One Step at a Time

Here is the scene of one of my typical days twenty years ago: It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I’m sitting in my office in downtown Los Angeles.  I look out the window at the beautiful spring day and realize that this is the first time all day I’ve stopped to look outside.  I’ve barely been out of the office for the last several days, and I likely won’t for several more, as I’m about to scramble to LAX to catch a plane for Boston. Once again I have that same pounding headache that seems to have become an afternoon fixture.

Something about this scene had to change, and change it did!

I didn’t just put down my briefcase immediately to do my first Ironman. It was a journey that started with baby steps. And with the first day of this morphing into a new me, I lost the headache, so I knew I was onto something good.

One step at a time can lead you to wonderful places – sometimes to a place you had no idea you could reach. As a first step, I encourage you to turn on your television to NBC this Saturday afternoon, December 18th, from 4 to 6 PM EDT.

The show I want you to watch is the Ironman World Championships that were held in October on the Big Island of Hawaii. Although racers took between 8 and 17 hours to do the event, the show tells the story in two action-packed hours. You’ll witness, up close and personal, the struggles of athletes battling the hot, windy conditions and their competitors to get to the finish line, 140.6 miles from the start.

Although the show will focus on the young professionals (those who get paid to suffer), the real story, in my opinion, is the 1500 amateur athletes (18 – 80 years of age) who race the same course and conditions while battling with their competition, not for the money, but for the love of the game. I was one of those racers and on that day in October I notched my 23rd Ironman finish and tenth Ironman World Championship age-group title.

Watch the Ironman show on Saturday and we’ll talk afterwards.

About Cherie

Cherie Gruenfeld, Boingo's official butt-kicker, is an Ironman age group champion and world record holder. She is a grand masters triathlete — a sport in which she didn't even start competing in until her 40s — proving that top fitness is achievable at any age. She has raced in more than 25 Ironman triathlons, has 18 wins overall, and has won her age group at the Ironman World Championships a whopping 13 times. She's also an incredible fitness coach with great insights on goal setting and fitness on the road. Have a question for Cherie? Email her at You can also learn more about her non-profit organization, Exceeding Expectations on Facebook.
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3 Responses to One Step at a Time

  1. Antony says:

    Is the race available online, I travel too much to know if I’ll be near a TV around then

  2. Baochi says:

    Hi Antony, we’ll find out whether the show on the race will be posted online. Stand by. Are you a triathlete fan? 🙂 — Baochi

  3. Kelly says:


    First, let me tell you that I admire you! My husband and I watch the
    Ironman every year and I always think, “Wow, what a feat! How cool
    would it be to accomplish all that!”. A few years ago I completed the
    Chicago marathon, and it was amazing, but I cannot imagine doing that
    after swimming over 2.5 miles and biking over 100 miles! Incredible!

    I was hoping that you could impart some of your wisdom upon me. My
    husband is a Chicago office Boingo employee and he told me about a
    program that you are working on to get children exercising. I, also,
    work with children. I just finished my MS in exercise physiology and
    started working with a Neurodevelopmental pediatrician to help empower
    children with developmental disorders through exercise. Like with
    most people, these children are very excited about the exercise
    initially but there always seems to come a time when they start
    skipping exercise sessions and I hear all sorts of excuses, but what I
    was wondering is how do you encourage people to keep up with their
    exercise when life gets in the way?

    I would love to hear more of your stories. I often think, if someone
    can complete an Ironman in 1 day, than surely I can complete this 5
    mile run or this presentation or this work day! 🙂

    Your fan,
    Kelly Barnes