• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy!

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

The Adventures of Nichole & Greta...

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I looked like a lunatic.

It's noon on Tuesday and two of my athletes are coming down for workouts. I'm planning to run along with Greta in the stroller, but we just received some snow/ice/slush stuff and the roads are still covered in it. 

Hmm, I think to myself. We don't have an actual jogging stroller yet because I was told I couldn't take Greta out in one until she was at least 6 months old. After asking other running moms and doing some research, though, I found that with an infant sling I could start running with her as early as 1 month old. So... all we have is our normal strolling stroller for now. Which I've looked silly running with before, but running in the snow and temps in the teens surely changes the way my neighbors describe me: from dedicated to absolutely, positively crazy.

I've been told by other moms that Greta should be fine in the cold in her stroller as long as she's dressed well, has a blanket or two with, and we have the car seat cover on... sooo... I decide to brave it. 

I think I spent ~90 minutes getting ready for this run! Feeding Greta, pumping, getting myself dressed, getting her dressed, putting her in her car seat, putting Mesa in her kennel, finding watch. Uff.

J & C arrive and we head out. I wish I would have taken a picture of our ridiculousness :). Instead, you can just picture me pushing this stroller:

I'm already missing the days where the paths/roads were clear.
Through this:

Yah, call me crazy. I deserve it.
So, needless to say, that sped up my stroller-searching process a bit. Good thing Craigslist is awesome.

Just waiting for Greta's infant sling to arrive so we can test it out!
We also were very lucky to have found a contact that had the ski attachment. Greta is excited for her first ski outing!
My training so far has gone really well. I haven't had any set backs, which surprises me... no incision pain, no nothing! The only thing is that I'm terribly, horribly out of shape, heavy, and not strong :(. I keep telling myself that it will be a slow, daily process back to it... but it's still hard.

Week 3:

15.6 miles.

The highlight was a 5 mile run with one of my athletes. It was the first time that I've run fast for a LONG time, and wow... was it fun :). Perhaps my excitement was also partially borrowed from my athlete: after I coached her on a few form things, she was running faster than she has EVER run before. *Huge grins all-around*

Meeting another athlete at the Carleton track for a mile time trial. She ran a 16 second PR (hard to do in a mile effort!)! I timed, Nate pushed Greta around the track.
The low-light was a 45 minute elliptical done earlier in the week that was just downright HARD. I just felt how out-of-shape I was. Hate workouts that are supposed to be easy and aren't :(

Week 4:

23.5 miles

This week's log had a lot of "sooo tired" entries. I try to be a "good wife" and wake up to feed Greta whenever she needs during the night (since Nate is the one that needs to be awake and fully functioning during the day!). After nights where I'm up every hour and a half, though, I just don't function well :(. I have always needed more sleep, so this sleep deprivation thing really hits me.

I've had multiple nights where I'm literally so tired that I feel drunk. Not kidding. I need to get better at sleeping when Greta takes her short cat-naps... I just feel like I should be accomplishing something during that time... coaching, house stuff, errands, etc.

But, when I'm trying to keep my eyes open while feeding her, I stare into her big eyes and immediately forget my insane tiredness :). True love!

Hard to be frustrated with a face like that! Thank you AO for the outfit!!
The only workout to note was a 7 mile long run. This felt so LONG and hard. The last 1.5 miles I took frequent walk breaks. My legs had a similar sort of clumsy feeling that I had last summer (oh, nooo... hopefully it's just a strength thing now). But, I powered through all 7 of it!

Wow, I have a lot of work to do!

In other life news:

Jeff and Christina came to visit baby Greta. Jeff put her through the paces. Baby calisthenics, anyone? This kid is doomed...  

We officially joined out church! We've been going for a number of years but hadn't filled out the "official" paperwork. Now it's "official" -- I guess :)

We put a lot of thought into Greta's Godparents... we decided on two awesome individuals who will have a tremendous influence on her life. A little unorthodox, yes, but we chose Craig (above, we were able to ask in person) and Leighton (my cousin, who we had to ask via phone since he is at GAC). I couldn't ask for two more awesome people to be involved in her life!

Greta is clearly questioning our decision...
Lastly... I submitted my Brooks sponsorship renewal. I took a chance and listed Greta Margaret as my Pr for the year, with the time of 5 lbs, 12 ounces :). I fully expect that I will be dropped from their elite team next year... but am SOOO hopeful that they'll keep me. Not sure if comments on this blog will get noticed by them or not, but if there is any chance they will, can I get a shout-out?


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A Day in the Life

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Before I recap last week's training, I thought I'd enlighten you with my first "mom" morning.

There's no way I could be anything but in love with this face!
8 am - Wake up and feed and change Greta. Back to sleep. I have a new *love* for sleep and naps!

9:30 - Wake up and pump, then feed Greta with what I've pumped. I'm trying to pump every hour for ~2 days to try to stimulate my milk production. Plus, feeding her from what I've pumped takes ~20 minutes vs. the 40-50 it was taking before (I think because she just wasn't getting as much or as quickly).

10:45 - Pump again, feed. She was not too happy during the wait! Commence angry and crying baby.

11:10 - Change diaper. When wiping her, she decided to project a huge amount of poo. As in: think a liquid stream from a little boy, but now replace that with poo from a little girl. Same force/distance. Perhaps the same volume. AHHHHH!!!

My reaction was to put my hands down to stop it... but that meant that not only did it get everywhere but that I was also covered.

While holding down the wipe to limit spraying poop, she then peed. Awesome.

I told Greta not to move (ha!) and then ran to the bathroom to clean myself up.

Once we had the third diaper on (1st diaper was dirty, 2nd clean one was now covered in poop, so we needed the 3rd clean one), she immediately filled it.

Oh, Greta!

11:25 - We are (finally) clean and bedroom fixtures are wiped down. Everything has been brought down to laundry room.

11:30 - Pump, bring things to the dishwasher to sanitize during my (planned) run. Mesa cried the entire time I pumped because one of her toys was under the couch and she just could not *bear* to have it there.

Find dog toy. Pat Mesa's head once or twice to pretend to pay attention to her.

Change into running gear.

12:00 - Do dishes

12:20 - The garbage disposal isn't working! The motor whirls but nothing is going down. The dishwasher is also running, so after calling Nate to ask his opinion, I look back to the sink to see it FILLING!

12:25 - Quick! Hit cancel button on dishwasher! Take whatever buckets I have and try to take water out of the sink so it doesn't over flow!

12:26 - WHY didn't the dishwasher stop?!? I yank it open.

12:27 - Trips with buckets to the bathroom. Flush.

12:35 - Come back from a bucket trip to find Mesa on her hind legs, DRINKING out of the 90% full sink. I'm sure it was delicious since it had food chunks in it from the failed garbage disposal attempt earlier.

I literally burst out in laughter, bucket in hand. Welcome to motherhood, right? :)

12:40 - Greta is hungry again! I should pump since it's been a hour. She's not excited to wait. Except... I'm in a sports bra so my "hand free" pump is no longer hands free (need the clips on the nursing bra to have it work).

I decide to run upstairs to grab a nursing bra. I pull up sports bra, pull on nursing bra over the top of my training shirt. Wow. If this isn't mom style, I don't know what is.

... I also haven't figured out the most efficient way to pump/clean supplies/feed Greta/etc. I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels, being busy but not actually accomplishing much!

2:00 - Finally out for my run! Ran with Craig to our voting location. It was my first time running with Greta in the stroller. It's tough! 3 miles, 8:30-9:00 pace while pushing with a couple of walk breaks to catch my breath. 3.06 miles total in 29 minutes.

~4:00 - Now finally starting on coaching plans/emails/updates!

Good thing Greta is adorable, and that I am content to laugh off these "adventures" :)

I love our little family!
---

Now for a weekly training recap:

Mon: Off. Took a nap instead of a walk. This mom/nursing thing is exhausting!

Tue: 60 min walk. First half with Craig. Went 3 miles. I am a very slow walker.

Wed: 40 min walk, then 5 mins on the elliptical. I walked/ran the last 20 minutes of the walk and took the elliptical minutes hard :).

Thur: I had my incision check this afternoon, 2 weeks after C-section. The doctor was impressed with how fast I've healed. She gave me clearance to start running and lifting, as long as I use pain as my guide. She said there was no way to know how much is "too much" until I've done too much.

Chris' workout for the day was 60 minutes of walk/running. I started out running, and took breaks when I felt my HR climbing too high. I kept asking myself if there was any pain, but there wasn't. At ALL. Is this normal, I kept thinking?

I kept going and going... and after 4 miles I told myself this just wasn't normal and I needed to stop (even though I still had absolutely no pain!). I walked the last 20 minutes to finished out the hour.

Fri: Happy Halloween! There is now a little "pouch" above the incision line, along with a little discoloration. HMM. I think I'll take today off.

On the risk of overdoing the cow theme, we decided to showcase our complete family "herd"... might have had something to do with the fact that NONE of Target's costumes were small enough for Greta... plus her cow suit is sized 6-9 months so it won't fit next year...

Can you "spot" Greta? Can you also feel Mesa's jealousy?
Sat: We went to the State meet and then to MIACS. Total running ~1.5 miles (no pain!) and 60+ minutes of walking.

We ran into Dr. Asp at the State meet!
As well as my high school XC/track coach! Marshall girls finished 4th!!
Appropriately dressed in our Gustie gear for MIACs! Greta's hat needed to be pinned up since it's still way too big. Leighton had his final conference race, which was really fun to watch -- although I am so sad that his 4 XC years went by so quickly! 
Sun: 30 minute walk + 15 minute elliptical

= 13.5 miles (walking miles counted) + 20 minutes elliptical.

I'm so excited to be starting back to regular training again! I can only hope I continue to get stronger each and every day!



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My first week and a half as a mom!

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The last week and a half have come and gone with the blink of an eye. I can't believe it!

Especially since I spend most of my day 1) feeding Greta, 2) sleeping when she sleeps (key!), 3) pumping, 4) spending time with the numerous visitors, 5) burping Greta and changing diapers 6) and just staring at her beautiful face :) Where does the time go?

Oh... and I've started walking for my "workouts"!


Just cuz she's cute :)
First, Baby news! Greta is a pretty easy baby. We are so lucky! Most nights she will sleep 3-4 hours in a stretch and then start "talking" to let us know she wants to be fed. She doesn't cry very often, which I know will change all too soon :). There have been a couple of nights where feeding has been as frequent as every 1-1.5 hours, which has been tougher, but I consider us VERY lucky to have such an easy baby!


Our first walk!
She went to her first doctor's appointment the Tuesday after she was born (at 6 days old) and weighed in at 5 pounds, 13 ounces -- 1 ounce above her birth weight. They usually don't expect babies to be at their birth weight until 2 weeks old, so she's well ahead of schedule! Go, Greta!!


Before our first doc appointment!
Breastfeeding has been going great. I expected the worst based on the blogs and website information I read. Greta latches well, feeds great, and it's only hurt a few times - until the nurses at the hospital watched me feed several times and gave great advice. Since then, smooth sailing!

I've already started pumping. There are conflicting opinions on this: 1) wait until 4 weeks to pump so your body will produce to your baby's needs and not any more than needed or 2) pump earlier than that in case anything happens to your milk supply.

I've opted for #2. I don't expect anything to happen, but there's a definite chance that I won't be able to produce as well if I'm training harder so would rather have a back-up supply just in case. If I don't need it, great, I'm hopeful I could find a new mom that could use the supply!


Before our first longer walk!
I've had a ton of help the last week. Both Grandma's came to help at home while I recovered from surgery and adjusted to motherhood. The highlights were:


Making sweet potato baby food with Nate's mom. I hope to make as much of Greta's baby food as possible, and it was nice to see how easy it could be!
Now I'm holding Greta close in a K'Tan wrap while Nate creates order in Greta's closet. Although we sort of had it organized it before she was born, we quickly realized sizes between brands are NOT nearly the same -- plus the new "girly" stuff we've been gifted had just been added to drawers haphazardly.


YAY to organization!

Good thing both Nathan and I are a little OCD when it comes to organization! It'll make dressing her a lot easier.

Plus, what's more fun than dressing a newborn girl in fun clothes?!? :)

Second: Workout update!

I've been very careful to follow doctor's orders. I've started with short walks in the hospital, then increased my time/distance every day once I felt like it was safe to do so. It has felt great. It helps that the fall weather in MN has been awesome!

Mon 10/20 (Greta is 5 days old): 10 minutes up and down our street

Tues 10/21: off

Wed 10/22: 31 minutes to the park (2 loops) and back, 1.5 miles. Mesa loved this walk since Nate brought her favorite fetch toy and just threw it continuously while at the park. 


YAY, family time!

Thur 10/23: 45 minutes, 2 miles. With the MIL.

Fri 10/24: 53 minutes, 2.5 miles with the whole "family" again. I look forward to our walks!

Sat 10/25: 67 minutes, 3 miles. Nate and I drove to downtown to show Greta to Tom at Fit to Be Tri'd and then walk from there. It was a nice change of scenery - we walked a little in the arb (off-roading it!), through the Carleton campus, and through downtown Northfield. 

I *may* have jogged a couple of steps the last .25 miles. :) It felt great, even though it wasn't much faster than my walking pace. Note to self: I need to purchase a couple of larger bras to train in. 

From the first day we were out, I've been super motivated to get out everyday. I welcome that change, as the week before I delivered I told Nate and Craig that I didn't know what my mental state would be after baby. Running 6 minute miles, back to back for 26.2, seemed impossible (still does), and honestly, I just wasn't motivated to push as hard as I had before.

Now that Greta is here, I've found a renewed focus and dedication. I want to show her that mom can do it. I want to bring her to the start line at the '16 Trials. For '12, I wanted to prove to myself and those around me that I was a better runner than what I had shown in college. Now, I want to prove that to Greta :).


I love this picture. I'm burping her after feeding, and she is totally content :). Plus, I'm starting to look like myself after losing the crazy water-weight that the hospital pumped me full of!
I'll go in on Wednesday next week to get my incision checked and hopefully be cleared to do a little ellipticaling and potentially walk/running. I am so hopeful!! 


More snuggles. I am in love!!
Until next time, Run HAPPY!
~Nichole










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Meet Greta Margaret!

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I am so in love

People told me that your definition of love changes when you have a child, but until I held her perfect little self in my arms for the first time, watching her every facial expression and pouring over every detail about her, I didn't really know what they meant.

I do now. 

I teared up when I held her. I still do every so often. She is so perfect. She is, far and away, the best thing that I have ever done or accomplished. 

A few fun pictures:

The morning of the C-section. You can tell it's early and we're both tired
At the hospital. One last check of baby to see if she is still breech. Yup! So off to the OR I go!
And... it's a GIRL!!
Getting weighed. 5 pounds, 12 ounces! For some reason when I see this picture, I see Wallace Shawn.
Nate says maybe Wallace Shawn just looks like a giant man-baby. Inconceivable!
Getting measured. 18.5 inches long, head circumference 13.5 inches.
Happy and healthy! For not even weighing 6 pounds, she still has a very healthy looking double chin and plump belly. Go, Greta!
We've been so lucky to have so many visitors at the hospital. Here are Aunt Jessica (left) and Aunt Kristin (right), Nate's sisters
With Grandma Colleen!
With Great Grandma Ann. Love her expression!

My aunt and uncle. I like this picture because Greta's sort of smiling in it :)

And of course, a visit from a COW!!!! This was awesome. The cow suits come out for "A" races, and she was definitely my "A" race for the year!
Changing my first diaper
The first of very, very many
video

She has been such an easy and happy baby! She rarely cries (unless you're changing a diaper or bathing her - that's COLD!), and instead coo's contently most of the day. This is in stark contrast to the baby boy next door, who is constantly crying or screaming. I know there are plenty of those days coming, but in the mean time I'm loving the fact she has been such a great baby!

Daddy's girl!
I am so happy to be able to raise her with Nate, and cannot wait for the adventures to come!


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One last day...

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The hospital bags are packed, I'm working on a few last minute household chores and to-do list items... I have butterflies in my stomach much like I'm going to a huge race and am really nervous... 
but...

I am so ready! I can't wait to meet baby!

Just for fun, here are a few pictures from the pregnancy with links to the weekly recaps.

14 weeks. That seems so long ago! I'm surprised at how little the bump was at that point - mostly because of how big it is now :)
At this point I was over the hump of the first trimester so started back with some harder workouts and ran the GAC Alumni mile track race: 6:39

22 weeks

26 weeks - a 24:30 5k, one of the best "warm-ups" I've done for a race (which will be a fun story to tell baby when it's older!), 

33 weeks - my own version of Ab Ripper X and the Gustavus Alumni 5k!
36 weeks - and unsuccessful attempt to flip baby (version) and the final pre-baby to-do lists!
And now... 39 weeks!! I went for one last 5k run over noon today (Tuesday). It's been nice to be able to be able to run throughout this entire pregnancy!
And again! I've also been lucky to never feel "uncomfortable". I've heard a lot of women at this stage just want to baby to be OUT (there's no more room!), but I haven't had that feeling yet. YES, I can't wait for the heartburn and nausea to stop, but I really do consider myself lucky to have been fairly comfortable throughout!
The C-section is scheduled for early morning tomorrow (Wednesday 10/15). I'm not sure when I'll get around to posting here, but if you follow me on Twitter or are FB friends with me, you'll know very soon after baby arrives.

Here's hoping for an uneventful C-section, a healthy and happy baby, and the start of loving our little family! XXXOOO

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Pregnancy week 38, Body Image Comments, and To-Do List Progress!

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Perhaps one of my more random blog posts... maybe random = mildly entertaining/worth your time... or maybe random = complete waste of your time and my corner of the internet. Guess you'll have to read to decide.

At my 38 week appointment this week the doctor took a look at baby to see if it had flipped. It hadn't. Bummer.

OH MY
She also looked at it more closely, taking measurements of baby's head, abdomen, and femur to make sure it's been growing the way it should. The doctor was a little concerned because I've lost a little weight over the last 4 weeks and I'm supposed to be gaining a pound a week at this point (since baby is supposed to be gaining 1/2 pound a week). Turns out nightly vomiting is not an effective weight gain strategy...

The good news is that baby looked great! Per the ultrasound machine, baby is right around 5 pounds, 6 ounces so should be a healthy 6 pounder when it meets the world next week. The other fun thing was to see a ton of HAIR.

Not our picture, but this was pretty representative of what I saw, except that the hair was a little longer and up and down the whole head.  How fun! Obviously, this kid inherited MY hair genes, not Nate's :)
Speaking of weight: so far I've gained about 19 pounds. I'd actually love for that number to be higher, but haven't been able to keep down a lot of evening meals. I'm not as strong or fit either, so perhaps the actual weight gain is more (losing muscle, replaced with fat/fluid/etc).

The #s don't matter, I explain that only to put context to my first somewhat-odd-weight-related comment at the grocery store yesterday. An old acquaintance came up to me, and the conversation went something like this:
...
Anonymous: I had heard you were pregnant! [Then a belly touch... Anonymous came from really far away and moved so quickly! It was like they couldn't help themselves but be drawn into my belly's gravitational pull. So awkward]
Me: Yep! Less than a week to go!
... some other chit-chat
A: How have you been feeling?
Me: Great! I've still been able to run, and have been fairly comfortable throughout!
A: That's good. I had to do a double-take when I first saw you! Since you're so short, you don't just gain around the middle, you gain everywhere!
...
Uhh, thanks? I walked away, but the comment stuck with me. I don't consider myself to be super self-conscious about body image, but with professional running, weight, body composition, and strength ARE important so I've always had an eye on myself.

With the pregnancy, I only freaked out once about the changes happening: expanding rib cage and hips, a chest that's a full cup size bigger, becoming softer all over in general, etc (blog post here). The rest of the pregnancy I've embraced the changes.

Perhaps I do look much different than I used to? I notice it sometimes, especially in my face (yay for going back to my old round-face-with-chubby-cheeks). Will I be able to earn my pre-pregnancy body back? If so, will it take a long time? I don't know why Anonymous' comment struck me like it did... because when I started to think about getting back in shape, asking myself the questions above, I immediately stopped myself. I could tell that I really DIDN'T care about how I looked now, and am actually proud of how much fitness I've been able to maintain. I'm excited for the slow road back to my old self. But, for some STUPID reason, that comment is just stuck in my brain.

There's really no point to this other than I felt the need to say something (body image is something that just isn't talked about!). So, thanks for listening :)
--

I'm working diligently on my to-do list! So far:

Car work: oil change and replace belt on Subaru, change insurance coverage, warranty claim on Subaru, program second key fob for Prius

Running/Sponsorships/Coaching: Work with Boom! Nutrition on team sponsorship, [Yep, that's right! The entire TNC crew has Boom!'s support!] Reapply for Nutrilite sponsorship [I should find out next week!], buy a new Garmin, 5 more athletes I need to work ahead on training plans for

I've been really thankful for their supplements throughout this pregnancy, since I KNOW that without them I would have been severely deficient!
Get stuff out of the garage (sell/donate): TV, TV stand, Teak Table, Sewing Machine, Garage Sale stuff crap that didn't sell
[Anyone need a TV stand or a sewing machine?]

Our old basement TV found a new home with my SIL - enjoy, Jess! Very happy to get it out of our garage, that thing was huge!
Baby stuff: get flu shot, call insurance to check on C-section coverage, submit a zillion receipts to FSA (UGGG), make cloth wipes, pin newborn pictures for my brother to try to take (he's offered to try to take newborn pictures!), dowel rod for Pack N Play, buy nice camera?

House stuff: Landscaping, Paint door (if time), finish home theater install, put up TV in workout room for when I'll be USING the workout room again!!!!!, cleaning basement

Flu shot at Walgreens! The Northfield hospital didn't have the vaccine in yet. How does this happen? Walgreens has been advertising flu shots for weeks (months?), and the Northfield HOSPITAL doesn't have them in yet?!????
Thanks to Amy and the Scenic Spaces crew, landscaping is done! Our house needed a little "curb appeal" work, and she was able to design and put in exactly that. She and her crew worked super quick, and I could NOT be happier with how things turned out!

Plus, it was just neat to hire one of my athletes for the job. Not only is she a crazy fast marathoner, but is super creative as well!

Before

Nate taking out the half-dead bushes, tree, and rock
After!!

Mesa is proud to show off her new curb-appeal enhanced home

Evergreens near the front of the home. I WISH I had a "before" picture. There were some sad looking plants in between the evergreens, and the entire thing was an overgrown, ugly weed patch. Now it looks so clean and professional! What a difference.

They took out the existing sidewalk and instead installed a curved paver path. The darker colors really help add interest to our otherwise all-beige exterior.

And last, to complete the random-ness of this post: FALL is here! Temps have cooled significantly and it gets really dark by 7:30. NOOOOOO!!!

 Nate and Mesa are suited up in reflective gear for their run tonight - it's that time of year!

I found this Brooks hat for Nate. Not only is it florescent yellow and has a lot of reflectivity all around the hat, but you can have the back of it light up! Very, very cool. I'm all about safety. Clearly, he's excited about it as well.
Alright, enough rambling from me! Have a great rest of the week!

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