I had finished up my final season swimming at LSU and was in my (ahem) 5th year of school working to graduate. A good friend of my brothers was going Ironman Kona and my brother and my Mom and Step Dad were going to cheer him on. I was staying home and going to class. Well my step-dad had to bail at the last minute and I got a call from my Mom asking if I wanted to go. Let's see, Hawaii, you're paying? Of course this was back in the day when you could change the name on a plane ticket. So I was in.
Having no idea what was really going to happen....I was going for fun in the sun. Okay so this was 1989- 20 years ago. The first thing I remember as we were cruising around Kona was how frickin fit everyone looked. Coming from the pool deck I was accustomed to some fit bodies but these people were lean and ripped upper and lower body. I do remember swimming the course, thinking, not a big deal- even I can do that.
Race day we are up and at the start, it was mayhem and when the cannon went off, I was frozen in fascination watching the mass swim start. I had chills and knew this was something very special. Watching them come out and zoom away on the bike was awe inspiring. And seeing Dick Hoyt pulling his son in the boat was the first, of many times that day, my eyes sprung a leak.
Off they went and my brother was determined to go and see Bruce on the lava fields. I just remember driving and driving, for what seemed like forever, and then someone he negotiated us around a barricade and there we were out in Havi. It was hot and windy and frankly miserable. I remember thinking what drives someone to want and do this. We cheered for everyone as I remember it was so lonely out there.
We zoomed back to town and I remember the huge commotion about 2 guys dueling it out...Well this was the year Dave Scott won his first Ironman Hawaii after 7 previous attempts. These guys were flying, running 2:42 and 2:43 marathons- unthinkable. And I remember Mike Pigg- how could you not remember that name. And Paula Newby Frasier- small and incredibly fast. It was amazing.... For nostalgia I looked up Bruce. He finished 143rd 9:42...pretty darn fast.
As we stood there watching the runners come out of T2 and then watching the finish I had goosebumps, tears in my eyes and that was when the seed was planted. Someday I thought...I want to be here! That night at dinner we did a toast and my brother asked if I thought I would ever do Ironman and I said yes. He said he would be there.
So 3 years ago when I did my 1st Sprint and then an Olympic and then a 70.3, Ironman was knocking at my door. 3 Ironman's later, that seed is now running my life as I am about to do my 4th and this one in Hawaii. And yes, my brother will be there, all the way from Australia! Bruce Mace...I guess I have you to thank!