Macca talks to Slowtwitch.com
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Sun Sep 21 2008
ST: Chris, are you ready for Ironman Hawaii?
Chris: Itís late September now, of course I am. My preparation this year has been very good and I feel in great condition. Anyone who has raced Kona knows that this event is about more than the physical preparation. It is about getting your body and mind in the right set for the day. I feel like I am in a very good frame of mind and physically I have added a lot to my arsenal this year that will ensure I am in the hunt to defend. I feel great and look forward to the race again. I have come to love this event.
ST: You had a fantastic race in Hawaii in 2007. What would it take this year to top that win?
Chris: Last year was a great event to for me, but to be honest I thought I executed a much better race the year prior when I finished in 2nd place. Last year I entered the race with a lot of personal demons. I really knew it was a crunch event for me, as I needed to win this race. I have won every other Ironman I have ever done (I have now won 11 Ironman races from 16 starts) and it was only Hawaii that was posing a problem for me. I changed a lot of things last year, dropped an Ironman from my yearly racing schedule and really worked on my back half of the marathon. I knew I had to win last year and I really felt that pressure. This year I am much more reserved and feel like I can just relax mentally now and get the job done on a different level. I donít have this monkey on my back anymore about whether I will win the event. I have done that now. Now the event is a much more personal thing for me so to top last year will simply be executing a race that I am happy with both mentally and physically. The result is not as important. I know if I put together a race I am capable of, the result will be the same as last year.
Chris: I think Kona ranks way up there for many reasons because it is the single event that has posed me problems in my career. I am a bigger athlete and the heat and humidity of Hawaii has always made it tougher for the bigger guys to excel. Put the World championship on any other course and the results each year would be very different. The thing is this is a pipe dream, so to win this event I had to learn a lot about my own physiology. Which is something I never had to do before, as I won races relatively easy with the right preparation. Kona really gave me this and I learned so much about what makes me function as an athlete. We put this together with my racing experience and finally got the result we were after. It was this that made this win so satisfying. I think on a personal level my best two races of my career were my ITU short course World Championship win in 1997 and my Goodwill Games win in 2001. Both these victories meant a lot to me as I was up against impossible odds and it seemed the only people who believed I could win on these two days were my team and I. In both races we dominated and both races were near perfect for me. We destroyed the best in the world and the elation of these two events within my camp was awesome. Great memories.
ST: Would you say the media is playing up the feud between you and Normann Stadler?
Chris: The feud between Normann Stadler and myself is definitely played up by the media. We are two completely different athletes and prepare mentally and physically for events in completely different ways. Normann is a fantastic athlete, and one of the sports greatest ever on two wheels. I respect him immensely but do not fear him in anyway. I only wish the best for him and can honestly say that he brings out the best in my racing. I enjoy competing and the way he races is exciting even for me. As I said earlier my best executed race thus far in Hawaii was the day I finished 2nd to Norman. He really pushed me to a new level and made me learn a lot about myself in the lava fields. I really thank him for that. He is a great athlete and I enjoy racing him. Ironman Hawaii is a tough game and competitors like Normann bring a lot to the sport. I have no issues with Norman but I can honestly say I want to beat him. I donít get on with everyone on the circuit, thatís for sure, and personalities clash but I hold no animosity towards Stadler.
Chris: To be honest the only person standing between myself and another victory in Kona is myself. My years in Kona have showed me that this event unlike any other depends upon how your body deals with the conditions on the day. All but one year I have turned up in Hawaii in probably the best condition of my life and I only have one title. This race is brutal on a physiological level and depending upon how your body deals with this will answer this question. I feel like I have mastered this course and am body aware for the conditions. I have bled on those lava fields and have well and truly paid my dues to this island. It is this experience and knowing how brutal this course is that gives the guys who have raced this event numerous times a bigger advantage. It will be the same players. I am looking at the Germans, Eneko Llanos and the Belgium Guys to be very strong. Craig Alexander should be solid as he was last year, but as everyone knows, the 2nd year back in Kona can be brutal sometimes. You remember where it hurt last time and you are no longer a rookie. Expectation lands on your shoulders, which makes things tough. It is going to be a beautiful race this year. I canít wait. Physically I am in excellent condition and my season thus far and the test races we have executed have been perfect. My Ironman in Frankfurt was a big pressure test and we came up trumps and my bike ride was exceptional on a long course. I also put together a very solid run off a fast bike and broke 8 hours on a long course. The form is great and my strengths this year are very well rounded. What Frankfurt showed me was that Eneko Llanos has really matured as an athlete, but my run pace between kilometer 25 and 35 is very fast. We have really worked on this segment of the marathon and this was our fastest section in Frankfurt.
ST: You had created a list with your friend Sean of the races you both planned to do and we know you have been working on that list. Can you tell us more about that?
Chris: We wrote the list out when we were quite young, based on things we had read about in various magazines. Most of the races were in the US like Chicago, Alcatraz, San Diego International and Wildflower, but we also wanted to do races like Ironman Europe in Roth, Ironman Australia and the ITU Worlds. These events were huge then and meant everything to us. The list though wasnít about winning these events but about being there and doing them. We had followed idols like Mike Pigg, Mark Allen, Dave Scott and Juergen Zaeck and wanted to the same races like these guys. Sean and I started to knock quite a few of the races off the list and in 2002 we both qualified for Kona. But Sean died in June of 2002 and never got to go race there. So the win last year was especially important to me because of Sean, and the list is actually completed.
Chris: My schedule between now and Kona is pretty much set as training and more training. I have one more heavy week of work and then arrive in Kona 18 days prior to the event as I am coming from altitude. I will see my family for the first time in 6 weeks, which will be so exciting for me. I have missed my girls so much and cannot wait to give them all a big cuddle. My team starts to arrive in Kona between then and the race and then it is really just getting my mind right for the day. Physically it is all done now. My bike is very strong and my marathon this year is solid. My mind has to be ready for the battle and we spend most of the next 3 weeks focused on this. Physically we know the win is there, it is just about getting the mind in the right place to ensure you can execute this. This is a harder process than you can imagine and for this race it is the most important. People so often neglect the mind games and the power of the mind in Ironman racing. In Kona I honestly believe it is 30 percent of the race for me. It is critical and this is my focus now. Staying fresh, eating right and enjoying my family are my main priorities now.
ST: Can you describe a typical hard training week for us?
Chris: This is such a generic question and I never quite understand this question really. Triathletes are so infatuated with quantitative numbers that this question gets asked a lot. To answer this best I guess the answer I will give you is that a typically hard training week for me is I wake up in the morning feeling tired and go to bed at night feeling very tired. Volumes and hours mean nothing. It is balance of a schedule and ensuring recovery is monitored that is the key to a successful training week. The best training week is the one where you absorb the most workload from the sessions. This is not necessarily the hardest or the furthest. It is the best executed for the goals you have set. When triathletes start thinking on this level then the better question will be asked - what was your most effective training week in this build up and why?
ST: You apparently had a couple incidents at the recent Monaco 70.3. What happened?
Chris: The event in Monaco is one I like to schedule each year. It is a beautiful part of the world and is a really tough hilly bike course. It really doesnít suit me, but the course is great for Ironman preparation as it is a strength course. This year it was raining really badly on the bike and it is a very treacherous bike course with over 20 miles of pure climbing and the same amount of technical descending. On the first descent I lost my front wheel and crashed. The wet conditions meant I just slid and didnít really hurt myself to badly. I jumped back on the bike and then on the next descent I crashed again. I decided then I was going to take no more risks and let the pack go. I cruised the descents and really pushed hard on the uphills. I took a lot from that race and ran a nice controlled half marathon. It is a lovely event and I would do it again, but the conditions this year made it too risky to really get aggressive and go for the win for people who were doing Hawaii. Many of the top guys crashed including Michel Agrois, Reto Hug, Stephan Poulet just to name a few. It was technical thatís for sure.
Chris: I have always had a great sponsorship base and have been lucky I have aligned myself with marquee brands. Sponsorship has been great. Under Armour is the best sponsor an athlete can have and to be involved with this company is exciting. They are a motivating company and driven and to be seen as an integral part of their growth strategy is awesome. I recently signed a career deal with this company and they will support me until I decide to retire. Financially things are great but it is more than this. They are an inspiring brand, which has always been important to me in life. I will move into an active role within the company, post career, which is incredible. To have your fingerprints over a brand like this that is growing globally at such an exponential rate is inspiring and awesome. They make me feel like the Steve Prefontaine of Nike, as this is where they are in their growth curve. This company is going to be the biggest athletic company on the planet. They are incredible and I have been blessed to work with them. I spend a lot of my free time now working with their team in product development for running and helping to build the endurance arm of the company that is forecast to be over 3 billion dollars by 2012. They are amazing, and the more time you spend with this company the more inspired and driven I become to be the best I can be. Kevin Plank (president) is one of the most driven people I have ever met, and his attitude is all about what can they do to make you go faster. Itís no gimmicks, which is real to me. They are a performance driven brand, which means a lot to me. All my sponsors are incredible. My move to Specialized two years ago was a great move. This is another company who are marquee within the industry and with which nothing is an issue. I have such great synergy with my sponsors they are a pleasure to work with and make my job so easy.
ST: We would like to know more about the Macca Now Foundation.
Chris: It is all about ďno opportunity wasted.Ē I got a lot of help when I was younger to be able to race triathlons and realize now that we need to get the youth more involved if we want to grow the sport. It is getting so expensive to take part in triathlons that it has almost become impossible for blue-collar kids to get into the sport. Thus the foundation's priority is to support youth and help them develop athletic proficiency, life skills, self-esteem and confidence. My sponsor Under Armour has been very supportive of the Foundation.
ST: What do you do in the off-season?
Chris: In the off-season I really do nothing. My sport is so selfish, it is about spending time with my family and relaxing with them in the off-season. I have the most amazing wife Emma Jane and the two most energetic beautiful girls who support me in my on season. In the off-season I like to do as much as I can with them. My oldest daughter Tahlia starts school this summer in Australia, which is so exciting. We will move back into our home in Sydney and start to spend more time back in Australia. I take a rest of 7 weeks each year where I do absolutely nothing. I donít run and I donít swim or bike. I let my body heal and put on some weight and recover. I think this has been the key to my prolonged career and to the fact that I have never had an injury in my entire career. Rest in the off-season is what I do best.
Chris: I follow the surfing circuit and Rugby at home. They are my two sports I enjoy. I also follow the Moto GP, which really excites me. I love my sports but these are really the things I tend to watch and search the net for. I also enjoy tennis and golf.
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Chris: My favorite foods are spicy hot ones. I love Thai food and enjoy a good steak. There are not many foods I dislike but I am not a huge fan of MacDonaldís or foods like this. It is not because they are junk foods it is just that they taste so plastic to me. I enjoy all food but anything with spices is great.
ST: Tell us about the music you like.
Chris: I am stuck in the 80's and really still listen to the stuff I was listening to at school. I have a really strange music collection, which fluctuates with my moods, but in my ipod you will find lots of ACDC, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, U2, Midnight Oil, Pearl Jam etc. I really mix my stuff up. If you asked me who my favorite Bands are, I would say Midnight Oil, U2 and INXS. With the new stuff today I enjoy listening to the Aussie bands Silverchair and Powderfinger, but tend to listen to the stuff I was listening to years ago. I guess I am stuck in a time warp a little. I enjoy my music though and you would be surprised at how diverse it is.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Chris: The last book I read I finished last week. It was the biography of Australian footballer Andrew Johns. I really enjoyed it actually as I followed his career very closely and have met him numerous times. It was an enjoyable read.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Chris: In 5 years I hope to be finishing up with my competitive career and working more closely with Under Armour. I want to stay heavily involved in the sports industry and this will allow me to do that. My wife and I often wonder if we will be living in the USA, as most of our opportunities are there. We have applied for our Green card but I must admit I do miss Australia for many reasons. We have a home in Noosa, Australia, which we would like to ultimately live in, but for now it will be either Sydney or LA. In 5 years I will either be commuting between Sydney and LAX for work or we will be based in LA because of my work commitments. I would love to work actively in a coaching role for fun only and not rely on this as a sole source of income. I would enjoy this. Primarily I would like to be happy with my family and working with my key sponsor UA. If I could work their Asian offices then this would be something we would look at, or it will be a move to the USA. I do know that my children will be doing high school in Australia so this is something we have planned for now.
Macca's website is: chrismccormack.com
Find out how you can support the Macca Now Foundation here: Macca Now Foundation
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