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Lessons Learned from the Strawberry Classic 10K

by Meghann on March 23, 2013

I was hoping to share a PR with you today, but I have none to share. There were no PRs and no goal times that were met. Just a regular ole finish time with a lot of lessons learned along the way.

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I haven’t run a 10K in YEARS. My current PR is from a race I ran in 2009. I actually beat that time during the the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon last February (but I don’t count it since it wasn’t a dedicated 10K race) and ever since I’ve had the desire to run a dedicate 10k to beat it. Since I’m currently in “pre-training” for Ironman Florida, I thought now would be a good time to specifically train for a 10k to beat it.

So I found a very vague Smart Coach training plan back in January and started training for the Strawberry Classic 10K in Temple Terrace.

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Since it was “only” a 10K, I didn’t take the plan serious at all. It only had me running three days a week with one day dedicated to speedwork, one day dedicated to an easy run, and another dedicated to a long run. I realized about halfway through the plan that it wasn’t working. Every runner is different with the type of training and amount of days they dedicate towards training when striving for goals. I actually realized back in 2010 that if I want to reach a running time goal, I need to dedicate 5 days a week to running. When I was training for Chicago I only ran 4 days a week and bonked halfway through my race. I switched my training to 5 days a week for Palm Beach Marathon and reached my goal. Last year I was running 5 days a week when I PRed by a full 7 minutes in my half and PRed again at Flying Pig for the full. I thought 3 days a week would be enough for “only” a 10K, but I knew going into the race that it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel fast, I didn’t feel prepared, and I didn’t feel like I worked hard enough to earn a PR.

Now the 5 days a week of running rule is only my sweet spot when it comes to building speed for a goal race. When it comes to triathlon training or running in the off season, 3 days a week is just fine. Again, EVERYONE is different when it comes to goals, training plans, and what works for them. I’ve just found that this is what works for ME.

Also, I would NOT recommend running a half marathon you didn’t train for the weekend before a goal race. BAD IDEA! Since I hadn’t trained, my calves were SORE after Sarasota. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I’m not sure my body was 100% recovered when I started the 10k.

So this morning I got up, put on my running clothes, and decided to see what would happen. I still had the vague hope that a PR was possible (there’s always the chance we can surprise ourselves in races), but had already accepted that today might not be my day.

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The Strawberry Classic is a small local race in Temple Terrace consisting of about 700 runners with a 15k, 10k, 5k, and 1 miler. I can not say enough great thing about this race (or about small local races in general). First of all, parking was a BREEZE! I was able to park in the dedicated lot without ever being stuck in traffic or worrying I might not have a spot. The process was so smooth and easy!

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It was also nice not have to worry about feeling overcrowded. Even the lines at the porta potties were short! I got there about 30 minutes before the start and did a quick mile warm-up around the block.

I loved the no-frills start line. What more do you need than a timing mat and cones telling runners where to line up?

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The 15k had started about 45 minutes earlier at 7:15 and the 10k and 5k were starting together at 8:00. With 10 minutes until the start, we were all casually ushered to start making our way to the start. I wanted to avoid any bottle necking so I inched my way as close to the start line as I could get. Unfortunately this probably hurt me more than it helped me. I have a problem going out too fast and starting with really fast people doesn’t help that problem. D’oh.

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Ready to start!

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I was at this race alone. I didn’t know anyone running the race and didn’t bring any spectators with me. Whenever I go places alone, I always get comments asking who’s taking my photos or if I just ask strangers to take them. It depends. Sometimes I ask strangers, but other times a stranger will see me taking a self portrait and ask if they can take a photo for me. This happens ALL. THE. TIME. If you’re nervous about asking someone to take your photo, take a self portrait and see if anyone asks if they can take it for you. That’s not always my intention when I take self portraits, but 8 times out of 10 that’s what happens.

Exhibit A:

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After I took the self portrait above the sweet gentlemen next to me asked if he wanted me to have him take a photo. What a great guy.

Alright, back to the start.

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Waiting for the start was nerve racking. The announcer was counting down in one-minute increments and my stomach filled with butterflies the closer we got to the start. I was full of anticipation and ready to run.

Sixty seconds before the start they removed the cones and we inched closer to the start line.

Ten seconds before the start everyone’s hands when instinctively to their garmins.

3…2…1… GO!

And we were off!

The course starts on a fast downhill. The 5k-ers and 10k-ers started together and I had to remind myself NOT to take off with the 5k-ers. I had double the distance to go than them and did not want to start off too fast.

I looked at my watch and saw 6:30s. This is ALWAYS where my head starts playing tricks on me because at that point the 6:30 pace felt good. I mean, of course it felt good, I’d only gone .25 miles – everything felt good at that point. This is where I start thinking that maybe I can hold this pace for the whole distance. Maybe I’m faster than I think I can. Of course I can do this.

WRONG.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

See. This is what really happens. I’ll hold that pace until I can’t anymore (usually mile 1) then bonk and fade from there. So my first mile will be 6:30 and my last mile will be 8:30. That’s what we call GOING OUT TOO FAST.

I reminded myself of this. I told myself that actually I can’t hold that 6:30 pace forever. It feels good now, but not in .5 miles. I forced myself (begrudgingly) to slow the heck down.

Mile 1 was 7:26. Better than seeing 6:30, but still faster than I wanted. My goal pace for the race was closer to 8:00. In the ideal world, I would have held that for all 6.

As you might of guessed, the miles just got slower from there. My second mile was 8:02 (goal pace!), but the remaining averaged 8:20-8:40 (bad. very bad.). Once I started mile 3 I was struggling to keep my goal pace. This is where my lack of training kicked in and I knew I was in trouble. My legs just didn’t have it in them. Not at that pace, not for that mileage.

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The course itself was great. The race organizers did a great job marking the course so none of the runners ever felt lost. Since it was a smaller race, there wasn’t a ton of volunteers, spectators, or even runners out there so I was on my own navigating unfamiliar territory for some of the race. Luckily almost the entire course was marked with spray painted arrows and “10Ks.” I never second guessed myself and felt confident with my directions.

However, there were HILLS. I know, we live in Florida – what hills could I be talking about? We do have hills in Florida. Nothing steep or crazy, but gradual and definitely annoying. At mile 5 I realized if I ran the next 1.2 miles in less than 9 minutes then I could still get sub-50. I could do that. Piece of cake.

Then I turned a corner and realized they saved the steepest hill on the course for the last mile. There goes my renewed burst of energy and determination. That pretty much all went out the window when I made it halfway up the hill and pretty much gave up. Running is all mental and my mind was done. I stopped and walked up the rest of the hill, cursing the whole way. After that I more-or-less took my sweet time getting to the finish. My positive attitude was gone.

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We merged with the 5k-ers and 15k-ers right before the final turn to the finish. For some reason seeing the back-of-the-packers gave me that final push to kick it up for the finish. I dug in and crossed the finish line for a final time of 51:17.

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Not my slowest 10k time, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Sigh.

I KNOW I have another PR in me. I just need to fully commit myself to training to it to make it happen. Watch out Strawberry Classic 2014 – I’ll be back! And I’m going to get that PR!

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And they don’t call it the “Strawberry Classic” for nothing. All you can eat strawberries were waiting at the finish line!

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I had three cups!

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There was also some sweet breads.

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And STARBUCKS coffee!

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Only the good stuff for this local race.

I may not have PRed as I hoped, but I did manage to place second in my age group.

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I even got a medal for it.

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Then someone asked if they wanted me to have them take the photo.

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hehe. Runners are awesome.

Have you ever placed in your age group? I’ve done it a couple of times, but ONLY small races. I mean, when the odds are there are only three runners in your age group it’s kind of a given, right? πŸ˜‰

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy March 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I placed second in my age group at a really small local 5k and you better believe I’m hanging on to that medal for dear life!
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2 Angela March 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

That’s awesome!! Small race or not, that’s awesome! I’d do any race with endless strawberries at the end. πŸ™‚
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3 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats March 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I have not been training for my upcoming 10k at all. This is technically my first 10k so even though its an automatic PR, I still have a goal in mind which is looking slim. It happens. I’m hoping our post race fun is as tasty as yours though, looks delish!
Karen @ Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Meals on repeat and I have no idea how to pace runs

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4 Logan @ Mountains and Miles March 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

A race where there is endless strawberries at the end?? Where can I sign up?!?!
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5 [email protected] Version of Me March 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

You did awesome! I feel that each race is an opportunity to learn more about myself as a runner. You have learned from this experience and what you need to do to meet your goals. Well worth it! And you had fun, right?!

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6 Jess March 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I traveled alone for 3 weeks, I am not shy about asking people to take my photo. I had to just get over it and ask or risk not being in any of my pictures. I NEVER had anyone say no, it is just about picking the right people.

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7 Debbie B. March 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I am going to have to add this race next year. That is some awesome food at the finish line. I am sorry you didn’t PR but you still got a medal and you look good doing it. In my opinion that is all that matters.

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8 Dori March 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Even though you didn’t PR, you still ran a fast race. Congrats on placing!! I placed 2nd in my age group in a small local 5K last June – it was really awesome. I had no idea that was even a possibility so I left right after the race and only recently got my medal. I wish I could run that race again this year but I’ll be on my honeymoon. Also – my 10K PR is from a time I didn’t really train. You never know, but I know you can easily get your PR with some better training.
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9 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats March 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I’ve never placed but my dad got 3rd in his age group at our local turkey trot! Haha we were a bit surprised but I was so glad he got that medal. And Starbucks coffee and strawberries?! That’s better than any other post race stuff I’ve had!
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10 meghan March 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Sorry about your race Meghann. I know it must be frustrating, but it’s good you were able to learn some lessons about how you best train. And it’s awesome that you’ve already made your mind up to do it again next year for a PR. And if nothing else, you definitely have a great base from which to start your IMFL training!
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11 Megan March 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I’ve placed in my age group a few times – again, also only at small local races, but they’re SUCH a confidence booster! Despite this not being your best race ever, it was still a good one. And now you have more to look forward to. πŸ™‚
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12 BroccoliHut March 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Ooh! Strawberries at the finish line would be a major motivator for me! I love those little suckers.
I’ve run just one 10K, and that was part of a relay team for a marathon. I feel like 10Ks are harder to find–there are a ton of 5Ks and half marathons around, but no 10Ks or 15Ks. I wish there were more!
I’ve won my age group once, and that was when I was pretty young (20, I think), and race day was rainy and cold (translation: lots of racers didn’t show).

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13 carissa @fit2flex March 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Its so funny how our bodies all train different. I loved your recap and I’m sure you’ll get the pr. And yes..my slow butt once won my age group in a half. πŸ™‚ #smallrace

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14 Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Sorr that you didn’t PR, but it still looks like it was a good day! Any race that ends with strawberries and Starbucks coffee is a winner in my book! πŸ˜‰

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15 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I placed second in my age group at the very first 5k I ever ran! It was a tiny race, so that is why. But it was a great motivator to keep up with the racing.
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16 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More March 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Congrats on placing – even for a small race, and one you’re not particularly happy with how you did, it’s something to celebrate. And because you know your training, you know what to do better next time.

For me, I know I can’t run back-to-back too many days because it’s generally too hard on my lungs…this has meant running mostly 3 days/week for my 1/2 marathon. But my goal for that race is just to CROSS the finish line. πŸ˜‰
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17 Chelsea March 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Congrats on 2nd place, but I’m sorry you’re run was a frustrating one. But you know! As they say, you haven’t failed, you’ve learned another way something doesn’t work! So its also great you we’re able to learn a couple things from the frustration. Good luck on the next 10K!
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18 Maureen March 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I’ve placed in my age group twice, and one time I even placed overall. All three times the races were small (the time I placed overall there were maybe 50 people in the race).
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19 Jan @ Sprouts n Squats March 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Wow second in your age group is still great even if it wasn’t the PR you’d hoped for. It looks like such a nice chill race, I love the name of it and the concept and of course that they give you strawberries at the end.
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20 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane March 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Love the strawberries at the finish! Ha I love the point about self-portraits. People definitely feel bad for those of us taking self-portraits & usually volunteer to take one, so true!
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21 [email protected] March 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Congrats on 2nd place! All you can eat strawberries would seal the deal for me πŸ™‚
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22 Steph @321delish March 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Sounds like a fun race! Bummer about the PR but you’ll be back at it soon enough! Congrats on the award!
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23 Kelly March 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm

When do you start IM training?

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24 MealsAndMiles March 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm

May. I didn’t want to start too early and burn out so I’ve been taking it easy and “pre-training”

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25 Kaitlyn March 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Every race is about the journey, right?! πŸ™‚ It sounds like you learned a lot, and even though you didn’t PR, I’m sure you’ll bring so much more knowledge into your Ironman training. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to follow along! I look forward to learning more about your IM training plan…I have no idea what an IM training plan might look like!
Enjoy your weekend πŸ™‚

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26 Gianna March 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Congrats! Even though you didn’t PR that is awesome to place!!!

I placed 3rd in my age group for a 5K two weeks ago. Small race love! Because I am the furthest thing from speedy that can be! Got myself a trophy though. I might have to get it it’s own display case πŸ™‚
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27 Art @ Fit at Fifty March 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Sorry about your race, but it looks like it was alot of fun.
I ran a half today and was hoping for a PR and was let down.
I still had a good time and it was a good run. Your pictures looked like you still had a good time and that is all that really matters in the end.
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28 Annie @ eatcleaneatreal March 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Well, you can’t PR in every race. Great work still getting out there!
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29 Abby March 23, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Just so you know sweet breads is also a term for eating brains (and other organs) of animals. When I read that I had to do a double-take!

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30 PeachyLau March 24, 2013 at 8:03 am

I would love to have all you can eat strawberries at the end of a race!!!
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31 Elizabeth @ Positive Change March 24, 2013 at 8:07 am

Yes I have placed before in my age group, but like you just in the smaller races. All you can eat strawberries sounds amazing after a race!
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32 Danielle @ itsaharleyyylife March 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

I’m running a 10k next month and im doing the 3 days a week running so I can keep doing crossfit. We shall see if I keep that schedule when I train for my first half! Great job placing second!
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33 Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com March 24, 2013 at 9:48 am

I ran this race a couple years ago and enjoyed it very much! There were hills! I can attest to that. I really need to “race” a 10k again, too. It seems to be a lost distance once you start training for halves and fulls. I’ve placed in a few races and it’s always so exciting!
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34 Kim @ Living, Laughing & Losing March 24, 2013 at 9:52 am

Love that there were strawberries at the end! Sorry you missed the PR but you did great for not properly training! πŸ™‚
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35 Allyson March 24, 2013 at 10:56 am

Sorry to hear about your not-so-great race. I definitely know what it feels like to go in the with best of intentions and then have it blow up in your face! Just an FYI though, 8:20-8:40 pace is pretty QUICK. Not all runners can hold an 8:00 pace like that. Appreciate your speed!

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36 Brigid March 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Doesn’t the leg pain you experienced today make you a little worried about running a half the week after your IM? I’m worried that that just doesn’t sound safe.

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37 MealsAndMiles March 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I didn’t mention any leg pain during the 10k, my legs felt great. My calves were sore following the half marathon last Sunday because I didn’t train for that distance. My longest run had been 7 miles two weeks prior. Running a race I hadn’t trained for was where I went wrong. I have NO plans to “run” wine and dine. I plan to have fun and walk or jog most of it as a post ironman shakeout run. Obviously if something doesn’t feel right I’ll pull out before race time.

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38 Julie @ Runninginaskirt March 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Strawberries, Starbucks and a medal? Sounds like a perfect day even though it wasn’t exactly what you had planned. Lesson learned for next time– I am currently sick, but was training for a 10K PR when I got ill– I can’t wait to get that time!
I have won a couple age group medals– but at VERY small little races– but it’s still an awesome feeling. CONGRATS!!!
πŸ™‚
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39 Molly March 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm

THIS. IS. INSANE. I was at that race yesterday and I’m pretty positive you were the girl who asked my husband where he got his FSU shirt??! No?! Well either way, I recognize you from yesterday! And I’ve read your blog a few times, had no idea you were meals and miles! I just posted about the strawberry classic, too check it out!
theregoesmollyrose.wordpress.com
ps…awesome job!
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40 Meghann March 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm

haha yep! that was me! Loved your husband’s shirt! Such a small world sometimes.

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41 Erica March 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm

It is so easy to take off too fast! gah! I did it in my half. Awesome that you placed! I’ve only placed once, and it was definitely in a smaller race πŸ™‚
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42 Jackie March 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm

That’s a great time! I PR’d in a very small local 5K and while I was proud of myself and my time I knew it was not really all *that* great. Turns out I placed 3rd in my age group but never got the medal because I didn’t even think to stick around for the awards ceremony.

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43 Karen March 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm

This race report was hilarious! All the things I think about when I go out too fast but don’t have the guts to really write about. πŸ™‚ The strawberries and pastries look delicious.
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44 Caity March 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

I actually placed for my age group in the Philadelphia Marathon! I was still 19 when I ran, so there were only 40 of us running and I came in 5th! I got a fancy plaque for it.

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45 Allison Schnake March 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Love your good attitude about this whole thing! Running is such a mind game!

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