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?




About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on August 17, 2012, in life intervention and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Eleni Sakellis

    I don’t usually think of things in terms of a finish line. I guess John Lennon’s “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” kind of stuck in my head at an early age. Maybe the journey is the point and not the finish line. Maybe that’s underachiever talk for those of us who fear success.

    For everybody else, setting goals is great. Nobody really knows how much time they have left. Why not spend each day in pursuit of your goal? Why is somebody else’s goal more important than yours?

    “The journey of a thousand miles starts beneath one’s feet” -Laozi.
    Just make sure when you reach that goal, you’ve got another one lined up right after. Trust me, you do not want to be that track diva who wins gold and then doesn’t get the cover of the Wheeties box.

    • I’m definitely not saying to only have one goal lined up for life — just that if there’s something you want bad enough, eventually you have to really go for it or live with the regret. That’s what I meant by sprint.

      I think everyone should pay attention to the day-to-day and not get so focused on a goal that they do so at the detriment of the people around them, but sometimes it’s necessary to sprint for a while when you know you’re off track.

      I’ve spent too much time making excuses for not reaching my own goals, and it has set me back years. I could have been in Scotland back in 2008 if I’d really wanted to be. But I convinced myself I couldn’t do it…and now instead of getting to take advantage of an awesome immigration programme called the Fresh Talent Initiative, I now have to deal with the Tories and their feudal approach to their borders. Which is to say that my lollygagging cost me the best and brightest chance at a dream I’ve held for over a decade. It’s still feasible, but it’s going to take a lot more heavy lifting now than it would have then. A lot more. Now it’s going to be more about the money (which I traditionally have zero of) and less about timing. And now there is even less of a guarantee unless I magically become a bestselling author.

      That’s all, of course, water under the proverbial bridge now, but I’m the one stuck seeing it.

      Some goals (like being a successful writer) take a long time just about by definition. But other goals — traveling, moving to another country (or another state), learning a language — eventually they just have to be done. And when you want it that badly, you’ll do what it takes to do it. So that’s where I am. At the Nike Just DO It Stage.

  2. Run, Emmie, run! The photo of your finish line is reason enough to put your feet in the blocks and I’ll be along the route cheering you on.

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