Tag Archives: ironman training

Tapering and what to expect

A lot of athletes are tapering or will be tapering for an event round about now. This is arguably one of the most mentally challenging parts of your training so far. You may feel a variety of conflicting emotions. I will run through some of these below, and hopefully put any last minute anxieties to rest.

You may feel you have not done enough training

Look at your training plan, did you complete most of the sessions? Have you remained consistent? If the answer is yes then well done, you have no reason to be worried about what you have done. If you haven’t then it is beyond your control now. Let go of any fear you may have about not doing enough training, you did what you could do at the time, and that is enough to get you through your event. Don’t try and cram in extra workouts now, you will not gain fitness by training hard in the last few weeks before the event, your work here is done! Screenshot 2015-07-09 17.20.49 You may have niggles/heavy legs

As race day approaches it is common to notice every twinge and become concerned. It is more than likely your mind is playing tricks on you. Your legs may feel heavy and tired, this is normal, and you are not alone. It can be down to your muscle tissue rebuilding so think of it as a good sign, and make sure you rest enough to allow your body to do what it needs to do (Recover) Stretch, and massage. Make sure you don’t massage too close to an event as sometimes it can move things around and cause problems to flare up. There is a stretching routine here which may help you to calm down and relax.

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Trigger point therapy with a tennis ball!

You may have specific fears about the race

For example one of my worries at every race I go to is being late. I have never been late for a race, so this fear is unfounded. Make sure that you write a plan that covers all eventualities, e.g. what time you will wake up, what you will eat, what you will wear, any equipment that you need etc etc. This will set your mind at rest. Think about your specific fears, is there anything you can do about them? If you can do something to ease those fears then do it. Now is the time to put those fears to rest and have strategies in place to help you cope with race day nerves. I find myself writing lots of lists which helps me cope with my anxiety.

The Titan checklist

You may think you are getting your taper wrong

This is similar to thinking you have not done enough training. Just as there are many different ways of training and racing, there are also many different ways of tapering. Hopefully you have followed a plan that has been designed by someone who has knowledge of endurance sports and is aware of the science and research behind tapering. You may feel like you have tapered for too long or not enough. Put trust in your programme. If you believe that what you are doing is the right thing then you will benefit mentally as well as physically. If you spend your taper worrying if you have got it right you will waste a lot of energy. Let go of your worries it doesn’t matter what others are doing, it matters what you are doing. If you have followed a plan so far don’t deviate from it now or you will risk jeopardising your race. Stick to the plan.

You may feel grumpy and or depressed

You have built up your training to such a level that when you taper you may feel like there is something missing. There may be a gap in your life that you think needs filling. Don’t try to cram more stressful activities into your life now. Relax and enjoy the rest, eat healthily, and enjoy just being. Read in the sunshine or just chill out. Make the most of your spare time by mentally preparing for the race. Fill your head with positive imagery and words. You need to minimise any negative energy. You can do this by repeating a phrase that means something to you, for example “I am the best that I can be”, or by visualising parts of the race course and imagining yourself feeling strong, and enjoying yourself. Smile and remember how lucky you are to be able to do this! 2015-07-09 18.43.44Race day

Remember, on race day everyone will be feeling nervous. Find a way of coping with your nerves, become aware of your breathing, listen to music, whatever gets you through. Once you start you will get in to your rhythm. You have practised for this day 100’s of times during training, and it will all come together. If you can do these things you will have a great race.

What is an endurance ride?

Or, riding in Zone 2

An endurance ride or run means different things to different people, and it’s something that a lot of people get wrong, so I thought I’d try and clear up a few misunderstandings and misconceptions.

When I describe an endurance ride I ask someone to ride in Zone 2 for an extended period of time. The way that training works is that your body adapts to the training load that you place on it, so it is important to increase the distance that you ride, and make sure that you plan this well. If you increase your long rides/runs too early you will be at risk of burnout and reach your peak fitness too early. If you don’t increase your long rides/runs enough then your endurance will be compromised.

It is also important to make sure you pace the ride correctly, some mistakes that people make are:

  • Riding too hard on hills, and then recovering on the flats and downs.
  • Not riding consistently on the flats and downs.

If you are using a power meter it is easy to see if you are in the right zone, and I have found I ride more consistently when I use my power meter. If you are using heart rate then you can see from your heart rate graph how consistent you are. If your heart rate graph looks like the one below, then you may not be getting the benefit of an endurance ride.

Heart rate dips and peaks a lot.

Heart rate dips and peaks a lot.

Shown below is a more consistently paced ride where the heart rate remains fairly steady

Heart rate does not dip and peak as much.

Heart rate does not dip and peak as much.

People’s heart rates don’t tend to dip as much when they are running, but it is still important to be aware of your effort level and keep a constant pace. Don’t forget, triathlons are steady state events and you need to be able to swim, bike and run at a steady pace for an extended amount of time.

Kicking back, and relaxing

Transition and the off season

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No data has been entered for 5 weeks!

Since ironman Wales I have been pretty busy, and I had a cold for about 2 weeks. Its taken a while but I have relaxed into the minimal activity that I have been doing! I have started planning next season, I’m feeling pretty relaxed about next year though. Meanwhile here are some of the things that I have been up to and enjoying again in the last 5 weeks;

Going to a wedding

I had a cold unfortunately but enjoyed eating, drinking and camping in the New Forest, beautiful…

Surfing

Or attempting to, not ideal conditions the times I’ve been out, but have had fun splashing about in the sea.

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Windy and cold in my ancient wetsuit!

Cycling with my husband

My husband has bought a road bike, so I have been showing him a few routes.

Cooking, cooking, and more cooking

Lots of baking, and experimenting has been going on in my kitchen.

Mushroom hunting

My oldest boy has developed an obsession with identifying mushrooms, which has meant lots of foraging in the woods.

 

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Not edible, but interesting.

The big smoke

As a surprise for my husbands “special” birthday I took him to London. We had a great time wandering around Brick Lane, eating and drinking, and made a special visit to Nopi, which was fantastic, I even saw Ottolenghi at the bar and got a bit star struck. I wanted to go and say hi but by the time I had decided to go over he was leaving, (let that be a lesson!) We spent the next evening watching 3 back to back surf films at The London Surf Film Festival which was a real treat for us.

A bit more bike maintenance

I have been meaning to get my mountain bike gear cables changed, so I did that and then went out on my road bike. The gear cable snapped for the rear derailed, and I had to cycle home in a very hard gear, ouch (luckily it happened at the end of the ride). I investigated and have bought a new derailler, and shifters :-( It is now in quarantine in the garage! I am suddenly desperate to get out on my bike, so I had to go off road this week, which is no bad thing!

My lovely bike, needing repair

My lovely bike, needing repair

 Launching my website

I have spent far too much time in front of a computer setting up my website, but I think its looking good, here is a link, and take the time to like my Facebook page if you haven’t already :-)

 

 

 

Letting the dust settle

A week of relaxing and contemplating

(To skip straight to my Ironman Wales race report click here)

It has been a week since I completed Ironman Wales, and I have spent the week doing gentle walking, and a couple of swims. I haven’t really considered next year yet, but I have learned a few lessons from the race. The race itself was a fabulous day, the weather was perfect, the support on the course was incredible, and I would love to experience it again.

Sams amazing banner, thanks :-)

Sams amazing banner, thanks :-)

One of my pre race mantras was “through my race I learn”, so here I go… Overall I was really pleased with my result. The swim was hard work, I knew I would be slower than hoped but I still came out in an OK time. I pushed myself on the bike, and stayed in the right power zones.

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What the book says!

 

Power zones

What my power looked like.

I still think my Variability index was a bit high, there were a few instances when I went way over threshold, but it was so hard to keep a lid on it when everyone was cheering and you are going uphill, however my V.I. was 1.08 compared to 1.11 at Wimbleball last year so I’m pleased with that. My intensity factor on the bike was .73, and it should be between .70 and .76 so that was spot on.

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Power graph, power dropped off towards the end, but not too much!

The run was OK, I had wanted to run about an 8:30 min mile, and thought I may be able to go quicker. You can see that I sustained it for the first 2 laps then didn’t manage to keep up the pace, my heart rate dropped, and I was just trying to keep going.

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Pace and heart rate dropping

pace dropping from halfway

 

When I finished I wandered around for a bit before realising that all I wanted to do was lie down.

Feeling rough

Feeling rough

I ended up in the medical tent and had 2 drips. Looking back now I started to get a headache on  the second lap of the bike from Carew to Cross Hands. I thought it must have been because I was tired, as I was still drinking and peeing. (I peed 4-5 times on the bike) I had calculated the liquids that I needed and I had enough water (7 bottles). I used electrolyte tablets in my water, but after a bit of research I may have lost too much salt. Next time I will pay attention to any headaches! And carry salt tablets.

Saying all that I still had a brilliant day and was within my goal time, I did my best, and next time…..well I will learn from my experience!

My plan

My plan

 

 

A week to go.

Last minute anxieties

A few weeks before a race I start thinking “If I had……. it would make my life better” Cue ordering unnecessary stuff. I have so far accumulated energy drink, gels, tyres, and new gloves. The energy drink I won’t use as I haven’t used it in training, the gels I will use, as I have had them before (but I accidentally ordered 3 lots!) and the gloves are not as nice as my old ones. However I did need new tyres.

Moral of the story, “new things will not make me faster”, (repeat, repeat, repeat)

Crazy cooking woman

I also get obsessed with cooking, and have started making yummy things to take on the bike, which I have blogged about here. I did just read in Tri220 that Chrissie only has energy gels, drink, and some dark chocolate on the bike and can’t understand how anyone can eat sandwiches etc on rides, as she is working too hard. “Must try harder on the bike”, (repeat, repeat, repeat) Anyway I made the most of the fantastic weather and sat out on the lawn to calculate my intake of food for the bike leg, and have now planned out what I am taking.

Like summer again!

Like summer again!

Time to take stock

So its time now to reflect on what I have done up to this point and hope that I have a good day next week. I feel ready, but also still wondering if I have planned my peak and taper right, (need to get rid of a few gremlins here!), We will see on race day. I will give it my best.

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A long week and feeling it

Getting to the taper

There comes a point in your training when there is nothing more you can do to increase your fitness and you need to accept that you have done all that you can. Whatever happens on the day will happen, I got back off a long ride feeling pretty negative as my power and speed were low, but thinking about it rationally I had done a 10km (running) Time Trial the night before, and had been building for a while, only having a short recovery after the 100 mile TT, so not surprising really! There is a great post about tapering here which I found helpful and inspiring.

I have been looking at last years taper for Wimbleball and comparing it to my training this year, I had some feedback that my taper may have been a bit drastic, this was because I was ill after a race and then started tapering after I had recovered. This years will not be so drastic and I’ll be nice and ready to race!

This years Performance management chart

This years Performance management chart

Last years Performance management chart. a sharp drop after Slateman

Last years Performance management chart. a sharp drop after Slateman

Time trials and tribulations (garmin data is here, full results here)

I went along to the 10km Time trial organised by Pembrokeshire Triathlon club on Tuesday evening, hoping to better my time from 6 years ago!! I can’t believe how long ago that was. My time in 2008 was 43.23. When I arrived Ian, the timekeeper, decided that I would be fastest and put me last. I was not so sure, but went along with it anyway! Ellie (the only other woman) went off 1 minute ahead of me and I tried to keep her in sight. It soon became apparent that she was flying, as I counted the time from her passing a lamppost, she was already more than a minute ahead within the first few miles. , it was a lovely evening, and nice to have a chat. I got a time of 41.14, so 2 minutes faster than last time. I should be happy with that, but maybe have been feeling a bit negative this week.

The long ride

I decided to ride the whole Ironman course the day after, and was pretty dissapointed in my speed. I may have been tired, and also lacking motivation doing the route on my own. I’m not sure that I really wanted to do it, because I knew that if I was slow it would make me depressed, but Patrick suggested it and I thought the pro’s would outweigh the con’s. Anyway I borrowed his go pro which was quite fun, although I have now spent hours editing the ******* thing.

A bit of geekiness

After I had recovered from the ride, digested my stats, done some more research, and generally got slightly obsessive about numbers, I spotted that my Intensity factor for the ride was based on my old FTP, so with a few calculations I realised that I will be able to go faster on race day, (of course some other factors will come into play too) but if the maths is right then I’m happy !!

Calculating power

Calculating power

 

Bertha and 100 mile TT

 Welsh 100 mile Time Trial Championship 2014

Last year I rode the 50 mile national Time Trial Championship in Abergavenny, and at the end I swore I would never, ever do it again. About 6 months later, and after signing up for Ironman Wales I decided that it would be a good idea to do another long Time Trial as part of my training in the lead up to Ironman. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the only long TT that I could do was the 100. I entered online, thinking I don’t actually have to do it. Aber01 My mum agreed to support me, and we drove up the night before, after checking the weather we decided not to camp. I booked the Premier Inn in Pontypool. My mum was still optimistic about the weather, thinking that it would rain overnight and then be clear for the morning. I was not so optimistic after checking my phone. At least it didn’t look windy!

Rain, and more rain

Rain, and more rain

At 5:30am the alarm went off, and I had a cup of tea, dressed and applied liberal amounts of Sudocrem and Hoo Ha glide to my posterior, (thanks girls for the tips!) Unfortuatley I forgot that I then had to sit in the car. The sudocrem had already seeped through, so I sat on my coat to protect my mums upholstery, ( must remember next time to apply cream at last minute!)

a magical combination

a magical combination

As we drove somberly towards the start in the torrential rain I had mixed feelings, I was really looking forward to doing the TT as I have never ridden 100miles before, but the weather was horrendous, and I could tell my mum was a bit worried, as she asked whether I would be riding along the dual carriageway, and if there would be cars on it. I was also worried that they would cancel, because as we got nearer to HQ there was not the usual hubbub of riders warming up and riding to the start.

We arrived at 6:30, (the first rider was off at 7:09am) I joined the huddle of freaks, sheltering outside HQ who had decided that come rain or shine they were riding 100 miles today. The organiser had not arrived yet so there was some speculation as to whether it was cancelled.  Suddenly the doors were opened and signing on sheets signed. I committed my signature to paper and organised myself, giving my 2 bottles to my mum and explaining where and when to wait. I went out to the car and slung my bag over my shoulder and felt a sharp pain across my back. Now my mind really started playing up, and as I rode to the start my power meter started dropping out, and I could hear a clicking on my front derailler. I was starting to wonder if the gods were trying to tell me something, but I moved my garmin to my handlebars, and realised that the clicking was only the cable knocking against the crank arm, and my back was fine in the TT position.

The ride

I set off behind Tanis Hand (ex Tenby Aces, and the only other woman to ride) The route is 3 laps of the dual carriageway up to Monmouth and back to Abergavenny. At the first turnaround I saw Tanis and she looked a way ahead of me so I just stuck to my plan. When I got out on the second lap I did a quick bit of maths and realised that I was going to be at the lay-by that I told my mum to wait at about 15 minutes before I told her to get there. Happily I spotted her car as I approached ( she likes to be early thankfully) and I stopped to fill up my aero bottle and grab the other bottle from her. I said I was feeling good and got on my way. The photographer was at the next lay-by as globules of snot, spit, and rain dribbled down my chin. I couldn’t really muster a smile!

SIS_6298

Next I saw Jill Coleman who cheered me on, I was averaging 20.8mph so was feeling amazing as I was aiming for 19-20mph. I sang a lovely rendition of Chesney Hawkes I am the one and only (where did that come from?!!) as I was overtaken by one of many men, and I had one of several manic laughing fits as I realised that, yes, I really was doing this, and doing a good time. I had done 50 miles in 2h20 which was faster than I did the 50 mile TT in last year. The rest of the second and third lap was a blur of feeling sorry for lonely, and sodden supporters holding out drinks bottles, marshals waving frantically and pointing, and looking forward to the tunnel near Monmouth for a couple of minutes shelter.

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On the second and third lap I started to pass a few people, including Tanis, and Jill told me that I was on the team now, as Paul had to pull out. About 20 miles from the end I started to watch my power dropping, and had to talk to myself a few times to keep focussed, the last few miles seemed the longest ever. I shouted my number out to the clapping timekeepers and with comedic timing the rain stopped and the sun started to come out.

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When I got back to HQ my mum told me that there was only 1 other woman who completed the race, so I jokingly said “I may be Welsh Champion then”, to which she replied “you are!” This seemed pretty funny to me and I got inside where Jill, Paul, Dan and Rob told me that we’d won the team prize too. 3 cups of tea later I had warmed up and was presented with my Championship cap, and we had a team photo.

The winning team

The winning team

Race Analysis

A word from the organiser

A word from the organiser

Garmin data here, full results here, more photo’s of bedraggled competitors here

If you are not interested in data look away now 😉

Out of 71 riders 26 started 7 DNF, and 39 DNS

My aim was to keep above 150 watts, and below 180, I had set some alerts on the garmin, but couldn’t really hear them. I also had an auto lap set for 25 miles, but again didn’t hear the first lap. My power did go down at the end, but in comparison to last years 50 mile TT it was not so extreme, so I was happy with my pacing. I could probably have held back more in the beginning, as my average power for each lap shows.

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Below is a comparison between last years 50 and this years 100, you can see how I started way too hard in the 50, and suffered about halfway through! This year I had also prepared myself psychologically and knew what to expect.

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100 mile TT 2014

 

Couldn't take it!

Couldn’t take it!

So overall, I was amazed with my result, I rode about 15-30 minutes quicker than I thought I would, so with some great performances under my belt I feel ready for Ironman Wales!

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Spain, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Asturias 2014

We have been to Asturias 3 times on holiday now, the area is lovely, and part of my reasoning to go back this year was that I knew a lot of routes that I could run or cycle without having to navigate too much. So it was less stressful for me in the run up to Ironman.

The area around us, Picos de europa

The area around us, Picos de europa

With limited time I have condensed the holiday into the good, the bad, and the ugly! (Its mostly good)

The good

  • Watching a fixie criterium at Gijon, (I was actually entered for this but then realised it was fixie only and didn’t have a bike, (didn’t stop me having a mad dash to find one, even though I have never ridden a track bike before! Maybe next year ;-))Patrick has done all the hard work with pictures here and a short video here 

 

  • A nice top end endurance ride around Cabrales getting a few QOM’s
My longest ride

My longest ride

  • Swimming in the sea, feeling more confident about donning my wetsuit and dodging beach goers to swim

 

Swim before watching the criterium

  • Great food, lots of sea creatures
crustaceans

crustaceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Devons birthday, I managed to order a cake in my limited Spanish, and he requested “hiking in the mountains” as his birthday treat.
  • Too many more good things to mention, and I came back to do my best ever hill session, averaging an extra 4-5 Watts per interval, and on longer intervals too! A change is definitely as good as a rest!

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The Bad

  • Some dodgy fabes con almejas (clams and beans) at a sideria in Ribadasella, which had me up all night with stomach cramps, wondering if it would hinder my training :-/

The ugly

  • Our plumbing in the holiday let. After a day or 2 every time we flushed the toilet the contents came up in the bath. This coincided with the above (eurgh) it may have been Devon shoving half a toilet roll down there on the 2nd day, but I didn’t mention that. Luckily a man with a mop turned up after I reported it, and fixed the problem :-)

Next up

100 mile Welsh championships on Sunday with wind and rain forecast, good to be home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mystery of Mary Sage solved!

More detective work

I obviously need to get a life, (or maybe buy a TV!) because when I received a newsletter from Triathlon 220 saying that Lucy Gossage had won The Gauntlet at Cholmondeley Castle Triathlon, I checked Mary Sage’s Strava account to see if there was a QOM on the course…There was, and it corresponds with Lucy Gossage’s time.

The run section

The run section

The results

The results

So my evidence collected so far is;

  • Mary Sage had a bike time the same as the winner of Ironman Wales 2013.
  • Mary Sage was previously called “have a banana”
  • Mary Sage had a run time the same as the winner of The Guantlet
  • Mary Sage had a run time the same as the winner of Outlaw Half
  • I had hits on my site from Australia from someone searching “Mary Sage Triathlon” on the day before the race, and also every day after for 3 days.

Strava03

 

Strava04

I finally solved the mystery. The odd one out here is Outlaw Half, so I checked out the bike course from Outlaw. Mary Sage was QOM on the Outlaw full bike leg last year. I looked up the results and Lucy Gossage had competed the bike leg as part of a relay team, I also checked Outlaw half results and found that the same team had competed, she must have done the run leg, and the time corresponded with the team. So there we are, my detective work complete! Mary Sage is Lucy Gossage (there is even a sage in both their names!) I have requested to follow, but received no response so far, not surprising!

Ill kids

Devon was off school this week with a cold, so I had to reschedule my swim for early on Wednesday, I don’t know what is worse about having ill kids

  1. Being kept up all night having to change sheets, listening to the coughing, and turfing them out of your bed.
  2. The fact that you have to stay at home with them all day, and miss out on training.
  3. Or the sense of impending doom that you might be next to come down with “the lurgy”

Time trial PB

I did the Neyland Time trial on Wednesday this week and had a PB on that course 26.11, my previous was 26.22, so I was very pleased with that, especially as my legs felt terrible in the warm up, you never can tell. I didn’t have my power meter, unfortunately, as I missed the courier so no numbers for me to crunch :-( But I now have my new crank so will be able to make up for it, hopefully the power drop outs will have gone, but I have just researched that it could actually be the Garmin that is the problem, Technology eh?

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Jet setting

Last week was a busy one with the 4 up Time trial on Thursday evening and a wedding in Jersey at the weekend.

4 up TT

The 4 up time trail was on Thursday evening an hour and a half away, so we left Pembrokeshire at about 4pm and were back home at about 10.30pm, which is a late night for me! Our team consisted of Mel, Clair, Kirsty, and myself, and we had practised a couple of times.

I had never done a Time trial like this before, but it was great fun. The first part of the course is mostly down and I think the wind was behind us. I was checking my speed and we averaged about 27.5 mph on that stretch, so I was feeling pretty good. As we approached the turn of I was at the front, and I didn’t want to peel of at the junction, so I stayed at the front for a bit longer than I would have liked and I could feel it on the way back, as I was watching our average speed drop going uphill and into the wind!

spot when I was on the front!

spot when I was on the front!

It is amazing how much easier it is at the back drafting, as you can see from the power graph above. At the beginning I was desperate to get on the front, but by the end I was not looking forward to my turn so much! We beat the women’s Velo’s time by about 4 minutes so everyone was pleased with that.

Results are here, we were the 3rd women’s team.

Checking the times

Checking the times

Jersey wedding

On Friday we flew to Jersey for one of my husband’s friends wedding, we arrived there for a bbq overlooking the beach, the weather was fantastic, and it felt like we were on a holiday abroad, (I suppose Jersey is abroad!) On Saturday before the wedding Patrick and I went for a swim around the headland, although I think we went for a bit too long, as we didn’t warm up until we got back to the hotel, even though the sun was out!

After our swim

After our swim

We then went out for a run, I had planned to do 3 minute anaerobic intervals, and I managed to persuade Patrick to do the same, I went a lot faster than I would have on my own, as I could hear him breathing down my neck!! So I think he will be on fine form for the Long weekend half marathon, and will probably beat me!

Ouch!

Ouch!

Anyway I’ll leave you with a picture of me and a postcard that we found in the pub!

Obviously true!

Obviously true!

 

 

 

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