Back in 1999, when I was a senior in high school, if you were to ask me what I wanted to be when I ‘grew’ up, I would have responded, ‘A writer.’ If you had continued to prod, I might have eventually admitted, ‘Or maybe a professional athlete.’
Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew that the chances of someone making a living as a writer are about the same as a high school star making it to the NBA. Lucrative careers in the arts take as much luck as they do skill. I also knew, however, that while a Tolkien-esque career was in the realm of possibilities, my chances of becoming the next Mia Hamm were like my chances of being able to dunk a basketball.
In other words, for me, life in professional athletics was virtually a physical impossibility. I was a runner. And while I was better than most runners, even as a clueless high school student I knew that I should never let my delusional reveries, which consisted of Olympic-gold glory and subsequent Nike endorsement deals, percolate into my mental file of ‘pragmatic goals’ to work for.
And after running a year in college, I started thinking about the kinds of things that cross-country girls usually neglect to consider in high school