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Sweetheart Run 5K

Last Saturday my daughter and I ran the Sweetheart Run 5K.  We were glad to be well prepared for this run.  We had a couple of friends that also ran this 5K with us.

This run was on the other side of town, so it was in an area that we were not well familiar with.  We had to pick up our packets the day before our race.  I went with a friend and we made an afternoon of it.  We picked up our packets, went out to lunch, and then decided to drive the course since it was nearby.  Once we saw the course, we were glad we did.

As any experienced runner knows, a big chunk of running is your mental state of mind.  If you’re convinced that you can do it, you are very likely to succeed.  Not knowing what to expect or what is around the next bend (literally) can defeat you.  Below I am inserting a course map for your visualization.  Yip, it was basically a big square.  Easy, peasy, right?

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Sweetheart Run course map

Wrong.  How this is even possible, or how anyone was able to find a place in the city that is mostly uphill, I’ll never know.  We started at the top of the map where the red pinpoint is.  Our first turn was a left hand turn, then there were four right hand turns, and a final left hand turn to put us back at the start/finish line.  This is not a particularly hilly part of town, but we were surprised to find that after each turn you got to run uphill!  None of these were big, nasty hills, but gradual inclines.  We were glad to find that at the beginning of mile 3, there was a reprieve.  There was a very nice decline in which we were hoping to get a bit of a break and try to make up for lost time.

Race day was here, and it was perfect running weather.  The morning started off a bit cloudy and foggy, but it had all cleared by the start of the race.  It was 52 degrees and a nice, sunny day.  We got to the race plenty early and had time to take a look around at the running expo that was taking place that day.  We were glad to know what was ahead of us.  We weren’t expecting a PR on this course but planned to do the best we could.

The race started in waves, so I knew not to pay any attention to the clocks I saw along the route.  Knowing what to expect during the race kept me going mentally and physically.  I had my metronome tick-tocking in my ear at 180 beats per minute to keep me focused.  I looked down at my Fitbit a few times during the race and was happy with the time I saw.

I crossed the finished line completely depleted but was happy with my performance.  Once I got my official time, I was really excited to find that I had run this race in my second best time ever!  Physically I was prepared because I have continued to run and train this winter.  Mentally I was prepared by reviewing the course before the race.  If it weren’t for these two factors, the outcome would’ve been completely different.

And, my daughter did get a PR!  Woot, woot!!

Afterwards, we strolled through the running expo and picked up several freebies and registered for some give aways.  I also found a really cool headband that I had to buy.  After that was lunch with my daughter and a friend.  Another great day to be alive!

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Loving this bright headband I found at the running expo.
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305 lbs. The Eights Stink

I was totally unaware that the last time I would work was that meeting in January to introduce us to our potential new employer.  I was never given a termination date.  After the third consecutive week of being told that Mr. G. was going to cover my shift because of changes coming, I told him that I was going to assume that I was out of a job unless told otherwise.

My communications with Mr. G. became fewer and further between.  I told him that I knew that would happen and that eventually they would come to an end.  However, he promised me that we were friends for life.  I so wanted to believe that.  He also promised me a job as soon as he was given the reigns, so to speak.    I wanted to believe that too.

Even though I rarely actually saw the people I worked with because I worked from home, I missed them terribly.  All of our communications was through text or telephone, so I would spend time talking to each one of them while we were working.  It was my connection with the outside world.  After spending Monday-Friday homeschooling a seven year old, I was ready for some adult conversation.  Since my employment came to a blunt, unexpected end, there were no goodbyes.

I knew the drivers were not allowed to use their phones while driving and I certainly didn’t want to cause any problems, so I did not try to contact any of them.  These were men with families that needed their jobs.  I could pray for them and hope they were doing well, but I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize their income.

The Commit to Get Fit program had just started, so I continued with it.  My daughter had talked me into trying some boot-camp type classes.  Burn, Build, and Tone was on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and it was as tough as it sounded.  Then, she talked me into trying Metcon on Saturday mornings.  It was equally as tough, but I enjoyed it.

We had to weigh in and do our BMI each week with our trainer.  Our age was required for the BMI machine, and I had to tell Cole every week my age.  I would tell Cole, “Forty-eight.  Don’t you remember?  The eights stink.”  And that’s how it had been for me.  Every age ending in eight really did stink.

The Commit to Get Fit program was over in mid-March.  This year, there was a closing ceremony that was very nice.  We all met one evening in a room with tables and chairs at the community center.  There were healthy snacks and drinks available.  Everyone in our group sat at a table with our trainer, Cole.  Each trainer had an opportunity to say something about their group and to hand out awards if desired.  Some did more than others, but Cole definitely stood out.

Cole spoke about our group in general, and then had an award for each one of us.    Cole had very kind, yet humorous words to say about each of us as well.  We were all laughing and crying at the same time.  When Cole got to me, he mentioned that I had been with him for two years in a row, and that both times had been around very stressful events.  Until then, I had completely forgotten about the year before, but my mind immediately flashed back to Bob and his illness.  And, with that, Cole presented me with the “Veteran Award.”  We hugged, and I cried.  It’s a simple-looking award printed on white card stock, but it means the world to me because of what it represents–a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) with a true friend.

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305 lbs. A Word on Depression

About 10 years ago I was talking with a friend who works with people with addictions She was telling me about the woes of someone she knew.  She finally came around to saying that this friend suffered from depression.  It didn’t sound like depression to me, it just sounded like life.  My remark was, “That’s just life.  Life stinks.”  She got down in my face and told me that she thought I suffered from depression too.

That really was a surprise to me.  I never even entertained the idea of depression.  I just really thought life stunk.  There were many times that I thought it would be a lot easier not to be here, but I had children that relied on me for their daily existence.  I could not let them down.  I used to think that it took a lot of guts to end your own life, but I now believe the opposite.  It takes a lot more guts to stay here on earth.

I had tried talking about it to a friend or two over the years, but it was clear that they didn’t get it.  They dismissed it right away with disgust.  I didn’t expect to ever meet anyone that understood.

I received an urgent phone call from Mr. G. one day asking me if I could take over for him right away.  He was clearly upset and told me that he would be in touch the next day.  I was able to do so, so I did.  Later, he told me that he suffered from depression.  When I told him that I understood, he seemed very relieved.

For the first time in both of our lives, we had a friend we could talk to who understood.  We were our own little support group holding each other up at times.  Depression isn’t something anyone wants or asks for.  It’s just there.  It’s a part of you just like your hands, feet, and nose are a part of you.

I have found, for me anyway, that depression was an iron deficiency.  I’m not talking about the kind you put in your mouth, but the kind you pump.  When I started the Couch to 5K program, I was going to seven workouts a week–sometimes twice a day.  I can remember as the program was nearing its end telling Mr. G. that I never felt better my whole life.  I think this was a part of his decision to join a gym.

It was true.  I was far from being Miss Universe, but I was fitter than I had been for decades.  I had lost a substantial amount of weight and had drastically changed my eating habits.  But the one thing that keeps those dark days away, is exercise.

If you ever have someone try to broach this subject with you, remember that they’re just looking for someone to talk to.  The best thing you can do for them is to listen.  Please don’t dismiss it quickly or make them feel ashamed.  They did not choose this and have nothing to be ashamed of.  Who knows, you might make a new friend.

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305 lbs. Raising Someone Up

January 2016 and the new year was here.  I was signed up and ready to go with the Commit to Get Fit program again.  I made sure I got Cole as my trainer, and I now had a new work out partner–my oldest daughter.  By the time Commit to Get Fit started, her daughter was just old enough to go to the childcare, so that made it possible for her to come too.

I had gotten spoiled the year before for having Cole all to myself most of the time.  This year, we had several people in our group–all of varying ages and abilities.  My daughter was definitely the youngest.  There was another young mom, and a few ladies that were older than me.  The program was also shortened to 8 weeks this go around instead of 12, so that was definitely a disappointment.  We were also supposed to weigh in every week, so I felt like we wasted time weighing and using the machine to get our BMI that could’ve been used working out.  Still, we had full access to the community center, so my daughter and I came almost every day to work out.

At the end of January, I attended a meeting for work.  I and all of the drivers were required to be at this meeting about the future of the company we worked for.  I knew something was coming down the pike, but I didn’t know just what yet.  In September, Mr. G. had told me that another company was going to “partner” with us.  Just what that meant or looked like I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to pry.  Also, Mr. G. had made a few trips out of town, so I worked some extra days.  I knew these were business trips and that changes were coming.

What we learned was that there was no future.  The company had filed for bankruptcy the year before, which we all knew, and now had been sold to a larger company.  There were two representatives from the new company at this meeting, Charles and Jeff.  Charles was a down to earth country boy from Oklahoma.  Jeff was a business snob from the midwest.  I soon learned that all these business trips Mr. G. had taken were with Jeff.

We were all told about the new company and that we had 48 hours to fill out a job application online if we were interested in going to work for them.  They fed us lunch, and it was a very pleasant meeting.  Jeff knew an awful lot about each and every one of us which I found a bit creepy.  It was obvious that Mr. G. had spent a substantial about of time with Jeff and telling him about each of us.

As the meeting was winding down, I shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for their time.  Jeff said something to me to the effect that Mr. G. had told him how I had “saved the day” more than once.  I was grateful that he had heard good things about me and was hopeful that this would help in the hiring process.  The next thing he said to  me was, “Put your application in and we’ll see where it goes.”  I knew right then and there that Jeff had no intention of hiring me.

Even though my friend says that my gut is never wrong, when it tells me these things, I hope against hope that I’m wrong.  I went ahead and put in my application and within 24 hours I had a phone call from Jeff saying that they weren’t hiring any part-time people right now but that they might change their mind in 60-90 days–whatever that meant.

I sent a text to Mr. G. that said, “I guess my application didn’t go very far.”  I immediately got a phone call from Mr. G. apologizing profusely.  I told him that it was ok.  I wasn’t looking for a job when I got this one.  It was business, and I understood that.  These were good words for him to hear, as he had been spewed with anger and hate all week from many people in the office that had lost their jobs as well.

At the first of December I felt like God was telling me that he was going to remove Mr. G. from my life.   As I often do when God tells me something I don’t want to hear, I hoped against hope that I had a “hearing” problem–that somehow I got the message wrong.  I spent the month of December begging God to not take Mr. G. out of my life.  He had been a great support to me the last several months, and I in all my selfishness felt like I still needed that support.

Finally, in January I changed my prayer.  I asked God if He was going to remove Mr. G. from my life, for Him to bring someone bigger and better.  It was hard for me to imagine that there was anyone better out there, but I knew God could raise someone up.

 

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305 lbs. Family Time

It felt great to finish the Couch to 5K program and to run my first 5K.  The last thing I wanted to do at this point was to lose any progress I had made during the summer.  I continued to try to run three miles three days a week from home.  Once daylight savings time went into effect this became very difficult.  Not only was there less daylight everyday, the weather was not very cooperative either.  Once the leaves started falling and they became wet, it was very treacherous going.  Running at night and not being able to see made it even more dangerous.

October also brought my first grandchild!  Prior to that my pregnant daughter ended up in the hospital in the middle of the night with the flu.  I had to enter the hospital at the emergency room and then go down to the maternity ward which is at the other end of the hospital.  I was told it was half a mile.  I ran it (literally) without any problems–something I couldn’t have done that long ago.

My good friend and cheerleader, Mr. G., told me one day that I was an inspiration to him.  He bought a membership to a community center near him for his entire family and was going there almost daily to work out.  I was a bit dumbfounded and asked, “How did I inspire you?”  “By all of those texts you sent me telling me to get up off my a**,” He said.  In shock I said, “I never sent such texts.”  His reply was, “That’s how I felt every time you told me you were running.”  I never knew that my texts were perceived that way.  When I was working, I was on call 24/7.  I felt it a responsibility to let him know when I was running on the days I worked in case someone tried to get a hold of me and couldn’t.

In the middle of December I got a phone call from Mr. G., “I’ve lost 15 pounds!”  I had not, so feelings of jealousy and unkind thoughts were what went through my head.  I felt like it was my turn to be the cheerleader, so in a cheerful voice I said, “Way to go, congratulations!”

Once Thanksgiving got here, running was almost impossible.  There would be a day here and there that I could run, but nothing consistent.  I also needed to support my daughter and her husband who were first-time parents, so I let family life take over.

The community center where I took classes also changed their fee structure.  Initially you could sign up for classes and just pay to go to those classes.  Now, you were required to have a membership and all classes were included in your membership fee.  I wasn’t sure that I was willing to pay for a membership just yet.  I really, really loved running, so I really only needed a membership during the winter months that I was not able to run outside.

I knew the Commit to Get Fit program would be starting again in January, so I decided to hold out until then.  I didn’t think I would get my money’s worth out of a full-year membership, so I decided to enjoy the time I had with my family until then.

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Suffering Produces Endurance

Thank you Christian for nominating me for a 3-Day Quote Challenge.  Here are three quotes I’d like to share with my readers.

“Donald Trump will be our next president.”  This statement came from my competitive friend, Mr. G.,  in September 2015.  At that point, I wasn’t convinced that Donald Trump still wouldn’t drop out of the presidential race.  I can hear Mr. G. now, “I win, you lose.”  (I guess that makes two quotes?)

“Boring is good,”  Mr. D.  As far as life goes, yes.  The less drama the better.  Ya’ll know what I mean.

“Hurting people hurt people.”  A very wise friend, Mrs. W., said these words to me at a time that I was advising two ladies that had had a conflict.  These words have stuck with me.  I don’t always stop and think about them when I should–when I’m about to or have already lashed out at someone.  Instead of lashing out, I need to stop and think why I’m hurting and solve that problem instead of creating another.

These words come to mind more often when someone else hurts me.  It immediately draws my attention away from myself and the injury I have sustained and back towards the person that inflicted the injury.  They must be hurting.  How?  Why?  I immediately feel sorrowful for that person instead of myself and for the pain they must be experiencing.

Romans 5:3-4 tells us that suffering produces endurance:  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”  Let’s not forget that “faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Proverbs 27:6.

When I think of endurance, Hebrews 12:1 always comes to mind, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  After taking up running in 2015, I completely understand that running is all about endurance.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or how much weight you can lift, if you are lacking endurance you won’t get very far.  Of course, this verse is referring to our spiritual endurance.  We need endurance to get through life physically and spiritually.

The next time you are wounded by a friend, try to remember that hurting people hurt people and focus back on your friend and their wounds instead of yours.  But, when you do think of your wounds, remember that suffering produces endurance, which is something we need for survival.  Endurance produces character, and character produces hope which I believe is as important as the air we breathe.

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Make Your Own Energy Bars

Sometime last year I saw a video on how to make these energy bars.  I put it on the back burner and let it percolate for a while.  At the time I had found some protein bars that I could buy that really tasted great.  I could get them at an affordable price, so I went on buying them.  Eventually, I was no able to get them at that great price, and I noticed that every time I ate one that I would get really, really thirsty afterwards. I decided that for my pocketbook and for my health, it was probably better to make my own so that I could control the ingredients.

I invite you to take the recipe and make it your own.  Experiment by using different nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.  I have stuck to almonds on this one because it’s a nut that no one in our house is allergic to.  I have tried various seeds and dried fruit as they are available and as they go on sale.  Some I like better than others but all have been delicious.  The important thing is that everything is raw, not roasted, unsalted, and no added sugars.

As a side note, I never did see an attribution for this recipe; so I am unable to give credit to the creator.

Almond Berry Energy Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (berries are best, make sure there is no added sugar)
  • 1/3 cup coconut, no sugar added
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/8 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips (optional)
  • salt to taste (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish with parchment paper.  Grease the sides with coconut oil.  Believe me, the hardest thing about this recipe is getting it out of the pan!

In a medium size bowl, mix dry ingredients except for the chocolate.  If you like your bars chunky, set aside 1/2 cup of the mixed dry ingredients.

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Add the bowl of dry ingredients (except for the chocolate) and the remaining wet ingredients to a food processor.  (I used dried blueberries for my fruit in this one.)  Blend well.

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Pull the blade from the food processor and add the chocolate chips and the 1/2 cup of dry ingredients that was set aside.  Stir well.

Place the mixture into the 8X8 baking dish.  Use a spoon to spread and pack well into the dish.  Bak at 350 F. for 25 minutes.  Make sure your bars are well done so that they will stick together.  The edges should be brown and the center should be firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from baking dish.  Go around the edge of your dish with a knife and make sure they are all free from the pan before flipping the bars out onto a cutting board.  Once removed, allow the bars to cool to room temperature before cutting.

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Once cooled, cut your bars to the desired size.  I cut mine into 10 bars.  Wrap your bars in foil and store in the fridge.  I keep mine in a gallon ziplock bag so they’re easy to find and I know how many I have left.

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These are great before or after a workout.  Sometimes I have 1/2 before a workout and 1/2 after.  They really go great with a glass of nut milk.  They are also easy to take with you.  You can put one in your purse or jacket pocket if you’re out running errands and think you might need a snack while you’re out.

Please tell me about any variations you try.

Enjoy!

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Making my List; Checking it Twice

As I mentioned in my last post, I have begun reflecting on the past year and setting some personal goals for 2017.  I made a list of things I’d like to accomplish this year and how I’d like to get there.  Making the list is easy, but none of these things will happen if I don’t come up with a specific plan on how I’m going to get there.

The exercising part, I feel like I have down.  It’s as addictive as crack cocaine, so once you start doing it, you’re good.  There are those days that I don’t want to do anything.  I’ve had a couple of those days lately.  However, I’ve never had a time that I went for a run or to the gym and later thought, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t done that.”  I know if I make myself just go and do it that I’ll feel better afterwards.

Unfortunately, sugar and carbs are also just as addictive as crack cocaine.  I do not believe that I have a good handle on that part of the equation.  I probably do 75% of the time, but the social gatherings, holidays, and special dinners really blow me out of the water.  There’s been plenty of times with food that I’ve thought, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t done that.” This year I want to come up with a plan so that those times are fewer and fewer, even non-existent.

Below is my list of things to work on for 2017.  This list is not in any particular order.  Some of these things I’m already doing and I just need to continue with.  Some of these things I’ve done in the past, and I need to pick them up again.  Some of these things, like the social events, I need to come up with a plan and keep trying until I find something that works.

What are your goals for 2017?

  • Run a 10K:  Sign up, train, just do it!
  • October:  There is a destination race that I plan to go to.
  • Couch to 5K Group:  Do it again this year with an eye on improving myself and encouraging Cinderella who also wants to do the program.
  • Exercise 5-6 days a week:  Schedule (that means put it on the calendar) a run or workout everyday.  Go to the gym if the weather prohibits outdoor running.  Sunday:  walk in the afternoon if nothing else.  Keep a log.
  • Get a grip on social events:  Make a written plan to adhere to before the event.  Share it with someone else attending the event that will help keep me on track.  Or consider bringing my own food (salad in a jar?).
  • Vacation/holiday:  Create a written menu plan for vacations.
  • Quiet time:  First thing everyday.  One verse if nothing else.
  • Lose 50 lbs:  Log, log, log everything that goes into my mouth.  Drink lots of juice.  I am already signed up for a 30 day juicing challenge starting January 5.
  • Read more books:  No screen time until I have read at least one chapter in a book.
  • Less screen time:  Read more books.
  • Chi Running:  Work on figuring this thing out.
  • Review this list, reassess, and adjust monthly.  Set a calendar reminder.
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Reflecting on Hope

As the year comes to a close and we are about to embark on a new year, we often take time to reflect on the past year.  I have only done a little reflecting as there is still time left in the current year–so it seems.  I’m sure the new year will be here before I know it.

I know that I am lighter and stronger than I was this time last year.  I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked, but I feel that the part-time job that I worked for six months was a major derailment to my weight loss and my health.  I am glad to be off that crazy train and back on the road to health and well-being.  Getting stronger was not necessarily a goal or something that I intended; it was something that came about with the training that I’ve done.  It’s a good thing, so I’ll take it.

I spent January and February at the gym and was able to start running again in March.  I ran my first 5K of the year in April and ran a 5K every month except for July this year.  I did the Couch to 5K program again this year, but at a much better athletic ability.  I was able to continue to run until the last few weeks, so I’m spending more time at the gym now instead of outdoors.

My biggest fault in diet are the social gatherings.  I do not have a handle yet on portion control or just saying “no” to those yummy foods that pack on the pounds.  I have made some strides simply because I cannot eat as much as I used to.  This is something I really want to focus on next year.  I would like to go on vacation/holiday without putting on several pounds as well.

This time of year we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  His birth, death, and resurrection gives us hope.  I have hope of eternal life and one day being the person He intended me to be.  Hope of one day being reunited with family and loved ones that are severely missed.  Hope of never having to step on a scale again or log every morsel that goes into my mouth.  Hope of holding babies that I never had the opportunity to hold.  I pray that you too may share in the hope that the Savior brings.

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A PR and a Photo Finish!

Last Saturday I ran the Christmas Light 5K.  It was one of those runs that was a lot of fun.  It was a very cool and crisp 35 degrees.  There was a costume contest at 5:00 pm with the run starting at 5:30.  The whole idea of the run was to look at the Christmas lights through town and then pick your favorite after the race.  There was a Christmas light contest for the neighborhood, with $200 going to the winner!

There were people dressed in regular running attire, along with people in full costume:  Santa Claus, a snowflake, reindeer, Mrs. Claus, you name it.  How some of these people ran in their costumes, I’m not sure.  I had lots of garb on just trying to stay warm–something I found to be a hindrance later in the race.

As with any cool run, it took the first mile to get warm.  After that, I spent the rest of the race slowly taking off layers and trying to find a secure place to put said items until the end of the race.  I ended up running across the finish line with several things in my hand.  I was too busy running and keeping track of all my garb to take time to look at the lights.  Plus, I didn’t see anything to indicate which houses were in the contest and which ones weren’t.

I am not good at pacing myself, so I spent most of the race running with a friend–either side by side or right behind.  I did not feel as if I was doing well, so I refused to look at my Fitbit and see what my time or my pace was.  I knew I was not doing well.

As we rounded the last corner and began to sprint to the finish line, I said to my friend, “Are you going to race me?”  She said, “I have a feeling I’d lose.”  We both made a mad dash for the finish line, trying to get ahead of the other just by a nose.  We crossed the finish line side by side and then gave each other a hug of accomplishment.  I looked at the clock in amazement.  I knew it would be a PR for me.  At that moment I learned that it’s a lot more fun to cross the finish line with a friend, even if she beats you by 4/100 of a second!

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It’s a lot more fun to cross the finish line with a friend, even if she beats you by 4/100 of a second!