Daily Archives: August 17, 2012

400 Meter Hurdles: Quest for the Finish

squarified version of Image:Olympic rings.svg ...

squarified version of Image:Olympic rings.svg for easier use as icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the Olympics this year, I spent a few minutes watching the re-run of the 400 meter hurdles. I would have watched it live, but NBC hated that idea, so instead I settled for the highlights.

I’ve been running a lot lately. At least 10 miles a week, which I find hilarious. If you’d seen my bruised, shin-splinted legs in high school ten years ago, you might find it kind of hilarious too.

Yet when I look at those races where people not only sprint 400 meters but spend some time jumping throughout? I want to take a nap. Because just when they think they’re getting to the end?

Bua ha ha, another inanimate object to leap over. Suckers.

The St. Louis Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri

“I’m supposed to do WHAT with this?” The St. Louis Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m embarking on a quest. Unfortunately, it’s not the sort where I get to level up or gain +10 badassery for each hurdle I leap.

(But how awesome would that be?)

I need my mundane life to sound kind of epic to motivate me. Otherwise filling 12 waters for a table of businesspeople who otherwise ignore my presence would be really disheartening. Instead of “working out,” I train for the zombie apocalypse. Instead of setting goals, I’m embarking on a quest.

It makes life flow a little better.

The next year will be like a really long 400 meter hurdles. There will be a lot of sprinting and a lot of obstacles that pop up in the way, but the finish line is around a couple of bends. What will the finish line look like?

My good friend last night reminded me of a quote from an unknown author:

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

My late grandfather hand-built this dollhouse.

Your quarters for the next two years. Actual size. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve already got a head start on the first bit. This year is my sprint to the latter. Chances are it will take more than a year, but I can put enough in place this year to make the ones thereafter start to get simpler.

I think that running the 400 meter hurdles comes out of a certain knowledge that something lies on the other side. For Olympic runners, maybe it’s the gold medal, or even the bronze. For the rest of us, it’s whatever we’ve been putting off, whatever we have wanted to strive for but let fall by the wayside.

For the rest of us, deciding to take that race, to leap the hurdles even when our calves and hamstrings and quads burn and there’s still one or two or three more jumps before the finish line — that’s the biggest decision we’ll make in our lives. It might take several races before we end up on that podium.

The amazing thing about the 400 meter hurdles is that it’s a sprint. It’s not a distance run. It’s no marathon or 10K. It’s a race still built on explosive power that feels like by the end it will burn you up into a cinder.

It’s a race in which every millisecond counts toward that finish line. Life itself might be a marathon, but finishing your own ultimate quest? That’s a sprint. No matter how long you put it off before you begin, it’s still a sprint, waiting for that pistol.

That’s why it’s so important to start.

Where’s yours?

What does your finish line look like? If you had one or two or three years to get where you want to spend your life, how would you spend today? Tomorrow? Next month?



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