Back in the day…

It’s been another stressful week at work.  I had a difficult “easy” run this morning that was supposed to be 6 miles, but wound up being only 4 miles.  Richie ran 16 this morning and was a little disappointed at not getting a full 20, so he hit me up for 4.  That was good for both of us as I might have skipped my afternoon run otherwise.  We took it slow for 4+ miles and chatted the whole way.  When I got home, I opened up my Napster account, put on some Jimmy Buffet and Beach Boys tunes, then cooked up some Tilapia in a white wine lemon butter sauce.  I was trying various rum based shots while cooking which isn’t necessarily the best thing to do the night before a race, but the race is in the afternoon so I’ll hopefully be okay.

In any case, the Beach Boys tunes took me back to my high school years when I was playing volleyball.  I used to listen to the Beach Boys’ “Made in the USA” album on my Walkman religiously.  My favorite tune was the remake of the old Mamas & Papas tune, “California Dreamin'”.  At the time, I was obsessed with volleyball.  I started playing volleyball in the 5th grade, which was a rarity for a boy living in Missouri.  I’ve also been 5’10” pretty much since the 6th grade.  So, I was one of the few good volleyball players in the greater St. Louis area at the time.  I traveled around the Midwest with a club team and when I got to high school, I was a backup on the varsity team during the state tournament my freshman year.

As I progressed through high school, my teammates and opponents grew up around me.  I went from middle hitter to swing hitter to opposite hitter to setter through my high school career.  My senior year, I went back to opposite hitter and made first team all district.  I dreamed of moving to California, majoring in Marine Biology and playing volleyball.  If Men’s college volleyball were as prolific as, say, Men’s college track and field then I might have had a college scholarship somewhere, but I settled for majoring in Physical Therapy and playing intramural volleyaball at St. Louis University (we did win the intramural championship).

This evening, under the influence of some Captain Morgan, I was reflecting on those Beach Boys tunes.  While I didn’t move to California, I did ultimately move to Florida (still warm and beachy) and I got a Ph.D. in Oceanography (sooooo much better than marine biology).  The life isn’t quite as I imagined in high school, but it ain’t so bad.  In high school, I envisioned my destiny as a volleyball player.  Now, I know I’m really a runner.

So, on the eve of my next race that will be contested mostly against high school runners, I had to smile just a bit at the long circuitous path that has led me here.  I often wonder what life would have been like if I had realized I was a runner in high school.  How good could I have been?  On the other hand, if you’re happy with your life, you can’t complain about what go you there.  You can’t change the past anyway.  So, it’s onward and upward.  Maybe I can take down a few high school runners tomorrow.  We’ll see.


  1. Wow! Impressive. Out here in Southern California, volleyball is a very popular sport. In fact, my alma mater (UC Irvine) is the current NCAA volleyball champion. When I was in college there we had a PE class called “Sand Valleyball” where (you may have guessed it) we played volleyball at the beach twice a week!

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