OK, with doing an Ironman comes a few things to keep in mind. #1 Its a big task. #2 Your life will change. #3 It comes with a price.
All three have different aspects and interpretations. I'll try to break it down into how it effects me both psychologically and economically as many people would love to jump into doing a race of the Ironman distance, but have no clue of what comes with it. I don't mean to scare anyone off this track, but having a bit of perspective on what to expect will make it easier to manage.
#1 Training for these races is a daunting thing from the outside. Swim, bike, run for 140.6 miles is more than some people can get their heads around, or find a point to. Lucky for me I had been building through the Triathlon progression for a few years from Olympics to Half's, and the Full IM distance did not seem so un-attainable. As long as you have a manageable approach to fitting in 12-15 hours of training a week, you can do it. People have done it with more and less, but to stay healthy and sane, that's my mix.
#2 Unless you are starting cold from the couch, it takes 6-9 months to get ready to complete the race. In these months you will realize quite a few things about yourself, and others. Priorities will change, time becomes precious, and those who really matter in your life become clear both in your choice of who gets your time, and with who seeks you out and supports your goal. Late nights become a thing of the past, and the clock on the wall is your friend and enemy as it tells you what to do nearly all day, but doesn't wait when you are late.
#3 The emotional price of the Ironman is less time for friends and family. You still want to keep these relationships, so making time for them is important, but being everywhere, all the time is impossible. Saying "No" to some plans is going to happen, just accept it. The financial aspect is also very daunting. Sure the race is $600 and up to $900 for New York this year, but that is a mere fraction to the whole equation. If you are lucky enough to live within and hour of a race, good for you, but most races are a flight and hotel stay away. Lets tally up what's involved just for someone traveling solo.
Entry - $600
Flight - $400
Bike shipping - $250 (Southwest only charges $50 each way)
Hotel - $750 ($150 x 5)
Car Rental - $300
Food - $250
Total - $2,550
That's just keeping it on the cheap too. Hopefully you can split some of the costs, but this is the bare bones version. If you are walking into the race fresh lets add.....
Bike - $1,200
Wetsuit - $150 (Most IM's are in cold water regions)
Running Shoes - $80
Cycling Shotes - $80
Race clothing - $100
Helmet - $80
Goggles - $30
Sunglasses - $50
Total - $1,770
Grand Total - $4,320
This is just what I can come up with off the top of my head too. I can't imagine the additional costs with nutrition, be it Powerbars, Gatorade, or just increase in appetite on grocery bills.
Ironman is a great accomplishment though, and I'd say it was worth every penny for me. It is something I do with my family and friends, so there is something special added to every experience. Training has also brought me back to the previous version of "Me" that I thought was lost due to the poor lifestyle I lead in my 20's. Make sure to find what is special in your Ironman Journey to make it worth more to you too.