#RunPhD: Whose idea was that?!?

18 miles on a Saturday afternoon. And not just any Saturday afternoon: a sunny, chilly, completely free of work or commitments Saturday afternoon. That’s the Saturday afternoon that instead of, say, taking a nap, binging Netflix, or doing anything else in the whole wide world I decided to go for an 18 mile training run. If anyone would like to volunteer to be blamed for that #FacepalmLifeChoice, please let me know. Until then, I am blaming…the dog currently sleeping on the other end of the couch. Sorry Watson.

In reality, spending four hours traveling 18 miles can mean a lot of opportunities to find new things, and to lose things too. I had devised my running route to be mostly one big loop from SE Portland into downtown Portland, and back again. I had just one out-and-back section that was supposed to turn around at Powells City of Books…until I found out that Powells was on 9th street not 18th street as my pre-run brain had somehow mistaken. So I got to find out what was on 18th street (a gas station) and along the was got to see some new parts of the city I’d never run past before, including the clothing company a friend designs for. When I did get to turn back toward my finishing line (with only 11 miles to go), I found a the Marathon Taverna. Since it was already Happy Hour on the East Coast, I was very tempted to stop in for a virgin diet Cuba Libre (aka a Diet Coke without the run, LOL). But I went paused for just a few pictures instead. 18 miles weren’t going to finish them self (thanks a lot Watson).

Along with finding new things, a long run means the chance to get lost a lot too. I listened to podcasts about politics, pop culture, running, education, and I’m not sure what else because the voices and ideas were like swimming pool at the perfect temperature: it kept me afloat but I barely noticed it. With the temperature around 40 degrees throughout my run, I was amazed when I was feeling warm enough to lose my top layer shirt and yet all of the water fountains were turned off because of possible freezing pipes. It’s an early start to my tan lines this year, and a lot of gratitude that I’d decided to carry a backpack for water (and eventually a bagel at Fred Meyer).

A few pieces of the adventure that I need to remember for next time:

  • Stretch my left calve! – It started cramping around mile 11 and was not my friend going up hills for the rest of the miles.
  • Finish my route by heading straight west or straight east. – It was rough to be counting down the numbered streets toward my own, then to realize I was a mile north of where I needed to be. So close and yet so freaking far.
  • Order pizza before the shower. – It makes for perfect timing to be dressed and starving for when the delivery person shows up.

This weekend I’m supposed to repeat this adventure, plus two more miles on top. Whose idea was marathon running again?!?


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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