Running Heals


Running is one of the best solutions to clear the head. -Sasha Azevedo

How many times have you felt the need to get away, to disappear, to just up and run away from the stresses of life: pain, sorrow, disappointment, and the clichéd heartache. The ever looming shadow of death, illness or disease of a loved one can be a frightful threat become reality. For everyone, at some point, life can become overwhelming. Even for the most positive of us challenges arise. How do we cope; refresh our minds, renew our Spirits and become inspired again to face said life, only with a new perspective, from a different place, better able to treat with the issues of the day, stronger and more enthused. If I may venture a suggestion, a remedy, a  practice, a solution, an oasis to your desert experience – it is running.

Often in the last few years, in the face of life difficult moments, I’ve found that my answer has been to throw on some running shoes and hit the road. People would often joking ask – what are you running away from – and unknowingly they would have hit the proverbial nail on its head because sometimes that is the only answer I have to the crazy stuff that life throws my way. Not that I’m running away from life issues as a coward turns away from a challenge but it is more of a step back and regroup sort of approach. You see, the thing with running is it puts distance between the moment/issue and me. To me, this is paramount when dealing with issues of great magnitude and grave importance. The initial surge of energy as my feet picks up speed and as the air rushes by allows me to clear my head as my mind travels. I breathe and run, letting go of the weight of the world, breathing in the gift of life, the further I run, the more I become.. as a dove, peacefully flying as new sights and sounds set in, my senses become alive and attuned to the call of nature and soon the dove is behind me as I’ve taken on new wings, soaring like an eagle I’m now larger than my problems, I am not my pain, nor my sadness, nor my distress. I can feel it, embrace it even, as part of the human process but I don’t have to be afraid or feel overwhelmed anymore. I am not alone, never alone. I can do this. I can face life, I am ready.

Indeed, with my world re righted, I’m now ready to take on whatever life decides to pass my way. Mind you, it’s the same me, I haven’t changed personality or character but what has changed is perspective. People who know me, know I’m big on perspective..It’s everything. Running gives me that; it’s no wonder I call it my happy place, I now have a new or fresh spin on things. It does not mean that I’m not bothered, angry, disappointed or hurt, only that I can now apply wisdom; seeing through the eyes of faith I am now in a stronger position to deal with the various feelings and emotions that are part and parcel of  the challenges of our human existence.

Running toward the future: there is hope beyond 9/11

IMG_0334Today is a nostalgic and heartening day for New Yorkers and those around the country as we recall the events of September 11, 2001: the day our world (view) changed forever. I hardly ever deviate from my running rants but I thought today was deserving of an exception, though not really, because this is New York and it’s my home running home..and pretty much everything can be tied to running.

Below is a brief outline, courtesy, of what went down on that day here in New York while I stood thousands of miles away before a television at Piarco Int’l Airport in Trinidad, my home country.

On a clear, sunny late summer day in September 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out co-ordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing everyone on board the planes and nearly 3,000 people on the ground. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board, after passengers and crew attempted to wrest control from the hijackers.

It is one of the notable things that when something momentous occurs in our lives, we hardly ever forget, even the minute details surrounding that occasion, as with that day as I was standing by the television in our lounge area at work. I remember what I was wearing, who I was talking to, precisely what I was doing..everything stands out in stark clarity in that moment in time as I saw the plane going into the felt so unreal that I remember my first words were – is that a movie – what followed was the most horrific and real live event I have ever seen on television, and to this day, those images of people jumping from buildings, the crash, the fire, the cries, the smoke, the carnage are embedded in my memory. The irony is, I never at that time thought that six years later I’d be here; back then, I was so very distraught for the suffering and pain of fellow human beings, and honestly, I was glad I wasn’t there. Selfish but true. How time changes things, changes us, mostly for the better I think. Today I stand here, not quite the New Yorker I’m told, though I like to think I am – I’m still too much of a tourist and enjoy the city too much. Be that as it may, I am heartened along with New Yorkers as we remember all those who died on that fateful day. In somebody’s famous words -

“We Remember, We Rebuild, We come back Stronger.”

imageToday Ground Zero stands with the famed Freedom Tower/ 1 World Trade imageCenter and the memorial as beacons of hope, strength, fortitude and vision. It is the heart and love of New York where everyone comes with one purpose in mind, to honor and remember those who died here. It is here we are reminded how alike we; what being human really means. So today, I’m running to #1 World Trade Center as I remember the victims of 9/11, thanking God for this opportunity and for the many that have arisen out of this tragedy for New Yorkers and the city of New York.imageWhat they, the highjackers and terrorists, meant for evil, God will work out for good. They thought to destroy, to weaken , to conquor and divide but in truth, what they have done is embolden a nation, strengthen it’s backbone, unify its people and inspire hope, faith and a sense of community in a people that will continue to rise victoriously; one nation under God.

Victims, because you can’t run anymore..this one’s for you. Survivors, because of your strength..I run in hope with you.


How Important is Choosing the Right Running Shoes


On a scale of 1 to 10, choosing the right shoes for running is an even 10. Now shoes have always been high up on my priority list for the chief reason that I’m a confessed shoe lover as are most women; It’s something we can’t explain, it just is. And so when you’re talking shoes, I’m all ears but when you talking running shoes, my interest just upped to another level entirely. This is because no matter what you decide about running, and there are lots of decisions to me made for sure when you’ve decided to pursue this sport, the most important decision you’ll make after deciding to run is what shoes to run in.

Use to be that one would just go to a store, find something pretty -expensive-, something you felt comfortable in and..volía, shoes. But it’s just not so easy anymore, there are numerous things to consider when going to purchase your running shoes, like; how serious are you – are you about jogging, or are you gonna be running; consider the mileage – 10 miles per/wk vs 30 miles per/wk, the terrain – road, trails or track, the purpose or goal – are you training for a race; short distance or a marathon, and lastly but by no means least, consider your body type. What is ideal for one of a skinny or thin persuasion would be dynamically different for a bigger, heavier person. These are what runners consider your running profile, it is way important to identify these questions early on and to go to the store armed with this information.

Another important aspect of deciding on running shoes is knowing your running style. According to an article by Barbara Russi-Sarnataro on Web MD, titled ” How to Buy Running Shoes: Tips to Treat Your Feet Right” who interviewed Bruce Wilks: a physical therapist, runner and running specialty store owner. He claims that it is important to know how you run. I can attest to this. For my part, I’m a forefront runner, as are most athletes, therefore it is necessary that the shoes I wear have a lot of support and cushioning at the front of my shoes, it’s where I land when I’m running. For the person who is more of a heel-toe kind of runner and your landing is on your heel then that’s where you have to look for your cushioning and support, which I have found is so much easier to find by the way. A knowledgable salesperson at the running specialty store will also ask you to consider your stride, form, and arch – whether, flat-footed, high arch or neutral and may ask you to try out on a treadmill to determine how you run. Another factor to consider after running for a while and you’re looking to replace shoes, is whether you’ve developed any injuries from running, like shin splints etc., the right running shoes can often help with your recovery process.

imageSo there you go, thought it was easy huh? It’s actually not all that bad and sounds much more involved and detailed than it really is in practice. And you do get to take part in the fun aspect of the whole process; brand, color, style; these are a bit secondary but definitely important and should get your attention too. Just so you know, color is a big deal these days. The important thing for you to understand though, is that it is absolutely necessary to get the right shoes for running, not just so you can have a good experience or run, but to ensure you do not fall prone to running injuries that could be helped by choosing the right shoes. We do want to see you out there looking and feeling good after all.

Warming Up Before Running, Should I?


I’ll be honest, I’ve never given it much thought and when I have, in the past, it was always to do some quick, maybe 5 minutes, high intensity cardio like jumping jacks, high knees and lunges. Warming up prior to a run was just not part of my regular workout routine, quite likely it’s because I never bought the significance as I felt I didn’t need it. However, in recent times I’ve come to believe that not doing so could be the reason I tire so quickly and remain unable to maintain my pace in my longer and high intensity training sessions.

I’m told that warming up prior to your workout is important for three reasons:

1. It prepares your body for the exercise you’re about to do

2. It guards against injuries

3. It helps you work more efficiently so you get more out of your workout

” A smart warmup gives your muscles, bones, and joints a chance to loosen up; it gradually and gently brings up your heart rate and makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain so you can run—and finish—feeling exhilarated and energized enough to go longer, and excited to set out for your next workout.” -Jennifer Van Allen, Runner’s World: How And Why You Should Warm Up Before A Run

I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this. In popular running circles, the word is that it’s important to warm up before any training that exceeds an easy run. This should take the form of an initial walk into a jog then a faster run then onto some dynamic stretches and can last anywhere between 10-30 minutes depending on the intensity of your workout.  Dynamic Stretching uses controlled leg movements to improve range of motion, loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.

Here are some examples from Runner’s World; It is recommended you start slowly, focus on form; as the moves get easier, pick up speed.

1. Skipping

2. Side step/shuffle Step to the side

3. Weave step (also known as “the grapevine”)

4. Backward jogging

5. Butt kicks

6. Hacky-Sack (lift up your left leg, bending your knee so it points out. Tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand and alternate.)

7. Toy soldier (with back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes.)

This video, from real, is one of many on the web that gives a brief but comprehensive outline of the best way to warm up and maximize the efficiency of your workout.




Running Solo or with Company

imageI’ve tried every which way to get you out there this Summer, short of giving out medals myself, I’m running (no pun intended) short of reasons to convince you that stepping into some running shoes is one of the best decisions you will ever make. It’s also something you don’t have to decide on or do alone. Much can be said about sharing your running dreams and goals with a buddy who you can run with or finding a group who share those goals. On the other hand, there’s no hard and fast rules where running is concerned, you can get just as much or sometimes even greater satisfaction from running solo.

imageFor my part, most of my running is done around my crazy schedule, which would be impossible to get someone to share and so I’m very much a lone runner, most of the times anyway. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy running with company, on the contrary, some of my most fun runs have been with other like-minded runners though I’d be the first to admit I also enjoy those solitary runs where I’m in the zone, out there all on my own with nothing but the wind at my back and the wide open skies before me. It’s actually my favorite place to be after the ocean and I often derive so much pleasure from just going out there and connecting with God and nature.

There is no set rule for the average runner, just different days and moods that require different treatment. On any given day, you may just feel to run away the stress of life, those days often require physical and mental distance from life itself..including people, at other times it could be all about introspection, meditation, or even finding inspiration..some of what turned out to be my best ideas were founded on running trails. A lot of time your running decisions depend on your mood, goal, time or location which can vary from run to run. I try to mix it up some, only because I’m often trying to ensure there is balance in all I do and because I’m big on variety; it being the spice of life and all that..I totally buy it.

imageFor the runner who loves to connect with others, needs motivation, direction and/ or just that awesome feeling that comes from knowing there are others who share your passion, uncertainty and other jumbled mix of emotions, running with company will provide the support and inspiration you need. Either way there’re two things that are required of the runner; show up and run, your presence and effort will be justly rewarded.

Pamper those Running Feet

imageYou can generally tell when something is important and valuable to someone – they take good care of it right? I know how I feel about my shoes. I confess I’m a bit of a shoe lover, so I sort of treasure my select and beautiful pairs. I also value my books, iPad and a few other choice things; I take good care of them and treat them as my most valued possessions. So too I believe it should be with our feet. For runners, there exists nothing that is more valuable, well except that of our health, than those of our feet. They are the means by which we achieve our goals and dreams; all our hopes and ambitions are pinned on those two invaluable extensions of ourselves. However, they are also the most abused, as they take constant pounding day after day and oftentimes without complaint. Tired, overworked and often overlooked, it is only fair and right that we indulge them and treat them as special as they are.

Here are some ways to show them some TLC:

  • Choose your Shoes Carefully. Because a lot of us spend a lot of time on our feet – running, walking and so on., it is important to wear the correct shoes; those that provide comfort and protect our feet from calluses and blisters and the like. Nothing holds a torch to a great pair of shoes that fit and feel great in your feet, whether they’re heels for us women or loafers for the guys or just regular sneakers. You want to be sure to choose those that love your feet and that your feet loves.
  • Foot Massages are so not Overrated. Aside from the therapeutic benefits which include reduction in stress, pain and muscle tension, massages provide a sense of well-being, care and empowerment, stimulate the nerves in your feet and improve good blood circulation.
  • Foot Spa Soaks and Salt Soak for Blisters.  A nice soak after a long day on your feet or after an intense workout can work wonders to help restore your feet and put you in the right frame of mind. If you have calluses or blisters, you can include some Epsom salts or bath salts in your foot bath to dry out blisters and toughen up feet. Be sure to rinse off and moisturize well after to prevent dryness.
  • Foot Scrubs and Foot Creams. Foot Scrubs are great for removing dead skin, sweat and dirt. They also treat calluses which you might want to go easy on if you have a big race coming up – you might need some of those calluses for protection from blisters. There’s a wide variety to choose from and depends on your taste or fragrance. Moisturizing after your soak is a big deal and highly recommended at night;  it will help to keep calluses soft and prevent cracks. Again, it’s about preference and feel as it pertains to type but it’s sure to give you those soft and smooth feet you covet.
  • Putting your feet up. Resting after a long day with your feet elevated helps to reduce swelling and tension and gives an overall sense of relaxation to your tired feet. Pillows work fine but there are leg loungers built especially for that. Nothing is too much when it comes to our feet right?
  • Pedicures are cliché but so good and who doesn’t like pretty. At least once a month, or more regularly if you do it at home; taking the time to actually go to the salon, choosing your favorite nail polish, getting pretty toenails with someone caring for your feet while you just relax, sounds pretty special and pampering to me.

We really shouldn’t need a reason to pamper ourselves but the above gives us a valid excuse if we ever need one. So how about a promise to love your feet, you do not want to ever know where you would be without them. Plus, it’s such a fun, pretty, girly thing for us us girls to do. For the guys, it’s totally cool to have that whole metrosexual thing going on, we girls dig it.

Summer’s Running Away



Consider that Winter seems like it was just a few months ago..when we were talking crazy-cold-how-do-I-get-my-run-on weather and now we’re running through August, no stop signs in sight. To use my, of late, favorite expression – “What the hell!” Whatever happened to slow down, take time to smell the roses and all that cute stuff? Maybe, I’m just complaining cause I’m preempting what follows summer (to which I will not give a name so as to delay it as long as possible) but really the wisest course to follow would be to abstain from such thinking and do as much running damage as possible, which brings me to the matter at hand.. Summer runs rock!

I don’t know when was the last time we’ve had or even if we’ve ever had such amazing running weather in the summer in New York City! I mean this is the time to run and if you happen to be lucky and you’re in NY, then this is the place to run, and you totally lucked in cause we also have the company to get you out and about in this summer city. Some may complain of the crazy-weather-days where the highest we’ve seen so far is just about 89 and that we have lows in the 50s but this right here is runner’s paradise. It just doesn’t get better than this. And so you want to take advantage of it cause..well..hell, you never know.

Here are some ways to get running in the city that never sleeps for the visitor and New Yorker alike:

Run Central Park. You’ll never find a place more likely to make you into a runner. Running enthusiasts, visitors, sightseers, any and everyone active can be found here..Central Park is New York in action and home to everyone.

Run City Streets. Every summer for about one month, the city opens up some of the busiest  and most popular streets so that runners, joggers, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can do their thing. Yep..that’s right. No cars. The road is yours. Where else in the world can you stop traffic at your fancy?

Run with company. The Running Company is just one of the running stores that hosts free runs for running enthusiasts throughout the city. Nike, Paragon Sports, Lululemon and North Brooklyn Runners are some others to name a few. With just a click, join them and you’re in. These groups usually pace out into sub groups so everyone fits in never mind your level. It’s on to keep you fit and fab.

Run official. Do what I did; join a running club or organization that provides days, times and run workouts. Whether it is to train, to get you to your goal or to assume competitive level, such organizations exists with your purpose in mind. These clubs have an annual membership fee upon registration and acceptance; Central Park Track Club, Brooklyn Road Runners, Jack Rabbit and Dashing Whippets are among a host of others that provide the “athlete” runner with the impetus for racing.

Run with Meetup NYC. Throughout the city there are meetup groups happening for runners of all persuasions. For those who don’t know, exists with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together so that they can be passionate about whatever they care about. So of course running. And of course in NYC. Get online, join a group, reserve a spot for a suggested meetup run and voliá. You get to run all over this beautiful, crazy city for free.

Run with NYRR (New York Road Runners). Here is the mastermind behind the New York City Marathon, which is run by thousands from all over the world each year. NYRR is a running community that hosts races throughout the year in the five boroughs of New York. Most races can help with your eligibility for the ” big” race but ideally all runners are invited to belong to a community of runners that run and share the New York we know and love. Races are priced for members at a lower rate while non-members can run for a fee, though not all the races. Why not be a New York Road Runner?

Run for fun, for charity, for personal satisfaction. Whatever you decide, you have to take it to the next level. There are so many fun and charity races all over the five boroughs and beyond you couldn’t hide..but why would you want to? Summer in New York, especially this summer, is a time to make a difference in your and someone else’s life. You just wouldn’t be able to wrap it up come September and call it a great summer if you didn’t. There are color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, 5ks for Cancer research, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney research and so much more. Whichever you decide, in any and all of them you can make a donation and make a difference. You’re running anyway right?

Do you doubt that we, runners, have it made? To not only live in the greatest city in the world, but to run the show. New York is not only about The Arts and Broadway and Wall Street and the Stock Market and Fashion and Times Square and Sightseeing and Tall Buildings. New York is about Running. Runners RUN this Empire State.

Running, one breath at a time

imageYou never realize what you have till it’s gone. How often have I heard that and commented on its truth, yet it has never been more true than when applied to the ability to breathe. How many of us has given this gift of life any thought at all and wondered what it means, aside from death, if it is threatened. Runners, fitness enthusiasts and other athletes should strongly identify and give thanks, but I doubt it, for we are often a people too caught up, too busy getting there to wonder or question how it is at all possible.

Recently, I’ve begun having difficulty with breathing while running. At first I associated this difficulty with not practicing proper breathing techniques and not pacing myself properly. After all, It is common knowledge that a strong respiratory system is a gift to runners and improves your running tremendously; and so there I thought I had it. Now, I’m trying to imagine the difficulty for runners with asthma. It is fortunate that as with most things, breathing or lung exercises can be taught to increase oxygen to your muscles and fuel your endurance. Pilates and Yoga are two forms of exercise that some runners use to give focus to proper or deep breathing techniques. And even with asthma, it is said, one can get treatment and run quite effectively.


Yet, I am not convinced that any of the above fits my symptoms which leans more on the side of a well-known condition, known in running circles as Running-Induced Asthma. I am still in the early phases of checking this out and for sure will visit with a doctor, but in the mean time I’ve been hearing all sorts of rumors of this condition also known as Exercise-Induced Asthma and one other, Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction; two different conditions, which may not be associated with a prior asthmatic condition at all. On the one hand, the former is brought on by vigorous or prolonged exercise or physical exertion. According to an article titled “Exercise-Induced Asthma” on WebMD, In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around the airways are sensitive to the changes in temperature and humidity brought on by inhaling colder and drier air through the mouth as is common with runners as oppose to normal breathing which is done via the nasal passage through which the air is warmed and moistened. Thus, they react by contracting, which narrows the airway. The result is symptoms such as:
Coughing with asthma
Tightening of the chest
Unusual fatigue while exercising
Shortness of breath when exercising

The other interesting condition that turned up in my research is Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction. Runners World, Running Times, posted an article in May on their Newswire about a recent study: “High Prevalence of Laryngeal Obstruction in Athletes” when conducted, it was found that although many athletes are diagnosed with asthma, and given bronchodilators and other forms of treatment, a large percentage of these athletes continue to have respiratory problems when exercising. One common problem, the study authors say, is exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction, or hindrances to breathing fully in the larynx, commonly known as the voice box. Authors claim that the 2/3 of the athletes under study were mistakenly taking asthma medication while showing no evidence of an asthmatic condition. They found this to be quite alarming.

At this point, I am “say what!” Too much, too soon; but this is all too real. The lesson here I guess, is to be thankful for every little sense and ability you have, to not take it for granted but to cherish and use it to its full potential while it lasts. With that said, to plod ahead in hope of some enlightenment even as I continue to run one breath at a time.

40 and Beyond: your best running years are ahead of you.


“The God who has girded me with strength has opened wide my path. He made my feet like the feet of deer, and set me secure on the heights.”

  - 2 Samuel 22:33-34

 You don’t just wake up one day and decide – Hey, I’m gonna be a runner! – Or do you? It takes years of dedication, sacrifice, hard work and sometimes struggling to stay focused and I say that for even the casual runner, because even so, over the years running would have demanded something from even you.  And so, you don’t just quit. You can’t. There’s this current school of thought running around that approaching 40 years is major. It claims that you’ve now attained full maturity and peak form, you’ve never looked nor felt better; your best years are ahead of you.

It is said that all the work you’ve put into who you are up to this point is about to blossom into the most beautiful flower you can possibly imagine. I think it’s a great metaphor for your running potential going forward. In all honesty, and for most people, 40 can be quite scary. You either look back with horror and forward with trepidation or, you look back with satisfaction and to the future with hope. Depends, I think, a lot on your perspective and where you stand, but what I can tell you is this.. the past is in the past, what you did or didn’t do is done for. However, what you do now and can do is totally determined by you. It is absolutely true that you’re now at your peak: fit, healthy, strong, beautiful and determined. Indeed you’ve never felt better; this is the result of your sustained effort and hard work and so at this point you can look forward to enjoying rewarding running.

You have running down to a science; a tried and true method. You’ve established where you are on the running scale and feel pretty confident about your abilities. Whether you’re facing your first marathon, ultra, triathlon or Ironman, you can do so confident in what you have to give. And so it follows that it only gets better from here on. Your experience, wisdom and knowledge of running will inform and fuel your runs and give you the opportunity to impact the sport and community in a unique and lasting way. So whether you’re staring at 40 in a couple of years or whether it’s right around the corner, you can do so with confidence and ease, you’ve earned it. Now go out there and show’em!

Running Denver

Denver, CO

Denver, CO

I’ve been nagging you about choosing a Fall run and so I decided to lead by example and chose Denver for my next big race. The Denver Rock n’ Roll marathon is on October 15 and is only my second rock n’ roll event, the first being the Washington DC marathon I ran in March of this year. Not too shabby, I thought, and so here I am again with big plans to rock Denver. Why Denver? Well, it’s a new course, I was invited by a friend to stay and run with her; nothing can trump that, I’ve never been there, plus it’s gorgeous I’m told – that of course was the deciding factor.

Washington Park

Washington Park

According to our friends at Runners World, Denver is a running paradise. “It’s a year-round runner’s city – a mile-high mountain metropolis stuffed with pristine parks, surrounded by a couple of hundred miles of paved paths and natural surface trails to tread.” Because of its 5,280-foot altitude, Denver is known as America’s “thinnest” city. And its most educated, as it has the highest percentage of college graduates of any major US metro area. But what’s really attractive to me is the “feast of nature” experience that it promises. It’s said that its 5,280-foot altitude produces hefty hemoglobin counts, which really means that it’s running on a whole new level out there. Cupped by the mountains, and not mountainous, Denver boasts some of the most scenic trails, parks and bike-friendly paths in a green environment. I promise to test the truth of this along with those single-track trails that serve up sweeping views of downtown Denver and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Manitou Incline

Manitou Incline

It whispers adventure and a tough but scenic running experience. For a runner like me, that’s enough to send me packing and running with sneakers in hand. Because of the altitude level, I’ve been warned to get there a few days beforehand to get acclimated; at least that’s my official reason for taking a couple of days off from work to head over yonder, and make sure I’m all situated before race day. Training is on. This time around, I’ve decided to sign up with a track club to work on speed, strength and endurance. Within recent times, I’ve found breathing to be quite challenging over long distances and would like to throw some focus in this area as I’m sure this will come into play in the race. As I dig down into my training, I remind myself to give up the late nights and crazy eating and to take an all-round approach to ensure I’m fit and fabulous come October.

The Rockies

The Rockies

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