Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meeting Ryan and Sara Hall

That's what I'll be doing in two weeks! Ryan and Sara Hall are coming to one of the local (ok...more like quasi-local) running stores to run with the weekend fun run group and then sign autographs afterward! Seriously, my excitement can't be contained.

I haven't decided if I'm going to actually do the run, but I'm definitely going to go for the autograph portion and the meet and greet.

I was thinking about having him sign the shoes I ran my first marathon in. Is that weird? Is it weird that I still have those shoes? I can't imagine throwing them out. I'm just sentimental like that.

So it's like Christmas is coming early for me. Of course the line of people to meet them will probably be ridiculously long, but whatever it will be worth it.

In other news, I rocked a solid four miler on the dreadmill last night. First two miles at 9:13, third mile at 8:34 (What when did I get fast?) last mile at 9:13. Granted it was on the treadmill and not outside with hills and such, but still those are mile splits I'm quite happy with.

I'm heading home to PA tomorrow morning for Turkey Day! I'm so, so soooo excited to be going home. I'm hoping the weather is decent because I want to run every day I'm there on my favorite routes. I love running in PA. It's really peaceful and serene where I live. I'm also really excited to see my family and to get together with some of my friends from high school that I haven't seen since this summer.

Not sure how often I will be blogging when I'm home, so before I leave I just wanted to wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Major changes to women's health screenings

Warning: Today's post departs from my normal frivolous ramblings to tackle an issue that's been a hot topic this past week.

Why all the changes in protocol for women's health screenings?

First we had the news last week (and people are still trying to make sense of it) that the age women should start getting mammograms was pushed back from 40 to 50 and that screenings should only be done every other year, not annually. The findings from the big study by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force also threw out the idea that breast self exams were beneficial.

Then news broke that there were big changes in the recommendations for Pap smears. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that women shouldn't get their first Pap smear until they are at least 21 and then didn't need to have one every year. Women younger than 30 could have them every two years and women older than 30 should get them every three.

Previously it was recommended that women get their first Pap when they become sexually active, but not later than 21 and then every year after to detect changes in cervical cells.

For both breast cancer and cervical cancer treatment and survival, early detection is key. So it blows my mind that all of a sudden we're seeing these changes in recommendations. It was drummed into my head growing up and in the many health classes I've taken in high school and college that my health is my responsibility and one way to take control of that is through preventative screenings.

As a very health conscious person, this new changes really upset me and I'm still not sold on the reasons they give. Decreasing the number of mammograms is supposed to decrease the number of false positives, but what about each true positive that they detect early and someone's life is saved because of it. It's true there is a concern about exposing women to extra radiation, but it seems to me that the overall benefit outweighs that risk. Early detection could be saving someone's life.

Same thing goes with the changes in the Pap guidelines. Cervical cancer can be really hard to detect without a Pap smear. Symptoms are things like spotting, painful sex or a change in your period. Those symptoms also be caused by about 500 other less scary things. That's why cervical cancer is usually detected so late in most cases. The Pap is supposed to help prevent that, so again, I don't get this change in guidelines.

The ACOG says that annual Pap smears lead to over treatment in younger women. Apparently because cervical cancer is such a slow developing cancer, they believe changing the screening window will not result in additional cases of cervical cancer. I'm skeptical at best.

And I tend to agree with a lot of this woman's argument in a column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cutting costs should not come at the detriment of women's (or anyone's) health. I'd rather deal with the stress and anxiety of having a false positive, than deal with having to go through extensive cancer treatments because I waited longer to have a preventative screening.

I'd love to hear what you all think about the new recommendations. And I promise I'll be back to my normal ramblings tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

HBBC Kickoff and my Mac is saved

Today is the kick off of Amanda's Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. I'm super excited about it for a few reasons. First I love a challenge that incorporates every kind of exercise you could possibly imagine. Points for walking, points for running, points for cross-training, points for eating healthy food. It's great. Plus, this year's she's added teams so we have a little extra motivation!

I have a date with the dreadmill tonight. I'm going to rock out some quality workouts the next three days before I head home for Thanksgiving and my schedule gets all weird.

In computer news, I took my MacBook Pro to the Apple store this weekend to have one of the Geniuses at the Genius Bar look at it. I was having huge problems connecting to the Internet. I was using both Safari and Firefox and both were horribly slow, unless I had the modem plugged directly into my computer. I was wondering if my wireless card was crapping out.

The guy at the store poked around in my Network settings and found that my work's VPN software (which I had uninstalled back in September) had dropped a few IP addresses into my DNS and changed some other settings. So basically my computer was always trying to use the work IP addresses first and when those didn't work then bounced to my home IP address. No wonder it was taking pages ages to load.

Genius guy deleted those addresses and fixed my settings and now my baby is as good as new! Oh and it cost me zero dollars!

Thanks Mac guy!

Happy Monday all! Three cheers for a short week!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wonky sleep schedule

As part of Back on Track Month I wanted to really work on getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. This week I have failed miserably.

First I got sucked into a really good book and was up until 11:30 or midnight two nights in a row reading it.

Then I went to the BF's volleyball game, which is kind of far from where I leave, and I got back really late.

And then last night I had a splitting headache when I got home from the soccer game. I'm sure it was just a tension headache from being a little too worked up about the game. (We won 2-1, but the other team had some close chances at the end). Anyway, said headache persisted when I woke up this morning.

So yes, my sleep schedule...totally messed up. Complete sleep fail.

And you know that happens when I sleep weird...apparently I start dreaming about you guys. No kidding, one of you popped up in my dream the other night as a co-worker in my office. It was weiiiiird especially considering the fact that I've never met any of you (except Lindsay and it wasn't her).

I woke up and I was like ummm did that just really happen. But yea I guess it did.

So now I'm even more determined to get my sleep scheduled worked out. I can't be having you guys all pop up in my dreams.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running and computer woes

Yesterday I managed to get outside for a 4.5 mile run. It was nice to be breathing fresh air while running and not the stinky, stale gym air that I'm slowly getting accustomed to with treadmill running.

My legs must have been feeling pretty good after a five mile run on Monday and some Jillian on Tuesday because I was able to clock out 9:10 minute miles (on average) on a hilly route.

I'm enjoying this bit of a warm spell we're having this late in November. This weekend we hit about 75 degrees on Sunday and early this week the temps have been pretty mild. I haven't had to bust out any Under Armour yet (knock on wood). I'll take it while I can get it. This winter is supposed to be brutal here.

In other news, tonight the Terps play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It's the first time in something like eight years that we didn't have a first round bye. The whole bracket this year is rather crappy. The NCAA really messed up with some of the seeding. Bad teams got really high spots. Because we got such a crappy seed, tonight is our last home game of the season. It's hard to believe the season is wrapping up already.

On another note, lately my Mac has been acting like it's on dial up when connecting to the Internet. At first I thought it was my crappy Comcast service (after the headaches with them in August and September, who could blame me?) but yesterday I had my work laptop at home and it connected much faster. Made me wonder if something is going on with my Macs wireless card. I made an appointment for the Genius Bar on Saturday, so hopefully they'll be able to figure something out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rebuilding core strength

As part of Angela's Whittle My Middle challenge, I did between 10 and 15 minutes of core work after my run last night and I was sad to see I had fallen so far in the core strength department.

Back when I was in college, I was a fitness instructor and one of my favorite classes to teach was our half hour Abs and Low Back class. In the class I would take participants through series of crunches, back extensions and planks galore. I didn't have a six pack, but I had great core strength.

Since I graduated and stopped teaching the class, I've let my core strength slip. Teaching yoga last spring definitely helped bring some of it back, but I don't think I've done a lick of core work since July.

And that was pretty evident last night.

I was taking myself through a plank series I used to do in my class -- three planks held for a minute each with 10 seconds rest in between. Intense, but back in college I could do it, no problem. (My participants were probably cursing my name by the time they left class though.) Last night I had to modify, I did three planks for 30 seconds with 10 seconds rest between.

So now I have a new goal. By the end of the challenge, I want to be able to do my three planks for one minute with 10 seconds rest between.

To clarify the series goes like this:
Three regular planks
Three side planks
Three other side planks
It's nine minutes of planks when I do the whole thing.

Feel free to steal my plank series if you're looking for something to mix up your core work.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Terps filled weekend

My weekend was full of Terp activities.

Basketball season started on Friday and I was lucky enough to have the best seat in the house for the game. Maryland runs a program where season ticket holders can donate their tickets back to the booster club, who then gives them out to young alums who can't afford the crazy expensive tickets. I was lucky enough to be graced with seats from one of our big, big donors. My seat was exactly at midcourt close enough that I could see all the action, but high enough that I didn't have to strain my neck to see the jumbotron. Perfect. Plus Maryland smacked the opponent and won by like 30 points or something.

Saturday was a bit of the opposite. Maryland lost 36-9 to Virginia Tech. It was so pathetic I left at the end of the 3rd quarter. The BF got sick of laughing at the win by about 5 minutes into the first quarter. My parents had come down for the game too. Too bad they saw such a stinker. (Although really, our whole season has been pretty bad.) But the tailgate was tons of fun. Thanksgiving themed with a turkey, stuffing and potatoes and delicious desserts my mom made.

My leg hamstring has been tight all weekend for no apparent reason (maybe I tweaked it playing cornhole on Saturday haha). So I've been resting it up. I'll see what tonight holds workout wise when I get home from work.

Other than that nothing too exciting for me.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cross training for the first time in months

Cross training isn't my favorite thing to do. So when I'm training for races, I pretty much have running days and resting days. It's not very often that I mix things up with biking, swimming or lifting unless it's the "off-season."

But last night it was rainy and cold and I was in no mood for the treadmill. So I cracked open my 30 Day Shred case which has been sitting neglected on my desk for at least 6 months and popped it into my laptop.

Twenty minutes later my poor shoulders, pecs, triceps, entire upper body area was dead. And I'm still feeling it today. It hurts so good though.

It was a nice change of pace to mix it up. I think I'll be turning to Jillian more often as the cold clutches of winter grip the area.

On tap for the weekend, I've got a happy hour tonight with friends before the Terps season opener (basketball) and then tomorrow the BF and I are tailgating before the VT vs MD football game. Md will probably get killed the BF will laugh and laugh. (He's aVT alum.) Should be another excellent weekend of sports!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A lazy day and tons of challenges

Yesterday was the perfect day to have off for Veterans Day. Thanks to all the veterans who have served and are currently serving!

I spent my day off being a complete lazy bum. It was cold and rainy outside. I toyed with the idea of going to the gym, but instead spent the day curled up under the covers watching bad TV and reading. It wasn't productive, but it was relaxing and sometimes we all need a day like that.

Last night my roommate and I went to a really interesting discussion at the University of Maryland. Every year the journalism school hosts a sports journalism symposium where important people in the world of sports come together to discuss a variety of different topics. Last night's discussion mainly centered around whether NCAA football and basketball players should get paid (On average they spend 44+ hours each week on their sports, according to new survey results.)

It was so interesting to hear Scott Van Pelt, Michael Wilbon, Connie Chung, Gary Williams (UMD's basketball coach) and Stephon Heyer (a UMD-grad who currently plays for the Washington Redskins), among others talking about those issues.

I don't know where I stand on the pay athletes debate. I can see the merits to it, but then again, I can't. Do any of you have a clear opinion of where you fall on that issue?


There are so many challenges currently going on and about to start in blogland. Here's a quick run down of the ones I'm doing in case any of you want to join.

Pile on the Miles. I think it's probably too late to join this one. I wrote about it in the beginning of the month. The goal here is to run as many miles as possible between now and Thanksgiving. Piling on the piles, not the pounds. I'm doing OK...not great.

Holiday Bootie Buster. Amanda hosted this one last year and she's hosting it again this year. It kicks off right before Thanksgiving and your earn points based on the kinds of workouts you do. It's tons of fun and Amanda always has great prizes for the winners.

Whittle Your Middle
. This one's hosted by Angela at Oh She Glows. The goal here is to rebuild core strength that was lost during a summer of training for races. Since I've sorely been neglected core work, I think this is a good one to jump on board with. It kicked off yesterday and runs through Dec. 10th.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How not to get hit by a car

With the time change, I'm stuck running in the dark no matter when I head out for my run. Running in the dark is one of my least favorite things to do, but sometimes I just can't stand the thought of getting on the treadmill. So, here's how I try to ensure that I won't get hit by a car on my dark runs.

Note: It was this dark when I left my house at 5:30 to go running last night. (Sorry it's a little blurry...the camera didn't kept trying to focus on the screen in my window)

It looks like it could be about 9:30 not 5:30.

How to not get hit by a car:

Wear obnoxiously bright/reflective clothes. Note my really bright pink top with reflective strips on it, topped with my super sexy reflective vest. Yea, maybe I look a little bit like a crossing guard, but hey, drivers tend to not plow crossing guards down, even the constantly angry, stressed-out-because-they're-stuck-in-rush-hour D.C. drivers.

Turn your jams down. Now I like rocking out to Lady Gaga on my runs just as much as the next person, but at night when I can only see a few steps in front of me, it's just better to turn the jams down so I can focus on hearing whether someone (like the boogey man...or another runner or biker) is coming up behind me. Plus, running with your music lower will let you hear if a car is about to slam on its breaks to avoid hitting you as you run through an intersection.

Carry ID and your cell phone with you
. Yea it can be annoying to lug your cell phone along but when I run in the dark it's a must for me. If you trip and fall you can call someone for help and if you fall so bad that you get knocked out at least the hopefully nice person who stops to help you will be able to give your ID to the EMTs. This is actually a pretty good rule for running any time, not just at night, but I sometimes I slack on it in the summer when it's light outside and I'm less worried about falling or getting hit by a car.

So now here's the fun part of safety post. I want you to share what you all do to stay safe on the roads when you're running at night or in the early morning. Write a post about it, take a picture of yourself, make a video, whatever you want to do. Leave me a comment on this post with a link back to your post or email me the picture/video file at jmilcetich(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll compile them all into a big post with the pictures and links to ideas we can share. Deadline to submit is 5 p.m. Nov. 15th. I don't have a fun incentive for you now, but I'll see what I can do because I know you all love giveaways!

Monday, November 09, 2009

To-do list Monday

When I have a to do list that's a mile long that's full of personal and professional responsibilities, I tend to stress out a little bit, but it also tends the be the atmosphere I thrive in. I think that little bit of stress makes me extra focused so I can just roll through the list.

That's kind of the week I'm looking at right now. I've got my work to do list broken down into what I plan to accomplish each day. My personal to do list isn't quite so organized, but I'll probably make it be that way.

Here's a look at the things I need to get done (sorry for the poor's a camera phone pic):

I find for me that when I make to do lists, I end up having more free time for myself at the end of the day than I thought possible. Something about zeroing in on what needs to get down and knocking it out, rather than procrastinating, saves me way more time than I thought possible.

So yes, I'm looking at a busy week ahead, but I have Wednesday off for Veterans' Day (yesss government employment!) where I plan to tackle the personal to do list.

And this week, workouts are going to have to be written down on the list, or else it will be too easy to skip them.

Do you write your workouts on your to do lists? Some weeks, I don't have to worry about them, but other times, if I don't write it down it doesn't happen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

BOTM update and the weekend

Sorry I've been MIA the past two days just had a lot of stuff going on. Back on Track Month is going alright. I'm doing well on the fruit and veggies front, which was the area I was really concerned about. The sleep front could still use a little work. I'm getting to bed at decent times, but then tossing and turning for ever, so I need to work on that so I'm actually sleeping for eight hours.

Running has just been same old, same old. Nothing too exciting to report. Things seem to be going well although during my run on Wed. my legs felt like bricks. No fun.

In fun exciting news, my cousin and her boyfriend registered for the Celtic Solstice Five Miler in December! I'm really excited to do a race with them!

I've got a sports heavy weekend coming up. Tonight is the last regular season soccer game at home, so I'm headed there after work for tailgating and other fun times. Then tomorrow I'm heading up to the University of Delaware to watch my friend from high school play. He's a redshirt senior and I haven't seen him play a game since we've graduated from HS so that should be a lot of fun. Then Sunday I will be a bum and watch the NFL. Sounds like a great weekend to me. (Also, I'm trying to inundate myself with other sports so I can forget the Phillies dismal performance in the playoffs.)

Happy Friday everyone! Hoping for a speedy workday!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Treadmill survival guide

As winter sets in, I have less and less of a chance to get my runs in outside during the daylight hours. I'm up super early to commute to work and by the time I get home it's dark out. Not only is it horribly depressing, it also means come winter time, I have to spend a lot of my running time on the treadmill.

I hate running on the treadmill. It's boring. There's no change of scenery. And I sweat like a pig because the gym is so warm.

But for safety reasons, like not wanting to get mugged or not wanting to trip over uneven sidewalk and sprain an ankle, the treadmill is a necessary evil.

I know some other runners out there are in the same situation so I thought I'd share my five tips for staying entertained on the treadmill.

1. Make sure you have your music. Listening to the drone of the treadmill will put you to sleep (and then you could potentially fall off the back and that's just embarrassing). If you don't like to run with music, try to find a treadmill in front of a TV and set it something you like.

2. Race the guy or girl next to you. Sometimes I don't have much of a choice when it comes to treadmill location, but when I do, I try to pick the one semi close to a guy who looks like he's sprinting and then I try to match him because there's nothing like chicking a guy, even if it's not in a real race and your just on the treadmill.

3. Use the default programs on the treadmill. One of my favorite ones is the auto-hill program on the treadmills in my gym. You set a workout time limit, then pick a level of difficulty between 1-20. (I tried 15 once and had to knock it down to 10 after about five minutes). Then the treadmill kicks out some killer hills raising and lowering itself at different intervals. It keeps you on your feet and since most climbs and descents only last a few minutes you can focus on that minute, rather than the 30 remaining in your workout, and next thing you know the workout is done.

4. Bored with the defaults? Then create your own program. Increase and decrease speed every minute or every 30 seconds. Set the speed at a comfortable pace and then see how fast you can push it before backing off again. You can do the same thing with the incline. Play around with all those buttons and time will pass more quickly.

5. Mix it up and do the occasional run outside. It's really hard to do every winter run on the treadmill. Try it find a time once a week or once every two weeks when you can get outside. The fresh air will do you good and it will give you something to look forward to as you pound out more and more miles on the treadmill.

Hope those help all the indoor runners survive winter without massive amounts of boredom.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Back on Track, Pile on the Miles, NYC and More

Back on Track Month:
Caitlin has dubbed November Back on Track Month and I'm jumping right in on the fun. Basically the idea behind BOTM is to get back to good healthy habits that we may have been slipping on lately. When I read her post about it, I knew I was going to be playing along too because while my running has been really solid through the month of October, healthy habits have been slipping in other areas. I've been eating pretty crappily, which I can chalk up to lots of sweets and bad tailgate food. Plus I've been getting not nearly enough sleep (thank you Phillies. P.S. Note to the team, stop sucking, thanks!)

So here are my goals for back on track month:
  • Run at least three times per week, with the goal of trying to start up morning workouts now that we changed the clocks and it's dark by the time I leave the office.
  • Eat three to five servings of fruits and veggies per day.
  • Sleep seven to eight hours each night.
  • Limit sweets to a maximum of once per day. (Note to self: Stay away from the work candy dish!)

They're all pretty attainable and easily measurable, which is important so that I don't set up myself up for a major failure.

Feel free to take the idea and play along too if you need to get back on track.

Pile on the Miles Challenge:
Going almost hand in hand with BOTM is POTM (wow so many acronyms in one post). The Pile on the Miles Challenge is being hosted by Bobbi and Caitlin and from now until Thanksgiving the goal is to increase your running or walking mileage to pile on the miles, not the pounds as we head into the holiday season. Since running three times a week is one of my goals for BOTM, I think I should be able to accumulate a decent amount of mileage for this challenge.

NYC Marathon:
I spent yesterday morning sitting in front of my computer watching the NYC Marathon. I was so excited that Meb won. He's the first American to win the race in my lifetime. (Last time an American won was in 1982). I was bummed when I saw Ryan Hall drop out of the lead pack. I was really hoping he'd be able to win, what with Runner's World dubbing him America's Hope and all. But still a fourth place finish is solid.

Congrats to everyone else who ran NYC, especially Lindsay who kicked some serious booty (and sent me a sweet pic of Ryan Hall signing autographs at the Expo!)

Family Time:
I spent yesterday afternoon hanging out with my family at my cousin, Laura's, new apartment. She invited the BF and I over for lunch with my aunt, and her brother and sister and everyone's respective significant others. Laura made some of the best baked ziti the BF and I have ever eaten and she graciously emailed me the recipe this morning. I'm sure I'll be trying it out some time soon.

Also congrats to my cousin Amy who ran her first 10K this weekend!

Laura and her boyfriend are thinking about running the Celtic Solstice Five Miler with me in December. Maybe this bit of friendly peer pressure will encourage them to register! :)

Happy Monday!