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. 

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