#RunPhD: What’s This

I’d been running for almost nine years before I made it to the Nike campus. I’d driven by it about a year before but other than slowing down and turning my head as far as it could go, didn’t see much. So when I had the chance to go to campus to help with some fitness testing, I jumped in before having any idea what I was volunteering for. The fact I ended up testing out sports bras is a tale for another day (maybe after a good and strong adult beverage).

What I want to share about today is the experience of being on that campus. Driving up the long driveway and then past parking spots saved for athletic greats. Wondering what would happen if I parked in Ken Griffey Jr.’s spot. And then deciding the risk wasn’t quite worth it.

After I found an unlabeled spot, and of course talking a selfie, I walked toward the nearest building in hopes of finding my way. The introductory email had recommended getting to campus at least 30 minutes early, and thankfully I’d followed directions because I was on the opposite side of campus from where I needed to be and had a 20 minute walk ahead of me.

The walkways were lined with plaques of Nike athletes and leaders. I tried to avoid looking like a tourist, but totally failed when I just HAD to take a picture of the Meb Keflezighi banner. Employees walked by. And a few were on the neon orange bikes that are on the streets of downtown Portland. I wondered if they were ever as star struck by the space as I was. Or if it was just a job, just another day, just a bunch of buildings.

No matter how they were feeling, basically I was Jack discovering Christmas Town:

After three wrong attempts, I finally found the right building with a few minutes to spare. A security guard gave me an entrance pass in trade for my first-born child (Done) and showed me where to wait. Beyond the waiting room cameras were not allowed so I dutifully stowed my cell phone and waited for someone to come get me. Dozens of employees walked by during those minutes waiting, with purposes and tasks I could only imagine. My own task for the day would turn out to be foot measurements, impact assessments, and flexibility testing. An hour of my time to get to wander a campus that had always felt so close and still so far.

I’ve been back one more time since then (again, for another story) and was grateful it still felt magical the second time. I found the parking lot faster, the building faster, and didn’t have to offer a child for a security pass. But otherwise it was the same feeling of being among untapped potential, and believing that I have some untapped greatness too.

I’ve survived 12 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.

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