2nd Place Feels Just Like 1st

Workout

On Monday morning, I finally got myself in my Mizuno’s and out for a 3 mile run – my first since the marathon!  They were a SLOW 3 miles, but it felt good to be out.  We tried to keep it nice and slow and finished up in 30:16.  I also decided it was time to get serious about biking commuting again this week (read: I’m running out of money in my bank account and can’t afford to be lazy and take the bus anymore this week!), so I biked to work Monday and Tuesday.

This morning I went out for a 2 miler since I had to get to work early (see below).  The hip problems that started up during marathon training were back with a vengeance, though!  My hip used to only hurt AFTER I would run…mostly after I’d been sitting and I tried to get up and move around.  But today it actually hurt DURING the two miles, which makes me nervous.  And standing/walking/sitting/living has been incredibly painful today.  I’m going to spend the next couple of days foam rolling, doing yoga, stretching, and icing, and hopefully things will feel better for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday!  Despite the pain, we did the 2 miles in 19:45.  Not my fastest, but I’m happy to be in the range less than two weeks-post marathon!

Poster Competition

The last couple of days I feel like I’ve kind of disappeared on all of you, and I apologize!

I’ve lately been working on finishing up a big chunk of experiments for my dissertation project, and I spent a lot of time over the weekend working on the analysis and statistics. After finally getting the go ahead from my boss on Monday, I started working on putting together a poster with all of my data for the annual research competition my university holds, which was today.

I don’t think the intention behind this big symposium is for it to really be a competition, but because my graduate department judges the student posters and hands out prizes to the top three students (and I don’t just mean a certificate…we’re talking ca$h here!), most of us see this annual event as a chance to win a little money and bolster our CVs.  This is my fourth year presenting a poster, and I really wanted to do well.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I at least wanted to make it to the semi-finals.

With that goal in mind, I spend Monday and Tuesday working incredibly hard on my poster.  I had Matt helping me with organization, my classmate Ngoc-Han helping me improve the quality of my figures (so much more professional now!!!), and after two solid days, I left the lab at 9 pm last night with a beautiful end product I was incredibly proud of.

Fast forward to this afternoon, I spent a long time walking my judges through my research project, making sure to emphasize where I thought potential future projects existed, what my personal hypotheses are, my future plans, and additional work that has been done in the field, and I felt confident that I had done my best.  I had no clue what to expect, but knew I’d put in a solid effort.

After catching up with a friend in another department, it was time for the announcement of the semi-finalists.  I was SOOOOOOOOOO excited when I walked back to my poster and there was a BEAUTIFUL “Semi-Finalist” sticker next to my poster!  (You better believe I kept it!)

I spent probably another half hour or so walking two more sets of judges through my research, feeling really good about my explanations, and was SOOOOO amazed to make it that far!

Once the poster session was over, I left to support a friend during her oral presentation, and to hear the announcement of the poster winners.  When I heard my name called as the 2nd place winner, I was ECSTATIC!!!  It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t first place…I exceeded my expectations and it felt so incredibly good to be recognized for my efforts!

To say that working towards a PhD is a challenging process is an understatement.  Never in my life have I done anything more mentally and physically challenging.  Hands down running a marathon is nothing compared to what it takes to complete a doctorate.  The emotional roller coaster I have been riding lately has been an absolute challenge.  And these days I will cry hysterically at the question, “How’s your project coming?”  When you pour every ounce of yourself into your work, it becomes incredibly personal…and it is truly a testament of your will power to make it through.

As I willingly say to any person that applies to our program, if science isn’t something you care about with 100% of your being, if you aren’t willing to make difficult sacrifices for your project, and you aren’t ok with spending every second of every day thinking about your work, do not get a PhD.  It isn’t something you should do because you didn’t get into medical school.  A friend of mine is in an MD/PhD program and has told me that the PhD portion is so much more difficult than the medicine portion.  A doctorate is the highest degree you can earn for a reason…and the struggles that I have been pushing through for the last year or so have really beaten me down a lot.  I’ve had more emotional breakdowns in the month of March than I can count on fingers and toes.

But today?  Today I was reminded of everything I have accomplished.  Talking to the judges about my project, I remembered why I fell in love with science in the first place, and just how important my project is to me.  And being announced as the second place winner, I took a step back and realized just how far I have come in the last four years.  So while some people might be bummed to get second and not win, today, second place felt like a million bucks.  I’ve never been more proud of the work I have accomplished in graduate school.

I think after the month I’ve had in lab, the Universe knew I needed a bit of a morale boost today!

And if that wasn’t enough of a morale boost, I came home tonight to find myself featured over on SkinnyRunner tonight!!!

I also want to say a BIG thank you to all of you for your encouragement as I’ve been working towards my degree.  I truly cannot begin to tell you how much your comments and Tweets make a difference and put a smile on my face after a rough day.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!  You are all the best!!!!

Your Turn:  Who saw The Hunger Games this weekend???  What do you have on tap for the rest of the week?  Anyone racing this weekend??

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6 thoughts on “2nd Place Feels Just Like 1st

    • I loved it, too!! There were just two things I wasn’t a fan of…the constantly moving camera (took me a while to adjust) and the pacing was so much faster that all of the cliff hangers basically weren’t cliff hangers anymore! But I thought they did a great job with the adaptation!!!!

    • All of the cherry blossoms were already gone this year!!!! They peaked about 1.5 weeks ago :(. This is my second time in three years doing this race and having no blossoms!

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