#RunPhD: Baby Shark

The pouches didn’t look like much. They were shaped somewhere between over-sized tea bags and birthday balloons that had deflated from last month’s party. But inside was a brand new baby shark.

The volunteer near the tank explained that the mama shark would get the egg sack twisted up into kelp so that it wouldn’t float away. One of the other types of sharks would somehow screw their baby’s sack into the ocean floor. The description left me wondering  if the shark had to spin around to make that happen, and then if sharks could get sea sick from spinning. It was more fun to imagine the story than ask the volunteer for the truth so I still imagine that hammerhead sharks and bottlenose dolphins work together to make the sea-floor-science happen. (Don’t ruin the magic if you know the truth).

Sunshine was in awe of the little shark that had hatched from one of the sacks. The typically giggly and chatty girl silently stared at the still fish lying on the other side of the window. When her mom told her we were going to the aquarium, she made sure that I would get to see the baby shark right away. Lifted up in her mom’s arms, amazement settled over us for a minute in the midst of a packed hallway.

And why shouldn’t we be amazed? A creature that could one day be hunting in the oceans was lying there before us, no bigger than a four-year-old’s arm. This was the start of something, someone, brand new and we were getting to see just a little piece of it.

We get lots of brand new starts in life. Some that we recognize with amazement, and some that we fly by without a second thought. To connect this to my running life, there are some races I spend months preparing for and others that I have almost forgotten if not for the reminder beep from a calendar app. That start might turn into something amazing, or it might be a disaster (as anyone who has been on an awful first date knows). But its still worth it. The start of something, or someone, is amazing. And deserves a minute to be silent, to be grateful, and to hope for what’s next.

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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