Tag Archives: Random

Comfort Races

I must say, it feels good writing a post that is running/fitness related instead of dead pet related. That being said, I really don’t have much to post in regards to my running since I barely did any of it in July. Truth be told, due to the constant vet visits and care that go into taking care of sick and dying pets, and not to mention the stress and heartbreak, I only ran a total of 15 miles in the month of July.

But Laura, your second 50 miler in North Country is only a couple of weeks away! Yes, thanks for the reminder you jerk. I am fully aware of how unprepared and unmotivated I am to tackle another 50 miler, so sadly, I have decided to be a DNS. Instead, I will be running 40 fewer miles as I tackle the Crim Festival of Races on August 26th. This brings me to the title of this post.

Four years ago was one of the happiest and most successful in my running history. I was setting personal records left and right and was able to enjoy some really fun races associated with some great memories with friends, which is why I now refer to them as  “comfort races”. Like macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, these are races that are just plain fun and make me feel warm and fuzzy with nostalgia. As I put myself through another round of 50-mile training in preparation for North Country, I realized I was burned out. Running wasn’t fun anymore. I wanted to be the runner I was four years ago when running felt effortless and it was something I actually looked forward to. I needed to run more comfort races.

The AdvoKate 10K in Rochester is one such comfort race for me. The AdvoKate is held in memory of Kate, a young girl who passed away from pediatric brain cancer. No that is not at all a “comforting” thought but the race does raise funds for one of my favorite charities, St. Jude’s. My friend Andrea and I had a tradition going for two years where we would run the AdvoKate and then drive to Clarkston to enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch at the Union Woodshop. Sadly, Andrea is in graduate school in Ohio and couldn’t join me this year. However, seeing those familiar pink balloons at the start line and running through my favorite trails in my favorite city was enough to bring back so many great memories of miles spent with my friend. Four years ago I set my 10K PR of 52:10 at this race. I surely did not run that fast this year but I enjoyed myself and that was my only goa.

The Crim 10 mile race in Flint, Michigan, was another favorite that I participated in four years ago. Along with my friends Andrea and Mary Beth, we travelled to Flint the night before to run the Michigan Mile and have some fun downtown. We had a blast that night exploring the all important Expo, getting a free meal because a restaurant accidentally poisoned MB with a buttered bun (she has a lethal dairy allergy), getting beer from a toothless lady, and making up one of MB and mine’s most enduring inside jokes- The Beefberry. The race itself was a blast too, with crazy fun spectators and some beautiful scenery that I was not quite expecting from Flint. The race after-party was a blast as well with more beer tent fun and listening to some great live music. I’ve been wanting to run the Crim again ever since but have always had a conflict. I am so excited to be able to run it again this year, despite knowing I’ll also be DNS-ing North Country.

Speaking of happy memories, I hope to make some more by running some new-to-me races in the coming weeks- the Milford Memories 10K this coming Sunday, and the Marquette Trail 11 Mile Race the week after. Having logged so many long runs all year, it’s been very liberating running short distances and having so much of your day left. My husband will be running the 50K in Marquette and I look forward to a vacation filled with all the beauty the Upper Peninsula has to offer.

Is there another 50 miler in my future? I’ve been toying with the idea of running The Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50 Miler in January. I was so motivated to tackle another 50 after the Indiana Trail, but that motivation quickly faded when I realized I’d be training solo this time, and in the heat and humidity. For now, I’m enjoying the short runs. Plus, as a friend recently told me, “You have already have your 50! Why the hell would you want to do another?!”

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Widget

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“I can’t believe this is happening to us again.”

This was a phrase that Shawn and I have repeated many times since that awful morning on July 8th. That was the morning we learned that our kitten, Widget, was sick. In case you hadn’t read my previous post, we had just put down our beloved cat Beans just five days before.

We repeated it again on July 17th, when we had to bring Widget into the vet to say our final goodbyes, exactly two weeks to the day after we said our final goodbyes to Beans.

“Are you familiar with how the procedure works?” the vet tech asked us as we sat in the “Comfort Room” in the vet’s office, while Shawn held our ailing kitten in his arms. Yes, unfortunately we were all too familiar with the procedure. And we couldn’t believe this was happening to us again.

Days after Beans passed, Widget spent most of his time sitting on the couch and looking out the window. He missed his big brother, we thought. Then he started eating less of his food. He’s growing up and starting to graze more like a normal cat, we thought. Then on the morning of July 8th he refused to eat at all and began to throw up white foam. My paranoia brought him right into the vet’s office where it was found he had a fever and a very low red blood cell count. A week of hell followed as we went from treating a possible infection or possible autoimmune disorder, squirting liquid medicine in our poor kitten’s mouth morning and night. We had been granted a few days free of forcing a cat to tolerate medicine, now we were back in the game.

After about nine days we knew Widget was getting worse. He no longer ate willingly and we were force feeding him baby food through a dropper. He could barely walk anymore and was nothing but skin and bone. On Monday morning, July 17th, Shawn brought him into the vet for another check up. The doctor agreed it was time to say goodbye. I rushed home from work to join my husband’s side in the “Comfort Room”, and we ended the suffering of our poor, barely 4-month-old kitten.

When you have no definite answers, your mind will run wild with theories. Was there something in our house poisoning our cats? I googled everything from radon poisoning to lead poisoning to sulphur poisoning and none of the symptoms matched. Could I have brought home some exotic toxin from Hawaii? Did he get bit by some insect? Should we have got a second opinion? Did Widget die needlessly? I ended up reaching out to the shelter that we had adopted Widget from, asking if they knew of any mysterious illnesses his siblings may have been diagnosed with. At the time I called, the shelter had heard nothing. Then, this past Friday, they called me back with some devastating, yet oddly comforting news.

Widget’s sibling had suddenly died. The diagnosis was FIP- Feline Infectious Peritonitis. FIP is caused by a common virus that over 80% of cats get exposed to. However, in rare cases, the virus mutates and causes FIP. FIP is untreatable, incurable, and fatal. Most cats die within weeks if not days. Common symptoms are the refusal to eat, anemia, and a fever that will not go away with antibiotics, all of which our Widget had.

I say this awful news was comforting because at least now I have an answer. At least now I know that we were fighting a losing battle and we did everything we possibly could.

Widget lived a happy and spoiled little kitten life. He got to make two trips up to Lake Charlevoix. He would calmly sit on our laps as we sat next to bonfires or sat outside on the deck. He had a huge cat tree all to himself and would snuggle between Shawn and myself to sleep at night. We used to joke that we never wanted to see him get big, never knowing the true weight of our words.

Beans was my first cat, but Widget was my first kitten. He was sweet and cute and calm and loving and jumped on my lap anytime I sat on the couch. He was my “snuggle bunny” and the house just feels so damned empty without him and Beans.

I’m getting by, but the grief has ways of showing up unexpectedly. I was in the grocery store recently and a song came on that I had once danced around the living room to while holding Widget in my arms. Of course I started bawling while everyone else in the toilet paper section walked on oblivious to my pain.

I know we will one day welcome a special new kitty/kitties into our home, and some of that emptiness will dissipate. I just still can’t believe this happened to us, again.

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Quit Your Bitchin’!

So anyone who read yesterday’s post can tell I was suffering a hormone-induced depression. A quick run this morning helped burn off the crazy and I’m happy to say I at least feel normal again, not some raw nerve walking around in a cloud of despair.

This morning I looked at my stats on DailyMile to see if I’d even break 100 miles for the month. When looking at my miles for last February I noticed I had logged 167 miles! In the winter! During a Polar Vortex! And divorce and moving! And I was pretty fast, too! How the hell did I manage all of this?

Browsing through my workouts for the month I noticed a few things. One, there were lots of treadmill miles. I was temporarily living with my parents at the time and I made good use of their often forgotten mill. Two, there were lots of miles ran through their neighborhood which was often plowed really well and full of nice people who actually shoveled their sidewalks. Three, my speed could be attributed to more strength training. I was getting good use of my Nike Training Club app last year, at least three workouts a week.

So, using my scientific deducing skills, I have decided upon two things: 1) Run more! 2) Dust off the old Nike Training Club app! Seeing as how it’s Lent and all, I’ve decided upon a Lenten Run Streak Challenge. This will mean at least one mile every day until Easter. Most running streaks I plan fizzle after two days, but this time I have God involved and I’m already on his bad side and trying to earn some Brownie Points. I will also start exploring some of the new workouts on Nike Training club that magically appeared when I updated the app. There are “Race Ready” and “Power Legs” workouts that I hope deliver on their promise.

In the meantime I’ll keep swimming for fun and occasionally do things I’m supposed to do as an adult woman like work, clean, and feed my cat. Sleep is overrated anyway.

 

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2014 Year in Review: Numbers and Math and a Preview of 2015

My father is a numbers guy and that has always bugged me. Whenever I mention a social gathering/race/whatever I’ve just attended, his first question is always “How many people were there?” When I point out that sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be counting, he starts throwing out estimates. “Were there about 20? More than 30?” It gets on my nerves for the simple fact that my brain isn’t wired that way. Numbers are my enemy. I’m a known generous tipper because of my inability to do simple math in my head. I would suck on the Price is Right because fuck if I know what a broom is supposed to cost. The only time I obsess about numbers, however, is in relation to my training. Here is what my 2014 looked like in numbers. My dad would be proud.

In 2014 I completed 2,198 miles:

I ran 1,794 miles

I biked 375 mile

I swam 28 miles

I ran 2 marathons with a PR of 4:29:10 (which included at least 5 potty breaks)

I ran these marathons in 2 new states (scratch Utah and Indiana off the long list!)

I ran 6 half marathons with a PR of 1:50:10

I ran 3 of those halfs as a pace group leader

I ran 1 half marathon through 2 countries (I heart you Detroit International Half Marathon)

I finished 1 half marathon holding the hand of the man I love

I ran 6 5Ks with a PR of 23:47

I entered 3 sprint triathlons and successfully completed 1 (damned open water anxiety)

I missed out on 3 races I registered for due to being hit by 1 car

I peed in the woods 2 times

I pooped my pants 1 time

And on that final (brown) note, I will end the data. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in 2014, even though it ended on a frustrating note with inexplicably slower speeds, including a 10K I ran in 1:01. Ouch. I’ve been going out for shorter runs lately and trying to really push myself and I’m happy to say there is still some speed hidden inside of me, I just have to work for it.

Though I’m already registered for two marathons in 2015, including the Skyline Chili 4-Way at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (that’s a 5K, 10K, and full marathon all in one weekend), my main goal is to run less in the coming year. I feel like a lot of my training runs lately have been for the wrong reasons, whether to prove that I’m tough or to be like the cool kids who run 50+ miles a week. Running less will also give me time to swim more, which will help me achieve my main goal of 2015: swim an open water 5K. Right now the idea sounds ridiculous and I’ve been afraid of telling people for fear of being laughed out of the room. Really? The same girl who couldn’t finish 750 meters in a sprint triathlon is going to finish 5,000?! What can I say, I love an impossible challenge (unless it involves math). I love how strong swimming makes me feel and though I have a long way to go, I’m willing to put in the effort. I see many more group swims with the FAST Masters Swimmers in the coming months.

The past year was thrilling and difficult and exciting and terrifying and shitty and wonderful and I can’t wait for the adventures and life experiences the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pre-Marathon Ramblings: Salt Lake City Edition

Full marathon number four is less than two weeks away, and like most everything else in my life, I’m in complete denial about it. My training has been adequate at best. I’ve had lots of high-mileage weeks; however, in the month of March I blew off many long runs. When all of your training partners get injured, and the weather is out to kill you, and not to mention all the fun of getting a divorce and starting life all over again, running a third 20 miler doesn’t sound so appealing.

My heart will also be heavy knowing that while I’m off running with friends half-way across the country, my entire family will be gathered celebrating Easter and my grandmother’s 95th birthday. I already missed everyone at Christmas, and I could use a good dose of Gudme dry-humor to lift my spirits. Also weighing on my soul is the incredibly difficult decision to re-home two of the cats Randy and I shared. Since I’m unable to take all three (and he’s taking none), it was my only choice. I feel better knowing that I have found some good places for them and they will be taken care of, but still, they were my family. It’s not something I’m going to get over any time soon. In fact, I’m crying as I type this.

I’ve been told two things recently by some very practical men in my life: 1) Focus on the positive, and 2) Happiness is a choice. In the midst of all the sadness there are many positive aspects of my life I’ve been ignoring: I’m able to run. I get to see one of my best friends in Utah that I rarely get to see. I get to keep one kitty, my first kitty, the one who reformed my “dogs only!” attitude. I have wonderfully supportive parents and friends. And last but certainly not least, I have someone in my life who I love and loves me back, inspires me to be the best version of myself, and most importantly puts up with my stress-induced mood swings. If you’re reading this baby: I love you and have no idea how you do it. You deserve a medal more than I do.

And as for happiness being a choice, this past year has taught me how true this really is. I doubt most of us wake up in the morning feeling amazing and stress-free and excited to go into work. If you do, go fuck yourself. Seriously though, we all make a conscious decision to put on our game faces and do the best we can. If we’re lucky something may make us laugh, or we’ll see a good friend, or there will be birthday cake in the office kitchen. Otherwise, all we have to depend on for our happiness is ourselves. I’m sure that if I keep trying to focus on the positives in my life, happiness will come more naturally.

Well, this really had nothing to do with my upcoming marathon, but sometimes you’ve just got to let it all out, you know? And whatever I left unsaid in this post will be demolished on the pavement of Salt Lake City. And if not, there’s always the Charlevoix Marathon. Or my first 50K in September. Or the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Good God, what have I done?!

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Random Thoughts: February 2014 Edition

Though the winter weather continues to hold Michigan by the blue, shriveled, balls, at least we can rejoice that we are one month closer to the promise of spring. With so much chaos occurring around me I felt it would do my spirit good to focus on some of the highlights of this past month, in no particular order:

1) Salted Caramel

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Salty and Sweet: the flavor combination of the gods. Those who know me well know that I’m a peanut butter whore and will put it on or in just about anything. However, this winter I was introduced to the wonder that is salted caramel. I first tried it in the form of GU during my long runs, and sorry Peanut Butter GU, but I have a new favorite. The Salted Caramel GU goes down smooth and tastes like melted caramel candies. I’ve been rationing the packets I bought like they were Salted Caramel Crack.

Due to the success of Salted Caramel GU, I decided I should try actual salted caramel in a non-running gel form. Thankfully Sanders here in Birmingham has several salted caramel candies to choose from, including chocolate-covered salted caramel hearts for Valentine’s Day. Holy crap are they amazing. I intend to eat an entire bag the next time PMS rolls around. Salted caramel, will you be mine forever? XOXO

2) Undie Running

Me and Andrea and our totally unplanned matching animal hats

Me and Andrea and our totally unplanned matching animal hats

This past Saturday, despite overloading on salted caramel, I participated in the second annual Cupid’s Undie Run Detroit. Thousands of Detroiters took to Woodward to run one mile in their underwear, in 20 degrees. The event raised over $2 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which is awesome. What’s even more awesome is being able to walk around Detroit in your underwear without getting arrested. Fine, I’ll come out and say it- I hate wearing pants.

Joining me in my undie running adventure was my buddy Andrea who ran with me last year. This year the event was held at the Fillmore in order to hold more people, which did raise more money; however, the house-party in your underpants atmosphere of last year turned into a creepy, club-like setting. I would think twice about running next year without a male escort. All of that aside, RUNNING IN YOUR UNDERPANTS IS THE BEST!

3) The Nike Training Club App

In an attempt to gain a six-pack before the above mentioned Undie Run, I downloaded the Nike Training Club app for my iPhone. There are hundreds of workouts to choose from, ranging from 15-minute ones that target specific muscles (the Sculpted Arms workout hurts so good), to 45-minute long circuit training routines. What I love most about this app is that anyone with a pair of free weights and a few feet of space can get in a killer workout. Every workout you complete earns you points toward different levels, some of which include bonus workouts. One bonus workout I completed was Paula Radlcliffe’s Marathon Prep Workout, which should’ve been titled, “Do Lunges Until You Beg for the Sweet Mercy of Death”. My new goal is to fit in at least three Nike Training Club workouts a week. I may not have a six-pack yet, but I am definitely seeing more definition.

The weather forecast is asking us not to get used to the warmer temperatures coming our way, since the rest of February will be back to polar conditions. I guess this is just the new normal here in Michigan. Oh well, I think with my balaclava, Salted Caramel GU, and burgeoning six-pack, I’ll make it out alive (seriously though, is more snow really all that necessary?).

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How to Fit Indoor Marathon Training and a Divorce into your Holiday Schedule

When I was a kid I used to joke that I wanted to be a gypsy when I grew up, and as of late, my dream has sort of come true. I don’t get to tell fortunes and travel around Europe in a covered wagon, but I have been bouncing around places to stay in order to avoid conflict. This has made getting ready for Christmas, and my January indoor marathon, next to impossible.

Despite toying with the idea of dropping to the half-marathon (which would have been a smart decision, the type I rarely make), I’ve decided to be stubborn and forge ahead with training for the full Polar Bear Indoor Marathon at Ohio Northern University. Why? With all that’s going on in my life and the robust winter weather, would I subject myself to this torture? I don’t know, I guess I’m trying to prove to myself that I can do it. That I’m not weak. That I won’t fold under stress and adversity.

Let’s not forget that there’s the holidays to prepare for as well. Eventhough ending my marriage was mostly my decision and I know it’s for the best, it still hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt before, and seeing happy Christmas commercials with pretty couples exchanging diamonds just further twists that knife into my fragile heart. There was no tree decorating while watching Christmas movies this year. There was no laughing at the cats for knocking Christmas decorations off of the mantle. I feel as though part of myself is missing this December.

I’ve decided to avoid many family functions and parties this Christmas to avoid the awkward “Where’s your husband?!” questions. Time I’ve taken off of work will be spent mostly alone, training and thinking and preparing for a solo life in the new year. Though most people say I’m crazy, I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2014 than taking a trip to a small town in Ohio with two awesome girlfriends, for the purpose of running 211 laps around an indoor track.

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To New Beginnings

The end of the year 2013 is fast approaching and I can’t help but start looking back. This past year definitely flew by, probably because I was having so much fun for the most part. Some of the highlights:

1) Running six half marathons

2) Running two full marathons

3) Completing my first sprint triathlon

4) PRing my 5K and 10K

5) Starting a new running/”boozy breakfast” tradition with my friend and favorite running partner Mary Beth

Through running and other exploits, I’ve developed several new relationships in the past year, which is amazing for an introvert like me. I firmly believe that fate has brought every one of these people into my life for good reasons. This past year I also said goodbye to my tumultuous twenties and hello to 30. I admit it was a relief. I can definitely say I entered this new decade with more confidence and a better sense of self than I’ve ever had. However, this better sense of self lead to some questioning of areas in my life in which I’ve been unhappy with for a long time, which brings me to the not-at-all-fun part of 2013:

1) The end of my marriage

2) The beginning of a life on my own

I won’t go into the details of why I’m getting a divorce. Those closest to me know the reasons. While the reasons have not been popular with many of my friends and family, the support I’ve received has been outstanding. It goes to show that when it comes to friendships, quality truly outweighs quantity.

The events that lie ahead will be stressful, which does frighten me. I’ve already chewed my nails down to the bed and lost weight from having a constant upset stomach. Oh, and did I mention the random crying spells, usually at work? However, my motto through it all has been simple, “I’ll live”. With the help of family and friends to make me laugh and hear me cry, and running to clear my head and relieve stress (and the occasional Bacardi binge), I know I’ll make it through this mess.

The upcoming year will be one full of new beginnings, new adventures, and new accomplishments. Somehow I’m going to complete four full marathons and a possible 50K. Yes, it’s almost as though I’m running away from life. But I don’t care. Despite everything, I am excitied for everything to come. My calendar may still read 2013, but my mind is already celebrating my life ahead.

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Things are Going Swimmingly

When I was in the sixth grade I joined a swim team, the Troy Area Gators (or TAG). It wasn’t a school team and was very informal; we practiced several nights a week but competing at meets was optional. I, of course, having had a deadly fear of losing and making a fool of myself (still do), never attended a meet. However, joining this fun crew of swimmers further cemented my love of being in the water. My biggest accomplishment that year was completing a Swim-a-Thon, or 100 laps. My dad still talks about that day with pride as though I swam the English Channel.

Now, 18 years later (fuck!), my 30-year-old self has registered for my first sprint distance triathlon, despite my small bank account and the outrageous costs of doing so. I say “outrageous” costs only because I previously had no bike, tri suit, wet suit, or anything tri-related but a pair of running shoes. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to 12-year-old Laura for growing up to be so poor. I’m sorry your plans to grow up and marry Noel Gallagher never came to fruition.

After I signed up for my triathlon, I decided to brush up on my swimming skills. I found (cheap) private lessons offered by a swim teacher at a local high school. At my first class, my teacher asked me to do one lap freestyle to see what she was working with. I didn’t even go two feet without flipping over on my back, gasping for air. It didn’t help my ego that children were effortlessly butterfly stroking in the lanes next to me. Clearly I needed a lot of work.

It’s now been three weeks, and though I’m no freestylin’ fool in the pool yet, I’m getting there. Every class is a mix of lap swimming and strength/endurance building drills. I’ve been introduced to fun new toys, like the pull buoy, hand paddles, and flippers. It’s a tough workout, and more importantly, fun as hell.

Did I really need to take swimming classes in order to swim 500 meters in a sprint tri? Not at all. I guess adult Laura has been looking for an excuse for a long time to get her butt back into the pool. Sadly, the Looney Tunes lap suit she used to wear is long gone, but her love of the water still remains.

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Into the Great Wide Open

Yesterday I went for a short run through Orion Oaks, which is a mix of shaded woods and open fields surrounding a lake. There is a also a dog park with an indoor restroom, which has saved my ass (literally) on several occassions. It is hands-down my favorite spot to run.

Yesterday as I ran through Orion Oaks I came upon a most unusual sight: A woman walking with a parrot perched on her hand. I slowed up as I approached the strange duo, fearing I may spook the bird. As I passed the bird, I heard it’s handler speak to it, “Good boy. Good boy, you’re behaving so well.” I had many questions: Does this woman walk her bird often? What is his name? Are his wings clipped, or is he just the most well-trained parrot ever? Can he say dirty words?

These questions remained unanswered as I was too shy to bother the lady; although, to be fair, if you’re going to walk a parrot through the woods of Michigan, you should expect a certain amount of curiosity. This run in with a tropical bird reminded me of past encounters with animals during my runs: The fat-ass raccoon who let me come so close to it I could pet it (but of course I didn’t), The seven deer laying in a field who rose to their feet when I took a picture, the wild turkey stampede at Stony Creek, horses on the Polly Ann Trail, and the rogue deer running like she stole something down 14 Mile road in Clawson who thankfully found grass instead of oncoming traffic.

Before running in locations such as Orion Oaks and Stony Creek Metropark, my only enounters with wildlife in suburbia were with with my car.  Running has given me a new appreciation for nature and the critters who inhabit it. The encounters are not always fun, like the time I learned the hard way that Orion Oaks was also a Massasauga Rattlesnake preserve. My non-running friends tease me often for my running obsession. Unfortunately, the majority of them who tease are also sedentary and in need of a new healthy habit. There’s a vast world out there beyond our living rooms, and as I left the lady and her feathered pet yesterday all I could think was, “Non-runners miss out on so much in life.”

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