My husband loves it when I try to dodge these questions. He always points out to people how "crazy" I am. Not for wanting to DO Ironman but for wanting to RACE Ironman. He tells them how I ran through five stress fractures trying make the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials. His favorite injury story to tell (incredulously) is how "she read" it would be too painful to run with a stress fracture -- and because "she could" still run 20 milers, "she just assumed" it wasn't a stress fracture. He calls it obsessive compulsive disorder. I call it determination.
So, then, where DOES it end? Is this a rhetorical question? Have I gone way over the limits of normal goal-oriented behavior? Maybe the question(s) should be this: how does one know when determination progresses to an obsession/compulsion? and if it does, how do you undo it before it results in permanent damage (or, in my case, injury from overtraining)?
I've given this almost a week's worth of thought and my conclusion is that I haven't figured it out yet. I used to think it would "end" when I had the perfect race. Maybe that's MY way of not answering the question. Maybe races like Ironman exist as the direct result of people thinking and behaving the same way I do. Maybe the reason I do it, and will continue to do it, is because it's the only way I have ever been able to distinguish myself as an individual. Ironman is "what I do" because I'm useless at everything else. In that case, it may "end" when I find something that I'm good at. Or with the next disaster.