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In Which Preparing For Fitbloggin’ Saves Me

ImageFitbloggin’ 2012 is just ten days away and the Twitter/blogosphere is really starting to buzz with excitement. I’m excited too – to reunite with friends, to meet and connect with new people, and to just be in the wonderful atmosphere that is Fitbloggin.

But I’ve had some trepidation. I’m not at all in the same place that I was at Fitbloggin’ 2011. In May of 2011 I was actively blogging – many times a week – and was really feeling great both fitness and blogwise.

This time – not so much. It’s been a struggle to keep up with regular blogging. I feel like every time I sit down to write, I’m apologizing about not writing enough. This year has meant a lot of job transition, which means I rarely feel “caught up” enough to blog. I’m often staying up until 11:00pm just trying to get a grip on my job’s paperwork. Only recently have I just started to feel like I might be getting the hang of things, and maybe, just maybe, I can complete my work during, you know, regular work hours.

Now that Fitbloggin’ is just around the corner (how did that happen?!?) it’s forced/allowed me to really think about what’s been going on this past year. There is a phrase that floats around the blogosphere: if a fitness blogger stops blogging, it probably means they’ve fallen off some wagon or another.

That’s both true and not true. It is, as they say, complicated.

A year ago, I was high about Fitbloggin’ and the fitness world. I was preparing to get certified as a Personal Trainer with a specialty in Corrective Exercise. I was studying, I was really into it. I was planning to start my own business in personal and group fitness, awareness, body image and food. I was going to call it (get this!) FoodFoodBodyBody. I took several seminars in Small Business ownership. I set up a business account. I joined a network of women working in health and wellness. I was so pumped!

And then what happened?!

About that time I signed up for my first triathlon training. And while that event was one of the most arduous-yet-meaningful experiences, one of the greatest challenges and accomplishments ever, I think it was the beginning of my unraveling. I thought I was going to turn into a lean, mean triathlete machine, but instead I ended up putting on weight. And no, it wasn’t “all muscle.” During the training I had to wrestle with a lot of person demons. I was afraid of my bicycle. I had panic attacks when I tried to swim in open water. I was always the Very Last Person during our training workouts, and slowly this began to wear at my self-confidence. And as I spent weeks training, I got more anxious and nervous. I started doing a lot more comfort eating. I tried to justify it by telling myself I was working out a lot more, but the fact was I was self-soothing because I was so damn scared.

During that time, when my self-doubt was peaking, I started doubting my business plan. I was thinking, who the hell am *I* to tell anyone else what to do in terms of fitness or healthy eating? So I started backing away from that. I started building all sorts of roadblocks to actually accomplishing that goal which had once excited me so much.

I finished the triathlon. Or, I sort of finished it. I felt good but I also felt crappy. I couldn’t help feeling like I had cheated somehow. So what did I do? I signed up for the Hike Team – during which I injured myself – and then I signed up to do ANOTHER triathlon. I know. What was I thinking? I wanted a do-over. I wanted to Get It Right that time. But because of my injury, and my frazzled self-confidence, that one didn’t work out the way I had planned either. I dropped out of the Maui (Olympic) Tri and instead did the Wildflower Mountain Bike (aka Sprint) Tri. Which was on one hand an accomplishment, but again, it didn’t solve the problem of Getting It Right.

During all of this, I look back now and I see what my worse mistake was: I stopped blogging.

I hid.

I think if I had openly chronicled (I mean really chronicled) all of the self-doubt, all of the decisions, the comfort eating, the freakouts, I think it would have taken care of itself. I mean, that’s the lesson of this blog. Being honest and out there kept me healthy for over two years. But hiding away almost threatened to put me back where I started.

Also during the last year, my beloved endocrinologist left the group practice. I was devastated. I felt abandoned, and I acted out. (in a way that could really only hurt myself) I stopped tracking my blood glucose, stopped eating so carefully, and never made an appointment (until last week) with a new doctor. I was pouting. I was really sad about this. But of course that didn’t help the course of things.

I’ve been rewriting/rehearsing/freaking out about my performance at Fitbloggin’. It will bear some resemblance – but only about 50% – to last year’s show. There’s a lot more I’ve gotta say/show/express. I’m hecka nervous about it. But also excited. Because the stakes feel greater somehow. I’m not just doing a show about how Totally Awesome my “journey” has been – but also this time – how kind of un-awesome and humbling and HARD it’s been.

But the very act of being honest is, I think, (or, I KNOW) – where the good stuff is. I’m relieved and happy to be getting back to basics. Which for me isn’t so much about working out in any particular way, or counting calories. It’s about being Real.

In Which I Biked On Hills, In Traffic, Without a Bike Lane, With Huge Wind and Hairpin Turns!

me and Tree

Yesterday was really special. I got to get together with my beloved workout buddy from my 2000 TNT marathon training. Back in the day, she and I were stuck together  like peanut butter and jelly. Treeeeeeeee! I just love her. I hadn’t seen her in like seven years  but something about being back in the TNT mode just made me miss her so much. So yesterday  we got together and tried to smush 7 years of conversation into about 90 minutes. It made me realize that even though I like being on the team, I need my One Person. Y’all know who that is for this time, because I don’t go anywhere without her!

Here’s me and Lily working out on our weekend vacation last week. (“triathlon means bike, run, and… hot tub, right?”) ANyway, it was awesome to have this little mini reunion from my BFF from TNT ’00.

I wasn't ACTUally drinking wine while training. I swear!

Today, many of our mentors headed down to participate in the Pacific Grove Triathlon (where they rocked it! Go team!!!!!!!!!!!!) so we had a smaller group do a “captains’ workout” of a bike and run.

Yesterday I prevailed upon my every kind and generous friend Mary to help me fix my flat tire. She was working at Weight Watchers all afternoon so I hauled the whole shebang over to the center and we got down and greasy in between people walking in to get weighed. I have to admit, after doing this process now for the 2nd time I’m probably more intimidated than ever. It involves so many intricate moves and decisions. Right away I jammed my finger in between the frame and the tire and I don’t know what I did but it is all bruised and swollen. (note: if you’re doing bike sports, don’t EVER EVER get a manicure because it is so not worth it. It will go to hell in about an hour) Even after the tire clinic, and watching the Youtube video half a dozen times, I still feel like if this ever happened to me, like in the middle of an event, (please NO) I would just sit on the curb and cry and wait for the SAG vehicle to come pick me up. (SAG = Support and… Grapefruit? Gummy bears? Giggles?)

Anyway, I got the new tube in my tire and got pumped up and I was all ready for this ride today. Again, I was sort of dreading it. OK, not sort of. I was really dreading it. I feel like every bike ride has had some new unknown bad thing I hadn’t even dreamed of before. So what was in store today? I had no idea what the course was like or how long or if there were hills or anything.

We met up at Blackie’s Pasture in Tiburon. From the chatter in the parking lot, I just picked up on random words like, “narrow, treacherous, rollers (rolling hills).” Uh HUH. Okay. I just love that word “treacherous.” NOT.

But what choice did I have? I clipped into my pedals (go me!) and we took off. At first we were on this bike trail (sort of nice, but also sort of an obstacle course around little kids with training wheels, strollers, runners and dogs) but pretty soon we were on a Real Road (stomach churning) with some semblance of an actual bike trail (OK nice!). That was good for a while. It was flat but there were also more cars than I really like to be around. Then we headed into some other area where there was: 1) no more bike trail; 2)fewer cars; 3) MORE HILLS, 4) hairpin turns, and 5) Wind! So windy! Like a few people almost got blown over it was so crazy windy. What was THAT.

The first big hill damn near killed me. I actually had to stop about 3/4 way to the top because I was panting and hyperventilating so hard and getting That Pukey Feeling. It was kind of ridiculous how short of breath I was. The sweep person stopped and hung out with me and said that maybe I was on too much of an easy gear and spinning my wheels (hahah) too much. So I took off again.

I swear, this road is exactly the kind of road that would turn Mr. McBody’s hair white if it wasn’t already. It is the kind of road we drove on to go out to the beach last weekend (ie DEATH TRAP) where we were cursing the cyclists at every blind turn. But it was different, and I mean way different doing it on a bicycle. For one thing, there’s not much I can do. I can stay as close to the edge of the road as I humanly can. Other than that, I’m just focusing on getting up the damn hill or getting around the hairpin turn or not flying out of control on the downhill. I am focused on the BIKE.

It is much, much harder and more annoying to be a car driver on a road than it is to be a cyclist. I pretty much seethe at all the bicycles who have the potential to ruin my life forever when I end up KILLING someone. But when you’re the one on the bicycle, there’s really no energy for being afraid. It’s the car’s job to stay away from you. They had these huge banners on the street poles that said, “Spandex is not armor.” Tell me about it.

That said, there are certain manners that I think most cyclists do not adhere to. Like there’s this thing on narrow, twisty, hilly windy roads called PULLOUTS. They are designed for slow vehicles (slow cars as well as two wheeled vehicles) to PULL OUT INTO when there is someone on your tail who would like to go ahead. We never, ever EVER witnessed a bicycle using a pullout on Highway 1. They just act like they own the place.

But I pulled out. I pulled out plenty today and I felt like in doing so I was being polite to cars, AND I was potentially saving my life.  And I noticed that the faces of the drivers passing me looked infinitely more upset/distraught/annoyed than I felt.

I couldn’t believe that I was actually riding a bicycle with my shoes clipped to the pedals, and I was going up and down hills and around crazy sharp turns on a narrow road with no bike lane and cars going past about six inches away. I managed to do the whole 90 minute ride and was feeling very “OMG I did that!” when I rode into the parking lot, all proud of myself and then promptly fell over. Right in front of my car. Niiiiiiiice!

After I got semi cleaned up I put on running shoes for our little (20 minute) run. Again, my feet and calves felt like absolute concrete. It was torture. I felt like I was about 90 years old and just shuffling, one foot in front of the other. And a few times I had to actually slow even more to a hobble (ie walk), it was so ridiculous. Only when I was close to being finished (about a mile plus) did my feet and legs start feeling like I might be able to run anywhere. So. Note to self: don’t freak if you can’t run. Hopefully this will come at around mile 2 or so.

So in spite of the embarrassing owie at the end, I feel insanely proud (and kind of shocked) at the ride I did today. It’s not something I could have even imagined a week ago. Or yesterday.

Next week: Wetsuit distribution! OPEN WATER SWIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10K and BEYOND!


Lake Merritt stroll

Originally uploaded by TomLog

Yesterday was a big day! I decided to check out my entire marathon relay leg. I wanted to feel it from beginning to end. I had no expectations I would run the whole thing, in fact I was hoping for 60-40% at best. Normally I have to start at the beginning, then run for a period and then turn around to get to my car. But yesterday was a Saturday, and Mr. McBody was available to pick me up at the “finish line” so I could go all in one direction. I was psyched!

I was all in a quandary about how to pace myself for this run. I thought about possibly using one of the couch-to-K programs on my phone, so I could interval. But then I decided (big brave move!) to just interval intuitively; ie to run as long as I felt like it, then walk as long as I wanted to, etc. and just SEE what happened.

Previously, the longest I had run was 5 min run/2 min walk and that felt strenuous enough last week. But I wanted to see what I would do without that dinging in my ear.

So I took off. I walked fast for 2-3 minutes and then started running. I was about half a mile down the road, and jogging in place at a stop light, when this guy comes out of NOWHERE and leaps out at me. I was so freaked! And scared!

Guess what he was holding in his hand? My car keys. My only set of car keys in the world. They had flown out of my pocket while I was running, and I hadn’t heard (due to music in my ears) or felt a thing. He had seen this happen, had stopped his car in the middle of the road, and charged over to me before the light turned! After being totally scared of my wits, I was quickly thrilled by the kindness of humans.

I kept running. I ran for about 12 minutes, or the first mile, according to my Runkeeper app. That was pretty shocking and exciting for me – and more than double what I’d run consecutively, since last summer. So that was great. I only needed to walk for a minute before starting up again. So I decided that I’d try to run to each mile and then walk if I needed to. Which could also come in handy during the event itself since I am assuming there will be mile markers posted.

I got to the point where I normally turn around. I continued on to the lake and that was very exciting, because I’d never made it that far before. I’ve done so many runs on that lake and I love it – it makes me so happy to be out there in the community, and to see other people walking and running, from really old people to elite athletes. So I’m super psyched that my relay leg includes the lake.

I was running with a sheet of paper in my hand, with the road directions for the marathon. (but no map) I looked down at real quickly and saw “right on Grand Avenue.” So I turned right and started circling the lake counter-clockwise. So far so good. I was at about 3.5 miles then (5k!) and feeling okay.

When I was about halfway around the lake, I thought I’d take a peek at my directions. They didn’t make any sense to me. 14th St.? 19th St.? Lakeside? Suddenly I felt completely turned around and disoriented. And I realized I had run way past my last intersection.

Suddenly I was exhausted. What if I had run way beyond and I had just added like a mile to my 10K? I couldn’t bear the idea. I turned around and headed back to 14th St. I was so confused. I searched for my location on my phone’s GPS, and kept staring at the paper, and nothing made any sense to me. Finally I stood at the corner of 14th and Lakeside and burst into tears. “I don’t know where to go!!!!!!!!!!!!” The idea of going further away from the real path just seemed unacceptable. I knew I was close to the end but didn’t know which way to go. I was losing it BIG time.

Finally I backed up and studied it all again. I realized I had made a mistake when I got to the lake. The FIRST direction said “Turn left on Grand,” but I’d skipped down on the paper and read the wrong one. I had gone counterclockwise when I should have gone clockwise.
But there was NO WAY I was going to do it all over again so I got a grip and kept running. I found my way to 14th, then Lakeside, 19th, etc., until I was in the home stretch. Then I got a text-message ding from one of my relay partners from Team Penguin. She was just a few blocks away! At every intersection I jogged in place and texted, “I’m at Harrison now! Broadway! Telegraph!” until finally I was running the last 3 blocks to the finish. I was so elated. I imagined the finish line and the thousands of people and I was beside myself.

I know now that I can do this. When I got home I mapped my route, lost turns and all, and found that I’d run 6.69 miles. Which was MORE than a 10k! (a 10.6k, in fact) This idea in itself has been overwhelming to me. I ran almost 7 miles, with only a couple of walk breaks and a few stops for traffic lights. I can’t believe it.

It also woke me up to the sobering realization that the relay itself is going to be 12K! Yowzers. But I can do it. Yes I can.

Back to WW School

Last week I attended a one-day training for Weight Watchers, a followup to my initial training last fall. It was awesome.

When I first took this job, I told myself (and others) that if at any time I felt like this company was not good, or I was not benefiting from it, that I would quit. The pay certainly isn’t worth it. But I have found that the deeper I go in, the more time and experience I have, the more impressed I am with this company. They really do want their members to succeed, and they are constantly searching for ways to better help them. It’s so good, really.

The theme of the training was “Facilitating Change” and while I can’t go into the teeny details of it, I will say that it was really so thoughtful and fantastic. I feel like my meetings this week really have benefited from that experience, and hopefully will continue to improve.

At one point during the training, they asked us to describe a moment when we felt like we really made a Difference in someone’s life. A lot of people (other leaders) had some pretty moving stories to tell. I felt okay about my little story, but it felt kinda … I dunno, not a big deal. But then LAST night I was at my regular meeting, and a member came up to me and said she’d had a GREAT week, had made a real change in her habits and it was because of something I’d said. And she thought about what I’d said, during her week, and it made a difference.

I swear. It brought tears to my eyes. It made me so happy. Because honestly, so often I doubt myself, and think, who am I to be doing this. How am I helping anybody. AM I helping anybody? Sometimes I am not sure. And I think I’m just standing up there going blah blah blah.

We learned that WE are supposed to talk a minimal amount, and really the meeting should be comprised of the majority of members talking, sharing, etc most of the time. I am very guilty of letting my mouth run and I have to do all sorts of things to SHUT MYSELF UP. (I am a solo performer, remember? LOL)

One funny tool we learned was to WAIT, and let members speak. And WAIT stands for: Why Am I Talking? Ha ha ha. I thought of this several times last night, and I used the physical reminder of putting my hand on my chin. (one, to assume the “thinking” pose, and two, to hold my jabbering jaw STILL!) I think it went well.

We also recently had a district-wide training on the Science of Weight Loss. Again, super impressive. I feel so lucky to be soaking in all of this great information and am eager to pass it on.

Cue up the Rocky Music

It’s so weird. Some days I feel like I can barely drag myself around the block. Other days… well, wooh!

I think I felt extra motivated after the half marathon 5k was over, and ready to turn to a new page, which is the marathon relay coming up at the end of March. I want to be ready. I want to be a strong contributor to my team.

So yesterday I drove down to the start of my relay leg. This is new for me, to actually be able to train ON the route of a running race. It was kind of cool. I parked my car at the intersection and already I could imagine the thousands of people who will be there too. My heart started pounding. I got all gadgeted up: first I put on my Bodybugg, which has been out of commission for a while because I couldn’t find my armband. Then I set my iPhone to the couch-to-10k app, week 5, day 1. This same workout totally killed me last week. It is supposed to be 70  minutes total, and I pooped out after 30, and felt totally defeated. Back in the saddle.

At first, my feet and ankle were really bothering me and I was worried. I was wearing new running shoes, which I feel like I really need. The soles of my old ones were SHOT and I think it’s not healthy to run on them because they’re all uneven. I had on my ankle brace. Something about the lacing had been messed up at the 5k and the top of my foot was really, really sore. But whatever. I had to do it.

There’s something very Pavlovian and addictive about the “couch-to” apps. They play some loud tone and a voice says, WALK NOW or RUN NOW. And do whatever it commands. I started with a 5 minute warmup. As I was walking (fast) I noticed what a beautiful route it is. It’s a wide, flat road called the Mandela Parkway. Which I love. There were some plum blossom trees already blooming, and some awesome graffiti art. (I didn’t take pics while running, I stopped and took them when I did the mileage with my car later) It made me so happy that I chose this leg of the marathon. It feels perfect for me.

It’s a really industrial, warehousey kind of neighborhood at first; a lot of trucks and industry. And you know what was amazing, I got like half a dozen thumbs-up and people waving at me. They seemed so happy to see me out there running. Did they know I was doing a marathon training, and that the marathon is going to be coming through this neighborhood? I don’t know. At any rate I was feeling very Rockyesque.

After about 15 minutes my feet stopped hurting. Everything just loosened up, got warm and lubed up and felt great. I got into a real groove. The intervals felt great: 2:30 run, then 2:30 walk, back and forth, 20 times. Every time I started feeling a little tired, cardio wise, the voice would say WALK NOW and I was so happy. Then every time my bones started hurting, it would say RUN NOW and I’d be happy all over again. It actually felt a lot better to run than to walk; it took pressure off my feet and just felt… relaxing. (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST WROTE THAT)

As I ran, I kept imagining doing this with hundreds/thousands of other people, and several times I got teared up. After a while I realized that I was in a completely different part of town. I could not believe I’d run that far. When the Voice told me I was “halfway” I pulled a U-turn and started heading back to my car. I couldn’t believe how far I’d gone.

My return trip took two minutes less than the trip out. Which was great. I got to my car and I felt like a million bucks. Then I got in and drove the route again to see my distance (which C210K doesn’t measure, and I didn’t want to run C210K AND Runkeeper simultaneously). My halfway point was at 2.9 miles. Which means… I ran 5.8 miles of intervals! In 70 68 minutes!!!!

I was a damn happy puppy after that. And it made me feel like, it IS going to be possible, I AM going to do this, and it’s gonna be great.

Here’s some pics along the way. Look at this cool metal person sculpture. It’s enormous, and there are two other half-people on the other side of the road. Everything just made me so happy. It was one of those great, great, great runs. I feel so lucky.

Look at the Fun We Have

My dad used to have a favorite saying regarding his work, which was: “We don’t make any money, but look at the fun we have.” Which was not completely true (the money part). He worked really hard as a traveling salesman. But he did have fun, and he did love his work, and he worked every day until the day he died, from his hospital bed, at the age of 81. It did make me so happy that he said that though, and I knew the fun part was true. I remember being so stunned when I read “Death of a Salesman” because I couldn’t imagine a salesman that wasn’t happy. It took me a while to figure out that this was all about my dad’s way of looking at life.

Anyway, I felt that way today in the 5k race that I did with my friend on her birthday. My phrase of the day would be: “We didn’t break any records, but look at the fun we had.”

I picked her up in the wee dark hours and she was wearing this lovely princess hat, and also had a collection of big red helium balloons, the better to be found in a crowd. She had a bunch of relatives who were joining her and cheering her on.

We drove into San Francisco and as the sky began to lighten up it was just the most beautiful day ever. Yesterday it POURED and tomorrow it is supposed to rain again, so it was like this magical window of loveliness that we were treated to for the race.

There were allegedly over 10,000 people there. I believe that. It was really exciting. People all lined up for the half-marathon and the 5k. I didn’t feel a second of regret over changing my goal to the 5k, although I did make a vow to complete a half-marathon at SOME point this year. I’m kind of eyeing one in October, which is probably a reasonable goal.

I felt so relaxed. People were saying “Happy Birthday!” to my friend and she was just so giddy and happy. We inched up to the starting line and then crossed it and… started walking fast. Then I got into a conversation with one of her family members and I got sorta distracted and before I knew it the race monitors were saying “less than a mile!” and I thought, oops, maybe I better get some running in! So I took off running and finished it up. It was … err.. the longest time I think I’ve ever taken for a 5k. But I didn’t care. It was fun.

Something was sorta off with my ankle brace and my newish running shoes. I’m gonna have to get that fixed before the marathon relay at the end of March. Now I feel like I can really FOCUS on getting trained for that one. It was kinda hard trying to prepare for these two very different events.

Yesterday we had an Open House event at WW, and we had a guest running coach from a local running club. I got to spend some time talking to her. She did say that if I’m training for an event that is longer than what I’m used to/comfortable with, I need to be RUNNING a minimum of 3-4x a week, even if they are short runs (she recommended 3 short, 1 long per week). I think she is probably right. Although I feel generally fit, I am not feeling like a super runner at this moment. So I’m gonna step that up, no pun intended, so that I am all ready for the marathon relay.

I got very excited because the Oakland Marathon had a booth, and they displayed the hefty medals for the relay teams. It was pretty thrilling. One of these big blue babies is going to be OURS! Woot!

Going the Distance


Running Shoes

Originally uploaded by ArtsiAnnie

I think I have been kind of in denial about the fact that I actually registered for a half-marathon which is taking place in TWO WEEKS. But yesterday I received my race number in the mail and that sure woke me up fast! I was like.. umm… gulp.. WHAT did I do?!?!?

I felt like I had to decide if this was Real or not. The friend who invited me to participate said that she might end up switching over to the 5K. I am fine with doing a 5k, really, but then when I got that number in the mail, and saw the route map, I thought, oh, COULD I do it?!?

Thirteen point one miles is quite a distance. I thought I’d better check out my long-distance stamina and see what happens.

So this afternoon I went over to our lovely neighborhood lake which happens to be around 3 miles around (can be stretched to 3.5 or 5K if you take a bunch of extra side wrinkles, which I didn’t). I was all loaded up with gadgets! I had my Bodybugg on (for calories & steps), and also my iPhone which was set to Runkeeper (for distance and pace info) and for my music.

I figured I could do 2 laps and then decide. After the first lap (3 miles) I felt GREAT. Then I did the second one. After 6 miles, I felt pretty good, not BAD, but I knew that last one was gonna take some pushing. I was walking at an average of 14-14.4 minute mile, and then every so often I’d run for a few minutes, around 11-12 minute mile. That felt good.

But during that last lap, between 7-9 miles I could feel things breaking down. First my skin. I was wearing stupid socks and at one point I walked into a puddle so my feet got wet and then I got a blister. 🙂 The blister really bothered me when I ran. Then my hips started feeling like old-lady hips around mile 8. The only thing that relieved them was RUNNING, but then the blister whined at me. I was pretty happy to see my car at the end of the third lap.

So, bottom line: 9 miles, 2 hours 10 minutes (average pace 14.44). My goal is to finish the half-M in less than 3 hours (15mph) so if I can keep up that pace I’m good. I felt really really tired at the end of 9, but I also felt like if I had to do 4 more I could do it. So that was really good.

I did learn:
1. I will bring moleskin, and wear better socks.
2. I will have water (water stations) and I will carry some nutrition (bars and/or Gu). I got pretty hungry around mile 8 and then after I stopped I was kind of bonky feeling. I went to a nearby store and guzzled a big bottle of Vitamin water. Then I came home and my bg was all high. Bleah.
3. I can probably do a half marathon in two weeks! Yahoozie!!!!!!

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