They are all 140.6 miles. And they are all challenging.
So, here I am, less than 48 hours away from tackling my own "Ironman." I've done the distance before, but that was fully supported. And after a summer of better and more dedicated training.
I do, however, have one thing going for me, this weekend. I don't have to do this. While that may seem strange to others, I find it more difficult to give up on something when it's entirely my own choice. Even though an official race has the specter of a "lost" entry fee, this event is all about personal achievement. And I mean completely.
There won't be thousands of people cheering at the start. Maybe a half dozen, instead.
There won't be thousands of people cheering at the end of the swim. Perhaps a handful.
There won't be throngs lining the bike course. Only the sag vehicles will know why we're out there.
There won't be people cheering and ringing cowbells during the marathon. But my kids will be there cheering at the half-way point.
And there won't be a party with thousands of people cheering participants to the finish line, or anyone announcing "You are an Ironman" over loudspeakers. Most likely, there will be the same handful of people that followed us through the entire day.
But there will be the satisfaction of knowing that we ARE made of iron. And that we did it on our own.
And at the end of the day, regardless of how far we make it, we'll know that we all saved well more than $750 in the process.
Still, it's nervous business staring down the barrel of an Ironman race. No matter the reason, the event, or the cost, it's still going to require that we go 140.6 miles in 17 hours. And that, my friends, calls for a gut check.