#RunPhD: Stairs are stupid…but…

It was probably only 35 steps, but it felt like a million or maybe more. After four times around the loop, I had to catch my breath at the top and find some last spark of energy to get through the final mile back to my car. In some ways it was a perfect Saturday morning. Clear skies with no snow or ice on the ground (finally). 6.5 miles done with Beth, and now almost another 6.5 miles completed for this week’s training goal. I had a granola bar and Diet Coke waiting in the car, plus $10 to get lunch on the way home.

But climbing up those stairs again had worn me out. Thoughts of adding another loop on had evaporated. Construction in downtown Portland closed off the pathway back to my car and had forced this detour up the stairs, and soon up a hill along sidewalks and streaming traffic. What had felt like just a brief detour an hour ago now felt like another time zone.

I leaned over the fence, pretending to stretch in case anyone judged my pause but really just trying to get my heart rate down to something non-dangerous. Once clear-headed, I stood up and rediscovered the beauty that is my city. From the top of those steps, downtown Portland shined in the morning sun. It was silent from my perch with no car horns, cell phone rings, or rustling trash. The cruelty of the climb had gifted me with one minute of nothing but breathing.

A million stairs (give or take) was worth it.


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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