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Let it Go, Let it Go

As Elsa said, It’s really time to Let it go….

I  never really let things go.

It’s time.

Ok.  It’s past time.

For example, I ordered these pace bands once I got into Chicago.

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If you can’t tell, these are 4:15 and 4:30 pace bands.

Crazy now.   At one point, it was a goal.   Actually it wasn’t even a crazy goal.

In the back of my mind, this was while not a goal, it was possible.   I was secretly holding onto it.    I couldn’t let it go.   No matter how improbable or silly, I held onto it.    In the deep recesses of my brain, I admit now that this was always there.   I kept imagining a miracle in my training.  That something  would click and I would be right back there.   As much as that seed was in the back of  my mind, I realistically trained for where I am today.

I am at a 5 if not a 5 1/2 hour marathon.

I’m a firm believer in goals.   It’s what kept me running.

Some people have goals for speed, some distance, some just getting out the door.   My goal at this point is honestly just to finish.   Each goal is a worthy goal.   Each brings it’s own set of challenges.   That is the beauty of being a runner.   You are only competing with  yourself and your own limitations.   Some real and some imagined.

So with a goal of getting to the finish line, I need to run smart.    As I’ve said before, I’ve hit the wall before at a marathon.   It’s not pretty.  I, honestly, don’t know if I can push through it today.   I’ve got a lot going  on… The calcium issues, the stomach issue, the tendonitis, and oh yeah being 15 pounds heavier than last year.

I’ve sought out advice from those who have dealt with hypoparathyroidism longer than me.   One thing that stuck with me is this response…

“We live a very measured life. We don’t get the option to give it a 70% or an 80%. If we are to accomplish what we are aiming for, We have to give it a 100% . At all times.”

So with this advice, I know that I have no room for show boating.   I’ll save that for a later date with friends whose hands I will grab as we cross the finish line.

A 5 hour marathon is still a marathon.

A 5 1/5 hour marathon is still a marathon.

And I’ve got 6 1/2 hours to get to the finish line.   I will say that I’m hoping to get there before then, but I will get there and be happy about it if that is how it rolls that day.

All I know is that when I get to the finish line, I might hug the person giving me a medal.worth it

 

 

Reality Check

Yesterday was a good day all around. I took my 3 boys to the trampoline adventure place for some fun. They even had a Ninja Warrior section where we all realized that we are not Nina Warriors. We had a lot of fun, but I did realize that I’m not as young as I think I am. What a workout!

I was worried that my bouncing was going to make my nightly run that I had planned with a friend a nightmare. It ended up being one of my best runs all week and maybe in a while. I even felt like I could have kept running at the end.

Here’s the reality check.

My friend who is in recovery from an injury is doing the walk/run method. The difference is she’s doing it the right way. She has a timer and is doing a 3 to 1 ratio that she follows. Also when running, she was keeping a nice steady pace which meant that so did I. The 3 to 1 worked nicely. The running didn’t seem choppy and even though I didn’t feel like I needed to walk every time, the fact that we did made the run what it was supposed to be. An easy paced 6.

We ended up with an average pace of around 12:00. In thinking about it, I had the reality check of this is where all my runs should be. I think in the back of my mind and right out in the front, I’ve been trying to hit average pace of 10:45 to 11:00. That is not where my body is right now especially for the long haul.

I think I am finally willing to embrace or at least give the run/walk method a really try following a real plan. So much so that after stretching and washing up last night, I hit Amazon and ordered my own timer. It might be time to give this method more than a pretend try and actually follow the program.

I also think following the program will allow me to feel more in control of my running and allow me to run the distances that I need to run. I remember two years ago doing the Runner’s World Half Marathon. I was running with a pacing group and we were staying at a consistent pace. There was a man who was doing the run/walk method that was sticking with us. He walked when he was scheduled to, but still ended up finishing around the same time which was around 2:10. I think if I have any hope to completing the marathon this will be the way to go.

Time to face Reality.

Patience

Putting My Heart Into It

Starting week 2 of Chicago Marathon training.   Another “easy” 3 miles.    Except today was HOT.   Very HOT!   So hot that my kids will have a half day from school due to excessive heat.    But I’m determined to follow the plan and today was 3 miles for the books.

I’m already learning and making changes after last weeks training.   First things first.

Cal-Ez2

I have to realize that even if I think it’s going to be easy, fill up my water bottles with Cal-ez.   Last week the three mile run that left me tingling, I thought I didn’t need it.   I was wrong.   This will be my “Don’t leave home without out it on a run” thing.

Seriously.

Today was much hotter that last week.   I was drenched in sweat but not a tingle in sight.   I did actually finish these three bottles on my run.   So for me it’s not just hydration that is important but calcium replenishment as well.   Too important to forget.

I also made another change today.   I realized when I was out on my run that even though I knew I was going to run slow, that I was looking at my pace a little too much.   So I changed my Garmin screen from pace to heart rain zone throwing pace out the window.  Putting my heart into it and taking my head out of it.

You know what?

I had a good run especially when you consider the heat!   I walked when my heart rate was inching up too high and shuffled at a slow run for most of the run.    This was what needed to be done.   Then I had the thought that this is really something that I should be doing right now anyway.   I can’t be training at the same paces that I did last year at least not yet.

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Even with the extremely hot weather, I think I still had a good run.   When I got home and downloaded my Garmin my average pace was 12:44 which is obviously where it needed to be.   In looking at my heart rate, I was in zone 4 for most of the run which is also kind of where I needed to be.   So this gave me food for thought.

What if for the next few runs, I don’t worry about pace and go by effort.   Hmmmm.   I’m thinking this is the way to go.    My normal paces that I trained with last year, I am not ready to train with them this year (yet).   Hmmm…

Let’s see how this plays out.

The More You Know…

This is NOT an excuse post.

This is NOT a whoa is me post.

This is NOT a pity party post.

This is NOT a I want you to feel sorry for me post.

If you know me personally, you know that to be true.  That’s just not who I am.

What this is is an informational post.

This is JUST my reality post.

This is JUST an informational post.

This is a JUST so you know and can understand post.

This is for those who have asked but I didn’t explain it right in person post because I didn’t want to sound like I was whining post.

I stand by my previous assertions that I am an athlete and a runner.

That did not change when my thyroid was removed.

But as we know it was more than my thyroid.

So here’s the deal….

You’ve heard me say that my Parathryoid Glands no longer work.

Yes, you’ve heard me say that I have low calcium.

What the Hell does that actually mean.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it all out too.    When I say that I have low calcium, I don’t mean like you go for your annual check up and your doctor says that you need to take calcium supplements. While I do need to take supplements, there is more to it than that as I have glands that no longer function.   To borrow someone’s analogy…..   “It is like a bicycle chain with a link missing. Without taking calcium the chain falls off the gears.”

or this

From the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons

“Normal parathyroid glands work like the thermostat in your home to keep blood calcium levels in a very tightly controlled range. When the blood calcium level is too low, PTH is released to bring the calcium level back up to normal. When the calcium level is normal or gets a little too high, normal parathyroids will stop releasing PTH. Proper calcium balance is crucial to the normal functioning of the heart, nervous system, kidneys, and bones.”

So what does all that mean for me.    It means that my body is out of whack.   I’ve said before it’s like being diabetic except I’m always monitoring my calcium levels.   Except that there is no at home test for it.   I have to just know the symptoms.   Now even though I pop my calcium pills usually every 4 hours during a normal day and other medications and take more on days that I run, it still really isn’t enough.   The goal is not to get my calcium levels in the normal range.   The goal is to take just enough to be in the ALMOST normal range.   Just enough that I don’t have the major complications of low calcium.

The bodies nerves and muscles go hand and hand with calcium levels.   So keeping my levels low (but high enough) kind of keeps me a state of feeling like I’ve got a touch of the flu.   Some days it’s better that others, but body aches, achy joints, sometimes headaches, brain fog and fatigue are just part of the new norm.   Those are the good days.   Since it’s really just a guessing game, there are times when it goes too low that depression can creep in too.  Good times.   If I were to stop taking the calcium, my body would literally crash.

Seriously.  No joke.

Before I knew what I was dealing with my calcium went so low that my hands cramped up where I could not bend my finger.   Believe it or not I was really trying.

Tetany

At the time, I did not know that if left untreated until my doctor told me that it could lead to passing out with seizures and even heart arrhythmia.  If it were to get this low again, I would need an infusion of calcium.   The most severe complication is heart failure.   so this is why I am always popping my pills.   I luckily have not experienced that level of tetany since right after surgery.  I do on occasion feel twinges in in my face, but nothing like this.

The body is an amazing thing and until you need to think about it, you really do not realize how interconnected everything is.   So even when my levels are “good,” it really just means that they are “good enough” to keep the MAJOR symptoms away.   The other symptoms are just part of the new normal.

So I may sound like I’m a parrot or paranoid about my calcium, but for now it’s in the forefront of my mind.  The complications which I’m avoiding.   The levels.   The symptoms.    Plus I am in the learning stage.   There is so much that goes into not just dealing with non working Parathyroid glands, but also dealing with the hormone adjustment of not having a thryoid gland.    I’m looking at and already taking other supplements that will help with symptoms.   Plus I’m researching the best diet for me.   As an athlete fueling has always been important, but now I’m looking into better ways to fuel my body.

You know what they say…

The more you know..

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Not Backing Down

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I know what it feels like after you’ve run a half marathon.    I know what it feels like after running a marathon.    I even know what it feels like after running  50K.   When your an athlete whose run as many miles as I have you pay attention to these things.  I’ve trained my body to run on tired legs.   I always joke that I come from hearty stock because even though times my body has been sore, I’ve always recovered fairly quickly.   The day after the Philadelphia marathon, I was even wearing heals.   Like a bumble, I just bounce back.   I also think both the way that I have pushed my body in the past and know how to roll sore muscles are helpful now.   I know how to pay attention to the needs of my body.

Sometimes by the end of a busy day, my body feels like I’ve run a race that I haven’t run.

My legs are sore.   My back aches.   I’m exhausted.

In reading many comments and stories from people with this disease (hypoparathyroidism), I really believe that my training has set me up for success.   As much as it sucks, these are not feelings I’m unused to.   What sucks is feeling this way and not having a medal to show for it!

I keep hearing from my online support groups that I will get used to the “new normal” but that it takes a LONG time to get there.   That eventually you forget what it’s like to wake up without all the aches and such.   It’s a work in progress.   I think one of the things that takes getting used to is looking fine, but feeling like this.

Again it’s a work in progress. What further helps is that I’m pretty tenacious and head strong.   I will keep pushing through  even if things are harder to accomplish.   I will not give up as long as I can do the things that I want to do.

What does worry me as I start planning my Chicago Marathon training is if I feel like this without really doing much running, how will I feel once I’m training.    Training starts in a matter of weeks.    I need this just as much physically as I do mentally.   I will be prepared going in knowing it’s going to be harder this time around.   Knowing that it will be even more important when loosing calcium through sweat while training in the heart of summer, to replenish during a run and not wait for a crash.     I will be prepared to take care of myself after runs too.   Where in the past because I could get away with it, I was not the best about post stretching, rolling, or soaking in mineral salts.    I will ad that time into my training.

I am a runner.

I am an athlete.

I am a marathon runner and I’m not letting anything get in my way.

tenacious

 

 

 

Enough

 

Yesterday was the Boston Marathon.   This is a day as a runner to be dazzled not just by elite runners but amazing runners with back stories that will bring tears to your eyes.

Jose Luis Sanchez

Like Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez who was injured in Afghanistan and not only finished in 5:46:13 but did so carrying an American Flag sent to him by his unit when he was recovering from his injuries.

Then there are the Amazingly Speedy Mama’s that I personally know that not only BQ’d (Boston Qualified), but then crushed Boston.   They are inspiring in their dedication, speediness, and awesomeness.

I tip my proverbial hat to all of them.

And as of this was unfolding yesterday, a friend shared a blog post that I found very powerful about being a Mom called What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?

This post struck me as I pretty much lead a mediocre life.   Don’t get me wrong, I love my mediocre life and often joke that I am destined for bigger and better things.   The truth is though that my life is already pretty much bigger and better already.   Besides bigger means more work and I’m barely keeping my head above water now.    I’ve made peace with my “mediocre life” and I actually love it and probably wouldn’t change much about it except maybe have someone else who is better at it clean my house.

Although I never put in in the context the writer did, I have thought about it when it comes to my running.

Seriously.

What if I’m ok with being a mediocre runner?    What if I  prefer to sleep in and hit snooze than get up early for a run?     What if I know that I will never be standing on the podium?    What if I’m ok being a middle of the packer?    What if I’m ok with just to run as many miles as I can squeeze in on a given week?   What if I just like the comrade that I enjoy with my running group?  What if for right now I have no desire to push my limits in either distance or speed and just want to enjoy the process?

Is that enough?

Am I still a runner?

Do I still get to wear the badge of honor as a runner?

HELL YEAH!

After yesterday’s blog post It is What It is a friend sent me a very nice message.   One of the things she wrote that was so on the money was “Give yourself a break – either mentally or physically.

She is so right.   I think that I got caught in the cycle of bigger and better and in the process lost a little something along the way.   I have been so focused on the “prize,” the next race, the next distance, the next PR that somewhere along the way I may have run out of gas.      Not the “I’m in a slump” way, but I’ve run out of gas and need directions kind of way.

I’ve achieved a lot in my running in the few years that I’ve been at it.   No joke.   At what point is enough enough?  First it was a Sprint Triathlon. Then a half marathon.  Jumping to the Runner’s World Hat Trick.  Then falling into a  the Philly Marathon.  Ending up at a 50K.  Getting a sub 2 half in NY.   One after another. After another.   I’m not done.   I have goals.   I have dreams and aspirations with my running but maybe for today, maybe for now this is enough.

I admit it.   When I started running, I had something to prove.   Not to anyone else but  to myself.   That I was strong enough.   That I was fast enough.   That I had earned the title of runner.  The problem though became the bigger and better.   The proverbial ring was kept just out of reach.   Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED every minute (ok not every) of pushing my limits and reaching for it all.   Maybe for right now though, I want to just ride the Merry Go Round for a while.

There is nothing wrong with that.

julie andrews

We are all on our own journey.   We all have our own paths to follow.  What is the right path for one person may not be the right path for the next person.   I’ll be honest as I always am, I’m just not sure what path I want to be on right now and that’s ok too.  I’ve got time to figure it out.

For now though

This is enough.

I am enough.

and even with all of this uncertainty, I am happy with where I’m at.

 

Yes, It is Real.

 Yes, my running is coming along.   Yes, I’m getting stronger than I was before, but in my mind and body I knew that things still just weren’t right.   To the outsider looking in they might think that everything was ok.   I knew differently.   Mostly because as much as I talk, as much as I share; there is a whole host of things that I keep to myself.   Plus sometimes you begin to wonder, “is it me or is it because of the calcium levels.”

I really though that my thyroidectomy was just going to be a blip on the radar.  So many people in my inner circle either knew or even themselves had their thryroid removed.   It was just a simple procedure and then you just figure out what level of hormone pills to take.

Easy Peasy.

Yes, the doctors warned me of potential risks.   One of them actually being a problem with my calcium level.   But these were minor risks effecting less than 1% and really how hard is it to take calcium pills?   But just like the informational….  But there’s more.   So much more.

I’ve talked about the struggles that I’ve been having since coming back from my surgery.   I’ve mentioned that my calcium levels are never coming back.   I’ve accepted this.  The name for this is Hypoparathyroidism.    It is actually considered a rare disorder.   Yeah, me.   I like to be different.

Again, part of the problem is just trying to figure out if it’s me or my calcium.    Before my surgery a friend who had her thryoid removed gave me a piece of advice.   I’ll paraphrase.   She is also a runner, so she understands.   She said that I should remember that I am a marathon runner and that I know the things that my body can and have done.   If something doesn’t feel right after surgery, I will know because I know what I’m capable of doing.    I hold onto this advice as I try to sort out things.   It is with this thought that I am reminding myself that things just aren’t right when I get a full night sleep and am still exhausted and need a siesta during the day..

What I didn’t know though that I wasn’t alone.   It is a powerful thing when you realize that you are not the only one and it’s not just you.   It’s amazing the information that you can find on the World Wide Web that is actually useful.   The problem is weeding out the garbage.  I recently (like last night) stumbled upon a Facebook group for athletes who also have hypoparathyroidism.   Once I joined the group and started reading some of the posts, I wanted to cry.   Not because they were sad, but because I realized that I wasn’t alone.   I wasn’t babying myself.   I wasn’t making excuses.    These are things that have gone through my mind.    I realized that the “Suck it up Buttercup” mentality really didn’t apply.

From the site NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) on side effects of low calcium.

  • The severity of the condition can range from mild symptoms such as a tingling or numbness in the fingers, toes or around the lips (paresthesias) to severe muscle cramps and muscle spasms
  • Additional symptoms that may be associated with hypoparathyroidism include fatigue, generalized weakness, muscle aches, anxiety or nervousness, and headaches. Affected individuals may also have dry, coarse skin, brittle nails, and patchy hair loss such as the thinning of the eyebrows. S
  • Depression, irritability, confusion, disorientation, mood swings and loss of memory have also been reported in individuals with hypoparathyroidism.

Because it is so rare and because people hear “low calcium” levels,  most people (and I was previously one of them) think that calcium is only for strong bones and good hair, but it really does effect so much more.   Then when researching and as told from my doctor the potential side effects of the treatment which for me is a minimum of 5,000 mg of Calcium a day (8 pill minimum throughout the day) with another medicine (Calcitriol) to help my body absorb the calcium., there can be severe side effects.   You can end up with calcium deposits on the brain, kidney stones, and such.   Good times.    According to my doctor, the goal then is to keep my calcium level just high enough to be right at the bottom level of proposed calcium levels, but not too high to cause problems.   Sure.

Easy Peasy.

One of the blogs I read summed it up perfectly.   They said that treating calcium levels is very similar to how a diabetic has to regulate their insulin levels.   Most diabetics can tell by the way they feel if their levels are high or low.   It’s about paying attention to their bodies.   The difference is that a diabetic can easily check their insulin levels at home.   This is not the case for those with hypoparathyroidism.    So it’s about paying attention.   It’s about knowing your body.   It’s about knowing this is a real issue that requires constant care.

I’ve already realized that when I come back from a run where I’ve pushed it, I can feel it.   Sometimes, I will get a twitch in my face.   My muscles are sorer than I remember them ever being.    I’m learning to handle it.  It’s about knowing that I need to roll with it.    I’m now learning from those that have already figured things out.   Life is all about learning, adapting, and doing all that you can.

So I’m going to figure this out.

its-not-what-happens-to-you-but-how-you-react-to-it

 

 

The Little Runner that Could

One of my boys favorite books when they were little was The Little Engine That Could.   That feel good story about a little train who knew he could get over the mountain and did.   We can all learn from that little blue train.

little-engineSeriously.

How many times do we talk ourselves out of something before we even attempt it?   Believing you can do something will push you to at least try.   Doubting that you can do it will make you say, “What is the point?”    We need to take a lesson from the little blue engine.   Now I’m not saying just because I start chanting, “I think I can.   I think I can.” am I going to  be able to run a sub 3 marathon.   What it does mean though is that if I set a somewhat realistic goal like a sub 4:30, I might be able to do it with lots of hard work.   It’s all abut knowing where you are and pushing yourself to do the things that might be just a little bit hard.

It’s about going out of your comfort zone.

Today I pushed myself out of the relatively comfy running I’ve been doing.   I decided that I needed to push myself from where I am today not 4 months ago.

You know what?

It was a good run.

I had a plan.   I wanted to do 5 miles.   I wanted to push myself to run faster than I have been lately which has been in the mid 11’s.   I also wanted to get back to controlling my pace and not letting it control me.

5-miles

It might not look like it, but I felt like I took control back today.   My goal was a warm up mile, 2 miles at 10:30, 1 at 10:15 and 1 at 10:00.   Then I came home and took the dog for a mile walk to cool down.   So I actually got in 6 miles today!

What was different about today’s run.   I went into in knowing it was going to be hard.   It was hard.   What surprised me though is that after I started running I actually tweaked my plan to these paces shaving off 10 seconds for each mile.    Even then I did feel like I had to hold back and I had to keep myself in check.   Overall it was a good run and it was a good confidence booster.

It might have been just what I needed.

I think I can.

I think I can.

I will.

Nothing to Prove; Nothing to Loose

maya-angelou-quotes

There is a lie that I’ve been telling myself.   I think it’s a lie that many runners tell themselves.   I’ve been thinking that I haven’t been working hard enough because I’m not working as hard as I used to.   But it is a lie, it is a bold faced lie.  I’ve been comparing paces and distances to last year when I was at my peak.  I am far from my peak now.  I have been getting out there.   I have been getting things done.   Putting in miles.   Then when I was out on a run last week, I had an epiphany…

I have been telling myself an even bigger lie.  The biggest lie of all….

Ready…

Here it goes.

Ready for the truth?

I don’t want to train for a marathon right now.

Now, I don’t mean the, “Oh, I wish I didn’t have to run 12 miles tomorrow.”   I mean I just don’t want to train for a marathon right now.  I  just don’t have the drive or desire right now to push myself the way I should be to train for a marathon.   I have no doubt that I could push myself to be ready to run a marathon in April.   The real crux of it is that I don’t want to do it.    I’ve got a whole host of reasons why it would be good to push myself to do it, but I also have a whole host of reasons why right now is not the time to push myself either.

The bottom line is that I have nothing to loose and nothing to prove.  I am just not feeling it.   I know with training that I could do it.   I just don’t want to do it.   I know this is a shocking thing.   It is shocking to me too.

Runners are a funny group.   We will run through injury.   We will push our bodies past the point of sanity.    We are always thinking, I’ve got to go bigger, faster, further.    I’ve been there and I’m sure I will be there again.    There is nothing wrong with that line of thinking.   Just as there is nothing wrong with recognizing that sometimes we need for various reasons to slow down, to not go as far, and just enjoy running for running.

After writing this post, I went to the NJ Marathon site and changed my registration from the marathon to the half-marathon.   I thought that I would feel sadness.   Feel like a sense of failure or something.   I felt none of that.   I felt a sense of relief.   I felt a release of pressure.    As I said before, I’ve got nothing to loose and nothing to prove to myself or anyone else.  I also don’t want to push myself to the point where running is no longer something that I enjoy.

Sometimes it is best to take a step back and that is what I plan on doing.

Have you stepped back?

 

 

No Guilt Required

I’m experiencing Christmas hangover and the holiday’s aren’t even over.   One thing that I did decide though is that I am officially taking the rest of the year off from running.   Not that I’ve been doing any running lately, but I’ve made the executive decision not to feel like I should be running.

No guilt required.

The opposite of streaking.

The I’m not going anywhere streak.

I’ve hit 1100 miles for the year.

I’m good.

Besides..

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do when I do start back up and how I want to start.     I’ve been running almost 3 years with no break and I will say this break has been nice with the exception of not running off all these Christmas cookies, candies, and food calories.   I can tell too because somehow my jeans did shrink slightly.   I’m still not running though.   I plan to just keep on indulging now and pay for it later.

And I will pay.

I realized this when I went out for my first real run last week (before I decided to not run til January 1rs).    I went out for about 3 miles.   My average pace was 11:19, but that doesn’t actually tell the story….

run

What this doesn’t tell is that even with this short run I was slightly windy and even sore the next day.   3 miles used to be just a blip for me, but I will have to build back up.   This is one of the reasons that I am taking the rest of the year off.   I don’t want to be sore for Winter Break.   I don’t want to stress to squeeze in a run.   And finally, I want to build back up not haphazardly but with somewhat of plan or at least some thought.

I also want to add more cross training into my running plan.   I might go back to a swimming class for the winter.   It’s a great cross training for running being low impact with a really good cardio workout.    I would also love to add some yoga and weight training.   I just have to see how and when I can add these in as soon it is going to be time to start training for my spring marathon, but I first need to regain what I’ve lost since the NY Marathon which is when I really last ran long:)

So like most of the people I know, I will say that I’m going start running in the New year.

I’m looking forward to it as much as I’m looking forward to enjoying this next week off!

What do you resolve to do more of in the New Year?

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