If my life were an Olympics hurdles race

I would like to welcome you to installment #376 of random situations that I reflect on, extract a deeper meaning from and then write about. Today’s topic: The Olympics!

Yes, that’s right. This post is seriously inspired by sports and will discuss the unprecedented interest I currently have in sports. If you had told me when I started this blog that I would one day be so excited about sports I would want to write about it, I would have raised one eyebrow at you and said whatever. Okay, I wouldn’t have raised one eyebrow because I’ve never been skilled enough to do so, but I would have said whatever. And then I would have, in spirit, had to pay 25 cents to the bad word jar we had growing up (these bad words, by the way, were whatever, so and but…I didn’t even know that worse words existed).


The point is, I’m not a sports person. I was never super interested in playing them and I was even less interested in watching them. This year, though, I have quite the case of Olympic fever! And when I get involved and interested in something I tend to go all out, which means I’ve watched more sports in the last week than I have in probably the last 10 years of my life.

While this sudden interest in all things Olympics is quite uncharacteristic, my approach is classic me. Every evening I go through the whole schedule for the following day (CBC website and I are besties right now), check all the lineups to find out if any Canadians are competing, and then make a schedule with all of the times of each event. The next morning when I wake up I check the results for the events that have already happened because Brazil is four hours ahead and I’m committed but I’m not THAT committed. Throughout the rest of the day I watch the events I’m interested in, sometimes with multiple screens going at once, and check on results for the events that I didn’t watch.

I can’t believe how fun this all is! I also can’t believe how many fun facts I’ve learned because every time I’m confused about what’s going on or I straight up don’t know what an event is I look it up. For example, now I know what an omnium is, and now I’m not sure how I survived this long without that knowledge.

Side note: I still have unanswered questions! What happens if a judge sneezes and misses a dive? If there is a tie for gold, what determines which country’s anthem is played first? And why don’t the male divers wear slightly larger speedos so that their butt cracks don’t start creeping out the top? As you can see, these are very pressing questions, so if you happen to know the answer to any of them please do leave me a comment.

Back on track (and field), now.


I’ve never hurdled in my life, but my brother is quite the accomplished hurdler. Well, he was when he was 12. Well, he at least completed one race according to this photo.

Speaking of track and field, let’s talk about the hurdles. I always thought that if you knocked over a hurdle then you were out of the race, but as it turns out, this is not the case. You can be disqualified if you deliberately knock down a hurdle or if you knock one into another lane and interfere with another runner’s race, but if you just don’t fully clear a hurdle and it falls over, there is no penalty. You just keep going. Doing so might mess with your speed and your rhythm, but you get to keep going.

Upon learning this after watching a race and being shocked by the number of downed hurdles, I jokingly said that it’s just like in life where a lot of the time we don’t smoothly sail over the hurdles in our way, either. At first I was just being silly, but then I thought wait, no, this really is just like life.

If my life were an Olympics hurdles race then I’m pretty sure I would not be doing so well. I’m pretty sure I would be getting tripped up by every single hurdle lately, knocking over all of them. A lot of things are slowing me down right now. I’m dragging my feet. I’m sighing every time I come up to a new hurdle because I feel like I’m still trying to get my rhythm back after catching my foot and knocking down the last one.

Anyone else feeling like that, too? Anyone with me, finding yourself in the middle of a race that you aren’t prepared for?

Maybe it’s because the hurdles are too high. Or maybe it’s because we’re too short. Too tired. Too uncoordinated. Too scared. Maybe it’s because we’re too distracted, looking around and wondering why it seems like all the other lanes have lower hurdles, fewer hurdles, and friendlier hurdles.

Whatever the reason, it’s okay. We’re not going to be disqualified. It doesn’t matter if we don’t seamlessly sail over every hurdle. It doesn’t even matter if we don’t sail over any of them. And it doesn’t matter what any of the other lanes look like. All that matters is that we face forward and keep going. Oh, and not deliberately try to slow anyone else down, of course, because we’re all doing the best we can with the hurdles in front of us.

We get to keep going. Let’s do just that.

So here’s to knocking down every single hurdle in our way. Here’s to feeling slow and out of sync. Here’s to finishing the race anyway.

12 thoughts on “If my life were an Olympics hurdles race

  1. Wow another brilliant post as always. As you can see, &’ catching up on old posts because my race has had so many hurdles over the last few months I haven’t had a chance GJ catch my breath. I particularly enjoyed this analogy as I did a bit of real hurdle jumping in my day — far easier than the hurdles I’m jumping these days — before my arthritis became apparent and I pretended to be on the track team to get out of PE requirement 😉 it was the only element of track I ever liked because I felt a sense of freedom as I jumped over each one. Of course, looking back on all my sports experiences back to childhood I see myself not liking many things because of my arthritis, but this is one of the few untouched ones. So thanks for the memory. And thanks for reminding me that all that matters is that we finish the race, no matter how slowly or bruised. I had a surgery just before the Olympics so I only watched Gymnastics recaps online but I’m so glad you found something new to enjoy!

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your post today with it’s upbeat style. I’m sorry to learn that you haven’t been feeling physically ‘upbeat’ in the meantime (possibly more like ‘beat up’?) I hope you can find your stride again soon. I used the Olympics as an opportunity to slow down and make time to spend on the couch in front of the box.

    I love the Olympics! I run tapes across the live overnight broadcast so I can watch them back the next day. My children count the days until they can ‘have the tv(s) back’. New digital broadcasts mean that there are up to 3 channels at one time broadcasting different Olympic events at the same time so all the tvs are utilised.

    Might I add that I am impressed with your lines of inquiry – you are not the only one who wondered which national anthem is played first when there are multiple gold medal winners. We can’t all be crazy Olympic nuts – or could we? 😉

    Did you notice that when it is bucketing down with rain, lots and lots of hurdles were being toppled by top athletes? When the weather is inclement, it is an achievement just to get over a hurdle at all and, for everyone, just being in the race is what it’s all about!

    Maybe living with chronic illness is like being an athlete in inclement weather.

    Wishing you all the best.

  3. If there’s a tie for any medal, all the tied athletes win that medal. There were several instances like that this year. The anthem of the gold medal winner is played at awards ceremonies. I don’t think others are played. Male divers wear tight-fitting speedos because if they were loose, they’d come off completely. OK, I made that last one up, but maybe it’s true. And if a judge sneezes, the requirement to say “gezuntite” is waived.

    • Yes all the athletes win the medal, but which anthem is played first? So for example in one of the swimming events Canada and the US tied for gold, and they played both anthems and raised both flags but the US anthem was played first and the US flag was above the Canadian one. My guess was alphabetical according to the athlete’s name and my brother’s guess was whoever was in the lower lane.

  4. ‘I’m sighing every time I come up to a new hurdle because I feel like I’m still trying to get my rhythm back after catching my foot and knocking down the last one.’ OMG this is my life!

    So well put, and now I’m damn well going to keep going! 🙂

  5. Catherine, I am so in sync with feeling like I’m in a race I’m not prepared for. No matter how much I try to accept the reality of my chronic illness I just don’t have the skills or tools to know how best to clear the hurdles. I am today faced with yet another challenge and will take your advice with me…just face forward and keep going. That is my new mantra. Thank you for your wonderful articles filled with reality, humour and thought-provoking musings.

    • Hi Susan – I am happy that this resonated with you, but I’m sorry to hear about your current life situation that puts you in a position for it to resonate. I have no doubt that you are doing a great job, though, and lots of good luck as you continue to come across new challenges 🙂

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