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In Conversation With Rick Mater Author of Six hours: Running For My Life in the Grand Canyon
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Friday, November 18, 2022


Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest, Rick Mater author of Six hours: Running For My Lifein the Grand Canyon.

Rick is a longtime runnerand Emmy-nominated TV executive living in Los Angeles. 

He was a miler in highschool, lettered in college, and has run the Grand Canyon twice as acardiac patient. 

A heart attack survivor,he has four stents in his left anterior descending aorta and adefibrillator implanted in the side of his chest. 

Distance running savedMater’s life. During a 2007 run, he was able to survive a heartattack brought on by a complete occlusion of the LAD (leftanterior descending aorta). 

His survival was due toancillary blood vessels created by his body in response to the rigorsof distance running. 

This permitted enoughblood to circulate around the blockage and prevent a massive fatalheart attack. 

He continues to run.

Norm: Good day Rick andthanks for taking part in our interview.

What is the one thingother people always seem to get wrong about you?

Rick: Well, as relates torunning surprise that I still run. That I haven’t succumbed to badknees or other injuries and given up running. So many runners intheir 60s and older have.

Then there’s the matter of the fourstents and a defibrillator implanted in the side of my chest (my ownpersonal shock paddles).  

Norm: What has been yourgreatest challenge (professionally) that you’ve overcome in gettingto where you’re at today? 

Rick: Well, professionallythat would be my career in television. I started in my late 20s andwas always trying to make up for lost time.

So, I tended to be in ahurry and quite impatient. But eventually that lead to me leaving asecure position at NBC in the 1990s for the startup WB TelevisionNetwork and a couple major promotions. A true career crossroads. 

Norm: How long have youbeen running and how many events did you participate in? 

Rick: I started running inhigh school as miler and also on the cross-country team. In college Ilettered in cross-country as a freshman but gave up running by mysophomore year -- distracted by everything else going on in collegein those days.

In the 1980s I went back to running for a couple yearsand raced 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon distances.

My bestevent was the 5K and my PR was 18 minutes and change. That’s notbad in my universe, but I would note that I’m much more of aneveryday runner than a lot of running book authors who are trueathletic standouts. 

Norm: What is your mainmotivation when running? (why do you run) 

Rick: Well, initially Iwas better at running than sports like football (too small),basketball (too short), and wrestling (stuck behind the districtchamp in my weight class).

Then it turned out I really enjoyedrunning and wasn’t bad at it. I found it a great way to challengemy body, get out into nature (I love trail running), and a good timeto think. 

Norm: What do you enjoymost about running, and what do you not like about running? 

Rick: I most enjoy mySunday long run in Los Angeles: 7 to 10 miles on Canyon trails upinto the hills on a gorgeous day, challenging my body and engagingthe world thru exercise.

What I don’t like about running isn’tvery much. Probably the battle to get my butt out the door on a daywhen I don’t feel motivated. In the end 90% of the time I’m gladI did.

Norm: What are yourrunning goals?

Rick: At this point it’sall about keeping on running. As noted, after age 60 less and lesspeople keep running. So my running goal is to get out and do it a fewtimes a week, especially a Sunday long run.

And at this point I givemyself permission to do some hiking up hills – and there’snothing wrong with that. 

Norm:  If you couldgive a single piece of advice to new runners what would it be? 

Rick: If you’re notrunning with a group or a team or coach of some kind, pick up one ofJeff Galloway’s excellent training guides.

For example, his newbook Running Until You’re a 100.

He’s a big advocate of thewalk and run method, which is a great don’t kill yourself way totrain. The axiom “no pain, no gain” is outmoded thinking. 

Norm: What motivated youto write Six hours: Running For My Life in the Grand Canyon?

Rick: Well, a big reasonwas to hopefully inspire people to exercise – run and hike --especially other cardiac patients. Your life doesn’t have to endafter a heart attack. Or stents. Or even a defibrillator in the sideof your chest.

The other motivation was a achieving a personal goal.At this point in life there’s a finite end point approaching. Ialways wanted to write books, fiction and non-fiction. So, it’s nowor never.  

Norm: What was the mainreason why you decided to run the seventeen-mile trail, South Kaibab,to Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon?

Rick: It’s a uniquechallenge that doesn’t mean competing against past race times youcan never hope to replicate. And the Grand Canyon is such a stunningand iconic landmark to run. I was 64 the first time I ran the Canyon.

There’s a chapter in the book titled “A Race Without MileMarkers.” And that’s what it was, especially as my goal was torun it in under six hours. I missed my time goal the first year butwent back and achieved it the following year. 

Norm: How did you familyreact when you told them that you were going to run the trail?

Rick: They weren’thappy. My wife especially was concerned I would suffer a stroke andcome back in a wheelchair (or not come back at all).

To calm themdown I made sure to do a treadmill test first. That resulted indiscovering I needed an additional stent in my widow-maker artery.

Ihad to delay the run for a year and have another angioplasty instead.

Norm: Would you considerthis run to be the highlight of your running career?

Rick: I think running theGrand Canyon is probably the highlight of my running career. But Ialso enjoyed winning my age group at age 60 in a couple of 5K races,including soon after my first angioplasty and the heart attack thatprecipitated it.

And there were some performances runningcross-country in college that I was proud of.

Not to get corny, butin some ways just running trails on my Sunday long run – still atit at this point in life, still out there no matter the cardiacissues -- is the highlight of my running career.

Norm: What were your goalsand intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achievedthem?    

Rick: There were a lot ofgoals and intentions. It’s an ambitious book. There’s thedescription of the run itself and the journey through geological timein the Grand Canyon.

From the 300-million-year-old Kaibab limestoneon the south rim to the 1.6-billion-year-old Vishnu Schist of theColorado River gorge.

Also telling the human story of the Canyon,from the Native Americans – Havasupai, Paiute, and Hopi -- toexplorers, miners, and settlers.

There is the impact of man on theenvironment and eco systems, climate change, and global warming; pastglobal extinctions and what comes next for us on planet Earth. Andfinally running as a cardiac patient and the dangers that presented.

Norm: What was the mostdifficult part of writing the memoir?

Rick:  That it’sbrutally honest and personal. My earlier novel Beat was anaccount of post-counterculture San Francisco circa 1976 and a Roman aclef. But in the end it was fiction.

For Six Hours: Running For MyLife in the Grand Canyon there is no veil of fiction to hidebehind.

Rather one strand of the narrative deals with looking back atone’s life: the failures, successes, bad moments and good, regretsand the desire for a do over.

Sometimes when I was writing I just putout of my head that people were going to actually be reading thewords. 

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Six hours: Running For My Life inthe Grand Canyon?

Rick: My WEBSITE which includes a map of the run along withphotos of the route. Or Google the book and Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and more information will come up. It’s also available byordering through your local bookstore if it’s not on the shelf yetin the running section. 

Norm: What is next forRick Mater?

Rick: I’m working onanother non-fiction book. And still running – of course!

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, what do you hope will be the everlasting thoughtsfor readers who finish your memoir? 

Rick: I think a bigtakeaway is that no matter if you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s,you can improve your quality of life by running or hiking or briskwalking.

And even if you are a cardiac patient – and there aresomething like 28 million cardiac patients in the US -- it’spossible to lead an active, engaged, forward leaning life. 

Norm: Thanks once againand good luck with all of your endeavors

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Six hours: Running For My Life inthe Grand Canyon

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
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Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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