Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Look Who I Did a Workout With.....Literally!

Last Thursday I showed up for my regular appointment with my trainer. After taking some measurements and going over how things have been going, he proceeded to ask me if I had some "tunes" with me. At first I was caught slightly off guard and then said, "Yes, in the car." He said for me to go get them because we were going to workout together today. At first I was thinking....seriously?! Like I could keep up with him and what he's going to be doing. And then the other part of me was thinking, "How cool is this? I'm up for a challenge".

We were working on chest and triceps (one of my favorites) so I was excited, regardless of what he was going to have me do. Honestly, depending on the day, sometimes I dread certain muscle groups, but this one never seems to get old or bother me.  It wasn't far into our workout (like less than a minute) that all my fears and anxiety of keeping up with the guy who's been such a huge part of my journey for the past 4 years was gone. I felt like an equal. Like it didn't matter what weight he was pushing or what weight I was pushing.  We were getting the job done. It was good for me to see him struggle, have to work, and push through the hard. It confirmed to me that he's just as real as you and I. Sometimes, I think we think of others that are paid to help us, whether it be a doctor, a dentist, or even a trainer or therapist of some sort, that they are on a different level than we are. Maybe they have more knowledge in certain things than we do because they have a profession in that field, but that does not make them exempt from having to work just as hard as we do at certain things or have to work to be healthy. 

I am so grateful for Jacob and his example to me in my life in so many ways. It's hard to believe at times that it's been 4 years already. He can tell you just like I can that the day I met him, I was not excited in the least bit about what was up ahead. I was quiet, reserved, and very protective of my weight issue.  My emotions were very delicate at that time in my life. I didn't come around very easily and I am the first to admit now, that I was a hard egg to crack. (Very hard!) Week after week, as the scale would slowly start to move and the inches on my body began to melt away, I still seemed to pick out the negative and not believe in myself and what was happening to my body. Looking back, I'm sure at times it was very frustrating for Jacob, but he just kept pressing me forward with an eye single to the goal at the end of the road. He believed in me far more than I ever believed in myself. In fact, his love for people, and changing lives is what helped me to learn to believe in myself. I wasn't a number or a project. I was a person. A person he became passionate about helping to see their potential in life. I know I'm not a trainer or a professional by any means when it comes to this stuff, but I am certain on one thing. I have a great love for who I have become in my life today. It wasn't easy and I had to work hard, but the pay off in the end doesn't compare to anything I could have ever imagined. My life is full. I am blessed. Thank you Jacob for being a huge part of who I am today! 

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Be Nice to You!

"You were given this body because you are strong enough to deal with it."

After seeing this quote yesterday morning, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. In some ways out of shame and in other ways out of celebration. 
It’s funny how when we allow ourselves to gain large amounts of access weight or not happy with something within the walls of our own body, how critical we are of ourselves. I am the first to admit I fell into this category more times than once, especially when I had 130+ pounds to lose. I think it’s a natural reaction. We don’t like how something looks or feels and because our body belongs to “us” per say, we feel like we have the right to be critical. Isn’t that funny how we do that? I mean we wouldn’t in our wildest dreams think of saying something to a friend or family member if we felt like they had some issues to deal with that were as personal as weight loss and self-image, right? Okay, maybe some would but I know that is territory I personally would steer away from. 
The reality is this, and it’s sad that it’s taken me until now to really understand how it works. Our bodies are not the way they are in shape and size entirely based on genetics. That plays a very small part, but as far as what our scale weight is and what our body fat percentage is, all is a result of what WE, the “body owner,” chooses to feed it. So yes, when I was nearly 280 pounds and feeling sorry for myself and frustrated… really, I was the only one to blame for the problem that had become out of hand. Even though I didn’t think that was the case. I mean, it didn’t matter what diet I tried or what exercises I kept trying to do, the weight still wouldn’t come off so how could it be my fault?  Why not blame genetics or life’s circumstances?  I think sometimes it’s so easy to push the blame on something or someone else when really we as the person suffering are the one who needs addressed. Granted we may not yet understand the best solution or cycle for what our body will respond to as we are all different, but the underlying problem stems from our behaviors. The good news is that there is an answer for everyone and what may work for one person may not work for the next, so being patient and finding just the right fit is the key.  It’s the “how” we treat our bodies in the process that makes the difference. 
I’ve learned to think of the body and how it works as a machine. Truly that is what it is. What we chose to do with that is up to us. It’s like me pulling into the gas station and putting diesel in my car instead of unleaded. It wouldn’t work. It would cause a problem. The car would rebel. Our bodies are much the same way. They need to be fueled with things they like and that can help them excel, not filled with the constant things that make them tired and sluggish. Again, the “what” is going to vary from person to person.  
Regardless, in the process I think it’s so important for us to be nice to our bodies. To treat them with respect just like we would anything else. Keep in mind this whole lifestyle to healthy is a process. As long as you are trying, your body is trying. Learning to work together instead of against each other is the key to success. Just recently I have found my mind wanting to wander and be critical or negative about my mid-section and the loose skin and the will-it-ever-go- away talk. Then I am quickly reminded of the hard work we have already accomplished together and the success we have had. I remind myself that in order for that area of my body to continue to make the progress I am hopeful for, I need to remain positive, build it up, and encourage it along the way. It’s amazing what will start to happen when you think of all the imperfections on your body as your greatest blessings in strengthening yourself. Yes, life is good!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate the Small

Celebration #1
I know this may seem corny to some but last week when I got on the plane to fly to San Diego for Ragnar I went to buckle my seat belt and this is what I saw.

A whole several inches, maybe even a foot or more of leftover seat belt. Not to mention my legs were even crossed. It made me smile. I'm sure the guy sitting next to me was wondering what in the world I was doing when I pulled out my phone and was trying to get a picture at just the right angle of my lap.  Oh well, I didn't care. I was just relishing in the fact that a few years before that when boarding an airplane I would have to quietly ask the flight attendant for a seat-belt extender in order to get the seat belt to fit around me.
Celebration #2
After losing a good portion on my weight I needed to get my wedding ring re-sized as I was fearful of having it fall off and losing it somewhere. Now, maybe I should tell you that at one point in my life I needed to have gold added to the ring in order for it to fit as I had put on weight since my wedding day. I remember that being a very hard thing for me.  I felt like I was accepting the fact that I was getting fat but the reality was that I didn't want to go without my ring either. Regardless, my ring has fit fine since having the gold removed again after losing the weight, but often times, over the last several months, I notice it spin around on my finger and display itself as maybe needing yet another sizing. Again, this is exciting to me. Even though I may not be losing large amounts of weight anymore, my body is still changing as I continue to work on my fitness.
Here it is, nearly 3 1/2 years since taking off all my weight, and the little surprises or the moments like these make me celebrate who I have become.  

Is there something you can celebrate this week? Whether it be big or small, we all had to start somewhere. Celebrate something! 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Your Eye on the Goal

I've been thinking about this very thing a lot the last few days. I think most of it comes from the fact that I was in California for nearly a week.  When I got home, I was in survival mode the last few days of the week just trying to get through the rest of the week at work and trying to make what food we had in the house get us by until the weekend when I could get out and do my regular shopping. 

I guess I bring this topic up because it seems to be very real in most of our lives. Things come up, we go out of town, we are out of our routine, and things get out of whack per say. I know in past years when these types of things came my way it seemed like a perfect opportunity to throw the towel in the bag for a while (which could be weeks, months, or even years) and give up or self-sabotage all the hard work I had put into trying to be healthy. I was thinking about it today and almost felt sad for the old Paige, that she would do that to herself. Then I realized, back then, she didn't know any different. She hadn't fully wrapped her head around the lifestyle part of things. In fact, I'm sure I didn't even realize the things I was eating were all that bad back then. It wasn't until I made the effort to educate myself on food, exercise, and it's affect on the body that things started to change for me. 

With that being said, this past week was a bit of a challenge for me. It's hard to have to eat out more than normal. To not know specifically what I am putting into my mouth, how it was cooked, or if they cook it the way I asked, how many calories were in the dish, and if they measure things out like I do. Most of the time the answer to all of those questions is the opposite of what you were hoping. Now, does that mean you should never eat out? Of course not. That wouldn't be living life if you didn't. It's the constant having to eat out that can put a damper on things, being out of town, and the daily consumption of not your usual routine that can get you out of sync.

One of the things that has been a blessing to me since taking off my weight is that anytime I seem to get out of sync (and if you know me, this really doesn't happen often) I crave my normal. I can't wait to get back to routine, measuring, and logging of my food. Even though I know it's good for me to get out of my routine and "live" every once in a while, I always look forward to getting back on track and doing what my body is used to. In fact, day one in California, even though I was enjoying my treats, and I didn't have my measuring cups in my suitcase, I already knew that my body would be ready to return to normal upon my return home. 

I've been home now for a few days and have gotten back into the gym, gone for a run, and stocked up on all the things my body craves during the week in order to function at its best. I don't regret enjoying myself while out of town but I'm looking forward to getting rid of the salt, sluggishness, and tiredness that naturally comes when I fuel my body with the wrong kinds of things. I always look at these vacations or time away from the norm as opportunities to make myself stronger and relish in the fact that I truly have changed my life.  I can eat and not feel guilt, I can enjoy and not worry, and know that my body has found a place that I will bring it back to as its "new normal." A place of balance, nutrition, exercise, and peace. This can can only happen when keeping your eye on the goal. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Ragnar Recap

I boarded the plane in Boise last Thursday morning both excited and a bit nervous about what was about to unfold within a couple hours. Here I was, after months of correspondence, planning and training, off to finally meet face-to-face with my 11 teammates. I tried to distract myself on the plane by reading and listening to music but that didn’t seem to be working. I think the guy in the seat next to me could tell I was fidgety, so he started talking with me. He wanted to know why I was headed to San Diego, so for the next 45 minutes I was able to explain to him everything about this Ragnar I was about to run and how the team, Strangers to Solemates, was formed. He was more excited than I think I was to get off that plane. He gave me his email and told me he’d love to hear all about it and how the team all meshed together and everything in between. In fact, he followed me outside wanting to see how my first interaction with my team went over. 
John (one of our team captains) was waiting outside by the curb as I walked out of the airport. He had already picked up several of the others and dropped them to either get the other van we were renting for the weekend or dropped them at his house. Bonnie was with him and had run in to look for me, but I hadn’t checked any bags so I wasn’t in the baggage claim area. Caitlin was the first person who greeted me with a hug. We loaded my bags in the van, I hopped in and climbed over the seat to give John a hug, and then Bonnie was there to claim hers shortly after. We drove around for about 15 minutes and then Katie arrived. I was really looking forward to hugging on her as she was the one who started this whole thing for me. She got in the van and was just as adorable as I imagined. 
We all got back to John’s house and waited for Thomas to arrive before heading north to the starting line. His flight was delayed but nobody seemed to mind as he was bringing everyone a Voodoo Donut from Portland. After Thomas had arrived and we’d given enough hugs to go around 5 times or so, we all loaded into the 2 vans and headed to our hotel near the starting line. We had gotten 3 rooms so we put 2 people from each van in a room to mix things up a bit. Caitlin and I were in the same van and got paired up with Bonnie and Martha. They were super fun and made it a perfect start to an even more perfect weekend. 
Before heading to bed we had all went to dinner as a group and then hit Party City to purchase van decorations and a few goofy things to wear along the way. 
I was in van #1 so we were up and out the door rather early. We needed to get signed in, pick up our race stuff, and have our first runner ready by 5:00am. Our running assignments were as follows: Runner 1 =Thomas, Runner 2 =Katie, Runner 3= John, Runner 4= Caitlin, Runner 5 = Hilary, and Runner 6= me. Those are the people I really spent the majority of my time with. 

Van 2 had Runner #7 = Dean, Runner #8= Tay, Runner #9 = Martha, Runner#10= Bonnie, Runner #11= Cat, and Runner #12= Colleen.  Van 2 got up and met us at the starting line just before 5:00 to see Thomas off.
That’s one of the things I loved about this team. It was all about support, bonding, and having fun.  Not winning Ragnar. In fact, one of my favorite parts about the whole race was offering van support and cheering one another on. 
It was inspiring to be a part of something like that. We didn’t care. We got out, made tunnels for our runner and others coming by, rang cow bells, cheered, gave other runners licorice as they were running past and whatever else we could think of to brighten someone else’s leg of the race. At one point I even ran after Thomas on one of his legs in my flip-flops ringing a cow bell down the street in the middle of the night. That’s just the kind of team we were. We wanted our runners to feel loved and we weren’t afraid to show it.
Now onto my legs of the race and how things played out for me. Like I said, I was runner 6 so I was the last to run in our van before passing off to van two. I actually really liked this position. I tend to be a nervous runner and having to go last gave me everything I needed to see how it all worked, relax, gear myself up, and be ready. My first leg was 8.7 miles. I remember seeing Hilary coming in towards me and I pressed the button on my I-pod to get my music going. She came in, passed off our bracelets, gave me a hug, and off I went. I rounded the first corner and the tears began to start. Here I was doing what I thought was never possible at one point in my life, let alone now being a part of a relay team. It was so moving to me in the moment, but I also knew I needed to pull it together because I had a long way to go and any time I get emotional I tend to be tired afterward. I certainly didn't want any setbacks my first leg out. I continued to run along at what seemed like a very fast pace for me so I glanced down at my Garmin and noticed I was just under a 9 minute mile! Yikes! I knew right then I needed to put on the brakes. I had no idea I was running that fast nor was I capable of such a thing. I NEVER run that fast. It's just not me. I just think the whole experience of finally being out there and the added adrenaline had me going for a few minutes there.  I was able to settle into a decent pace and trek along. Most of the first leg had a slight incline. It probably wouldn't have been noticeable for many, but I totally notice these things and it was an incline. Just about the time I was wondering if it was ever going to end, I came across a runner who had fallen/tripped over a crack in the curb. A few runners in front of me continued on and just passed him by. This being my first Ragnar, I had no idea what I was supposed to do or what the rules were but I didn't care. I stopped to help him. He didn't have a phone and I did, thanks to my team captain John, who counseled us to never run without a phone (I'll be planning to purchase a nifty phone pouch like a couple of team mates have as soon as I find one at the next expo I attend). He called his team and they were only a couple minutes away, so I stayed with him long enough to make sure he was okay and then off I went. When I got to the exchange and saw my whole team there (as van 2 was taking over) the excitement kicked in again. I got teary, and was moved by my own emotions that I was doing this. It was real. 

We headed out from there to get some food and stop off at a local school to visit a reader of Katie's blog who had contacted her and wanted us to stop by. We then went to the next exchange, and I set up my hammock and tried to nap for a while. 

It was cold and windy so I didn't rest well, but it was nice to put my feet up for a while nonetheless. Once Colleen (runner 12) made it to the exchange, Thomas (runner 1) took over again and we were off for our night legs. Mine wasn't too bad and only a few miles long. I'm usually not hip about being in the dark, but my team decked me out in glow apparel and most of the area I was in was not overly creepy. There was one sketchy area, but I just paced the guy in front of me and stuck with him until we were down along the beach again.
After I came in, we headed to our half-way hotel, showered, and got to climb in bed and sleep for 1.5 hours before we were up and back at it. I know that doesn't seem like much sleep but it was. And to have a real bed was even better. Gave me just what I needed to go out and finish strong the next morning. 
We started our last legs in the early hours of the morning. We had so much fun cheering one another along on the last legs. Part of it I'm sure was that we were all so tired and just giddy, so anything really, was entertainment. And then also, we just liked supporting one another. Didn't matter with what, the support system was just who we were made of. 
I remember being a little nervous for my last leg. I knew it involved a hill that went on for just over 2 miles. I tried not to think about it too much but occasionally it would creep up on me. When we pulled into the exchange and I looked to the left, I saw Torry Pines....the HILL I was going to have to go up. 

It was beautiful in looks but to run up it? Umm, didn't look so pretty (and this picture makes it look rather small in size compared to real life).  Hilary passed off to me and off I went. I maintained a decent pace until I got to the base of the hill and then I slowed things WAY down. My first line of attack was to walk it. Then I got there and thought, let's see how I do at a slow pace. And so I did. Up and over, up and over. I kept telling myself that as I ran along. At one point I noticed the gal behind me flagging me down. I turned off my music to see if she needed something and if she was okay. The words out of her mouth were... "You're a  beast! I'm trying to keep up with you but I can't!" I guess I must have needed that because from then on, there was no way I was walking. I trudged, as my team van passed by honking the horn and waving (they later told me the van was down-shifting and their ears were popping and here I was trekking up the side of the mountain). When I made it to the top, I knew I only had a few miles left and I just took off. I didn't care how fast I went or if I was going to burn out.  I just went. It was so empowering. It felt like I could do anything I put my mind to, regardless of how hard it felt.
I rounded the corner and saw Dean standing there for the 3rd and final time as I ran in and once again, the tears began to come. He just was beaming, smiling, like he always does. He gave be a big bear hug and off he went on his last leg. Our van followed him for a while, surprising him in different spots and cheering him on as we were finished with our portion of the race. 
We headed to get a bite to eat at In and Out Burger (yep, I ate naughty and it tasted SO good), went back to John's and rested for a bit, and waited until Van 2 was close to the finish line before we headed out. 

When Colleen (runner 12) was about a mile out, she sent us a text and we all got ready to run the last part of her leg and through the finish line together. There we were all 12 of us, running along in our matching blue shirts, having just run nearly 200 miles toghether. We did it! 

It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Not just for me personally but as a team. We all had to do our part in order to make it happen and that is what I grew to love about Ragnar. It's not about speed and who gets there first. It's about working together as a team, to get you to that finish line. 
That night after the race we had a dinner at John's house.

The next morning we had a brunch together and then from then on out it was time to start saying goodbye to one another one by one. 

I didn't think it was going to be hard but it was. I remember thinking, I can't talk or I'll start crying. It's crazy to think that you could grow to love 11 random people like I did but when you share something so personal as weight-loss and changing your life, it's a bond that is nearly instant. Not many people can truly relate to you unless they've been in your shoes and have lived it. These guys had. 

I am so grateful I was invited to be a part of something so wonderful and great. It hardly feels fair that it's over and done already but a few of the things I am walking away with are courage to try new things, a love for running when I can enjoy the atmosphere and not care about time and pace, team building and lifting others up, and best of all, 11 new friends who will forever be a part of me. 

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Secret is Out!

This morning I will board a plane and head to San Diego to run the SoCal Ragnar Relay Series. Yep, true story!  I’ve kept this as a secret of sorts because I’m not usually one to brag or make you all feel jealous (but just for the record, I am SO excited about this race) of the fun things I’m doing and also because running any type of big race (I’ve only done 3) seems to make be anxious and sometimes doubtful of myself and my abilities.  So I figured if I played it down until closer to race day, I’d be okay. Now that my secret is out of the bag, guess who can hardly wait to get to Cali??!!

Here is what the Ragnar Relay site says about Ragnar SoCal...

Yes, the Ragnar SoCal is one of our most popular races in the series for a big reason – the course is spectacular!  Running under the stars at night, seeing your team at three beach exchange points and finishing under the sun is a great way to celebrate with your friends.  Huntington Beach, the pacific coast and a big party at the finish line await you and your fellow runners.  … The ocean breeze in your hair, the sun on your shoulders, and your friends at your side at the finish line.  What could be better?

Okay, so I need to fill you in on what a Ragnar Relay is and how I even was given the opportunity to be a part of such a great experience. A Ragnar Relay is typically a team of 12 people, split into 2 vans, and over the course of 36 hours  they run approximately 200 miles. In my case, our team is running from Huntington Beach to San Diego. The race starts early Friday morning and teammates 1-6 start out on their journey. They each run varying distances and difficulty and then pass the “baton” or in our case a slap bracelet onto the next runner. The van is on the course when possible giving support and aid and this process continues until runners 1-6 have each taken a turn. Van 2 during this time is resting, fueling up, and getting ready to meet up at the exchange point where runner 6 from van 1 will pass off to runner 7 in van 2 and runners 7-12 then start on their journey for the next several hours. From then on it’s a leap-frog event of sorts and the exchange between the two vans continues for a total of 3 cycles. There is always someone on the course running 24/7. I can imagine at times it gets tricky. No sleep (except for what you’ve been able to sneak in), running in the dark (yes, I’m afraid of the dark) and for me, just having it be new territory --All things that probably don’t really even matter but still as a first timer, makes me wonder what to expect. 

Here is the BEST part about the whole thing. I’m taking this trip and running with total strangers! Yep, true story. Thus the team name of Strangers to Solemates. Ok, we really aren’t strangers at all anymore but we once were.  Here is our awesome team logo that one of our teammates, Dean made.
How it call came about: I was contacted by another fellow blogger, Katie back in September. She was wanting to put together a Ragnar team of people from all over the USA, who had never run a Ragnar before. She and a friend of hers, John (who lives in San Diego), were going to be the team captains and thought San Diego would be the perfect setting.  Since John lives in San Diego, he would be able to help with planning, organizing, and helping all of us newbies get acquainted with the event and have a great time. Believe me, these two have gone above and beyond. They are so organized and on top of things! 
The 12 people were selected by October and we immediately set up a private facebook page and have been getting to know each other ever since. Our team name of From Strangers to Solemates really is what we’ve become. It’s like a virtual family I have never met. Everyone on the team has an amazing story of weight-loss (over 100 pounds in most cases) and healthy living that has gotten them to where they are today. We’ve experienced a wedding, change in jobs, a couple of moves, lost family members, and just big-ticket items that happen in life that have brought us together to make us a tight nit bunch.  It has been such a good experience for me so far and I haven’t even boarded the plan yet and met these people.  Can you tell I’m excited?
Okay, so I am runner #6 so I am in the first van scheduled out. Here is a glimpse at what my legs look like and how the race will play out for me.  I will be running a total 15.6 miles. 
My first leg probably is the one I’m most nervous about, so to get it out of the way will be nice. It’s 8.7 miles and is listed as very hard. There looks to be a slight elevation for approximately 3 miles but my understanding is that I will hardly feel it. I sure hope so because I dread hills and they slow me down something fierce. Not only that, I never seem to have that much gas in the tank when I get to the top of any hill, so I would be worried about my progress from there on out. But no worries, I’m thinking positive here, right?  If all goes as scheduled with the runners in front of me, I’m scheduled to take the drivers seat at 9:41 am Friday morning. My second leg is an easy 2.7 miles and it’s my night run so thank goodness it’s short! (Like I said, me and the dark aren’t friends.) I’m scheduled for this run at approximately 10:21pm, so maybe I won’t be much in the dark at all. My last leg is listed as moderate and is 4.2 miles. I’m scheduled to run that one at 7:04 Saturday morning, give or take, depending on how the other legs have shaken out. 
When my van is not on the course we are off, I’m assuming, resting, getting food, restocking the van if needed and supporting other teams and runners. 
Following the finish on Saturday afternoon, we will do some celebrating at the finish line, rest, get cleaned up and then head to John’s house for a party that night. The following morning we have a team brunch scheduled before people start to slowly disperse in the coming days and head back to separate parts of the country to resume life as normal.
And the best part is??? It all starts today!! A couple team members arrived yesterday and the rest fly in this morning. After everyone arrives, we’ll be back on the road within a couple house headed north to Huntington Beach. We’ll have a team dinner, pile 12 strangers (not really, it just sounds funny) in 3 hotel rooms (time to get cozy), and let the fun begin!
In some ways this whole experience seems surreal to me. Just the fact that I was willing to step out of my comfort zone, meet 11 total strangers, come together as one, and now we are meeting up and running 200 miles across California! The other part that blows me away is that for a girl who was self-conscious, and had a weight problem for so many years of her life, to even think about doing a team event like a Ragnar, let alone even the thought of it only 6 short months ago, and now here I am? I’m excited and nervous all in one. I feel like the kid in the candy store or the child on Christmas eve. I can’t wait! 

Full Ragnar Weekend update coming up the end of next week on the blog and maybe a few pictures to the FB page over the weekend. Until then.....Here we go!
Believe in yourself! You never know the things you are capable of until you start somewhere. 

 I had to throw in the picture on the left as it was taken the last time I was in San Diego on Mission Beach. I believe I had lost nearly 50 pounds already at this point. 

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