International Women’s Day: Nevertheless, She Persisted

We celebrate holidays because they allow us to celebrate our values and achievements. Consider Fourth of July. This is a pretty big deal for Americans, given our values of independence and freedom. It’s a time to commemorate those values – and to watch fireworks and eat barbecue, of course. For over 100 years, March 8 has been marked as International Women’s Day to commemorate the value and celebrate the benefit that women bring to our lived experiences. Why? Because we value women and the contributions they make to society. We realize that the success of any society – of any world …

A different kind of locker room talk: The power of words

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by language. This connection to language is part of the reason why I became a professor of communication, why I write this blog, why I love to read. So, I imagine it will come as little surprise when I tell you that I believe words do matter. Words can hurt us – as do sticks and stones. But, words can also lift us up.It’s up to us – in our use and interpretation of language – to decide what they will do. In this sense, words can be seen actions, as well as paths …

Is this Normal?

Several years ago, I wrote about the joy of the first time finish line, as a reflection of my first Ironman. Not many race experiences can compare with that feeling that takes over the first time you cross the finish line of an unknown distance or event. It’s empowering. It’s extraordinary. It’s addicting. But, the road to that first (or second or twentieth) time finish line is filled often with uncertainty, confusion, and a healthy dose of fear. As we get deeper into the season, some of the athletes I coach are doing things they’ve never done before: longest distances, hardest efforts, first time events. …

What’s my story?

Readers, forgive me. It’s been two months since my last post. This is the point where you, my readers, absolve me of my blog transgressions. I’ll wait. … Okay, thanks. It’s not that I’ve been at a loss for words – far from it. My draft folder is FULL of the ideas I’ve had since my last post about the Double Anvil. To mention just a few, I’ve got drafts (soon to be posts) about our run across Zion National Park, what our food shopping list looks like, what it’s like to train for a Double Anvil, how to gear up for a …

Daddy’s Girl

Seventeen years ago, our phone rang in the middle of the night. I didn’t hear it, so John wound up answering it. He came into the bedroom, “Maria…” I stirred. “Something’s wrong. It’s your mom.” I looked at the clock it was o’dark thirty – maybe 3 a.m.? I picked up the phone and all I could hear was my mother wailing, all of these whirling noises. “Your father died!” she managed to say between her sobs. I felt myself entering a vacuum where I could no longer hear my mother on the other end of the line. I could only …

On Role Models, Possibilities, and Equality

Outside of my endurance sport life, I’m a professor of Communication Studies at Rowan University, in Glassboro, NJ. (Read: Nerd.) In my research and teaching, I examine how communication creates meaning about “things” – people, places, objects, events, ideas. I know what you are probably thinking: things exist, that can’t be changed no matter how we communicate or think about them. Of course people, places, and objects exist, and events happen. But, how we communicate about these things affects our interpretation of them–regardless of their tangible properties. So, let’s say we’ve got this thing that is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. How we think …

Patient Aggression: Reflection on the Year of the Plow Horse

Little did I know a year ago, when I dubbed 2014 the “Year of the Plow Horse,” how much I would come to depend on the characteristics of the reliable ol’ plow horse to make it through some of the more challenging races I’ve done. The plow horse is a strong, sturdy animal. She has a lot of work to do, but she can’t rush through it and burn out. No! The plow horse must be patient as she pursues the goals for the day, the week, the month, the year. The plow horse has been uniquely bred with the intention to balance both speed and muscle, …

Liminal State: What’s next?

As a young graduate student, I learned about the concept of liminality. In Anthropological theory, liminality is described as a state of transition during rites of passage, such as those associated with the transition from childhood to adulthood. Liminality is a betwixt and between state in which you are no longer who you once were, but you have not yet transitioned into who you may become. The processes we go through to get to and live through a rite of passage changes us: who we are, how we relate to others, the choices we make. Through the performance of rites of passage, we mark our change from one social status into another: child …

Age is a just a number & sex is just a division

Unless you consume absolutely no mainstream or social media of any type, it’s very likely you’ve seen this incredible feat by Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to finish the American Ninja Warrior finals course. It’s incredible. It’s inspiring. And, it made me weep, thinking of how accomplished, how fulfilled this woman must feel. But, the more I thought about it, the more there was something about the response to her achievement that irked me. The tone in the announcer’s voices, the amazement on the faces of the spectators, the proclamations of utter surprise all about the social webs–including myself at first. The …

Beyond the White Line: Ironman Lake Placid Spec-Train-Teering Weekend

In 2009, I was a volunteer at Ironman Lake Placid. It was the first time I saw an Ironman live, up close, and personal. What I saw that day amazed me. A H. M A Z E .B A L L S. There is absolutely nothing like the first time you spectate an Ironman. Personal. Physical. Primal. The energy permeates everything. So does the smell. If you have never watched an iron-distance race, put it on your list of things to do. It will change how you think about the human body and mind. That day in 2009, I had only finished a handful …