Race Recap: 2017 Firecracker 5k

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Last year, this race was my target run for my 5k PR.  This year, I ran it because it’s part of the Four Season’s Challenge I’m participating in with the Oklahoma Sport and Fitness race team.  And it would be a fun way to get some tempo work in for my 26.2 training.  I’ve been having a rough time on runs recently (thanks OK heat and humidity) and this was a welcome change to slogging through some miles on my own.

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Start line (photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Based on this year’s race, you wouldn’t know that last year I really tried to work on my 5ks.  While I definitely improved my times over the course of two years of dedicated speedwork and practice, I never really nailed down the pacing.  And that is certainly apparent in this race!

I didn’t really know what to expect from this run as far as finish times go.  Marathon training and 5k training don’t work the same systems and so I’m out of 5k shape.  On the drive over to Fleet Feet, Chap was trying to tell me he was sure I could finally break that 22 minute mark.  And while yes, I would like to eventually nail that goal, marathon training is not the season to do it.  So I was just going to run hard and try to hit a seven something pace.

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Rainy start! (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Race morning was completely different from last year’s sunny and hot start.  This year, as we were waiting at the starting line, it started pouring on us!  I don’t mind the rain at all for short races, and it actually felt really good because the air was so sticky without the rain.  It seemed like it took forever for them to get us started and I even started to get cold just standing there.  I was soaked before we got started.

Finally, we were off!  The whole first mile it kept raining on us, and eventually it stopped but the streets were still wet.  I had my watch on and my Strava app to help me pace but for some reason I never looked at my watch.  And while Strava will tell me how fast I ran the previous mile, the rain water kept my headphones from staying in my ears.  I decided to run by feel.

The race starts out pretty flat, heading west towards the BOK center.  We hit a little hill on Denver taking us north towards Brady area and then turn back east to a flat streak to Guthrie Green.  Another baby hill (by this time though, we’re at or past halfway and it feels huge) takes us up by Cain’s and then back down.  We ran back along the same Denver route and back to the store.  Those hills also felt gigantic in this last mile.  I walked a little, but tried to only allow myself 5 deep breaths to regroup and then started running again.

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Tough finish (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

I finished tough, being dragged along by the motivating words of fellow racers, “less than half a mile to go, come on.  One foot in front of the other.”   I always appreciate this encouragement even though sometimes I’m like, “walking is still one foot in front of the other.”  Sometimes it’s good to get a dose of my own medicine, and have someone else telling me that I can hang longer than I think.

Finally the finish line was in sight and I crossed, trying my best to hold down some puke (if you’re new here, get used to puke talk on race posts.)  I managed to keep it down but decided no more breakfasts on 5k days.

My finishing time was 23:42  , which managed to be a 4th in my age group placement (last race in that age group in Tulsa!).  It’s a little slower than last year’s but I am so pleased that I’m that close after distance training the past 16 weeks.

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Positive splits!

After studying my splits, I know I have an out-of-the-gate-too-fast issue to work on.  I ran by feel, and it didn’t feel like a 6:32 mile when everyone else around me is trotting along or passing me (of course they are, I start in the front of the pack).  Maybe I need to start a little farther back.  My paces dropped off significantly each mile, but that first mile was my fastest ever recorded on my apps so that’s a pretty encouraging stat :).

Overall, it’s a fun race and one of the more popular ones in Tulsa (in my opinion – seems like a lot more people at this one than some others I’ve done).  Fleet Feet always puts on a great after party, and has awesome support through volunteers.

2 of 4 races down for the challenge and I love how the medals are coming together!

Later that afternoon, I got to run 5 more miles to finish off that day’s assigned 8.  Michelle joined me, the humidity was gone and it was only in the 80s.  It was awesome.

What’s your philosophy on racing 5ks?  Run as hard as you can the whole time?  Or start a little slower so you can really push it at the end?

4 Week Peek

We’ve finally reached July, and that date that seemed so safely far away when we signed up for this race is now in the current month.  I’m about to go on a complaining rant here with the understanding that this will be the last time I let myself complain about how this training is going, so if you don’t want to hear the whining then just scroll on down to the next section.

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It’s the final grind of the marathon training.  Peak mileage weeks, the longest of the track workouts (2k should NOT get to count as track work) and tempo runs that used to be long run distances are making for one tired and grumpy gal.  Coupled with that is the start of the hot and humid season in Oklahoma where whether you run in the darkness of the night, or just before the dawn, there is absolutely no time in the day when you won’t feel like you’re wading through the air or have lost half of your body weight in water by the end of the run.   Running has become flat out miserable.  I can’t hit my goal times, and sometimes I can’t even hit my goal distances.  Michelle and I are both too busy balancing work and personal lives to match up our schedules so much of our long miles are being done on our lonesomes.  I miss strength training 3 times a week (have been keeping it around 2).  I miss sleeping in on Sundays.  I miss donuts, ice cream and cookie dough.

Done Complaining

This past weekend I ran back to back doublers within 24 hours of each other.  I wanted to get the 26 mile distance in that time frame, even if not all in a row.  It was a horrible struggle.  Saturday, I did the 10 miler in the heat of the day because I’d put it off and put it off, knowing I would be tired and not on pace.  But so pumped I got it done.  Then, today, Sunday, I got up early to do 15.  I made it a miserable run/walking 10.4 before I just completely threw in the towel and walked the rest back to my car.  As miserable as I was on both runs, I used that time to make some determinations about the remaining 4 weeks.

  1. I’m still in this.  Yes, training might suck right now but I’m going to keep fighting through it and finish the last 4 weeks as strong as I started.  I can’t worry about if I’ll hit that magic 3:30 time, only that I will give what’s left my best shot.
  2. No more complaining.  Period.
  3. Prioritize rest.  I’ve been feeling mentally and physically wiped out the past two weeks.  And while I can’t control the busy, active nature of my schedule, I can make a few improvements to how I handle it.
    • No electronics after 9pm.
    • In bed by 10pm, books only.
    • Up at a consistent time each day – still debating this one but thinking it’s gonna have to be in the mid to late- 4ams.
  4. Prioritize healthier eating.  I’m about an 80% well-rounded eater about 80% of the time.  Recently it’s dropped to maybe 50/50 on both because of travel and socializing.  I am committing to making a conscientious effort for the next four weeks to eat a healthy mix of carbs, fats and proteins and as close to whole foods as possible.
  5. To encourage me to stay excited about the 12 training runs left, I’ve dedicated each run to a person or group of people.  This will help keep each run fresh and motivating to me to run in that person(s) honor.

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Once again running is showing me that just as in relationships and in life, you can’t give up when it gets hard.  Stick with it, tweak your approach and take care of all the areas that are a part of the bigger picture.  In running this means the training, the resting and the nutrition.  In relationships it might mean taking care of communication struggles, or  paying more attention to the needs of your people.  And in life, it means taking care of your whole self, body mind and spirit.

I still love running, I just don’t have to like it all the time.  (But now I’m disliking it without complaining).

Jack + Jill 26.2: Halfway Point Thoughts

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This past week marked halfway to the big shot at trying to get a BQ.  8 weeks under my feet, 8 more to go.  As I’ve been running this week, I’ve been reflecting on how I think it’s going and will continue to go until we get to Washington.   Generally, some days I feel like I’ve got a really good shot.  And other days I think there’s no way I can run that fast for that long.IMG_9477

Stuff That Makes Me Feel Confident:

  1. I haven’t missed a track workout.  I’m really proud of this!  Even on the cruise ship.  Even on days when I couldn’t do it in the mornings and I had to hit the treadmill or run in the heat of the afternoon.  I’m logging those fast paced miles and I know that it’s keeping me strong.
  2. Strong long runs.  Until recently, I’ve logged some relatively fast, not too painful long runs.  I try to keep those in mind as they’ve gotten harder in the past week or two.
  3. No major injuries.  Aside from falling down on a hike in Alaska and jamming up my back (fixed by Dr. B), I’ve had a relatively pain-free training cycle thus far.  This has never been the case in my past three rounds of marathoning.  I give credit to strength training, yoga, and regular chiropractic care.
  4. Race conditions.  It will be cooler.  It’ll be downhill.  I’ll have lots of people around me.  And it’ll be game day.

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Stuff That Makes Me Worry:

  1. I haven’t run long enough.  I wanted to have at least one or two 20 milers under my belt by now but the most I’ve done is 18 twice.  I’m glad that these runs don’t leave me too sore or tired the next day but I still want to hit that 20 mark.  Because there’s being conditioned for that long AND having to hit it at goal pace.
  2. I miss my running partner.   I’ve been logging some of these longer runs on my own because M has been battling her own injuries and our schedules just don’t match up well.  It makes getting those longer miles in super boring even with playlists and podcasts out the wazoo.
  3. It’s f*cking hot.  I did a 16 miler last weekend and was soaking wet hair to bra to shorts to shoes and it didn’t even rain.  I wish it would have rained – I would have been just as soaked but cooler.  It makes hitting the distances hard, and the paces harder.  And it’s only going to get worse.
  4. There’s only 7 weeks left.  That’s all.

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Yesterday, I tried to go out for a simple six miler.  One mile easy, 4 miles hard, one mile easy.  I quit at 2.5.  I’m not one to give up mid-training run but it was in the afternoon.  It was hot.  My legs were shaking and felt like I was running sub 7s but I was barely even in the low 8s.  I sat down on the west side of the Tulsa bridge and cried for a minute while I thought about what I was gonna do.  I decided that probably not enough rest, and not enough food (I really have a mental block with later in the day runs.  I don’t want to eat too much and get a cramp so I usually end up not eating enough) and the heat contributed to how I was feeling.  I threw in the towel because I really want tomorrow to go well.  I want to feel strong and rested when I hit the pavement at 5am.

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I’m feeling pretty discouraged.  And I have to come to terms with now the thought of what if we don’t get it?  This is classic Sprenkel.  I always like to think of the worst possible outcome to something, and how I’ll handle it.  So, I’ll keep lacing up and doing the best I can these next seven weeks with a huge emphasis on proper rest. Then come Sunday, July 30, I’ll give Jack and Jill my best shot. But if I don’t get that 3:30, I’m betting that I’ll hit a massive marathon PR in the process and have a breathtaking new state to cross off my list.

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Photos by Kayla Tandoc.

Jack + Jill 26.2: Week 14 Recap

I’m going to (try to) start doing a weekly review of the training for the week before.  This will likely be pretty dry for most of you out there (unless Michelle and I continue to have long run adventures like the one this weekend!).  But, I want to highlight the ups and downs of a training cycle this long and intense mostly for myself but also so that those of you who want to go for it can see what it’s like and maybe, hopefully be inspired.

So.  14 weeks to go.  3.5 months.  Seems far away still.

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Monday: Mondays are a circuit day for me.  I also want to make them a yoga day, but I’m not waking up early enough to go to the 6am class at StudiOne.  It’s a weekly struggle.  I did get in 3 rounds of full body circuits, and a little bit of yoga simply from teaching to my class.

Tuesday: Track day!  I ran a descending ladder today with the StudiOne track group.  My target track pace for Boston is really fast (to me).  I aim for under 7 min average on every track interval.  I hit it today and felt really strong!  Tried the Run Fast Eat Slow Beet Smoothie after and almost loved it.

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Track day

Wednesday: More circuits.  And I went to Rachel’s 5:30pm flow class at StudiOne.  I want to make Wednesday a yoga and circuit day too.  Nailed it this week!    I had my first appointment with Dr. Brandon Washatka DC that Michelle recommended to me.  My shoulder has been hurting, feeling a little bit like tendonitis, my low back feels compressed and my left hip is very tight.  I always have to very carefully open up into Warrior 2 from Warrior 1.  I told him all of this and went over other health history things.  He cracked me a few times, and I felt like a completely new person when I left.  My neck and shoulder muscles relaxed, which released some of the pressure on my shoulder, my low back felt like it had space again and my hip is bothering me less.  I’m going to keep going to him on his recommendation throughout the training.

Thursday: This is a buddy run day.  Michelle and I get together around 8:30 after my first two classes to crank through a tempo run.  Sometimes we follow the template and sometimes we just run hard.  Today we went for 1 mile easy, 5 miles hard and 1 mile easy.  We made it but both almost puked at the end of that 5 mile interval.  I could feel a difference from the adjustment and think I ran stronger because of it.

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Tempo

Friday: Rest day for me.

Saturday: Taught yoga class so got a little bit of a stretch.  Ideally we’ll run long on Saturdays but an actual monsoon descended on Tulsa today so we didn’t run.  I did my third circuit in the afternoon at the Studio so that I can practice running long on tired legs.

Sunday: Long run.  Went 17 miles!  This is the farthest I’ve run in over 4 years.  I was surprised how easy it felt not only to go that far but to maintain our pace.  We strategically drove to southwest Tulsa so we could have the northeast wind at our back most of the way.  It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed adventuring along the river and on the backroads of Jenks.  We encountered flooded roads to wade through, 20+mph winds and a little sleet storm on our cooldown.  All kinds of crazy weather.  And then, we brunched.

Overall, this was a great week for me.  I feel healthy and strong in my bones and muscles and we hit all our target pace times.  Maybe I can do this after all…..

J&J: Week 17 Long Run

Today is the start of being 16 weeks of training away from my fourth marathon.  The Jack and Jill (J&J) in Washington state.  I would just like to say that all of you who promised to never let me run another one have failed miserably.  16 weeks is a pretty standard marathon training calendar and since I’ve got a solid base it should be plenty of time.  I had my half PR last weekend which was super encouraging.  I rested most of the week following the race (last week), and was ready to hit the pavement for 10 by Sunday.

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Here we go

Meteorologist Michelle figured we should start south and run our way  north (due to 2o mph winds).  We started at Turkey Mountain and ran our way home.  It sounds like a simple enough plan but there was lots of planning that went into this route.  Weather, outfits, mileage, cars, etc.

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We got there by 7:20 and had perfect weather to start running.  Here are the things I want to remember from this run:

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See him?

  1. We saw a bald eagle!
  2. I had some funny heart racing moments whenever we would stop for water.  One was around mile 5 at a water fountain on the west side.  The next was when we first got back across the bridge to the east side.  I stopped to rest and my vision went pretty white.  I found a street sign to hold onto and just took deep breaths until I felt steady again.  We walked to a water fountain and pressed on as soon as my vision was clear again.  I ran/walked the rest of the way home.
  3. Some guy stopped me in Owen Park who appeared to be lost.  I tried to help him the best I could but honestly didn’t know where he was trying to go.
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Just one short

I made it 9 of our planned 10 miles.  It was a rough start to official training but it’s a start.   I find that when I have countdowns and calendars like this, I can keep momentum going well.  For example, I got up and did my circuits this morning!  I’m excited and also not excited about these next 16 weeks.  Excited for the challenge, and not excited because I know (x3) how hard this can be.  But, I’m glad to have someone by my side (or a little bit in front of me) through the next several hundred+ miles.

Race: Spring Fling for a Cause 5k

Many of you know that a small piece of my heart and life lives in Muskogee.  This opens up an entirely new willingness and radar for additional races.

Chap watched me struggle to break my long-standing 5k PR for nearly a year when he suggested this Spring Fling for a Cause 5k in Fort Gibson.  It’s flat, it’s an out an back (my favorite for short runs) and it’s during the time of year when temperatures are likely tolerable.  I put it on the calendar thinking it could be a backup race in case the St Patrick’s 5k wasn’t a PR.

This race rolled around and I so wasn’t into it.  I worked late the night before, had to drive out to Muskogee and got in around 11pm only to wake up to 16 mph winds and rain (thanks Michelle for teaching me to read the windometers).  And I lost my running partner.  A broken nose injury benched Chap so I was facing the out and back on my own.

Even as we sat in the car at the start line and I watched maybe 100 people scurry about, I didn’t want to go.  The rain had just picked up, it was in the low 50s and the winds were crazy.  But Chap said, “You won’t regret it.”

With 2 minutes to start I scurried to the start line, turned on my watch and Strava app and bounced around to stay warm.  Then we were off.  I had a goal to try for sub 7s the whole time which would get me my sub 22 target.   It was raining and windy but I couldn’t really tell which way the wind was blowing.  We were running down a paved, flat road that would eventually wind us around a corner before we turned around.  I had about ten people in front of me, mostly males and one female, before I just zoned out.  I tried to keep my pace around my track workout pace and as close to the 7 minute mark as I could.  For this I use my Garmin and keep the display on the elapsed time and pace screen.

I remember beginning to slowly pass the tail end of the pack in front of me.  The lead pack is normally far out of my reach but small town races are a different story.  I started ticking past them one at a time.  First the gal, then two fellas running together and then one guy on his own.  The first mile marker went off on my app and I checked my watch – mile 1 was under 7.

I was banking time as my dad would say.  I kept my pace as close as I could to that until the turn around.  That’s where I met the wind and realized that before when I didn’t know what direction it was coming from, it definitely wasn’t blowing against me.  But now, when I’m halfway in and pretty tired, I can feel it.  I fought through it the best I could to mile 2, also under 7 minutes.   A guy pushing a baby in a stroller motivated me to stay on pace.  I just kept chasing him, we caught the same pace for a little bit and then I pulled on past.

The last mile was the toughest.  I was feeling similar fatigue in my arms that I felt in the St. Patrick’s Day 5k.  (Which Chap later attributed to me moving my arms too much in my stride.  True statement, and good observation.)  I wanted to walk.  So much.  But I just kept refocusing my mind on my breath, on the strength I knew I had from weeks and months of consistent track and circuit work, and on the finish line which was just a flat road ahead (ok, and maybe on the donuts and fella at the finish).

When that third mile time went off on my app, I checked my watch and the distance to the finish line and pushed it.  I thought for sure I could beat the 22 minute mark.  I was running as fast as I thought I could to the finish and just as I’m about to cross the line, the guy with the stroller comes blazing past me.  Talk about a strong finish.

I was just relieved to be done and so happy to have another PR even though I was only 4 seconds off that 22.  They handed me a water bottle instead of a medal at the finish and my arms were so weak I threw it right at Chap’s broken nose (on accident!) so I didn’t have to hold it.  There’s more work to be done, and I am thrilled with the progress made this season!

We stuck around for the awards ceremony which gave me plenty of time to eat a few donuts ;).  Chap knew some people so he was chatty and I just tried to stay warm.  For the first time ever I placed as the first female in a race.  I still can’t really believe it.  And fourth overall.  Sure, it’s a smaller race but come on, me?  The girl who had to be bribed in to running over 10 years ago.  I’m not sure I’ll ever place first in that division or top 5 overall again so I tried to soak it in.  I’ve got some pretty cool hardware to show for it, and a lot of motivation and inspiration to set up the next training cycle (time to drag out the distance by 10-23 miles!)

If you don’t mind making the drive from Tulsa to Ft. Gibson the morning of a run, I’d highly recommend this race.  Flat course, reasonable registration fee, excellent cause (Special Olympics), well organized, small, great food after and great trophies!

It’s easy to get caught up in missed goals.  At the end of each race, PR or not, I try to reflect on the “fun” of the training, the will to race and the spirit of the sport.  I like how strong being fast makes me feel,  and the reward for the work put in.   It doesn’t come easy, and it certainly hasn’t come quickly but with consistency, I’m chipping off those seconds of my PRs.

 

2017 St. Patrick’s Day 5k

If anything will bring me back to the blog, it’s a good race recap.  And since the 2017 Sweetheart Run Double ushered in spring race season, there will be plenty of recaps coming up.  Yesterday’s 5k is the first of 5 races (Ft Gibson, Aquarium, BAA 5k, Garmin) happening over the next six weeks!

I ran this course last year as a coach to a client so I was very familiar with the up and down layout of this short race.  I’d also run the north part of it earlier in the week on a 10-miler with Michelle.  Psychologically I felt prepared.  Physically (save some lingering respiratory issues), thanks to StudiOne Fit Camp and track days, and consistently running with faster partners, I felt prepared.

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Mary, my stroller partner

I rested completely the two days leading up to the run – no circuits or miles, extra naps and earlier bedtimes.  I wrestled all week with wanting to finish my Fit Camp program and giving this race a shot.  It’s not my target race so early in the week I was motivated to keep up with my normal workouts.  But by Wednesday night I was feeling pretty beat down and let the spirit of the race win me over.

Friday night was a low-key night at home with leftover homemade chicken noodle soup and an attempt to pack up for a trip the night before instead of the morning of.  It worked, mostly.  This race has a later start so I was able to get up in the morning and finish tidying up, load my car, grab coffee, drop some things off at the studio, realize I only packed my running and circuit shoes, go back home, and make it to find parking. With 15 minutes to spare, I sat in the car for a while debating my race outfit.  It was drizzling with more rain in the forecast (hat on).  Low 40s and cloudy (mid-length tights, long sleeve shirt).  Considered a rain jacket but thought I would be too hot.

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Waiting to start

While I was searching around for my race pals, big and cold drops started to pour down so I caught some shelter under a shop overhang.  This is definitely up there among least desirable start conditions I’ve had.  I hang out until they announced 2 minutes to start.  I managed to find Catharine and Jessie, talk quickly about goals and then the gun went off suddenly.

False start.

We take a minute to push back behind the line and then get a true countdown.  Then we’re off.  I have my phone in my favorite side pockets with music and Strava tracking the miles.  Watch on my wrist to help me not go out too fast.  And a general goal to keep it as close to 7 mins a mile as I can.

The first mile is mostly flat, and I feel pretty strong.  I can feel tiredness deep in my legs but part of that is the 5k race and part is all the activity early in the week.  When that first mile goes by and my pace is read, I don’t feel as tired as I should for a sub-7 mile.  I try to mentally prep for the inclines that I know are coming.  They’re not too steep or long but still noticeable.  Thankfully I start to hit the faster runners coming back upstream and their energy fuels me enough to get to the turnaround.

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All downhill from here into the flat finish.  I love running against the crowds (Sweetheart Run, Tulsa Run, St Patricks) and it carries me to the end of the runners.  The flat finish still stretches out in front of me and I start to notice tired forearms and pains in my upper back.  I want so badly to walk or pause but I try to just keep moving. I haven’t seen Michelle at all, and I know Catharine is right behind me.  I alternate thinking about members and how they inspire me at Fit Camp until finally I’m across the line.

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Tough, rainy effort

I go hands to knees in an effort not to puke and get a friendly pat a squeal from Michelle as she comes across right behind me, followed not too far by Catharine.  We all realize and briefly celebrate our PRs.  I am so, so relieved to finally have another after chasing last year’s Go Short PR for over a year!  My Strava even says I broke 22 minutes but I’ll keep working on an official sub-22.  We take a few pictures in the rain, a little immune to the cold now. And then I have to dart back to the car to hit the road for vacation.  Next up: Ft. Gibson Spring Fling for a Cause.

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Training gals, PRs for most!