Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Love Life in 5 Miles or Less

What better to do on a chilly, rainy Sunday morning than go for a long run on the southside with some really great people. Members of Chicago Ultrarunners descended upon the 40 Acre Woods section of the Palos Hills trails, ready to tackle the 8.1 mile yellow trail for a couple of loops together. This was my first group run with CUR and I just had the best time! I met Torey, Adrian and Brian at McNaughton, but everyone else was a new face to me. It was a little chilly out to begin, at 8 a.m., but the day turned out to be perfect running weather. Even the rain wasn't all that bad. The weather had some serious PMS; it couldn't make up it's mind! Pouring rain, warm sun, stiff breeze, light rain, sun shower, hot sun...and so it went.

Kelly was pointing out the virtues of either the Drymax socks or her Cascadias...we had the same socks and shoes on :)

Standing around waiting to get started...Greg, Badass Adrian B., Torey, Geoff and Sean
Brian, Kelly, Tony, Adrian, Sean and Gary...soooo, are we going to do some runnin' or what?
Start of the yellow trail from the parking lotI put my camera in my sports bra and it got a little 'misty'...Sarah, Dennis and Tony up ahead
This stream crossing was fun...nice and simple, knee-high water, not too cold...Torey and Brian hopped in before me. Bridges are for wussies ;)
Brian is super photog and got this shot of us in front, showing off :)
Then there was this nasty climb...it was ridiculously steep for the type of trail we were on, but served as a great water break :)
Gary and I hogged the front of the pack most of the time, and this is where the title of my post comes from. Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for "My love life in 5 miles or less", that was all Gary. He was able to sum up his current situation in under 5 miles...damn, I'd need about 10-15 miles for that, mostly because half of that time would be spent crashing with the ground because I was yapping too much :) We pushed it at 8:00 mpm for a couple of miles...I kept peeking at my Garmin to check and once we pulled back everyone was wondering why we were all so beat. Hehehe, I love doing that :)
Well at some point, on the second loop (which we were doing in reverse), we took a wrong turn. I was so busy talking my face off and concentrating on not falling that I'd have never realized this :) We stopped here and looked like a bunch of lost puppies; everyone consulting their Garmins. Then some bikers showed up...and took a picture of us! We figured out the mishap and got back on track (and by "we" I mean one of the guys...I had no flippin' clue where we were). Once we got back to where we wandered off, Sarah, Greg, Brian and I decided we'd head back to our cars and cut it at about 12.5 miles and the rest were going to do the full 16. I was already pushing it by going over my planned 10 miles, and I was happy with how the run had gone, so I was ready to call it a day. Here we are heading back up that biatch of a hill...
And a nice pic of the group when we got LOST, sans Kelly, Greg and Ian...
FR: Brian, Geoff, Torey, me; BR: Badass Adrian B., Gary, Jon, Sarah, Sean, Tony

A fabulous run that put my legs to a bit of a test (longest run I've done since my 50 miler earlier this month), GREAT company (huge thank you to Torey for starting Chicago Ultrarunners), hilarious conversation that gave me a cramp (thanks to Gary), and great photo ops (most of these pictures are from Brian, so thanks Brian!). The Drymax socks held up friggin' great...that included rain and two stream crossings...love these socks. And, my Atayne 4R's was naturally the star of my attire :)

Crash, out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Hundred Kilos

Do I love getting in over my head? Yes. Do I love pushing the limits? Yes. Do I have any serious head injuries? Not that I'm aware of. You see, I was really counting on my mom to tell me I'm an idiot and not to do it. However, when I brought it up last night to get her opinion, she simply told me she thought I should just do it "because racing makes you happy." Whoa, wait, what?! Well, that's all I needed. Just one more push in the 'right' direction :) So, like the zero balance I enjoyed on my credit card for the first time in I don't know how long, I threw my conscience and good judgment out the window and decided to just go for it. I don't know when I'll have another chance/the time/the willingness/the balls to do it. So why not?

I signed up for the Vermont 100k...yes "kilometer", not "miler"; I'm not that bat-shit crazy...yet :)

Ay ya ya! It is indeed official...I registered, printed out the volunteer form, confirmed with Vermont Mike that he'd be able to drive and let me sleep on his couch when I get into town, and then I purchased my flights. It's done! Then I checked my credit card balance and wanted to weep quietly, but I reminded myself that I'm young and daring still and there won't be another summer where I'll have the time or money to do this for at least 3-4 more years (more on that later).

I'm freakin' excited! Wow, do I have a lot of training to do. Not to mention I'll need to put in some solid night running. The 100k runners start at 2:00 p.m., so it is guaranteed that I'll be running in the dark. That said, I'll need a pacer for those final 15 miles. I'm scared of the dark :) Well, scared to run in the dark of night in a place I've never even seen before, all alone. Plus it'll be hot and I get kinda cranky when I'm hot so it would be nice to have someone to tell me to stop my bitching and keep running/walking/crawling :) Vermont Mike would be perfect for this job, but he will be busy running his first 100 miler at the same event. Woohoo!

For the record, I will place any and all necessary blame on VM as this was his doing. I was perfectly happy not knowing that a 100k option existed for this race. But, nooooooo. "Paige, there's a 100k race, same date/time/place as my 100-miler. I DARE YOU." That was all it took. Then the wheels started spinning. I still have the e-mail with the above quote from him. I will frame it once I finish :) Take that! I have a weakness for racing dares, within reason, of course. VM knows this. I also have a weakness for talking unfounded smack, but that's neither here nor there.

So, the madness continues! I guess I should work on not getting injured anymore so that I can do this. Speaking of, I learned how to do "the clam" exercise. Let me tell you, it's not very ladylike, but my goodness is it a hip and butt burner! Google it and there are plenty of videos to show you how to do it.

Crash, out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trail Testing the 'Burbs

This weekend was fan-friggin-tastic! I just had an all-around great time, and one of the best parts? I found new trails! On Saturday I decided to check out the trails that the Sunburn Six in the Stix 6-hour run will be held on since it's nice 'n close to home. James Pate Phillips State Park is a gorgeous little hidden gem tucked away in Bartlett (?), IL and I was able to squeeze out 4.2 miles from the three different loops there, without repeating any of them. It's very open, no trees, and the trail is crushed limestone. At points, it is rolling, but nothing you can't run. Towards the end of the last loop, I came upon a big blob in the middle of the trail. I couldn't quite tell what it was from afar, but it was moving! I almost turned around, but decided to creep up on the blob...it was a big friggin' turtle!! Literally, he was as big as my torso. So cool! I've never seen anything like that before. I capped myself at the 4.2 miles as I felt great and didn't want to push myself too much since it was my first run since my 50 miler a week prior. I'm excited to have a new trail to head out to close to home.

Today I knew I wanted to head out for another 4 miles, but was just going to run in the neighborhood...boring. It was raining the entire day, and after a couple naps and some pizza :) I decided to be a little more adventurous and check out another new trail I'd never been to. I threw on my rain running gear, grabbed my camera and hopped into the car. Enter:
When I got there, I followed the road to the end, checked out the map and then drove back to the entrance, where I hopped onto the nearest stretch of grassland trail. I had no idea where the trail was going, and there were numerous trails branching off of the one I was on. So, I decided to just go with the flow and hop on as many of the branches as I could and see where I would end up!
Hmmm, which way should I go?

I wound around some stretches and started up a decent climb for a good view of the preserve...
Everything was started to bud and bloom, and it all looked so cool in the rain...
Then some more climbing, and a little bit of mud :) ...
And then, the greatest thing appeared before me...SINGLETRACK!!!
These stars were on a bunch of the trees...I'm assuming they were trail markers, but they were really inconsistent

Tree hugger :)
Taking a break, catching a glimpse of the stream that ran through much of the preserve
More mud, more climbing!
I found a part of the trail that branched off and brought you down to the stream...it was really pretty

It was tempting to cross here since it was shallow, but I decided I'd give it a whirl next time, and with a running partner in case I "crash" :)
Seriously, this was glorious! Does it get better than some muddy singletrack on a random Sunday?

Back on the grassland trail section, winding through the interior of the preserve

This is in the middle of the preserve...I took a peek inside and there were old-fashioned school desks in neat rows, a chalkboard and an early American flag hanging in front...it was really cool!
Nice little post-run stretch sessionWalking back to the car I saw this little pipsqueak on the ground and, remembering a recent thread on the List, decided to save a life today and put him back in the grass :)

This was a fantastic run and I plan on going back, often. It was a mix of flat grassland trails, muddy singletrack, pavement and some very nice climbs and views. I got 4.45 miles in without repeating any section of trail. I planned on just 4 miles today, so I'm pleased with how it all turned out, and my knees appreciated the cushy trails. The really cool part was that I was the only person in the entire place, the entire time! One car drove in as I was leaving. It was so fun to have the whole place to myself. Check it out if you're ever in St. Charles, IL :)

Paige "Crash", out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cowbell, anyone?

I did it again.

Just guess which distance I picked. I mean was there even a question?

I will take just about any excuse to head to Maine, and I can't think of a better one than a kickass race that runs through gorgeous grassy farmland on rolling hills and those cute white farm fences you see in nostalgic photographs. Well, that, and a chance to hang at Camp Atayne in their new digs, of course :)

The ultrarunners get a cowbell for finishing. How fun is that? A cowbell. It makes me think of that SNL skit...

So, another 50-miler on tap for my pearls! I'm surprised it took me a full four days post-McNaughton to sign up. What's wrong with me? Not only did I sign up, I also booked my flight and rental car. No backing down now! My next goal is to get Jeremy to run, too :) He's a Boston qualifier who's not running it this year, so I think Pineland would be a good chance for him to stretch his legs. Afterall, he qualified back in October, and to my knowledge he hasn't set foot in a race since. Jeremy, I dare you. There, I said it.

I heart Maine. I also have a couple other things on my agenda while I'm there. Going to squeeze in a much needed run through Acadia National Park. I didn't allow enough time last time I was there. If you've never experienced Acadia you are seriously missing out on one of life's greatest experiences.

On another note, I'm getting my custom orthotics next week, so once those are fitted into my new shoes I can get back into my training. I met with my new pedorthist this past Monday and had the most enlightening experience to date. This chick knows what she's talking about! She used all the f'real latin terms for everything as she described my gait and footfall to me, and the best part? I knew exactly what she was talking about and didn't have to ask her to put anything into layman's terms :) So the moral of the story is I have freakishly high arches, but a neutral gait. There is nothing mass produced that would ever fit my kind of foot, so custom orthotics are the only route to go if I want to continue with distance running. She said the road shoes my PT put me into are all wrong. I figured as much, hence I haven't worn them much in the last 6 months. And, due to the high arch, I supinate, not pronate (which is what my PT and sports med doc both claim). But the supports should fix the supination. Sweet.

Once I have the orthotics, they'll take some getting used to, and my doc told me I'll probably have some weird pains at first, especially in the shins, since my feet will freak out about suddenly having amazing support in places they've never had it before. Cool. Once all that's figured out, I can begin to (hopefully) really recover from these stupid shin splints. How amazing is that?! We went over my running history since I began 15 years ago, and every pair of shoe I've run in (which I somehow manage to keep a mental log of, and I even remember when I've bought my shoes...weird). She said I was one of five cases like this that she has ever experienced in her 20-year career (that's what my PT said, too) and she was fascinated by how much I contradicted what she expected. So now she wants to pay extra special attention because she wants to be the one who figures out my puzzle and makes it all work again! I said, please do! I think she's going to be my running angel...lets hope so :)

My knees are a little meh the last few days, in the aftermath of McNaughton, but I'm not too concerned yet. I have another ART appointment tomorrow evening so those will get addressed some more. Otherwise, I feel pretty freakin' good. And happy. I am bursting with excitement and anticipation. That sounds really corny, but it's true. I had no idea the kind of mental boost my 50 finish would have on me. Not only that, but I've been craving cheeseburgers and beer all week long!! I've held off on the burgers, but a beer has been a staple with my dinner each evening since McN. So anyway, I'm just dying to share my next life adventure with everyone, but I have to wait a little longer before I do...till June to be exact :) And no, it does not involve babies or weddings, lol!

So I know Steve Hanes' son, Mike, is running his first fifty at Pineland, so I'm going to keep an eye out for him! Vermont Mike's coming out for it, too...the Ultra Dome is going to make it's (first?) appearance there I do believe. Of course, my pearls will be in full effect. Anyone else running Pineland???

It's 60 degrees outside, so that means it's time for me to go to the gym :)

Paige, out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Ran McNaughton Park And All I Got Was A Mud Tan...

Oh, and this shiny new FINISHER'S BELT BUCKLE!!!
But seriously, I have a mud tan...you can tell I had on my Zensahs because that's the only still-pale area on my legs!

Wow, McNaughton Park = done and done! I finished my first 50-miler and ya know what? I feel pretty freakin' great! Other than my knee pain making an encore post-race (which I expected), and a little residual soreness (also expected, although I thought it was going to be a hundred times worse than it is) I'm flyin' high. What an amazing experience, compounded by the fact that Andy Weinberg puts on one hell of a set of events and manages to make everything run incredibly smoothly for the runners, not to mention the volunteers were just OUT OF THIS WORLD awesome! Holy crap, you can't even "designer baby"-handpick the level of awesome that these volunteers were.

Where do I begin? How about with some pictures!
Andy Weinberg (RD, center), and volunteer posting the 150M leader board on Friday, 4/10
Start/finish area on Friday

Hey, it's Ed!!! Coming in from another loop on Friday...number 2?

I got up from our perch at the line to grab some hot raman, and Mike found Alan J. crossing the line sporting his Atayne shirt, woohoo!!! We love random Atayne sightings

Friday morning I picked Vermont Mike up at Midway and then we set off for Pekin around noon. Easy drive, no traffic = awesome. We picked up some food at the County Market and inhaled it in the car, then went straight to the Park to hang out for awhile and watch the 150'ers doing their thang, and to meet Andy, RD. It was a tad crisp when we got there, but the rain had stopped and the sun was battling with the clouds to come out, and it finally did a little later. We changed into some warmer clothes, grabbed the camping chairs and popped a squat by the start/finish line to watch the fun unfold. We met Jana (sp?) from Bloomington, who was also going to be running the 50M...super nice lady and we ran into her a few times on the course the next day. We also met Travis Liles who was there to conquer the 100M again; we got to run with him for a short bit on our second loop. What a great guy, and a tough one, too. Check out his Flatland Ultra videos, it has some great information on there for us ultrarunners! Wow, met so many people on Friday, so I'm really glad I got the day off and we were able to get down there early. After we tired of the cold, we made our way to the classiest joint in town, Super 8 Motel :) Then grabbed some dinner at Monical's Pizza. Yum.

After unpacking and getting all our stuff together for the morning...pinning race numbers to vests, measuring out electrolyte drink into small baggies for easy carriage in our vests, putting post-race warm clothes into separate bags, putting together a drop bag, checking to make sure there were enough shoes, socks, first aid, sanity, etc....Mike zonked immediately, and I mean immediately snoring and out cold as soon as he hit his bed :) I, however, laid awake until 1 a.m. completely unable to fall asleep. Nervous energy, anticipation, excitement, the entire gamut of emotions were cycling through me a million miles a minute. To top it off, once I did doze off, I had my first "running through a building" dream where I was running the race through a building that I couldn't get out of. Very frustrating and it woke me up in a near-cold sweat. So I hardly slept that night; good thing I caught up on sleep earlier in the week leading up to that night! At 4 a.m., the alarm went off and we were up and at 'em. Grabbed a quick breakfast at Steak n' Shake (Mike ate like a horse, and I ate a bagel...nerves were really getting the best of me this time!), and got to the Park around 5:15ish. We decided to set up Mike's tent and use that as our drop bag area since the actual drop bag tent was going to get pretty full once everyone else arrived. I'm SO GLAD we did this; it was so convenient and gave us a spot to change with some privacy, and keep our stuff out of the way and in one place.

Headlamps: check. Hats and gloves: check. Timing chip: check. Atayne shirts and Pearls: check, check! Sanity and good nights sleep...wait, where did I put those?! "3-2-1 GO!!!

Seconds before go time! See, pearls!
This is the very first thing you encounter at the beginning of every single loop...mud soup!
And it just got deeper and wetter throughout the day from all the feet pouncing through it.
Oh, and it's kind of a steep downhill.

But then you get to this wide open field where spectators and crew peeps hung out to cheer runners on as they came through. It was such a lift to hear Torey, of Chicago Ultrarunners, shout my name as I ran through the first time, thanks Torey!!

So, now for the meat of the post...

The first loop went very well, not too much to speak of, and only one fall which for once was on my ass and not my knees. Naturally, it was on a relatively flat section with nothing technical about it. I had a muddy ass, though :) Mike gave me the trail name "Crash" in honor of my falls. I kinda like it, has a nice ring to it. This loop was a great warm-up and made for a great second loop once the legs were all fired up. It was light enough out that we really didn't need our headlamps after 5 minutes, so those got stripped and so did my jacket after a couple miles. My Atayne shirts (I had on two, short sleeve under my long sleeve) kept me comfortable. Loop two I started to feel something akin to a planet-sized blister forming on the ball of my left foot so I was getting paranoid. The two stream crossings we were warned about were more like 47,000 stream crossings. Andy must not consider anything less than shin height water a stream crossing :) But there were two main crossings: the first came early in the loop and was knee high on me, and the second was towards the end of the loop and was over my ankles. The water was COLD, but felt absolutely amazing on my legs and served as a moving ice bath for me each time. I actually looked forward to the crossings! After hitting up AS 2 (which, by the way, is my absolute favorite AS of all time...best volunteers, awesome food, the table was up high enough that I didn't have to crouch down (very important), and they had the sweetest elixir of life: Pepsi! I never thought Pepsi could revive a person, but it does, and it is probably a big reason I finished :)), I found my favorite stretch of the course. It was maybe a mile long, who knows though, and it was entirely runnable and delightfully rolling. Loved this section, and it led to the first stream crossing and beyond a ways. Then I fell again. Travis witnessed it and said it was the "most controlled fall". I had to reenact it for the picture, though...
After loop 2, Andy asked us how it was going and I told him I thought I had a blister so he immediately told me to see so-and-so to get it popped and taped! Thankfully, it was a false alarm. I have no idea what it was I felt, but there wasn't a blister in sight! I decided to change into shorts, my second pair of Cascadias, and into a dry pair of Drymax socks after slathering my feet in Vaseline. I'll go ahead and say that I am now 100% a Drymax fan. Fifty miles and not a single blister! I am so blister-prone it's not even funny. I can stand still and get a blister on the outside of my big toe. Wow, awesome product.

Loop 3 was likely my favorite, though I'm not sure why. It just felt good. I used the rope each time on the super steep hill just 'cuz it was fun and made me feel like MacGyver :) I was feeling fatigued after the third loop, but that was expected and I was starting to get into uncharted territory after mile 37.5. Mike decided he was going to finish with me, rather than stopping at 30 miles. Thank goodness, I needed the distraction and motivation! We then decided that loop 4 was going to be our final racing loop, and loop 5 was going to serve as our victory lap "fun run". Let me tell you, if you've never tried this strategy on a loop course, TRY IT! Knowing that the final loop was going to be a "fun run" for me gave me something to look forward to, and it helped to break up the run a little bit. I took it a little easier in the last loop (hey, I wasn't going to be winning anything, so who cares! I knew I was going to finish, so I may as well enjoy myself!) and snapped lots of pictures. I also finally ate some real food at the aid stations, but not too much as my stomach was a little uneasy by this point. Mike, however, indulged at Heaven's Gate, not once, but twice. He had a cheeseburger on the first pass at Heaven's Gate, and then a DOUBLE cheeseburger on the final pass of the station. I drank a few sips of a Heineken :)

During the race, I stuck pretty rigidly to my nutrition plan: one Clif Shot Blok every 1/2 hour, 1 S!Cap every two hours (P.S. I love S!Caps now...first time using them and they seemed to do the trick although I will need to perfect how many to take in different climates and situations), 20 ounces of Clif Shot Lemonade electrolyte drink every hour or so, and no crap food at the aid stations. I'll need to work on this stuff a little more for my next 50, but things worked pretty good for me this time around. My hands got puffy after 30 or so miles, and my stomach was a little sloshy around that time, too. I also kept burping; I just couldn't stop! I don't know what to chalk that up to, but it was pretty funny as I don't recall having a burping problem in previous races. I wasn't the only one though, and I laughed every time I heard someone else rip a really top notch burp. Nothing like a little bodily function to put a smile on your face :)

After the 4th loop, before our "fun run", I changed into some dry Drymax socks and Mike put on the chili pepper shorts. In ultras, you can't take yourself too seriously; you have to have fun, and fun we did :)

Ooo, here's the big stream crossing, let's take a picture of Mike!

Then, at the final big crossing, I got my 15 seconds of fame...
I was so tired and exhausted-feeling a lot of the race, due a lot to the lack of sleep the night before, and also because I didn't have my usual oatmeal breakfast. It was on and off though and usually was escorted by a big climb. Mike was a great motivator with his ceaseless enthusiasm and upbeat attitude. He wasn't pacing me, as he was signed up for the race and paid just like I did, and he's a faster runner than me (yes, you are!) so he easily could have taken off on me and had a fantastic race, but he instead stuck with me the entire way (except on the downhills, where he excels and just zipped down them like a freak of nature, and I gingerly negotiated them). My favorite thing? "Paige, let me see you smile!" Works every time. Try it. I smiled a lot during this race because of that line, and because I was having a kickass time. I was there for Mike's first 50 in San Francisco, so it was awesome of him to be there for mine. It makes all the difference when you have someone there cheering you on. Speaking of, fellow Chicago Ultrarunner's Torey, Ian Stevens, Brian Gaines and Kelly were on the sidelines cheering on near the start/finish most of the day and it was such a lift hearing my name shouted at the end of each loop. Thank you guys, and gals, SO MUCH for being there!!! Ian got a picture of me coming in after loop 4...

And then, before I knew it, we were finishing up the final loop! Mike stepped back so I finished one second ahead, 13h:17m:58s! Andy was there to high-five both of us, and the volunteers handed us our belt buckles. Then Stan Z. (thanks, Stan!) took a picture for me at the finish...
I just wanted to pass out! Mike made sure everyone and their mother knew I just finished my first 50, so I got a ton of congratulations, hand-shakes, and high-fives, it was awesome. Have I mentioned how much I love ultras?? I ducked into our tent to change into clean, warm clothes before the "ultra shivers" could set in (I always get super, super cold right after an ultra, so if I don't get into warm clothes fast the shivers will not stop), then went right to the grill and ordered a juicy cheeseburger! Torey came over and congratulated me and we chatted some; she was going to be joining fellow Chicago Ultrarunner, and 100M runner, Adrian B. for a loop in the dark...go Torey!! Great way to learn how to night run...that's on my list :) After hanging around for an hour or so afterwards, Mike and I packed up the tent and our stuff, tossed it in my truck and went straight to the liquor store to get ice and beer! I needed an ice bath, stat.

Me, 44 pounds of ice and...
BEER! How often do you take an ice bath AND chill your beer at the same time?

Well, I guess all there is left to say is that I had the most amazing experience for my first 50-miler. I wouldn't change anything about it. I had my secret doubts going into it because I had only run three times in the preceding four weeks due to my knee pain, so I was thinking I might have to call it a day before I could finish and just save myself for Pineland Farms. But the stars and planets aligned and the running gods decided that McNaughton was going to be my day afterall :) I am so freakin' happy and darn proud of myself!

Just a few acknowledgements: thank you Mike for being my running guy and sticking with me the whole way, thank you Andy for being awesome and having nice legs, thank you volunteers for everything, thank you Pepsi at aid station two, thank you Drymax for not blistering me, thank you Chicago Ultrarunners for being there, thank you Super 8 for not having bed bugs and not charging us for the muddy mess we left in the bathroom, thank you Aleve for lasting 8-12 hours, thank you Atayne for keeping me dry and not giving me B.O., thank you mud for cushioning my two falls, thank you stream crossings for numbing my legs up to my knees twice per loop, thank you outhouse at mile 42-ish for being there right when I needed you, thank you Pekin Adam for passing me so I could see what you looked like after 40 minutes of running together, thank you Oreo for sharing your double-stuffed goodness with me on that prairie section that lasts for-effing-ever, thank you Jerry Davison for introducing me to your incredible wife so she could see my pearls (I thought about that the whole race and smiled because of it; my thoughts are with both of you in this tough time), and thank you trail for not breaking me :)

Paige, out.

"If it's fixed, don't broke it." ~ Mike's ultra babble, somewhere around mile 43-45
(yes, he said "broke")

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