Championships with 42 other pro females! It seems that every race this year just gets more and more stacked. As always I'm very excited to see just how well things come together for her and I am expecting good things. The Championships are on May 4th and you can follow her at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Danny Ferreira Interviews Rich Lavers

While mapping out the race course for the upcoming Emerson Trail Race on April 27 at the Concord Hospital Trails, I got my teammate, friend and co-race director to agree to sit down with me for an interview. His humility and (more likely) lack of time has prevented him from previously being interviewed but I finally pestered him enough to get him to do it. His story amazes me: from a child in an iron lung to training with two little children I've always found it amazing that he can run as much(and well) as he does while keeping up a full-time job as a lawyer and (seemingly) being a great full-time father. I won't spoil the interview any more than I already have so here it is:

Danny: Thanks Rich for FINALLY agreeing to be interviewed. I believe the first time I tried doing this was TWO years ago! Give our readers a little background on your history. 

Rich: Growing up, I had severe asthma and spent a lot of time at Boston Children's Hospital. Fortunately for me I have great parents that brought me to the best doctors in the world for treatment. Although medication was an important part of my treatment, the key life changing bit of advice the doctors gave my parents was to basically keep me involved in as many sports as possible. They essentially wanted to run the asthma out of me. So that's what my parents did. I played baseball, soccer, basketball, street hockey. You really don't appreciate all of the sacrifice your parents made for your benefit growing up until you have kids of your own.  
Danny: When did you start running?
Rich: I was never a "runner" growing up. I joke around with my running friends that I always played sports with a purpose- soccer, baseball, basketball. Ironically, now as an adult running has become such a big part of my life. The conversion over to running didn't start until the end of my senior year in high school. I was running the junior/senior relay and my buddy Chris Gallagher's father asked, after watching me run the 400, why haven't you been running track. Then I tried to walk on the soccer team my freshman year at Boston College and it became immediately apparent that I was not a Division I athlete. So I started running and what better place to really start running than Heartbreak Hill. Considering heartbreak is where I cut my running teeth, one would think I would be better at running hills. 
Which we all know isn't your favorite terrain how about favorite distance?
My favorite distance is the few inches as I cross the finish line.
Wise a$$. How about favorite terrain?
My absolute favorite running terrain is tight, twisty singletrack with enough turns to make you dizzy.
You do know I treat vestibular patients right? Let's try not to get anybody dizzy. What's your most memorable running moment?
My most memorable running moment was not the 5 Boston Marathons that I finished. Rather the most memorable moment was the 6th Boston Marathon that I DNF'd at 24.3. I was able to find a nice little plot of green grass in front of a brownstone and laying on the hard ground never felt so good.

I bet your wife didn't go around calling you 24.3 for the next several months(see 88.6)?

Nope haha-leave that to Amber. I have run several other marathons since my Boston DNF but have not been back to Boston. Even before this year's tragedy I was considering signing up for next year but now I am definitely running Boston in 2014. Watching the footage from this senseless attack really hits home for me like no other tragedy. Thankfully, everyone I know who was running or watching is fine. I will be there next year.
I have heard that over and over. So many people say they are now going to sign up for Boston. Personally, I had such an awful time there in the past that I vowed I'd never go back but I am now definitely planning on running it in 2014 as well. So enough about you. Tell me what it's let to train with two very young(and rambunctious) children.
For me, it wasn't until I had kids that my life found balance. Fortunately, my wife recognizes that I am a better husband, father and person when I go running so she is very supportive. While my weekly mileage is not what it was before I had kids, I can honestly say the quality of my mileage has really improved. Fortunately, I have some great friends like Chris Dunn, Brian Lavoie and Timmy Lindsey that serve as examples of how to balance family life with running and then others like you and Jason Massa that are incredibly supportive and are always willing to change your own plans to head out for a stroller run with me or to run late with a headlamp rather than during daylight. I think the key to striking that balance is infusing running into all areas of your life. Running can never be viewed as something you have to do. Rather in order for it to be sustainable, you have to make it something you want to do. An example of this is organizing and directing the Ralph Waldo Emerson 5K Trail Race here in Concord on April 27th. This is a 100% fundraiser for the Emerson Preschool where my son James attends. The Emerson Preschool has been a wonderful place for my son and entire family. My wife and I, together with several parents at the school, have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort in organizing this event and we are excited about what should be a wonderful day for runners with a beautiful course and for entire families as we will have a kids fun run and face painting and just an all around great day. 
That's what I like about your parenting style. You try to incorporate your running in with your family activities. I love the story about when you would run ten miles and your wife would give you a head start then meet you at an ice-cream place when you then would spend the afternoon with them. When I finish a run, I want a shower and sleep and yet you are able to keep going. 

Let's talk about something that you're more used to Massa and I talking with you about: Embarrassing moments. Besides, really[and I mean REALLY] bad rubber chicken jokes, what would be your most embarrassing running moment?
My most embarrassing running moment was more humbling than embarrassing. I was running Mount Washington a few years ago and running along side my buddy Rich Miller, a long time mountain goat. He is 30 years older than me. So it was at about mile 3 climbing Mount Washington and I pointed out the age difference between us and he quickly pointed out to me that several other guys around me, all of whom looked much better than me, were also in their 60s. Hey, I am the first person to admit that mountain running is not my strength.
Come on! How about your Seven Sisters Finish?

We're not talking about Seven Sisters.

Not great quality but amazing picture of Rich at the finish of Seven Sisters...

Talk about Boston Marathon vs Mount Washington-which is harder? More enjoyable? Likely to come back to etc...
I struggle with deciding which one of these races is more difficult. My favorite part of Mount Washington is actually the hike down after the race. I guess that says all you need to know about Mount Washington. I think at the end of the day I have to go with the Boston Marathon as being more difficult and that is simply because the marathon distance is so intimidating. You can have a bad day and blow up but still finish a half marathon. It is somewhat overwhelming to be running the Boston Marathon and be in Hopkinton and think next I need to run through Ashland and then through Framingham and then through Wellesley and then Newton and so on and so on. The next time you are driving, clock how long it takes you to drive 26.2 miles. 
Danny and RIch descending Mount Washington after the race
 If you could be a superhero who would you be?
My favorite superhero is Amber Ferreira!

Thanks Rich for doing this interview. Clearly you have been trying to earn some brownie points from Amber next time she goes running with you. I look forward to doing your race on the 27th. Any last thoughts?

As much as this interview has been about me and my family, I'd just like to extend my thoughts and prayers to all those affected by this Monday's tragedy and thank all the EMTs, nurses/doctors and good Samaritans out there who did so much good in the face of something so evil. It just shows there is more good in this world than bad. 

Probably the wisest thing you've said all day. Thanks again for coming out. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Things to Do In Concord for $16 or Less

While at the co-op on a mission from Amber to get Bison meat, I was shocked to find that a pound of it cost $16! That seemed pretty outrageous to me(I do realize that this may reflect a broader issue with US's poorly devised food subsidies erring towards unhealthy food BUT still) and got me thinking about all the things that I could do/eat for $16 or less in Concord.

Run a Race for a Good Cause
NHTI often hosts races that are $15 and go support various charitable organizations. Not only will you be staying fit but you will be doing a good deed. Other races only slightly higher include the new Emerson Trail Race(which I personally am PUMPED about doing) on April 27th and the Rock N Race on May 16th which Amber is personally pumped about doing and trying to beat me:). Amber ran a 17:36 there last year and the only reason that she didn't beat me was because I wasn't there. One supports a local preschool and the other the Payson Cancer Center, both good causes.

Amber winning the Rock N Race
The Pig's Trough:)
Technically called the "Crowd Pleaser" my mom has affectionately and aptly re-named Friendly gargantuan ice cream sundae the Pig's trough. At $12.95(your tip won't be very generous to keep it at $16) you get 12 scoops of any ice cream flavor you want and 6 candy toppings all then smothered with whipped cream. Other towns may have this as well but it really is a Concord thing to do after having a burger at the Barley House on a Saturday night. Sucker three other people into joining you, and you can get one of their great burgers($8-12) and then split the trough for dessert.

This pic is actually from ATL but this would be a typical Danny dinner
Fire Away!
I went to the Belmont Firing Range with my cousin, Joey, on Wednesday and for an hour you can rent a firing lane for $16. However, as I don't own a gun, ammo or any other of the safety equipment, it ran me closer to $50. BUT theoretically you could shoot for an hour for $16.

Lose it Fast or Lose it Slow
After Joey and I finished up shooting at bad guys, we headed down 106 to the Lakes Region Casino. With minimum bets of $2 and smart bets(don't split 4's when the dealer is showing ten), you can play blackjack for several hours for $16. OR you could bet the maximum($4) with two side bets and be done in two hands.

Stretch it out.
Most yoga studios offer a free introductory class to any new students. Barring that, drop-in classes will run you about $15 so you could do a yoga class then rent a movie at Red Box for $16.20. Check out the Concord area yoga studios here.

Climb all Day
At Evolution Rock in Concord, for $16 you can spend the day bouldering, top roping and potentially even lead-climbing. They also have occasional yoga and fitness classes so if you time it right you could also do one of those. Check out their website here.

Danny climbing in Northern Utah

Watch an Oscar
Treat your significant other to a matinee at Red River Theaters where you can see many of the Oscar-nominated movies as well as many cool independent films. Movie for two: $15.

Adventure Day!
Other than Evolution, all of the above activities will burn through your $16 in a few hours. However, you can find a lot of free or inexpensive activities in and around Concord that will keep you busy and having a blast!

   Sample Day:
After breakfast, start your day with your own yoga either at your place or at one of the many parks in town. After getting limber, change into your bicycling gear. With four state parks within 30 miles or less, you have your choice where you want to spend your morning. If you opt for Pawtuckaway, make sure to bring your climbing gear as it has some of the best bouldering in New Hampshire. Bring a change of clothes and cool off in lake before you bike back to town. Bear Brook and Rollins State Parks are both great places to go hiking with Bear Brook being very extensive and Rollins allowing you to summit Mt. Kearsarge. More in the mood to just relax? Then Clough State Park is just a short bike ride(or even shorter drive) away and has picnic areas as well as a fairly good sized swimming area(The YMCA triathlon is held here).
Danny running at Bear Brook
 After spending the morning at one of the State Parks, head back towards Concord where the real fun begins. Drop your bike off, grab a quick lunch and throw on a pair of breathable running shoes and head north to exit 16. Run through the conservation area making your way to the Merrimack River. Now the adventure begins:) Jump in. Swim back down south where you have a couple bail out options along the way. I usually get out at NHTI and then run home from there. Not in the mood for swimming? There are several places on the Merrimack and Contoocook that rent kayak for $5-10 for several hours of enjoyment.
That certainly works up your appetite! Since you wisely ate at home for breakfast and lunch, you now have $16 to spend towards dinner. Or you could go to Dos Amigos and grab a good sized burrito and a beer for $9 and still be able to split the Pig's Trough with a friend or rent a couple movies from Redbox.

That's only one option! There are so many things you could do on the cheap to stay active and have fun. Not in the mood for activity? Well in three weeks you can sit back and watch Amber do all of it at the US 70.3 Championships in St. George, UT. As always you will be able to follow her at

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

North American Championships-St. George 2013 Preview

Only a few days after Amber finished 10th at Oceanside 70.3, she has informed me that she wants to race again. Now! Apparently two 70.3 races in three weeks was not enough for her. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have another race until May 4th. Fortunately for her, this will give her ample time to fully recover and prepare for the North American Championships in St George. If you may recall, St George was my first Ironman and Amber's first as a professional. A flat tire, several broken spokes and a 45 minute wait on the side of the road made this race one for which she will certainly be seeking redemption.

She won't be able to get redemption on the Ironman course because as of last year, there is no IM race in St. George. It has been changed to a 70.3 race and it appears that they've just halved the distances for all of the events while keeping the course pretty similar. This year, St. George is hosting the North American 70.3 Championships which means that despite the fact that St. George is notoriously slow, there most likely will be some records set. And LOTS of fast racers shooting to be the ones setting them.

Here's a little run down of the race:

The Venue
Like gambling? Well, there's this little place called Las Vegas that we're flying in/out of and they have been known to have a few games. Don't linger too long here though because the real fun is off the strip. On your way to St. George, it's worth a side trip to Valley of Fire where there are some amazing Native American Petroglyphs and some fun places for rock climbing. My dad and I visited it several years ago when out in Vegas.
Amber battling the one armed bandits

Zion is only 40 miles away. This is a must see national park. While not as big as Bryce or Canyons it is just as amazing. Last time we were there we visited the day before so only took the tour through it. This time, I'm hoping that we have enough time to get out and hike a bit and really explore. This alone makes this trip exciting.    The town of St. George is great in itself. The people are friendly, the town center is cute and plenty of places nearby outside to explore.
Amber at Zion
The Course
SwimThe swim remains the same. In the history of this race, the swim has been 1)freezing cold where nearly a 1/4 of the field DNF'd after the swim, 2)blinding from a rising sun directly in the eyes of the swimmers limiting sighting, and 3) death defying with 40mph winds kicking up huge winds knocking swimmers way off course.
Should be fun. I wouldn't necessarily expect another 24:27 from Amber on this challenging swim course but I do expect that she will again come out with the main pack to start the bike.
Quick Stats:
     -Average Temperature: 60 and 64 degrees
     -Distance: 1.2 miles
The swim

From my understanding, the bike course has not changed from when we did it-other than be shortened from 112 to 56 miles. While this course is described as very hilly, I remember it having a gradual climb on nice pavement to rolling flattish terrain until you came to the loop. The loop certainly had a few climbs in it but nothing too steep or sustained. What it did have was a section of chip sealed pavement somewhere along the way that certainly slowed down the riding. Also on the second loop(which Amber won't be doing) the wind picked up on the back stretch which seemed always to be at our heads. For people coming off races like Mooseman, St. George should be a breeze(the cool element of puns are lost when you have to point them out, right?).
Quick Stats:
    -Distance: 56 miles
The bike- note the pavement quality...
    -Elevation Gain: 2,552 feet

    I had heard the run course was changed where they primarily stayed in town. However, looking at the course map it appears that it is the same course. This involves a slight false flat climb to a steep climb and descent before turning around and doing it in reverse. The back side of the course is likely where athletes will win or lose the race. That descent before the turn-around is brutally steep and takes a lot out of your legs. You then lose momentum having to turn around and have to climb back up that steep pitch. If you can make it to the park and still feel good, it's time to kick it up a bit. Shouldn't be a terribly fast run course this year despite all the exceptional runners scheduled to race.
Quick Stats:
    -Distance: 13.1 miles
    -Elevation Gain: 709 Feet

Fellow Zoot athlete, Ben Hoffman, glad to be done- with the win of course

The Pro Start List
The pro start list won't be out until about two weeks before the race, but after seeing the quality of the fields at San Juan and Oceanside, I suspect that St. George will be nothing short of epic. Despite a slow course, I expect a VERY fast race. Will keep you updated as we find out who will be racing.

The Dets
How? Not quite sure how Amber does it, but typically swim, bike and run...
When? May 4th 7am
Where? St. George, UT
How to follow? Danny will be posting updates on Facebook and you can track Amber on's live coverage.
Why? No one knows:)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report-Danny's edition

Less than two weeks after San Juan, Amber and I headed out to Oceanside, California for her to compete another 70.3 event. We had been out here last year and met some great people, Amber had a good race and, of course, she had the Zoot Ultra Team camp the day after the race. This year we were trying to pack all of this, plus meeting up with her uncle Larry in a long-weekend. 

We arrived the night before the race just in time for the pro meeting. She then quickly assembled her bike then met up with her uncle Larry who was at Camp Pendelton before leaving later in the week for Afghanistan where he will be for the next year. Not necessarily the best race strategy but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. 

We awoke early the next morning and set up her two transitions. We did a quick warm up jog and then it was time for her to race. I video taped her from several places(see below) and could actually see her from the pier on the turn around. She was staying in the pack! It looked like she was going to be have a smoking time. Sure enough, she arrived into transition with a time of 24:27 right in the mix!

Look at that pack! Linsey Corbin and Heather Wurtele leading a huge group of women out of the water

Amber in the mix:)
Amber got on the bike right around 10th place and Larry and I went over to a Burrito place for breakfast. 2 1/2 pounds of Mexican food later we headed back to the transition area where we prepared for Amber to show. About 4 minutes sooner than last year, Amber strolls in to the bike to run transition after biking almost 22mph! And then off to the run! Somewhere on the bike, Amber was overtaken by two women so by the time the run started she was in twelfth place. 
Oceanside's run course is great for spectating, Larry and I were able to see Amber eight times during the 13.1 mile run. I was also able to see Heather Jackson tear apart the run course winning the race after putting together a 1:17 half marathon. The other Heather, Mrs Wurtele, also had a great run finishing in second with Lesley Paterson on her tail edging out Linsey Corbin for third. It was great because we could see how quickly she was gaining on some of the pros ahead of her. Behind her, however, Mirinda Carfrae was also running down Amber. Every time we saw Amber she was a little closer to the women in front of her but Rinnie was a little closer to her.  In fact, Mirinda would run down five pros to finish in 8th place. Amber ended up catching three women and was passed only by Mirinda so she finished in 10th place with a time of 4:30:xx. She will give more details on her blog when she gets home. 

Amber on the steep descent
Amber at the finish. 

Amber Glad to be done and ready for some cheering

Amber and Uncle Larry
After the race, we hung out with Larry briefly before he had to cut out. Amber and I headed back to the run course and met up with Jim Johnson, our friend who put us up last year. We spent a while cheering on all the racers before heading back to Carlsbad to meet up with the Zoot Ultra team for dinner. Our friend and Amber's teammate Angi Axmann and her husband JR were there as well as some new faces who all were very friendly and look to be very good athletes.

After a morning run with the Zoot Ultra team, Heather Jackson and Ben Hoffman, Amber spent the rest of the day in Zoot camp while JR and I took advantage of the California sun and spent the day basking in it. We met up again in the evening for dinner and some time on the beach. From the fact that Amber couldn't stop talking about Zoot, I'm guessing she had a good time and is excited about this year's team.

We head out tomorrow so the weekend was really pretty short but fun filled.

Amber peeping back

Up Next: US 70.3 Championships at St George, UT on May 4th.