#RunPhD: An Unexpected Journey

I had a plan. Well, first I had a panic attack and then I had a plan.

The panic was after stepping onto the scale in the middle of the night and seeing the dial spin all the way up to 250. With a toothbrush dangling from my mouth, I stared in disbelief. A quarter of a ton. I weighed a quarter of a ton. I’d been overweight since 4th grade, and in really solid denial most of that time. But with that number, and the connected equation, I was finally and 100% awake to what I’d been hiding beneath blankets, under sweaters, and behind furniture. If my future flashed before my eyes that night I don’t remember because it would have been too short and too boring.

Stepping off the scale and back into my bedroom a plan started: I’d join the gym for a year, lose the weight and find some curves, and the quit the gym to live happily ever after. I gained the weight over a decade so obviously one year of effort would take care of it. It’s a good thing that I didn’t realize the total stupidity in my plan. I might have never taken step one.

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I joined the gym that week, and started going to. At first it was 30 minutes four or five times a week, usually on a stationary bike or elliptical. Eventually I’d venture onto the treadmill, into Zumba classes, and (occasionally) over to the weights side of the room. Five months after that first visit I participated in my first race: Starlight 5K. A 10K would be the following fall. A half marathon the next spring. And a marathon a year after that. Now a rack of medals clang together on the wall beside my front door. A daily reminder of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

That whole journey started nine years ago with a panic and then a plan. What I thought would be a one-year membership to the gym became a life changing experience that has now led to new friendships, races around the Pacific Northwest, joining Oregon Road Runners, writing for Run Oregon, and becoming a RRCA Running Coach (after one final training this weekend).

The straight line had more curves, backtracks, and hills than I imagined. And I’m stronger for it.

With no destination in sight, I once again wonder: #WhatsNext.


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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