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Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Lake San Antonio, California
United States
Total Time = 5h 26m 48s
Overall Rank = 325/1886
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 50/273
Pre-race routine:

Two years ago, Wildflower was my first half IM ever. I signed up once again for it which I figured would be an interesting checkpoint on how far along my fitness had come since then. Of course, to add a bit of a twist to it all, I signed up for the Olympic as well. So, call this race report (long course) Part I of my race weekend.

In the week leading up to Wildflower, I had unfortunately started to feel a bit sick as measured by the initial congestion I would feel in the mornings. This gradually continued to get just a little bit worse through Thursday, but never coming into a full blown cold (maybe the zinc I started taking helped). This did have the benefit of forcing me to taper (undoubtedly more than I would have if I had been left to my own devices), which I most likely needed anyway. Fortunately, when I woke up Friday morning, I felt better and had turned the corner.

From a logistical perspective, the plan was for poweredbyfear (PBF) to come by on Friday morning, we'd load up the car, and the three of us (PBF, DW, and me) would then head down to Lake San Antonio and camp with our tri club. We wanted to get there early since we didn't want to have to deal with contention for parking and such which is what we remembered from 2 years ago. Just as we started to load PBF's truck, it started raining. This was a mixed blessing. We hadn't packed up yet and so we began bagging everything that was going to stay in the bed of the truck in garbage bags and mostly covering the bikes, but they would still have to remain somewhat exposed to the elements.

About 10:30AM, we finally hit the road. We did experience waves of rain showers, so it was good that we had prepared for all of that. As we came closer to Gilroy, DW wanted to get a Jamba Juice, so we also decided to use the stop for an early lunch.

A couple doors down from the Jamba Juice was a mexican restaurant called Cancun Taqueria. We should have seen the warning signs that the food quality would be inferior just by the gringo name of the establishment and secondarily that it was located in a strip mall. Regardless, I ordered a regular burrito with pollo asado, DW ordered a wet burrito with carne asada, and PBF ordered the shrimp coctail and a couple soft tacos. On the plus side, the food was served very quickly. Unfortunately, it was because all of it had obviously been prepared some time ago with poor quality meat. My burrito was very bland and was actually incorrectly the regular pollo and not the pollo asado. The meat in DWs carne asada was not very high quality. You get the idea and there's no use in beating a dead horse (hopefully none was used in the preparation of this meal).

Otherwise, the drive down to Lake San Antonio was uneventful. As we took the King City exit and stopped off at the gas station on Jolon, most of the other cars here were those of athletes headed to Wildflower.

As we came closer, I could vividly remember coming here 2 years ago. I remember seeing the other triathletes riding on their expensive tri bikes decked out in all of their gear. I had only done smaller races in the Bay Area and I remember being a bit intimidated by it all. I've had a lot more experience since then and I wondered how I would stack up now. After this weekend, I would know.

There were a good number of campers here already, but it really wasn't quite as crowded as I was expecting (and it never really did get as crowded as I remembered). We headed over to Redondo Vista H where the GGTC was already set up. Along the way, we pass the big setup for TNT (they had the big covered tent/dining area, executive shower units (on the 18-wheeler truck) and a row of portapotties just for them).

We parked and set up our campsite, uphill and a short bit away from the main group. It continued to rain off and on. We walked down to registration, which is always an adventure to take the 1.5 mile walk including the stretch on the infamous hilly dirt trail (the same that you need to get back from the race) which was a bit muddy from the rains. I was really hoping the weather forecast was accurate and that it wasn't going to rain on race morning.

When I checked in at registration, the volunteer quizzically stated that there were two registrations for me. I said that was because I was doing both races. He gave me my bag for the long course (neon pink cap - cool) and then gave me my bag for the olympic (white). Afterward, PBF and I got body marked since there were folks doing that for athletes already.

We checked out the expo, bought nothing, sampled everything. We trudged back up the dirt hill and back to camp. Quite a few more had arrived so we were able to catch up with a few folks. We started making our dinner which was some fresh pasta and sauce from safeway (boring, but safe and easy enough to prepare) as well as some of the "poor man's lobster" that PBF was preparing (halibut boiled in water, sake, vinegar, salt).

Fortunately, the rain seemed to have stopped and I was able to take out my bike and swap my race wheels (I brought the Zipp 999 wheelset) and brakes. We ended up setting up PBFs extra tent to store the bikes since it was likely going to rain overnight.

Later in the evening, PBF pulled out the sake (Otokoyama) and some of the coffee flavored tequila (Patron) he brought along. It sounds pretty funky and I was a bit skeptical (as we all were), but it was actually very tasty. Soon, enough, it's past 9pm and it's time to get ready for bed.


It starts to get light out so, I'm up at 6am. There are a few folks already up as well. No rain and it's relatively warm (or at least not cold). Using the bathroom is the first order of business since there are only two stalls in the men's bathroom and there will undoubtedly be a line already.

After taking care of that, the next order of business is coffee. Of course, we always bring our own coffee. In this case, it's some Ethiopia Organic Wet-Process Kebado which I roasted earlier in the week and ground at home with our burr grinder. I also brought along some Vital Vittles 3 seed bread, raw unflitered honey from Safeway provides in their bear squeeze bottles, and some organic almond butter (safeway was out of the fresh ground stuff, so this had to do).

We actually are able to take our time because the race starts at a very sane 8:00am and they ask everyone to be racked by 7:45. I put the race number on my bike and helmet and prep my water bottles. I change into my tri clothing (oomph shorts and my tri club race top).

I'm pretty much ready to go, but I'm waiting for PBF who hasn't returned from the bathroom. When he gets back, he has to rush a bit to get all of his stuff together. He gets it all together. DW kisses me for good luck and then PBF and I head to transition.

We're rolling along and PBF realizes he forgot his aero water bottle so he heads back. I get to transition and it's abuzz with activity since most racers are already here. I find my spot which is pretty close to the end of all the racks closer to the water. I do most of my setup and then get in line for the porta-potties. I chat with the guys behind me who are doing this as their first half. The line seems long, but it's moving pretty well and in reality, I was in line for 12 minutes or so (the guy behind me timed it).

Before I go back to my transition area, I see PBF in the bathroom line and I tell him it should be about 15 minutes for him. I go to my transition area and finishing setting up. Racked next to me on the opposite side of the rack is a 2004 Cervelo P2K (just like the one I have). The guy asks if I'm Donato and it turns out it's Atak Kat here on BT who is in my mentoring group. We chat a bit and catch up, which is great. AK puts on his wetsuit and heads to the swim start.

I'm walking around transition a little bit and I see some of the other guys from our tri club (including one other guy who is doing both races like me). I look for PBF. I see him getting his wetsuit on. I tell him we need to get going. DW is here and she takes our photo.

We head over to the water and we can see that our wave is entering the water for their warm up already. It's 5 minutes between waves, so we bob in the water a little bit and someone comes up to us and shakes our hands - it's nevergivin. It's impressive that he recognized us in our wetsuits/caps/goggles and seems like not so long ago that we had lunch with him before IM Cal. They call us back out of the water to get behind the start line. I put myself on the outside left about 1/3 the way back. The countdown begins...
  • 34m 28s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 47s / 100 meters

The horn goes off and we run to the water. It's a couple steps and then it's a dive and I start swimming. It's the usual incidental contact when swimming in such close quarters, but I pull ahead of a few guys and I'm pretty well in the clear. It was actually a bit weird to be out in the open so soon, but the faster swimmers were presumably all in the inside.

The first buoy isn't too far off and then it's a right turn. I'm just trying to stay relaxed. I luck out and find someone to draft off of. I almost never am able to draft successfully in a race, but as it would turn out, I'm able to draft off of this guy almost the entire course. I'm feeling very relaxed and think maybe I'm behind someone who's too slow, so I pull along side the guy, but realize that it's definitely taking a bit more effort so I decide to conserve my energy since I know this is just the start of the entire race.

The whole stretch out on the course is uneventful. At the turn, it gets a bit crowded, esp. since the mer-men from the wave that came after us is blasting past. I hang onto my draft for awhile, but as I can see the pier in the middle of the lake, I head towards that so I can cut the corner short. There are folks on this dock cheering, but I'm breathing to the other side so don't see them much.

It's easy to see the balloon arch that marks the swim finish and I just head over there. About 50m out I begin kicking a bit to try to wake up my legs. i swim until i can brush the bottom with my fingers and stand up and stagger forward.


I don't really think my swim is any better than 2 years ago, so I'll credit the 3 minute improvement to drafting and doing a better job cutting the corner short.
Transition 1
  • 03m 46s

I jog on the rough concrete (IM Cal was much nicer with all the carpeting or whatever they laid down) to my transition area and find it no problem. Most bikes still seem to be here (surprising since I am a very middlish swimmer). I take off my goggles and cap (had to wear it the whole way since they are presecription goggles and I am very myopic) and put on my sunglasses.

i always have trouble with the wetsuit on my ankles and have to jam my thumb in there to pull them off (after every race I keep threatening to trim the ankles on my wetsuit to make it easier to remove, but I never do). One of the rack spots adjacent to me was empty so I hang my wetsuit there on the rack.

I put 3 gus and 2 energy bars in my back pocket, roll on my socks, put on my shoes and helmet, no gloves (hey, it's a race!). I run to the bike out and past the blue mount lines. I hop on my bike and I'm off.
  • 2h 57m 18s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.95 mile/hr

The first part of the bike, we wind around the lake on some bumpy roads. I'm in no rush to crank here since I know it's a long day and I'm not warmed. So, I take it fairly easy until I get to Beach Hill. Here I have a chance to start passing folks and I pass a good number, although there are a few who pass me as well. I've done a lot of hill riding in the last year and my biking has gotten stronger, so this feels like a good warmup.

The stretch on San Antonio Drive is some rolling hills with some nice opportunities to gear out. On the downhills I go aero and get to pass some and on the uphills, I get to pass some folks too.

Soon enough, the right turn onto Interlake Road comes up. The downhills and flats are a blast, esp. during the first 20 miles when my legs are very fresh and I just coasting on adrenaline. I'm passing many people and occasionally getting passed as well.

Jolon Road comes up pretty quickly at about mile 20. It's a right here. I decide to start eating and munch on half a bar. I'm playing leapfrog with another guy and we begin saying "hey there" to each other as one of us passes the other.

From doing the training weekend about a month ago, I remember these middle miles being mentally fatiguing (adrenaline from start has already worn off and no where near the finish yet to feel that pull to the end), but I'm feeling really strong.

I starting to feel the pressure of having to pee, which can make being in aero uncomfortable. When I did wildflower 2 years ago, it was the first and only Attimes in a race I've peed on the bike and I have had no practice since (training partners would likely frown at that...). So, after a climb at about mile 27 with no one around, I try...but I can't.

Otherwise, this back stretch on Jolon is a lot of fun, a chance to get aero and eat up the miles, although it did get windy at times. At about mile 35, it's a right turn onto Nacimiento Lake Rd which foreshadows Nasty Grade to come. I'm still feeling good and passing folks.

There a left turn onto the road that leads to Nasty Grade...and so it begins. I'm feeling pretty good still and the climb is not problematic; it's shorter than a lot of climbs I've done during my training. I'm passing a good number of folks and trying to encourage them a bit. There are several who pass me, some of whom would fade before the top.

About halfway up, there's a guy wearing only a red speedo with a blowup doll wearing a leopard print silk robe or something. Between the climb and the spectacle, my brain freezes and red speedo guy says "you have no idea what to say, do you?" Further up Nasty Grade, there is someone dressed in a bunny outfit and a big bass drum (a la the Energizer Bunny) which was some more entertaining relief.

After the false summit, it's a right turn onto Interlake Rd. There is a big downhill a little ways after Nasty Grade. It's scary because it's fast and the road has some rough spots and there can be wind and I'm riding a disc. In the end, my fears were totally unfounded and of the 4 times I've ridding down this hill, riding on my P3C with a disk wheel in back was the most stable (and comfortable) by far.

The rest of the way back is more of the same rolling hills. Blast on the downhills and chug on the uphills...each is an opportunity to pass a lot of people and still get passed by a few too.

Near the end, DW is there to take some pictures.

It's a banzai run down Lynch to the finish. I pull beside another guy, but I'm not interested in racing down Lynch so I pull back and just follow him in. There are runners already finishing up here too, so it gets a little tricky when passing.

I ride to the dismount line, I unclip, and I'm off the bike...


There were no recorded times for my bike split and T2, so I guesstimated that I took 1:45 in T2 and calculated the remaining time for my bike split.

This was a 10.5 minute improvement from 2 years ago. Can't complain about that!
Transition 2
  • 01m 45s

I waddle as elegantly as I am able to do in bike shoes to my transition area. Off with my bike shoes and on with my running shoes; off with the helmet, on with the day glo yellow visor. I grab 3 more gus, slug down some water and I'm headed out. I want to pee, but we don't seem to have porta potties directly accessible nearby...argh!
  • 1h 49m 31s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 22s  min/mile

My legs are a bit heavy and there's nothing like starting up some stairs when your legs feel that way. At the top, there are spectators cheering quite enthusiastically. From here, it's along the lake, much of the same stretch we had when we started the bike.

Okay, I really have to pee since I never went while on the bike course. I know there should be some porta potties within a mile or so. I'm trying to keep the legs moving knowing that it takes me 4-6 miles to really loosen up, so this is the part where it kinda sucks.

There's a big row of porta potties and finally, relief...I must have peed for a good minute or so and what a glorious minute that was. It's back on to the course.

The first hill comes along before the mile 2 and my legs still feel pretty leaden. It's near an aid station so there are folks here cheering us on. It's some water for me and water to dump on my head. It's warmed up a bit so this feels great.

We soon transition to more of a dirtpack trail, but we're still along the lake near the Harris Creek campground. I've passed a few people, been passed by some, and I find a tall guy to tail behind. We continue along this way until near mile 4 when we start heading towards the section with the steep uphill. When we hit the uphill, the tall guy slows and I keep on trudging uphill. I pass quite a few people since most are walking, but at the steepest point, I need to walk too.

Once I near the top, I start running again. I pass some guy who lets some big farts rip. I kinda laugh, but he says he has stomach issues and he really needs some TP. Ugh. Hope he finds some...

There's another downhill and then back up again. I'm not really running, but doing what is really a brisk walk, which is still faster than anyone who is just walking. Mile 5 aid station used to be the naked co-ed aid station, but no naked co-eds here today :(

Then it's a steep downhill. I've done my share of downhill trail running, but this is too steep to not do some braking which I know is very jarring on my body (even though I am racing this race, I am still very conscious of what I still have to do tomorrow). I pass a few folks and then it flattens out while we're in the meadow and I can return to my regular pace.

A couple guys pass me and I just pace behind them. Then a beautiful bit of pace booty in black tights, red top, ponytail whizzes by (although she's doing the relay). That gives me and the other guys a short lived incentive to go a little faster, but she's way too fast.

After the mile 6 aid station, I pass when of my fellow GGTCers and we wish each other good luck. I'm pacing along with a Santa Barbara tri guy and we chat a bit. We come up on the Redondo Vista campground where my tri club is and they start cheering wildly, which feels great.

Before the aid station at mile 8.5, I take another pee break. At least I know my hydration is okay. At mile 9, it's an uphill stretch followed by the downhill stretch into the pit. I see DE, one of the GGTCers that I'm camped right next to, on his way up from the pit. I'm feeling very relaxed and my form feel good and I'm making good time even just on this downhill.

At mile 10, it's the bottom and the turnaround point and then back up. Many walking here, a few running slowly, and I'm passing a lot of them. On the way up, I see AB, another fellow GGTCer and a couple others too. Up, up, up. Then another down, and then the last uphill. I'm still feeling good.

Soon enough, I'm at Lynch Hill and it's the last mile stretch to the finish. I'm running at a good downhill pace, but I know my quads are taking a beating. There are some speedy guys who pass me. At the bottom of Lynch, it flattens out and it's the straightway to the finish line. I feel good and still have some gas in the tank so I sprint to the finish passing a few folks on my way to the finish.
Post race
Warm down:

After crossing the finish line, I have my chip removed, get some water, they place a wet towel on my neck/shoulders, and give me my medal. I turn around and look at the race clock and it says 6:17. I grab a recovery bar and see DW so I step out to see her.

She congratulates me and we take some more pictures.

She brought some trail mix and I snack on that. We buy some smoothies (banana for me) and I drink that as we wait for PBF to finish. I strech and then stretch some more and then stretch some more.

We're not sure how when he'll finish. DW said he was 30 minutes behind before the run. PBF was worried about his run conditioning and this is a tough course, so we guesstimated he'd be 15-30 minutes behind me on the run. Right on schedule, PBF shows up for the straightaway to the finish line. DW and I are screaming his name as he approaches and passes by. He has a half-pained/half-determined look on his face and just focuses on the finish line.

We gather our gear from transition and take the trudge back up the dirt trail to get to the campgrounds.

Back in camp, we have a catered dinner with the tri club. There's chicken, tri tip, veggie lasagna, meatballs, cake, crudite. I'm starving so I'm wolfing down a lot more meat than I normally would before a race, but that's what I'm craving so that's what I'm eating.

During our dinner, the naked coeds come running by the campground. At the front, it mostly seems like it's all guys, but the women are there too in the back. There was one guy with a very white butt who was way behind the pack running to catch up. I guess it's best not to get dropped on your naked run.

We talk with our fellow GGTCers about their races. PBF and DW and the others have more caprihina's, sake, and coffee Patron, but just a taste for me.

To be continued in my Wildflower Olympic race report -


Some post-race thoughts -

In many ways, this race plays to my strengths. It's hilly on the bike and the run, which gives a lot of people trouble (and is almost unavoidable in the bay area for training); it can be hot, which, as a small guy, I can thrive in; and it requires endurance because of both the distance and the difficulty. Plus, some people hate camping and I love it!

I've owned my P3C/Zipp 999 since before Vineman 2007 (my first 140.6) and, to be honest, I always felt just a bit like a poseur, someone with more money than brawn for riding it. It's probably just a little bit of insecurity on my part, but I can finally say that this was the first time I've really felt like I was worthy of my ride.

One of the coaches at our Wildflower training weekend said that you could take your Wildflower long course time and double to get your IM time. me some hope I could break 11 hours at Vineman later this year (there, I've said it).

I'm pleased to be able to look back 2 years ago and see how far I've come. I've added quite a few accomplishments to my name since then and I've continued to improve and even get faster even as I age. I'm not sure how far this will all take me, but I'm sure it will be an interesting journey.

Last updated: 2008-12-08 12:00 AM
00:34:28 | 1931 meters | 01m 47s / 100meters
Age Group: 78/273
Overall: 514/1886
Course: The 1.2 mile swim course will begin at the Lynch Ramp. There will be approximately 18 wave starts with Professional Men, Professional Women, Age Group Men, Age Group Women, and Relay Teams. Swimmers will swim in a clockwise direction on a rectangular course. The course will have sailboats with bright objects attached to their masts as the corners, and there will be course marker buoys every 100 yards along with lifeguards on kayaks lining the course. The swimmers will exit the water, go up the ramp, through the timing area and into the transition area.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 03:46
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:57:18 | 56 miles | 18.95 mile/hr
Age Group: 60/273
Overall: 350/1886
Course: The bike course is hilly for a tri with rolling hills in the first 15-20 miles, a steep climb called Nasty Grade at about mile 42, and then rolling hills to the finish.
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 01:45
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:49:31 | 13.1 miles | 08m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 51/273
Overall: 310/1886
Course: The run is 40% road and 60% trail running with it’s share of hills.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2009-05-13 6:40 PM

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San Francisco
Subject: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course

2009-05-13 7:03 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Modesto, California
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course

Stud! You crush any course!

The goggles gave you away at the swim start! Great Pics as always, I enjoy the HTFU bike walk hill pic!

2009-05-13 7:16 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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New York, New York
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Great race report!!

I was at Wildflower Oly.  Wildflower rocked and I still have post-race depression.

Anyway, I am now inspired to eventually do two like you did.  That would be awesome.


2009-05-14 11:35 AM
in reply to: #2149367

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Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Awesome (except for the farting dude looking for TP). If the weather is decent at Vineman, Sub 11:00 seems very doable for you. That would be an incredible achievement... one you will most definitely have earned through hard work!

Congrats on a great race.
2009-05-14 11:07 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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SF Bay Area, CA
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Where are the food pix?
2009-05-15 11:24 AM
in reply to: #2149367

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course

Wow!!! I was out there on a lot of that course cheeing my friends on and to say that your times are impressive is an understatement!!!

Congrats on a super race and I have no doubt that you will sub-11 at Vineman! Well done

2009-05-15 2:21 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
I was one of your passees...  you caught me turning out of the park.   Well done!

Edited by ChrisM 2009-05-15 2:22 PM
2009-05-15 6:07 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Berkeley, Calif.
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Fantastic race, Donato! I love that you went all out for this even knowing you had another lined up the next day.
2009-05-15 7:19 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Simi Valley
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Amazing race and report!
2009-05-15 7:20 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Simi Valley
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course
Apparently like it twice as fantastic!

Edited by Revbigdog 2009-05-15 7:21 PM
2009-05-16 10:53 AM
in reply to: #2149367

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The Redlands, FL
Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course

Wuaoooo...Donato...2 Races in one Weekend...You are a best...!!! LOL

Awesome Race and Excellent RR...with all the Pics...!!!

Ok...let me continue with the Oly!!!! LOL

2009-05-19 3:37 PM
in reply to: #2149367

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Subject: RE: Wildflower Triathlon - Long Course

You rock it once again. Do you actually put the Coffee Tequila in the Sake???

I didn't realize PBF was British....(running photo) !! GOD SAVE THE QUEEN...LOL

thanks for all the insite into the race and please thank DW for all the great pics. OH, love camping - you and my misses will get along just fine!!

Congrats!! Now I'm off to read the OLY after a long nap here at work. I'm pooped...this is hard work ya know.
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