Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ironman Florida Part #1: Race Morning and the Swim

Photo: I can't believe I just did that #IMFL

I FREAKING DID IT!!

Now, I feel like it is the day after Christmas when I was 10 years old. The presents are opened, everyone is tired and kind of grumpy, the tree is dropping needles and regular life resumes without as much magic as was there the day before.  November 2nd was hands down one of the top 5 days of my life (#1 being born, #2 getting married, #3 child 1, #4 child 2). Today I keep saying, “I DID THAT!” And, I feel amazing for it.

I’m going to break this report into three sections (swim, bike, run – how I came up with that, I’ll never know). It will be long – DUH – because the race was long.

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4:30 a.m. on Saturday and I am on my way to do my first Ironman. I did manage a few hours of sleep last night. I put in ear plugs before bed because I knew if I heard the pounding and rough surf all night long, I would panic throughout the night about the swim.

Although I’ve got 14 of my closest friends and family members with me, this morning it is just Ken and I rolling into Panama City Beach. My friends know me and they know I would need the space to get into the zone. They would all be on the beach to see me start.

I am quiet, scared to death and unable to choke down anymore of my cinnamon bagel and banana. I manage few sips of Powerbar Perform.

I believe if you pay attention, there are little gifts and signs everywhere. Just as I felt the panic rising again in my throat, I looked to the left and saw a church with a sign that said:

Be Strong. Have Good Courage.

At that moment, I knew I had my mantra for the day. Thank you, anonymous church on the side of highway 98 in Florida.

There is an electricity in the air at the bike transition. I borrow a pump from the woman who had her bike racked next to me. I have no ability to think straight. She keeps telling me to breathe, it will be okay.

I feel nauseous when I go into the hotel to take a last pee. I wait in line behind a girl who makes me want to toss my cookies because she is eating a large Ziploc bag full of hard boiled eggs. I wonder what her farts will smell like later.  Oh, the deep thoughts you have while waiting to start an Ironman.

Time for some body marking. I am proud to be age 46 and doing this. And, I am proud to be a girl and doing this. Out of 2,900 people, there were only about 750 of us with vaginas. Girl power.

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Don’t be jealous of my jowls:

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I manage to get down a GU 30 minutes prior to the start. Ken and I walk to the beach. On goes the wetsuit.  I pretend to look like it’s just another day at the beach.

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I think, holy shit look at the water and I have to get out in there? The surf is still a bit rough. I double cap my head because I am afraid I am going to lose my goggles in the jostling surf and bodies.

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I get into the waves to warm up. I put in some wax earplugs because I heard it might help with vertigo on the swim. The plugs give me just the perfect buffer between myself and the craziness of the other 2,900 athletes. I hear my breath, my heart beating. I am going to be fine.

The National Anthem plays and it is peaceful. I close my eyes. I am doing this, I tell myself. You GET to do this. You are ready. You are blessed. You are lucky.

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Then all hell breaks loose and I’m not kidding.  The cannon goes off, Van Halen’s “Panama” is pumping and I run into the waves with thousands of others.

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It was only 2.4 miles of swimming in the flat, calm, Gulf of Mexico! <br /><br />I want to congratulate my @[597057930316605:69:X2PERFORMANCE Triathlon Team] members who faced this furious swim with determination. I know we made our mark on Panama City Beach this weekend! Obviously tougher conditions than typically seen at @[36525832059:274:Ironman Florida], but that did not hinder our tenacity one bit. Thank you @[260665287309828:274:X2PERFORMANCE] for the awesome support this season!

This swim is the single most crazy thing I have ever done in my life. It is so congested, you literally could not swim a stroke. I get felt up left and right (bonus!). People were kicking me, cussing, grabbing my feet. I try my best to stay in the moment, but at one point I just start laughing like a crazy person because it is so ridiculous. I try desperately to not get kicked in the mouth because I don’t want to do the rest of the race looking like a hill billy with no front teeth.

The first 1.2 mile loop feels slow – it took about 38 minutes. I run along the beach to start the second loop. I’m dancing and jumping up and down because I am doing this. The second loop is much more relaxed. I remember thinking how good the water and the gentle roll of the waves felt. I’ve never swam in the ocean before (I’ve been in the ocean, just never done  a real swim) and I can’t tell you how much I love it. I feel like I could do this all day.

Swim 2.4 miles: 1:24

I get out from loop #2, lay down and get stripped by the wetsuit strippers doing their thing. Into the changing tent, bike shoes and helmet on. I put some tic-tacs in my mouth to get rid of the saltwater taste (a tip from Stacia!).  I am OFF for my next 112 miles.

Meanwhile my fan club was starting what would be a LONG day of spectating (below: my father in law, my dad, my mom, daughter Emma, son Sam, BFF Erika, BFF Clair, my mother in law, my sister in law, my nephew and his wife).

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Can you find the typo on the shirt? I never said I was perfect.

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Stay tuned for part #2 – where I became one with my bike…and also where I get in trouble from the race police.

SUAR

82 comments:

  1. So much awesome and only a fraction of the story! Hope you don't make us wait long to relive it with you.

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  2. So much awesome and only a fraction of the story! Hope you don't make us wait long to relive it with you.

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  3. I love your description of the day after! Exactly how I felt last week after my first marathon. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the race. You rock!

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  4. Ah!! I'm dyin' over here for details! Got teary over just the intro...holy crikey the waves look killer! that would have been enough to do me in. Love the jerseys ;0
    cannot wait to hear more!!! Congratulations!!

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  5. I can't wait to read more! I thought of you Saturday while I was out on my run, I was hoping that things were going well and you were having an "on' day.

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  6. I am getting butterflies just reading this. I want to do an Ironman someday but the swim terrifies me! Can't wait to read the next installment :)

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  7. Holy sh*t!!! Look at those waves! I'm impressed that you went in, twice! Especially with no ocean swimming practice! Congrats on your Ironman! Can't wait to read about the rest of the adventure. I race my first 70.3 this weekend at Lake Havasu. I'll keep those waves in my mind and be grateful I'm not swimming in them.

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  8. You rock ! .... I also agree with your comment that "I GET to do this" which is what I think about just before I start each marathon I have entered.
    Lookng forward to the rest of the story!!

    Rick Boudreau

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  9. Great race report so far! Those waves looked nasty! Congrats again to you, what an accomplishment!!! Can't wait to read the rest :)

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  10. Congrats! I tracked you all day. I got all teary eyed when I read this: I close my eyes. I am doing this, I tell myself. You GET to do this. You are ready. You are blessed. You are lucky. That's EXACTLY how I felt when I did my first. That feeling doesn't change, you just have a better idea what to expect the next time around. I remember grinning like an idiot on the second loop of the swim (after I stopped freaking out for the entire first loop). I can't wait to read the rest!!!

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  11. Reading stuff like this: "You GET to do this. You are ready. You are blessed. You are lucky." is why I love you and your blog. AND the eggs in zip lock and the poor people behind HER on the bike ;) Jokes aside, I was following you from Italy and I've never even met you! I love the blog, I love the attitude and I love your energy and commitment. p.s. yes, those waves look nastyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!. rache.

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  12. Love this, love how real you are.... you GET to do this...and the awesome part... you GET to kick ass! Nice swim, I can only imagine ocean swims being a whole new ballgame!!

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  13. LOL! @ 'don't be jealous of my jowls." Also 'endurace'. Is that the opposite of endurance? As in Don't end-ur-race! have endurance! Congrats to my fave blogger!!

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  14. I'm glad you did this and I get to read about it because I cannot IMAGINE ever being that crazy! Love you and your ability to tell a story!

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  15. Woohooo!! Love the recap so far! Swimming with all those people sounds insane. I saw a pic of someone who had their foot stepped on and broke a toe. What a way to start.

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  16. It looks like when a school of fish go nuts in a lake. Craziness! And everyone looks like a penis tip.

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  17. "Where's your athlete?"
    "Oh, she's en-du-race."

    Get it? In the race? endurace?

    I figure at the point you were thinking about shirts, your body had started to consume your brain from all the training.

    I'm so excited to read this! That picture of the swimmers looks crazy...like a movie where a shipwrecked. Well, like a cult cruise, because everyone is dressed alike.

    You are so awesome! I can't wait to get to bike next.

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    Replies
    1. shipwrecked= ship wrecked

      Inherent danger of commenting on someone else's spelling oops. :)

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    2. Hahaha!!

      Knock, knock
      Who's there?
      Endurace
      Endurace Who?
      Yo athlete is en-du-race!! She's almost done!

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  18. Holy sh*t! the start of the swim looks crazy. I can't wait to hear how the rest of the race went. Awesome time for your first IM. Congrats!

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  19. So cool! So exciting! So thrilled for you that you had such a great day. Inspires me, motivates me - makes me feel this is possible. Can't wait for the next instalment.

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  20. That surf would have freaked me out! Not mention swimming in it with all those other people. The last time I was in surf like that, my boys and I were body surfing and I got thrown to the floor of the gulf and broke my foot.

    But anyways...I have heard that you are more buoyant in salt water. Did you notice a difference?

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    1. Yes, between the salt water and the wetsuit, I just felt like I was floating. The only thing that sucked was taking in mouthfuls of saltwater. Ick.

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    2. I was going to ask about that, too! There is no way to train for that! Well, maybe the neti pot...

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  21. I have been eagerly awaiting this race report!! Thank you!! I love your spirit of thankfulness and recognition that it is a wonderful blessing to be able to train for and complete an endurance event. You are a rock star!!!

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  22. You did it, you did it!!! One of my husband's cousins lives in Florida and went to watch part of the Ironman. I told her I "knew" someone competing!!!
    I knew you were going to totally rock it!!!
    And - I like the typo on the shirts - it is a race even for the spectators!!!

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  23. amazing! what a fun and awesome story so far.

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  24. Love Love Love it so far...so real, so pure, so Ironwomanish! Congrats! I too was teary eyed from the beginning of this report. Quite sure I will be bawling by the end of Part 3! Awesome Beth, just awesome!

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  25. This is awesome! Saying "Congratulations!" doesn't do it justice...something along the lines of "Fantastic (f-bomb) race!" seems way more appropriate. You. Freakin'. Rock.

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  26. I got chills reading your report. You're awesome and an inspiration! For a while there, I thought something happened b/c you didn't post right away. I suppose you are allowed to rest a few days after swimming/biking/running for a little bit.

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  27. It is so awesome to read about you living your dream. Everyone's experience is so unique. I can't wait to read about the rest. Congrats!

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  28. I'm getting choked up for you just reading this. Those pics of the swim are crazy! So funny that you can just laugh in the moment at that time. I would have been terrified!

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  29. So happy this was such a great day for you! You really rocked it. Ready for parts 2 and 3!!

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  30. I never do this for people I know in real life, but I watched the live stream of your awesome finish, as bedtime viewing before a half. I am nowhere near the athlete you are, but I'm the same age, and was hugely inspired. Way to go and I look forward to reading the next installments, which I know will make me cry and I hope will include bathroom humour (fingers crossed)!

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  31. YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!
    Go You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  32. Glad you finished the swim!! You were not held under the water and no sharks got you..score!! Can't wait for the bike!

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  33. Endurace makes sense... as spectators, they're required to endure the race. It's clever, really.

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  34. it's not a typo - it's a new word that can be used in the sport. Endu race
    Congratulations.
    Thanks for breaking up the race report - looking forward to the future installments.

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  35. You are amazing for completing such an epic feat. That said - I am really looking forward to part 2 because I have been reading Chrissie Wellington's book and she says that she uses pee as a weapon on the bike. I am dying to know - did you do it??

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    1. Haha!! You will have to wait and see. Maybe I used poop as my weapon.

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    2. Ha! I can't wait to find out!!

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  36. Love this. So proud of you and spent half the day tracking your progress...which I feel like I can say because you from CO and its less creepy if we live in the same state! :)

    And yea, I would absolutely die during a mass start at an IM swim...and not just because I completely suck at swimming. It'd be a panic attack that killed me!

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  37. I have been waiting for your post-thoughts like a kid waits for Christmas... though I stare at the computer instead of the tree! The waves look insane. Love that you found peacefulness on the second loop despite the craziness. And don't feel bad about your typo... made shirts for last year's Marine Corps marathon for me and the hubs (and five for the inlaws and kids) with "Marine Corp." Einstein. :)
    Heather Young

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  38. Those waves would have scared the crap out of me! Wowza! Can't wait to read parts 2 & 3!

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  39. You are 1,000 kinds of awesome and I am humbled by it. Congratulations seems so small for something so big!!! GREAT JOB - YOU DID IT!!!...and no one can ever take it away!

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  40. Oh, please don't keep us hanging.... I've been checking your blog every 30 minutes since the end of the race, just hoping for SOMETHING! I literally cried reading this first clip. You are awesome! Girl Power Rules! Can't wait to hear more. Oh, it took me two reads to find the error. We had a misprint on a recent 5k shirt. We live in Maryland and they spelled it Marlyand. Most people didn't even notice! ha ha Okay - back to work for you - start writing! ;-)

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  41. I've been waiting for your post! Can't wait to hear the rest! You are awesome!

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  42. Having just signed up for my first marathon, this is a huge inspiration. I can't imagine a race where 26.2 miles is part TWO of TWO!!

    You freakin rock Beth. Sending you muchos love from a nervous runner in the UK. xx

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  43. I have chills! I watched your results live online and was cheering you on!!!

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  44. It's only part one, and I've already cried and laughed. I've been waiting for this report!!

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  45. You did great in your swim, so fast! Well done, can't wait for the rest of the report. Glad you kept your teeth too.

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  46. Part one of the much anticipated post! I was LMAO just looking at pics of the swim. It really is crazy!!!! Sleepless in MI waiting for part two! Again.....you fricking did it!!!!!

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  48. Beth it was great meeting you on Friday at the expo! That was the craziest swim ever. 100x worse than IMMT was last year. Can't wait to read the rest of your race report!

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  49. Yeah YOU! You went the full ironman route. Atta kid! ;-)

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  50. Fucking love this. You capture the pre-race moment perfectly. Took me right back to the starts it IMTX & IMAZ. It is so spot on. Thank you for the memories.

    As for hard boiled eggs? What the fuck man? That is so beyond odd I do not even have words.

    Cannot wait for the rest.

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  51. yay! So excited to read part one of your experience, and so totally impressed with your bad-assedness. (Yes, I took some literary liberty with that last word.)

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  52. So so so exciting! It makes a huge difference to read a race report by someone with a good writing voice. I'm hooked! I've thought lots about the crazy swim part and that's probably what is keeping me from ever trying something like this (okay, never say never but...sounds and looks nuts). Congrats Beth!!!

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  53. You. Are. Amazing. And inspiring, and motivating, and crazy! I love how you talk about the focus. You worked so hard for this I love that you seemed to have soaked in every moment. I can't wait to read more.

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  54. Holy crap those waves!!!! I'd pee my pants or wet suit right there!! I cannot wait to hear more. You are an inspiration!

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  55. Ah-mazing! You're a rockstar. I can't wait to read part 2!

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  56. I remember my 2 IRONMAN swims, and you have nailed it... into the washing-machine of arms and legs... and 1h24 is what you were looking for, well done.

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  57. Congratulations Beth! I am proud of you despite never having met you :) We are exactly the same age, which is why I find you so impressive! And Blessed... because not many people our age can train for - let alone complete an IM without experiencing the limitations of our bodies (um... injury) My body would never allow me to do something so extreme, so, in a way, I felt like you were doing this to for me! Thanks for that!!

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  58. As for the typo, obviously you were focused on the RACE part of endurance. Way to go!!

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  59. I can't wait to hear the other two parts! Congratulations Lady!

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  60. Congratulations! I'm a pretty good swimmer but that surf looked SCARY! Wow!

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  61. Amazing, well done! Looking forward to Part 2!

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  62. Yeah!!!! I can't wait to read the rest. Congrats. It is such a huge thing that you worked so hard for. I think the typo makes it perfect.

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  63. AMAZINGGGGGGGGG oh woman I can only imagine, do you feel a little teary every time you think about it...and a little like holy shit how did I do that?! I remember thinking that after my first marathon and that's only a snippet of what you've done.
    love the church sign and the reminder that sometimes we need to look up during our race!

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  64. Congratulations, Beth!! You've earned it in every way!!

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  65. Woohooo!!! I've been waiting for this. so exciting!

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  66. Congratulations!!!! I LOVED reading this race report! I'm 46 also, and dare I say it, an Ironman is somewhere on my bucket list...it's the swim that has me emotionally paralyzed...anywho...you totally rocked! The Gulf looked pretty rough that day!!!!

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  67. What a great re-cap and super congrats to you! A friend just shared your blog with me - so thankful to read your tips as I just signed up for IMFL for 2014 (gulp!).

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  68. Beth. So happy for you! You certainly rocked the girl power! Big loss of words but have one....inspiring!!!!!

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  69. I have just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the best virtual strippers on my taskbar.

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