I had the chance recently to talk triathlon with TCSD member Mac Brown. Please join me as we get to know a humble, but super fast guy.
Craig: What was your athletic background prior to triathlon?
Mac: I grew up playing lacrosse, tennis, body boarding, basketball and
skateboarding in Virginia Beach, VA before moving to San Diego in the
fall of 2003. I was recruited to play lacrosse in college, but had
multiple knee surgeries that forced me off the field for the majority
of my collegiate career.
Craig: How did you get introduced to triathlon?
Mac: After my knee completely healed post graduation from college, I began running out of a local running/triathlon shop in Virginia Beach called Final Kick Sports. The owner of the store, Jerry Frostick, got me in to running with some of the other locals. Before you knew it, I was running marathons. I only did 4 of them before I burned out on running. I decided to buy a triathlon bike after reading "It's Not about the Bike" by Lance Armstrong and entered the Sandman Triathlon in Virginia Beach. I finished 2nd in the M18-24 age group mainly
because I out rode everybody. Before this, the only bike I ever rode
was my beach cruiser, but I soon found that cycling came pretty
naturally to me.
Craig: What Ironman races have you done and how did you do?
Mac: I have done 4 Ironman races so far. I started doing Ironmans 2 years ago under the coaching of Sergio Borges, who taught me A LOT about triathlon. My first Ironman was IM Coeur d'Alene in 2006 and I went 9:36 (3rd in M25-29). I did not swim very well, had the fastest bike split overall (forgot to eat anything on the bike) and then fell apart on the run. I definitely learned from Coeur d'Alene that year and went on to race Kona that October. I went 9:12 in Kona and finished in
78th place (9th M25-29) after coming out of the water in 785th place.
I raced Coeur d'Alene again last year and won my age group and overall
amateur title after having to chase down the leader on the marathon
because I was out with a 12 minute flat on the bike. Yet again, Coeur
d'Alene taught me another important lesson, this time about staying
calm through unforeseen obstacles out there on the course. I finished
my 2nd Ironman season again in Kona going 9:05 (2nd M25-29) and 4th
overall amateur in the world.
Craig: What were some of your key workouts in 2007 that led up to your
great performance in Kona?
Mac: Last year I had the benefit of having a fairly similar race schedule as Tri Club member/pro triathlete Jim Vance so we did quite a few sessions on the bike together. We would do multiple Mt. Soledad repeats on Wednesdays and climbed Palomar for time on occasion as well. I really could not run or swim with Jim because he would kick my butt, but it definitely was nice having someone to push me on the bike. You could also find me riding Swami's every Saturday as well once I started training for Kona.
Craig: Last year you finished 2nd in your age group in Kona. How did the race play out for you in relation to the other guys that finished on the podium?
Mac: I was 791st coming out of the water in Kona, which was obviously
disappointing since I expected to have a better swim than that. I
knew I had to make up some time on the bike so I just put my head down
and rode steady. People go out too fast in that race and I just rode
my own pace. By the time I came off the bike, I had passed almost 700
people and ended up having the 3rd fastest amateur bike split of the
day. As soon as my feet hit the pavement, I began to really hammer
the run. The amateur leader had a huge gap on me and I knew I had to
do something spectacular on the run to get back in the mix for the
title. I ran the first quarter of the race at a solid 6:30 pace and
then things went downhill once I hit the Queen K. I managed to hang
on for the remainder of the run and finished with a 3:05 marathon, 4th
place amateur and 35th place overall. The hard work I did during the
training season ended up paying off.
Craig: Congratulations on your decision to turn pro this year. What
factors did you have to consider in that decision?
Mac: Thank you. Before every season I write down in a small journal all my goals for the upcoming year. I decided if I won every single amateur
Ironman/70.3 race I entered and finished in the top 5 in Kona as an
amateur I would turn professional. I won Cal 70.3, St. Croix 70.3,
Ironman Coeur d' Alene and was 3rd at Timberman. I then finished 4th
in Kona so I decided to make the move. We will see if I made the right
decision very soon.
Craig: How did Cal 70.3 go for you and what is the rest of your race schedule this year?
Mac: Cal 70.3 went well - 19th overall (dropped 3 min off my swim time and ran 1:30 min faster than last year) was a tougher day than last year and the pro field was stacked - really was just focusing on my swim this Winter so it has paid off, I am not in race shape right now and I knew that going in to the race so all things being equal I was happy with my day. Nothing in life is worth achieving without a great amount of dedication and perseverance. Success does not happen overnight . . .
I will be racing St. Croix 70.3 and Ironman Lake Placid this year. Lake Placid is definitely my A race for this year in the hopes of qualifying and going back to Kona as a professional.
Craig: Last year you had a near catastrophic mishap at the Los Angeles
Triathlon. What happened and how has that changed your perspective and
approach to racing?
Mac: Yes, the LA Triathlon was by far the scariest moment I have had in my life so far as an athlete. I was in the aero position bombing a hill during the race when a traffic guard waved a car through an intersection and directly into my path. I saw the car at the very last second (did not even have time to hit my brakes) going about 32 mph, hit the front tire of the car, my head slammed into the hood and I did a complete flip over the car. I ended up on my back and could only hear people screaming in the background. I was kind of in a daze and was scared to move. After a brief moment I decided to wiggle my toes and fingers and thankfully I could feel them. By then, the race volunteers had gotten to me and told me not to move. The ambulance finally showed up and I was carried away to the hospital strapped to a wooden backboard and neck brace. After waiting in the ER, still strapped to the backboard, for about 2 hours (no joke) I was taken away to get some CT scans on my brain and everything was negative. I was released that afternoon and my very frightened, but relieved fiancé, Meredith Buzas, drove me back down to San Diego.
My perspective about racing hasn't really changed, but my appreciation for helmets sure has! That helmet saved my life for sure. The whole ordeal was definitely a reality check and it made me extremely thankful for the life I have.
Meredith and I are getting married next summer in San Diego. She is the most amazing woman in the world and I would not be where I am today without her support - I really mean that.
Craig: What do you do for a living? How do you fit a time consuming sport like triathlon around your job?
Mac: Last year I worked for Sunset Parking as a parking manager. This year I have left my job and am coaching/training full time.
Craig: How can people reach you?
Mac: People can reach me through my website www.MacBrownRacing.com. I am still taking athletes for 2008, but am only coaching a set number because I want to give each athlete the individual attention he/she deserves.
Craig: What sponsors do you have for 2008?
Mac: I have been with Zoot Sports for the last 2 years and am working with Nytro multisport this year as well. I am also fortunate to be sponsored by Oakley, FSA components, Cannondale bikes, HIC Suncare and Zipp wheels for 2008. ART therapist, Gino Cinco (a tri club member) is also a HUGE reason I am able to compete throughout the year. I recommend him to everybody in the sport that is having any sort of injury at all (www.ucpt.com, phone 858-452-0282).
Craig: What is your favorite funny triathlon story that you've been involved in?
Mac: Last year before Cal 70.3 I was preparing for the race on the course and was asking some advice on gearing for the hills on the backside of the course. Kate Major chimed in and told me she used a 25 on the back and was fine just using that for the hills. So come race day I get to the hills, put it in the 25 and can barely turn the gear over. I am climbing the hills cursing Kate and wondering how the heck she pushed that gear over the hills. So we go to dinner that night to celebrate Kate's win, I pull her aside and ask her how she got over those climbs. She failed to tell me before the race that she was in the small ring in the front. I had kept it in the big ring the whole race and never used my small chain ring on the front. We still get a kick out of that!
Craig: That is classic! Well despite that “Einstein” move I have the feeling you would be an awesome coach. You are a great communicator and a fantastic athlete so anyone would be lucky to have you as their coach. Thanks for sharing your story and we wish you the best in your rookie season!