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Posts Tagged ‘racing’


Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

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It seems that this new cold front is getting here just in time.  Tomorrow is the Cool Run 10K/5K in my town.  It’s held each year at the end of October by a local foundation to help raise money to fight cancer.  It was the first race I ran four years ago in 2008.  I have run the 10K each time and have improved each year.  Last year was my best at 1:06:10.  I’m still looking for that 1 hour or less 10K.

It’s a really fun race and the organizers put on a good one for the runners.  It’s local, but it does bring out some of the better runners from around the area as well as a good showing from the high school cross country teams.  I run it with a group of runners called Jo’s Team which honors a person we all knew that we lost because of cancer.  In addition to good running, it’s got the best food I’ve been to for any race of this size.  A local pizzeria named I Fratelli’s is right next door to the race and always brings out some of their great pies.

I’ve been fond of this race for a number of reasons.  It was my first and that is special.  It is also a good benchmark for where I am at in just running improvement.  I’ve been able to observe that I have gone from someone just barely able to finish the 10K to actually thinking I can compete, sort of.  Finally, it is also a good warmup for whatever I’m doing in December, whether it be a half or the full as I’m doing this year.

bikeirving screenshot

Test Site for the new BikeIrving.Org web site showing first tests of Google Maps API

However, I want to take a little while today to talk about a large (I mean really) project I am working on with a friend.  We are trying to build a web site for our city that will help us provide road and path data to the city on where cyclists are riding and commuting.  With this data we can help inform the city on where infrastructure and enhancements are needed because of known traffic patterns.  It will be a little similar to a site like mapmyride.com except that it will focus just on our city and we’ll be able to pull reports out of the database for presentation work (we hope).

To do this site, I had to start learning some new skills.  I had to begin learning the Google Maps Javascript API.  It is a geomapping extension born out of Google’s work on it’s maps.google.com site.  Though it’s free; easy it isn’t.  I’ve had to really extend my knowledge of Javascript in order to just make this small test work. And, I’ve still got a lot to do.

Currently, the only thing you can do at the site, which you can access here, is to select a starting address, plot a route on the map, and you can print out a list of the latitudes and longitudes from your route.  Probably none of this will be quite the same in the final version.  But, I am interested in getting folks’ reactions to it.

Though there are still many things to do just on this portion of the mapping, I will have to turn it aside for a bit to start working on the database portion.  The concept is that cyclists will be able to come to the site, register and provide a little bit of demographic data, then map the routes they often use for commuting or other reasons.  Then, on the back end, we can pull up common maps showing multiple routes and where these intersect with roads.  To do that, I will have to build a database of users and a database of routes, plus a content manager to help us use the site.  It will also be a place to post events about and for cycling in our city.  Because it’s a public site, we’ll also need to put a privacy notice in place and establish means to keep folks information private.

I have no idea how long it will take to finish such a site, but I am making progress.  I’m going to be getting some help on it soon, I think.  Currently, I have it hosted on my own server.  I don’t yet know where the final location will be, just yet.  In the meantime, I’m still job hunting.  Still trying to be patient and wait upon God‘s timing for how things will go.  I am encouraged by seeing where He is working in the process this week.  So, this afternoon, I’ll spend some more time on the web site and tomorrow, I’ll just go and have a Cool Run in the morning.  Happy Running (and Cycling)!

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It’s Monday and I just finished up a “marathon” session of algebra homework.  Yes, yours truly has returned to school yet again.  I discovered at the end of Summer that if I were to simply beef up my credit hours in math or another subject that I have a good chance of getting to teach at the college level eventually.  So, starting with College Algebra, I am back into the groove.  Let’s see how that does with my marathon training.

This past Saturday I finished up my first 20-miler of this round of training.  Last year, my training plan from Runnersworld.com only had me do one 20 mile run before tapering.  This year, I stepped the plan up a notch and it has me doing the 20 three times before taper.  Two of these will come in back to back weeks very soon.

I am also still being amazed at my times.  Now, I’m still not a speed demon by any means, but my long-er long runs have taken considerably less time than I was doing them in last year.  For example, this weekend, I ran my 20 miler in 4 hours, 14 minutes.  That is a full 45 minutes faster than last year’s 20, and I still have two that I can improve upon.  If I can hold up to this, I have a chance at finishing nearly an hour earlier than my first marathon.

I know that part of the factor in my first marathon was the weather.  It was brutally wet and cold.  It slowed a lot of people down.  However, I didn’t run my training runs any faster, and those were run in good weather.

Early last month, my garmin died so I have been using known routes to run for my long runs.  I have a set 14 mile route around South Irving and I’ve added some of my shorter runs to that in order to make the distances.  This Saturday, I ran a 6-mile route first, picked up my stash of Gatorade at it’s usual finish, then took off and ran the 14-miler to gain 20.  I have even double-checked my mileage in my mapmyride.com route and it’s accurate.

If there is anything I know that I have done differently this year, it is in consistent Summer mileage, strength training, and working on getting the weight down.  This past Summer, I regularly ran an 8-mile long run each week, plus tried to keep my weekly mileage near 20.  I’ve been doing strength training at the Senior Fitness Center since January.  I know it’s been an added bonus.  Working on the weight is still a struggle, but I am down to 244.  If I can take off a few more pounds before December 9th, it’ll help.

I think I’ve worked harder on this marathon than last year.  I am hoping that it will prove out come race day.  I’m still injury free and running well.  If the weather will cool off a little more, I think we’ll keep running well round here.  That makes me hopeful for a good 2nd marathon.  But, I still have to remember, job one on race day is just get across the finish line.  I’m working on a solid pacing strategy in my long runs to get me at the right point.  We’ll see how it goes.

In the middle of all this I am still job hunting.  However, I have two appointments tomorrow.  One is with a recruiter about an IT job.  It’s not ideal, but I need to get in front of someone.  I am almost at the point of giving up on IT work for a living at this point, though.  My second appointment tomorrow is with my old job.  There are a couple of positions open that I can do and I’m going to see if they will work out.  It’s work I know I can do with people I know.  Both of those would be good right now just to get me going again.

I am enjoying my algebra homework by the way.  I do like math.  I’m just sloppy at execution.  I make little mistakes that miss the mark.  I could use sharpening up on those and continuing to improve.  That’s something that running and cycling has taught me.  We make mistakes in our training.  But, we evaluate our training and then we make changes to correct those.  We add practice on the new stuff until it works.  Then we can put it into our knowledge base for use on race day.  Because I know I can do the work to run a marathon, I also know I can do the work to reach whatever goal I set, whether it’s job-related, or just life-related.  Happy running, folks!

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Gray.  Cool.  Wet.  Three apt adjectives to describe Saturday morning of the 2012 Rose City Triathlon.  This was to be my second tri and it was at the same event as my first.  I did the 2011 Rose City Tri last September.  However, last September was sunny and warm.  The two different weather events would have a lot to do with how my triathlon turned out.

I felt fairly confident with my training as I set up my transition area.  Once again, I had drawn a small number (19) and would set up on the main line in and out of transition.  I had done my work and was hoping for a good improvement over last year’s first one.  But, as I stood there in a hoodie waiting for time to go up to the dam, I didn’t feel as confident.

Swimming first in cool weather could mean a very cold swim followed by a cold bike.  Add in that I really don’t like biking in the rain and it wasn’t making me ready to go.  However, the light rain didn’t last too long and when the water temp was called, it sounded better.  No wetsuits allowed today because the water temp was 80 degreesF.  Whew!  Somewhat better.

However, I was a little too confident on the swim part.  Last year, I had only gotten off course a little and then got back on and did fine.  However, with overcast skies, my poor vision and blue swim goggles, I should have done something different to prepare.  As the siren went off, I put my head down and took off.  However, when I first looked up, I was way off course to the left of the buoys.  I corrected and got it back on path but was then going too far right.  I finally switched to breast stroke just so I could aim in on the buoys and get around the corner, but that is slow.

I thought once I got round the turn that I would be alright on the line to the shore.  However, I couldn’t see any markers on the shore.  Nothing was standing out except the big white pavilion.  If I had been smarter and gone down to the swim exit and looked around, I might have had a better line, but no, I didn’t do that.  So, since it was the biggest thing around and should have marked the left of the exit (or so I thought) I aimed for it.  At least I could see it.

Nope, that wasn’t right either.  The swim exit was way to the LEFT of the big white pavilion.  The lifeguards on the kayaks kept trying to get my attention and move me back to the left and finally I could stand and see the shore.  Sure enough, I was way off.  When I finally got in line and got to the exit, I was certain I had been in the water longer than 30 minutes.  Way too long.

I changed in the first transition well, but with the rain, I knew I needed to put on my shirt.  It would be too cool to comfortably bike without it.  That takes extra time.  My choice of using my older shoes was a good idea, though.  I was worried the Speedplay cleats would fill up with sand and make it hard to mount.  My older road shoes use a different cleat and didn’t fill up with dirt.  I mounted well and took off for the highway.

The race director made note of the crappy highway with the monster sized rocks in the chip seal.  He wasn’t joking.  I don’t think I have ever seen one as bad as this.  We were extremely fortunate to only be on it for a mile and a half, and that was plenty enough.

The main portion of the bike course runs north up the side of Lake Tyler.  It is a quite typical hilly East Texas ride.  Rollers most of the way and you are also gradually climbing on the out portion.  I supposed it must be 6 to 6.5 miles on this section, but it will use your legs.  The Fuji isn’t my best bike for hills, but it was riding well.  I’ve had good practice with hilly routes in the past and know how to tackle them; lower gears, and higher revs.  No reason to set any high gears on even the more flat portions as it just uses up your legs too much.  I was pushing harder on the out portion hoping to make up my crappy swim time.  It was working as I passed several riders.

I backed off a bit on the return to save up my legs, but since you are in a general downward direction, it lends itself to easing up.  Coming back, there was only one or two major hills and I found them easier to tackle by just getting out of the saddle and grawnching it out.  Got them over with quicker.  Then another mile and half on the chip seal and into transition.

I changed quickly into my shoes and picked up my hat.  I brought a hat this time because I thought it would help on the sun, then I thought I would need it for the rain, but there was neither.  One rider asked while I was putting on my running shoes, “Now where is the run out?”  Huh?  It’s over there, and by the way, didn’t you check when you set up?  But then again, I hadn’t checked on the swim exit either.

My legs felt good on the run out and I set an easy but quick pace to start.  I would plan to hold this pace for the first mile and see what I could do afterward.  I passed a couple of slower runners early on and that made me feel good.  I was setting a good pace and I wasn’t hurting.  The run course is a 5K sort of out and back.  You start at the center between transition and the food tent (where the finish line is), run out to the highway where the bike course is then u-turn back to the center.  You turn right away from center and run down and back again, then turn right and go across the dam.  After a right turn and about 100 yards of trail running (yes, off the road), it’s back across the dam and into the finish.

You have to give it to the run course designer.  If you’re a spectator or family member, this is the best viewing spot of all.  Three times each runner comes to the center of this ‘T’ configured course.  The runners are only out of view for a slight bit across the dam.  Pretty spectator friendly, I think.

I turned into the T with a good pace and started to pick it up as I saw the 1-mile sign.  Each time I passed someone, I could pick out the person in front and gauge if I could pass another.  Strangely enough, the run was getting enjoyable.  I knew I needed to run well to make up for the swim, and I was doing just that.  After I finished the second time back to center, it was out across the dam.  I began to pick up my pace some more.

After the run through the woods a bit, I took a drink from the aid station and set off for the finish.  Runners come out of the woods and look across the dam and can just barely see the finish.  There were still quite a few out running.  I felt good so I went for a good ending.  My only worry, and the only place on this course I don’t like is coming off the dam road into the grass for the final 100 yards or so.  It’s steep and it was wet.  I slowed way down and was careful.  I didn’t want to fall here in front of everyone and waste my excellent run.  Yes, it was an excellent run, I just didn’t know by how much.

Made it back into transition and cooled off and got everything together.  The volunteers at the Rose City Tri are really cool.  They put roses on our bikes while we are out on the run course.  Tyler is known for its roses and rose gardens.  I still have to applaud these guys.  They put on an excellent competition, but are always willing to help out first timers, and even second timers that get lost.  If you’re looking for a triathlon to start on, this is the one.  Nobody makes you feel bad or inept.  They work to help everyone have a great time.

I loaded up my gear and wanted to see how it had turned out.  However, they hadn’t posted any times.  The East Texas Triathletes that put on the event really do a good job of rolling out the party for the athletes.  There is great food, but after getting up really early, I just didn’t want to wait.  I had to leave not knowing how well or not well I had done.  Regardless of the time, I felt like it was a success because the bike and run portions felt like they worked just fine.

After getting some great BBQ at Duke’s Plaza on I-20 (yes, I didn’t miss any good food, just went down the road) and getting home, I cleaned up and waited for the results to post.  2:03:28 was my total.  About six minutes faster than the previous year.  I was shocked when I noticed my swim time was only 25:21, only four minutes longer than my first.  Somehow, I hadn’t done too poorly, though I know I need to work on some things.  However, my bike time was 59:08 and the 5K was 31:01 (a 13 second PR!).  A 14.7mph average on the bike is a good improvement from the previous year, but the run was outstanding.  To PR my 5K time after the swim and the bike really felt good.  Success, thank the LORD!

I was 10th out of 12 in the Clydesdale division.  Ironically, that is about where I end up usually.  I was 12th on swimming (of course), 10th on bike, but 9th on running.  I have to know that at my weight and level, it’s unlikely that I will move up easily.  I am competing against a lot of guys that weigh in at 203 to 220 (I weigh 247) and some are much younger.  However, it’s not about really trying to win, but about succeeding at what I planned to do.  I wanted to improve this year and I did that.  My biking and running have improved a lot over last year’s work and that carried the day.

I still have to realize that the glory of the event goes away quickly.  Monday morning, I’m just plain old Dave back to work.  But when things look a little tough, these are the kinds of things we look back upon and realize that it’s not so tough and we are tougher.  We cannot control the weather.  Instead, we can control ourselves to overcome what the weather dishes out.  I still have some work to do on swimming.  I’ll have to start working on sight lines and figuring out why I pull to the side so much.  But, for now, I am glad that my training has paid off for the most part.  Now, with Summer events over, I can concentrate on my running for the Dallas marathon in December. Happy Running!

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This past Saturday, I ran in the first race since Bold in the Cold 15K in January.  I have been rebuilding my running since shortly after that race because of a swimming injury.  The Beat the Heat 5K was my first race since the injury and I think I can count the injury “under control” at least.  In addition, I had a good time at a small, quite new race in my town of Irving.

This was the second year for the Beat the Heat 5K and fun run.  They added a 10K and hired a local race director to oversee the racing.  Both were good choices to keep the race improving and getting runners to come out.  The normal time for the race is in late April and that’s where I think it gets its name.  North Texas heat sets in early in our neighborhood.  The race benefits Family Promise of Irving, a chapter of Family Promise that seeks to overcome homelessness among families in our area.  The organization partners with local churches to provide temporary shelter and day services to assist families that are recently homeless to get back on their feet.  My church is one of the partners as well as many others in Irving.  This race is one way that Family Promise of Irving raises funds for their mission.

I chose to run the 5K at this race because I wasn’t sure where I would be in mileage at this time.  However, my longer runs are up to 6 miles and I have begun to build some speed also.  Since this would be a 5K, I was hoping to see how well I could run.  My goal was to see if I could break the 30-minute barrier.

The morning was cool, but not too much; yet, the wind was fairly strong.  The race was held near Las Colinas Elementary in north Irving.  There are some  pretty good hills around the school area that would give us a challenge.  The race organizers invite the churches involved with Family Promise to set up booths at the race and my church was well represented.  We have a good group of older guys that do a lot of cooking for different things and they came out to help serve goodies for the runners.

We had a good selection of goodies for the race.  Chik Fil A had donated chicken biscuit sandwiches and Einstein bagels provided…well…bagels.  There were also fruits and pastries as well as a good supply of coffee.  The guys were trying their best to peddle the chicken sandwiches and other goodies before the race, but with little luck.  They weren’t aware that a lot of runners won’t eat much before a run or race, especially shorter ones.  I had a banana just to make sure I had something in my stomach, but I was waiting until after the race for the better stuff.

There was a little disorganization evident with the race start and the sound didn’t work out.  However, they got the kiddos off on their fun run on time and got set up for the 5K/10K.  We would start at 8:30AM after the kiddos were finished.  The little guy that came in first ran his mile in 6:05.  Someone should keep an eye on him.

We started just a little after 8:30, I think, but close.  The gate narrowed us down a little, but the field wasn’t huge so we all got out quick.  I took off too fast, but tried to hold it as far as I could.  I had to back off at about 3/4 of a mile.  I could still hold a good pace, but it was slower.  We went down a long hill on Kinwest Parkway right off the bat.  This looked like it would be our “demon” coming back up for the finish.  We turned a corner onto a side street at about a mile out.  By then we were at our second water stop.  I didn’t stop at this one and at the first, I barely slowed down.  I got a little bit in me and some on me.  I still haven’t’ figured out how to drink and run; just not that coordinated.

Our turnaround came up fairly quick and not too long after I saw the leader going back.  There were several friends from my church that were running.  One of our preachers was about a half minute in front of me at this point, so we saw each other on the turn around.  There was a lot of uphill going back, but I kept my pace pretty well.  On a side note, this was my first race to use my Android phone instead of my Garmin.  It worked well, but with it in my back pocket, I don’t really know what my pace is.  In the future, I should probably stick with my Garmin for races since it lets me see the pace and control it better.

I didn’t see a sign for the second mile.  Yet, I knew where I was since “the hill” was here.  I kept my pace as well as possible up the hill, but had to slow down near the top.  It was…large.  However, I made it over and that left only a short run up to the finish.  I saw a shadow of a couple that kept pace with me near the end coming up from behind.  That was all I needed to put in the kick to get to the finish.  I could see that the gun clock was just barely over 31 minutes.  Not the goal, but still a PR.  Now for that chicken sandwich.

I waited around and talked with other folks and watched to see one friend come in from the 1oK.  When I left, I stopped by the table to see the postings for the 5K.  My final time was 31:14, but I was sure the counter was wrong since it listed that I was the 19th runner in.  I chalked that up to technology and just went home.  When I checked the web site posting later, I was amazed.  I finished first in my age group (50 -59) and was 19th across the line of 97.  So, not just a PR, but a win as well.  That was still hard to believe.  My preacher had also finished first in his age group.  And, for the naysayers, we weren’t the only ones in the division either.

This is a great little race with lots of good volunteers, a challenging course, and for a great cause.  They are still going through birth pains and learning how to do things, but for just their second year, they are doing great.  I had a good time and got to run with friends, which I don’t often get to do.  The goodies to eat were exceptional and our swag bags weren’t bad either.  It’s a race I will certainly sign up for next year; maybe the 10K next time.  Happy running!

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Nope, that title does not mean I brought home any hardware other than a finisher’s medal, but that was good enough for the win column.  I finished my first triathlon September 17th in the Rose City Tri on Lake Tyler.  I had some trepidation about doing the swim portion despite having practiced at distances longer than the 650 meters of this sprint triathlon.  Plus, I had some bike problems in August and didn’t quite know how well that would go.  I was a real newb going into new territory, but East Texas Triathletes puts on a great triathlon that is well planned for beginners; yet, also attracts a good deal of real talent as well. (more…)

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3:02:38.  That was the time for my half marathon today in Ft. Worth.  Though I felt I was fairly well prepared for this race, it turned out to be hard this year.  We had several challenges as runners: the weather (warm & humid), the wind (stiff, out of the south), and quite good hills in the last miles.  However, I did like the new route a lot. (more…)

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