Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Race Report: Too Hot to Trot 10k

I ran this race last year and had a blast, but given the distances that are required during marathon training, I had all but put it out of my mind until I saw the race director at the trail last week, mapping out the distances.

Originally we were supposed to run 16 miles, but our coaches told us we could go down to 10 miles this week if needed (and boy did I need it). Plus, this allowed me to go rock climbing yesterday 🙂 (more on that when I get some pictures) So the plan was to run the Too Hot to Trot 10k and then follow it up with 4 miles afterwards to bring me to a nice 10 miles for the weekend.

Considering that I’ve been focusing on the longer distances for the last couple of months, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with the race. When I left the house, it was unseasonably crisp – couldn’t ask for better racing conditions 🙂

I got to the race early, registered, and just spent some time relaxing. About 10 minutes before, I started my warm up, running about a half mile easy, and then a few strides.

My goal going into this race was a) to beat my time from last year and b) to break 60 minutes – to do this I’d need to maintain a 9:39 pace, definitely a tall order considering that I’ve been struggling to maintain that during speed work.

The plan was to start off slow and then pick up the pace, but even my slow was faster than I expected! I certainly felt like I was racing, but I never once felt like I was pushing harder than I could. My form felt amazing, and it sounds silly, but almost effortless. At the turnaround, I have unofficially set a new 5k PR – 29:27. I took one of my remaining cliff chomp blocks, which is much harder running than standing, and pushed on. I tried to keep my pace somewhat conservative on the return trip, as there’s a slight uphill tilt to the trail, but even that kind of went out the window.

As soon as I was within the final 1.2 miles I knew I was okay to start pushing the pace again. My legs still felt amazing and my breathing was more than comfortable. When I hit the house that’s 1/4 mile from the end, I push even harder, and kicked it in to second gear as I could see the finish line appearing around the bend, through the bushes. I was honestly astonished to see the time on the clock – 58 minutes. Whoa! As I sped towards the finish, I knew I had totally decimated my goal. My official time was 58:08!! Ahh!!! *happy dance*

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My Garmin sometimes loses signal on the trail, which is why it comes up a little short.

After I had my own little personal celebration, I spent some time chatting and watching the other finishers, including the final finisher:

Yeah, his arm's in a sling.

Yeah, his arm’s in a sling. What’s your excuse? 

I stuck around for the awards ceremony, but couldn’t hang out too long, because I still had more miles to run! Off I went, and got another 5.25 miles in. My legs definitely felt worse for the wear, but I got it done. Not too shabby 🙂

Who have I become?? 😉

The best part of the day? Seeing the official results posted and finding out that I WON MY AGE GROUP!!!! HOLY CRAP!!!!! Only once before have I ever placed, and I absolutely had no expectation of that today. The 30-something women in these races are amazingly fast. But I guess they all graduated to the 35-39 group 😉

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What a way to end an awesome weekend 😀

P.S. – the shoes worked out well 🙂

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Sunday Observations

Two things I’ve observed this morning.

1) I ran 14 very hilly, very hot, humid miles yesterday. I am not sore at all today. I have a slight tightness in my right hip, and a little tenderness in a tendon i tweaked going up the last hill, but I’m walking perfectly normally today. 😮😆

2) The Strassburg sock is the most amazing invention ever. The PT yesterday recommended I try one out for my achilles issue, so I got one while I was at the store and tried it on last night. Admittedly, it’s a little awkward to sleep in, especially for someone who naturally points their toes, but it’s not uncomfortable. The only time I really noticed it was when I stretched my leg out completely straight. But, the best thing? This morning when I stepped out of bed, I didn’t hobble once! I haven’t done that in nearly a year!! 😆😆😆😆😆

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☀️ Hope y’all have a good Sunday! ☀️


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Exciting News!

I just found out today that I won an entry to the Philadelphia Marathon!! 😀

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I’m super excited to run this race and can’t wait! I had planned on doing Philly as my first full marathon, but am more than happy to preview the first half this year 🙂 The entry was courtesy of Philly Marathon sponsor Gore-Tex in their #RoadtoPhilly contest.

Today was a super busy day for me. I got up at 5:00am to make it downtown for a great speaker series my b-school hosts, called Leaders + Legends. Today’s speaker was Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with CNN over the last 6 years, but he was a great speaker and very conversational and open during the Q&A session.

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Afterwards I had some time to kill before PT, so I wandered around the harbor to take in the sights of the tall ships which are in town for the Star Spangled Spectacular. This weekend is the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner, which was written right here in Baltimore!

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The 9/11 Memorial outside of the World Trade Center, Baltimore

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While I was at PT I could see the Blue Angels practicing and was super excited when, as I was getting back to my car, one of the security guards let me know about a great spot nearby with a great view of the entire harbor. I’m so glad he said something because the view was fantastic! We had a great view of them flying the entire length of the harbor, from Martin’s all the way up to Fort McHenry and they often flew right overhead doing their maneuvers.

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I wish I could claim this photo as my own, but I definitely cannot.

I wish I could claim this photo as my own, but I definitely cannot. One of the great photographers for the event took this. 

And on my way out of the city, I was reminded at just how pretty Baltimore can be at times, even with abysmal traffic.

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Too Hot to Trot 10k – Race Report!

I was supposed to work out tonight but honestly, I just don’t feel like it. Usually it’s best just to push through and work out anyway, but I know it’s just going to lead to frustration tonight. Sometimes you just have to count your losses and move on.

However, I refuse to be totally useless tonight, so I will at least update my blog 🙂 

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures – I’m no longer taking my phone with me on races and accompanied long runs as it’s just added weight on my wrist. 

Yesterday was the Too Hot to Trot 10k race, a low-key race held by the local Road Runners club. As it’s always held in mid-August in the mid-Atlantic, the name is usually pretty apt, but yesterday was anything but too hot to trot! It was quite chilly – 59, actually. My first goal going into this race was to not aggravate my hip or leg. Second was to PR in some capacity. Third was sub-1:07:00.

The day didn’t start out well. Even though my mom was super kind and let me sleep in their room, the quiet room in the house, I slept horribly because the neighbor’s kids had a party in which several high schoolers insisted on yelling in the street about how much beer they still had to drink, in the way that only pathetic drunks do. Classy, folks, real classy.  

Then I woke up with a stomach that refused to play nice. Eventually though I got myself out the door and my stomach settled down once I got some power bar chews in me. Registration was held the morning of the race and cost a whopping $2! If only all races could be that cheap.

I’m still not used to going to races by myself – my ex went with me to every single one until we separated – but I ran in to some people I knew, so it made me feel much more comfortable.

The race, which is an out and back, is held on the local rail trail, about a ¼ mile walk along a country road from the registration site. The walk was a nice warm up, although it didn’t really warm me up much. Shortly after I got there we lined up, had a quick schpeal from the race director, and we were off! I pity the biker coming north on the trail towards that tidal wave of runners….

I started out slow, knowing that my legs were still a bit cold, but settled into a comfortable pace about 1/4 mile out once the crowd had dispersed a bit and pretty much held with the same group of people near me most of the way. I am trying to get out of the habit of looking at my Garmin while running, but snuck and peak and was quite happy with the pace I was holding – low 10s.

Mile 1 came in just over 10:00, and feeling pretty confident, I went into cruise mode to take advantage of the slight downhill. Mile 2 came around and – whoa! – 9:49! “Uh oh, don’t get overly confident now, this is a 10k, not a 5k.” I slowly passed a 10 year old who was certainly holding his own.

Before I knew it we were at the big open bridge, which meant the turnaround was just up ahead. I snuck a look at my Garmin and pushed ahead, trying to see if I could break a 30:00 5k. I passed another woman just as the turn around came into view. Apparently the woman now in front of me had the same idea, because I could hear her yell out “argh!” just as my Garmin ticked over the 30:00 – and the turnaround was still a couple yards away. I made it to the turn around in 30:30 – a damn impressive PR for me, nonetheless!

Knowing the second half was slightly uphill, I expected my times to slow a few seconds, but allowed myself to think about my dream PR – 1:02:xx. Pushing back up towards the big open bridge I ran along side, and then slowly passed, a woman who had to be in her 70s – I hope I still move that fast when I’m her age! – and settled in behind a woman in a pink tank. Mile 4 was a bit slower, but the woman in the pink tank and I got back into a rhythm for mile 5. I almost passed her at one point, running along side her, but I think she just used that as fodder to push harder, so I fell back a few steps behind her. I hit 5 miles in 48:47, an “official” race PR by nearly 12 minutes, and 5 minutes faster than anything I have done in training this season.

The last mile was here and we both kept the tempo going, getting slightly but noticeably quicker as the finish line got closer. By 5.5 miles she had picked up the pace just a bit more than I could and stayed about 30 feet ahead of me.

At 6 miles I checked my Garmin one last time and pushed the pace into uncomfortable territory – the unheard of goal was sitting there, teasing me. 60 minutes.

I coaxed my legs into upping the cadence just a bit, but at 6.1 my hip pulled rank and I had to pull the pack back briefly. As I came around the bend though, I could hear the finish line and began pushing again – and then I saw the finish line. The clock was just coming up to 1 hour. But I was just a bit too far away. I took a deep breath and gave it all I got, telling my hip to shut up for just a few more seconds on the condition that it could yell at me all it wanted to later. As I crossed the line, I looked up to the official clock on the side of the trail and smiled.

1:00:30.

I have no idea how I did it. I would have been ecstatic with 1:06:xx. But 1 hour?!? Wow. Just wow. I still don’t think that has sunk in yet. 

It was just last week that I had my first long run miles in sub-10:00 territory, and today I managed a race pace of 9:45. Unreal.

After the race I had a quick snack and caught up with one of my half marathon training partners and met some of his friends and then caught up with an old friend of mine from high school, who was there with her toddler, still in her jammies, in the running stroller.

I saw some people on the side and thought they were smoking, which kinda peeved me a bit – but then I realized, they weren’t smoking. They were steaming! It was so cold, and they were so hot from running, that they were steaming sitting there.

We all hung around for the awards and then called it a day – it was just getting too chilly to hang around much longer. 

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

Although the amazingly delicious Lebanese dinner my mom and I had downtown last night was an equally perfect way to end the day 😉


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Race Report: Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k 2014

After last year’s debacle with the course being .2 short, I honestly hadn’t planned on running BWC this year. I enjoy the race, but the organization last year left a bit to be desired. But, when my mom expressed interest in doing the BWC training group this year, I decided to give them another go.

The race has been taken over by Charm City Run this year and they usually put on awesome races. After 8 weeks of training, yesterday was race day. We really could not have asked for a more perfect day. It was  in the low 70s, overcast during the race, and the humidity was low. The only snag in the day was that the highway into the city was closed for construction, so we took the “scenic” tour into the city. To allow for potential delays, we left super early, which meant we ended up with lots of time to kill in the race village.

The village seemed a bit smaller this year than normal, but then we walked across the grass and think we figured out why – it was a giant mud pit (impromptu mud run!). As always, the portapots were plentiful and smelled like roses. Okay, not really. But for portapots they were damn nice and there was basically no wait.

Before the race began they had the usual ceremonial stuff, including the National Anthem (great singer this year) and the group jazzercise warm-up (thanks but no thanks – the music was great though). I got in a quick warm-up, running up and down Key Highway, then made sure my mom was situated for her first 5k, took my place, and we were off. It really did all happen that quickly. Odd, but nice to not have to stand around forevvvvvvvvver waiting to start.

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Like last week, I decided to run with the metronome set to 170 bpm. It was a bit hard to hear, especially with all the noise and commotion of the beginning, so I ended up running with the phone in the water bottle up to my ear a bit. I’m sure I looked bizarre, but I’m okay with that.

The first half to three quarters of a mile runs along a road with raised medians and curbs made out of cobblestone (hello, twisted ankle) – because it was so crowded I ended up running on the sidewalk a bit until I could safely get back into the pack. About 3/4 of a mile in, though, there’s a hill that lasts about 2 blocks – guaranteed to thin the pack out every time. I take no guilt in enjoying that because when I ran BWC two years ago, I was one of the flies dropping early on that hill; last year and this year, however, I powered on up it past everyone else. At this point it became a lot easier to hear the metronome and I settled into a pretty good rhythm for the rest of the race.

The course support was fantastic, and before I knew it, I had passed mile 1 and then mile 2. The last mile-ish repeats the starting line area and then veers off onto the Promenade, a (mostly) brick-paved walking path that encircles the entire Inner Harbor. I love running along the Promenade, but my legs hate how hard brick is. Just as I was about to turn off of Key Highway to enter the Promenade, I saw a woman who had tripped on the curb – a few other women and I stopped to help her up, and when she got back to her feet she looked really wobbly and seemed to have trouble getting her balance and moving again, so a few of us tried to get up upright and stable before moving on with our race. I didn’t see her in the race village afterwards, so hopefully she’s okay.

Before I knew it, I had reached the Rusty Scupper and was at the finish line! My primary goal for every race this year is to not get injured. Check! My secondary goal for this race was to PR. Check! My tertiary goal was the come in under 34:00. Check! My the-stars-are-all-aligned goal was under 32:00. Well, technically I didn’t hit this one, but that was only because I stopped to help a woman in need. If I possessed the ability to be a heartless bitch, I would have. I finished in 32:02, which is damn close enough for me! No matter how  you look at it, I PRed by 2 minutes and 31 seconds – just three months after my last PR – and am very proud of myself for this. Now I just have to find a good, flat fall 5k to sign up for to officially beat the 32:00 barrier. 😉

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In the finisher’s chute, all runners get water, a cold, wet towel, a medal, and a rose. Waiting for us just beyond that is the food trough – whole bagels from Panera (yum!), Nurti-grain bars, bags of pretzels, bananas, and cold watermelon. I got my share of these items (plus a bagel for my mom, in case the food was picked clean by the time she finished – I’ve been a back-of-the-packer, I know how it can be…) and then visited my training group’s tent, where they had MORE food for us! I got a smidgeon of a cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera and some OJ – an odd combo, but really satisfying. Most of our coaches were there as well and all were eager to hear about how the race went for us.

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I scarfed down my bagel smidgeon, my OJ, and some water, and then my dad and I walked over to wait for my mom to cross the finish line. Her primary goal was to finish in under an hour, which she easily did! She finished in 52:28! The first time I “ran” a 5k  (at age 23, mind you) it took me over 45 minutes, so I think she had a great first showing.

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After the awards ceremony they had all of the mother-daughter teams come up on stage for a group shot, something I’ve always secretly wanted to be able to do. Somehow we ended up smack-dab in the middle of the group 🙂

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(my dad’s attempt at a selfie)

After the race I got on social media to brag about my accomplishment to the world (cuz you know if you don’t, it never happened. duh.) and I noticed I suddenly had a lot of notifications on twitter – so I investigated and OMG BART YASSO MENTIONED ME IN A TWEET!!

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Sorry, amazing PR, you’re now the second most awesome thing to happen to me yesterday.

This week is going to be another easy week – I’m going to let my legs recover and get my achy hip under control so I can be good and ready for the Dreaded Druid Hills on Saturday!! I fully admit I am undertrained for this one, but I’m going to go have an awesome time any way. I just found out my good friend Lauren is going to be running it with me, as well as other woman I know, so it’s going to be a blast regardless. I’m fully anticipating an ice bath in my future, but that’s okay. All the in the name of fun 🙂


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Long post for a long run

Today was a great day. It was the first time I’ve run in quite a while where a) I didn’t hurt to the high heavens during the run and b) I actually felt energized and ready to take on the next run afterwards.

A couple of weeks I joined a training group with a local running store, with the intent to switch to a different location if we had to move. Well, it turns out the move happened a whole lot sooner (and way more unexpectedly) than we had planned. I missed pretty much every run last week and have had a rough week getting back into it this week. Today was my first long run with the new group.

The group has almost 90 people – most of us are training for the Baltimore Half, but there are a few others represented as well. Because there is such a wide variety of runners, our coach set up a system where we self-select into beginner, intermediate, or trained runners. Beginners are tackling their first half and just want to finish, intermediates have (mostly) run at least 1 half before and are looking at a time goal, and trained runners are those who are constantly in top racing condition pretty much year round. I selected into intermediate, but because of the wonky beginning to the training season I’m skewing towards the lower end of the recommended ranges.

On Tuesday evening we did a 2 mile time trial at the track, which went okay. I’m used to running in the morning and in the shade/cooler temps, and the track was right in the sun the entire time. I got a bit dizzy, but made it through in an acceptable (but not stellar) time. Thursday I went out intending to run 2-3, but my legs just blew out on me. I couldn’t even run 1 mile, and had to hobble home the rest of the way. Not exactly a confidence builder. So going into today, I was understandably a bit wary about this run. I’ve never run at this site before, which made me even more nervous.

The course runs through a reservoir which the county closes down for recreation on the weekends. The road’s wooded for the most part and is pretty hilly.
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Amazingly, my  legs felt fantastic today and I did so much better than I expected to! I ran this 6 miles about 30 seconds faster than the 6 miler I did in February, which was on a teensy downhill grade. I think having the social atmosphere (and pressure) of the group helped immensely. I did walk a bit, but that’s okay.

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the view of the dam we just ran down from the halfway point on my run

I learned that my hill work has paid off, but I need to focus on longer hills, too. I had great power through the bottoms of hills or when I would start running after walking, but faded before I made a whole lot of progress distance-wise. That’s important because Baltimore is a very hilly course and my downfall last year was the inability to successfully attack the hills. However, I’m already in a much better position today than I was this time last year.

I’m also learning new techniques for keeping my shin splints and tendonitis in check. After Tuesday’s track session, the running store had PTs available to us for brief consultations. The PT gave me some great advice on things to do to get my leg to play nice, including a new icing technique. Rather than just placing an ice pack on the leg, she recommended freezing water in a solo cup, ripping the top 1″ or so of paper off, using to papered end as a handle, and directly massaging the area with the ice. Well, I didn’t have any solo cups around, and even if I did, the freezer is jam packed. So I had to improvise. Enter, the massage mango.

massage mangoYes, the massage mango. It turns out the little nub/hook end is perfect for getting into the tendons around  the ankle bone and in the arch. They were already frozen solid in the back of the freezer and this little guy worked wonders. I’m not sure of the longevity of a massage mango, but there’s only one way to find out 🙂


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BWC 2013 Race Report!

This has been a very busy weekend! Yesterday morning I got up super early so help out with the Dreaded Druid Hills 10k – I had really hoped to be ready to run this super hilly course this year, but it just wasn’t meant to be, but I figured I could at least volunteer! It’s a pretty small field of pretty quick individuals so I want to make sure I’m definitely ready to kick ass on it before I sign up.

Then this morning was the Baltimore Women’s Classic! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the second-oldest women’s-only race in the US – really kinda cool! I’ve been looking forward to it for months, but the last couples weeks’ training just hadn’t inspired a whole lot of confidence in me. I didn’t feel too great when I woke up this morning so I was estimating a 37:00-38:00 finish, just a little off my PR, which certainly seemed doable. I forced down a piece of bread with honey and some Pepto, then husband, ‘did, and I piled into the car and headed up to Baltimore early this morning. When we got there we parked at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and walked the mile or so over to the starting area at Rash Field. First bad omen of the day – some woman’s perfume gave me an asthma attack walking over there! Yikes!

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Happy 'did!

Happy ‘did!

This was the first time I’ve gotten to a race at just the right time. Plenty of time to use the porta pot, chat, and warm up before lining up. It was sunny, but a bit overcast, upper 70s and pretty humid – not nearly as hot and humid as last year’s race, but not really an upgrade either! At the starting line I ran into a former classmate of mine from Hopkins, which was a really nice surprise – just chatting with her for a few minutes put me in a better mood and frame of mind.

New Garmin!

New Garmin!

At 8:00am we were off! Because this is a women’s-only race, it tends to feel a bit like a “yay me!” kind of race, which seems to attract a lot of inexperienced racers. Not judging at all – because I’m happy to see people up and active regardless of the motivation or pace – but it does make for a more congested start because people don’t always seem to be as aware of race etiquette (e.g. if you’re walking, don’t start up front, and don’t run/walk 5 abreast!). The course is flat for about the first 1/2 mile or so, until it turns up a hill which usually weeds a few of the overly-optimistic people out (myself included, last year!). Unlike last year, I was able to make it all the way up the hill without having to stop, which made me feel really good. It can be hard day-to-day to see the progress, but when something that would have had you to your knees a year ago becomes easy, it’s a great sense of accomplishment. Things started to clear out after the hill and although the course was congested it was manageable for the most part.

Last year I remember being able to find patches of shade, but this year I couldn’t find any. I had planned on running the entire course but did have to stop for a few seconds to keep from overheating. My legs and lungs were fine, but I guess I just haven’t adapted to the summer sun yet. Whatever, I wasn’t aiming for a PR or anything, just a respectable run. And even though I had my shiny new Garmin on, I decided I wouldn’t look at it – whatever happened, happened. Based on effort and perceived pace I felt like I was running 13:xx miles, which would certainly be slow, but not the end of the world. As we got back to Key Highway and were about to turn onto the Promenade for the home stretch, I snuck a peek at my Garmin and decided to push it a bit towards the finish line, just about a 1/2 mile away. The Promenade runs along the Inner Harbor and doesn’t have a barrier, so I hung to the left to avoid the .000002% chance of falling into the water. Because that would be gross. But this is klutzy me we’re walking about, so the odds are probably a bit higher.

After a few more turns, the finish arch was in view – and so was the clock! OMG!

I kicked it in one last time for the last 100 yards or so and screamed as I crossed the finish line with a massive PR – 33:25!! Holy crap! That’s 3 min and 24 seconds faster than my 5k PR (and over 10 min off of last year’s BWC time)! I was so incredibly ecstatic. I was 240/540 in my age group and 1264/3211 overall. Not too shabby for an off kinda day! (Edit: Turns out the course was .2 mi short – I still finished in 33:25, but that was only for 2.9 miles. For a full 5k it would have likely been just over 35:00. Major bummer.)

I made my way down the chute to get my water bottle, cold wet towel, rose, and (new this year) finisher’s medal, then off to grab some grub – super juicy watermelon (yum!), smidgeon of a bagel, orange slice – and bask in my new PR. I ran into my classmate again and chatted for a while, enjoying the breeze, before heading home. All in all a damn good day.

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Not too fond of medals for a 5k, but at least it’s pretty!