860 days later…

Or 2.35 years from the last time I posted. Much has changed. To sum:

– I’m still racing. October brought my longest race to date: 70.3. I won my division. 

– I think I really like the middle distances. 10k’s, Olympic tri’s…just a comfortable distance for me. 

– I ran a half marathon. I did it mostly to spend a weekend with my awesome health and fitness friends. 

– I got tenure. Then I turned around and got a new job, so I’ll (briefly) go back on the tenure clock. 

– Health-wise it’s been a lot of downs and very few ups. 

– I screwed my ankle up to the tune of 2 avulsion fractures, tendonitis and a blown anterior tibialis ligament. And yes, I ran the half marathon on that. One month in a boot and continuous PT later, it’s much improved. 

– To why I’m picking up the blog again, I have also been diagnosed as having insulin resistance syndrome (also known as PCOS, Metabolic X Syndrome, and other names). This has brought endless frustration – from doctors condescending to me and admitting they don’t really know how to treat me, to diet struggles and frustrations, to struggles as an athlete. I can’t be the only triathlete out there dealing with this. I won’t be the only one to deal with this. 

I have learned that strength in and from a community can come from unlikely places, and can be invaluable. 

Welcome back to my journey. 

Posted in Academics, Injury, Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Just Plain Life, PCOS, Races, Training | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Year in Review

In effort to be a better (read: more consistent) blogger, I thought it might be good to start the new year off with reflections on the highlights of the past year. Normally I’d do one for each month, but I honestly don’t remember everything from every month.  Thus, this will truly be a highlight post!

In January, I went to a basketball game with Auburn’s new football coach, Guz Malzhan.  Ok.  So I really just ran into him after the game.  Whatever.  It’s totally the same thing.

GusFebruary is one of those months that I don’t really remember.  I attended the IACS Summit on Communication and Sport in Austin, TX and had an awesome time, as always.  I truly think that is my favorite conference. I did swim in my first Master’s swim meet, and that was fun.

March brought the coldest temperatures that I have had in my short time in Auburn.  Kenny and I had to bundle up for baseball, and actually sat in snow flurries.  In March.Baseball snowI also competed in the intermural swim meet, where I both swam AND dove.  And won the diving.DivingIn April, we headed to Louisville for the SSCA conference. Every year I say I’m going to cut back in this conference.  This year I was the Chair of the Mass Comm division.  I also got elected to be the Vice-Chair of the Political Communication division.  I’m going to stop saying I’m going to cut back in this conference, because it clearly isn’t going to happen. Being in Louisville, I got to hang with Col. Sanders.Col SandersI also got to finish out the semester with another outstanding group of students in my Campaigns class.  These two groups did such an amazing job for their client they made her cry.  That was pretty awesome to be a part of.CampaignsApril also brought race #1, the John Tanner Aquabike. It was cold.  Oh so very cold.  Despite a craptastic performance, I still managed to get some hardware.John Tanner 1In May, I talked Kenny into doing a triathlon with me – a first for both of us.  This was a reverse sprint tri at Ft. Benning.  I loved it. Except for the run.Benning TriJune was a crazy, crazy month.  I started with my second Aquabike of the season, and despite having to sit in the ambulance with ice all over me because I didn’t hydrate properly in June in the south, I was pleased with the performance.BlalockWe packed up the car, and the cat:Allie carand headed up to CT.  From there, we first went to Bermuda:CruiseThen to London, where I presented at ICAICA

And we celebrated our 4th anniversaryLondon TeaAfter London, we flew to Ireland where we met our friends Adam and Jessica for a week and a half of driving (and riding) all around Southern Ireland.BikesAdam had surprised Jessica with this trip, and on their first day he proposed.  I think she was thrilled.  We, of course, couldn’t let them out-romantic us.CliffsJuly saw a lot of naps for the first part.  We also competed in our first ‘normal’ triathlon. Columbus TriIn August, we headed to Washington, DC for AEJMC.DCI took a few minutes break to run over to Congress and get some work done, and we rolled the Toomer’s Oak on the Capitol lawn.Congress

DC ToomersWe also ran our third triathlon of the year.  In August, we were freezing.  However, once the race started, that was kind of awesome.PeachtreeThe beginning of the school year found me on research leave.  This is a huge perk that Auburn gives to their junior faculty – a release from teaching, pre-tenure, to focus on research.  It was glorious.  I want another one.

Football season came, and we spent home game weekends tailgating with an amazingly awesome group of people.WarDrunj

SunsetI also competed in my final race of the season, an Aquabike.  I saw a huge improvement in my times from April, and I was thrilled.BikeI was also invited to join the board of directors for the newly created Sport Communication Research Alliance.  This was a tremendous honor for me, and I look forward to being a part of it.

In October, I got to do one of my favorite things – catch up with former students.  I don’thave favorites, but if I did, these two would be at the top of the list.StudentsWe also celebrated at Adam and Jessica’s weddingWeddingI also had my first ever knee surgery.  I’m impressed it took me this long to need it.kneeNovember was just…amazing.  I got to tailgate with great friends,tailgate one

tailgate 3See more of my (not officially designated as) favorite former studentstailgate 2And see two unbelievable games at Auburn.  The Miracle at Jordan-HareMiracleAnd the Kick, Bama, Kick Iron Bowl.IronbowlUnreal.KennyIronbowlIn December, we road-tripped in disbelief up to Atlanta to watch Auburn play in, and win, the SEC Championship.SECThen watched Michigan State upset Ohio State, sending Auburn back to the BCS National Championship.ToomersI started running again after a fantastic knee surgery recoveryrunAnd we finished out the year with holidays at both of our families.

Work-wise, I also finished out the year with an incredible publication year (9!!!!), and I received a very unexpected promotion at work.  I’m now the associate director for the public relations major.  My professional accomplishments and news can be found here.

It’s amazing to look back sometimes.  In the moment, I never really realize just HOW much I actually do.  How fortunate I am to be able to do what I do.  When I write it all out like this (and there are things missing that I forgot), I have to sit back and just think about how fortunate I am. 2014 is shaping up to be just as jam-packed.  I am excited to see what it brings!

Happy New Year!

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John Tanner Aquabike #2

Last weekend was my final du/tri race of the season, unless I get a wild hair to do another.  We returned to John Tanner State Park for the final race of the “Tri the Parks” series of races. I was racing the Aquabike for this one, not the sprint tri.  As a reminder, the first race in April saw air temperatures about 30 degrees lower than they normally were, and a brisk water temperature of 68 that I swam sans wetsuit.  This go around, it was still not blisteringly hot (thank goodness), and the water temperature was much nicer.  I never heard the official temperature, but I know it was not a wetsuit legal race, so it had to be over 78.  I had two goals in mind for this race, and I was determined to hit them.  This would also be despite slacking off seriously on training.  I knew I should have trained more, but I was just kind of tired.

Good night sleep the night before, early morning, small breakfast, and we were off to the park.  I missed packet pickup the day before, so I checked in, picked up my stuff, got body marked and got my timing chip.  Came back, set up my bike and transition area, and checked out the faces around me to see who was competing.  I recognized a few, said hi, and then had to head to the water.

(Thank you to Kenny for the pictures!)

I made sure on this go around not to let myself get pushed to the front of the group.  I stayed in the middle and to the side, because even though the swim is my strong point, the wave start always turns into a cluster.  I prefer to hang back, let everyone battle each other, and then quietly pass everyone on the outside.  Our wave started off, I dove in, and my first thought was “It’s not so cold I can’t breathe!!”  I got a good pace and rhythm going right away, passed a bunch of people, and made it out to the first turn bouy quicker than I thought I would.


My wave start.  I’m about 90% sure I know which one is me.  I think. 

The only problem during the swim was the sun.  It was rising, and it was bright, which meant every time I breathed, I was staring right at the sun.  It made seeing and sighting hard, especially on the way back in when I had to breathe and sight into the sun.  By the time I got around to the final two bouys, I saw very few pink caps with me (my wave), a bunch of purple (the wave before me), and even some greens (two waves before me).  The wave that went off two before me was 6 minutes ahead of my start, so I knew I picked up some good ground.  Finished with a small sprint in, and made sure to grab off my goggles and cap immediately.  I did this, because the Peachtree City Tri yielded my worst race photo EVER, and Kenny told me I needed to get the cap off ASAP.

Coming out of the water, I spotted Kenny right at the same time the race photog spotted me.  This is almost identical to my race photo.  I was excited!  I had a good swim!



I sped through transition, and took off on my bike.  I also noted that the other women’s bikes were still racked, meaning I had beaten them out of the water. I did decent on the course in April, but it was a challenging course for me due to the hills.  I’m not a climber.  I had been working on keeping my cadence up on my training rides (which admittedly, were too few), so I wanted to pay attention to that.  I had forgotten how rough the first mile of the course was – rolling hills, but they were deceptive.  So you’re coming right from the swim, trying to catch your breath, trying to settle into a bike rhythm, and BAM.  Hill, hill, hill, hill.  The key was to keep moving, so not stopping to rest at the top and continue pedaling through the downhills.  Once I made it past that, there was a long stretch of downhill for about 3 miles, so I took full advantage of that.

Once I hit the beginning of the hills, I tried to focus really hard on keeping up my cadence and keeping myself in the right gears so I didn’t exhaust my legs.  It was around mile 4 that I realized I had put my chest strap for my heart rate monitor on too tight, but I wasn’t about to stop and fix it.  Around mile 5, the woman that usually wins caught up to me on the bike.  I thought if I could keep her in my sight, I’d be golden.  I did, for about a mile and a half. Once we hit the big climbs on the back of the course, I lost sight of her.

I was actually please with how I did on the back climbing.  It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fast, but for me it was good.  Around mile 7 I saw who I thought was the woman who beat me at Blalock Lakes in June, and I was bound and determined not to let her out of my sight.  I chased this person, even though I kind of wanted to die around mile 10.  The end of the climbs were upon me, the sun was out, and I was tired.  I lost some steam between miles 10 and 11, but when I hit 12 I mentally chastised myself and kicked my butt back in to gear.  I still had the woman in my sight, so I was good.  At mile 12, the climbs stopped, the shade came back, and I pretty much just blew it out for the final two miles.  I was thrilled with how I did, not even looking at my bike computer.


I look like I’m not even working.  I was. 

I passed the woman I was pacing off of, flew back into the park, flew through transition and ran to the finish line.  I walked back to my bike, slowly, and as I started to pull off my shoes and dry myself off, the woman I thought I had been pacing off of came back from the bike.  Turns out I was pacing off someone completely different.  Oops.  I guess I didn’t have to worry about her beating me this time!

My goals for the race were to: a) be between 12 and 13 minutes in the swim, and b) go under 50 minutes in the bike.  I hit both of those, and with some super speedy transitions, I managed to finish 2nd overall.

As a comparison, my April times were:

Swim: 14:53, T1: 1:59, Bike: 53:00, T2: 40.3, Run: 00:12, Overall: 1:10:45.  I was dead last for the women, 10th out of 12 in the combined field.

This time:

Swim: 12:47, T1: 1:08, Bike: 49:16, T2: 29.6, Run: 00:13, Overall: 1:03:55.  I was 2nd overall for women, and 6/12 in the combined field.

I was extremely happy with this.  I completely fell short on all the training I planned to do leading up to the beginning of the series in April.  I didn’t really even train as hard as I could have over the summer.  However, in the tris that I did, and the aquabikes, I saw improvement in every one.  I dropped almost 7 minutes off my time from April.  That’s pretty awesome.


I got *another* medal.  And Heed!  Which I switched out for Orange and gave to Kenny.  I’m a Nuun girl. 

So that’s the end of my race season for 2013.  I’ve started kickboxing and yoga, and haven’t ridden my bike or swam since the race.  It’s nice to take the break.  I’m enjoying doing new things.

I am continuing to run, because I stink at it.  And I need to get better at it so I can start half ironman training in November.

That’s right.  Half ironman.  :-)

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Peachtree City Sprint Tri, 8/17/13



That photo is from my last aquabike in June, but I like it and never posted it.  It also conveys how I felt about my most recent race.

We got up at the awful hour of 3am to make the race.  The race was only about an hour away from us, but with a 7am  start and having to contend with going from Central to Eastern time…yeah.  I went to bed at 7pm Friday night.  Party animal indeed.

When we left, I thought “Should I wear a sweatshirt?”, and decided against it.  You know, it being August in the south.  When we got to Peachtree City and got out of the car, we decided it was colder.  I was shivering.  It was not happy times.

This race seeded us by swim times, so you picked up your cap with your seed number on it.  I was 138, and Kenny was somewhere in the 500’s, so we were not going to be racking our bikes next to each other.  I found my spot, and discovered the guy next to me apparently thought he was entitled to his bike spot and mine.  His bike was in his spot, and his transition stuff was all spread out in mine.  Terrific.  I moved his crap over as carefully as I could, and went about my business of setting up my area.  I talked to another guy next to me, got the scoop on what the bike course was like, and then it was time to head to the water.

By seeding us by our start times, the idea was that you lined up in order, and they did a time trial start where 2 people went off every 5 seconds.  An email about the event that had come out a couple days prior said if you wanted to move up a little, you could.  I looked at the numbers on the caps of people around me and saw lots of 300’s, 400’s and even some 600’s.  Ok.  The first guys went off right at 7am.  About 7 1/2 minutes later, as I was still edging toward the water, they came out of the water, done with their swim.  Wow.

When it was my turn, I got next to some random guy with 481 on his cap, and we ran into the water when they yelled “Go!”  I started out very strong and smooth, doing well at making my way around swimmers in front of me. I passed a fair amount of people already in the water, and then I got hung up by a couple people that were doing backstroke, or just kind of hanging out.  I saw the downfall of the ‘no accountability with the starting at your seeded time’, because there were definitely people in the water at that point that should have started after me.  That was kind of a pain to navigate.  I managed to get into one stretch, and I suddenly thought “This is great! No one is around me, I’m swimming well…”.  I looked up to sight and realized I was painfully off the course.  I think I swam about 100 extra yards trying to get myself back on course.  Once I was back where I should be, the rest of the swim went fine, though I thought multiple times “This swim course is way longer than 500 meters.”  I figured my time was going to be slow, but it was right where I hoped it would be.  I was the 2nd person out of the water in my division, so that was pretty cool. 10:25 for the swim, so considering I swam extra, I’m pleased.

Ran up into transition, and got all set up for the bike.  Wheeled my bike out, mounted and took off.  About a mile in to the bike, it started to drizzle, then rain a little harder.  At mile 2, I took my sunglasses off because they were covered in rain and I couldn’t see.  The bike course was a nice course – no major hills, lots of power rollers and some great flats.  The best part of the bike course was all of the people along it cheering.  The course went through multiple neighborhoods, and the people all came out in their yards, to the end of their streets, and at other points on the course to cheer us on.  I’ve never had that before on a bike course, and it was awesome.  I heard multiple cowbells, one family had rolled a tree in their front yard, and two girls had made signs.   “Worst parade ever!” and “This hill is your bitch!”  Those signs made me laugh, which was nice at mile 11.  I had fun being out there, and I ended up with a personal best for my bike on that distance.  I clocked the course on my bike computer at being just over 13 miles, and my time was 47.22.  My computer showed a pace of 16.5 (I did 16.6 on a 12 mile course a few weeks ago), but the results website says I did a pace of 17.7.  I think they are wrong.

I find it interesting that the bike distances aren’t all that consistent between the different races.  The Tri the Parks series has mostly 14 mile bike courses.  The reverse tri was 12.4, and I think the Chattahoocie Challenge was about 12.4 as well.  This race was 13.1-ish miles.  It makes it hard to set an overall time goal when it’s not consistent.

Anyway.  On to the run. I had a small fear that I went too hard on the bike, but I started out the run by walking, and once I got past the first uphill, started to run.  I created a specific playlist for the run to try and pace myself.  I started running to Green Day’s “Holiday”, which has a nice steady pace.  I had to walk up a couple of hills (stupid feet), but for the most part, ran well.  My feet were starting to ache, and I hoped they would just stay aching and not get painful.  At the first mile, the app told me my pace was 11:46, and I inwardly cringed – that was too fast for my first mile.  I was hoping to be able to keep it right around there for the rest of the run, but knew it was probably unlikely.  I managed to run the next mile and a half, though I knew I was slowing down.  My mile 2 split was a 12:14 pace, and about half a mile from the end, I hit a couple of hills that I had to walk up.  My left achilles was super tight at that point.  Mile 3 split was 12:20.  The last part of the run was up a hill, but there were so many people there cheering that I thought to myself I would be damned if I walked in front of all those people, so I gritted my teeth and ran.  I actually sprinted into the finish line.  My run time was 38:15, for a pace average of 12:14 min/mile.  It’s slow, but it was a PR for racing.  I took about 3 minutes off my race time from a few weeks ago.  I’ll take it.

My overall time was 1:40:21, making me 6th in my division and 133 overall for females.  That puts me solidly in the middle, albeit the bottom of the middle.  My transitions are too slow, so that will need work.  I realized if I can keep running and improving, I could actually be good at triathlons.  If I had been able to run a 30 minute 5K, I would have taken third in my division.

I really loved the race, and I would definitely do it again next year.  The crowd support was by far the best part, and made the whole race so much more fun.  The course was great.

What was not great was being cold again as soon as I was done.  At 8:45am, on August 17th, it was 63 degrees.  I turned the heat on when we finally got back to the car.  However, I will happily take that any day over racing in the blazing sun and heat.

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Official Introduction

I was officially annouced on the Sport Communication Research Alliance website today as a board member.  I have a bio, and I did a podcast to introduce myself, my research and where I see the field of sport communication potentially heading.  It was fun, and I’m excited to get started! 

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Exciting News

I was honored to receive an invitation to be a part of the newly formed Sport Communication Research Alliance as a member of the Board of Directors. From the website,

“The Sport Communication Research Alliance is a consortium of professors, scholars, and practitioners who are interested in the cultural and technological elements of communication as it relates to sport. Founded by Dr. Jimmy Sanderson and Dr. Galen Clavio in 2013, the purpose of the SCRA is to promote the pursuit of knowledge in relation to sport communication, particularly as it relates to social media phenomena and the changing nature of the sport audience.”

I think this is an incredibly important resource for our field right now, and I am hopeful that it will help bridge the gap between the academy and the industry. I am so excited to be a part of it, and I look forward to helping it grow!

I did an introductory podcast today, which should be available early next week. My current task is to take my extremely wordy 4 paragraph bio and condense it to 1.

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War Damn Capitol

We went to Washington, DC last week for AEJMC. I had two papers accepted to the conference, one of them being the top paper in the Entertainment Studies Interest Group. I have always enjoyed AEJ, and now that a Sport Interest Group has been added, I enjoyed it even more this year. It was wonderful seeing old friends, meeting new people, and of course getting inspired for research.

I do have a couple DC connections, and one of these connections was able to get Kenny and I a private tour of the Capitol. It was really neat, and definitely awesome to be taken around beyond what the normal tour groups get to do.

At the end of our time, our guide asked if we wanted to go see the Toomer’s Oak on the Capitol lawn. Of course we did. Planted just this past spring, it is still quite small, but growing.

Being the good Auburn fans that we are, we of course had to roll it.

War Eagle.



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