Race Report: Narrabeen Allnighter

How does one prepare for running a 5km lap race for 6hrs? That’s a very good question, as I’ve never done anything like this before. I know I’m good at working with a distance goal, so I estimated that I would be able to run 50km in that time and based my plan on that.

Now let’s start at the beginning when Brad talked me into doing the run, and then I talked some other friends into doing it too (FOMO plays strong with us), so we could all blame Brad if it went pear shaped on the day/night, ha ha

So I picked up my teammate Brad on Saturday afternoon around 7pm and we headed for Jamieson Park in Narrabeen. I parked the car and we walked up to the registration area to collect our bibs, t-shirts and buff/cooler (the gear was very cool) and then headed back to the car to pick up all our gear. We ran into lots of familiar faces, some fellow competitors and others who had come to cheer off the start. There was a really nice buzz in the air and it set a great mood for the start.

We setup an area with a table and chair and offered the team location to my mates who I had convinced to take part in the event too, it was the least I could do. Somehow I had managed to convince my good friends Maria & Emma to enter and they teamed up for the challenge. plus another friend Tom from SHRunners had dived in for the 12hr trail solo event, his first ultra!!

Brad, Maria and Tom readied themselves and we all headed over for the race briefing at about 8:10pm (a little late). There was a 12hr road race happening as part of the same event, just on a separate 1km lap (!!!!!) tarmac course, however the runners cross paths for a brief section which was the location of the timing mat. Each group took up their posts and shortly after the countdown began…. and they were off.

I knew I had about 30-40mins before I would see my mates again so I took the time to have some food and water and also to chat to other runners and supporters. Despite the humidity there was actually a cool breeze flowing and I ended up putting on a jacket and blanket to keep warm.

I stayed awake till about 10:30 and got to see the runners come through for a few laps. The comments were all about how hot it was (they were covered and dripping in sweat) and how boring it was (oh no!!). I saw my mates a few times and then then made a beeline for the car to try and get some sleep, and although I nodded off a couple of times they were only for very short periods. My small Yaris is not built for 6tt tall people and I was quite stiff when I got out of the car. My alarm went off at 1:00am but I was already awake. So I got my gear together, got changed and headed over to stretch and get my food and electrolytes out ready.

When I got back to our gear location I had just missed seeing Brad and Maria, but they were both on track to hit their 50km targets. Maria came flying in just before her last lap, the little pocket rocket wasn’t going to let anything stop her from achieving 50km and she smashed it with 10mins to spare. Well done Maria!! And only a few mins later Brad came flying through the checkpoint reaching his 50km goal too. What a champion!!

So Emma and I readied ourselves to start and chatted nervously with the other runners doing the same. It was great to see Sam Isbell toeing the line too! We were all a little sleepy but ready to go. The 6hour alarm sounded and we were out running.

I felt very sluggish to start but eventually fell into a rhythm and Emma and I ran and reminisced about Oxfam and other running funnies from the past. It was great to have her company. We actually saw a snake on the first lap but luckily it was only a python (not poisonous) and we continued around it on our way. During the night I also saw about 3 possums and decided they had sharper claws than we so let them cross before i continued on my run. I can’t remember at what time or km they were (I wonder why) so I thought I’d just mention it here.

And then I took a tumble. After the turnaround and when we got closer to the snake location again, someone told us it was up in the tree, so as I was looking up I tripped on a rock and went flying knees and hands first onto the gravel. I got up and dusted myself off, hands were ok but the knees took most of the fall and the right one was bleeding. I told myself to run it off and Emma asked if I was ok, I told her I was (even though it was starting to throb) but that’s because I wanted to stay positive and I thought I could run it off. And it worked for a while, so I took some pain killers later in the race and it helped me get through. It wasn’t a sharp pain so I didn’t think it was anything too serious, but it just didn’t feel quite right.

I’m not sure what else to mention as there’s not too much to mention when doing a lap race. We had a beautiful full moon which lit a most of the trail and some runners didn’t even use head torches (crazy if you ask me, more risk of tripping). The course had a lot of rocky gravel areas and a little bit of concrete at the turnaround point. I ran on the grass next to the path a few times as its softer on my legs, but there was also a ditch you had to be careful of, which luckily Em pointed out to me. Emma lives only 10mins drive from the course so was a local and had run this track before. I kept up with Em for as long a I could, which turned out to only be a few laps, then told her go ahead and I slowed to a more comfortable pace that I was used to.

Most of the laps ticked by pretty quickly and although I had some negative patches around the 20km mark I just kept running and drinking lots of water and electrolytes at each of the ends, plus a few gels along the way. I was dripping with sweat so needed more water than normal, and many of the guys ran shirtless throughout the night due to the humidity.

I looked forward to the high energy music and cheers from the start/finish area on each lap. I tried to guess the song that would be playing next and then sung whatever was playing for the start of the next lap. Great idea for the music guys!! Thanks!!

The best part of the course were the other runners, some of them who had been out there since 8pm the night before. I love chatting and helping others so I made a point of smiling and encouraging as much as I could, which is hard to do in the dark when all you can see is headlamps. This task was much easier once the sun started to rise and I think we all felt relief once we could ditch the headlamps and the finish drew closer.

It was so good to finally be able to see the other runners faces. The encouragement and support from other runners, not just the ones I knew, was awesome. My smiles and encouragement were returned by all but 1 (grumpy looking tattooed) runner who never responded and didn’t even look up once despite my cheers lap after lap, maybe he was suffering.

My buddy Tom doing his first 12hr/ultra was still out there going hard, Emma had lapped me and was looking very strong for 60km (!!) with Sam chasing her tail very closely, Wayne was holding onto 2nd and looking determined, my mate Darren was still going strong and we ran together for part of what was going to be his final lap (picture below). You guys are the best!!

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

I hit a speedbump at 37km and had been walking sections of the laps. I was feeling light-headed so kept stopping to walk when it got really bad but it made the knee feel 10 times worse when I walked. I was out of ideas, so I just kept alternating walk/run. But seeing these familiar faces and hearing the support from others out there I pushed and ran some more to make sure that I’d hit 50km before the time ran out.

I saw Andy from Striders on one of my final laps and also Tanya & her kids, Carolyn, Nigel and Em’s lovely family. They cheered us on and my mood lifted a little, so great to see familiar faces and know they’d be there when I finished.

Here are a few photos from the wee early hours of the morning on Sunday. Stefica Key did an absolutely smashing job with these and I thank you very much for taking the time to capture these and encourage us while out on the course. Seeing you always makes me smile 🙂

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

Eventually I crossed the finish line and squinted at the bright sun now pouring over the lake and Jamieson Park. I stopped my Garmin and headed over to meet everyone and get into recovery mode.

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Photo Credit: Stefica Key

My team mate Brad and i were all thumbs up and very happy with our results. Between us we had managed to run 100km in under 12 hours, woohoo!!

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I still felt quite dizzy and my right leg started to cramp up too, I’ve never had that happen in a race before! Thankfully my buddies Nigel and Carolyn were keeping an eye out for me and they assisted me to remove my shoes and socks, elevate my legs, feed me bacon & eggs, and got some gel for me to rub on my cramping hamstring. I also sculled some electrolytes to help get the salt back into my body and hopefully stop the cramping. Here’s me stuffing my face with bacon (yum). it defintiely took my mind off how sore my knee was feeling too.

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Photo Credit: Nigel Huband

Emma gave me a compression bandage for my knee and I took some pain killers, i also made a mental note to ice the knee and elevate it for the rest of the day/night. I hoped it wasn’t anything too serious, but only time will tell.

Within about 20 minutes the dizziness stopped and I began to feel much better. We all chatted about the course and our run and how much we enjoyed it, then packed up our gear and the cars and headed over to the presentation area for the awards.

Would you believe that I actually scored the ‘Courageous’ female runner award due to the fact I had taken a bad stack early in the run yet kept going. I didn’t even know such an award existed and I think I know who to thanks for the nomination (Nigel?), ha ha. Here’s me accepting the award from organisers Horrie and Ron.

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Photo Credit: Nigel Huband

And how tired do i look here!!

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Photo Credit: Nigel Huband

I want to send a big, no huge THANK YOU out to all the organisers, volunteers, crews and runners in the event. It was well organised, well supported and without the friendly runner camaraderie it would not have been the same. This was a great event that i will not forget in a hurry and I encourage anyone who is thinking about doing it in 2016 to sign up now!!

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Photo Credit: Unknown

Congratulations to all the runners, new friends and old. We are a crazy bunch of people but you are what make it so special. I hope to see you all on the trails again soon.

Happy Running 😀

Packing for an ultra

Packing for an ultra marathon is a little bit like packing for a holiday. You write your list of clothes and items to take to cover all bases, then you end up over packing and only wearing/using half the items in your luggage. But that won’t stop me doing it all again next holiday, but I have learnt to pack a little smarter for my ultras.

On Saturday my friend Brad and I will be running the Narrabeen Alnighter which involves us running 6 hours each in blocks between 8pm to 8am. I scored the second half of the journey so my run commences at 2am Sunday morning after Brad has been running for 6 hours. The course we run on is a 5km trail loop and the aim is to run as far as you can in the time given. Brad and I are both aiming to reach 50km so if we can reach 100+ total that would be awesome!

So that’s where the packing comes in, to run 50km, or to run for 6 hours means that you need to have a plan for Nutrition and clothing. It’s summer here so could be very hot, which means very sweaty, so a change of clothes is needed. I think I might also take a second pair of shoes to put on if needed too. I also plan to use Cliff bars and gels for the run, along with water and Shotz for electrolytes, as this is what I have used in the past and never had any issues. And you never change anything on race day. I also like to have real food during long runs, so will probably throw in a few vegemite or nutella sandwiches (or both) and some rice pudding, gummy bears, bananas and coke.

Then I sit and pray that I haven’t forgotten anything and start to mentally prepare for my run. Staying positive and in control of your thoughts and emotions plays a huge part in long distance running, so you need to be ready inside and out. Sometimes I think too much, buy maybe I can do more than 50km…? Only time will tell 😉

Wishing all my other running mates a happy run for this weekend, some at the same race as me and others like Ganesh doing his first 12hr race in Singapore – Go Ganesh! We will be thinking of you during our run too, run strong! I can’t wait to hear all about your journey and I know you’ll be fantastic!

Happy Running 😀

Tis the season to be running

Wow! I just realised it’s been about 3 weeks since my last post (slacker) and there’s been a lot of running in that time, fantastic runs too. You might want to grab a cuppa, it’s not a short read but it’s an enjoyable one 😉

Firstly, I was really happy to hear that ParkRun was starting in Menai on Saturday 13 December and one of my coaches from RunLab was going to be the Race Director. So instead of doing my long run that Saturday my friend Troy and I decided to volunteer and marshall for the first race. If you have never done Parkrun then you should definitely look it up, great for runners of all abilities, ages and speeds (they even have people who walk the whole way), they have kids and dogs running the event every week and it’s a great community atmosphere.  Troy and I decided to run to Menai, volunteer, then run home which meant we would get in about 20km (with a big break in the middle) to cover our long run that we’d be missing, score. It was really great to be a part of the first race and there was a great turnout so hopefully the council will be happy with the trials and permit it to be a permanent event. And our long run was lots of fun, we even found a trail to explore on the way home.

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The Sunday after ParkRun was the Sydney Striders STaR as Middle Harbour, followed by the end of year Awards Brunch. So we all set out for a morning run, had a showers and then headed to the Yacht Club for a cooked brekkie AND I won an award! I won the Super Series for my age group, and if you’re wondering what that is then click here to find out more information. It really has been such an amazing year for me and to get this award really meant a lot to me, I may have even shed a little tear on the way home, but don’t tell anyone.

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Last weekend our Striders 6ft training crew headed out to the race start for an out and back long training run and it was most enjoyable. Maria, Troy and myself car pooled our way to Nellie’s Glen for an early start and to try and beat some of the heat. Lots of others had the same idea so we set off with a big group at about 6:30am. The start of this course is 500+ stairs all the way down to the valley floor, they were relatively dry compared to the other times I have been there which meant they felt a little safer, but these steps have ruined runners for many years, so it’s always best to take it easy for this section. The trail then opens up and is made up of mostly fire trail and some single track. We got to about 11km and then turned back and when we did we started to see many other runners who had started later and it was great to see their smiley faces and have a (quick) chat to everyone as they passed by. I was feeling really strong that day and was charing up most of the hills and really pushing myself more than normal. When you feel good I think you just have to go for it. We eventually got back to Nellie’s Glen and made the slow trip back up the 500+ stairs, it was tough going but eventually we got to the top and we were very pleased with how much ground we had covered on the return trip, much faster than the first half of the run. Well done team Maria, Carolyn, Troy and I 🙂

Photo Credit: Andy Stiddard

The next day I (stupidly) decided to do a soft sand run with my dog down at Wanda and although we had a great time as my dog loves the beach, my legs afterwards were pretty shattered. The accumulation of those stairs and the sand meant my quads were not very happy with me. It had been a tough training week so I eased off a little in the days after and feel like i’m getting stronger.

On Christmas Eve I went for a trail run with Damon and we did around 24km in the Royal National Park. This run included a huge hill near the very end. If you know the road from Audley Weir up to the highway then you’ll know what i’m talking about, it’s steep, it’s long and it’s tough. When we approached the hill I was thinking to myself, “just run as far as you can and then give yourself a break”. Early on we had been moving at a faster pace than I was normally comfortable to run, so I felt like I was struggling even before we got to the hill. But Damon encouraged me to find a rhythm and keep moving, no matter how slow, all the way up the hill. And it seemed to go forever, and ever, and ever….. I was breathing like Darth Vader (his new nickname for me) but I was comfortable and steadily moving up the hill without walking. And the road just kept on going…and going… but I kept on running and eventually we made it to the top of the hill. I had run the entire hill. Wow! I never could have done that by myself and Damon’s encouragement is what got me there so thanks Damon – you really know how to get me to work hard and push myself. What a great run!

Then on Boxing Day, Maria and I headed to Quarry Road for Horrie’s Bush Bash, as many laps as you want. We decided that 1 lap would be enough and so we pushed each other and our pace was much quicker than usual (there seems to be a patter forming!!). We ended up doing our fastest lap ever and were very proud of the achievement. It also meant we felt better about all the food/drink we’d had the day before! Great running everyone and great to see so many familiar faces out enjoying this trail.

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Yesterday I ran ParkRun for the first time ever and I managed to drag along the hubby, my friend Nat (Birthday Girl) and her daughter Chelsea so we were all running it for the first time. I finished in 23:56 and managed to beat my hubby by more than a minute, yay! ha ha Thanks for taking our dog too Nat, I know she can be a bit painful on the lead but she loves to run!!

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And now I have saved the best update for last.

Term 4 of RunLab came to a close with a week of high intensity training followed the next week by our 3km time trial (TT) and I was thrilled with my improvements. The first TT we had done at the beginning of the term was tough and I had run 3km in 14:53, at the time I was pretty happy with that pace (4:58/km) and felt it was a true indication of where I was at the time in terms of speed. So after weeks of training under (majority) Damon and a few other coaches I smashed the TT and finished in 13:05, a pace of 4:22/km – what an improvement! When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch I actually thought it was wrong as my goal had been to try and get as close to 14:30 as possible….. Ummm, smashed that!! I will definitely be back in Term 1 for more RunLab sessions and I look forward to pushing myself to see how much faster I can go.

Seeing such big improvement and getting results has led me to reflect on all of the running I have done recently. It has really given me boost as I never thought I’d be capable of such things and I wonder what else is around the corner for 2015. It just shows that with the right kind of training, and with the right work-hard attitude you can absolutely achieve anything.

Happy Running 😀

Striders 6ft training run at Narrabeen

Luckily I had some great company for our 25km run up at Narrabeen last weekend and thank god they were with me or I think I would have walked the last 5km.

Our Striders 6ft training group met for a 6.30am start and we had another great turnout for the run. Our organiser Andy has done a great job spreading the word about these runs and he even marks the trail with pink tape so we don’t get lost. This week we also had written directions and we managed to follow them without getting lost, 10 points Maria!!

Narrabeen 25km

The first section of the course was rather flat and there were only really 2 hilly sections during the run, with flats either side of them. So it went… flat, hill, flat, hill, flat. Sounds easy right? Well I can tell you it wasn’t. Okay so it wasn’t as hard a course as the week before at Quarry Road loop but I had not run more than 18kms in a while so my legs were struggling towards the end. In saying that, this was a very scenic run and i’d love to do it again soon.

During the run Maria, Carolyn and I shared some great banter and at one point instead of crossing a footbridge to avoid the slightly flooded road, instead we charged through the water living life on the wild side! (ha ha) We were also channeling our inner Emelie Forsberg (can you see the flowers in our visors in the shot below) to help get us up some of those big hills. If you haven’t looked Emelie up on google then you need to do so, she’s an amazing trail runner and seems like a really kind-hearted person to boot.

Thankfully there was some water at the end of your run so Maria and I eased our muscle pain with a quick dip, it felt soooo good 😀

Narrabeen 25km swim

Photos courtesy of Andy Stiddard.

Happy Running 🙂

Getting on track

I’m finally back in the habit of running on a more regular basis and i’m loving the challenges and hard work that I’ve had to put in lately. From starting to increase distance on my long weekend runs and also pushing myself harder and harder at the RunLab interval sessions I do twice a week.

Our Striders 6ft training group have run the Equalizer course (14km) and the Buffalo Creek Reserve (16km) over the past 2 weeks and while I will admit that they haven’t been easy they have been rewarding and it feels great to be on track towards my next marathon.

This Saturday we are heading to the infamous Quarry Road and let’s just say that last year it was not a very good experience for me, however it taught me a lot. The key lesson I learnt last year was not to try any new or exciting (spicy) foods within 2 days before a long run, or you’ll spend the rung making many, many trips to the pit toilet located in the campgroud on the course. But god was i lucky the pit toilet was there!!

Quarry Road is an out and back trail full of hills and the return trip is about 13km. This weekend we aim to do 2 laps and I’m hoping that it’s nice and cool as the track is quite exposed.

And the other exciting news for this week is that my friend Brad and I have decided to run the Narrabeen Allnighter on 3 January. Brad and I chatted about this race ages ago and he contacted me recently to see if I was still interested so of course I jumped at the chance. This means I will be more disciplined with my eating and drinking over Christmas and new year and head into 2015 on a good note.

The Allnighter is set on a 5km trail and starts at 8pm and goes through till 8am the next day. We have decided to run the option that means we will each do a 6hr block. This will be good night training for TNF100 and we have agreed to use it as a training run so there is no pressure on how far we want to get, although Brad is much faster than me.

Stay tuned for more running updates and happy running 😀

My epic weekend

Despite going back to work after 4 weeks off I have had a great week and have some of cool stuff to share with you all.

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Last Saturday I started my training with Sydney Striders again for the 6ft track trail (ultra) marathon which takes place in march 2015 in the Blue Mountains. Last year this was my first trail marathon and it was a most memorable experience. I loved every part of training for this race too, the people, the trails, and the challenges I conquered out there each week. If you would like to read about the 2014 race see here > https://haileyruns.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/2014-six-foot-track-marathon/

And now for last Sunday where I headed up to Narrabeen for the Sydney Trail Series (STS) with a few of my buddies from Sydney Harbour Runners (SHR). STS were hosting 7km, 10km & 15km events and normally I would always go for the long option, but seen as I had run the day before I chose the 7km short course. When I arrived the 15km race had just started and I got to say hello to a few friends I recognised out there and wished them well. I picked up my bib and ran into the lovely Kristy Dearinger, a friend and Iron(wo)man who is also a great person. She was running the 10km event with her friend Andrew.

I got to the start line with my SHR buddies and we all wished each other well. We had all signed up for the short course and those 3 are super speedy so I doubted that I would see them again until after the race. The gun went off and we all got moving up the first of several hills that would make up the first half of the race. It was steady going on fire trail and then got more and more technical as the course went along. I love technical so I was really feeling great and enjoying the playtime out in this new neck of woods. The first half of the course was pretty tough but the views at the top were amazing as promised, however I did not stop to take photos like I normally do, instead I carried on and tried to catch up to those in front of me.

I kept a very steady pace the whole run and the second half played to my strength, downhill. I overtook people as I worked my way down the trails and rocks and caught up with some of the 15km & 10km runners too. I saw Troy from my RunLab Cronulla crew who was doing the 15km event and it was also his first trail run. I felt great, my calves were a little tight but overall I felt I was in good shape. I kept moving down the hills and gained a lot of speed on the final descent, even though Troy went flying past me (ha ha). I looked up at one point and I could see my friend Kate about 200m ahead which was strange because she is very fast, but I just kept moving and made my way around the athletics track which was the final lap and finished the course in just under 43 minutes. I had been hoping for 45mins so i was very happy with my time. I saw the girls and we chatted about the course and how much we loved it.

And here’s the best bit, I came 4th!! 4th female outright!! That has never happened before in my life (well perhaps in primary school, over 20 yrs ago) and I actually did not even realise until I got home that night and checked the results online. Apparently they called my name out as I won my age group too, how awesome is that!! I was very, very proud 🙂

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Happy Running 😀

 

Where have I been….

It’s been over a month since my last post which was also my last race and my last long run. Since then I’ve battled pneumonia which went undiagnosed for more than 3 weeks, and cruised for 12 days through the South Pacific to 5 ports around New Caledonia and Vanuatu. The latter being much more enjoyable!

About a month ago I also joined RunLab, an interval training group that I go to twice a week (with the exception of the week spent cruising) to work on my speed and technique. There have been some really tough sessions but I really feel like I’m starting to get somewhere. I know that I am no good at pushing myself to go faster and always err on the slow side as a precaution, but it’s time I pushed myself and got outside of my comfort zone. It’s working!

So what’s next on the agenda for my running? Where do I start! Let’s start with my A race next year, the big kahuna – TNF100 in May. That race will be my #1 priority in 2015 and all my training and preparation will be in the build up to this great race, which beat me in 2014. I have unfinished business that needs tending to and the plan is to smash it in under 20 hours. It goes on sale next week 😉

In the lead up to my main race I will also be running in the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in Queenstown New Zealand during February. This is a trail marathon that some of my Strider buddies did last year and they really talked me into it. Plus if you look at the photos…. breathtaking! This will be used as a training run and not a race. Not that I ever race, but it just means I’ll be taking it easy and stopping for lots of pictures and sightseeing. I’ve already signed up for this and have tagged on a 2 week holiday as I have never been to NZ before – score!

My second big run before TNF100 will be the 6 Foot Track Marathon in March in the gorgeous Blue Mountains.  I will be training with the Sydney Striders 6ft training group from next weekend for this event, a fantastic group that I trained with last year. I have learnt so much from them and they taught me the fundamentals of trail running. Our group is open to all so let me know if you’re interested and i’ll send you an invite on Facebook. Last year this race was my first Ultra and it was a day I will never forget, so rewarding and an amazing finish line that takes your breath away. It goes on sale soon so make sure you’re ready as it sells out super fast!

So there are my 3 key races for 2015, it’s going to be an exciting year!

Happy Running 😀

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