LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid resident Mac Rand made a commitment to compete in yet another Ironman after watching last year's event as a volunteer. However, this time Rand decided to take it to another level, coming up with a plan to double the effort by taking on the same course the next day.
After spending close to 13 hours on the sanctioned Ironman Lake Placid course Sunday, July 27, Rand woke up the next morning and got right back on the course. The 60-year-old completed the rare Ironman double after midnight on Monday, July 28 and raised more than $29,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the process.
Completing an Ironman would be the high point of most athletes' lives, but why would someone do it two days in a row? That means in a little over 24 hours, Rand would have to swim 4.8 miles, bike 224 miles and run 52.4 miles.
Mac Rand of Lake Placid pedals the Ironman course along the West Branch of the AuSable River on Monday, July 28, a day after completing the 140.6-mile sanctioned event on Sunday. Rand finished the course for a second time Monday evening in the Olympic oval to complete the two-day Ironman double. Rand raised close to $30,000 to contribute to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of his “140.6 Times 2” campaign. The course included a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run.
I think I got my answer on Monday morning around 6:30 a.m. while driving through Wilmington Notch on a rainy and chilly Adirondack morning. I had skipped coffee to make sure I wouldn't miss Rand's start shortly after 7 a.m. I turned the heat on as I drove through the Notch and asked myself why on earth was I on the road this early on such a miserable day? There were no trout waiting for me, it was too early for first tracks on the mountain and there was no pot of gold waiting at the end. Then it hit me: I was doing it because I SAID I WOULD.
So, despite the horrendous and extremely treacherous conditions, Rand was going to do back-to-back Ironmen because he said he would. Armed with that resolve, Mac dived into Mirror Lake at 7:21 a.m. As the day progressed, the physical and environmental conditions demanded all of the resolve this man had to give.
Below are a few questions I emailed to Rand. He responded right away on Tuesday, July 29.
Lake Placid News: Mac, first let me say how truly humbled we are by your drive, commitment and physical conditioning. What event or situation made you decide to do this incredible charity event?
Mac: I first raced for Team in Training (TNT) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) in 1991 when my older brother Greg (Sauter) was dying from leukemia. I found fundraising for them to be way to make something good come out of a horrible situation. Greg only lived a few months longer after that initial race, but I have continued to race on behalf of TNT periodically since.
As far as the decision to do two Ironmans: I was watching last year's race up at the oval, already knowing that I would be racing here this year for TNT. For some reason which I really can't explain, I just had this idea pop into my mind: I wonder if I could do this two days in a row? And right after that came the thought that cancer patients often have lousy days but have to get up the next day and continue to fight their personal fight. It just made sense to me to devote my second day to all those fighting leukemia and other forms of cancer.
LPN: I believe our readers would like to know how you prepared for this - specifically, what your training regimen was and how long you trained.
Mac: I trained similar to the other Ironmans I've done (four before this weekend), but with one glaring addition: every week I did two back-to-back "brick" days, when you bike, then run. Example: bike 100 and run 15 on a Friday, then the next day bike 70 and run 12. That was ALWAYS followed by a full rest day, and that day always allowed me to recover and get ready for the next week.
I am always active, though I took last summer off from triathlons to finish my 46 High Peaks (completed in September). During the winter I started ramping up my training, especially my bike mileage. Going into this I really felt that my cycling would be the key to being able to do Day Two. In the past, I think I probably average 130 to 140 miles a week of bike training. This spring and summer, it was more like 240 miles per week. That's a BIG jump, but my body seemed to respond to it well.
I do a lot of indoor training for obvious winter weather reasons, and while it can be a bit boring at times, I think it can actually be a better workout. No coasting down hills!
I watch a lot of cycling workout DVDs by a guy named Troy Jacobsen. He keeps it fun and relatively interesting, far better than just staring at the basement wall.
Overall, in an average week over the past few months I swam two to three times per week, ran four to five times per week and rode four to five times per week. It was very time consuming, but I tried to avoid digging into family time. I always took Sunday off so we could be home together; go to church, whatever we wanted to do. I have a VERY understanding family!
LPN: Can you give us a general idea how you "loaded" your body for such punishment? What did you eat/drink the night before? What did you have for morning nourishment? Is it true you had a slice of pizza in your hand riding from AuSable Forks back to Jay?
Mac: Very important! In an Ironman you can burn 600-800 (or more) calories an hour, but you can only digest about half of that. So, you really need to try and go into the event fully prepared. I am not the healthiest eater in the world (orange cupcakes, anyone?), but I started using powdered protein supplements to help with muscle damage and repair. Some carbs the night before, of course. The day of a big race I eat a light breakfast: a banana or two, maybe a bagel or some other carb, washed down with sports drink.
LPN: How many pairs of running shoes do you go through in a year?
Mac: Interesting question! When I find a pair of shoes I like I'll often buy a second (or even third) pair because the manufacturers often change their styles and what used to be a great fit won't feel so good any more. You'll sometimes see recommendations of changing shoes every 400 to 500 miles, but I ignore that. My body tells me when it's time to change but giving me little warnings in the form of aches or minor pains. If they feel good, I keep wearing them! I wanted to be safe as my favorite shoes were getting a bit "long in the tooth," so went to Gail (Joseph) at Fallen Arch a couple months ago and she put in a brand (Brooks) I had never tried before. I LOVED them and ran in them on Day One. I call them my "ruby red slippers" as they are a weird neon strawberry color. I think I embarrass my youngest daughter Faith!
LPN: Is there a particular spot on the course that gave you nightmares? If so, did you train/plan differently for this?
Mac: Bike: I loved having the "home-field advantage" and being able to train on the courses whenever I felt like it. I used to hate the hill where 86 turns off from 9N in Jay and heads toward Wilmington. So I did a lot of hill training (including my coach's advice to occasionally do the course BACKWARDS so I'd have to climb UP the Cascades from Keene). Going DOWN the Cascades into Keene was pretty nerve-wracking until the recent repaving. Thank you DOT! (It was still nerve-wracking both days this year because of the wet weather.)
Run: Because I had to hold myself back a bit this year on Day One, I really wanted to walk up Mill Hill to save my legs. However, a cameraman from the Ironman Foundation who I had met the day before came up to film me right at the bottom of the hill, and I couldn't walk on film!
I also find the out-and-back on River Road to be a bit long and mentally tough as you're running AWAY from where you want to be. Again, I just went out and ran it enough to know every rise and just learn to deal with it.
It was the strangest thing on the bike. On Day One, I'd pass other riders on the side of the road with flat tires or other mechanical problems, and I'd feel bad for them. But I knew that wouldn't happen to me. Not "hoped" it wouldn't happen. I KNEW I was going to be okay. This may sound a little "out there," but it was like I was being watched over.
Also, I drew strength from a bracelet on my right wrist. Just one week before the Sunday race, my 22-year-old nephew Scott died in a car accident, stunning everyone in the family. That bracelet had Scott's name and dates on it, and countless times throughout both days I looked at it and just thought his name, or said to myself, "Give me strength, Scott." He did!
LPN: Aside from sleep, what's on the agenda post-race?
Mac: I never sleep well the night after a big race, which means I haven't slept well for the last TWO nights! Maybe three hours each night. I am not by nature a big sleeper anyway (unlike my 14-year-old daughter! So just a decent night's sleep tonight will be fine.
I crave "real" food, not gels or sports drink! The day after the second race we all went out to a big breakfast at Hojo's, which hit the spot, then had some big old cheeseburgers for dinner. It's funny how your body tells you what you need to feed it! Lots of protein, in my case.
LPN: I know it's early, but do you have any plans for next year? Perhaps, a team?
Mac: I will volunteer, not race. If I want to race the following year I'll be able to sign up, but I have enjoyed the volunteering experience regardless of if I want to register for the following year. I really don't have any plans at all yet, other than do some hiking once my legs are up to it. I want to go back to Algonquin which was clouded in when I climbed it a few years ago, and a few others. But you do a lot of damage to yourself in a race like Ironman, so I will certainly be taking it easy for the next one or two weeks.
LPN: Monday's conditions were dreadful. It rained over two inches and the temperatures were downright chilly. How did you avoid hypothermia, huge puddles of water and crazy motorists?
Mac: Absolutely horrible. Going down the Cascades with an endless line of traffic feet away from me, being pelted by the rain and controlling myself on steep downhills, was maybe the toughest conditions I've ever faced in a race.
I got to Keene and met my support crew, and I tell you I was worried about my ability to continue. I was soaked to the skin, so took my son's jacket which kept me relatively warm, if not dry. There were places the puddles were so deep that you couldn't see if there were potholes, ruts, etc. I was very fortunate to not having any problem, no flats or anything like that. That would have been a disaster!"
LPN: Did you find your pace was reduced on Day 2? By my calculations, you must have finished your run somewhere around midnight. Is that correct?
Mac: I had a firm plan going into Day One of controlling my pace and not going as hard as I was capable of. My coach, Kari Fitzsimmons from AMC here in Lake Placid, often told me I had to be "in a bubble" and not pay any attention to others around me. I am very competitive by nature, but I had to put that competitiveness aside and stay within the plan. I did 12:17 here in 2011, and decided that I wanted to shoot for a 14 hour finish on Sunday. I believe I was within minutes of that. (His official time was 12:58:31, including the adjusted swim time.)
I was nervous as could be come Monday morning; the rain certainly "dampened" my spirits! I was really wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. Once I put the wetsuit on, though, I calmed right down and was ready to get to it.
My bike pace was strong throughout Day 2, surprisingly so. The only reason I was out there a long time was because I stopped every 10 miles or so to check in with my support crew and eat or drink. The run pace was excellent (not to be confused with fast!). I decided that I wanted to run laps of Mirror Lake, so that in the event of emergency I wouldn't be out in the dark on River Road or someplace away from help. Plus we had sidewalks and lights. I had a designated "walk" in front of Mirror Lake Inn where we'd walk for maybe 100 yards, but ran everything else. I had one TNT supporter, Keith Murray, who ran the ENTIRE marathon with me! We always had at least 2-3 others, and sometimes even more. That made a big difference. We had a car parked in front of the Hampton Inn with clothes and food in case I needed anything - -my little oasis at the end of each lap.
I'm not exactly sure what time it was - after midnight, maybe 12:30? We hung out there for a while, chatted with the WPTZ reporter who had been following us, thanked everybody and went back to the hotel. (Yes, we live here--but logistically it made sense to be right in town to avoid transportation and parking headaches and to be able walk right out the front door Monday morning and hit the lake.)
LPN: Your wife Ann was there for you every step of the way. Between training and doing two Ironman laps, you must owe her big time.
Mac: Ann has been so supportive of not only this endeavor, but my other big races that require so much training time! If I was just doing this for myself she might not be quite so tolerant, but since it was all for LLS, she was behind it 100 percent. But yeah, I think there will still be a little payback - but because I want to, not because she expects and asks for it.
LPN: It is now Tuesday, how bad do you feel?"
Mac: I feel amazingly good! One toe was jamming into the front of my shoe and is a little tender, and I have a rash from my running shorts. I keep thinking I should feel worse considering what I subjected my body to, but I'm not complaining! Sometimes it takes another day for the soreness to really settle in. Honestly, I don't care. The fact that we accomplished this seemingly impossible goal makes any aches or pains meaningless.
Any minor discomfort was more than offset when I saw a slew of donations come in today, and--the icing on the cake--I surpassed my fundraising goal of $28,120! We will end up somewhere north of $30,000, which is better than I could have dreamed.
The whole purpose of this second day was for Mac to create awareness and to solicit donations for those who suffer from leukemia or lymphoma and to help those who will benefit from the research and cures that are made possible by people donating to such a worthy cause. To date, Mac has raised nearly $30,000, which has surpassed his goal of $28,000.
If you wish to contribute, you may do so by visiting his website at pages.teamintraining.org/uny/yourway15/wmrand. Rand has offered to give a presentation about setting goals, reaching out to help others and the physical challenge of his endeavor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.