Races

11/30/2013 – Huff and Puff for Pumpkin Pie 5k

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Max and I ran the Huff And Puff For Your Pumpkin Pie 5k and it was our last race for the year. This is the second year we have run this race and have love it every time. They DOUBLED in size this year and eve offered a packet pick up day! It’s put together by one of my favorite running groups – Seashore Striders. They are very professional, chip time all of their races, have great course support, and give out medals to the top finishers in all of their races. They make every race fun!

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Max was the true rock-star of this race. Let me brag about my husband for a minute because he is one of my biggest inspirations in my running journey. He finished in 22:23.8 and finished 4th in his age group (20-24). he shaved over a minute off of his time from last year and would have had an even fast time had he not started in the back of the pack with me! There’s always next time 🙂 bring home the gold! The best part about running races with Max (he finishes WAY ahead of me) is that he gets to see how much he has improved. The man behind him took 1st place for the masters category and found Max after the race to let him know that he tried to keep up with him to pace him the entire race and that he had great running form. The man is a veteran multi-marathoner and knew his stuff so his comments were greatly appreciated. Max went through quite the weight loss transformation while we were in college and has become a very talented running – and it makes me so proud to see him excel!

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My goal was to finish in 30 minutes and I did! I always say that I am a proud slow runner, but I always tell Max that I feel like racing gives me an opportunity to help other runners. At the back half of the pack you don’t get the runners who are breezing along at a 7 min/mile pace. You run the run-walk-run gang busting it out with bigger hearts than lions!

I stuck to my 2:1 run-walk-run ration and knew where that will put me and that I would finish strong and not dying (or injured). For the first mile a high schooler and I kept pacing each other (that awkward continual passing) so I finally turned to her at the 1 mile marker and asked if she waned to run together. She was on board with the Run-Walk-Run method as her parents were using the same method to train for their Disney marathon. They were closer to a 5:1 ration! We talked the whole way, realized we both lived in DC and were visiting family for the weekend, and she told me all about here injury-filled cross country season this year. Just as we passed the mile 2 marker, we caught up with young girl who was home for college. She had stopped and was hunched over with a stitch. After stopping to check on her,  I asked if she wanted to run with us and told her we were doing a 2:1 moderately slow pace and that there was less than a mile left. She was happy to have people to run with and we encouraged her along the way (side stitches suck!). We saw the clock ticking at the 30 minute mark and sprinted across the finish line together where Max was waiting with his camera!

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Race Ragz was kind enough to hook me up with my own customized shirt for for my final race of 2013 – and now it is your turn to win your own! It’s easy-peasy and you can pick a shirt form their pre-made collection or build your own.  I built my own using their customization tool and added some of their pre-made designs. The entire process took about 5 minutes and my shirt was in my mailbox a week later!

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11/10/2013 – Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon

This weekend Max and I ran the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon through Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Pretty cool! The race was originally scheduled for October, but was moved to November due to the pesky government shutdown. Luckily for Max and I, this fit right into our schedule. After watching Amanda run the Marine Corp Marathon we were inspired to sign up for a distance race as well.

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The race is small in size (capped off at 5,000) and is young as far as area races go (in it’s 4th year). The half marathon starts at the beautiful Mount Vernon Estate of President George Washington and heads down along George Washington Parkway and over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge before coming into National Harbor for a big finish.

Max and I stayed at the race hotel the night before to make parking and the morning transition a little easier. We checked into the hotel on Saturday and were excited to receive a cute gift bag from the hotel with popcorn, water bottles, and a cookie when we checked in (hello, Holiday Inn Express points!) to start the day off. We then went to the mini-expo and picked up our race packets and bags in the hotel lobby. All of this took under 15 minutes — very efficient!

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We hung around the hotel relaxing and watching Lockdown on TV before our dinner reservation at Bonefish grill that night. We love their food and the hotel was so close! They give you crayons to draw on the table with and we got a little creative (ok…maybe I asked for them…) which included Star-wars, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. The waiter got a chuckle out of our drawings.

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We were hungry and devoured our jumbo coconut Thai shrimp appetizer, fish and chips (Max), and salmon and veggies (me) before finally saying “no thank-you” to the pumpkin cream brule. after dinner we stopped by Safeway and picked up a pack of water bottles before heading back to the hotel to kick-start the hydration process. I know I always cramp with distance runs and worked hard all week to overload with Nuun and water. Apparently I did not do enough — more on that later!

Our alarms went off at 4:30 AM the next morning and we ate our Cliff bars and bananas for breakfast (mmmm the delicious life of a runner) and by 5:30 we were walking out of the lobby to board on of the race shuttles. The ride from the hotel to Mount Vernon has to be one of the most terrifying parts of the race. It was pitch black and felt like it lasted forever! The whole time I kept thinking “oh gosh…I have to RUN back here…and that’s 8 miles?! I’ve got how many after that?!” but I knew it was just my nerves getting the best of me. Once we arrived at Mount Vernon we hit up the ever-so-lovely race porta-potties and stretched our cold muscles. A group of Ethiopian runners (who ended up placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) started stretching right next to us. We felt out matched but inspired at the same time!

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7:00 AM was there before we knew it and we got in line with the 13:00/mile pace group and took off. Max started the race with me…but I really wanted him to PR so he took off running and ran closed to an 8:00/mile pace.

The course itself was absolutely beautiful! The first mile was almost entirely downhill before you hit a series of rolling hills and the bridge. Miles 1-5 flew by and mile 6 was the first mile marker I really noticed. I was in the zone and running a sub 13:00/mile pace and felt great! The view was stunning, the leaves were bright yellows and reds, and we ran along the Potomac River for the entirety of the race. Thankfully I had the view to distract me as my IHeartRadio App stopped working at mile 2!

At mile 7 I started to hit a bit of a wall and sucked down a chocolate Gu Gel with some Nuun and made friends with a fellow runner named Teri. I ended up running most of the next 5 miles with her and her husband and they were a ton of fun! I love meeting people along the course and helping out fellow runners who look like they could use and encouraging word or two. Along with Teri I met a group of 3 guys: 2 of whom had run the MCM followed by the NYG ING marathons back to back and were helping a 3rd friend finish his first marathon. Were they not in pain?

Mile 8 was the cut off point and you had to reach is by 9:00 AM (2 hours into the race aka a 15:00/mile pace). I was not too worried about the cut off, but was sad for runners who I had met along the way who fell back…and I am not sure if they made it to the cut off (aka “The Rude Awakening”) or not. I hope they did!

Mile 8 led up to the foot of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and we were greeted by rows of balloons, a water station, and police officers cheering us on. This was where I planned to kick it into gear! I had made it to the bridge..I could see National Harbor…and I knew I had a 10k in me to kick butt and take names! This is where I grabbed that 2:30 PR!

I picked up speed from mile 8 to mile 9 and kept my eye on my Polar Monitor for a 12:00/mile…and then…BOOM! Calf Cramps! I was half way between mile 9 and mile 10 and my right cramp seized up. I let out a loud exploitative I will not share on this blog, apologized to the runner next to me for swearing, and used the bridge railing to stretch. I started to slow jog and made it to mile 10 before…BOOM…left calf cramps! This is when I cried (just a little) because I saw my PR disappear as I starred at the distant Gaylord Hotel.

Max sent me a text message to let me know what he had finished in 2:01 and I told him that I was coming in slow with calf cramps. I had to walk most of miles 10 to 13.1 and tried my best to smile and cheer other runners on as I hobbled along the course. By now my PR was gone…I watched my Polar Monitor tick past 2:30 while I passed mile 11 and kept a smile on my face (thanks to the wonderful volunteers who encouraged me along).

My mom and sister came out to see us finish the race and were having brunch at the Westin hotel when runners started coming in. They just watched a runner in little more than a swimsuit (hard core in that cold weather!) run by following the group of Ethiopian runners we stretched with…so they thought they had some time still! They were still eating when speedy-Max came running into the finish line! My mom jumped up with her iPad (yes, iPad)  to head out and take pictures of him before he crossed the line. They finished up their yummy brunch and waited for me at mile 12. As I rounded the gravel heading into mile 12 I could see my sister and started waving. I was SO excited to see them! This was the first time my mom had seen my finish a race since my high school track days and this was the first time Alicia has seen me finish since my first Marine Corps 10k in college. Alicia jogged along in her boots and cringed at the site of my charlie horse cramps. Mom jogged for about 20 feet and was tired. Alicia joked with her that she needed a Gatorade and needed to run faster — the funny thought took my mind off of my calf pain. I knew the finish line was just around the corner now and Max was waiting for me there.

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The crowd was pretty loud as I came in and I was happy to hear it! I think people felt bad as they saw me slow jog it in, draggin’ my rock-solid cramped right leg along with me…but I needed the cheers!

I may not have PR-ed…but I finished and I enjoyed the race, the beautiful course, the wonderful volunteers, my family, and the small size!

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After the race, we headed back to the hotel to shower, grab some coffee, and head out to watch the Seahawks beat the Falcons at our favorite bar. We also started a new post-race tradition of Chipotle dinners 🙂 I see a lot of half-marathons in our future and am thankful for a husband who is as competitive as I am!

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Lesson #1: Increase pre-race sodium intake and always run with salt tablets for distance running. This is the second half marathon where I have cramped at mile 9 and I could not be more angry with myself. I was on pace to set a PR and double calf cramps set me back. Salt tablets are little miracle workers for distance athletes and I should have taken my dads advice and run with them. This is why runners often eat pretzels or very salty snacks before a run. Salt tablets, like SaltStick, help replace electrolytes, enhance fluid absorption, and minimize muscle cramping. Next time round you can bet I will be taking one before the race and will carry one for mile 9! I also need to eat a more high-sodium diet leading up to a race. I was great about Nuun and EmergenC, but needed to eat a dinner higher in salt content.

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Lesson #2: Ice after every race. Around mile 6 I felt a strange tingle on the outside of my knee. I shook it out and kept trucking along. The hip pain I had from two weeks ago has almost entirely subsided and I ignored it for the entire race. Turns out the 2 were connected –> IT Band! I iced immediately for the first 24 hours and foam rolled my IT band and the pain is almost entirely gone. I even experimented with a bit of KT tape and that seemed to have sealed the deal. The thought of foam rolling the pain away in the first 24 hours was brutal. I essentially started at my foam roller and considered it foam rolling…but now the recovery work begins (I promise)!

So what’s next? Turkey Trot 5k for Thanksgiving!

Keep finding your strong!

10/27/2013 – Marine Corps Marathon and 10k

This weekend was hands down one of the best weekends this year. My Ohana was all in town, many of them running a 10k race for their first time, and Amanda was running her first-ever MARATHON! You can read her blog recap at the link – try not to cry too much! She is amazing!

The weekend started out Friday night when people started trickling into town. On Saturday the race festivities began and we made our way to the DC Armory where we navigated the crowded parking lot and jumped in line to wait for our race packets as the power went out in the tent. It was a littler terrifying to walked through a pitch black dark tent with no lights to find out bib stations. Then we grabbed out gear and headed to the expo. I think that is when it really sank in for everyone that we were doing this! The expo was great and I picked up a few stinger waffles and stinger gels for the in-between period between my two race (more on that later) and the girls bought everything from new shoes, an official MCM race jacket, water bottle holders, sweaty bands, and free samples. The expo had it all!

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On Saturday night the girls and I cooked up pizza, pasta, salad, and garlic bread for out carbo loading feast and did our best to make it into bed before 11! why so early? Well…because we had to be awake at 5:30 am! But first we laid out our race gear and checked our to-do lists.

5:30 AM came around a lot fast than I wanted too and of course the race day jitters had the best of me. Alarms went off and us bleary eyed runners and rock-star support team got dressed and hit the road. We took the metro three stops down to Smithsonian and I bolted for the pota-poty line. I swear I always try to use the bathroom at home before a race but no matter what I do I always end up having to pee right when I get to the race start! Maybe it’s nerves? Either way, those things are a rare form of HELL! *barf*

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Post porta-poty photo op

We lined up at the 1:15 mark knowing that our group of runners would be all over the pace from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. This was safe! We watched marines parachute out of a plane with a giant American flag and land at the MCM start, we listened to the national anthem, and we howitzer cannon went off!

My plan for the day was a little different than I had originally planned so I knew I needed to take it easy. Amanda was running the marathon for Team Not Alone and was running in memory of her beautiful mother Glenda who we miss deeply and all ran for. She carried us all through that day – you could feel Mrs. Glenda all around. My original plan (which was approved by the MCM fyi) was to wait to start my 10k race until Amanda reached the 20 mile mark so that we could run the 6.2 together. On Saturday we realized that the courses were slightly different and that our plan would not really work out the way I has planned. So I made a decision on Saturday at the Expo to run the 10k with the group and metro to the 20 mile marker of the marathon and run with Amanda. 12.4 miles. I was nervous since I had not done a distance like that since my half marathon earlier this year but I knew it was going to be great! One of the best choices ever and our friend Andrea joined me as well!

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My trying to truck it up the hill behind zippy Beth – she killed that hill!

For the 10k, I had the pleasure of running with Beth who was running her first ever 10k and started training 6 weeks before. We live in the same neighborhood so we were able to get in a few training runs together before the big day which was great. During those training runs we ran with a consistent 1 minute run 1 minute walk plan that ended up with a 13 minute mile. Beth was comfortable with that and knew that she could finish the 6.2 with that plan. We stuck to the plan and poor Beth got a foot cramp (those suck!) at mile 2 so we had a couple of stretch breaks to keep her toes from cramping and 1 porta-potty break so we finished with a 14 minute mile pace which was still AWESOME! 11 months prior to this race I race Beth’s first 5k with her and I realized this close to the finish line and ran behind her up the finish line hill and was so incredibly proud of how far she had come. How about a half marathon, Beth!? The rest of the group finished 8 minutes ahead of us and speedy-speedy Andy finished in under an hour! Crazy! Beth and I high-fived as we received our medals and we met the group for watermelon, beer, and bananas. Man…that sounds nasty now. We really were lucky to have a rock-star support crew of friends who carried out gear for us to the finish line and took photos so that we could do our best to look like that ridiculously photogenic marathon guy (this one). THANK YOU ALL of cheering us on and carrying around very heavy bags – Tory, Caroline, Max, Matt, and Danielle.

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SO proud of these awesome 10k-ers!

By this time I was HUNGRY and knew I needed to get some food in my stomach before I jumped on the metro to make it to mile 20. The options were pretty limited so I went for a plain McDonalds egg mcmuffin (gross, I know, but it was pretty basic and not horribly greasy). I gobbled it down and Beth, Christy and I made our way to mile 20 to meet up with Team Peacock. One of the best added surprises was getting to mile 20 right as my friend Melissa was running by. This was also her first marathon and we ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon together this past spring. I heard someone call my name and immediately ran over, hugged her, and jogged along with her for a bit until I needed to turn around. She beat the bridge! I made my way back to Team Peacock and Mr. Brian (Amanda’s dad) hugged me and told me that he was so proud of us and that we were killing him that day with all of our love – that was the second time I cried that day. To call is an emotional ay was an understatement

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Mama Caroline braiding my hair pre-run & a post-run banana

We were tracking Amanda up to that point on our phones and knew that she was near. She had run a consistent 13 minute mile for the entire 20 miles and did not stop! Wow! I stood on the barrier and looked for Amanda’s teal under armor shirt in the crowd and could see her running up the on ramp. We started SCREAMING! The crowd went crazy and Amanda raised her hands and Andie and I jumped in. Our plan – have fun for the last 6.2! Boy did we! We continued running til we made it to the end of the never-ending bridge and started to power walk. Even power walking we were till passing people left and right which was pretty funny to me. We danced through the bands and people playing music on the side of the street, we made ourselves look SUPER good in our best running poses by photographers, we looked out for the best signs, we laughed at the vodka shots some spectators tried to hand us and gagged at the smell of the spilled vodka in the heat, and we cheered on other runners around us. It was the fastest 6.2 of my life because e were having fun while doing it. For those 6.2 I forgot about the blisters on my heels, forgot about my IT band pain, forgot that I was hungry and wanted another drink, forgot that I had to get my butt to work the next morning. It was amazing!

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*Photos from Andrea :D*

before we knew it we were at mile 26 and picked up out pace and started running again. We could see the hill and started up it together – the three of us in a line. We rounded the corner and saw the Team Peacock cheering section and I started to tear up again seeing everyone and I could see Amanda holing back tears too. Her dad ran out and high-fived her as she ran the very last bit to the end and Andrea and I ducked out and joined the group. It was amazing! We met up with Amanda at the family meet up and it was hugs all around.

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Killing that hill!

Amanda wanted beer and pizza and we all agreed that the combo sounded amazing after a day of running. We headed back to Beth’s house and ordered 9 pizzas, a case of Sam Adams, and 2 six packs of Angry Orchard. We finished it all. YUM!

To say that I have the best friends in the world is an under statement 😀 I am blessed and need to remember that more often. I am SO proud and will remember this race forever. So what’s next? Mr. Husband was certainly bitten but the distance race bug while watching the marathon. I race more than he does…but he is a MUCH faster runner than I am. We found a half marathon (13.1 miles) that was 13 days away and figured, what the heck? Let’s do it! I essentially ran a half marathon this weekend and am walking fine and ready to exercise again 2 days later (thanks foam roller) and Max is in much better shape than I am. So on Nov. 10th Max and I will be running the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon from Mount Vernon to National Harbor – that goes through 2 states and the District of Columbia. Pretty cool!

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Mission Accomplished.

 

10/5/2013 – Dewey Goes Pink 5k

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This afternoon I ran the Dewey Goes Pink 5k for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. This particular race really held a special place in my heart because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a week ago AND my mother-in-law won her battle with breast cancer this past summer and is now cancer free. What can I say, I surround myself with strong women!

The morning was a little rough and threw a few curve balls into my game plane. My in-laws live on the bay in Delaware and there are several corn fields in the area. As we drove in last night, we passed through huge dust clouds that almost looked like fog…

picstitchwith the windows down! I was wearing a long sleeve shirt,but my neck and face and hands were exposed. I have pretty strong seasonal allergies and woke up in the middle of the night itchy all over and forced myself back to sleep. Around 7 AM I woke up feeling like my neck was on fire and walked downstairs to Max who was watching the news. I told him I felt like I was having an allergic and he looked at me like I had three eyes. Actually…I had one eye! My left eye was swollen and shut and my neck/face were covered and a painful, raised red rash. Luckily my in-law’s has benadryl and anti-itch cream and I hoped into a cold, cold shower to get the rash down. I popped another benadryl, downed the coffee and protein shake my father-in-law so nicely made me (so yummy), and us running ladies headed over to the race.  I was reluctant to do this…because I looked like a monster…but here is a photo.

We parked, got our time chips, cute shirts, some water bottles, and waited for the men to arrive so we could hand-off our goodies and hand off Marcel (who was so handsome in his breast cancer scarf!). By the time the race started my eye was still swollen but my rash had gone down significantly. Thank GOD! We are having an unseasonably warm weekend down here and were in the 90’s by the time the race started. So the gun went off and I tried to keep up with the front group…and was way out of my pace group! The guy in front ended up finishing in 18 minutes! I ran the first mile, hit up the water table for another cup, and went on a loose 1 min run – 1 min walk strategy for the next 2 miles. It was just WAY too hot and I stupidly did not carry water with me. It was that kind of heat where you feel like throwing up. Not fun. But I really enjoyed the race! We had to cross one major road so runners were stuck waiting on one end as they let cars through so that messed with my time a little. A total of 1,600 runners racing in a small town is always a challenge! The course was pretty flat which was great (hello beach running!) but Bendryl was really taking it’s tole on me and I felt a little like a zombie on the road.

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As we hit the 2.5 mile markers I knew I needed to kick it into a gear a little more. I am one of those runners that gets a real kick at the end of a race and I could see people dropping around me. I caught up to one guy who reminded me of my dad and I started running with him. He

had just stopped to walk and I turned to him and encouraged him to finish strong and that I would help him run the last 0.6 miles. He did it! We picked up the pace and crossed the finish line at 36 mins and 24 seconds. He thanked me when we got to the finish line and that felt great. I love encouraging other runners and helping people make their way to the finish line. The struggle is real, runner friends, the struggle is real!

I crossed the finish line, grabbed my water bottle and ice pack, and made my way over to “our spot” at the Starboard. Our speedy 1.5 milers had already made there way back and gotten their drinks by the time I finished – they did great!! They had a huge spread of cookies, WHOLE pigs, BBQ chicken, pasta, fruit, cookies, drinks, and beer for everyone afterwards. Marcel enjoyed eating my bag of ice, haha, he is a funny little puppy! I on the other hand enjoyed two bottles of water, bbq, and 2 pink crushes (whatever that was? grapefruit juice and vodka I think!

Races like these are my favorites. I didn’t PR, I wasn’t overly proud of my time at all, I ran it mostly on my own, and you don’t get a fun medal…but they MEAN a lot. They mean the world! We raised over $30,000+ for breast cancer research and like the VP of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition said, “we are doing this so that future generations do not need to be affected by breast cancer like ours have.”

Next up? The Marine Corps 10k with Team Peacock!

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5/19/2013 – Girls on the Run 5k

Girls on the Run is an amazing program if you don’t already know about them. Their mission is to, “inspire girls to

970944_10151631857082240_1868638378_nbe joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” The girls meet with their coaches and teams once a week and run between 1-3 miles. They start off “easy” and work their way up to a 5k race in the spring with all of the Girls on the Run teams in their area. The run I attended as a “buddy runner” had several thousand people from all over Northern Virginia! Some girls were in tutu’s, others wore hair ribbons, some were 8, others 12, but all had a blast!

I wanted this run to be the first I review because it really is a great example of falling in love with running. Sydney, my awesome mini-me pictured below, joined girls on the run and has fallen in love with the sport. And boy —-she was fast! We ran the 5k in under 30 minutes. We started in the very last coral of runners and passed several hundred on the hilly course. I struggled to keep up with her but knew I needed to keep on running! Kids are fast! Needless to say, this was one of my fastest 5k’s ever — all thanks to my little munchkin! I was beyond proud of being your buddy runner, Syd!

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