Peace Corps Wedding #3

During my time as an RPCV I have had the pleasure and honor of attending three Peace Corps wedding.

This past weekend I took a few days off of work to catch up with my friend, Beth H, see her in Minnesota and then drive down to Iowa.

The trip there was uneventful. I arrived on time in Minneapolis and Beth picked me up and we went to Surly Brewing company for some beer and appetizers, then we went to a restaurant called City Afrique and had some Foutou (fufu) with palm seed sauce (Sauce Graine), Attieke, and fish. We then drove back to Beth’s house to sleep.

Got my foutou fix!

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

The next day was pretty busy. We went for a morning walk and then went to Beth’s grandmother’s dairy farm after running some errands with her Grandmother and exploring Schell’s brewery and seeing the New Ulm Glockenspiel mechanical clock. I got to see the “Milk Parlor” with all the cows and was peppering her uncle Dean with questions all about cows. I asked him how big a baby calf was, and he didn’t know. When Beth showed me where they keep the newborn calves, we noticed a calf that was born about an hour ago. Still had its umbilical cord, the placenta was hanging out of its mother. I said to Beth, “Well that answers my question.” I even got to milk some cows (manually and with the machine) and clean off their udders. The teats get dipped in iodine, and then a chlorohexadine solution, and then wiped off. Then you squeeze the teats by hand to make sure that milk comes out, and then you hook them up to a milking machine. After a busy afternoon at the farm, Beth took me to her parents’ house for a real Minnesota Tater-tot Hot Dish. We then had an epic jam session with her dad, and then went to bed.

Why yes I am milking a cow!

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

The next day we got up early and drove about 45 minutes to go strawberry picking. We picked over 60 pounds of strawberries.

Strawberry picking in Minnesota!

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After we got back we loaded up the car and went to Iowa. This was a camping wedding where we were in a state park. It was more like “Glamping” because the campsite had modern toilets and showers, and had a Walmart nearby. When we arrived, we hung out until the rest of the other RPCVs showed up, started setting up our campsite, and then played some Sushi-Go and had dinner.

Peace Corps friends are the best friends! #loveinledges #peacecorpsburkinafaso #g24

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

Up to this point, everything was going pretty well.

The next day I was supposed to meet up with my friend Rachael’s parents who lived in nearby Ames. As Beth and I started to drive, we turned onto the main road and the car stalled. After calling our parents and asking for advice, a little while later, the car started back up and we were able to make it. We hung out at Rachael’s parents’ house for a few hours and then left to go to the wedding. We turned the corner and the car stalled again. This time we called AAA to get it towed and we both changed into our wedding clothes. We decided to load up Rachael’s mom’s car with our luggage and I went with Rachael’s mom to the campsite with all of our stuff, unloaded it, and made it to the wedding with a minute or two to spare.


The wedding was in Ledges State Park on a sunny hot Saturday. The wedding was very hippie-boho chic and they served Breakfast for dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed dancing and spending time with the rest of the wedding attendees from my training class. Beth arrived during the reception with a supposedly fixed car.

The next morning we packed up and left. As soon as we got on to the entrance ramp to the highway, Beth’s car died a third time. We called AAA to get it towed, and were picked up relatively quickly (compared to the day before) by an Americorps volunteer who worked for the towing company. We waited for a rental place to open after we called to reserve a car and got a rental car and drove back to Minnesota. We stopped again at Beth’s parents and grandmother’s house and then drove back to her house.

Snapchat-6261705625184774372 (1)It is remarkable to note that both of us stayed calm the whole time. Like RPCVs, we were thinking about, where do we want to go next? What is our next step? Both of us wished that we had brought more books to read and things to do while we waited. We also did not have good network coverage while we were camping, so that was also difficult. It did not end up being the relaxing calm vacation I wanted, but at least I’ve got some good stories. I think if it was not for my Peace Corps Experience, I would not have had the grace under pressure that I had during the stress, and this will give me many memories for the months to come.



Review of Garmin Forerunner 230

I bit the bullet and purchased a Garmin Forerunner 230.

IMG_20160505_095332I went to the store and was going to get the 15 or the 25 but was upsold to the 230.

I may end up doing a half marathon training in the fall and I want to have a watch that is capable of tracking activities.

What it does

  • Smart notifications from your phone when connected to bluetooth
  • Measure running, biking, and indoor activities
  • Activity tracker/step counter
  • Can measure heart rate with added heart rate monitor (I did not get it)

What I want from it

  • Accurate, reliable running tracking
  • Good battery life

First impressions:

Love the color, fairly easy to set up and use with Garmin connect. Tried to get it to sync to runkeeper. It sort of works. I am also logging workouts on their website. Weather seems to be an iffy sync. Update: weather syncs but location function on phone must be connected. Not a touchscreen, but that isn’t a big deal.

People complain that the screen is dim. I don’t really have a problem with that. I kind of like it.

First run: 15 minutes easy for BWC 5k training. 5/5/15

Really easy to use. Synced immediately to satellites (or so I thought)*. Beeped when I hit one mile. Reported a pace of 10:18 per mile which I don’t really believe. I thought, the fastest mile pace I have previously run was 11:48. I am curious to see how my next run goes

Second run: Said I was running 7:35 minute miles, which for me is physically impossible at this point.

*Turns out the GPS was not connected and it was counting arm cycles/steps. Going to try it again with the GPS on the next run

First Indoor Run

10:03 pace, which is fast for me

First outdoor run with GPS connected

12:59 pace, which is pretty consistent

Hill workout 5/16/2016


(Garmin interface on the right, Runkeeper interface on the left). I am still using both.

We did hills and it synced pretty well and followed the GPS with a somewhat accurate pace.

Easy to sync to Runkeeper, although it shows up as private and I have to log in and make it public which can be a pain sometimes. You can connect to garmin connect which automatically uploads your activities

The Garmin interface looks slick but clunky, it may take a little bit of getting used to

Other notes:

Activity Tracker will record steps if I am knitting. That is a little weird

The Bottom Line

It does everything it says it does with a non-touchscreen interface. It’s not the Apple watch, but if you wanted an Apple watch, you would get an Apple watch. It also connects to training programs and a whole bunch of apps on the Garmin IQ app store. Essentially the only barrier in my mind is the price. 

It’s a great thing to motivate you to move, tracks your steps,  and tracks your running. The Bluetooth syncing to the phone is convenient for meetings syncing your phone notifications. Battery life is about 9 days when intermittently connected with bluetooth and GPS. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor or a touchscreen included but that’s not super important to me

I got the watch at a discount* so I got it for about $50 less than the retail price. I’m not sure if I would get it for its retail price of $250.

*from my BWC training (10%) and a $25 store credit (our running store gives you $25 for every 250 you spend)

Under Armour Sole of the City 10k Recap

breaking records and taking names! #pr #Sotc10ktraining #charmcityrun #Sotc10k #personalrecord

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

I’m really grateful that I got a chance to preview the course with our training group with guest coach Lauren who was one of my coaches for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k a few weeks before the actual race.

The hardest part of this race is a slow uphill between miles 5 and 6.2 before the race gets flat again. Because of the preview run, we got a chance to experience this for the first time before the race giving us something to expect and a gentle reminder to leave some gas in the tank for that last part

For the most part things went well. I visualized the course beforehand and the night before I ran. I knew what to expect. I also got an unexpected really nice pump-up message from my supervisor at work this morning which was a great way to start the day.

The race in a nutshell. I tried purposefully not to go out too fast. I started Runkeeper a little early (before I crossed the finish line) to make sure it was working. I knew that the first part of the course was downhill until we got to Key highway, then it flattened out until Pratt street where it was a gradual uphill until we turned on Wolfe. The course was pretty flat when I got onto the promenade and then ran up the hill by the Science Center past the American Visionary Arts Museum on Covington street, the dreaded last hill. Most of the people in the back of the pack where I was were walking. I was determined to keep running. Once I got to Fort Avenue I started pushing it until I saw the finish line where I pushed it even further.

I ended up with a personal best, with a 20 second difference in pace from the official race timing.

Overall I am quite happy with the result.

The good:

Running with my BF and training partner, and my Baltimore Bestie, Anna.

Being dressed smartly. It was warmer than any of our training runs and I was very thankful for wearing a short sleeved tee and shorts.

Knowing the course and where to hold off and where to push forward.

Being aware of people running the race on intervals, and to hear the beeps from their watches, and staying away from them

Feeling confident in my training and info from my coach, Meredith. She did a great job and was always able to answer our questions and personalize the training. She was also great fetching me when the other runners returned.

The unexpected/not so good:

I saw at least 5 people fall. I have so far never experienced that in a race. I also saw people being attended to by medical personnel, which I had not yet experienced.

The Heat. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hot. I’m glad I stopped for water at both stops (not generally something I do during a shorter race).

Goals for the next time:

I’d love to get my race pace down even further and aim for more personal bests. I’m glad I was able to complete the 10k and make so much progress since I started running a year ago

#Sotc10k #charmcityrun #runbaltimore

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

#uarun #underarmour #soleofthecity #charmcityrun

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on


Running update: Sole of the City 10k Training

So believe it or not, I’m still running. This April it will be a year since I started running.

I’ve done 3 5k races and 2 5 mile races in that time. If you asked me at this time last year if this was even possible I would have said no.

Starting on Feb 21st (actually Feb 20th as I was home in Detroit for a bridal shower) I started a 10k training program with Charm City Run in Baltimore, targeting the Sole of the City 10k training.

I was lucky enough that one of my Baltimore Women’s Classic coaches is our coach for this training, and that was even more of a motivating factor. As compared to the 5k training, we are running about twice the distance, and I am running 4 days a week instead of 3.

So far I have been able to make up all of the runs, but sometimes they get shifted by a day or two.

Our schedule has been as follows

Sunday  -long run as a group

Monday  – recovery run

Wednesday  – speed work as a group

Friday – Intervals/tempo run

On Tuesday and Saturday it is recommended that we do cross training but I have not been able to fit that in as of right now. Many times the Friday run gets pushed to Saturday so I frequently end up running 3 days in a row.

One of the challenges of this training group is that I am one of the slowest people. I’m also trying to run in-between the beginner and intermediate distances so that I can get the most out of the training.

Last Sunday I did my longest run ever of 6.53 miles, but I was the last one back. One of the other slower runners who was running with me turned around at the 2.5 mile mark but I wanted to keep going and hit 10k if I could, which I did.

Taking names and more personal bests #latergram #Sotc10ktraining #charmcityrun

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

Another interesting point has been the idea of GPS watches/activity trackers

For the Shamrock 5k on March 13th, I waited until the crowd died down and then moved towards the starting line. I though I turned runkeeper on using my phone but by the end of the race nothing was recorded. I had no idea whether I completed a personal best or not. Once they posted the times I realized I had a PR for the 5k and a PR for my mile time which I was ecstatic about.

runkeeper failed but I still got a pr! best mile time and best 5k! #shamrock5k #runbaltimore

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

I’m lucky enough that our 10k coach Meredith let me borrow her GPS watch.  So far I have run with it twice. I seem to have a lot of trouble connecting it to satellites, and I guess I’m used to runkeeper on my phone talking to me and having additional features to program in workouts and see overall progress.

Activity trackers seem to collect too much data for me. It would be nice to collect steps but I don’t want one more thing to stress over. They’re also expensive.

So far I’m not not convinced about these devices and I am too afraid that if I bought one it would simply sit on the shelf unused and be a waste of money. My current boss has an apple watch and I asked how she felt about it. She’s an avid runner and cyclist and she felt that it was overpowered for what she needed. I think it would be a really fun thing to have a GPS watch, but I don’t know if the price is worth it and if I would use it enough to benefit. I’m a casual runner, running for my own health, and probably not going to do a marathon any time soon.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the training and hoping that I can finish the SOTC 10k with the same mile time as my 5 mile races. That’s my main goal. After Sunday’s run I don’t think the mileage is going to be an issue.

#celticsolstice5miler #runbaltimore #brooksrunning #personalrecord #breakingrecordstakingnames #PhotoGrid

A photo posted by Sara Goodman (@ilovealtoclef) on

I would like to train up to longer distances at some point but for me that’s still a long way way.



So you want to get your capstone published?

I started my MPH in July 2014 in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics concentration at JHSPH. As part of the concentration, we had to do a capstone which was a research report. We were expected to give two “Research in Progress” presentations with the final capstone presentation before graduation in May.

The vast majority of the people in my concentration were clinicians or medical students.

Here is an approximate timeline of my capstone:

September 2014 – complete CITI training and get added to the IRB

Novemberish 2014 – First Research in Progress Presentation which is a 5 minute presentation for the concentration about your research (had started to do the data analysis, but not a whole lot. Just frequencies at this point)

December 2015 – Start doing the literature review

January 2015 – Camp Capstone during break

March 2014 – Second Research in Progress Presentation – more analysis and indeptb

May 1st 2015 – Biostats 624 project due and Capstone paper

May 9th 2015 – Capstone Presentation

Between May and November there was lots of editing back and forth. Mostly retooling of the results and discussion. I had to turn a 22 page paper into a 3000 word document. My Advisor felt that if there was a lot of internal review, there would be less for the reviewers to criticize

November 16th, 2015 – submitted edited finished manuscript to STD. The co-authors had to sign off on the submission and fill out conflict of interest forms.

November 19th, 2015 – had some formatting issues (too many references, not having line numbers on every page, etc).

December 26th, 2015 – Accepted with minor revisions

January 26th, 2016  – resubmitted minor revisions to the journal.

January 28th, 2016 – returned with a note about the footnote

January 29th, 2016 – accepted for publication.

**This review by this journal was very quick. Your mileage with other journals may vary.

May 2016 – Listed in PubMed and published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases

General Advice:

For the lit review:

  • make a spreadsheet, fill it in with what you like and don’t like.
  • If your advisor is a leader in the field, ask them if they have colleagues that have published recent relevant papers
  • look at papers that are cited in other papers in your lit review, those are probably good springboards


  • do yourself a favor and get a reference manager (endnote, mendeley, refworks, ref manager)
  • you may be able to get an older version of endnote or another program
  • It makes changing and updating references very easy
  • using the google scholar toolbar button to import references and then directly add them to your reference manager


  • Have other people (scientific, non scientific) read it?
  • Have people who have no idea what your paper is about read it. Does it make sense? Does it flow?
  • Print it out and read it aloud

Other advice

  • Feel free to let it sit and come back to it with fresh eyes
  • Sometimes the paper can stagnate and you can get tired of it


  • Pick the three most important points from your results and say how it is or is not concurrent with the literature
  • then state your limitations
  • Dr. Keri Althoff at JHSPH  has a great set of resources on this

Dropbox/Other Cloud folders

  • This helps with collaboration with co-authors especially if they go out of the country frequently or you are working with people all over the world.
  • Also helps to keep track of drafts and previous versions

I plan to update this as soon as I hear more with a more accurate timeline of start to published. Thank you to everyone up to this point for their love and support.

Musings of a Slow Runner

So if you follow this blog, you will know that I started running in April, and I’m not very fast. I keep at it though, and have achieved personal records in all of my races, but when you’re running 12-13 minute miles, it seems easier to drop time.

It reminds me of when I was on swim team in high school. I always dropped time. I was slow to begin with and I kept reaching personal bests. I was still the worst and slowest swimmer on the team.

Cut to the Zoo Zoom.  (8k or 4.98 miles) My longest race to date. I trained with my BF and my friend Anna and worked up from 3.1 miles to 5 miles by doing long runs on Saturdays and increasing them by half a mile every week until I got to 5. By the time I had run the Zoo Zoom I had run 5 miles twice during training runs, albeit without the crazy elevation.

I get to the zoo zoom and it’s 40 degrees out. Some of the runners are wearing tank tops and running shorts. I’m not. I have two shirts on and a pair of yoga tights that don’t seem to want to stay up.

The race starts (I never seem to hear the horn or gun because I’m too far back) and people start jogging towards the starting line. I get passed…by a ton of people.

Once I get to the 2 mile mark, I hear the announcer remark that the first finishers are crossing the finish line. My first thought is: Wow, I’m really slow. I just try to keep running.

One of the most annoying things when you are a slow runner is when people run past you and then start walking. When you run next to them they start running and pass you. Then they start walking again, you run up to them and then they start running, and pass you.

The most challenging part of this course was a very steep hill after 3.5 miles. I tried to run up it as fast as I could but had to stop to catch my breath once I reached the top. At this point I kept running. Running slow, but running.

During the last mile we are informed by the race volunteers that the kids from the mile long fun run are coming. I get passed by about 20 kids and their parents.

I finish the race with a personal best of 1:05:10, which was a drop of 6 minutes from my fastest 5 mile run. I’m pretty happy with that.

I guess the things that bother me most about being a slow runner are the following:

  1. Going on “fun runs” and being the last one to arrive because you are not racking up at least 20 miles per week. Or just because you are slow.
  2. Getting passed by everyone
  3. Running the same pace as people who are walking the same course
  4. feeling sad looking at other runners’ posts about their times and how you wish you could be as fast as them.

I’m lucky enough to have my friend Anna who runs 9 minute miles who is willing to run with me, and a BF who has very long legs who runs 10 minute miles to start with me and then wait for me until I finish. At this point I would sell my soul to get down to a 10 minute mile consistent pace.

I’m also lucky that I have women in my office who motivate me. One who has done three marathons, and my boss who runs all the time.

I signed up for another 5 miler in December, and then my big goal is to continue running through the winter or continuing to be more active in general. Hopefully I can join a 10k training group or something to try and get in some speedwork or improve my technique.

For me running is really about my health, and doing something that I never thought I could do. It’s a fun way to spend time with friends and to meet new people, and really, all you need is a pair of shoes.

Population Vs. Individual Health

Last week I went to the doctor for an exam. He brought up the idea of population health vs. individual health.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor. You probably know this by now but I just want to reiterate that.

As a public health practitioner, our governing bodies, WHO, CDC, state and city health departments create guidelines that are population health based. The population health initiative in question during my doctor’s exam was a Pap smear. For my age group, Pap tests are recommended every three years if they are negative. If I had a history of ovarian or cervical cancer in my family, I would probably want to be screened more often. These guidelines are generally in place to scoop up people who have fallen out of regular checkups or medical care.

One of the most contentious cases of population vs. individual health is the v-w0rd. Yep, you guessed it…vaccines.

Vaccines are a fantastic population health measure. The smallpox vaccine helped eradicate the disease. The MMR and polio vaccines help prevent once deadly childhood diseases, and the HPV vaccine can prevent some of the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer.

However, not everyone can have or want or agrees with vaccines. There are several categories.

  1. People who have medical contraindications to vaccines (suppressed immune systems, allergies to vaccine ingredients, etc)
  2. People who are opposed to a vaccine because of religious or personal exemptions.

I work in a hospital (not clinical personnel) where I was required to get a flu shot unless I filed for an exemption. I got my flu shot willingly realizing that it may not cover all of the flu strains and I realize that vaccines have limitations.

The recent measles outbreak in California last year illustrated what happens when people are not vaccinated and the disease is spread effectively through a theme park.

Another illustration of population vs individual health was the recent findings of red and processed meats being carcinogenic by the WHO. We’ve known for years that eating large amounts of red and processed meat is not good for you…that’s not a surprise. What surprised me is that some people were saying that the level of causality was similar to that of smoking and lung cancer.

Now, as anyone who has taken an Epidemiology class will tell you…It took a long time to establish that smoking indeed causes lung cancer.

This video explains how experiments work and how research is compiled to create these guidelines.

What the WHO did is conduct a systematic review and meta analysis looking at all of the cohort (long-term studies,) Randomized control trials, and other studies and opinions looking at the topic and found that these types of meat seem to be carcinogenic.

So Sara, what’s your point?

These guidelines are great for promoting general population health but may be ignored or avoided by individuals. Our job as public health practitioners is to encourage healthy behaviors and prevent diseases. If we keep creating sweeping guidelines, there may be lots of questions about if it applies to everyone in the general population or not. There will always be exceptions to rule.

What we should do as public health professionals is the following:

  1. Educate people about how the research was done and what it means to them
  2. Link people to services that can help them become more healthy
  3. Evaluate these new strategies to see if they are only panic inducing or actually effective measures.
  4. These guidelines and public health issues are in the spotlight and we should take advantage of this moment to encourage disease control and prevention

The dichotomy between these two topics is something I struggle with, but it encourages me to keep researching and learning to promote better public health practice.