I ran track in high school. I wasn’t very fast, but I had heart. I always thought that was my best asset as an athlete – heart. I always showed up and poured my soul into all my races and games. Maybe it was my obvious courage, or maybe it was my running technique, but the coach saw something in me that made me a prime candidate to run hurdles.

Now, hurdles are not for the faint of heart. Don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t come anywhere near the Tough Mudder or American Gladiators or even the steeple chase (that was always fun to watch at meets), but running hurdles was tough. I mean, you willingly sign up for a sprinting race in which tall obstacles are purposely placed in your path at equidistant intervals and you have to jump over them. You can sail over them with agility and grace, or you can run right through them, wreaking havoc as you go, but you’ve got to stay the course. Straight ahead is the only choice.

When it comes to the human body, we all have a dominant side for strength, coordination, balance and the like. When running hurdles, it’s most efficient to use the same lead leg each time. Usually, this will be the leg that goes into your pants first when you’re getting dressed, or swings over your bike when you’re getting ready to ride. You can use the non-dominant side too. Everyone is free to clumsily ramble over the hurdles with limbs akimbo. You probably won’t win that way is all. Some people are blessed with the ability to lead with either leg comfortably. I was not such an individual, though there were certainly times when I arrived at the hurdle and I just had to go for it, wrong leg or not. It wasn’t elegant, but I made it. Buy Viagra no prescription fast delivery from http://www.bantuhealth.org/viagra-buy/ with visa and mastercard.

When you’re running at top speed, hurdles are friggin’ intimidating. They’re not quite as soft as a duvet from Bed, Bath & Beyond, and in fact they do a beautiful job of removing the skin from your shins if you knock them down in just the right way. Not to mention that you can totally wipe out like a rock star, fast-tracking your way to becoming the most popular kid in school.

Running hurdles for five years, I saw it all. The thing is, you’ve got to face it. At the Metro Toronto Finals in 1997, I was running the 400m hurdles, rounding the final turn, heading for the homestretch. As I approached the hurdle, my stride was off, and not only was I on the wrong lead leg, but I was a really awkward distance away from the hurdle – too far to make it, too close to take another step. I came to a dead stop. The bleachers were full of teenagers, known for their unwavering compassion and supportive attitudes. There was pointing. There was mockery. My face may have turned a redder shade of beet. Flustered, I lost the plot and went around the darned thing. I came in last. The icing on the cake? I was disqualified for running out of my lane.

Life is like a box of chocolates, but it’s also a lot like running hurdles. It takes preparation, strength, and courage. Most of all, there’s no way around our obstacles. We’ve got to face them head on, fear and all. Sometimes we’ll sail right over the hurdle with elegant ease. Other times, we’ll fumble over it, feeling klutsy and clumsy. We might knock it over and earn a few battle scars along the way. Heck, we might even come to a dead stop. But if we try to avoid it, we’re out of the game.

It’s the same with life’s challenges. If we walk away from our problems, or avert our gaze, if we indulge our preference to avoid them at all costs, what are we here for? Whatever we’re afraid will happen very may well come to fruition. But ten years from now? We’ll be so glad we leaned in and took a closer look. Life will be more
so much more fulfilling for having done the hard thing. Perfection is not a prerequisite for progress.

I might not come in first, I might look silly, and people might even openly mock me. Sometimes I’ll get it right, and sometimes I’ll get it wrong but dammit, I’m staying in the race. Are you with me?