Mac Brown is getting ready for the big time

Mac Brown was the top age grouper in St. Croix and Ironman Coeur D'Alene and closed out the season as the 4th OA age grouper at Ironman Hawaii 2007. He is turning Pro in 2008 and talked with Slowtwitch about that and more.

ST: Mac, what have you done this year to get ready for Kona?

Mac: I base my entire season around Kona so I decided to take some time off after Coeur d’ Alene at the end of June. I raced Timberman 70.3 a bit out of shape so I could build into my training for Hawaii. I did a 6 week block of training after Timberman 70.3 and entered the LA Triathlon to get some speed in. Unfortunately, I was hit by a car in the middle of the race and was not able to finish. I took some time off after the accident and then really put in some big miles. The usual Europeans were back in San Diego, which gave me some great athletes to ride with. I usually do the Swami’s ride (local ride that goes at a brisk pace) every weekend, but tried to ride smart and not get into the whole “ego” battle that happens quite frequently. My long runs were done on horse trails in Rancho Santa Fe. I have a bum knee so I try to always run on soft surfaces. Again, I wear a heart rate monitor so I do not run too hard. I have no problem letting people run/ride by me. I know what I can and cannot do.

ST: Can you tell us about your athletic background?

Mac: I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA playing tennis, basketball and lacrosse. I was recruited to play lacrosse in college, but had knee surgery my senior year in high school and never had the opportunity to play much lacrosse in college. After college I decided to run a marathon for fun. I loved the feeling of crossing the finish line and was instantly hooked on the sport. After running for a couple of years I read Lance Armstrong’s biography “It’s Not About the Bike” and bought a bike. Once I started riding I completely dropped running and just rode pretty much every day for an entire year. This was the time I moved to San Diego and just rode.

ST: What does a typical training week look like for you?

Mac: Monday – Gym work and light swimming
Tuesday – Trainer ride followed by a short (hard) transition run, swim at night
Wednesday – Longer ride followed by an easy run at night
Thursday – Hard interval run, swim at noon, easy spin at night
Friday – Gym work and swimming in the morning
Saturday – Swami’s ride followed by a transition run
Sunday – Long run followed by an easy spin in the evening

I also get massages every other week and see an ART specialist once a week.

ST: Rumor has it that you are turning Pro in 2008, can you tell us about it?

Mac: I thought about this a lot after Kona and made some calls to close friends/athletes. Every year before my season starts I write down my goals for the upcoming season. I decided that if I went top 5 as an amateur in Kona I would make the switch. I was still not convinced after my swim time in Kona and really do not know if it will be the right decision, but I have decided to race professionally for 2008. I really think the key to me making an impact on the next level revolves solely on my swim. I view swimming as a squared function. The faster my swim gets, the more energy/faster my bike and run become. It is not going to happen overnight, but I am definitely going to give it the old college try. Only time will tell.

ST: How much of your bike training are you doing on your tri bike versus your road bike?

Mac: I do all my base miles on my road bike (Cervelo Soloist, 56) during the winter. About 6 weeks out from my first race I will start riding my TT bike all the time unless I am going for an easy spin. Some people say I ride my TT bike too much and reference the guys riding on the pro tour. What these people do not realize is pro cyclists time trial for an hour maybe 5 times a year. Most of their races are on road bikes. ALL of my races are time trials and they are anywhere from 56 miles to 112 miles. I train specifically on my TT bike and do routes that closely resemble the race I am training for.

ST: Tell us how your race bike is currently set up in terms of components?

Mac: My Cervelo P3C is a mix of Dura-Ace and FSA. I have FSA Neo Pro (175mm) cranks, FSA carbon base bars and R bend extensions, FSA ceramic BB and pulleys. Everything else is Dura-Ace except my seat, which is a Blackwell Adamo. I also run a Zipp disc with Ceramic bearings every chance I get unless the race will not allow it.

ST: What is on your schedule for 2008 in terms of races?

Mac: Maybe Cal 70.3, St. Croix 70.3, Honu 70.3, IM Lake Placid, some local short distance races and hopefully Kona if I can qualify. Really need to focus on my speed early in the season. I think speedwork is often overlooked by long distance triathletes.

ST: Tell us what is going on for you in terms of sponsorship and support?

Mac: I am really lucky to have some great sponsors for 2008. Zoot and Oakley helped me out quite a bit last year and will be helping me again this year. The people at Zoot are like family. I get to help design footwear and test out all their other products as well. They really listen to their athletes and have done everything to help me out. FSA is a new sponsor for ’08. I recently did a photo shoot with the other sponsored athletes in San Diego and am looking forward to being apart of that family this season (and riding the new NeoPro cranks). Nytro Multisport shop has recently changed ownership and Skip McDowell has done an excellent job taking care of the local athletes. He has changed the image of the shop and I am very fortunate to have him looking after me this year. I also work with a great ART guy here in San Diego, Gino Cinco of FunctionSmart. He was a huge reason I was healthy in my build-up to Kona. I will also be racing and training with HIC suncare for ’08. I got roasted in Kona during the race and I really needed to be protected from the sun. HIC is simply the best stuff out there and the product does not come off in the water.
I am still waiting to hear from others, but the companies mentioned above are crucial to my success in 2008.
I will also say that my fiancé and training partners here in San Diego play a large role in support. I realize how lucky I am to be marrying a woman who does not “accept” my lifestyle, but encourages it. I am extremely hard on myself and she is always there to make me focus on the positives. When I race, I race for others. I will never drop out of a race unless I have a broken bone or am taken away by ambulance. It is not fair to my fiancé, sponsors, or family that invest their time to watch me race.

ST: What is your favorite race event anywhere and why?

Mac: Kona is hands down my favorite race and will be as long as I do this sport. I was really upset when rumors of the race moving venues were going around. That island is so special to me. It kills me when other athletes disrespect that race or the local customs. We are so lucky the local residents let us race on their island. I really believe in the spirit of the Hawaiian Islands and for those who don’t . . . well we have seen some athletes pay their dues over the years.
St. Croix 70.3 is my favorite 70.3 race and I try and go back there every year. I visited that island on family vacations many times and a good family friend has a condo right on the course. The race is really well run and is a great early season hot/ hilly course. It is a great race if you like heat and hills and the after-party is pretty legendary as well!

ST: What are you doing in the off-season?

Mac: I have been spending a lot of time with my fiancé and have/will be going back to Virginia to see my family for the Holiday season. I am also starting to get in to the coaching business (always thinking about my future). I have always wanted to be a coach, even growing up as a kid, and now I am really starting to explore some multisports coaching options. When I am done competing on a high level I would like to go in to the coaching business full time.

I also decided to hire a swim coach to work with me one-on-one for this season. Roch Frey ( is really helping me with my swimming and I am going to be putting some serious effort in to my swimming this winter. Roch and I have the same training philosophy (keep it simple) and he knows what it takes to get to the next level. He has coached former World Champions and his wife Heather Fuhr was recently inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame. It is pretty apparent he knows what he is talking about. Roch cannot make me faster in the water, but he can show me the way. It is up to me to put the time and effort in to my swimming.

ST: What is your favorite food?

Mac: Mexican food and Thai food. Helps that I live in San Diego and can eat some of the best fish tacos in the world.

ST: Do you have any preferences in terms of music?

Mac: I listen to A LOT of music from all different genres. My iPod at the moment consists of U2 (huge fan), Thievery Corporation, Goldfrapp, Johnny Cash, Ben Harper, Beck, Jack Johnson, Air, Zepplin, Hendrix, Beatles, etc. I am not really a big country or classical fan.

ST: What was the last movie you saw and did you like it, and that of course can mean Netflix?

Mac: Saw Rescue Dawn last night with Christian Bale. Very average, but Bale is my favorite actor so I had to see it. I also love reading/watching movies about military Special Ops missions. Coming from Virginia Beach and living in San Diego I have had the opportunity to spend some time with some Special Forces guys. I always get a kick out of reading the posts on Slowtwitch about SEALS.

ST: Do you have any special tips for age group athletes?

Mac: First thing is you really do not need all the gadgets to get in to the sport. I do not train with power and only wear a heart rate monitor once a week for my long runs. Go out and just get the necessities.

Also, make sure you schedule time to spend with your significant other. They are a huge reason you can do this sport. Balance is key to life.

And lastly, if you do have certain goals and a finite amount of time to achieve them, hire a coach . . . it saves you a ton of headaches and wasted time/energy.

Mac Brown race results 2007

- Fiesta Island Time Trial (San Diego, CA) 1st Place Male 19-29
- Ford Ironman California 70.3 (Oceanside, CA) 1st OA Amateur (Fastest OA bike split.)
- St. Croix Ironman 70.3 (St. Croix, USVI) 1st Place OA Amateur
- 2XU Encinitas Sprint Triathlon (Encinitas, CA) 6th Place OA Elite
- Ford Ironman USA Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene, ID) 1st Place OA Amateur
- Timberman 70.3 (Gilford, NH) 3rd Place OA Elite
- Ford Ironman World Championship (Kona, HI)
4th Place OA Amateur, 2nd Place M25-29, 35th Place OA

Mac Brown stats

Mac Brown
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170 race weight, 182 out of season
Inseam: 32

Tri bike
Model: Cervelo P3C
Frame size: 56
Bar drop: 13cm (was at about 17cm at the start of the season, but I was having shoulder pain)
Saddle height: 77cm (center of BB to center of saddle)

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