For those that were not on the Chris McCormack - Macca call last night (April 17th, 08) here is my brief synopsis of it ( I was in the midst of packing for a wedding, uploading IMAZ pics, and eating some cookies so I missed some parts):
-First off Macca sounded just like you see him in tv interviews: super relaxed, eager to share about anything and everything, not holding back on answers, and once again displayed his encyclopedia-like knowledge about our sport and fellow competitors. He was very open to sharing and I think he probably went over the time limit he was getting compensated for.
-He has just finished a 10 week base period and is moving into harder stuff ahead of Wildflower (can we get some live ST coverage of Wildflower? Come on slowman!). The other 2 focus races he mentioned were Ironman Germany and obviously Kona.
-Speaking about his bike vs run he really went into detail about why he has backed off on the bike at Kona after winning other Ironmans off the front. For Kona he said he figured out that he needed to stay under 155 hear rate till right about 4 hours and then allowing it to rise modestly heading back into town.
-Bike setup: He mentioned that for him Ironman is all about comfort. He specifically mentioned Tjorborn and Chris Lieto as guys whose plan is to ride hard and hold on for the marathon (“you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out their plan”). The questioner asked him specifically about why he was so relaxed and unsteep (ST steep crew where u at?) - Macca mentioned that coming from short course (along with Crowie) that he had moved from a more relaxed setup to his current one that is not as steep as the Normans or Bjorns of the world but allows him to run fast.
-About Bjorn – he said that Bjorn has “beautiful bike splits” in his aggressive position but then has “horrendous marathon splits” so what Macca has decided is to position himself in a way that allows for optimal running (by the way, this is exactly what Greg Bennett told me at Chicago Tri last year, interesting for me to hear two very opposite athletes that are considered “run specialists” at different distances offer the same critique - video interview with Bennett over at www.youtube.com/iwilltri )
-He mentioned the ability of him and Tjorborn and current guys to go to the lab and get tested. For Macca it was water, weight, and sweat rate. For Tjorborn it was the heat issue. He mentioned that for everyone it is different strengths and weaknesses and since he is a biger athlete he’d ever be able to win off the front at Kona cause he would not be able to run well (he said at the beginning of his Kona experiences he couldn’t even put together a measly three hour marathon cause he had ridden too hard). He mentioned Crowie “not even wearing an aero helmet” and how each has to play to his strengths.
-As the heaviest triathlete to win Kona (80kilos), he mentioned that he loses a lot of water during the race (one reason why Mark Allen counseled him to train up in Boulder - to “become a camel”) and on the nutritional side will take 440 calories (I was surprised by the 440 exact # but Macca is VERY number based/analytical) for first three hours of bike and then reduce to 350 calories and less as race progresses.
-Caffeine: Peter Reid got him on coffee (“I had never had a cup of coffee before coming to America mate”). He says he will drink tons of coffee, then quit cold turkey for 3-4 weeks before Ironman, and then take the double caffeinated clif shots (I guess Clif makes him a special blend) that really give him a boost. He has a Red Bull at run special needs which gives him an extra boost.
-Mental Toughness: he talked a lot about Mark Allen helping him in this area – I wish I had taken more notes but I stopped writing and just listened – this is heavy stuff where the boys and the men get weeded out, if you have read/listened to MA you know he is big on it and Macca spent a good deal of time on this… “when I was coming out of transition in ‘07 running 5:30s people were yelling and saying I was going too fast, and that is when I remember what MA had told me – you can’t doubt yourself, you have to press on. I had worked for this moment, it was my moment and I was not going to second guess myself.”
He talked about seeing Crowie give him a wave (I am guessing at the turn around?) and how he didn’t wave back because he didn’t want to give any energy away – this is something that MA has talked about in the past and I think Peter Reid too. “It was my moment, I kept telling myself don’t screw this up, you have to finish.” Sorry I don’t have more notes about this but it was pretty inspiring and insightful to listen to him replay his Kona mental moments.
-Macca seemed to be so aware of everything around him during the race - he mentioned knowing how guys would ride, how they could run (he thought Lieto was running a very smart marathon) . Crowie ran 1:30 into him at the end but that was when Macca knew he’d win and had started to celebrate.
-Ironman pain: he went off for a while about embracing Ironman pain, the dark moments we all go through – he said that MA helped him to embrace that. That you need to mentally embrace the pain and realize it will pass and then will probably come back but that is part of racing. Once again I wish I had more notes but I was paying attention and not writing…
Overall I was impressed again with the studious, humble, open, and transparent he was. I have interviewed a few pros now and they obviously all need some level of “I want to be 1st” to survive” – so before the Macca haters get on here and tear me apart I just want to say that yes he can be cocky and we all know that too (he admits to it) - but his passion for triathlon is very infectious (listen to the full ironmantalk podcast at Roth last year!) and he is quite the student of the sport.
He is a very good ambassador for our sport in the same vein as Greg Bennett and Michellie Jones.