Fitness

Kicking Off Obliteride 2015 Training and Fundraising

2015-05-16 13.56.27A couple of days ago I decided to join Obilteride 2015. I also participated in this fundraiser for the amazing place where I work back in 2013. This year, I am riding the 50 mile ride with my wife, Suzanna. Unlike many charity events, 100% of the money raised for Obliteride goes to fund the awesome work being done at the cancer research center that I work for, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. That’s right, since a number of sponsors are picking up the overhead to run the event, 100% of the money donated will go to directly to cutting-edge cancer research done at Fred Hutch; research aimed at curing cancer and reducing suffering from this horrible family of diseases.

I have to admit that I am very lucky to work at the world-renowned Fred Hutch alongside some of the brightest scientists in the world. Fred Hutch has done a lot of wonderful research in order to understand, prevent, treat, and yes, even cure cancer. The funds raised by Obliteride when combined with grant funds from the National Institutes for Health and other funding agencies will help Fred Hutch continue its pioneering research to help obliterate cancer.

So while I continue to train for the ride on August 9, I am hoping you will consider making a donation to my Obliteride campaign. Thank you!

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My Dinner with Mike

Share-The-Road-Sign-K-6751A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to meet out contractor, Mike the Plumber, as he likes to call himself, at a restaurant and pub for a drink to discuss the finishing our basement.

At one point, the conversation shifted to cyclists and Mike became quite adamant about how cyclists were unsafe and didn’t pay for the roads and thus they should have no say in how roads were used. Only when cyclists were licensed and paid a fee for that license should they have a say.

Though his presentation was a bit over the top, thanks to a few beers, Mike does have a point about safety and the fact that many cyclists flagrantly and repeatedly break traffic laws. In my eyes, you’re either to be treated like a car or a pedestrian. And if you want to be treated as a car, you need to follow the rules of the road, including but not limited to, stopping at stop signs and red lights. I do!

Regarding Mike’s point about cyclists having no say because they are not paying for the roads, that’s just absurd and here’s why…

  1. Who said that the sole purpose of all roads in a city was to host motor traffic? I don’t buy that: there are other users in our society who need to be accommodated.
  2. The vast majority of adult cyclists also have motor vehicle licenses and thus we ARE already paying license fees… and federal income taxes, and sales taxes, and property taxes.
  3. Cyclist should be thanked and compensated for (a.) reducing traffic and thus commute times of drivers, (b.) reducing carbon emissions and global warming, (c.) freeing up parking spaces. This is true for bus riders and pedestrians too. Perhaps, we should be getting annual carbon-reduction rewards and single car drivers should be paying carbon surcharges?

shareIn fact, the more people who commute using alternate forms of transportation, the better the experience for automobile drivers. So instead of cursing us, Mike, you should be thanking us.

Enough said.

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Cancer Gets Personal

Cancer definitionIt seems like not too long ago when I didn’t know anyone with cancer and then it seemed to hit, like summer here in Seattle…One day it’s 50 degrees and raining, and the next, boom, it’s hot and sticky summer weather. All of a sudden all around us, just like, for me, cancer.

In 2011 though it was my turn. First, some background: After a birth defect necessitated a kidney transplant; my father donated a life-saving kidney to me in 1995, I have been blessed with pretty-darned good health. So much so that I was training for the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) bike ride with Paul (we did STP (Seattle to Portland) the previous year) when, after a 100 mile training ride I didn’t feel well.

Of course, you might think that after 100 miles on a bike, most people would feel crummy; but it wasn’t just being tired and sore. That night I couldn’t get warm and watched as my temperature started to climb, up to 101, then 102, an finally 103. Now, as a transplant recipient you can think of two causes of a high fever; infection or rejection. So a trip to the ER was an absolute necessity. Here we were back from a trip to Europe, where Paul had just proposed to me, and now it’s off to the emergency room with my new fiancé.

After an initial evaluation, I was told I most likely had a kidney infection and they ordered an ultrasound. I was hospitalized and, when the results of the ultrasound came back, the doctors started saying they saw something, but they couldn’t really determine what it was and wanted my infection to die down a bit before confirming a diagnosis. I don’t remember when the “c” word was uttered for the first time, but I do remember getting the phone call in the evening at home, from the surgeon telling me that I had cancer. It hit me like a brick.

Of all the places for me to get cancer, did it have to be my precious kidney? My one and ONLY kidney? Talk about shock and awe…

Kidney cancer really only responds to one thing, surgery– to remove the tumor. As someone who carefully guarded her only kidney, the last thing I wanted was for it to be cut into. However, I certainly didn’t want to walk around with cancer–does anyone–so the surgery was scheduled.

My surgery was successful and I recovered just fine. Now when you have cancer surgery you think, well, that’s that; they cut it out! No more cancer for me, let’s celebrate! It’s such a downer when you go for your one year check up and the doctor says, let’s do a chest x-ray because that’s where this kind of cancer goes next. Well, so far so good, no cancer in the kidney or the lungs and my follow-up will only be the chest x-ray and my prognosis is good. Bullet dodged.

Of course another cancer scare has come & gone since then… Just recently an innocent enough looking line on my fingernail was biopsied and luckily did not turn out to be melanoma. It did require the removal of my thumb nail and a few days of quite a bit of pain, but the melanoma-free diagnosis was worth it.

But both Paul and I know plenty of people going through similar, even more challenging cancer scares and long-drawn out battles. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than cancer because it never seems to go away, you feel like it’s always lurking.

obliterideIt’s easy to not think about cancer and donating for the cause when you aren’t affected personally by it. But when you or a close friend or relative gets cancer, you can no longer ignore the fact that it’s a real and horrible disease. It also makes you want to rid the planet of cancer. And that’s what the researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where Paul works are trying to do. This is why I believe so much in Obliteride. And why Paul is riding in Obliteride, why I am volunteering, and why we are donating to the cause as well.

Please consider donating to Paul’s Obliteride campaign.

tripledAnd because I believe so much in the cause, Paul and I will match all donations between now through Sunday, July 7th, up to $500 dollars total. And because I work for Microsoft who matches donations at 100%, any money you donate will therefore be tripled! How’s that for some incentive to donate today?

Suzanna Litwin

Post Script: Suzanna’s challenge raised $550 so we matched it with the limit of $500 which Microsoft will match again.  Thus, her challenge raised at least $1,500 (not counting the fact that some of the donors also worked for Microsoft and will be submitting their donations for matching as well).

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Why Obliteride and Fred Hutch?

PaulOnBikeSammRiverTrain3_thumbIt’s been over nine years since I started working at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, or as we like to call it “Fred Hutch” or just “The Hutch”.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was established in 1975 by Dr. William Hutchinson in honor of his brother, Fred, who died of lung cancer in 1964.

So What’s So Great About Fred Hutch?

So what’s so great about The Hutch? Fred Hutch is truly a world-class research center dedicated to curing and reducing human suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.

One measure of the strength of a research institute is the awards it receives and many people will agree that the Nobel Prize is one of the highest honors in science. Well, three Nobel laureates (that means they each won a Nobel prize) have walked the halls of The Hutch. They are…

  • Donnal Thomas, who won his Nobel prize in 1990 for his ground-breaking work in bone marrow transplant. Donnall died in 2012.
  • Lee Hartwell, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2001 for his work in understanding cell division. Lee was the center’s president for many years and many days could be seen riding his bike to work.
  • Linda Buck, who received her prize in 2004 for her pioneering work in the human olfactory system. I remember drinking champagne in her honor the day she was awarded the prize.

Of course, that’s just three of the fine scientists of our institute. Much amazing work happens here every day, including work in basic science, clinical trials, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention. In future posts, I’ll share some of the projects I have had the honor to work on while here.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (1)In the mean time, you can read more about Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at fhcrc.org or wikipedia.

What’s Different About Obliteride?

obliterideOkay, let me be frank, the bike ride is just a front to raise money for this amazing institution. (Mind you, that’s not meant to disparage the amazing feats of athleticism that are part of an endurance event like Obliteride. Most participants will train for months to get ready and will endure somewhere between moderate discomfort and extreme pain in riding the event.) I mean that’s true for any event that raises money for a cause. For the most part, however, the event itself is not the important thing: it’s what happens with the money.  And, unfortunately, many events have a fairly high overhead, which means that for every dollar you donate, only a portion goes to the organization benefiting from the event. For example, I rode in the Ride to Conquer Cancer four years ago and was saddened to learn afterward that less than 50% of the money I raised made it to the organization. To me, that was a huge disappointment and a reason I have not ridden again for that event.

What is awesome about this event, however, is that a number of sponsors (as well as the participant registration fees) completely cover the expenses of the event. This means that 100% of every donation goes to the benefiting organization: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Let me repeat that: 100% of every dollar you donate goes to the ground-breaking and life-saving research of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Now, that’s something to get excited about.

How Can You Help?

it’s simple, just click this button to donate to Obliteride and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

donate now

Thank you.

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Ending My Sounds of Silence

LaurelAndHardyHushLike many bloggers out there, I started with a bunch of ideas that I wanted to get out into the blogspace last year, and then got distracted and this blog has suffered.

Let’s see if I can restart this thing and put out something that others may be able to benefit from.

Catching Up

Wedding-87Since I last blogged seriously, a lot has happened. I got married in a wonderfully romantic wedding in Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, Italy to my soul mate, Suzanna, last October. I started to run seriously again and ran a 5K back on New Year’s Day of this year. I also joined a running group at the beginning of the year and set my sights a little higher: first signing up for the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon and then the Eugene Marathon, which was held April 28th.

Running for Boston

I am happy to report here, that running has gone spectacularly well for me this year. Not only did Eugene go well, but I managed to qualify for the first time in my life for the Boston Marathon, which has been a life dream, and which I finally accomplished in my 8th marathon finish with a time of 3:39:22. Not bad for an old dude.

TrackWorkoutApril2013Cropped-2013-2Unfortunately, the qualifying time margin for me is only 38 seconds, which isn’t a lot with the renewed interest in Boston after the horrific bombing this year. Thus, I have decided to run another marathon on September 15, the Tunnel Lite Marathon. It’s a very fast course so I am hoping to clock a finish time of more around 3:30 which would give me extra cushion in registering for Boston 2013.

Cycling for Cancer Research

PaulOnBikeNewOrleansOh, and a couple of days ago, I registered to ride in a cancer fund-raiser bike ride, the Obliteride, to raise much-needed research money the world-class cancer research institute where I work: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Expect more blog entries on my Obliteride journey. Meanwhile, if you are so inclined, please consider supporting my effort and the efforts of the scientists at “Fred Hutch” by donating to my Obilteride.

Thanks for reading!

Paul.

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My New Goal: Eugene Marathon in April!

New goal: training for Eugene Marathon on April 28th and using it to qualify for Boston next April.

bostonqualifyingtimes

 

Post Script

I did it! I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:39:22.

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2013 is Coming into Focus

magnifying_glass_by_hillllallll-d59skm5Boy, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that. Bet you’ve heard that one before. It’s funny how you can be so gung ho for a time period, posting like mad. Sometimes, even having to wait to space out your blog posts. While other times, you just get busy—like me for the past month or two—and don’t either have anything to say, or are too busy to say it in your blog. I guess the latter was true in my case. But here I am, with my laptop in bed late, deciding to hack together a post sometime after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Catching Up

Today is the beginning of the last day of 2012. So the good news is that I have been fairly consistently running and spinning and less consistently lifting weights. Additionally, while I am not currently logging my food intake into My Fitness Pal, I have maintained my weight at more or less where I want to be. I am currently 165 pounds, which is at the top of the range of where I want to be. Considering this is the pinnacle of bad eating season, I am pretty okay with that. In comparison, at this time last year, I weighed 185. Yes, 20 pounds more than I weigh today.

But weight is not everything. I am also pretty happy with my fitness level, although with the craziness of the holidays and my kids being in town, I managed to run only twice last week. However, during each of the weeks in December prior to last week, I ran at least 3 times. And I have started running on Saturdays with the Seattle Greenlake Running Group that I found on meetup.com.

In fact, I ran long runs of 9-10 miles with the group the past 3 out of 4 Saturdays.

Plans for Next Year

I have big plans for 2013 and have already signed up and paid my entry fee for three—count ‘em, three—races. They are:

1. Resolution Run

This run is tomorrow, January 1st at 10:30 AM. it’s a 5K followed by a jump-in-the-lake. (And in case you are wondering, it’s likely to be raining and very cold!) The trick, of course, is not to stay up too late New Year’s Eve and get too drunk. Otherwise, the race will be very painful. (It will be cold and wet, regardless, however.)

2. Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

This is the one I actually have to train for. 13.1 miles around Lake Sammamish in Redmond, Washington. The race is Saturday, March 9th which gives me about ten weeks to get ready. And while I can run 10 miles without too much trouble, I’d like to ramp up over the next ten weeks and use this race to really improve my fitness.

3. Pacific NW Spartan Sprint

Okay, now we are getting a little crazy. I have to say I have been intrigued with these so-called extreme obstacle course races since I first started hearing about them this past year. They include Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and the one I just signed up for a couple of days ago: the Spartan Race. The deal on Living Social was just to good to ignore so I nabbed it. The race is Sunday, August 4th in some town I have never heard of in Southern Washington state. Oh, and yes, as a matter of fact, I am crazy. ‘Nuf said (for now).

By the way, I am loving my new iPhone app for tracking runs: RunKeeper. The also have a version for Android phones. It’s free, addictive, and highly recommended. And for the most part, it makes GPS watches obsolete. Expect a post on this fabulous app sometime soon.

Oh, and we got a dog a couple of weeks ago…

PorterKidsXMas2012-1

So that’s my story. What about you? What do you have planned for 2013?

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Maintenance Plan Meets Honeymoon

_1000723

So it’s been four weeks since we left for Italy to get married and honeymoon with a brief stop in New York on the way home.

The Plan

When we left, I had dropped 15 pounds and Zanna had lost 10.

Our plan for our trip was a noble one: ease up a bit but continue he to eat less and exercise more. You can read more about the planned maintenance plan in an earlier blog post.

How We Did

On the airplane ride to Italy, we continued to log our calories using the offline version of the wonderful MyFitnessPal.com program. We quickly realized once we landed in Europe, however, that without 3G on our phones and reliable and consistent access to wireless that we wouldn’t be able to use MyFitnessPal. So we ditched it.

Now, did I mention where we were spending our wedding and honeymoon? In Italy

IMG_1376You know…The land of food and wine. The land of amazing pasta, pizza, cheese, cannoli, gelato, and wine. Also, did I mention that we were getting married there and that some wedding cake and celebrating might be involved?

And the wedding cake we had was nothing short of spectacular, by the way. For those interested, it is called millefogile, and it’s to die for even though there was no chocolate involved!

Well, I won’t say we ate like pigs. But I have to say that we quickly dropped all pretense of being on strict diets and logging our calories. That said, we did generally try and eat smart. But let me confess it here: there was a lot of pizza, pasta, wine, and cheese involved in our diets in Italy. Furthermore, I am guessing that we ate gelato at least every other day. And we had cannoli and cake a few times too. Okay, so we were slightly refined pigs.

And once we got to NY, I’d like to say with 3G access on our phones and wireless access at my parents house, that we immediately jumped back on the diet bandwagon and MyFitnessPal. Well, I’d like to say that but it would be a lie to say that. We continued to eat pizza and even had some more cannoli at a small family reception Friday night.

The Results

_1010260After 2 1/2 weeks it Italy and 1/2 week at my parents house in Long Island, we arrived home late last Saturday night. The next morning we weighed in and were shocked to discover that Zanna lost an additional pound and I had gained one pound. Wow! IOW, for all practical purposes, we maintained our amazing weight losses.

We were astounded!

How Was This Possible?

In reality, I don’t know how this was possible and why we were so lucky. But I can speculate why. So here goes it.

  1. _1000936 - Version 3We were active. We were tourists for much of the three weeks. Lots of walking and climbing stairs. Lots of time on our feet. I think this is a big one!
  2. We ate mostly unprocessed and minimally-processed food.I think this was also key. Food in Italy is basic and, for the most part with a few exceptions, we didn’t have access to processed foods.FonziesOkay, one notable exception: Zanna fainted one day after a 4-hour hike in the hills of the Cinque Terre. So over the next few days, she drank some Powerade and one day bought a bag of Fonzies. Why Fonzies? The goal was to buy some potato chips to temporarily increase her salt intake but all the regular potato chip bags were huge and the bag of Fonzies was relatively small. Anyway, it was a minor infraction in the interest of health (oddly enough) and a great source for jokes thereafter. (Fonzies, by the way, we learned are a European version of the highly-processed Cheeto.)
  3. We didn’t snack. Other than the aforementioned Fonzie incident and the occasional dessert (also ignoring the every other day gelato habit), we didn’t snack. That is, one benefit of being on vacation was that we didn’t have access to snacks unless we went out to purchase them which was uncommon.
  4. We exercised. Besides constantly moving (see #1) as part of our tourist routine, we also managed to go on power walks and runs. While not every day, we probably did 30-45 minutes of exercise at least every third day.
  5. We were in love. Okay, this probably is unrelated to the excellent record in regards to weight maintenance, but it’s cute to say that.

Listen, I was expecting a weight gain on the order of 5-7 pounds for me. So again, I was quite shocked. Of course, at the same time, I did notice that my newly purchased 32 inch waist blue jeans continued to fit me throughout the trip so perhaps it wasn’t that bad. But one pound? Remarkable.

Post Script

So what has happened in the intervening week since we have made it home from our wonderful trip? Well to be totally honest, my weigh in today was 163.0. Up 1.5 pounds since we got home.

Not exactly where I want to be but within a reasonable margin of error. And this is after surviving Halloween week and the adjustment back home and back at work.

IMG_1311And I did manage to run twice and go to a spinning class once this week. Though with the constant rain and cold in Seattle, I have not ridden my bike to work since we have gotten home.

And we are both back on MyFitnessPal and I am reducing my caloric intake allowance a bit until I get back to 160 or 161 where I will move back into maintenance mode. Especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner.

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Lance: The Time is Now to Be a Real Hero

Certainly, no one–after reading the current articles (like this NY Times piece) where cyclist after cyclist has come out to reveal how Lance (and many others) has been doping for years–can possibly believe that Lance Armstrong is still innocent.

Lance Armstrong is certainly an amazing athlete and a great spokesperson for cancer survivors. Furthermore, his foundation has truly done wondrous things (including funding research benefiting my employer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), but the time for denial, intimidation of ex-teammates, and cover up of years of wrongdoing is long past.

It’s time, Lance. Time to “man up” and realize that as much as it hurts to admit wrongdoing that you can do more for the sport, your foundation, and humanity by ending this charade and fessing up.

it’s time, Lance. But the window where you can get out with some semblance of dignity, honor, and a smidgeon of integrity is rapidly closing.

Lance, the time is now.

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Maintenance Plan

Goal achieved!Okay, so you achieved your goal, now what? It’s time for a plan to maintain your good fortune. You certainly didn’t work your way down to your current amazing weight to rocket on back to your old weight.

I know I haven’t. Yes, my wedding is right around the corner (it’s this tomorrow, October 12) and I was still at my goal weight when I took off for our wedding on the 7th but that doesn’t mean come the day after tomorrow that I start pigging out (or sooner).

bmi-chart_thumbAlthough the wedding has presented itself as a great milestone for my diet plan, in actuality, I like to think of it as a means to help motivate me, not an end in itself. The true motivator for me was my gut. That is, my spare tire of a gut—my beer belly—told me I was overweight, corroborated by the unabashedly unbiased CDC BMI calculator.

cure-for-everything_thumbIn fact, I was overweight for far too long and I finally decided I was going to do something about it thanks in part to my fortuitous reading of Timothy Caulfield’s excellent The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness.

Of course, I could always revise my goal downward and continue to try and lose weight until I was 155 or 150 pounds or lower but I have decided that, for me, at this point in my life, 160 pounds is a good compromise weight. It’s both several pounds under the high end of “normal” for my height (169 pounds), and, as important, I believe it’s also realistic. I think I have half a chance of being able to keep my weight here at 160, plus or minus 5 pounds. (If the truth is to be told, I really mean plus 5 pounds; the minus side of the equation is very unlikely!)

 

Shifting Myfitness Pal to Maintenance

So about two weeks ago, I achieved my goal and I have to say that it was hard for me to figure out what to do next. At first, I decided to continue on plan until we left for Italy for the wedding. At the same time, I started to crave extra calories and would at times convince myself it was time to “cheat” a little here and there.

Meanwhile I dipped down to a low of 158.8. At one point I looked at myself in the mirror and worried that perhaps I was getting carried away and maybe even looking a bit too thin.

Eventually, after a significant back and forth in my mind, I decided to shift into maintenance mode. So how did I actually accomplish this?

I went into the configuration settings for myfitness pal and changed the What is your goal? setting from “Lose 1 pound per week” to “Maintain my current weight” as shown here.

image

 

Shifting Me to Maintenance

Making that change to myfitness pal was the easy part of the deal. More difficult was the realization that, although I could increase my caloric intake, the change was not a recipe (pun intended) for open eating season. My change of my goal into maintenance mode increased my daily target intake from 1450 to 1920 calories, a net increase of 470 calories.

The thing to realize is that one can easily consume 470 calories with a small dessert, plate of pasta, etc. Even a latte and a couple of pieces of banana can put you close to 470 calories. The point I am trying to make is that while this is a welcome increase in calories, it’s not a huge change.

 

Staying Serious!

This is where it’s important to realize that if you are serious about maintaining your weight at a significantly lower weight than when you started you need to permanently shift your views on eating.

While I am still coming to terms with how this will sort out—and I have to do this while getting married and honeymooning for three weeks in the land of pasta, pizza, cheese, wine, gelato, and cannoli—I am committed to making the shift in thinking.

This means eating less. Let me repeat that sobering fact: this means eating less. We humans in the Western World eat way too much. Caulfield drives this home in his chapter on diet in The Cure for Everything.

But we are also not talking starvation either—or even skipping meals. Just eating at a rate and frequency much more akin to what our creator (or evolution) intended. It’s that simple.

 

Will Exercise for Calories

Pre_flightThere is little secret, however, that may help in the maintenance game. As I’ve written about previously, when I was on the diet, I tried—and sometimes it was very difficult—to not eat the extra calories that myfitness pal awarded me when I exercised. But in maintenance mode, I don’t plan on thumbing my nose those extra calories. Again, this is not an excuse for unbridled eating. And I will still do my best to avoid what Caulfield calls the poison foods, even when exercising.

Nonetheless, as long as I am exercising regularly (and hopefully vigorously) and successfully staying below 165 pounds, I will allow myself to eat the additional calories that my exercise burns.That’s my plan anyway. Wish me luck.


Postscript: It’s been a rough start to maintenance; four days into my trip. Not enough sleep or exercise, and too much stress, too much eating, and too much eating at restaurants. Plus, no scale in sight. I need to re-focus on my plan; but first the wedding.

Categories: Fitness, Life in General, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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