Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Being Last Makes You Wise (Or Some Sh*t Like That)

Live every day as if it were your last and then some day you'll be right.  ~H.H. "Breaker" Morant

Have you ever had this experience before?

You are pushing yourself to your limit, making your legs work as hard as they can, and you are still last. DAMMIT!

It is humbling.

And, it is a good reminder that there will always and forever be people faster and more fit than I am (and slower and more out of shape than I am). I can only do my personal best and hope for growth and improvement along the way.

Today I could not hang with my bike group. This is only my third time out with these ladies, and the last two times I’ve held my own and been able to stay with the group.

After our first climb today, I fell behind as I wondered why I wasn’t still in bed or at least sitting at the kitchen counter drinking my coffee with a resting heart rate of 54 bpms. This puke threshold, heavy breathing and inability to speak is for losers!, I thought. Meanwhile as I’m huffing and puffing, these badass girls seem as if they are un-phased – barely breathing hard, a walk in the park. But I did not cry. I tried to HTFU (thanks, Patrick).

Seriously, has that every  happened to you? You are gasping and sweating and spitting and everyone else is barely glistening and shooting the shit about The Bachelorette? (Thank God she told Bentley to f*ck off. About time).

It is humbling.

In the end the ride was only 23.5 miles at 17.5 mph average with 715 feet of elevation gain. But it kicked my butt.

I have to remind myself that there is more to life than training and numbers on a watch and gear and time goals and carb: protein ratios and how to best avoid chafing.

There is real life and mountains to gaze at and birds chirping and children who want to play Trouble or have a lemonade stand. There is life beyond the workouts.

We get so wound up in our goals it can make us self centered. Training can become very self indulgent and give us tunnel vision.

I remind myself: not everyone cares about your training or your goals. In fact, not everyone gives a crap about running and triathlons and racing. In fact, a great part of the population doesn’t know what BQ stands for or that a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Case in point: my dental hygienist asked, “Isn’t Boston one of the longer marathons?”

My point is: let’s keep it all in perspective. Being fit and working out and having goals is amazing and is what keeps us feeling alive and rejuvenated. But it is NOT all there is to life. There is a balance to be found. This morning was a reminder that:

  • It’s okay to be last.
  • I don’t want to be so focused on the workout and my Garmin that I don’t look up to see how the light looks in the canyon or how blue the sky is against the snow capped mountains.
  • Not every workout will be your best or your strongest. You don’t need to judge yourself. Let it go. Tomorrow is another day.
  • Pushing yourself means putting yourself in positions when you will feel inferior. Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Always see it as a way to become stronger. Keep your attitude positive.
  • There is life beyond training and racing.
  • Not being able to keep up makes you insightful and wise!! Or that’s what I’m choosing to think today.

How do you reign yourself in and get perspective?

Ever run/bike/swim with a group and end up last? How do you cope or do you care?

SUAR

64 comments:

  1. I switch between riding with friends and riding with the local race team. Nearly every time I go out with the tough guys, I get dropped off the back after the turnaround. It is really impossible for my short lady legs to hold 30+ mph chasing those guys.

    Despite my so-called "failure" to keep up with them, I've won a ton of respect from the team. I'm the only woman around here with the balls to ride hard with them knowing full well that I won't be able to keep up the whole time. I take my turn pulling and do my best, and they really dig that. And if it's early enough in the season, usually I'm more in shape and can drag them around a little bit, too ;) Now that I've raced a crit (and didn't finish last, woohoo!), they even take the time to give me pointers on my form, gear choice, etc. I technically lose when it comes to staying with the pack, but I also feel like I'm winning!

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  2. It is always better to be DFL (dead f@#$in' last) than to DNF (did not finish)

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  3. I am ALWAYS the last person in my riding group. I don't know why. It is a very very humbling experience to try as hard as possible and still be last. It makes me ride alone a lot honestly. :(

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  4. I got dropped by my team (TNT!) on the bike on Saturday...and had to walk the bike up a hill...I wanted to cry in the ditch. But I didn't...I know I might be last in my upcoming tri but at least I'm out there trying it anyways!

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  5. Great post! Yes, there will always be faster people and slower people! BUT we're out there moving our bodies and being healthy. I hate when running isn't fun to me. That's why I am taking a break from speed work this Summer. (that and it's 9097 degrees outside). I'm going to enjoy this training schedule. I'm sure you'll be on top again soon!

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  6. Riding with faster people will only make you faster... even if it's not ALL about that!

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  7. It makes me feel like crap, especially when I can't hang with people who I've beaten before. I try to tell myself that at least I finished the ride/run. Then I go home, sulk about it, and vow to do better next time.

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  8. F that....ride hard, ride long (or is that what she said and has nothing to do with my triathlon life....I'm so confused right now b/c I am staring at my garmin and wearing my heart rate monitor while trying to fart and see how long it takes and if my HR spikes.....

    Anyway, yes see the forest for the trees. There is bigger and better out there for us all. I love life too much to be tied up in this all the time, but I also love this and love comparing myself to myself. I love being a science experiment and wondering what happens if I drink this or if I eat that.....live outside the box that way.

    Great perspective today and to throw another long on the perspective fire this was posted on Twitter (you remember that social media you are going to join) that made me laugh:
    http://t.co/o2LgdRR

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  9. Excellent post and reminder! I need to be reminded often that most people just don't care how many miles I ran today, especially my kids. According to them, that's all I talk about. Point taken. Thank you!
    Lynne

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  10. Since a majority of training and racing is mind over matter, the biggest mental obstacle we have to overcome is accepting our limits. That doesn't mean we just give up on lofty goals. But it does mean we appreciate the work we *ARE* able to put into these goals and reward ourselves with our beautiful surroundings...whether that is a snow-capped mountain or some Qdoba caloric replenishment.

    I used to be so much faster at running a mere year ago. And there's nothing like being dead last to your own faster self!!! But now I try to take in the fact that at least I'm still out there doing it.

    Even so, you'll get better and faster with these ladies, I guarantee it! Humility will only make you appreciate that moment even more.

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  11. I guess you have to look at the silver lining whenever you can to avoid getting discouraged. I'm training for my first full marathon this fall, and running in the heat SUCKS. My time is worse by about 2 mins per mile, speedwork has gone to hell, but I'm just happy to finish and get in all the miles I had planned for the day. It also helps, as you pointed, to remind myself that most of the population doesn't even know what it means to get out and do this, so comparatively, I'm kicking ass! :-)

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  12. I am a back of the pack runner and it's still difficult to see so many people finish before I do. I hate being lapped and that's why I'm training. I need to make myself a better runner/racer. It is difficult to see that there is another part of life and running/racing isn't everything.

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  13. I'm a weak hill climber. I have the same experience - I'm getting left behind as I work my ass off, and everyone else looks like they're strolling easily as they climb away from me. It is demoralizing. Practice hasn't improved my skills much.
    Haven't found a way to feel ok with that, though I do always pass them all on the downhills because I'm a good technical runner, and I'm pretty fearless.

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  14. Caryn - take into account that your HR goes up about 10 bpm in the heat/humidity compared to 'normal' weather, so you are going to be slower. It happens to us all until we acclimate to running in this oppressive heat (I live in Texas) Just know that when you run that first marathon in the fall or spring the temps will be on your side and you will make up that time and then some.

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  15. It's so true about perspective. I was talking with a friend who was telling me that she was running a marathon like race. As a marathoner myself I got really excited and asked her which one to which she responded, "The Shamrock Shuffle." The shamrock is a 5k in the city, and obviously not a marathon. I almost said something about a marathon and a 5k being VERY different, but i thought about it and realized what's the point? Maybe for her this is her marathon and who am I to burst her bubble? Everyone has a different perspective on things.

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  16. I remind myself of the very same things you did, especially the fact that at least we get out there and move.

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  17. What's put things in perspective for me is injury. It's almost a month since I ran, and as I'm nursing this leg, all I can think about it WHEN I can run again. I don't care how fast I go, how many hills I can breeze up or any race I can enter. I just want to be able to run without shooting pains again.

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  18. What the hell do you mean not everyone cares about running and triathlons?? Those people don't really exist ;)
    Of course I always have the desire to be near the front, but I always have to remind yourself to be realistic. There's always going to be someone better than me (well, a lot of people). And it's just not an apples to apples comparison when you look and yourself and the rest of the ladies in your bike group. You're all different. You just have to remember who YOU are and what YOU can do in the big picture. Not just where you're sitting in comparison to a couple of others at a single point in time.
    Don't forget to enjoy those mountains. I'm jealous of them!

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  19. I don't run or train in the same leagues as you all but I still can relate - having a workout not live up to your expectations is always a drag!! Sometimes that is harder to recover from than a physical injury but recover we do and go out another day w/ no expectations and kick some serious ass!!! So at least you enjoyed the scenery and rode anyway, that's the point, you can check off the work out for the day!! Wahoo!! Now it's time to pout w/ a skinny marg and some chips....or is it too early for that?

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  20. I thought about joining a local running group but I am a very slow runner since I am just starting out and am terrified of getting left behind. I try to do all of my running and biking workouts outside so I can enjoy nature and everything going on around me.

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  21. A while ago, I went running with a group from my school (grad/professional) and they said, "Oh, yeah, we're just going to do about six miles or something like that." At the time my longest run was exactly 3.1 miles (a 5K I'd done a couple weeks prior) and while I knew they weren't going to go too terribly fast, eugh, six miles. So instead I turned off where they told me the shortcut was and ran in a loop, completing 4.3 miles instead of 6. I felt pretty good about it just because it was so much longer than I'd done before at the time, but yeah, being the one huffing and puffing up the hill when everyone else was bragging about the eight marathons they were going to do over the summer made me feel like I used to in gym class (and reminded me why I didn't run until I was in my twenties).

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  22. I went on my first metric century (I did the half) and ran into some women I knew to ride with. I was on my MTB, however, and they left me in the dust on their roadies, but I still finished well under my estimated time so I was happy. And it was a beautiful day. And it was post-injury so I was happy to be out.

    That said, just remember: DFL>DNF>DNS (Dead F**king Last is greater than Did Not Finish is greater than Did Not Start)!

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  23. I love the middle of the pack in running. Fast enough to enjoy endurance ability and strength I thought I would never have but slow enough to enjoy the run. It's great to enjoy the scenes through my trails on my training runs.Or take in the city scene during a Half Marathons in Chicago. Or actually see the animals in a 5K through Lincoln Park Zoo! Though I would love a 20 minute 5K--it's not the destination but the journey that's important! (Got that from a great friend of mine.) And BTW...I totally agree with you about Bentley--it's about time! Happy Running!!!!

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  24. I would definitely struggle if I rode with a bike group and struggled to hold on - I get annoyed with D when he starts riding at his "casual" pace, forgetting my skill level, and leaves me in the dust! Gah.

    That being said, it's motivation to ride stronger and train the muscles for the next challenge. There is WAY more to life than the numbers, especially when you're riding in Boulder. I don't know how those elites do it - I'd get too distracted.

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  25. I've only been "training" for a year now after way too many years of being inactive. I lost 40lbs last year and still have 30lbs to go but I am happy with where I am.

    I have to be happy being last because I usually am. I am S L O W!! If I finish 3 or 4 above last in my age group I'm deliriously happy. I compete only against myself and could care less if the 20 year old who looks heavier then me or the 60+ couple finishes before me. Good for them. If I cared I'd never do a race.

    Last year when I did my first 5K I let those feelings get to me - the old "why bother" - and it effected my workouts the whole summer. It took months for me to mentally get over it.

    This year I've done 1 tri and 2 5K's and have another Tri, 5K and bike race ahead of me. Will I be last or close to it? Probably. I know it and that is ok. Will I finish? Damn right! My goal is always: finish well and not throw up.

    jessicah

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  26. You are amazing, balanced and perfectly able to stay focused on what's impor-unt. I taught a Yoga class today and was out of breath for God's sake. Go figure. No farting though. That riding group is lucky to have you. NickMitch would so ride with you anytime because you ride in the front of his pack.

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  27. Love this post. I so can relate to how humbling it can be to ride with others. The first few times I went out I felt I could keep up OK (or maybe they were just going easy on me?) but then I began falling back. I just couldn't keep up. And I wondered what was wrong with me (still do a little) since I feel pretty strong as a runner. I have to remind myself that biking is a different sport and being good in one endurance sport doesn't necessarily translate to another. Duh. (found this out first-hand during my first tri - a bike, run & kayak - earlier this month. Kicked it on the run part, got passed by a bazillion people during the ride and kayak). But I'm sticking in there, trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, because I want to see what I can do and it's not like I was always a decent runner...it took time and practice and patience and hard work.

    I try to welcome the humbling moments, as sucky as they can be...good to have humility :)

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  28. Great post, and just what I needed today. There is a local running group that I have been thinking about joining, especially as I gear up for a fall marathon, but I am terrified. They will surely know that I am not a "real" runner and laugh at me after they leave me far behind. So scary.

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  29. In races I'm usually middle of the pack, but with the running group I joined in the winter, I was consistently DEAD LAST.

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  30. I just bought a Bondi Band that reads "Just Don't Be Last" - my ONLY goal when I entered my first 5K back in May. On July 9 I am running my second...this time with my sister (10 years my junior) who is doing HER first. I now have a new goal: Just don't let her beat me!

    I don't cycle. I don't swim. I don't run with people except in a race. I'm ALWAYS last. Yet, I'm also ALWAYS first. I need more friends...

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  31. That happened to me yesterday at my running meet up. It's a trail run and you have the option of a 5.74 mile loop or a 3 mile loop. Running 5+ miles on the road is not big deal so I opted for the longer loop. I decided to cut it short about half way through, crossing over to the 3 mile route, and still came in WAY after everyone else. That trail kicked my ass and made me it's bitch.

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  32. Are you kidding me, 17.5 mph average is fast!

    I am always last when riding with a group. it's frustrating as I've always been one of the faster people when it comes to running. But biking does not come easy to me.

    After three years of it, I'm finally at a place where last weekend I rode with hubby and managed 30 miles averaging almost 17mph. I was a WRECK after this. It took everything I had to ride that fast. He barely broke a sweat. Humbling... that it is.

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  33. When I first started running with my running group I was always last. Sometimes I'd have a panic attack about it!

    Now, though, some nights I'm still last but I don't mind anymore. It's a nice mix of running with friends and running alone.

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  34. what a great post :) all so true. we all have moments like these...

    I remember my Duathlon...I was terrified. I was doing it to finish, nothing more. I was LAST. for a long time, LAST. I didn't finish last, but I did feel the pressure. At one point, I wanted to cry. Why do we do that to ourselves. ??

    Hang in there!!! I really liked this post, it put things into perspective! I will do MY best and that's all I can ask of myself!

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  35. I just wrote about last weekend's humbling experience where I rode in a Gran Fondo and wasn't the last in, but HAD TO WALK UP HILLS. And I might have cried. check out my post if you want to feel better about yourself!

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  36. I was last in a ten K four years ago. It was on labor day and I was in my hometown of 2700. Elevation of 5700. My Golden retriever was running with me. Hot hot day and no wind to speak of. We ran up a canyon highway and back to town. So hot I felt like I would spew but I just kept going. About a mile from the finish my dog quit on me. Even the dashes through the sprinklers on the way couldn't cool her off enough. I put her on the trailer picking up race cones and ran on in ahead of them. I was dead last and red as a beet. That day I was just glad that I had finished. We must remember when we are last, there some that don't even try.

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  37. I was dead last by many minutes in the first 5K I entered. In retrospect, it was awesome because every other race I've run since then has been a great improvement! I had only been running for a couple months when my sister and I entered the race, which we didn't know was a trail race on a cross country ski route, never mind the final race of the year for competitors from the local universities' track programs! I didn't even get a clock time because they had shut the clock off by the time I gasped my way up the last 1K, all uphill. But people were still there to cheer me over the finish line, and it was after that race that I felt I was a 'runner' for real. :)

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  38. I LOLed so hard at your dental hygienist's comment - for some reason I always expect other people to know what the hell I'm talking about when I talk about running and they most definitely do not. And many don't particularly care, so I try not to be *too* annoying about it haha.

    Anyways, I always try to have my goals be to always beat my previous times, rather than other people.

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  39. I am such a wiseass from years of having my ass kicked. I do think we learn the most from experiences that feel the most miserable…unfortunately. 'Do your best and leave the rest', as Tony Horton likes to say…good motto. 'HTFU' really works for me…however, it always makes me giggle because my mind lives in the gutter. O, and is it rude of me to say you should change 'reign' to 'rein'? ;-)

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  40. If I'm feeling contemplative I'll look at some pictures from like 3 years ago and based on the mass of my body relative to my head size as compared to now, I'll find comfort in the fact I've done most of the work and anything extra is gravy.

    If I'm feeling competitive and get dropped I'll start to feel righteous and justify my lower speed by saying I still have a brick run to do after the ride while the rest of my buddies will be drinking espresso drinks with whipped cream.

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  41. OH gosh, I am sooo killing myself on my bike! The route we ride is TORTURE.. I ride with my husband he's fast! I can ride in the low 20's flat but going up hill at 7 mph.. kills my overall speed to 14.7!!!! It's mentally crushing and I'm trying not to let it rule me

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  42. As someone who is usually almost last have I to remind myself to not let my ego get in the way of doing things. If I was worried about coming in in the bottom half then I would have never ran a marathon or competed in triathlons. I would rather do it at my speed than not at all =)

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  43. This is such a wonderful post. I am an 'all or nothing' kind of girl so getting tunnel vision seems to happen almost automatic for me. I have to continually make a conscious effort to realize exercise is not EVERYTHING in life.

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  44. How to cope? Hmmm...Earlier this year I struggled to clip in at a light and got left for dead by a large group I was riding with. I could not catch up and got all flustered and stuff....

    Instances like this one and others I usually go to a time when I was succeeding, one that is fairly recent and remind myself that it is physically impossible to always be the windshield. Sometimes we gotta be the but. Sad but true-but it makes the latter so much more worth it!

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  45. Don't laugh.... But my last Half was 1:37:04.

    I know you're thinking "Why do you even bother?" and I gotta tell you, I was thinking the same thing.

    I was so disappointed with my time but (1) It was the result of what I'd trained to do (a 12 min/mi pace) and (2) It was a PR for me... and yet I was bummed about it!

    I had to remind myself to be proud of it! The thing is, if anyone else told me that they'd run a Half in 1:37, I'd be over the top with praise for them but I couldn't accept that from myself. Why? It was a PR.

    I think you're amazing and you never do less than your best and no one can beat you, doing your best. So shrug it off. Do better next time.

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  46. I soooo know what you mean! Most of us who ride (and have not been riding competitively since we were 4 year old) have had your experience. And many of us have it on a regular basis, if we are willing to challenge ourselves and ride with people whom we know are faster than we are. That's how you get better: ride with the "big girls" or "big guys" (as in my case).

    And, as some have already said, you are most likely the hardest on yourself. Your riding companions admire your grit and persistence. And no doubt, you'll get faster, and be able to hang on much longer.

    If it makes you feel better, I once was riding with a group of great guys (me, only girl), and it was a 42-degrees day, and windy, and by mile 30 I was so hypoglycemic I could barely pedal. The best rider, a 70-some year old man who has calves of steel, dropped back to my side, put a hand on my back and started PUSHING ME! Yep, I was so slow I could not keep up with the pace line, so he pushed me along. Talk about HUMBLING!

    But I am still riding with those guys, and now I mostly keep up, and even pull some of the time. It's great training, for body and soul. : )

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  47. Over the years of running I have learned that what I did when I was 20 is not always what I will be able to do now. Humbling. But I run for changing reasons as the years pass. I remind myself that I love not for medals and awards, I run because I love doing it. I love being out there and experiencing places on a closer level. So I love my fast days and I live with my less than fast days.


    Are you as excited as I am aout the reunion show? I mean, come on already. Couldn't they have just told her Bentley was a game player instead of letting her look like an idiot!?

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  48. Sabrina - from reading your blog, I think you mean 2:37, but I get your point. We have to be proud of our accomplishments no matter how they stack up to anyone else!

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  49. @Beth - OMGoodness! Yes! 2:37!
    1:37 would be GREAT!!!! Better than I would dare to dream!

    But a "walk in the park" for you. You rock lady!!!!

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  50. Sabrina - you rock too and I always appreciate your upbeat and positive comments on this blog. Keep running, girl!! You've got a big heart.

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  51. I've always been a slower runner, so getting left behind doesn't bother me (much). :)

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  52. If I were riding with your group, I would be behind YOU! 17.5 mph with that much climbing is awesome. And every run I do anymore would place me at the very back of the pack...humbling for sure, but grateful to be running.

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  53. In fact Boston is one of the longer marathons...according to my Garmin which said 26.46 miles! :)

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  54. They're good points for me to take on board leading into this weekend's race. I am underprepared because of a bout of flu but I know I can make the distance - just not fast. There will be runners in front (way in front) and lots of runners behind and the world will not stop because I'm nowhere near my PR.

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  55. I went on a hill ride from hell with my husband and his male cousins. I managed to hang with them until the last hill where I had to get off and walk the last 200 yards. I was so pissed I picked up my beautiful Bianchi and threw it to the ground right next to where they were lounging. 10 years later they still talk about my female rage....

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  56. I can totally relate. Today Spin/Rpm kicked my ass....chaffing occured, out of breathe..couldn't hang...I ate more fat and carbs than I was "allowed"..totally got down on myself. Then I went to visit a friend with pancreatic cancer...spending her last beach vacation with her family. I sat on her bed, and she was greatful today for the wheelchair hospice left for her to use until "it's time"...Sure did shake up what was important about today. I will still be hard on myself, and push to be more competitive..but I hope today will change my perception and allow me to back off a little more to enjoy the journey.

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  57. I did a sprint tri last summer & a lady waiting near me said that her goal was just to "finish vertical," I thought "sounds good, finish upright" cause I knew I'd be very close to last.

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  58. You could have chosen to ride with a slower group and then you would have been the star, the one shootin' the shit and maybe that would be enjoyable and then that would be ok. But you chose to be challenged and that's exactly what you got and you will be better for it. Yes, we all need to find time to smell the roses and enjoy what's around us but when you need that go find it in a different place. Guess this is my way of saying that this situation would just piss me off, and I've been there. Made me work harder before joining the next ride so I wouldn't come in last.

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  59. Yep, I used to be last often. And now I'm not even there. It's all relative. Kristin watched the kids today so I could ride in the mountains and run in the pool. Recracked my fibula last Monday. Um yeah. I'm looking at a snow covered mountain and a fox in the driveway. Thankful for my life. My family. My friends. My skinny girl. Delicious dinner. And the ability to do my best right now. Party on.

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  60. I didn't quite resonate with this post. That's not saying that I disagree or didn't like it. I totally agree - it's a great message. I've always felt that I have the whole perspective and balance thing in check. You kids.

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  61. I'm always last or second to last. If I let the fact that I don't really have a talent for any sport stop me from participating, I would never have done softball, track, volleyball, or basketball.

    I never let it get to me because I enjoy the process too much.

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  62. Jason, I'm definitely keeping that in mind... dreaming of that flat, autumnal 26.2 miles that I will smoke because of this awful summer training!
    Lys, "finish vertical".. my new mantra!

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  63. A great reminder that we can't always be so "fast focused". Enjoy the exercise for a change.
    Something tells me that next time you go out with the girls, you'll be keeping up with them just like a seasoned rider.
    YOu did a great job. You're doing so much training right now, you're bound to have those end of the pack days.

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  64. I missed some old posts. So glad I came back to read this one. So true, so true!!!

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