Step 1: Showing up

Tri for Les: IronmanAZ is officially on!

“…one of the most important things in life is showing up. I’m blown away by your ability to show up…” — Conor O’Neill (played by Keanu Reeves in the 2001 movie Hard Ball)

I never saw the movie Hard Ball, but Keanu’s trademark, melodramatic delivery of this line made me laugh when I saw the trailer back in 2001. Classic Keanu: cheesy, simple and sensationalized.

No, it’s not his best work, but the quote stuck with me over the years.

Despite (or maybe thanks to) its Keanu-ness, it’s become a funny little motivator that pops into my head from time to time.

After all, it’s true: taking the first step and showing up on Day 1 is such a pivotal part of conquering a challenge.

That scary mountain lurking up ahead makes it way too easy to procrastinate, fabricate excuses and settle back into the comfy groove on the couch.

But once you enable yourself to put one foot in front of the other, the climb’s not as tough as it seemed. The key is to get moving and get started.

This could be updating your resume for a career change, free writing to begin a paper, or laying your gym clothes out for tomorrow morning’s workout. Now you’ve got momentum, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Well, the 140.6 miles of the 2013 Ironman Arizona is my next mountain. And I took my first step toward the top when I registered last week.

General registration for the insanely popular race fills up in minutes. So to guarantee my spot at next year’s competition, I had to volunteer this year to get early registration privileges.

My volunteer role as bike handler in T2 let me see a lot of the racers pass through after they finished their 112-mile bike ride. We took the nasty, sweaty, sometimes-defecated-on bikes from the competitors and parked them back on the racks. We wore gloves.

The coolest part was when the cut-off time came around. If an athlete didn’t make it across the timing mat before 5:30pm, they’d be eliminated from the race. A couple competitors arrived with seconds to spare and it was awesome to rally them across in time.

After spending an inspiring and tiring day at the race, it was right back to Tempe Beach Park at 5am the following morning to wait in line for 2.5 hours to register.

The line practically wrapped around the park, with some people even pitching a tent the night before and camping to get a spot at the front of the line.

All this effort and preparation just to register may seem crazy. But when you think about how crucial that first step is, it makes sense.

We showed up, and next thing we knew, we were registered.

Tri for Les: IronmanAZ is officially on. Now, we just keep moving.