Allison Moehlis has been writing about her experience training for the Sept. 11 Santa Cruz Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. With her tears and fears behind her, she can smile about it now. (Moehlis family photo)

As Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, originator of the Barkley Marathon, put it in the documentary The Barkley Marathon: The Race That Eats Its Young, “something is a challenge if there is an opportunity for failure.”

If I viewed success exclusively as finishing the Sept. 11 Santa Cruz Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) in the allotted 8½ hours, then yes, there is an opportunity for failure.

Even the most experienced athletes sometimes don’t make it to the finish line on race day. Case in point: Sarah True, who finished fourth in the 2012 London Olympics Triathlon, withdrew during the bike leg of the 2016 Rio Olympics Triathlon.

Instead, I am following the wisdom of my dear friend and Ironman, Jon Goodman, by approaching Sept. 11 as the celebration of training consistently and thoroughly with joy and determination.

I feel like I have already succeeded and am really excited to be going to Santa Cruz totally prepared to celebrate by doing my best at the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.

On the off-chance I don’t finish, that just gives me more to look forward to the next time I attempt an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, but it will not rob me of the happiness I have already experienced on this journey.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished,” says John “The Penguin” Bingham, who used to write for Runner’s World. “The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

Since starting training for Santa Cruz I have learned more than I anticipated — both mentally and physically.

In addition to what I reflected on in my previous articles, my love of triathlon-ing has grown. Along the way I have experienced physical pains, and the silver lining is that there wasn’t a break in my training because when one sport was aggravating a joint or muscle I focused on the other two sports. It was gratifying to simultaneously rest and train.

Allison Moehlis has been focused more on her journey than the finish line, but she’s excited to be so close to it.

Allison Moehlis has been focused more on her journey than the finish line, but she’s excited to be so close to it. (Scott Christopher photo / Stolarz Photography)

I have also learned that triathlon-ing plays to my athletic strength, which is endurance, while indulging my mental muscle’s need for variety.

Focused more on my journey than the finish line, I can’t anticipate what it will feel like if I finish. No, I will not get an “M Dot” tattoo, but yes I will litter my body for a few days with “M Dot” temporary tattoos (cut in half of course, after all it is a 70.3 not a full Ironman).

I may even lobby Congress to add Ironman 70.3 as an official prefix like Ms. and Mr. Then I will have everyone address me as “Ironman 70.3 Allison.”

Or maybe I will write on the rear window of my car “Just Ironman-ed 70.3” and attach my previous (participation) medals from other types of athletic events to the bumper. After all, this is taking as much preparation and emotion as my wedding.

Or maybe I will ask my husband to build me a podium with a big No. 1 on it and in small print “… Moehlis to finish an Ironman 70.3.” Then I can stand on it whenever I want and have my friends and family cheer and applaud.

What can I say? There are many things to celebrate in life and many ways to celebrate them.

What I do know for sure, regardless of what happens in Santa Cruz, I will write about it for my wonderful Noozhawk readers.

Noozhawk contributing writer Allison Moehlis is proud to have earned many participation medals for completing half-marathons, metric century bike rides and triathlons. When she is not basking in the glow of her medal collection, she is a working mom of two bright and talented daughters and a happy wife of 17 years. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.