The Peaceful Runner would like to welcome DC Rainmaker author, Ray Maker, for an interview. Ray is an accomplished runner, triathlete and Ironman. He manages the awesome and very popular blog, DC Rainmaker. On his blog, Ray provides many in-depth race and product reviews, recommendations, travel stories and even cooking adventures.
He does all this in his spare time as he has a full-time job designing computer networks and systems. Please join us as we interview Ray Maker to learn more about the man called "DC Rainmaker."
Q. Thank you Ray for joining us today. You have obtained great achievements in running and triathlons. You have completed three Ironman races -- your fastest one at an impressive 10:38:11. You have also completed numerous marathons, with your best finishing time a remarkable 2:54. However, it wasn't until 2006 that you began training for races. What motivated you to begin training and competing in sporting events?
A. I started running mostly because I had a friend competing in a marathon at the time, and they wanted someone to run with them. Given I was stuck running on these runs, I figured I’d might as well run the marathon too – you know, just to check it off the bucket list. After completing the race….I got a bit hooked and from there it's history.
Q. You started the DC Rainmaker blog in September 2007. Since then you have provided and continue to provide some of the best gadget and product reviews online. You also share sports and technology news and views and relate all your travel, race and cooking adventures. I am sure your blog takes up a huge portion of your time especially considering that you also work full-time. How do you manage your time so well and what do you love most about maintaining your blog?
A. Time management is definitely a tough balance. Certain times of the year it works better (winter), than other times (summer), primarily based on training demands. When you’re doing two workouts a day, working 8-10 hours a day and driving an hour each way – it all ends up with very little time. I try and write a lot of the content on weekends and plane flights (since I travel so much). I also use time during long runs and the like to sketch out what I want a post to be about, hopefully making it take less time to write in the end.
Q. What a cool blog name - DC Rainmaker. I realize that it is a play on your name and location, but is there a story behind how you came up with the name?
A. I’d like to say it was more fancy than a play on my name, but that’s about it. Often when folks pronounce my real name, they make a joke around ‘like the Rainmaker’. When deciding on a name for the blog via BlogSpot years ago, ‘Rainmaker’ was taken, so I tagged DC to the front of it and called it done!
Q. You do a lot of travelling for race events and provide thorough reviews on all aspects of each race -- all with great pictures too! Is there a race or destination that is more special to you than the others?
A. I think Ironman Canada is probably one of my favorite triathlon locations. The town is incredible, with amazing support – and the scenery is awesome. I also enjoy some of the California locations as well, especially Wildflower, some amazing scenery on both the bike and run courses there.
Q. You not only do product reviews on gadgets for athletes, but you also provide "how to" guides for many of them. Some of which include experiments that your readers love. How do you decide which gadgets to review and which ones to write a "how-to" guide for?
A. For gadgets selection it’s a bit of a mix between products that I find interesting personally, as well as ones which I think will be popular (or there’s already popular demand for). In general, I tend to shy away from products that I feel won’t really hit the mark – primarily because I’ve decided that if I’m going to spend a bunch of time using it and writing up about it, I might as well focus on products that I enjoy doing both with. But, without question, the biggest driver is still what people ask for. There are always products that weren’t on my list, but became on my list due to interest from readers.
The how-to guides end up being mostly the resultant of frequently asked questions. Though sometimes they come about via curiosity experiments. Just a case of "How exactly does this work?”
Q. You receive lots of questions from your readers about training programs, travel, equipment and cooking. Are there some types of questions that you enjoy answering more than others?
A. I enjoy answering questions about everything, but I probably prefer ones that aren’t actually gadget-specific. If someone asks me a travel question, they’ll probably get a really long, extremely detailed answer – likely with way more information than they wanted. Whereas, in the case of gadget questions – there are very few left that I haven’t answered either in e-mail already or in a post somewhere. I do occasionally get the cooking question, though; most of them go to my wife these days.
Q. One of your many hobbies that you write about on the DC Rainmaker blog is cooking. Judging from the pictures of the meals you have prepared, you certainly appear to be quite a good cook. Do you have a favorite dish or recipe that you love to prepare?
A. No question about it – pasta. Specifically, fresh pasta. My mother’s side of my family is Italian, so I’m definitely always eager to consume some sort of Italian food. I love making fresh pasta from scratch (flour, water, salt, eggs) and then making a sauce from scratch to go with it. There are so many types of pastas out there that you can never really become bored with it. Same goes for sauces. I’ve got a book of hundreds upon hundreds of sauces. Like a never ending mix and match game.
Q. You often do very generous giveaways of really cool gadgets and products on the DC Rainmaker blog. In your last contest you gave away a Brim Brothers Limited Edition jersey and a Garmin Edge 500. Any plans for what and when the next giveaway might be and how can readers participate?
A. Likely, it’ll be the FR910XT since there’s a ton of interest there. I have one here for myself, but I’m waiting on a few more units to ship (to me) before that happens. I’ve also got a pretty substantial pile of gadgets that were to go back to companies, but they don’t want them back. So those will all be given away since I generally don’t keep any products for trial/reviews.
Q. Over the years, you have collected and maintained so much valuable information on the DC Rainmaker blog. Many successful bloggers like you often publish a book mostly containing the content from their blogs. Do you have any plans to publish a book in the near future and if not, what does the future hold for DC Rainmaker?
A. I’ve thought about how I could compile it into a book (likely e-Book) since it does seem to be the popular thing to do these days. But, at present I’m trying hard enough to keep my head above water that adding one more item to the plate would probably cause it to tumble. As the blog has grown, I’ve unfortunately had to turn away more publishing/posting options – merely because I still want time at the end of the day to spend with my wife, and enjoy being able to do things that aren’t necessarily swim/bike/run/post.
I think over time you’ll probably see me look to a close group of folks to help support portions of the blog with content in certain areas, like some of the smaller product reviews. Though, I haven’t quite dipped my toe in that yet as I’m super-concerned about quality and ensuring the level and detail of the content remains the same.
Outside of all that…you’ll just have to see what comes next!
Thank you Ray for sharing your very limited time with us. We appreciate how generously you share your time, experiences and knowledge with followers of your blog. We look forward to seeing what the DC Rainmaker has in store for us next!
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