#RunPhD: Stronger

After a few months of failed attempts, I finally got to join the Badass Lady Gang Portland last weekend. The group initiated a few months ago as one of dozens across the U.S. Each group is focused on meet-ups for women who want to run, and even more want to be part of a community of runners.

But let me take a quick step back before sharing about my experience with the group. I’ve written before about Kelly Roberts, blogger and podcaster who went viral after an article where she took selfies with hot guys during a half marathon. She’s been sharing about her running story for a few years now online, including several attempts to complete a marathon with a BQ (aka a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon). After one of those attempts, she shifted the focus of her running from sharing about her individual journey to connecting that journey with other runners. She spoke about having a badass group of ladies who were supporting her and that every woman needs a group like that to help them achieve their personal bests and display what real strength looks like. Thus Badass Lady Gangs were initiated throughout the country. Free with no membership requirements, speed expectations, or demands about what a runner should look like.

Two of my running and blogging friends picked up the mantle to be the leaders of the BALG in Portland and initiated monthly runs at Tilikum Bridge. One of the unique things about these groups is that they use a very short course, just a mile or less, so that no one is left behind because of their pace. I went last Sunday without a watch or any worries about how fast I needed to be or far I needed to run. After a pre-run group photo, our group of a dozen women settled into multiple small groups going back and forth across the bridge. My first mile was with a friend I knew (a nice safe space for a new adventure) then my second and third were with two other women, talking about races, families, community service, and a nice and random assortment of other topics over the bridge and back again. After that third mile the other two were done, but I still had a little energy to burn so I headed back out.

By going back and forth over the bridge, we got to all see one another multiple times. And with different paces getting to chose their distance, there was time at the end for everyone who wanted to to gather inside a nearby Starbucks for a drink and snack before heading out into the day. Rather than feeling like a race or practice, the morning felt like a nice stroll followed by brunch. And since it was Mother’s Day, the conversation included some hilarious real talk by some of the moms about their joys and nightmares in parenting.

I’m already looking forward to the next time I can join these women for a chat…I mean a run.


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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