Running quote of the week

“I felt like I was breathing like a freight train and everything hurt, [but] somehow it didn’t bother me. The joy of moving and getting started overwhelms the negativity.”– Lauren Fleshman

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The only spring in my run is new construction

Springing up in spring
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Friday's run (street): 3.1 miles

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but here I am again. You're welcome. It's been a combination of busy schedules and the acknowledgement that my running journal-cum-social criticism blog has become somewhat redundant. The exception to that being my write ups of activities involving the Runsketeers. On the plus side, I've still been doing my runs and today I realized that the journal really helps me with the get outside and do it part. So here I am again.

Last weekend's runs were unremarkable, although I did have a good treadmill workout on Saturday. I don't remember the other two runs, but I know I did them because they're listed in my Garmin Connect log. Further, these runs even have my average stride length because I wrote to Garmin about that metric not showing up on Connect. Amazingly enough, Garmin responded that they'd corrected the issue. Apparently this was a problem for many. I was able to re-import my runs that lacked that data. and it showed up when I imported this weekend's activities.

My running has been dismal. With a few rare exceptions, I'm back to where I was last September in terms of performance. Slow doesn't begin to describe it. Yesterday morning I did an early run in light rain and just couldn't get into gear. I averaged 72% max HR which pretty much guaranteed a poor pace.

Today's route
Today's weather was far better, but my performance was exactly the same. I varied my route. Since I was running slowly, I took the time to look around my neighborhood. I noticed many new homes had sprung up in the places where prior dwellings were razed during the winter. These humble ranches and Capes Cods are being replaced big contemporaries that rise like Olympus above the Serengeti. Toto-ly stole that phrase.

Despite my lack of speed, I was happy to be outside on a cool and quiet spring morning. I know I can run faster, but lately I haven't been motivated to push too hard. SIOR is guilting encouraging me to re-enter the racing realm by running a 5K in July. She's even picked one for me. Okay, let's see what I can do.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Twofer on the track and road

One run already done
Today's runs: 3.5 miles (track), 1 mile (street) = 4.5 miles

For some reason my Garmin has stopped recording my stride length. It used to show up under "cadence" but it's no longer there. A search of the web yielded no useful information and Garmin Connect does not mention it in any of its forum posts. I'm disappointed and puzzled why stride length is no longer displayed. It's a useful data point that helps me understand why I'm hitting certain paces (or not). I looked to see if there was a new software update, but apparently I'm current. I sent a note to Garmin support and expect to hear back in one to never days.

My thoughts about running at Stillwell shifted to the track this morning. I felt like doing some mindless running that didn't include the paranoia of tripping on hidden roots or having mountain bikers stealthily coming up behind me on a single track path. It's hard to explain why I find the track so appealing. I think it may have to do with being able to run outside without too much distraction and no crazy drivers.

I had the track to myself until a woman showed up to walk. That was fine and soon another runner appeared. It was a woman who seemed to be moving along well, but somehow I caught and passed her. I was running okay but not all that fast. Just faster than her I guess. I did 14 laps and headed home. Along the way I started regretting keeping it to only 3.5 miles. I decided I'd add another mile when I got home.

Road & Track
Going out for my second run was strange. I was fully "recovered" from my track workout and probably could have repeated the same distance in my neighborhood. I decided I'd keep to the plan and followed a route close to my house. The whole time I felt I was running by remote control, as if I was still at home while my body was out doing the run on its own. That was probably due to being fully warmed up, making the run feel really easy.

After I finished I thought about my experience and realized that the second run probably felt effortless because I knew I only had to cover a mile. I started thinking about a "day of running", where I would run a mile in my neighborhood starting early in the day and come back home. At the top of the next hour (and every hour subsequent to that) I would run another mile. If I did this from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM I could cover ten miles. If every run was a little longer I could do a half marathon or more.

So if I cover 14 miles in one day, is that the same as doing a 14 mile run? Or would it be cheating to say that?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Once, twice, three times a lady runner

Today's route
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.7 miles

Yesterday morning was rainy, so I stayed indoors and cranked out a decent run on the treadmill. The music mix was worse than usual, causing me to toggle between multiple channels to escape a string of slow ballads from the 70's and what seemed to be the worst songs recorded between 1980 and 1989. For example, anything by Cher. I followed my usual technique of upping the treadmill's speed by a tenth of a MPH every quarter mile (or so) and by the end I was in a full sprint mode.

This morning's run was delayed due to an early morning appointment, but I still managed to get out the door a little before 9:00 AM. The weather was mild (57°) except when the wind hit. I dressed light and stayed comfortable. There are only so many roads to run in my neighborhood and the challenge is to string together a route that somewhat breaks the monotony. It can be as simple as running a street in the opposite direction than I usually run it.

Today I began with a run around the grounds of the middle school and while rounding the front drive I noticed another runner coming from the opposite direction. As we got closer, I recognized her from other runs. This woman probably has two decades on me but she's always out there, wearing her purple running jacket with a matching hat. We exchanged cheery hellos as we passed by.

About five minutes later I was heading up a different road when this woman and I crossed paths again. This time we exchanged shy waves. I thought that was that until I rounded another road and saw her once again in the distance. She wasn't fast but she got around. As she got closer, I saw her go up on the sidewalk and run on top of some driveway edging stones. When we passed, she said, "I have to do something to make this fun!" I could see TPP doing the exact same thing 30 years from now.

I had hoped that yesterday's good workout would continue into today, but I ended up having only a so-so run. That was okay because even a mediocre run is better than none. I'm thinking about a trail run and may return to Stillwell tomorrow. The last time I ran there I had a bad fall and now I'm a little gun shy. I love Stillwell too much for that to hold me back. So maybe.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

So many running clothes, so little time

Wanna buy some used Karhus?
Today's run (street): 4.7 miles

For the first time since fall, I've had two consecutive runs wearing short sleeves and shorts. Yesterday's temperature was moderate, but the humidity was anything but. Happily, today was cooler and far less humid. In both cases I was comfortable, helped along by overcast skies. I'm not looking forward to running in the summer heat and I hope I'll have the discipline to get out at dawn most of the time.

Today's run or Rorschach test? 
Now that we are transitioning to warmer weather, I've started to pay attention to my lighter gear. Over the past eight years, I've collected a lot of running clothes that I keep in a wooden wardrobe in the guest room.  I have at least three pairs of running tights, three pairs of track pants and a sizable collection of quarter zips, rain jackets and long sleeve running shirts.

My collection of short sleeve running shirts includes the first one I ever bought and every one after that. I also have a bunch of shirts I got from racing. Storage has extended to a dresser in my bedroom. I also have six pairs of running shorts and dozens of socks. Don't get me started on shoes. There are pairs I use and those I just can't throw out.

I swear I'm not a hoarder, but I find it hard to throw out perfectly good running clothes. Perfectly good may mean different things to different people. I don't think rips and tears necessitate disposal. As long as you can wear it, and it doesn't expose areas that need to be covered in public, I think a shirt should be kept in inventory.

In truth, I tend to wear the same gear, cycling through four or five pairs of shorts, the same number of shirts and about half a dozen pairs of socks. That changes a little when the seasons change and I put wool socks to the back of the drawer until fall. I know I should go through all this stuff and keep only those clothes and shoes that I actually use. I really should donate the undamaged shirts and recycle the old trainers. I'll make it a project for next weekend unless I can find anything else to do.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Running on a tight schedule beats a lack of sleep

Sleep deprived, heroic running
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Today, while my friends were off doing noble things like marching in DC in support of climate protection, I was doing good work much closer to home. By that I mean going out early for a run after staying up past midnight last night. Hitting the road around 7:00 AM this morning was pretty heroic in its own right. The best part was I ended up doing pretty well.

It was overcast and misty when I went outside to start. The local temperature was 58° and though I didn't know it at the start, the humidity was 94%. It didn't take too long to figure that out once I got going. Fortunately, I'd dressed appropriately, wearing one of my favorite short sleeve running shirts and my awesome Adidas Response shorts. I also wore my new super lightweight Saucony running hat that my wife got me for my birthday.

Even though the streets were damp due to mist, I wore my new Brooks Launches because I wanted to see how they performed on pavement. Overall, I liked them a lot, although the flex grooves in the front somewhat undercut the response off my forefoot. The Zantes are definitely a quicker shoe but the Launches' balance of cushioning and mid-foot bounce will be better for longer runs when I finally get around to doing them.

I wasn't going for speed today, which is good because there wasn't a lot of it. I did manage to beat my average pace by about 30 seconds a mile. Given my late bedtime and early rise I was surprised. Was it the shoes or just how I felt today? I'm not sure, but I know the humidity didn't help. My early run allowed me to finish and shower in time to meet a tight morning schedule. Maybe knowing I was time-pressed made me run a little faster than I normally would. I'm sure that's why we tend to achieve our best times when we race.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Successful (Brooks) Launch on the treadmill

Special Delivery
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.4 miles

There are few things as delightful to a runner as receiving a pair of running shoes in the mail. Better than that is getting them delivered without even knowing they're coming. That's what happened to me a couple of weeks ago, thanks to my daughter, who surprised me with a pair of Brooks Launch 3s for my birthday. I was very touched that she surprised me like that.

The Launch isn't a shoe that I'd ever considered because it's not as minimal as my Zantes and Kinvaras. My daughter did some research and decided that the Launches would work for me. They arrived close to my birthday, but were (unfortunately) a half size too small. Although the Launches felt good on my foot, I've learned that any snugness in the toe box will result in pain on the road.

We reordered them in my size (11) and they arrived last night. I was going to take them out on the road this morning, but conditions were rainy. There was no way I was going to subject brand new running shoes to rain and muck and decided to try them inside. I was also interested to see how they felt on the treadmill compared to my Kinvara 5s that have been my only indoor running shoes for the past two years.

The Launches fit me well but felt very different than the Kinvaras. They reminded me of the Brooks Adrenalines but were much lighter. The forefoot is also far more flexible. I like the relative stiffness of the Zantes on the road and I'm curious to see how the Launches will run on pavement. The 10 mm drop may also help my plantar fasciitis that has minimized, but has not disappeared.

My first steps on the treadmill felt a little awkward compared to the Kinvaras, probably due to the higher stack height. I got used to them after a while, but it was hard to perceive the responsiveness that is the hallmark of this model. I always try to run negative splits on the treadmill and push my speed on the last mile, mostly to get the run done faster. The Launches had good turnover but I think the Zantes might actually have more pep. Hopefully tomorrow's weather will let me determine that.

I ended up having a better run than I'd expected. I got my speed out of my comfort range by the time I finished and decided that the Launches will have a regular place in my rotation. Tomorrow morning's schedule will be very tight so I may not end up going out until late morning. If it's supposed to get as hot on Saturday as it did today, I may end up trying for a 6:00 AM workout.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Runsketeer birthday surprise at Starbucks

Happy birthday to me!
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Last weekend the ER family celebrated my birthday with a dinner, even though my actual birthday was this past Wednesday. Mrs. ER informed me that we were going to bookend things with a walk on the trail in Bethpage today. What she didn't tell me was that she and the Runsketeers had concocted a plan more devious than you could ever imagine. Actually, it wasn't devious at all. It was really very nice.

Knowing that we would be heading to Bethpage fairly early, I got out at 7:30 AM for a neighborhood run. Yesterday's rain kept me indoors on the treadmill. Despite this morning's threatening skies, I wanted to run outside. The weather was a mild 50°, with enough wind to cool things into the 40's. Humidity was high, but with the low clouds blocking the sun, it didn't feel uncomfortable. I added a little more distance to my standard 3.2 mile route and felt great throughout the entire run. Friday's treadmill session was similarly positive and I'm hoping this trend will continue.

Pre-surprise walk on the Bethpage trail
We made our way to the Bethpage trail and parked on Colonial Road, just north of Haypath. I knew that SIOR was leading a Life Time run on the bike path this morning and wasn't all that surprised to see her and TPP bounding down the path. They were in quite a hurry and TPP was uncharacteristically impatient to go. I wouldn't have noticed at all if SIOR was the impatient one. I learned later why, and that the ER family was in on what was to come.

We finished our walk and made our way to Starbucks. Mrs. ER told me that she and the kids wanted to us to visit Bethpage and Starbucks just as I often do with my  running buddies. I was happy to comply. When we approached the shopping center that houses Runsketeer Starbucks, Mrs. ER's phone beeped and my daughter grabbed it before I could see it. That turned out to be SIOR texting her to say that they had arrived. While the ER family made their way into Starbucks, TPP and SIOR were right nearby, sneaking behind pillars and garbage cans to hide their presence. There's even a video of that. I'm surprised it wasn't Livestreamed.

Starbucks was packed and there wasn't even room for the four of us to sit down. I popped into the men's room and when I came out I saw TPP and then SIOR who yelled "surprise!" It turned out that Mrs. ER had been planning with these two since February to arrange coffee with my Runska-friends. It took me a moment to figure out that this was not a coincidence. We arranged ourselves around a table that had opened up when its occupants saw that the Runsketeers needed it more. We have that kind of power.

I was really happy to see my friends. SIOR was wearing her 2017 Boston Marathon jacket that she earned on Monday, completing her second Boston effort and qualifying for yet another Boston race. Check out her entertaining race report to get the whole story. TPP has recently started a new job and I was very glad that she was able to join us. The D'Artagnan of our group, KWL, also ran Boston last week. He's in Hong Kong right now, but he was with us in spirit.

The official Runsketeer coffee mug
While Mrs. ER collected coffee and food orders, TPP and SIOR presented me with birthday cards and presents. I loved the cards and TPP gave me a potential fortune (lottery tickets) and SIOR gave me an awesome coffee mug with my favorite Runsketeer picture. Emblazoned on the other side was the motto, "All for one and Run for all!" It will be my post-run Starbucks cup going forward. I'd been too intimated to scratch off the lottery tickets because I hadn't held one since the 1980's and wasn't sure how they worked. I let my daughter do it. Despite some close calls, I will not be winning $1,000 a week for life.

Once coffee was served (along with that chocolate cake that I've been thinking about since SIOR and TPP ran on goat-less mountain a few weeks ago), the six of us spent a couple of hours talking and laughing non-stop. As much as I like the running part, it's the post run time that I value the most. We covered an awful lot of subjects and I took advantage of the fact that SIOR is a certified elite running coach and trainer. I interrogated her about the best approach to getting back into racing shape and will probably do a 5K with this crew in July.

I think we could have gone on for two more hours, but practicality prevailed and we needed to say our goodbyes. We did remember to get our selfie, using my daughter's new iPhone that takes much better pictures than my Android phone. I had a great birthday, thanks to Mrs. ER, and it was fun to be surprised twice by my Runsketeer buddies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A thousand runs within a mile

Didn't seem like the same old route when I ran it today
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Tuesday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Last weekend's run with goats was an unusual break from my quotidian weekend workouts. I always appreciate the runs I do that go beyond the constraints of my local roads, trails, parks or the track. More often than not, I find myself running on the same streets I've covered a thousand times before. So far this week I've managed to get in three runs, all within a mile of my house.

Sometimes I ask myself why I used to be so quick to jump in the car and head out to Stillwell Woods, Bethpage, Eisenhower or Belmont State Park every chance I had. I do that occasionally, but usually it's because I'm seeing my buddies. That trumps tops any laziness that keeps me neighborhood bound. This morning I ran through all the possible venues, but ended up taking the easiest route. That was the one that begins at the end of my driveway.

Besides expanding my running geography, I also need to work on increasing my distances and consistently getting my heart rate into and above the 80% max rage. I didn't make much progress on any of that today. I went out in 50° weather to run close to my home. My one concession to the mundane was to follow a new route. On the map, it may look like every other run I do. But today I ran it in a different direction. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice weather day. It's Easter and I'm hoping that will mean quiet roads and empty trails. I may run outside my neighborhood this weekend after all. Meanwhile, Runsketeer buddies KWL and SIOR will be in my hometown to run the 121st staging of the Boston Marathon. I'm excited for them. They have both trained hard and I'm hoping that they have great experiences. If I were ever to run a marathon, it would be that one.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Not my finest run

A few tired miles around the 'hood
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

Despite better weather, today's run didn't go all that well. I'm either run down or I pushed too hard on yesterday's run. I'm not a fan of running uphill and my legs reminded me of that today.  I was hoping that (sort of) keeping up with SIOR and TPP at the NJL park might have activated my fast twitch leg fibers. I actually think they were deactivated.

My goal every weekend is to do at least one run outside of my neighborhood. Since I did that yesterday, I figured a run around my local roads would be just fine. I started out well, although I did experience sinus pain when the wind hit me head on. Thankfully that went away once I'd warmed up. I began to feel lethargic the more I went on and I noticed that my heart rate was showing less than 75% max. Despite the fatigue, I picked up the pace until I was in the low 80% range. That was all I could manage today.

Yesterday's run was understandably challenging because I ran about 10% faster than I normal do. Plus there were some hills. Today's difficulties are a little harder to explain. I never struggled, but I did get tired. Perhaps it was getting up at 4:30 AM this morning that did me in. I'll get some rest tomorrow and try this again on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Runsketeers fail to see goats

ER, SIOR (with Easter Bunny), B, S, TPP
Today's run (Norman J. Levy Park): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

According to Google Maps, getting from my house to Norman J. Levy Park (NJL) in Merrick, NY is fairly straightforward. Three short highways and then a right off a local road. Just to be sure, I used Google Maps navigation to ensure that I'd get there without a problem. However, when I got close, the navigation started to panic: "turn right, make a U-turn, turn left, take the ramp to the Meadowbrook..." and I ended up missing the entrance. I made the further mistake of letting navigation take me through the back streets that led nowhere. I ended up arriving fifteen minutes late after SIOR talked me through the landfill.

That's right, NJL is on a landfill. More specifically, it's landfill adjacent. The park itself is a circle within a circle of paths with 360° views of NYC, eastern LI and the ocean. Reaching the best view takes a little work. I'll get to that in a moment.

Today's run was organized by SIOR who is a run leader for Life Time Fitness. Today we were joined by a very nice couple, S and B, who have recently returned to running. SIOR and Runsketeer buddy TPP had been to NJL before, but the other three of us had never been there. SIOR promised us that we'd see goats, but none were around today. I wonder if they are used to trim the grass at the park.

S and B took off before I arrived, and SIOR, TPP and I proceeded south where we caught views of the Stadium Park Canal in Freeport before rounding back north. I was doing well and mostly keeping up with my buddies (or at least keeping them in sight). At one point the path split with the right trail following a downward direction and the left trail going up. And up. And up. I wasn't really expecting that and TPP assured me that the incline would end soon. I have a different definition of soon. We did finally reach the top, shortly after meeting S and B on the trail.

Middle loop is the highest point
There is a spot at the park's highest point (115 feet) where you can see for miles in every direction. That was cool and I wish I took a picture when we got there, but I was too concerned that SIOR was going to find an even bigger hill. For some reason, both TPP's and my Garmins registered the peak elevation at only 23 feet.

Happily, the route back was mostly downhill, although it did rise up again near the end. We covered about three miles, not the four that I expected we'd do. All the same, it felt like a good workout. That was due (I think) to keeping a faster pace than I've been running these days. Depending on if you accept my Garmin's read or Gmaps, I ran slightly more or slightly less than 10 minutes a mile. Given my frustrating experience with GPS navigation this morning, I'm going to give it Gmaps.

We finally gathered at the starting point and decided to head to Starbucks on Merrick Road. I drove the mile it takes to get there, while SIOR tricked the others into running there by saying it was only a half mile run. She also lied about the goats. Just saying. I got to Starbucks first and the others soon followed. We grabbed coffee and pumpkin bread, which TPP supplemented with a piece of chocolate cake that tasted amazing. Next time I'm getting that.

The Bethpage/Massapequa Preserve trail
We had our usual wide ranging and often ridiculous conversations that included city running, Brooklyn hills, scary Jeep stories and the origin of the name "Dirty Sock" (don't ask). Before we left for Starbucks we talked about the length of the Bethpage and Massapequa Preserve trail. I said the distance top to bottom was about 14 miles and SIOR said it was 7. TPP suggested I map it and saw that it's about 10 miles. So I was right.

I played Uber driver after Starbucks and dropped everyone off back at the park. Next weekend is Boston and SIOR and KWL will be running it. I'm going to get out tomorrow in what should be very nice weather. I'm taking Tuesday and Wednesday off next week and hope to get in a couple of runs on those days. It will be nice to run again sometime at NJL park, especially now that I know which entrance to use.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Going with the flow isn't very exciting

Going with the flow
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

For no good reason, I had a lot of trouble getting myself out the door for this morning's run. I knew I had to do it and that I would, but I spent a lot of time internally debating what my run would be. Normally on a relatively mild and sunny day, I'd consider my options and choose the most appealing option. Today nothing reached the level of appealing. I considered the treadmill because it's easier to throw on shorts and shoes and grind out a few miles than gear up for the outdoors, adding layers, a hat, gloves, SPIbelt, phone, Road ID and sunglasses.

The sun influenced me enough to go out, but not enough to get in my car and drive anywhere. That left me with routes that would start from the end of my driveway. I thought through all the places that I run: adjacent neighborhoods, the business park and even the northern end of the Bethpage bike trail. I took the easiest option and did yet another run in my own neighborhood.

I've been running in my ASICS Kayano 20s which are well cushioned and don't aggravate my plantar fasciitis. Just for a change (and because my PF has much improved) I went back to the NB Zante 2s today. I really like these shoes that are light as Kinvaras but have even more response. Today's run was easy and I remembered to look at my watch to make sure I was hitting my targeted heart rate. I didn't quite get there, but managed to stay around 81% of max.

Same old, same old
While I struggled to get my butt out the door to run three and a half miles today, my Buddies KWL and SIOR were running 13 to 20 miles respectively as they begin to wind up their Boston training. How do they get it done every day with all their other distractions of life? I know in the past I've followed a regimen that involved tempos, intervals and weekend runs as long as 12 miles. But marathon training takes a lot more dedication and motivation. My next frontier is to simply get back to 5-8 mile runs on weekends.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April fooled by the weather

Wind chilly
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It being April Fools day, my daughter offered me a bite of her vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. That turned out to be mashed potatoes with turkey gravy. Instead of being repulsed, I was inspired to add the rest to my lunch. The real April Fools joke seems to be today's weather trying to make us think it's still winter.

Yesterday started out rainy and cold and I didn't hesitate a moment before getting on the treadmill. That run was fine and I worked my pace into the mid nines by the end. I appreciated having the indoor option, especially on days like that.

This morning I was ready to get back to the road. The local news station was showing 37° and the view outside looked mild. The roads were still wet from the recent rain but it looked pleasant. I had just read an article in Runners World about Iditarod runners who drag their gear behind them along the 1,000 mile route. One runner mentioned the value of keeping your neck warm as that's an area where heat can drain quickly. I took another look outside and saw the trees were swaying a little so I put on my bandito buff to keep that area covered.

It took over five minutes to acquire a GPS signal through the overcast sky but soon I was off and running. I'd worn light track pants and a long sleeve quarter zip. That was fine until I changed direction for the first time and encountered a 19 MPH wind. Those blasts instantly brought the temperature down ten degrees. The buff helped, but my face was freezing. It was so bad that when I finally reach a point where I turned from north to east my glasses immediately fogged up from the sudden warmth combined with 93% humidity.

I took a roundabout route circling the neighborhood and covered my distance at a moderate pace. I was surprised to see that my average heart rate was below 80% max. I really need to look at my Garmin during the run to see if I should be picking up the pace. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot nicer and, since I have a limited window to get in a run, I'm going to try to do it a little faster.
 

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