I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘Cycling’

It’s good to be b(l)ack.

I accidentally rode my bike yesterday.

What had happened was that I get this text from Coachie. Apparently there’s this chick that rides about my pace and needed a buddy. The “opportunity” to ride didn’t conflict with my going to church, so I figured what the hell. I’m not a jerk. I’ll show up.

Then I remembered that I can’t stand riding my bike. Worse yet, I can’t stand riding with people. This is not a joke, y’all. I’m not going to write again (at the moment) about the reasons why this is the case but I was reminded of them yesterday. Praise God that I am not a fan of conflict and work to practice the principle of being at peace with others when it’s under my control.

In the end, of course, I am glad that I went. I hadn’t spent time with Red Rocket since my last race two months ago – unwise because she still scares me a bit and the more time and distance that I allow between us, the worse our relationship becomes.

It’s really funny how sometimes, just a bit of time is all it takes to improve a relationship. The time spent doesn’t have to be perfect, but consistent. My girl 3M has observed that I have not published a blog post in over a month, though I have been training (fairly) regularly. It’s definitely not that I haven’t had anything to say, but the more time that I allowed to elapse between posts, the less I wanted to do it. Not unlike my relationship with Red Rocket, if I am not regularly spending time with her, it starts to get awkward and I can’t remember why I do it in the first place.

So – to sum things up for the last month, God is still awesome, Coachie rocks for getting me back on my bike, 3M is a big deal for staying on me about my writing, and I have a feeling that this new chick isn’t bad. High praise from me, indeed.


Shoutout Series: The Psyclepath

I think it’s a safe bet that this person will be surprised to find herself mentioned in this space. Not that she doesn’t already know she’s awesome – I hope! It’s just that I think I’ve seen her – twice. In my entire life.

If you read my blog regularly, you would know that I am made giddy by things like learning how to fill Red Rocket’s tires with air. In stark contrast, this woman does things like “accidentally” ride her bike 100 miles. In fact, she likely won’t read this until she has returned from her birthday ride. Who would ask for a bike ride for her birthday?! A psyclepath, naturally.

I first met her on what was the scariest day of my life to date. It normally takes me a while for me to warm up to people; because I am so sensitive, I share myself fairly selectively. Our meeting was noteworthy to me because despite all of my fear that day, I thought to myself, “I want to be her friend.” Without knowing it, her genuine demeanor helped to put me at (relative) ease. I made it a point to find her on Facebook as soon as I made it home alive. πŸ™‚

I am hard-pressed to think of anything she posts that doesn’t bring a smile to my face. Her enthusiasm for cycling is likely only outshone by her love for her family. I hope that the third time I see her comes very soon, but in the meantime, I am positive she will continue to inspire me.

Psyclepath. Thank you for helping Lady J do it.


Lady Parts

It’s a holiday! You know how it is. Get a lil time off and the Missus be all in your face talmbout “quality time.” I saw an opportunity to ride with others and – get this – I wasn’t even dreading it. I woke up and procrastinated only because I hadn’t slept well. I racked my girl up and off we went.

Yes. Red Rocket. Though I am now comfortable with her clips, I still giggle whenever I hear the sound of my left foot making contact. “Ahhhh,” I sighed as we started off. “Success!” Now, only 19.99 miles remain. Sweet! Then I remembered why I am not comfortable riding with others. I had to like, really pay attention. Worse, as I fumble and get to know m’lady’s gears, people see me struggle. “Everything okay?” I really do appreciate that people in these groups actually seem to genuinely care about complete strangers doing the same thing. The uniting quality of sport is amazing. “Yeah!” I replied. I generally am okay. I just suck sometimes, tee hee. But that’s okay! I’m new at this.

I knew there would be opportunity to stop, which I need. Not just to stay alive through intersections, as all cyclists need, but to hydrate and fuel. Lady J + removing hands from handlebars while moving = nope. I don’t trust it! I don’t trust me. Red Rocket is so sensitive, man. One wrong move and she’ll kick me off like a damn angry horse. I had been playing with my gears like Coachie said in order to increase my average cadence. “Spin up the hills!” she tells me. As I ran out of gears in the big girl ring, I switched over. “Click!” said Red Rocket. “Uh, there’s no resistance,” said my legs. Some more clicks and I was able to get her under control. Winning.

After the first stop, I was feeling as confident as a Lady J could feel. Then I clipped in righty to go again and attempted moving forward. “Um, nothing but resistance,” replied my legs. Hmm. Maybe it’s just cause I’m lame and it’s hard to get going as I start up a hill. I began to walk Red Rocket upward. I tried to start again. “Crunchcrunchcrunch,” groaned Red Rocket. Uh. I moved over to the side of the road and started to investigate. Her chain looked like…weird, man. While I don’t have a mental picture of exactly what her parts should look like, I knew that sound wasn’t cool. I kept rotating the pedals and boop! My chain drops.

I completely blame Coachie for this. Just a few days ago, she was telling me what to do in case this happened. The thought had never occurred to me prior to that. “There’s other stuff that can happen aside from a flat tire? I’ll be damned.” It’s like she willed it to happen just to make a point. Thanks for that.

One of the riders came back to see where I was, tee hee. “Uh, look.” I pointed to my chain. She got her hands dirty trying to help me but said whatever I did looked weirder than what she had seen. Of course it did. Don’t you know who I am? So I called Coachie. “Remember how I told you about the derailleur?” “Uh.” I answered. “Is that the thing that says Shimano 105?” She replied in the affirmative, told me to lift it and return the chain to the gear in which I’d had it. Big ring? Maybe. Small ring? Uh. She said that it would return to where it should be once I started and had the chain attached. I thanked her, thanked the nice rider who was making sure I wasn’t dead or injured, and we got the chain back on. Red Rocket is mobile again, hooray!

I wasn’t deterred from continuing to play with her gears the remainder of the ride. I’m tryna grow here. One might think that I would be discouraged at such a thing, but I am relieved that 1. it happened when and where it did, away from traffic, 2. that must be my trial of the day, what else could go wrong, and 3. I learned more about Red Rocket’s parts! The rest of the ride was uneventful EXCEPT for two very generous riders giving me water bottles as a prize! Even though I held them back! People can be pretty neat sometimes, tee hee.

1. Learn to pump tires
2. Learn to fuel/hydrate without stopping
3. Learn what a derailleur is
4. Learn what a derailleur does
5. Change a flat tire

Progress. 27 days.


“If you practice, you will improve,” said the music teacher. Ride Report

In my continued effort to pretend I don’t need others, I found a ride that nobody I knew was doing. Then preceded to tell no one about it until I figured plans were already in place for rides. Sweet!

I woke up this morning at 4 am. The ride was supposed to leave at 7. I wanted to allow for an hour and a half to arrive by 6:30, but of course I 1) left a bit later than I wanted to, 2) my bike almost fell off the rack because my half-awake brain didn’t do it properly, and 3) I ended up having to stop to use the restroom before I arrived. This part of Florida, y’all – I am very much a city girl. This ain’t the city. When I ran into a Bob Evans to use the restroom, people looked at me like I could be famous! “Who is this athletic looking black woman?” You guys, I’m only that fast when I have to go REALLY badly. But I digress.

I finally arrive at 6:55, but everyone was still around! I learned that the ride start had been postponed to 7:30. I win! I had time to pick up my packet and put it in my car. Then I noticed everyone was gone. I went back inside and inquired, where I got a blank stare. They did tell me, however, that the course was well marked. I grabbed a map and off I went. The wrong way, of course. I never said I looked at the map. “Where are these markings?!”

I turned back to go to the start where I saw a few more people. This was when I learned that the turn signs were spray painted on the ground and not signs like in running races. “Oh! I can probs do this.” Off I went – by myself for about 5 miles. Then this adorable dude came from behind me. Totes. Adorbs. He smelled good, too. We rode together for maybe 5 miles and I was so bummed because I was admiring his ability to eat a banana while on the bike – and more – before he turned to do the shorter distance! *tears* I pressed on.

Rural Florida. Gorgeous. Smelly. Hot. Lonely. It’s one thing to ride with no one you know but quite another to ride with NO ONE. This is the part where people are like “told ya so!” I had my first near incident with a stupid truck that sat on the opposite side of the road and decided to cross the street just as I was passing. I had to swerve on to the other side to miss him. I was pleased that I was 1) not dead and 2) able to react that quickly. I will say that while I missed seeing humans much of the time, I did a lot more of the playing with my gears that Coachie had been talking about. It really forced me to dig deep and focus on what I was doing. I FINALLY feel like I am getting the hang of big girl pedaling and internalizing what it is supposed to feel like. I was able to focus on such things because my stupid ego wasn’t in the way. Not JUST that, but I have been known to talk to people and express genuine concern and empathy as I train along side them. However, i found myself gleeful when I saw other human cyclists in front of me. I worked to catch up to them – just to say hi! The chick was like “Nice to have someone to pass, eh?” I was too tired to reply but it really wasn’t! I was just excited they weren’t mailboxes like I had thought! People!

I stopped when I wanted. I took gel and water when I wanted – and needed. I walked/ran my bike over a super scary railroad track and a big ass intersection. Better to live to ride another day, yeah? There were rest stops with OMG INDOOR PLUMBING!!! These cyclists are really onto something – runners need to get it together. I stopped briefly when a lady looked lost. Turns out the person she was SUPPOSED to ride with decided to hammer and left her in the dust without a map! Seeeeeee what can happen when you ride with people? πŸ˜‰

After mile 50, I started hearing angry voices. “Joan. This is silly. Wiser people are chillin’ with mimosas and frittatas. Your stupid ass is out here on a bike. You have a car. WHAT THE HELL.” Alas, continuing to ride my bike was the only way back to my car. I loved how the middle of the route was flat and as I became more fatigued, the organizers gave me the hills. Thanks for that. While I think I prefer the ebb and flow of hill riding, my legs were not having it. I’m not sure how, but I made another wrong turn. By this time, I knew I was close to the finish. I decided to grab my phone and put in the address and have the GPS guide me back. Of course, I passed both my hotel and a Dunkin Donuts. “Focus.” Sigh. Moreover, I had to stop at a few lights. On one restart, I almost didn’t make it back onto the saddle because my SHORTS got caught on it. You read that right. I almost got taken out by my shorts. Thankfully, I lived to blog about it. πŸ™‚

Maybe Red Rocket isn’t so bad. 29 days.

NB – re: cute guy toward the beginning? He did the 31 mile route. Do I really need someone in my life who doesn’t go long? Sigh I miss him anyway.


Slurp: An Anniversary Story

I rode my bike today.

This should not be particularly noteworthy. I have registered for a triathlon, after all. It makes sense that I would prepare myself by regularly riding my bike, right? Especially because the second leg of the race comprises just under 80% of the miles covered. Alas – when was the last time I rode my bike before today? Uh. Some time in July. The evidence of my slackerdom was on my legs, as my triathlon tan had just about disappeared. Whoops!

Before I write about today’s ride, I’d like to reflect on the day she and I became one. On August 20, 2013, I handed a check to my fabulously patient bike shop manager. I asked my father to be a witness to the occasion (he’s an ordained minister and this union was KIND OF a big deal) and take pictures.

There she is; she likes food just like me

There she is; she likes food just like me

Money changes everything.

Money changes everything.

I had completed a duathlon on my bike from Christmas 1994 and envisioned myself getting fairly serious. I thought it prudent to purchase a road bike on which I could be more comfortable for longer distances. Just look at her. Ain’t she purty? I knew I could be proud to be seen with her. Red Rocket. That’s my girl, y’all. But, as with every relationship, nothing is perfect.

The clips.

I tried using clipless pedals and it was JUST. NOT. WORKING. I would just stare at her; say hi, and keep walking inside. I had had a goal of using them by my next race; an Olympic distance duathlon, but I wasn’t comfortable, so I rode with flat pedals. We still had a good time. I completed my first triathlon with the flat pedals as well. I started to feel better. I was clipping in successfully by my second triathlon in January of 2014. My mother even said we looked good together! It’s nice when Mom approves, amirite?!

But that wasn’t enough.

Apparently, she wanted her seat higher. Red Rocket is into legs and butts, I guess. “But then I can’t touch the ground when I stop!” I protested. What Red Rocket wants, she gets, I’ve learned. It’s the only way to peace. Still, passive aggressive partner that I am, I had her adjusted in early April and didn’t ride her again until my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of the month. Whoops! We made it through, though. I was observed smiling many times on the bike course. We then spent a bit more time together, preparing for my next race in May. I rode her even faster and more confidently.

Then – summer. As I dealt with plantar fasciitis and Beethoven and them, I started neglecting Red Rocket again. Every time I turn around there is something else she “needs.” “Give me air.” “Get a flat kit.” “Spend time with me.” You know how it is. However, if you read my blog, you know how I am too. I’d often rather ignore a problem than deal with it.

Oh, Red Rocket. You’re so…complicated. I take you as you are, but you want me to learn how to use a pump. You want me to wash you. You want me to learn how to fix you in case something happens. You want me to KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. And to top it all off – you want me to spend time with you at regularly scheduled intervals? I don’t know if I can handle this.

So on Wednesday of this week, when I arrived home from work, I said “Sup, happy anniversary, we’ll go out this weekend.” She looked dusty and sad. I’m living my life, man. I just ordered dinner for myself and went to spin class. That’s how I roll. Cold as ice.

This morning, I woke up, thinking it was Friday. “Gotta work out before I go to…dammit. No work. Long ride today.” As I prepared to leave the house, I didn’t smile once. I usually crack jokes to myself in the morning and laugh. Not so today. In fact, the first time I smiled was when I was on the highway and I thought I saw flashing lights behind me. Though I wasn’t speeding, I thought, “Yes! I’m gonna get pulled over and miss my group! Then I can go home and go back to bed! Points on my license > riding my bike.” Kinda sick.

Driving record unscathed, I reached my destination. I saw my dedicated Coachie about to embark on a 5710472037 mile ride. She hugged me and I confessed that my relationship was estranged. She didn’t beat me up, but she probably was just saving her energy for her own ride. I met my group. “Great, my two favorite things; being vulnerable in front of others and riding my bike. It’s gonna be a fantastic day.”

Off we went. Important takeaways:

1. Red Rocket really likes when I pump her tires properly. My last ride in July felt like hell because they were at 40 and 60 PSI. I’ve since learned (again) how to properly inflate them. All by myself! This ride just felt like hell because it was. But it was made less hellish by

2. Humans. Other humans. Other human triathletes who have real problems like I do but still are working them out. As much as I would like to not need other people, I needed them today. Some were even encouraging, and most were inspiring. Who knew? Everyone? Shut up.

3. I need proper pedicures for long rides. I just do.

36 days.

N.B. – “slurp” is the sound of my sucking it up. I’ve decided I want to survive the race.

Running Relationships Ragged. Running, Relationships Ragged. Running Relationship’s Ragged! Dammit.

I. Running Relationships Ragged

I’m basically a 5 year old child. Don’t let the full time job and post-pubescent body fool you – you’re dealing with a kid. Anything is fun until I HAVE to do it. From cleaning to practicing music to training for triathlon, once you put a requirement on it the fun is zapped out. I have 43 days to this stupid race and I can’t help but wonder if I would enjoy time on my feet, bike, and in the water more if I didn’t have this over my head like a bloody anvil. I told Coachie that getting my training plan for the first time was like getting a ring on it and I. Am. A. Commitment. Phobe. I suppose I am making progress because while I’m not sure that I will finish, I’m sure I’ll live to see dinner time on September 28. Lord willing. πŸ™‚ I wasn’t comfortable saying that just a short time ago. I will think twice about signing up for a race where the peak of my training coincides with the most stressful part of my year – the beginning of school. When do I typically find my groove? End of September. When is the race? End of September. Whoops! I find myself not wanting to teach or train and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that’s stress talking. I – may have bitten off more than I can chew, and that’s a damn shame when it doesn’t taste good…

II. Running, Relationships Ragged

I deal with stress in what some may say is an unhealthy manner – the more help I need, the less likely I am to ask for it. I’m naturally introverted and don’t trust people easily. When I am stressed, I am liable to cut off even my close ones. If you need something from me, I’m happy to give to you, but no way in hell will I give you an opportunity to help me. 1. That would require me to be vulnerable and 2. You could mess up and why risk my kicking you out of the circle? Ignorance is bliss among friends, right? 3M has been putting up with my gloom all week. How tiring it must be to call me friend when not everything is going perfectly. I see evidence of my fallibility as soon as I get out of bed (not in the mirror though, heyyyyyy), and yet I still try to hide my imperfections from people whom I believe love me. It wears on me emotionally and I’m sure it must on them too. So – my bad. Probs not gonna change anytime soon though; let’s get drinks.

III. Running Relationship’s Ragged

Oh, running. My first love. Remember those good old days when I was a beginner and with every step I saw unicorns and rainbows? All the progress we used to make together? I guess all that is OVER because I feel as though I’m regressing. I’m not able to run as fast as I did last year (yeah yeah I’m trying to balance running with two other sports now but don’t bother me with all these facts) and it sucks. Every time I go for a run I’m like, “remember when I was young and spry? Sigh.” It is difficult to know which part of me to listen to – the part that says, “hey, don’t do that speedwork because your foot hurts,” or “you know you’re a punk and hate doing things you have to do! Suck it up!” Both of those are true and poor running is caught in the middle.


What hasn’t changed from awaiting my first 70.3 vs my first Olympic is the fact that I’m going to show up because I know how pissed I will be if I don’t try. All this perseverance and hope is really a drain, guys.


Just Another Day.

47 days to go.

I went to bed last night with a plan to complete both my bike and my run before I had to go to work. While I woke up on time, I felt pretty blah. Not just physically, but mentally. One of the great things about triathlon is that if I don’t feel like running today, I can do tomorrow’s swim and I often will feel up to running the next day. At the moment, the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in bed until I absolutely had to awaken. I made myself get up and do my run.


Yes, I’m glad I did it, but I’m not giving myself any accolades. I’m training for a race. I’m supposed to run. I’m trying to maintain/lose weight. I’m supposed to get out of bed to work out even when I don’t feel like it. As I was running, all I could think about was how I’m gonna have to keep doing this for the rest of my life and how age will bring about even less desirable results. I thought of something I’d seen recently –


You know what I felt when I read that? Envy. I am envious of the person who can both acknowledge her progress and be pleased with where she is at the moment, despite where others may be. Just speaking of my physical progress, I am self-aware enough to recognize the place from which I’ve come. I started at 200 pounds last January, not even able to run a mile. I was bitching to myself this morning doing 400s, thinking to myself that my sprint is someone’s recovery day. I am not listing my pace only because I would hate for anyone not as fast as I am (logically, this person must exist) to read this and feel discouraged. I’ve registered for a Half-Ironman and it’s not implausible that I will complete it. That’s pretty significant progress.


I couldn’t help but think of the tragic death of Robin Williams yesterday. He has been making me laugh since I was a Girl J. Just last week, I was watching his special Weapons of Self-Destruction with a new appreciation for his brilliance and his willingness to put himself out there so honestly. I think of his great success, the love he seemed to have in his life from his close family, and it breaks my heart to think of how lonely and desperate he must have felt to take his own life despite his circumstance.

As the news broke last night, a recurring theme emerged quickly. “If you’re feeling depressed, talk to someone. Reach out. Know you are loved.” Sigh. When depression sets in, knowledge is NOT power. In a strange twist, the awareness of all the good in one’s life can play into feeling guilty for being depressed. Depression multiplies.

I consider:

– I come from – and have – two incredibly loving, still married parents,
– I have a full time job in the field for which I received formal training,
– I have no major health concerns,
– There are many people in my life whom I would call friend – and actually mean it, and
– There’s no reason for me to expect that any of the above will change any time soon.

Moreover, I’m Christian, which means I don’t even (read: shouldn’t even) put the most stock in the things I listed. My trust is not in Wells Fargo, y’all. And for the bonus round, I’m what many would consider physically attractive, and let’s be real, the world is kinder to prettier faces. Yet I was thinking to myself this morning that it would make sense to spend the day in bed. There’s someone who can do everything that I do better. I am never going to be everything that I can be.

THIS. This is why it’s so difficult to share these feelings with others. You see the blessings around you and you can hear the responses of your loved ones before they even open their mouths. “Don’t you realize all that you have? How many people would love to be where you are?” So you just keep your mouth shut and smile and laugh. Anything to get through the rest of the day. Just – another day.

Triathlon Tough = Recital Ready?


Two days ago, I almost fell off of my bike. Almost. πŸ™‚ Winning!

Red Rocket and I had stopped at an intersection. I was riding with a group (in the back, per usual) and the group had restarted. The road was a *tad* bumpy and as I was trying to clip in my left foot, I couldn’t get the bike steady. I’m thankful that the cars to my left and behind me slowed so that I could live to say I lived through another day of triathlon training. Heh. Anyhow, I managed to straighten out Red Rocket, continue, and catch up with my group.

Strangely enough, this *near* fall excites me. My relationship with Red Rocket is becoming increasingly less tortured. Imagine that – you nurture something and it grows. Who. Knew. “But Lady J,” you ask. “Why would you be excited about almost falling?” Aside from the fact that I am unscathed, it means that I am one near-miss stronger. I was reminded of something that my piano teacher from high school once told me:

“You don’t really know your music until you’ve missed every note.

That used to baffle me, but now I understand. As I prepare for my recital, I’ve created opportunities to play for others and have been a little surprised at some of the errors I’ve made. My mock recital was especially helpful, because I had really forgotten what it was like to be that nervous before presenting an entire program of music. I even briefly forgot how one of my pieces started! All kinds of things I was NOT expecting happened as I was playing, but I survived, and now I know at the very least I will get through my recital.

Working to conquer the fear of my bike has helped me make great strides in my music making. Of all the legs of triathlon, I feel that cycling is the closest to piano playing, in that I am working to steer both my body and an instrument. The piano and bicycle are both the means by which I move forward, and it’s my job to manage my body in such a way that the motion is as fluid as possible.

There are times when I’m with Red Rocket that I’m absolutely terrified everything is going to go wrong and I’m going to fall on my face. My heart rate shoots up and I start to shake. I have to remind myself that 1) I know how to ride and stop the bike if I need to and 2) if for some reason I can’t, I will most likely be okay. I cannot live in fear of falling and expect to move forward.

Likewise, as I come to passages of music that I find technically demanding and I wonder if I’m going to make it, I must remind myself to live in the moment and make the very best music that I can. If I think about messing up, my heart rate increases just the same and my proficiency of managing the instrument decreases. Falls at the piano are inevitable, and they come much more often for me than on the bike simply because I’ve logged more notes than I have miles. And boy, do I remember my falls. “I remember from 2005 during the second A section of the Brahms rhapsody when I missed that F#. Why am I here.”

Indeed. Why DO I do this? Both triathlon and piano performance terrify me. How am I spending my summer? Preparing to do both. Investing time and money in both. It’s not even as though I’m particularly good at either! But – in 25 years, I’ve never DNF’d at a recital. There’s no greater feeling than finishing something I’ve set out to do. I’m a champ when it comes to moving forward.

See Joan Trust!

I’ve spoken what I feel is extensively on my issues with trusting people enough to be vulnerable around them, but for a quick wrap-up on my feelings regarding training with others, here you go. I hate when people see how imperfect I am. Shows you that I’m not too bright because even the babies at work know their music teacher is far from perfect. “You can’t find your phone/marker/microphone/pen AGAIN?” They love me anyway. But I digress, most likely without having applied that lesson here…

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may have gathered that I’m a pretty genuine person. I strive to be a woman of integrity and dishonesty makes me extremely uncomfortable. I also am a fairly busy person (though I don’t say that to show off! More on that later too!) who carefully plans her days to maximize productivity. My charm lends itself to frequent invites for company, which, alas, I “must” turn down because I have plans. How sad must that make this introvert! πŸ˜‰ Tee hee.

What I’m saying here is that when I make plans with people, I’ve got to trust you with me, essentially. But the trust required to train with someone else is more than a simple social trust that you won’t be an asshole anything less than a complete delight. I’ve got to trust that when you see me as a work in progress, you won’t belittle me. As performance oriented as I am, that’s a huge leap for me. It’s the equivalent of allowing someone to watch me practice my Chopin before my recital. Ridiculous.


I was ridiculous today. With Three. Other. People.

OMG I had so much fun! We were like, riding our bikes and the weather was so beautiful and I was talking and catching up with friends and getting to know them better and butterflies and rainbows and uni…

You get it. Now, for the part that really rocked my world –

I ran my fastest mile today.

I’m pretty sure there’s something to be learned from today’s experience but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

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