Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: October 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

FIGHT (Dash for Dads 5k)

I’ve now found the cure for a bad run.

Good runs.

I know, revolutionary, right?  Who would have thought getting back on the horse and conquering some awesome runs would help me (/sarcasm).  But for some reason, my mental state about this marathon had me convinced that the awesome 20 was a fluke and I had lost it all and I was fucked and the sky was falling and I had to turn in my endurance athlete card and I may as well just hit the turn in for the half on Nov 11th because I suck.

Dramatics, I know.  But I was run-mopey and grumpy about it until I forced myself to put on my shoes a few days later and just RUN dammit.  And it brought me out of my funk.  My legs didn’t stop functioning, I didn’t stop enjoying a run, I had just had a bad day and needed to get the fuck over it.  So I did 4 runs + 2 bikes over 3 days to get some miles in, all of which were solid, soul soothing, and I didn’t feel broken Thursday night when it was all over.  This was good for Quix-brain.

Being that I had made a comeback, I decided that my last long day of prep today had to be a good test of stupid brain.  I was signed up for a 5k race and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that when I needed double digits.  At first I thought I’d just jog it at marathon pace, but then I realized that would be missing a good opportunity.  I remember doing 25 miles of bike hills after my last 5k race, and how much HARDER it was than on fresh legs.  Why not test how harder it was to hold m-pace on completely blasted legs?

Then I saw the weather.  Fucking 40 degrees in the morning.  I was not a happy Quix.  I don’t like the cold.  I am definitely not used to it, being this is the coldest it’s been since, oh, February.  Oh well, out comes the cold weather gear.  I was almost thankful for Alaska training because it wasn’t a COMPLETE shock to the system.  But that didn’t mean I wasn’t a whiny little bitch about it.

6:40am today.  Cold.  Dark.  Hate. Grumble.  Get out of bed anyway.  More grumbling.  Get on compression sox, pants, shoes, long sleeve hoodie shirt, jacket, gloves.  Note that my last outdoor run Thursday was 84 and sunny.  Grumble.

7:20.  Get out the door.  Grumble and cuss.  Walk just a little to get moving, and since I’m cold, get going.  Grumble.  Run run run.  Hey, this could be worse.  Run run run.  Ok, this isn’t so bad.  Run faster.  Enjoy the first bit of sunrise.  Unzip the jacket.  Turn into wind.  Zip up jacket.  Think about the day to come, hope I have it in me.  Run a little more and turn into the house. (3 miles – 36 mins, nice ez 12 min/mi pace)

8.  Go home, change shirt, bra, put on arm warmers, decide at last minute that I was bringing my jacket too, nom some cliff blocks (I didn’t eat before), and get going to the race.  When I get there, do a mile and as I finish, it’s time to line up.

My goal was to try to beat 29:16 from last year.  Last year, I went out fast, blew up after 2 miles, and threw myself a pity party for my worst 5k finish time ever and gave up and whined until I got an email saying I was 1st in my age group.  This year, I decided to try to run the opposite race.  Start slower, accelerate, and then kick hard into the finish.

National anthem played, horn sounded, and we got off (that’s what she said).  Zliten actually got ahead of me and I let him go since I was holding at 9:30s.  That was hard.  I wanted to keep up with him.  A bunch of people passed me.  I let them.  I stayed in my little zone.  I knew what was to come – this nice little flat would turn into a monster soon enough.  The only thing that broke my zone was the moment where my jacket, tied around my waist, fell off and almost tripped me.  Doh!  Fixed it and moved on.  Mile 1 ticked over at 9:36, Zliten was still ahead, and now my goal pace dropped from “anything in the 9s” to “under 9:30s”.  We cruised down a hill and I braced myself because what goes down also goes up.  I stopped looking at my garmin through that stretch and just tried to fight that hill with everything I could and then when I crested it, I took a deep breath and got back to the lower 9s.

Around 1.7 was the turn around, I caught up to Zliten, high fived him, and realized I felt good.  I had 3 plans for the last mile.  If I felt awful, just try to maintain whatever I could because it was the worst (STEEEEP downhill then STEEEEEP uphill), if I felt ok, just try to maintain pace.  But I felt good.  GOOD.   So I decided to HURT.  I turned the corner and took off, clocking mostly low 8s.  Zliten said he tried to keep up but I just booked.  I fought up the hill, I exploded down the steep downhill, and steeled myself for the last huge hill.

It was just as bad as I remembered.  I also didn’t look at my garmin during this time but just pushed.  I passed at least 3 girls and a few more when we crested it.  “Keep it going, keep it going” I thought to myself.  Just another turn and we’re done.  I picked off a bunch of people that the hill destroyed, but one girl just flew and I couldn’t catch her.  Sadly, as the finish line appeared my tummy did flipflops and I slowed down ever so slightly (probably from the 6s to the 7s, I was sprinting like I stole something) and crossed and the announcer mentioned my Ironman visor as I finished (thanks for noticing! :D). The clock said 29 something, so I knew it was close.

I paced around like a moron going “where the fuck is the water”, and then as soon as I looked back and I saw an orange jacket booking it in and I cheered.   Zliten finished at about 30:20.  To give you perspective on how much more of an awesome runner he is than last year, he beat his time by 5 MINUTES.  Badass.  And he was injured this week so he was not able to run until yesterday.  Double badass.

Check out the new shooz.   I converted him to my Asics ways.  He likes em.  Also, yeah, race 20.  4 more to finish out the year at 24 races in 12 months.  HELL YAH!

We walked around a bit and he got food and I drooled over food and got fruit (didn’t figure good queso, sammiches, or scallops? would not be good mid-run fuel) so I grabbed a half of a quinoa wrap for later, took it to the car, and did a mile cooldown.  I noticed I kept dipping into m-pace territory and forced myself to slow down (ended around 11;45).  Maybe I was doing better than I thought.

We were going to stay for awards, but then noticed that the results were up in a tent.  Last year, 1st AG (because I guess all the fast people were elsewhere).  This year, 8th.  Womp womp.  Decided at that point, it was time to go get the rest of our day on.  Got home, got some water, ate some honeystinger chews, and got back out before I lost motivation.  I did half a mile warmup to try and make my legs un-stiffify, and noticed that 11s became easier as I went on. At .5 I reset my garmin and started the clock on 6 miles of m-pace (11:30s).

Mile 1 was easy (11:16).  My legs felt warm, the day had warmed enough that it was sunny and gorgeous (with a ls shirt and arm warmers) and I was ready to rock.  However, being half a mile displaced on my normal run course was a little demoralizing.  And it started to affect my pace.   I was slowing. (11:30).  I got to my favorite part of the course and naturally picked up, and then had a little talk with myself.  “Self, this is the test.  It’s time to fight.  This last lap, you are going to FIGHT.” (11:17).  Mile 4 included some uphills, and I fought each one.  When I hit 4, I thought “2 more like this” (11:10).  When I hit the uphills again, I fought each one again.  And every time I fought, I got faster.  My avg pace was around 11:10s (? 20 sec FASTER than m-pace) and it kept feeling better.  Fight. (Mile 5 – 10:49).  Got to my favorite part again.  In the 10s regularly.  FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.  Mile 6 was the fastest at 10:39.  Almost 1 minute faster than m-pace on my 15th mile of the day. I FOUGHT THE RUN AND I WON. 1:06 and change for 6 miles.  About a 11 min/mile pace.

I felt AWESOME, but I figured I should jog it in.  I dropped to the 12s.  …and then my legs HATED me so I walked it in to stretch em out.  Lesson learned.  It’s going to be a huge mental game to stay in the 10s and 11s in the marathon, but thats where my body wants me to be.  My stride felt great, my body felt great, I wasn’t winded… but my brain thinks “danger danger danger it’s going to be a long day slow down or you’re going to blow”.  11s is not too much to ask of my body.  My brain needs to recognize.  My brain needs to FIGHT.  This will be my marathon mantra.   FIGHT.  FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.

Now, it’s time to enjoy my pizza lunch, champagne, rocking out as the slutty pirate for weekend #2 of 3, and putting this mad mental game from today in a little box and bringing it out on m-day and tearing up that course.

I’ll leave you with that so I can start on champagne bottle #3 and more pizza.

Vitals:

Weight I took this week was 178.  Not awesome, but not tragic.

Workouts this week:

Monday: grumpy pants triathlon of whining, pouting, and sleeping
Tuesday: 4.5 miles ran, 20 miles bike
Wednesday: 3 miles ran
Thursday: 5.5 miles before work, 3 at lunch, 11 miles bike after work
Friday: off
Saturday: as above.  15 miles in 2:48 total
Sunday: couch to ass reps

Next week – taper week #1:

Monday: 3-4 mile run
Tuesday: 7-8 mile run
Wednesday: 45 min bike
Thursday: 3-4 mile run
Friday: off
Saturday: 8-10 mile run (last 2 at marathon goal pace)
Sunday: off

A range, because I want to see how my body feels.  The next two weeks are for getting my leggies rested and ready to tackle 26.2.  The proverbial hay is in the barn, so I won’t run through pain or discomfort and just want to keep my body primed for marathon:awesome.

MARATHON:AWESOME.  Two weeks to go.  Let’s do this.  I wanna be a marathoner already.

My Motivation Walked the Plank

Motivation hit an all time low kids.  It wasn’t pretty.  Just like the face, yarrrrr….

Well, I have motivation.  But sadly, it’s to curl up and die and hibernate for a week (Nov 16th, I’m looking at you, kid).  I have gotten a taste of what it is to have a social life after 70.3 training and don’t want to give it up.  Marathon training may not take as many hours but I can’t just trade those extra non-training hours for patio drinky time.  I need SO MUCH MORE SLEEP increasing my running volume it’s crazy.  I can get in the pool and on the bike and pound out tired miles np but running really takes effort and focus for me.  If I could just be content to run and eat and sleep it would be perfect.  But, there is worky bits and fun bits and errand bits and cleaning bits (amazing, being home to do more than deposit dirty tri gear and pick up clean stuff makes me actually care that my house is a complete disaster) and coupled with the fact that my eating and sleeping have not been completely normal since getting back from the epic vacation of epic-ness, it’s not helping me be 100% bad ass.

Banking on the endurance I’ve built from tri season to accomplish some fall running goals in a way that makes me feel like a training cycle cheater is something I’ve done for 3 years now.  Year 1, I was so damned burnt out after my first Olympic that I kept on and on that I regretted signing up for the race and wah de wah wah, and then went out and PR’d the shit out of my half marathon by 7 minutes.  Year 2, I trained up for a half, got sick and it rained so it got cancelled, had a bunch of pent up race energy so I raced all winter and never really did great, but also figured out how to not race a race and kept my endurance in the “I can run 13 miles on a whim” category.  Year 3 is this year, and since Olympic to 13.1 went so well, I figured doubling it would be NBD.  Y’know, 3 real weeks to train for a marathon before taper and stuff.  Jury is still out on whether this was a splendid idea or not.  I’ll get back to you about noon on Nov 11th.

However, pretty much every year, I hit this LOW right around now.  I regret signing up for fall races.  I rue that it’s not off season.  I want to sleep in.  I want to take stupid zumba or ice skate or yoga or swim, or ride my bike as long or as short as I feel like it.  I don’t want to be a runner anymore.  If only I could just go swim in Lake Pfugerville instead of another stupid goddamn run.  Couple this with sort of forgetting to take an off-season last year and racing through it and a pretty crazy (cool but crazy) life this year outside of training and racing- I am suffering from a case of the crispies.  It’s making me want to walk the plank, mateys.

Couple this with coming off the high of my first 20 miler, kinda feeling like “ok, I’m ready, let’s run this marathon” and getting smacked in the face with the reality that I still have another month, and I still have lots of running to do, and a DISASTROUS long run on Sunday, does not a sunny Quix make.  I haven’t had my head so far out of the game since the appearance of “Quix is not impressed” at Jack’s Generic after  the epic burnout bike week of 2012.  I cut what was supposed to be an upper double digit long run to 15 before I started, and then walked home defeated at 11 (and I was a long way from there, so 12.6 miles total) because I had no run left in me.  I can make any excuse I want about what other problems were going on (although being on 400+ mile shoes was valid and something I rectified later that day), but it was really my head.  I was in a run-mopey mood the rest of the day (only to be cured with beer and bbq), and the next day I was Jack’s (generic?) Utter Lack of Motivation to do anything.  Yesterday I woke up feeling just as blah but forced myself to get my ass out and apparently the only cure for the blahs is a great 5 miler in new shooz.  I’m not all better but I don’t want to throw my Asics in the trash anymore.

Things that do not make me want to give up my runner card:

1. Actually having some decent runs at semi-decent paces once I get my ass out there.  It’s nice to see 9s and 10s on shorter runs little more often than not.  Gives me hope that I may not run my worst 5k ever this weekend (NOT hoping to PR, just would like to beat last years similarly horrible time on this course).  Along these lines, runs with our new work lunch run club.  Running with faster boys to chase down makes for a bit more speed.
2. Actually having some beautiful weather for runs.  I live for cloudy, 60-70, and a little humid/drizzly on a run.  And that’s the majority of what we are getting.
3. Counting down the runs.  I have 9 more runs until the marathon, after which I can do nothing for 6 weeks if I so choose.
4. Sleeping as much as humanly possible and trying to keep the patio drinking to a minimum.
5. Riding my bike REALLY FAST when I get a chance to do so.

So here I am, having hit the high, the low, and now I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’ll take it.

Going forward, I have set Saturday as my last key day.  I’m going to run a (butt-ass-early) 10k around my neighborhood at EZ pace, I’m racing the fuck out of a 5k, and then I’m coming home to run another 10k at marathon pace.  After the earlier thrashing, holding 11:30s is going to be HARD, but should be a simulation on how I’ll be feeling at the end.

Beyond that, I have approximately 45 other miles to run in the next 2.5 weeks whenever I can get around to it, preferably before Nov 9th so I have a nice 2 day rest, and preferably not too many in one day (read: taper).  The only double digits I’m really hoping to rock are double digits on the hours of sleep per day.

And actually, I’m learning a lot.  Running multiple days in a row, once I got used to it, ain’t so bad.  Running doubles isn’t either and a way to pile on the miles a bit more without getting up at ridiculous o’clock.  It’s not a waste to do a few shorter runs back to back instead of longer and continuous ones.  I fear that I’m probably going to stop hating this run volume and have figured it out and be kinda loving it just in time for taper.  Figures.

If this post is incredibly disjointed, that’s where my head is this week.  Please enjoy some fabulously drunken and costumed pictures of us at our Company Launch/Costume party. Yarr!  So much fun.  I have one more party to go next weekend to so expect more sassy pictures as the sexy pirate wench soon.

Last Week

Monday: 4 mile shakeout – 43 mins
Tuesday: 5 mile before work – 62 mins (sloooow), walk .55 – 9 mins.  Lunch club run – 3.27 in 35 mins
Wednesday: off.  Leggies and brain needed a break
Thursday: 3.1 miles in 30 mins lunch club run.  15.1 miles on trainer in 41 mins on trainer at home.
Friday: off (lots of dancing)
Saturday: off (lots of couch sitting)
Sunday: ~11 miles real running (2:05), 1.6 miles defeated walk home (37 mins), .5 miles treadmill running for new shooz (~5 mins)

This Week

Monday: princess brat went to sleep instead
Tuesday: 4.5 miles in 48:50 of happy rejuvination.  20 speedy trainer miles in 48 mins.
Wednesday: 3 miles.  Was going to either run 2 more or bike agan too but life intervened.
Thursday: 9 miles – combo of before work and at lunch.  Maybe some trainer love.
Friday: off
Saturday: 10k warmup, 5k race, 10k MP
Sunday: off

Next week goals:

More attention on what goes in the cakehole.

A little less of this….

And a little more zzzzz….

On Belief In Oneself (Showdown Half Recap)

If the part of last week’s post talking about the marathon upcoming was disjointed and weird, it was because I wrote and edited it over a few days and my brain kept changing.  Here’s where my head was at:

Monday: hamstring’s a little tight but whatevs.  Run 3 fast outside and feel ok.
Tuesday: hamstring’s stil hurting and tighter.  Decide to work quads on the bike.  Hurt hip. Fuck.
Wednesday: hamstring is like a rock and hip hurtiing.  Bag the 3 miler I was going to do that day and just rested.  Brain starts reeling about how stupid I was for thinking 70.3 training did anything for me for marathoning, that if I was going to get through this race, I was going to go in either woefully unprepared if I rested like I needed to or in some form of injury.
Thursday: a little better in the AM.  Run 2 miles and it starts tightening up so I walk the last mile and save my legs for the race.
Thursday night: getting to be a huge headcase and threw a tantrum and got drunk and went to bed at 2:30 when I had to get up at 7:30 for work.  Pretty much my subconscious pulling the “well, if I’m going to go into the day fucked, I might as well go in righteously fucked.  Pretty teenage of you, subconscious.
Friday morning: exhausted and a little pissed at myself… but hip and hammy feel a little better.  Drive to Dallas takes 5 hours (and we all know that 5 hours in a car is GREAT for hurty legs), getting in at 10:30, sleep at 11:30 for a 5am wakeup.  Fuck fuck fuck.  I never do well with bad sleep 2 days in a row.  This is going to be a disaster.

Even though I channeled the brat on Thursday night, I did ice and stretch and foam roll and biofreeze and shocky like a champ.  Even though I just wanted to run right through it because it didn’t hurt while running and see what happened with it, I can’t do that so close to the marathon.  If the option is undertrained or injured, I’ll take undertrained every time.  If I have to baby myself to get in a few key runs (read: long ones), so be it.

Something magical happened Friday night.  The 6 hours of sleep was amazing sleep.  Like, magical, healing, deep sleep.  I woke up not completely exhausted and *cue magical trumpets and angels* my hip/hammy didn’t feel too bad.  Then the bad news – my worst (well, worst, non-tragic, non-DNS) race fear realized – woke up crampy and bloaty.  Yes, it was the start of that happy time.  Argh.  Never has happened on race morning before.  So, it was either risk painkillers and upset tummy or deal with cramps.  Being that one was a sure thing (cramp misery) and one was a gamble (tummy issues),  I went with the gamble and ate an extra cookie so there was more in there and hoped for the best.

My goal was to get in 5 miles before the race.  Being that I slept in and we took a little longer than expected to get ready, I only got in 2.3 before I had to line up (32 minutes, that included about .75 of walking and I forgot to stop the timer a few times when  wasn’t moving) but the legs were holding up pretty good, so I was encouraged.  I snuck in with 2:25 pace group and Zliten was back with the 2:35… which was about 10 feet away.  So he just came up and hung out with me and we took off together.  The 2:25 pace was faster than I had been running, so it was a shock to the system but I tried to keep up.  The pacer was going a little faster than I wanted to go, so I let them get a little ahead.  I didn’t want to blow up or injure anything.

The early miles were difficult for me.  My strategy was use Frank Sinatra for the first half of the race to keep it mellow, then switch to pop for a pick-me-up.  Well, it was clear by mile 4 I needed that pick me up.  I was letting Zliten get ahead of me and if it was anyone else I would have just let him go, but I couldn’t let him beat me.  Every time he went ahead, I sucked it up and caught up.

Then, all of a sudden, I just sort of went from hating life to loving the course and the day.  There were alpacas to make llama faces at, longhorns to moo at, and it felt like running the bike course at Lake Pf.  Suddenly around mile 7, I realized I was halfway, and things just seemed… better.  Peppier music was helping, and soon I had crossed into double digits for the day and my body seemed to be holding up.  I concentrated on using my big ass quad muscles and using proper run form, and certain stretches did challenge my aging shoes and tender parts, but I was keeping it together.

Around mile 9, we had someone ask us if we were running or run/walking, and we said running.  She asked if she could run with us and we were like, “the more the merrier”, so she stuck with us.  Zliten likes to run and talk, and so did she, so it works (because I like to listen and nod, pretty much, I’m not a talky runner).  Mile 9, 10, and 11 ticked down, and we took turns pulling each other, and I kept counting down the miles to go on my garmin.  When we hit 12, I started speeding us up, and she asked to know at .5 to go to so she could speed up again, and once we hit it I kicked and kept accelerating, ending in the 8s when I crossed the finish line.  I felt great!  We hit about 2:25 exactly, which is a 2 minute PR for Zliten!

And since I was feeling so great, I knew that it was the day I had to do my 20.  I only had 4.6 miles to go.  I got my medal, towel, and some water and a random juice type beverage for some calories, gulped it down, stashed my finisher stuff with Zliten, and got going.  I counted a few tenths of a mile of walking to get going again, and then I took off.  It was a little rough to get going since I stopped long enough to get stiff, but I’ve never felt so fresh and energetic in the 15-16 mile range!  It was… amazing!  I kept thinking I was going to hit a wall and it never came.  I ran each mile right around 12:15s, slow and easy.  I kept thinking I’d walk at the top of the next mile each mile and then got there and didn’t want to stop.

I ran 3 loops around a short trail in the apartment complex next to the race, and at 3.7 I headed back.  At 4.2 I would be able to collect Zliten, walk the .4 miles back to the hotel, and end at 20.  At 4.1, I started to head in and then said “fuck this, I feel strong, I want to finish my first 20 running”, so I looped around and soon it clicked over to 4.6.  Holy crap.  20 miles in the bank, and I did them faster than either attempt I’ve done at 18 (3:55).  I was on cloud fucking 9.

All the worry from this week, all the uncertainty about how I trained and the choices I made last week, washed away.  Training for a half ironman may not be a traditional, or even all that smart way to get your body ready for a marathon, but it did wonders for my mind.  I am mentally stronger and much more patient with myself and can field the ups and downs of a multi hour effort like a champ.  Sometimes a cursing, spitting champ, but definitely not giving up on myself like I was last winter.  My body may have excelled better with different training, but the half iron training did wonders for my mind. If I could finish 20 feeling this strong less than 2 weeks out from my half ironman, I’m ready for the marathon.  Now it’s just time to keep skating the edge of as many miles as I can f0r two more weeks while keeping my body healthy and uninjured, and then taper.

Still TBD whether this was a good idea, but I feel a lot more confident that I didn’t make a huge mistake.  In one morning, in the span of about 5 hours, I went from feeling despair and uncertainty about the condition of my body and what it could do, to a feeling of strength, and power, and confidence.

When I came back, I found Zliten and gave him a huge sweaty hug and told him that I finished my 20 running and felt really good.  Then I found Libby and gave her a sweaty hug and told her I just finished my first 20 and said ‘bye and thanked her for putting on a great race.  Feel bad I didn’t get to talk more but we were both busy with our respective days.  We walked back to the hotel, showered and packed, and then got our prize – In N Out.  However, I had taken another round of ibuprofen before the cramps had a chance to hit, and they hit my empty tummy like a rock.  It was actually challenging to get my double double down, but I did it and half my fries and two sprites.  My tummy held it down and as it digested I felt better, so noting that I need to just make sure to keep the calories flowing if I’m going to do painkillers.

Just a note: I loved this race.  I sort of want to run it next year and try to PR.  It had enough hills to keep you honest and change what muscles were being blasted, but not enough to kill you, and it was gorgeous the whole way!  The volunteers were awesome and they had pace groups for every 5 mins for about 1000 people, and the medal rocks.

Sunday was for rest, and here’s the rest of my week.

Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 6 miles before work, 2 miles at lunch with the new work running group
Wednesday: 45 mins on the bike trainer + weights
Thursday: 4 mile run + weights
Friday: off (company launch party)
Saturday: off (recovering from)
Sunday: ~18 miles.  Something in the upper teens, certainly.  Probably best not to do a second 20 two weeks in a row, I gather.

I’m going to keep my goals the same this week:

-Eat good.  I ate better.  Veggies are part of my life again, though we need to see each other a little more regularly.

-Run with a goal of staying healthy.  Stretch, roll, shock, ice, and bag any workouts that feel like they may push me over the edge.

-Sleep like a champ.  Sunday was a 13 hour of sleep day, I’m pretty impressed with my slothiness!

Question of the week – what’s your favorite post race or post run food?

Bonus: silly video of me running via Zliten

It Has Not Entirely Fallen Off (Tri Season Recap 2012)

Out with the old…

So, tri season.  Holy crap, what a ride.  It definitely had high points (Lake Pf tri, Kerrville) and low points (Jack’s Generic), but all in all, I did what I set out to do this season.  In an uncharacteristic move, I don’t think I did a season goal post at any point but I know what was motivating me so here we go with the wrap up!

Swim goals:

This year: Continue to improve swim efficiency.  Speed would be nice (and should come with better efficiency), but getting out of the water not feeling tired is the goal each race this season. 1-2 swim workouts per week.

How did I do?: Great.  I still swam slow as molasses, but a little less some days, and never overdid it in a race.

Next year: I want to see what I can really do in the water.  As soon as I can get back into swimming this winter (put on hold for a bit for marathon training + some offseason time), I need to work on some major sprinting.  Next spring, I need to get my ass to the lake and do some hard OWSs and get on the bike hurting.  I think I can handle much more than I expect, and going hard in the water is not going to completely waste me on the bike/run.

Bike goals:

Work on growing bike endurance.  I started the season having done 2 centuries I wasn’t ready for and about died after, and before that, had done 2-30 mile rides and a 35.  Not just this year, but EVER.  This was what I started the year most nervous about.  I got a trainer and became bffs with it all spring and summer.

How did I do?: Awesome!  I nailed this portion of the tri each time – I can pick a bike pace and execute by meeting or exceeding what I intend after studying the course.  I became familiar with 30-40 mile rides and did a few longer.

Next year: Two-fold goal – I want to over-endurance.  I plan on an epic 100 miler on the trainer this winter doing a movie marathon.  I want to get very familiar with riding 50-60 miles both outside and on the trainer.  Just as the half IM swim and run aren’t really a thing to me standalone, the aches and pains and weirdness I got around mile 45 in the race made me realize I need to do more rides over 50 miles.  Also, I want to get FASTER.  It doesn’t seem right that my half-IM pace and my sprint pace are about the same (15.9 in Rookie, Couples, Jacks, and Kerrville, I only beat that at Lake Pf and Tri-Rock…a hilly OLYMPIC).  I’d love to break 20 mph on a sprint one day.

Running goals:

Running was a three-fold goal.  First of all, I wanted to break into the goddamn 9s in a sprint tri 5k.  Second, I had to get past the mental (and physical, but really mostly mental) barrier of not running more than 6 miles off the bike.  Third, I had to get used to running on tired legs.  I wanted fresh running legs to be a treat like cupcakes – nice when it happens once a month, but not expected.

How did I do?: Eh, so so.  This is still where I feel like I can improve the most on tris, and it’s really mental.  There is no reason I can’t take that ~28 min 5k I proved I could do and stick it after an hour of biking and swimming like clockwork.  I only executed this one out of 3 times.  Rookie was muddy and I didn’t want to slip (and I sub 10’d it anyway, but it was only 2 miles).  Couples I gave up at the last hill out of frustration.  Jack’s I was too exhausted. I was pleased with my 10k at Tri rock because it was hot as balls, and I didn’t stop running and 11 min/mi isn’t too bad.  Kerrville – I got through it and didn’t hurl on any spectators or volunteers, and it will be easy to PR next year!

For the second goal, I got down enough bike + 7-13 mile runs that it didn’t feel awkward anymore.  Third – check.  I’m not sure if I remember what refreshed legs feel like. 🙂

Next year:  Speed.  I want to get FASTER.  I’m tired of slogging through long slow miles and ready to kill myself on sprints and pukeworthy tempos again after my legs completely recover after my marathon + offseason time.

Completion goals:

My race goals were to complete the Texas Tri Series, which meant completing my first half ironman. Also, PR at least one of the tris.

How did I do?: Check, check, and check.  The series is done, the 70.3 is in the books, and I PR’d Rookie by 3 mins, Pf by 8 mins, and cut over 40 mins off my Olympic Tri PR from 2 years ago.

Next Year: I don’t want to lock myself into this, but thoughts I have are: I want to do more Olympics (and would be fun to race one that’s not hot as balls to really see what I could do), at least 2 70.3s, but I do love a sprint tri.  Texas Tri Series next year?  Maybe.  I’m taking a LOT of time off racing earlier in the year, so maybe I’ll be ok with a tri every 2 weeks.  We’ll see.  Outlook uncertain.  NOTE: There is no full ironman in my future next year.  I need AT LEAST 1 more year.  2014? Maybe.  Outlook definitely uncertain.

Training goals:

I wanted to come up with a training plan that fit our limitations (I really, really need a Saturday or Sunday off.  I’ll have to give it up someday if I want to full IM probably, but I really need a day to do errands, dork online, and butt-to-couch reps), and got us from sprint triathletes with a bit of a half marathon running problem to full fledged 70.3-ers.

How did I do?: I did pretty good, and also gave myself permission to modify if I needed with no guilt if I was really overwhelmed.  I did run myself into the ground once, but I recognized it really quick and though it sort of mentally ruined a race for me, I figured out really quick and fixed that shit.  And, well, we finished the race, so I can’t complain.

Next Year: Considering joining a team or getting a coach, but also have definitely learned enough lessons to be a better self-coach.  I really feel like I needed to exhaust myself this year to get the endurance I did, especially with the race/vacation schedule I had, but next year I really, really want to make good on the rule of “3 weeks build, 1 week recovery/stepback”.  I just needed every week this year.

Podium Addendum:

After some digging, I figured out that I am ending the Texas Tri Series ranked 2nd in my AG (of 3) that finished all the races.  I was 4th going in to Kerrville, but I beat #3 by enough that I took over 3rd, and 2nd and 5th were a no show for the race, so… yay for a silver by attrition!  However, I’m really, really glad I’m not 40-44… that was the most competitive age group by far!

In with the new… (for a few weeks at least)

Well, in exactly 33 days from now, I’ll be a marathoner or die trying.  I am slightly less terrified of this race after the last two weeks, but still pretty fucking terrified.

The three things that have built up my confidence:
1. I finished the half ironman with a smile on my face.
2. A guy at the half ironman said he’s done many of both and they feel about the same after.
3. I did my longest run ever Saturday at 18.1 miles and didn’t quite die or have my legs fall off after (well, sort of, I’m dealing with pain this week but they’re still there).  Although I did get angry with Zliten who took us on a detour that killed my mojo around mile 15.  I may have amused myself by spitting on the yards who have the opposite candidate than I plan to vote for’s signs the last few miles (the yards, not on the signs, that would be disrespectful, this was just…. well-timed spitting that I would be doing anyway).  I actually took down 400 calories during the run (cliff blocks, I love you), kept my pace pretty even throughout minus a despair walk break, and even sped up a bit at the end.

I am having some left hamstring soreness and hip soreness on my left side, but so far so good elsewhere (besides a little kink in my neck, but I don’t think that’s related).  I just need to get healed, then through a few more weeks of stupid (for me) run volume and then taper and see what throwing a whole season of training for a half ironman + some long runs will net me on M-day.  I expect it to be hard, painful, and lots of cursing/crying/giving up running forever, but I think I have the will to get through it even if I barely have the endurance.  It’s going to be slow, but I’ll make it as long as I don’t do anything stupid.

This week I ran a speedy 3 yesterday (9:22 pace!), and planned to do more miles than I did this week due to my leg sort of kinda falling off (see above), and I’ll race the Showdown Half put on by the fabulous ultra runner Libby and add about 5-6 miles before/after.  I said I’d race a 2:15 for the 13.1, but we’ll see how that pans out (my plan is to try to get 5 miles first slow as molasses, and then stick with the 2:25 pacer and see how I feel halfway through).

Next weekend I plan to do my requisite 20 on Sunday (after a work costume party Friday and resting the hell up on Saturday) and then taper, taper, taper, and see what happens.  Eiieeeee!  These are my excitingly terrified noises.

Also, let me just say (speaking of my Halloween costume) – I impressed myself by going out after work last Friday night with a goal costume, trying 3 on, and finding one that I really liked.  Shocker: it was even a “sexy” version.  I really liked how it looked, even fat from vacation and 70.3’ing.  Woo!  We went back out and grabbed all the accessories, and I have shoes at home that aren’t so uncomfortable I want to die and that work, so Halloween was done within 2 hours.  This is huge for me as it’s usually 3 weeks of trying shit on, hemming and hawing, and getting pissed off that nothing fits my weird body right.  I even snapped a pic just in case I forget to when I put it on for real, but for now, it’s a secret…

It’s been a weird experience lately – I just feel… ok with what’s going on lately.  I’d like a little less athlete in my tri-suit, but I was feeling pretty dang good with where I was at before I went on vacation and pretty proud of where my body has taken me this year.  I’m already seeing some nice fall-off on the scale this week (back in the 177s, down from the land of the lost), and it will be interesting to see what offseason will do.  I dropped about 3-4 lbs in August by just peaking and then resting twice (the most significant loss happened during the rest weeks).

I know I’m going to have to watch portions and all, but I think I could really do some good to myself if I treat the holidays as DAYS and put mostly good things in my cakehole at other times.  I’m starting to work on the transition of “OMG WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT WHENEVER I WANT IT” from 70.3 training to “healthy shit mostly whenever the fuck I want it” so that “healthy shit mostly AND NOT AS MUCH DAMN YOU NO CARBLOADING FOR AN HOUR WALK” isn’t a surprise.  The change in “hmmm, nothing is working” to “hey, slow as molasses but that’s a little lower” came when I switched to a) less meat b) more GOOD carbs/grains, which I plan on sticking with, but also c) really started ramping up my training.  So we’ll see.

My head is already spinning around what I want to accomplish next year but we’ll talk about that…um… then.  Let’s just do the deets and be done.

Last Week:

Monday: off (beer+mac and cheese reps?)
Tuesday: off (thought about swimming, and decided to sleep instead)
Wednesday: 30 min trainer, 30 mins weights
Thursday: 3.3 mile run in 33 mins
Friday: off
Saturday: 18.1 miles run (4 hours)
Sunday: off

This Week:

Monday: 3.2 mile run in 30
Tuesday: 30 mins on trainer (~9 miles)
Wednesday: costco walkin’ for an hour
Thursday: 2 miles in 22:53, 1 mile walk
Friday: off or another EZ run if my legs feel better.
Saturday: 13.1 mile race + ~5 miles add on before/after
Sunday: off

Goals for this week:
-Shove lots of good healthy food in my mouth.  Less sweets/chips/junk.  Perhaps that will take a bit off the scale (back into the 178’s so that’s something).  Veggies and fruit and hummus and beans and whole grains and stuff, oh my.  Like, how I used to eat before vacation ruined me.
-Run without injuring myself further and dying this week.  Listen to my body and realize that missing a few midweek runs this week to deal with the leg issues is ultimately ok and not going to ruin my marathon.
-Sleeeeeeeeep.  Like a boss.

Question of the week: what are you going to be for Halloween?

Epic Vaction Pt3 – Starfish, Cider, and Spaceships on Stilts

Since we’re already about 3 weeks out from this actually HAPPENING, I tried to be brief.  And only did one post instead of two – so, long end of vacation recap below.  I guess that really for real means it’s over…

Friday: Chocolate and Starfish

Thankfully we had gotten a bunch of sleep, as we had to be up and off the boat at 7:55.  Since we didn’t eat much the day before, I sent Zliten up to snag me half an english muffin and some fruit.  We just made it and h0pped in the bus and got the schpeil on all the gear and how things work.  We were to be covered head to toe so it wouldn’t be too cold.

8mm thick wetsuit, booties, hood, facemask, gloves… there were two little circles on each cheek that were exposed to water.  That was it.

I not entirely sure I’ve ever looked sexier.  We were lead down the path, and put on our fins and masks and gloves and in we went.  I asked and they said the water temps were in the low 50s.  Youch.  At first, it was pretty chilly as the water got into the wetsuit but after a few minutes it warmed up, and I, the cold-water weenie, will attest that it wasn’t bad at all.  I don’t think I even complained.  I even got to pee in it!

One of our instructors was Tad.  Here he is, holding up a sunflower starfish.  They can grow up to 20 legs.  Crazy!

This was Steve, our other instructor.  He’s holding a Sea Anemone!  We saw quite a few of those.

I has me a sea cucumber.  It was so ugly it was cute!  I kept pretending to nom nom nom it but I don’t think it liked that much.

We saw thousands of these all over.  I saw a baby one and I thought it had made my day.  Then I saw another and another and another.  That was awesome!

Those glowy ones were apparently harmless, but these jellyfish were stingy.  However, considering we were covered head to toe, as long as we didn’t kiss them, we were all good.  No making out with jellyfish, check.

And this is the tiniest starfish.  D’awwwwwww.

And this fish certainly enjoyed her time in the water.  After we got dragged out of the water and changed and showered and hot tea’d, we hit up the atm (it’s hard to find a Wells Fargo in Austin, but apparently they’re everywhere in Alaska…), and walked around the shops (didn’t get anything), and we saw a bald eagle.  Cool.

After a morning of activity, we were hungry, so we got a bite to eat.  It was Alaska, so I got some crab, duh.  What I ended up with was essentially 1/2 lb of crab, an english muffin, two pieces of cheddar, and two tomato slices.  Zliten got fish tacos.  They were both pretty tasty!

We did a little more peeking in stores and made it back to the boat just in time.

Ketchikan.  I approve!  We walked around on the top deck watching the boat sail away (the horn scared me half to death, we were walking RIGHT by it when it sounded, I seriously jumped two feet in the air) and then we decided lunch wasn’t quite enough, so we got a salad snack and then retired to the room for another glorious afternoon of reading and napping and napping and reading.  We got up, finagled ourself cute, and went to the fancy dining room and had one of our best dinners yet.  I finally got some crab on the boat with a yummy crab cake, and had tortilla soup, peanut chicken salad, and I went light for dinner with tilapia and had some lemon sorbet for dinner.

We hadn’t hit up much on ship entertainment, and one of the gals in the comedy troupe joined us for snorkeling, so we made sure to plan for that, but first we saw the broadway review.  The curtain was really cool.  The show was pretty darn good too – seemed like they had practiced a lot and could tell they were end of their run both because they were really really together and good, and also, the singers (both the boys and girls), had a little pooch (from cruise food).

Then, since we hadn’t eaten in a few minutes, we hit up the chocolate buffet.  We tasted a little of everything and I think the white chocolate truffle was the best.  We saw our friends up there and found out that J was going to do the “dancing with the pearl stars” show so we tried to hurry back there but we missed him as he had been eliminated in the first round.  Awwww.  The rest of the show was pretty funny – the couple who won was this lanky female dancing with a 4 foot tall dude – they got assigned the tango as their dance and she carried him around, it was a whole bunch of LOL.

After that, the comedy troupe came on and did their late night show.  They were pretty decent, and I know how hard improv is having done some in college.  Our friend were having some drinks and we were just kinda pooped from the day, so we just did the read and sleep thing again.

They knocked on our door a few hours later, but we were just OUT.  Some days, you’re the obnoxious drunk one, some days, you’re the lame one.

Saturday: Mellow Victoria

I bet you can probably guess what I did in the morning.  If you guessed read and napped, you’re right!  Ding ding ding!  We were over breakfast, so we skipped it.

We did something completely different later that morning though… we went to the GYM!  I had planned on Sunday and Monday off, and took Thursday off due to being dumb the day before, and shorted myself some bike miles from Friday (we considered getting a bike in Ketchikan, but we didn’t have time and then the nap monster claimed the afternoon).  Also, eff it, it was vacation!  However, we both kinda felt like gymming, so we biked and ran.  I got in 45 mins of climbing hills and sweating profusely on the bike, and then 4 miles of impromptu mini-hill repeats.   The boat was pretty rocky that day getting to Victoria, so each rock back and forth changed my “elevation”.  It was HARD!

We changed and headed to the dining room and ran into our friends D and P and we sat with them.  They actually bought a picture of us as a present because they thought it was cute.  Which I don’t have yet.  So take my word for it. 🙂  I had corn chowder and a club sandwich.   It was yummy!

Next, we made sure to pack as we got into port at 6pm and had to have the bags out an hour after we got back.  It was kinda sad.  And smelly.  So many sweaty clothes in such a small space.  Making use of a hair dryer to dry some of it for next-day use didn’t really help.  Then, if you’ve been playing along, you’d know we had a bottle of champagne we won in the room.  We changed it in at the bar, got some OJ, and drank some last-day-of-the-cruise mimosas. We hung out with our friends for a bit in the lounge, and then headed to dinner (seafood chowder, salad, seafood ciopinno (the shrimp and fish were fantastic, but the octopus and oysters were not my thing.

We got into port at around 6:30, and I was feeling kinda crampy, so we took the bus into town instead of walking the 30 mins.  We walked around a bit, checked out a big fancy hotel with gorgeous gardens, checked out a minatures museum, and decided instead to find a rooftop bar and a beverage.  I got the best apple ginger cider and fantastic garlic hummus and pitas!  We watched the sunset and enjoyed the milder temps!  I was only somewhat freezing!  After it got dark, we poked in some of the shops and walked out with some chocolate, and caught the bus back.  Dumbly – we got second dinner when we got back on the boat (last night of cruise gluttony and all).  For some reason I had avoided the indian food mostly, but I got a plate of it and it was excellent!  We ended the day the way we started it – book and bed.

Sunday: Pineapple Everything

We were up around 7:45 and out of the room by 8:15.  By this time, it was clear that vacation had really screwed up my sleep schedule, as getting up this early was getting difficult (which was 2 hours later at home – so dragging my ass up by the equivalent of 9:45 was challenging – I am seriously still recovering my early-birdness).  We snagged a little bit of breakfast with our friends and said goodbye – most of us were staying in Seattle that day but we all had our own plans.  Except for us – I uncharacteristically didn’t plan the hell out of our Seattle time, so we had 2 days to just wander.

Getting off the boat was the most painless process ever.  We were off, through customs, got our luggage and in a taxi to the hotel by 9:30!  Unheard of! Usually it’s like, NOON before they let you off.  I loved the hotel as soon as I saw it.  Their big thing was “pineapple hospitality” (what does that even mean?), so everything was pineapple themed.  Super cute! They didn’t have our room ready (not a surprise), so we checked our bags and went off on an adventure!  First stop – the space needle.  That was the ONE thing that I really wanted to do.  When we got there, we saw that there was a city-pass thing where you spent 69$ and got admission to like 8 different things – score!  Adventure found! Since I’ve never been to Seattle, I was happy to do the touristy things.

The space needle was awesome.  It was cool to go there first to sorta get the “lay of the land”, and to read the history.  I thought it had some higher purpose… I guess it was just meant to be an iconic structure!  Zliten kept calling it the spaceship on stilts, which I thought was super adorable and definitely fit.  After that we were hungry for a good burger – the ones on the cruise sucked because we’re spoiled with organic grass fed type beef and these were just… not.  We took the monorail downtown, hit up Yelp, and found a recommendation for Pike Brewery.  It did not dissapoint.  We got a great quality cheeseburger, some baked fries that were amazing, and a tasty craft brew.  It was refreshing to have a meal that didn’t feel like it was covered in butter!

(Picture from the next day – apparently we didn’t take our camera out that day…)

I had a wardrobe misfortune and had to grab some new socks (but they are now my new fave running socks so it works!).  After dealing with that, we spent the afternoon near the water – we hit up the aquarium and it was way fun!  We saw lots of different fishies – quite a few of which I had handled or seen in Ketchikan.  We saw a giant octopus, sea lions, and lots of other cool stuff.  Then, we got on a harbor cruise and got an hour tour around the Sound.  Zliten and I both were a little sleepy and the sun was hitting us *just right* so we both kinda dozed off intermittently.  It was sublime.  Someone even proposed on the boat!  Then, we checked out a curiosity shop with a bunch of shrunken heads and even a shrunken torso!  Creepy!

We were totally ready for some chill time after a pretty full day of adventure, so we snagged some ice cream (they had COTTON CANDY, I had to!!!) and headed back to the hotel.  The room was STILL not ready, so we nommed some pineapple cupcakes they had in the lobby, and sat on the couches there and read.  Finally, the room was available, and we took a great shower (it was sooooo nice to be in a larger bathroom, the shower was actually about the size of the whole bathroom), and decided upon the hotel restaurant for dinner because it was easy and had “safe for running in the AM” foods.

Normally before a long run I’ll carb up a bit but as you can tell my stores were pretty full.  We split an appetizer of pepperoni pizza rolls and I just had a side salad and tortilla soup.  Both were pretty decent.  The restaurant advertised big buckets of booze, which looked intriguing, but we were exhausted enough that even if we weren’t running, I don’t think we would have partook.  We headed to bed after some reading and watching TV, hoping to wake up really, really early to knock out our run so we had a full day to play in Seattle.

Monday: Running Paradise

You know that sleep where you can practically feel your body repairing itself?  Yeah, that.  We snoozed for a few HOURS because neither of us could bear to bring ourselves out of the wonderful, healing state we were in.  Especially to run a bunch of miles.  We got out about 2 hours later than we hoped, but the run was critical to get done, so we set out and did it.  The weather was gorgeous, and we walked about 1.5 miles out to Union Lake (we got confused a bit trying to get there, but finally found a bridge to cross the street).  I was a little rough getting started, and we had to take a pit stop around mile 2 for Zliten, but once we got going again it was just a gorgeous, wonderful run on a beautiful path.

Instead of following the lake we ended up taking the Burke-Gilman trail up through the university and it was just pure pleasurable running.  I had a pit stop at mile 5 or so, and then at 6.5 we turned around because it was clear that we were off our intended path of 6.2 miles around Union Lake, twice, and it’s a good thing as apparently it’s 40 miles long or something and I’m not that badass yet.

It was a huge confidence builder, we ran the whole dang way, at a decent pace (11:30 avg), and felt awesome at the end.  We walked the 1.5 miles back to the hotel and got gatorade on the way (best gatorade EVAR), for 16 miles total.

We hit the showers and then went out in search of food in the Queen Anne Hill area – we settled on Peso’s for Mexican food.  I got my norm of chicken fajitas, and Zliten got some tacos.

We made quick work of some chips and salsa and I polished off all my fajitas quick (total runger), and I enjoyed a prickly pear margarita.  By that time, we really only had time for one more activity before our evening plans, so we picked the EMP museum which was just down the street.

They had an awesome horror exhibit exploring the psychology of horror.  It had a soundproof scream booth which I apparently negated the soundproofness.

There was a cool projector that twisted shadows into scary thing…

…and so, so, so many awesome props from too many horror movies to name.

They also had a sci-fi exhibit with tons more props – they had lots of Star Trek and Stargate stuff we drooled over and Daleks that wanted to exterminate!  Sadly, we were really close to out of time so we raced through the upstairs rock n roll exhibit and hit the hotel quickly for a shower and splurged on a cab downtown to meet some friends of Zliten’s from college for dinner.  By the time we had finished the first glass of wine, I knew they were good peoples.  The bread there was excellent, and I had a dinner of crab cakes, mashed potatoes, and broccolini.  So, so amazing.  Zliten got the same thing.

Then, we hit up an Irish pub and enjoyed some booze and watching the sun set over the water and chatting.  Then, we went to go see the gum wall, and I added my contribution to Seattle.

We hit up a bar right on the water and drank some wine and split some more cotton candy ice cream.  The only thing we wanted to make sure to do was the space needle (again) at night.  We were a little sauced up by then, and thoroughly enjoyed the pretty lights from hundreds of feet up.  We ran around that!

Across the street was a crazy metal band playing at a bar called Funhouse, so there we went.  After some more drinkies and hanging out (I felt pretty out of place in my dress, boots, and cardigan there but oh well), they took us back to the hotel.  We weren’t ready to call it a night so we found a bar right down the street called Solo bar.  It was very “ultra lounge” inside with cool lighting.  We spent the last moments of our last night in Seattle with a hipster blond, techie nerd, and being serenaded by a homeless man.

Fun stuff.

Tuesday: Don’t wanna don’t wanna don’t wanna

Woke up feeling pretty crappy.  This is how I felt about going home.

Zliten was thrilled too.

We had considered getting up early and hitting the science museum, but instead we slept and then furiously shoved our shit in suitcases anywhichwayitwouldgo and caught a car to the airport with just an hour before our flight (oops).  It worked out ok, because we ended up having just enough time to get through security, snag a turkey sammich from quiznos, and hop a plane.

We stopped in San Jose, and then had just enough time in Phoenix to grab La Madeline (pesto chicken pasta and a sourdough roll – if you’re going to have a last vacation meal, you might as well go whole hog!) and get on another plane home.  Everything went without incident, got into Austin on time, got our bags, got our car, and made it home after 11 and hugged our couch, enjoyed the best night of sleep in weeks, and cursed ourselves for not taking another day off work to recover.

All in all, a freaking fantastic vacation.  One of the best ever.  Alaska was definitely a unique experience, being part of our friends getting hitched was awesome, I kinda have a little crush on the sunny version of Seattle, and I can definitely say that it didn’t cause me any race issues – it probably helped me be a little more rested and relaxed (though I did get about 75% of the training in I wanted to – which is GREAT for vacay).  I ONLY gained about 4 lbs (I’m around 179 now, and I was at a low of 174.6 the day I left) and as you can tell I ate like an asshole the entire time.

I usually have HUGE post-vacay sads but I have so many cool things to focus on in 2012 I’m not even worried about it.  Plus, we have another 10 day vacation coming up next spring. 🙂

What was the best thing from your last vacation?

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