The Endurance Race Referred to as Life

The Endurance Race Referred to as Life
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Mark Macy lately bought a tattoo on his proper arm that depicts lots of the grueling endurance occasions he’s tackled in his life.

In the event you don’t know Macy, a 69-year-old retired legal professional from Evergreen, Colorado, the ink on his arm will inform you that he’s a tenacious ultra-distance athlete who’s been there and executed that. However the sincerity of his smile, his deep blue eyes, and gregarious chuckle inform you every thing you must find out about him.

The tattoo, which is a collage of names and symbols from Eco-Problem, Ironman, Badwater, Iditasport, Spartan Race, and the Leadville 100, represents his rigorous race resume courting again to the late Eighties. “Mace,” as he’s been identified by buddies, household, colleagues, and coaching companions, is one in every of solely a handful of individuals on the planet who’ve accomplished not less than eight of the ten Eco-Problem multisport journey races for the reason that first one in 1995.

However the tattoo isn’t a showy gesture by any means. He was by no means a podium finisher at any of these occasions, and moreover, he doesn’t have a boastful bone in his physique anyway. It was only a enjoyable factor to do and, maybe, a solution to maintain all of it prime of thoughts, now that he’s going through the largest endurance occasion of his life.

Mace was recognized 4 and a half years in the past with early onset Alzheimer’s illness and, regardless of remaining very bodily and mentally lively, it has continued to advance past the early stage of delicate reminiscence loss.

“You already know he’s happy with the brand new tattoo, and, whereas doesn’t at all times bear in mind what’s on it, he form of remembers it’s there and he has enjoyable displaying it to different individuals,” says his son, Travis Macy, 40, who, not solely adopted in his father’s passionate life-affirming footsteps for endurance sports activities however turned it right into a profession as knowledgeable athlete, coach, creator, speaker and podcaster.

Cover or A Mile at a Time, where son and father are crossing a river with a bike
(Picture: Courtesy Think about )

Mace’s heartfelt story is captured in a robust new father-son memoir centered on the demanding journey Mace and Travis endured through the 2019 Eco-Problem race in Fiji. Collectively written by the Macys and Patrick Reagan, A Mile at a Time: A Father and Son’s Inspiring Alzheimer’s Journey of Love, Journey, and Hope, which hit bookstores in March, depicts Mace’s full life as an endurance sports activities participant, revered protection legal professional, and devoted household man. Most significantly, due to the inclusion of Mace’s candid journal entries to begin every chapter, it tells a touching story about how he has continued dwelling and thriving amid the sluggish however merciless progress of the illness.

Enduring Dementia

Based on the Facilities of Illness Management, greater than 5.8 million Individuals reside with Alzheimer’s illness, the commonest type of dementia. Though there are some medicines that may assist cut back or management some cognitive and behavioral signs, scientists don’t but totally perceive what causes the illness, and there’s no treatment.

When Mace was initially recognized in October 2018, his household, led by his spouse, Pam, and their three youngsters have been instantly aligned in the necessity to maintain him mentally sharp and bodily lively as he headed into what was immediately a extra cloudy future. Included in that collective effort was the household determination to have Travis captain a four-person group of journey athletes—together with Mace—that might tackle the problem of climbing, mountain biking, paddling, climbing, and rappelling greater than 400 miles through the seven-day Eco-Problem, an occasion producer Mark Burnett was bringing again in 2019 after a 17-year hiatus.

They knew it could be a possibility for Mace to race one closing time, however being part of the aptly named Staff Endure was additionally a part of the larger household technique to maintain him engaged within the sports activities that  outlined him for thus lengthy, whereas additionally elevating cash to discover a treatment for Alzheimer’s. They made it by means of the race that was later broadcast as a 10-part collection on Amazon Prime, however the story within the e book tells extra concerning the transcendent energy of affection between households, buddies, and the endurance sports activities group.

Regardless of the worsening of the illness, Mace continued to hike, path run, and trip bikes with Travis, Pam, and different shut buddies, together with journey legend and longtime journey racing teammate Marshall Ulrich. Typically Mace would sometimes overlook what he was doing in the course of a hike, get misplaced on acquainted terrain, or uncharacteristically get depleted of vitality, however the positives of being lively within the outside far outweighed the negatives.

“In Mace’s story—and that of his household—I’ve discovered an inspiring reminder that with love, dedication, and teamwork, essentially the most formidable challenges may be overcome,” Burnett writes within the foreword of the e book. “Dwelling the life you like is at all times definitely worth the danger.”

Travis made his dad a co-host of his podcast, The Travis Macy Present, for some time, and the father-son duo chatted with quite a few endurance sports activities athletes, coaches, occasion organizers, and well being professionals in conversations about coaching, competitors, fueling, sports activities psychology, growing old, and extra, recalling a variety of tales in Mace’s athletic profession and shelling out nuggets of knowledge alongside the best way.

Nevertheless, amid the enjoyment of these moments and the continued household immersion (particularly along with his grandkids), Mace has nonetheless been on the mercy of the illness because it has been persistent. He stays as lively as attainable and nonetheless has good buddies who choose him up sometimes so he can be part of them for path runs and hikes. However he can not safely trip a motorbike due to declining spatial consciousness, and he wants extra assist each day. Travis admits it was a tragic day when he and his mother agreed lately it was time to select up Mace’s mountain bike and take it away.

Travis Macy at a book reading with his father.
Travis Macy at a e book studying along with his father. (Picture: Brian Metzler)

Travis is grateful to have his dad with him on the first Colorado stops of the e book tour, and that they’ll have the chance to be the featured audio system on the sixth annual Reminiscences Matter fundraising occasion, on April 19, on the American Museum of Pure Historical past in New York Metropolis. Whereas Travis led the generally emotional dialogue at a e book speak at Berkeley Park Working Firm close to Denver on April 5, Mace contributed the place he may along with his heat smile, witty humor and a candid defiance to beat the illness.

“When the e book went up for presale final August, I didn’t know, waiting for proper now, when the e book could be launched, if Dad would be capable to do any of those in-person occasions,” Travis mentioned lately. “However, fortunately, the reply is sure, he can. It appears to be like somewhat totally different, as a result of he’s not going to be main the dialog or something. However he can nonetheless contribute to tales, and he’s genuinely glad to be there, shaking individuals’s fingers and smiling and taking an image with them. And people are significant moments.”

Travis believes there’s a definite parallel in Mace’s lengthy historical past of putting up with bodily and psychological fatigue in endurance sports activities and his capability to stay sturdy and constructive amid what he is aware of is a declining situation. On the backside of Mace’s new tattoo, the phrase “Don’t Give up”—one in every of his generally repeated endurance sports activities mantras—is emblazoned on a purple-hued ribbon over the phrases “Finish Alz.”

For now, Mace remains to be on the market doing what he can, even when extra restricted than ever. Just a few occasions  per week, he ventures all the way down to the tip of his driveway alone and runs hill repeats up and down an adjoining grime highway.

“As soon as he’s on the market, he’s pushing himself, and he’s having fun with it,” Travis says. “And, , he can’t rely the hill repeats and he can’t observe how lengthy it’s been or something, however he stays on the market so long as he desires. And my mother is aware of proper the place he’s, and so if it’s been too lengthy or one thing, she simply walks on the market and brings him again residence. But it surely’s actually vital, as a result of it provides him one thing to do and the power for him to do his factor. It’s nonetheless actually what he appears to be like ahead to. It’s a vital a part of his life.”

“It’s All Good Coaching”

Mace’s latest tattoo is definitely the second he’s gotten in recent times. The opposite one on his proper forearm states, “It’s all good coaching,” a reminder that even the smallest efforts—no matter you may be able to on any given day—are good catalysts to maintain thriving within the sport of life.

And to that time, life is not about enduring hardcore endurance occasions for Mace, however as an alternative it’s about merely getting outside regularly to maneuver his physique, take within the views, and absorb deep breaths of contemporary air within the firm of household and buddies.

Macy is in a blue shirt and he is running in the forest
Mark Macy on a path run. (Picture: Brian Metzler )

And possibly, Travis says, that’s what it’s at all times been about for his dad. It’s the final word life lesson that Mace has handed on, in numerous methods, to his son and two daughters and 5 grandkids.

“One factor I noticed earlier than as he was getting older, however lengthy earlier than he had Alzheimer’s, was that it was lots much less about making an attempt to beat the course or the rivals and extra about simply being there, being there with nature, and being there with the group of individuals you care about,” Travis says. “That’s one thing that I’ve adopted, too. Competing nonetheless feels good as a result of that may be part of the enjoyable. However as I take a look at my entire goal, it’s much more about being with nature and being with different individuals, as a result of we’re all doing this collectively.”


Buy your copy of A Mile at a Time: A Father and Son’s Inspiring Alzheimer’s Journey of Love, Journey, and Hope at your native, impartial bookstore, or on-line right here

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