Monthly Archives: June 2015

Shouting Out and An Unexpected Century Ride

I have raised money by running marathons, and it’s hard. It takes a lot of time and work, and I admire those that do so, especially when the “prize” is running a marathon. Of course that’s a good thing for many of us, right?! Paul from Running Wild  (whom I call “Raleigh Paul”) decided to raise money for the James Blake Foundation, which raises money to help find a cure for cancer, to run the New York City Marathon. And if he meets his $3000 fundraising goal, he will drive several extra hours and bring his dad to the race. How cool is that? (Here’s his post with the link to the fundraiser.) I told him I was going to donate several months ago, and because of several financial surprises (don’t we all just LOVE those?), I put it off. FINALLY, I was true to my word and made a donation to his cause. It just so happened that during the time of my donation, any donation over $10 included a free headband from Angie, one cool runner chick and MarathAng blogger from Iowa (and a Hawkeye fan – BONUS) who makes a large variety of headbands. I said that I’m not a big headband wearer and that I was going to donate a long time before, so just don’t bother sending me one. Of course they didn’t listen, and a few short days after my donation, I got a really pretty headband in the mail.

Very cool! No slipping and three sizes to choose from.

Very cool! No slipping and three sizes to choose from.

I figured I would give it a try, and I ended up really enjoying it. I have a lot of “flyaway” hair, especially when I run after biking (those pesky helmets!), and it really holds them down and away from my face. Angie’s band stayed put, wasn’t too tight, and wasn’t too loose. I didn’t have anyone to take my picture the morning I wore it, so this poor selfie is all I have to show for it! Hello widow’s peak!

Wearing my festive Marathang headband

Wearing my festive MarathAng headband very, very, very early in the morning.

So thank you to Paul and Angie for making the world a better place!

I’d also like to spread the word on the best sunglasses, EVAH, PSI Sunglasses. They’re so light and comfy, AND they have some amazing customer service, which is why they’re getting this shout out.

The Mercury Fogkiller Polarized version. I'm in love.

The Mercury Fogkiller Polarized version. I’m in love.

I got my first pair of pink/white glasses back at the Houston Marathon expo before my BQ, and I knew I was on to something good. I couldn’t ever find them at other expos and then I FINALLY realized that I could simply Google PSI and find them. Poof, a pair of black/gray sunglasses arrived in my mailbox a few days later. I wore them almost every day, for long runs, biking, beach-going, EVERYTHING, and finally, the lens started to crack after almost a year of constant use, probably from being crammed into my teeny purse time after time. The frames, however, still remain perfect. They’re the bendy kind, and they’ve survived longer than all but one of all the sunglasses I’ve ever owned.

I thought I would try a different style a few months ago, and to make a long story short, they didn’t work with the structure of my face. I decided to go back to my trusty Mercury, and due to the patience of their staff, USPS, and email, a shipping snafu, I finally got my new and upgraded (fogkiller AND polarized this time) glasses on Friday. I’m in love again. I’m not getting anything for this shout out, but check them out and see if you can find a pair that work for you. They’re so light and will withstand daily use for a very long time.

So here’s the deal on my workouts this past week. They’re getting longer and some of them harder, but with a gradual approach, it’s almost hard to tell.  I’ve really enjoyed most of them, although the heat/humidity has made enjoying running past five miles very sloshy and sort of gross. I’ve never sweated so much, even when training in Houston. I pop salt capsules like candy.

My swims have been, um, well, they’ve gotten done, but I’m seriously struggling with doubt. I keep telling myself there’s no room for doubt when you’re training and there’s no point of it either, but it creeps back in. At the end of the week, after wondering, AGAIN, why I signed up for an Ironman that has a friggin’ ocean swim, my coach sent me a “kudos” email, mentioning that I had swim 8000 yards in one week. I almost fell out, since even a few short months ago, I wouldn’t have ever thought that possible. Right after that, I saw this on someone’s post, and I knew it was a sign to remember the process and to trust in my training.


I am reminded that two years ago, I couldn’t swim 50 yards. I probably couldn’t have swam 25 yards honestly, and here I am, swimming 45 minutes or more at a time. It IS a process, and it takes time, physically and mentally to get to where you want to go. It’s very hard to be patient, especially when you want to go FAST and you know there’s a clock ticking, waiting to crush your dream if you don’t get there in time. But I have to remember this, I have to be patient, I have to work hard, push myself, and know that I will be successful in my goal.

Instead of enjoying the PERFECT conditions, I fussed over my goggles, worried about jellyfish, and obsessed over how slow I was going. Not exactly being productive there, am I?

Instead of enjoying the PERFECT glassy conditions, I fussed over my goggles, worried about jellyfish, and obsessed over how slow I was going. Not exactly being productive there, am I?

My running has been going well, and even when it’s completely gross outside, I’ve been pulling down sub-9:00 mile long runs. And that’s because of the bike. Oh, the bike.  The bike is a challenge to me. I enjoy riding it, but I’m not exactly fast. That’s ok with me. I’m not in this Ironman to win it. Obviously. But I get slightly frustrated sometimes when my legs can’t cash the checks my mind writes. I’ve had some very good interval workouts, one being a ten minute warm up followed by 16×1:00 at FAST/HARD with a 1:00 rest, then cool down. It seems simple, but in reality, this workout is a killer. I loved it. I almost died in the process and my kids probably thought someone was killing me with all the groaning that occurred at about 45 seconds in to the minute, but just like a good tempo run or track workout, this energized me the same.  I even saw 27 mph for about ten seconds on my LAST hard minute. I’ve NEVER seen that except in my car!

Sunday was my long bike ride at 4 hours or 70 miles, which was my longest ride of the season and the longest in decades for me. I met up with a very large group early on Sunday, and I immediately knew I was out of my league. All the super fast riders (20+ mph) were there, and I felt like a little kid.

We all set off, and I ended up behind a guy I didn’t know and a friend of mine. The other big group slowly pulled away from us, and the three of us went on our merry way, going at a decent pace. I felt it was the perfect pace, not enough to burn up my legs, but where I was working. Since the other two had 100 miles and I only had 70, my friend told me part way into our ride, after being chased by a huge brown bear dog that could run over 20 mph and gave us a good adrenaline rush speed interval, they would take me back to the start since they DO NOT LET BIKER FRIENDS RIDE BY THEMSELVES. At that point, as I’d already been thinking it, I told her that I would just ride the entire 100 with them since their pace felt manageable and I didn’t want them to have to go back and loop, especially since she told me she wanted to go out 50 and back 50.  And it was only 30 miles more than what I was going anyway.

I’ve never ridden 100 miles on my bike before. I’ve gone somewhere near 90 back when I was in college and rode RAGBRAI, but never “the century” ride. I felt a sense of adventure, of pride, of happiness as we ticked the miles off. We stopped at a few places to grab some energy, pee, and went on our merry way. It WAS an adventure, and I had two great partners along the way. There were no major incidents (only a minor one where if I was a guy, I’d be singing in a very high octave), no chafing, no getting sick, nothing bad besides the bear dog chasing scene. It went off without a hitch. Was it too good to be true? I guess time will only tell!

All in 5 hours and 35 minutes.

All in 5 hours and 35 minutes.

When we finished, I got a picture with coach, my little “tri” group, and headed straight towards Panera Bread, the place I had been dreaming about for quite a few miles, mostly to get “the largest Diet Coke (that ended up being an ok Diet Pepsi) on the face of the earth”. It was delish!!!!

Thanks so much to Lori and Billy! They are the BEST riding buddies EVER!!!

Thanks so much to Lori and Billy! They are the BEST riding buddies EVER!!!

And now, I’m heading out of town for a few weeks. It’s crazy, trying to get yourself, husband, and two kids out of town, coordinating house sitters to take care of pets and watch the house, packing what you need but not too much, coordinating who you’re meeting, when, and what days. We are visiting my parents and then touring my old stomping grounds in Iowa, including Field of Dreams, and visiting lots of friends. I won’t be training the same as I have all of June, but I’ll be getting in plenty of shark-free swimming in Table Rock Lake and running lots and lots of hills. Perfect.

 Do you ever have moments when you question your abilities? How do you deal with it? What’s your breakout workout??




Categories: Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Summer is Here!

Wow, there’s a reason why I haven’t written in a long time. I’m too frickin’ busy complaining about how hot it is here. And the only thing I can think of when I think about the hot weather, which has seemed to permeate my thoughts, is this scene from “Good Morning, Viet Nam”:

Training has taken its toll on me, as it has everyone else who has been trying to deal with the sudden emergence of surface-of-the-sun-like temperatures we are having here. Unseasonable? Yes. But there’s nothing we can do about it but pack our salt licks and go on our merry way.  I give myself five minutes of “bitch” time, then it’s over and just deal.

This is me.

Why yes, I WOULD like some cheese with that whine.

My kids are back home, which has been nice, yet messy and time consuming. We’ve had a sleepover with three extra kids, and yes, it’s time consuming and messy, but I really like it. It makes me happy. When they were gone the week before, I got a lot done, but I certainly missed the mess and the noise. I missed the snuggles and the night time routines, their socks in the laundry, and cheerios found in random places. It’s good to have them home and to see their friends.

So let’s see, last week was the post-shark bite week when we all flocked to the 93 degree pool. My workout the day I went to the pool was a two hour bike ride, one with friends doing pickups, then a 3000 yd swim. I had no idea how miserable swimming long distance in a hot pool would be. I had to stop a lot to put my arms up on the side like a beached whale, just so, when I put them back in the water, it would feel a tad bit refreshing. That workout took me so long, and since I had gotten up so early, I crashed when I got home and stuffed my face. I took a power nap, and still, that night when we went to have dinner, I would talk about something and then just forget what I was talking about. I think it was just the culmination of a lot of hard workouts in the heat. Acclimation at work.

Last Saturday was the Tour de Blueberry bike ride, in honor of the Blueberry Festival in a small town right up the road from us.

Getting ready to roll....

Getting ready to roll….

I think there were several hundred people there, and I had originally signed up to do the 64 mile ride. With the late start and near-100 degree temps expected that day, I changed my mind and decided to do the 32 mile loop and make it count. The roads were bumpy in some spots, we smelled “money” out on the farm, and I got hit in the face with some HUGE bugs (thank goodness for sunglasses). It was hot and I was tired when I got done, but I felt good about my decision to cut the ride in half. I hadn’t been on a ride with that many people since I did RAGBRAI (a week long bike ride across Iowa) way back in the 90’s, so it was actually fun!  I ran 2 miles post-bike, and nearly found myself melted onto the ground. The line for the food was too long, so I just headed home, ate like a pro football player, cooled off, then headed out to get my husband’s Father’s Day present and grocery shop, since he was picking the boys up that day.

Father’s Day was a TON of fun. A special “Happy Belated Father’s Day” to you dads out there! A friend of ours, who’s kids are good friends with our kids – BONUS, took us out on their boat for the day. We parked at Masonboro Island, and we frolicked in the sun (well, it was under a canopy) pretty much the ENTIRE day. We came home happy with big smiles.

Our view. Ahhh, gorgeous!

Our view. Ahhh, gorgeous!

On Monday, my friend and I headed back to the waterway for our first open water swim since the shark incident. We didn’t see any jellyfish or have any other “encounters”, but we were on high alert, and it was nerve wracking. We were glad to be done. Since there was no current at that particular time, I was pleased with 1.1 miles in just over 40 minutes. With all the currents, it’s hard to get an idea of what my pace is and what to expect for Ironman, so I was happy to have a “time trial” of sorts.

I swam again this morning for a long 1.7 miles with a push, and I was a little more comfortable being back in open water, even with another shark incident just north of our beaches the day before. We had a current so my time was at a much quicker pace and I finished in 47:00. I went home to do 16×1:00 bike intervals. It was the hardest I think I’ve ever pushed, and I have to say it was an amazing workout. I’ve never seen 27 mph on my bike, EVER, so that was good, even though it didn’t stay that fast very long! Even with the air turned to 72 and a fan, it was a sweat fest!


I’m surprised you can’t see my feline supervisors. They’re there making sure I work hard.

My running has been going well, biking is picking up some strength, and well, the swim is the swim. I have one gear (slow), but as long as I get it done, that’s really all that matters.  I’m so close to launching my business, and wow, there’s a LOT that goes into starting something, even when it’s pretty simple. I’m working on my husband’s marathon training plan. That has been a lot of fun, well, a lot more for me than for him!! It’s hard to believe it’s already that time when I can’t even wrap my head around October, which is when his race is. Well, it’s our 140.6 relay where I’m swimming and biking in prep for IM Florida, and then he gets to do the marathon. It’s so cool that we will be able to cross the finish line together!

I’ve got a 12 mile run on Friday, swim again Saturday, then a 4 hour bike on Sunday (I’d like to do 70 miles so however long that takes). Looks like the weather will be more “normal” next week, just in time for me to go out of town!

How about y’all? Complain about the weather when it’s unseasonably hot? Do you feel more worn out and run down when it’s hot?



Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, coaching, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, open water swimming, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s Getting Sharky In Here

Boy, did summer come in with a vengeance this weekend. Mid-to-upper 90’s and lows in the upper 70’s. To quote Paul from RunningWild, “Satan is sitting his ass crack smack dab in the middle of North Carolina”. That pretty much sums it up, but I have to be thankful the humidity is lower than usual, although just going outside makes you feel like you’re visiting the surface of the sun.

Things have been crazy busy, good busy, training is going well, and my kids are out of school. They both got straight A’s for the entire year, and I am so proud of them. I did remind them why I bugged them so much about doing homework. 🙂 This week, they’re at their grandparent’s house, so I have a HUGE list of things I want/need to get done while they’re not here. I’m not doing well with my list so far.

I had to do a little dance when I got my Inknburn Boston Jacket in the mail the other day. I immediately put it on and hoped for cooler weather so I could wear it. That certainly isn’t going to happen anytime soon (see above), but one can hope.

LOVE it.

LOVE it.




I’ve been enjoying my swimming, although I had a bad swim the other weekend, due to expectations not meeting reality. I thought it was going to be 1.2 miles with a significant current push, but it turned out to be 1.4 miles with basically no current push, and at one point, it was a current push in my face. It can get frustrating when expectations don’t meet reality, can’t it? I beat back the negative thoughts in my head for a few days before I was “back to normal” again. I do not have time to second guess my swim. There’s no room for it in my training plan, and just as there is in running, there will be bad swim days. Just do your work and move on. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway!

Finish Line of the swim race.

Finish Line of the swim race.

My running has been going very well the past few weeks. I’ve been pulling out some impressive times in speed work even with the increase in temperature, and I think it’s mostly due to the work on the bike. It happened last fall when training for the half iron, so I suspect it’s the case now. I’ll take it! I’ve been riding 60 miles on the bike most weekends, some faster than others, and I’m putting in some good interval work during the week. I honestly think coming into Ironman training after a marathon was good timing. I’m also hoping going into marathon training after Ironman will prove to be a good thing too.


Before track practice. Sooo pretty!

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of the most beautiful sunrises the past few weeks.  I’ve gotten to know more people through the school, training, running, biking, and swimming. It’s a trip, and I am finally feeling back to myself after several years of stress and moving. I feel settled, feel happy, feel lucky, and grateful for the life I have full of amazing people.

Before Friday's swim.

Before Friday’s swim.

We’ve had a few twists this week. Friday, my friend and I went for a long open water swim in the channel. I made her swim under the bridge (mostly because I missed the boat on where everyone else was starting, but it really did turn out to be a good thing), which she HATES because there’s trolls who live under there and lots of fish hang out in the dark, shaded water. They might be drug dealers, but no one knows for sure. Not long after we successfully swam under the troll bridge, she told me she saw a jellyfish. Ok, that’s cool. I’m down with that. But I wasn’t. Totally wasn’t. At all. The first time I saw one, and you have to know, this was my first “wildlife encounter” during a swim besides seeing those teeny little fish and a skate along the shore, I screamed and started splashing around like a 2 year old. I immediately thought that I would then attract sharks, because they like noises. But I couldn’t help it. I knew these jellyfish were safe and didn’t sting, but it was the thought of it that freaked me out. Things kept bumping my feet, and when I saw one, I tried really hard, but I couldn’t help but jumping a little under water and coming up for air.

I may have behaved a little like this.

I may have behaved a little like this.

I may have let out a few “OMG” or possibly a “Oh, FUCK”, but it was my first wildlife encounter!!!! Then it was like they were everywhere, bumping my feet, getting allupinmybidness. I couldn’t go ten feet without seeing one and I told my friend, “Hey, that’s enough, I’m out.” She guilted me into finishing my workout with a simple, “You’ll regret it if you don’t finish your workout”. Needless to say, I got in some extra cardio with that jellyfish swim. But we got it done, 1.5 miles in 50 minutes, with lots of stopping, screaming, splashing, talking, troll-watching, swearing, and a good push from the current, THANK GOD.

We felt like they were out to get us!

We felt like they were out to get us, laughing and texting all their jelly friends, “Look, we’re making them scream!”

Some other people we knew swam by and I heard a random, “OMG” and “What was that?”, and one of them ended up getting out of the water too. I don’t know how many kinds of jellyfish there are, but one of my friends got stung, I was freaked out by just seeing them, and they were just everywhere, scaring the crap out of us swimmers. I was ready to get back in this week. Until this weekend happened.

We all KNOW sharks live in the ocean. We all KNOW they have to eat. They’re misunderstood creatures, thought to be scary and evil, but they’re just sharks doing what sharks do. I like to pretend there’s some netting, really good netting, or gates at the entry of the waterway where larger fish, except for dolphins of course, cannot come through. It’s like a gated neighborhood. When the hoodlum wants to come in, access denied. But this weekend, on three separate occasions, people were injured by sharks. One was not a major injury, but two of them were. All of them involved kids, and two of those kids will have at least one amputation because of the shark bites.

And people, this happened in my neighborhood.

I swim at Wrightsville Beach, I take my kids to Kure Beach, and good ole' Mr. Shark was chewing on people at Oak Island, barely around the corner.

I swim at Wrightsville Beach, I take my kids to Kure Beach and Ft. Fisher, which is at the southern end of the island, and good ole’ Mr. Shark was chewing on people at Oak Island, barely around the corner.

That’s a little close for comfort. I believe the bites happened near a pier, which makes complete sense considering there’s bloody bait at the pier from fishermen WANTING to attract fish, so I do wonder why they were swimming so close to it. Then again, I have too. And I was going to on Wednesday for an ocean swim lesson in prep for Ironman Florida. I’m not now.

So there’s been a lot of shark jokes thrown around, but when there’s three bites over a weekend really close to home, which defies the odds, it’s time to maybe just be a little extra cautious. I assume two of the bites, and even all three, were from the same shark, but you just never know. I’m not willing to take that chance, especially when, according to one of my coaches, shark attacks occur more during a new moon and a heat wave, two things that we have going for us right now. As for open water, I’m finding out from OTHER people what the jellyfish situation is. Depending on that, I’ll see if I want to swim in open water or head to the pool. As for now though, I’ll just keep assuming there’s some big gates filtering all the sharks from coming into the waterway, and if they slip through, they’re just little guys like this:

He's so cute!!!!!

He’s so cute!!!!!

Or that they’re just trying to help:


What would you do? Any “wildlife encounters” you’d like to share?



Categories: interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Medication: Friend or Foe?

Another week slipped by since I’ve written and it seems like just a few days. I’ve been pretty busy (I hate using that because really, who isn’t busy?) trying to get a bunch of stuff done before the kids are out of school (and dealing with the events of last week- details below), and getting my workouts in of course.

Ahh, the events of last week. Last week was “interesting”. Due to a mysterious allergic reaction to something the week before, I had to go on Prednisone, and then the dose started decreasing last week. I thought all was good and that I was lucky enough to not have the side effects of the medication, since I heard they could be…um, well, not so fun. THEN last week happened. And I got all the side effects. No sleeping. Hunger. Moodiness. Aggression. All of them. And I was training hard and trying to start a business. It was hard. It was weird. I didn’t like it. It made me feel crazy. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way after the dosage went down, but after talking to other people who have been on it, it’s pretty normal to feel “slightly off”. Yeah, I’ll just say I felt slightly off. If off feels like this:




And then I was hungry. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

Everything I could pile into my mouth, I pretty much did.

The good thing that came from this was a 5k race on Thursday night.  I didn’t want to run it, had had a VERY disturbing day (as for how I felt, otherwise it was normal), but if you combine eating and aggression, running a race really isn’t a bad thing. I had a crappy attitude coming into it, fueled on Diet Coke and chips only 3 hours before it started (because eff it, WHO CAAARRREEESSSS??!!! See above picture.) It was hot. I swam that morning and it felt like my arms were filled with concrete. Blech. So when the horn went off in the Wilma Dash, a unique women’s only race, I went. I ran. I ran hard. I ran until my lungs hurt. My legs were tired. My mouth was dry. I was sweaty. I just wanted a sub-24:00. Ok, a sub-23:00. And I came in at 22:21, enough to win 15th overall and 3rd masters. I felt a little bit released. Well, let’s just say I felt better.

Look at me on the left all scared like. Maybe it's because he took a hundred pictures and I was just tired of standing and wanted to get my beer back in my hand.

Look at me on the left there all like, “Let me go so I can get my damn beer back before she drinks it.”

Bonus on the night is that the team I’m on, Without Limits Sole Sistas, won largest team and a party at the famous Front Street Brewery. It’ll be like one free beer per teammate, but hey, better than nothing!!!

On Friday, we headed to my husband’s alma mater, Clemson, for my youngest son’s football camp.

Takin' it down.

Takin’ it down.

The Dabo Swinney Football Camp was top notch. My youngest was among the best players and coaches in the nation, filling them with life lessons and football skills.  I’ve never really felt a lot of love for any team on my own, and I was very happy to adopt Clemson as “my” team back when I met my husband. Same for the Red Sox. I’m not a die hard, but I’m right there, wearing my orange and purple and white, cheering them on in good seasons and bad.  My sons have a sparkle in their eyes when they talk about it, which to me, means a TON of money will eventually be heading the tiger way (which brings on the same kind of hulk feeling when thinking about how much money college costs), but for now, we really enjoy our time there. It hasn’t been often we have time to wander campus and check out the sites in his old stomping ground and spend way too much at the apparel store. While there, I got in eleven miles of hills and even more exploration.  Good times, minus the six hour drive and getting home at 11 pm the night before the kids start their end-of-year testing. Hopefully we can get back this fall for the game against Notre Dame, which just so happens to be on my birthday and one month before Ironman Florida. Yes, we really are trying to do it ALL this year!

Death Valley

Death Valley

As for training, I’ve been doing what I can when I can, pushing myself to be ready to start training. Yesterday marked the first day with my coach, Sami, from Without Limits. She’s a 12-time IM finisher and Kona qualifier, and she recently qualified for worlds in the 70.3. I know I’m in good and experienced hands! I’m not a very OCD person (if you saw my house right now, you’d get it – it’s just a mess but I’m sitting here blogging), but I have to admit that all was right and good in the world when I got my Training Peaks email and next two weeks training uploaded. Ahhhh, structure!

I learned a few lessons listening to the coaches at the football clinic and will find so many ways to use them in my training and for coaching. I’m motivated (even without the prednisone), am happy about my choice to push the register button that day in November, and am so looking forward to the journey. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but what journey worth taking IS?

Oh, oh, oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! The word is out, the number is in, and I wanted to let you all know that the UNCW running teams have MET THEIR FUNDRAISING GOAL and can continue on for another year!!!! They were able to raise $255,781.59 IN THREE MONTHS! Thank you for listening to me talk about my local issue and a very special thanks to those who contributed to the teams. They are so appreciative of our support and are already working hard to secure large donations to be able to update/renovate/rebuild the old track and field facility that so many in our community use and probably take for granted. I love running!!!

So all in all, it’s been a good week, I’m “officially” IM training now, and I have a love/hate relationship with prednisone. I’m glad it quickly helped my allergy, but man, it certainly made me feel funky.

Have you ever had “interesting” side effects of a medication? Do you have a love affair with any particular school?



Categories: coaching, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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