Sunday, November 13, 2016

Soldier Half Marathon (WW # 67 )

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8 WEEKS and COUNTING

My Week At A Glance:

M   Rest
T    Ran 6 Tempo
       [1 w/u + 5 @ 9:16]
W   Ran 5 Easy
T    Rest
F    Rest
S    Ran 13 (Half Marathon)
S    Ran 6 Easy

Total = 30





I decided in my usual last minute way to run the Soldier Half Marathon in Fort Benning, GA.  I had heard nothing but good things about this race and its one big crazy hill known as "Drill Hill".  It would be half marathon #43 for me as I hope to complete 50 by Spring..  They offered packet pickup the morning of the race and any time I can sleep in my own bed is a huge plus.  However, with the difference in time zones it would make for an early start. 

The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

In typical fashion, I expended too much energy deciding what to wear.  As a Veterans Day weekend race, I wanted to be patriotic.  The forecast was 48 at the start -- IDEAL -- but also to be windy {boo}.  After an obscene about of internal debate, I went with my typical tank and arm sleeves.  I made a throwaway out of an old cotton long sleeve race t-shirt that I split up the middle, like a jacket, so I could get it off easily.  

A very nice race poster depicting the Avenue of Flags

The race was held at the National Infantry Museum.  This is a beautiful property and we started and ended by running through its Avenue of Flags.  In our bag was a lovely poster, a nice printed race guide, a Brook's women's cut tech shirt and a moisture-wicking hat that I adore.  Soon enough, we were off. During the recent Capitol 10 Miler, I ran the first miles too fast and paid for it.  My goal was to run strong the whole way and practice my pacing strategy for the Disney Marathon.  



I ditched my throwaway about 1.5 miles in and soon saw DRILL HILL.  Oh yes, it looked intimidating and the legendary Drill Sergeants were lining the sides shouting various "encouraging" words to get runners to the top.  I.did.not.dare.walk.a.single.step.  I gave high fives to the sergeants on my side.  Once I crested that hill and allowed my heart rate to settle, I felt great.  I spent a few miles holding my pace in check.  I assumed the rest of the race was flat and was later floored to see the elevation gain of 443 recorded on my Garmin.  Other than the one hill, it didn't feel hilly.  I did the math at the halfway point, thinking I would finish around 2:06.  It's then I decide to speed up a little. 


The course was simply beautiful.  Except for a few miles through the base's living quarters, we ran mostly on wooded roads and a trail out toward the river.  The full marathoners continued beside the river while us halfers turned for home.  Other than a pain on the top of both shoulders during mile 11 (a stupid overwhelming need to burp -- I know, TMI )  I had no real issues.  Both feet threatened to cramp but never made it.  


The last mile was a straight shot and I could see where we would turn in for the finish.  It seemed to painfully last forever, as final miles do.  I kept my eyes on a lady ahead of me and tried to close the gap, not looking at my watch.  As we ran back through the Avenue of Flags, I checked my watch and realized I might end up with 2:02+.  I sprinted hard to not get a :03.  It worked!  My official time was 2:02:55.  Whew!  No, it's not a PR.  But it's my best half time in almost 3 years.  It gives me hope that maybe there is still a shiny PR for this aging, injury-plagued-of-late gal.  I was 9th out of 66 in my age group.  



I negative split this race and finished strong...the number one item that makes a great race for me.  In addition, it was a perfect Fall day and I was outside doing what I enjoy most!  I loved everything about this race.  The race direction was spot on.  There were plenty of volunteers, most of them soldiers. There was a nice party atmosphere with plenty of food and beverages.  I also saw massages, lots of vendors, and you could tour the museum.  I had to think hard for something negative and here's the one thing I came up with -- due to the marathon, the traffic was still being stopped and it took me forever to leave. There you go!  Next year I'll just run the marathon and it won't be a problem.  

And that's a wrap!


Do you have patriotic running clothes?

What makes a great race experience for you?




84 comments:

  1. Those last minute half marathons have always paid off for me! Great job! See you soon....

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    1. I can't really say that since most of mine are last minute anyway. LOL. The weather has so much to do with my performance. Is was a cool "easy to breathe" low humidity kind of day. When we race in a few weeks, I'm not sure we will get those conditions. Fingers crossed.

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  2. Congrats on a great race and a great time! LOVE your race outfit!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad I went with that outfit. So many runners were dressed in patriotic clothes. I saw some really cute things.

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  3. Oh my gosh....that skirt and those arm warmers!!!!!! I'm totally patriotic, and LOVE that get-up!! #AmericaStrong

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    1. Go big or go home, as they say. I almost didn't wear that outfit thinking it was overkill on the stars and stripes. But Tricia assured me it looked OK. If it was bad, I was going to blame her. LOL.

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  4. GREAT job Holly! PRs are harder & harder to come by the longer we run (I keep telling Darlene that), but improvement over past races is the next best thing!

    Of course with my run/walk I'd be scared to run up Drill Hill.

    Will dressing for races EVER get easier? Phoenix was super easy, but otherwise, especially at this time of year, I'm always dithering about what to wear!

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    1. Those PRs don't come often nowadays! People did walk up Drill Hill and thankfully the sergeants didn't get in their face about it. They stayed on the side and it was all in good fun. I can't understand why is it so hard for me to decide what to wear!! Too many choices???

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  5. You are on such a roll! Your best time in 3 years is huge! Way to push at the end, finish strong, and negative split! I was talking to friends this past weekend, and one was saying she read that marathon training makes you faster overall. That seems to be true for you! Congrats!

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    1. I agree about the marathon training. The stamina is definitely there. The downside is you can't continually train for a marathon. Not me, anyway. I will definitely take a break after this next one.

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  6. Great job and congrats! That hill looks really intense! Your outfit looks great and I love your creative idea of cutting an old t-shirt down the middle for an easy throw-away!

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    1. Thank you. The hill was intense but thankfully short enough to handle. I used that t-shirt idea in Chicago. I wish I'd thought of it much sooner. I don't like trying to pull things over my head.

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  7. Congrats on a great race ! I have no patriotic running clothes but I do spends hours debating about what to wear. Hours.
    Congrats on doing so well, a great confidence booster for your upcoming races !

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    1. Thanks. I run a company, but can't decide on race attire. What is up with that? It's scary how long it takes me to decide sometimes.

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  8. Congrats on your finish! Way to go on that drill hill! That sounds very challenging. Great idea on the throw away cutting it right now down the middle for an easy throw away. My sister does that a lot.

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    1. Thank you. I wish I'd thought about cutting the t-shirt sooner. My first time was at Chicago. I can't tell you how many jackets I've thrown out. Old ones, but still! And, I don't like pulling off tops and tying them around my waist.

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  9. You are so spontaneous, I love it! Sleeping in your own bed is a huge plus for races, and really decreases the stress and exhaustion of traveling. Congrats on your fastest 1/2 in 3 years, great job!! I love when the weather is perfect

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    1. Spontaneous -- I like that. One could say I've gotten "indecisive" in my old age. Spontaneous sounds much better! LOL. The weather has always made a huge difference in my performance. I lucked out at this race.

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  10. These last minute races are really are working out well for you. You do so well on hills. It's training in your neighborhood with the hills don't you think?
    Congratulations on number 67!!!

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    1. Hills are definitely part of my everyday runs. I've honestly never done official repeats, but will run more hills if I know an upcoming race is hilly. If I want flat, I can always run miles in the neighborhood park.

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  11. Sounds like a great race! And to do it last minute is so much fun.

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    1. It was a fantastic race and one I'll definitely repeat next year. I may even do the full marathon.

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  12. Looking good in your patriotic race outfit! I love the skirt and also the shirt. And congrats on a negative split - not an easy task especially after seeing all the ups/downs on the race course.

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    1. Thank you! That tank is from Sarah Marie Design Studio. I think the stars and stripes brought me a bit of luck.

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  13. Congratulations! Your outfit is amazing - all that debating paid off. Brilliant idea to cut your throw-away shirt. I wouldn't have thought of that! LOL on doing the marathon to avoid the traffic.

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    1. I wish I had thought of it sooner. It came to me when deciding what to do about Chicago. I didn't want to throw away a perfectly good jacket and couldn't find anything my kids had outgrown.

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  14. This sounds like an awesome race! Drill Hill, yikes! Makes me think of the last .2 miles of Marine Corps Marathon. The outfit is awesome! Congrats on a great race, Holly.

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    1. Drill Hill was all in good fun. They weren't quite as intimidating as I had feared. I saw the cutest patriotic clothing at this race!!

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  15. What a great last minute decision - and I get jealous every time I see your Disney Marathon countdown calendar! I have some (not a ton) of patriotic gear, but I'm a charity runner for Catch A Lift Fund, so it's increasing. I love your idea of taking an old shirt and splitting it down the middle to make an easier throw away layer. Congrats on a great race and pushing the pace. You're going to be set up for a great marathon!

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    1. I'm willing to bet the Disney Marathon is still open. For some reason, it (by itself and not part of a challenge) doesn't sell out -- or at least not very quickly. My performance at the next marathon will depend heavily on weather conditions. I pray it's not as humid and warm as it was last year.

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  16. Congrats on another great race!!! Drill Hill sounds like quite the experience :) Love it! It is too soon for me to say that I'm jealous of your Disney countdown even though I just got back on Monday? haha

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    1. No, it's not too soon!! I love me some Disney. I never want to leave when I visit.

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  17. Awesome job Holly! Congrats on a great finish! Sounds like a good race. I went to Ft. Benning a long time ago when my brother was in the Army.

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    1. I grew up in the vicinity but had not been on base since I was a little kid. I only remember a bunch of little white barracks. A lot has changed since then. That museum is top notch too!

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  18. Congrats on a great finish Holly. Negative splits always make you feel wonderful after a race. And wow, those hills......that first one looks awful.

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    1. It's not necessarily about time for me. It's more about how I feel during a race and if I can stay strong. Thankfully Drill Hill was not extremely long and therefore doable.

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  19. Great job on another half marathon! it is so easy to spend a lot of time trying to get the outfit just right. But I always go with "if you look good you feel good and you run good" Sounds like a great race other than that drill hill, I love that they have sergeants there yelling encouragement. and you did look good!

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    1. The forecast of wind was really throwing a kink into my decision. I thought I might get cold in my usual tank and skirt. It turned out OK but it was silly how much time I spent thinking about it. The yelling sergeants were all in good fun.

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  20. Great race Holly! Those post marathon halfs are often better than we expect thanks to that aerobic engine we've cultivated all summer. Glad you enjoyed this one so much! I have one pair of patriotic spandits that I put with either a red, white or blue tank. Other than that? Nada.

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    1. Maybe running all those nasty miles in the horrendous summer weather paid off. I'll try to remember that next year when I complain for 8 months straight...

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  21. Great race and GREAT outfit! You're going to get PR soon, I just know it! Happy Monday!

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    1. Thanks! I'll still keep running even if the PRs never come again. It's just too much fun.

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  22. Great job! I don't have patriotic clothes, except for one Sweaty Band, but I do have a patriotic running list.

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    1. I need a patriotic headband! The one I have on says "Half Fanatic" and it's turned inside out. LOL. I've had that skirt forever and never thought I'd wear it.

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  23. Oh man, that elevation looks intense! I have a few patriotic items that I've pulled out for fourth of July races, but lately, I feel like ALL of my running clothes are shades of blue. I need to mix it up a bit!

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    1. I have way too much pink. And, pink is not even my favorite color. I wish I could find more red running attire.

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  24. WTG on the great race! love the skirt and arm sleeves ;)

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    1. I love wearing arm sleeves. I used to call these my Cat in The Hat sleeves! It never dawned on me they looked like flag stripes until this race. Duh.

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  25. Congratulations on an excellent race! This race sounds like a good one -- I also like that they "motivate" you up a hill. ;) My PR races have come on courses with hills in the beginning. I think it slows me down and allows negative splits. As for patriotic running clothes: I have red, white, and blue... but nothing specifically American. I need to work on that!

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    1. I too like the hills at the beginning. They force that necessary slow start. Too many races have them toward the end. BOO! That gets me every time.

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  26. That hill looks intense, I can't believe you decide so last minute on half marathons. Though, that may take some of the pressure off. Usually, if I'm training for a half it's because I already am registered and it's on the schedule. No racing on a whim for me!

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    1. It does take some of the pressure off. Focusing on marathon training helps with that too. I figured since I had to run long anyway, I might as well earn some hardware. I was just in it for the fun.

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  27. Congrats on your race. I am not surprised at all. Your marathon training has given your endurance and as a result speed. (Can you share some with me in Dec, please!)

    I don't have anything patriotic to wear . In fact, I forget it was Veteran's Day when I raced on Friday Duh!

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    1. I hope we'll all have a little speed in PCB. And, that the weather is too humid. I usually don't dress according to a race theme (or in costume) -- but it was fun for a change. Many others did the same.

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  28. Wow way to go! Negative splits?What a fun last minute idea!!

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    1. Thanks. Negative splits are always rewarding.

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  29. Congratulations on your half marathon, negative split, and an all around great race on what sounds like a very tough course with drill hill (I do love the name of it, although I probably wouldn't like running it). I too have heard great things about this race and love the patriotism involved and the avenue of flags. You ran a great time too, fastest half in 3 years and just after a full and another race... that's a really good sign of good things to come. Hope you have a great recovery over the next day or two!

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    1. I really enjoyed everything about this race. It will definitely go on the repeat list and possibly on next year's Fall Marathon list. The remaining miles were flat and along the river.

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  30. Dang, that elevation looks like a butt-kicker! Congratulation on such a great race!!

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    1. Yeah, that one hill was pretty intense but thankfully short. None of the other elevation changes really made an impression -- probably because they couldn't compare to the big one.

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  31. Congratulations on a fantastic race! I bet going up the Drill Hill was an amazing experience! Looks like training is going really well :)

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    1. Drill Hill was definitely fun and the sergeants not as scary as I thought they might be. They were also helping us get down that big hill later in the race.

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  32. This is so fabulous!! I was grinning ear to ear over your time!!! Congrats on a great run :) and that is quite a climb!! I appreciate your determination to run every step. You have been improving each run :) Your running is on the upswing, i am going to shoot all the good vibes for Disney I can!
    I loved, loved your outfit. I don't have anything cute that is patriotic...i am in need of more gear LOL

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    1. I definitely looked bright -- especially after seeing the race photos. I don't necessarily blend in. LOL. I hope I am on the upswing. I also know I may get burned out so I'm trying to be careful.

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  33. Congratulations!! I love your outfit!! that is one super cool medal!

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    1. Thanks. I think they did an excellent job on the finisher's medal.

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  34. So glad your pacing went as you wanted it to! That always feels like such a HUGE win. :)

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    1. For me, it is how I handle the first miles of any race that makes all the difference. Having to run slow to tackle that hill actually helped.

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  35. Congrats!!! I love (obviously, lol) patriotic races!!!!!

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    1. Thank you. I know that you do! I've got to repeat this one.

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  36. congrats on HM #43!!!!!!!
    Loved all the pictures and it is pretty awesome about a majority of volunteers being soldiers. Great run for a great cause!oh and glad you could sprint in that last little bit to get sub 2:03!!!!!
    you rock!!
    you rock!

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    1. Thank you. As you know, every little second you can take off your time seems sooooooo important while you are out of the course!!

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  37. Congrats on a great race! I'm curious how your skirt did? I have the same one that I wore at my Independence Day race and it rode up around my waist and stayed there until I pulled it down as I approached the finish line. Ain't nobody got time for disorderly skirt in their finish line photo! HaHa!

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. It's funny you mention the skirt riding up. That's the first thing I noticed in the picture with the flag. It seems like it's up near my bra line!! LOL. I didn't notice anything during the race. I kept spinning it around to get things out of the back pocket. It seemed to be in the proper place.

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  38. Fun race and awesome sprint to the finish, Holly! I take way too much time picking out race outfits, too :) You looked cute. Love the patriotic style!

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    1. Thank you! I think the forecast of high wind was making my indecisiveness worse than usual. I vow to get better about it!

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  39. Congrats on your 43rd half marathon! You did awesome especially on a hilly course! Love that you also got a moisture wicking hat! Love the outfit too!

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    1. Thanks! It's rare to get a nice (tech type) hat so I was happy with that. I can't wait to try it out.

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  40. congrats! You always pull out a last minute race with ease and look so good doing it! #jealous see you soon!

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    1. The decision may always be last minute -- but I admit I've looked at their website repeatedly, I've read other race reviews, I've stalked the weather, reviewed my training log and basically done an enormous amount homework beforehand. LOL

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  41. Aw! I love this race report! That Avenue of Flags is gorgeous!

    I have a few patriotic things that I can wear for running. I do want a star skirt though - it can do double duty for patriotic races and as a Wonder Woman outfit. Because Wonder Woman rocks!

    Congratulations on another half! You are totally going to hit that goal!

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    1. I bought that Wonder Woman skirt (that's what I thought it was!) at a race expo thinking it would match my Half Fanatic arm sleeves. It didn't. After sitting in my drawer unused, I was about ready to give it away.

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  42. You have been a racing machine lately! I feel like every week I'm reading a recap! Congrats on running your best time in a few years. Even if it's not a PR, there's still improvement there!

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    1. Well as you know -- living in the South it is now prime racing season. It's just too hot to race many months out of the year. So, we have to get them in while we can!

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