Ever since signing up for IMCA in August, I've mentally thought about the "why" and how to answer that question. Ultimately, I cannot come up with a great reason - or maybe not a simple one. As a friend said in an email, "Ironman is nothing if not inherently irrational", so I'll chalk up my empty response to that element of irrationality. I can say that once I dipped my toe into the triathlon world a few years back with Wildflower, the experience hooked me and perhaps it is inevitable to want to go longer and to know how that feels. I also think that I took the right approach for myself, to not sign up immediately for an IM distance but to build up my endurance and my experience and to try to improve and grow and learn, little by little, in different ways. Perhaps one is never truly 'ready' to take on a bigger goal, and you just have to go for it, but I think that I am more prepared than I would have been a year ago. When I finally registered, I'd been sitting with the idea for well over a year, which was plenty of time to mull it over, consider the pros and cons and also contemplate the different races (full Vineman? Whistler? what else is out there?), and to finally pull the trigger. Even after registering, I was filled with doubts - and I still am. I'm excited about this particular race and course - I had no desire for a super flat and fast course and I also did not relish the idea of training all summer long for IM (too much free time to dedicate to training and thinking about the race would probably do a number on my mental state). I'm certainly looking forward to the race and chose CdA in part because of the beauty of the area, and I'm also excited about the roadtrip that will be a part of the experience.
My two greatest fears are injuring myself and that I'll get a big fat DNF. I'm currently dealing a bit with fear #1, and that second fear, well, it certainly is a possibility. But I also decided that fear of a DNF shouldn't prevent me from attempting to realize a bold, audacious goal. There is always risk involved when you do something that you care about. Recently, I've felt fairly safe in a lot of ways, and it's good for me to get out of my comfort zone and learn a bit more - about going longer and about myself.
Finally, when I read the email from my friend (who finished her 9th IM in November), her parting words really clicked. She says "If you have ever even considered an Ironman—DO IT. It’s painful, silly, ugly, and insane, but you’ll never be the same again. And chances are, when it defies all logic, you might even find yourself standing at the start line again."