• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy!

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

So these things have happened...

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1. Mesa has taken to peeing and pooping in our workout room. To the point where I don't know if I can workout there anymore. Glad my elliptical is in the main basement room.

2. Greta has taken to some sort of growth spurt. That translates to: eating a lot, and then pooping a lot. My new resolution is to do 10+ push-ups and 10+ sit-ups every time I change a diaper. Creative way to sneak more strength into the day, right?

Bath Time!
This is my "I'm sort of tired but still like to smile at everything" look
3. I gave Nate a checked-out library book for Valentines Day.

*Aside: the purchased copy was in the mail but not here yet, so I had to go to the library to check out the copy they have - we read that book every time we are there. So... I didn't actually gift him a have-to-return-it-in-14-days book. But it was funny none-the-less.



4. My knee and SI joint are on the mend, finally. I went to the chiropractor on Monday which seemed to really help. Go-go-go-gadget HEAL NICHOLE!

5. Mesa has also taken to chewing her blankets in frustration. Is it because there's a new adorable person in the house? Maybe. Is it because she hasn't been run in a long time? Probably.

But, I have a sewing machine, and it looks like a blanket again!

Very blurry, but you get the point :)
6. I learned that the average life expectancy of a Vizsla is 9.15 years. So, every time I'm cleaning up poop in the workout room I think #everydayisamiracle

I cried when I learned this. I'd blame it on hormones, but it's really just that I hate the fact that I might have to give her up at some point.

7. Taxes. I love doing them, but it's a lot of receipts and paperwork. 940s and 941s? 1120s filing? Uf. Yes, my receipts were stored in a Brooks shoe box during the year.

Although, I'm writing this instead of continuing to work on taxes. I do love doing them, right? :)

YAY TAX.
8. Sign Language: We've started learning signs for Greta. I was going to print out flash cards, but then Nate reminded me that I could actually "buy" something online for less than $10 - probably less than the cost of paper/ink/my time. He's so smart :).

So, I bought this 500 card deck. We don't need 500 signs, but it was the same price as the 50 card deck. Plus, Nate treats a few deaf patients, so learning to sign will be good for everyone! I am someone that needs flashcards to learn, so I'm excited. (I swear, I graduated Summa Cum Laude... but guess that was because I made a LOT of flash cards. Ha)

9. Did I mention I've registered for an 8k race on the 22nd? Yikes... maybe all of these push-ups and sit-ups will help me? :)

10. Since I'm writing this in shifts, since I last posted #6, Mesa had her first seizure-like "episode". Her right leg seized up when playing fetch. I wasn't there to witness it, but glad Jessica was there to help her down and have her rest. After a nap she was her normal self! #everydayisamiracle

11. Email title: I'm IN! Email body: Don't know why but I randomly went on your blog and read this! (A hidden gem of a post!)

The athlete's email body goes on to explain more ... but main point was that my last post/conversation with that athlete lit something in them to get after the little things, train smarter, and think ONE SHOT! :)

12. Midwest Dental Doctor's meeting. No pictures of us, but it was so fun to get away as a couple while Grandma, Grandpa, and Jessica baby-sat for us. We talked with old friends, enjoyed an open bar, slept at the Radisson Blu, and enjoyed awesome food.

It was our first get-away as parents, and although it's hard to say good-bye to Greta, it was SO nice just to have time with Nate.

13. My knee hasn't hurt the last 2 runs! Plus it's sunny and 50 degrees out! YAYYY!

All for now, folks. Have a wonderful, running filled week!
~Nichole







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Team Nichole - The Story

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One of my athletes asked me the other day:

Do you think I could run my goal time right now?

I paused for a second and said, "no".

Unbelievable. Olympic Trials Finisher medal, in a PR.
Not quite the thing you'd like to hear from your coach, right?

I am honest with my athletes. I know paces and progressions and I won't ever fabricate something for my athletes.

This athlete is a high level athlete looking to get to that next level. To get to that next level it takes a fire and desire to get after all of the little things, and usually that means the athlete is asking their coach: "Could I do better with sleep? Could I do better with nutrition? Who can I work with? Am I training in the right zones? Enough concentration on the little things? What do you recommend? Why? How? Etc..."

First, they're asking the coach on the "little things" (since Coach is taking care of the "big thing"). Second, they care enough to think about it, find articles, ask what to do, etc.

So... that's the first step, as I explained. Then I decided a presentation juxtaposition would be appropriate:

I gave a presentation at the University of Minnesota last fall alongside Meghan Peyton, a team USA professional runner. She presented first as she had to hurry off to the press conference for Twin Cities Marathon.

Her story was: She won almost all of her State Cross Country meets in high school and then went on to be a super-star at a D1 college. She immediately signed a pro contract and has been competing since. She has a National Championship under her belt. I definitely admire her and her success.

Hard to back that up as the second presenter, right?

Meghan, 2013 National Championship 20k
I started my story/presentation: I was All-State in high school, but never top 15 at state, and never won any big invites. I tried HARD, though. I ran more miles than anyone on my team each summer, male or female. I decided to run college at Gustavus, a D3 school, even though I had offers at the D2 and D1 level. I did well at GAC, setting 5 school records and competing at NCAAs 4 times. But I was always just shy of that All-American mark at NCAAs.



Fast forward 5 years. I was working a high-paying corporate finance job. I had just run a 1:24 half marathon. I was so pumped; it was a great race for me. I told my husband I wanted to try to go for my OTQ. He gently reminded me that I would have to run two 1/2 marathons back to back FASTER than what I had just run in order to qualify.

I contacted Jerry and asked if he'd be willing to coach me. We locked arms, ready to fight for it. Two "blue-collar" individuals. He, a retired HS coach. Me, well, you know my history. He handed me the Olympic Trials qualifiers to date when we met. There were about 20 on the list: Shalane, Kara, Desi, Katie McGregor, other multiple D1 NCAA champions and professional runners. Keep in mind that I had never even finished TOP 35 at D3 Nationals. It was his subtle way of saying, "this is crazy".

We set to work. I woke up every day with a fire in me to do something, prove I could do something. Every few months I'd reflect on what I could do better. He would nod his head in agreement. First it was strength, so I called a high school running teammate to write a plan for me. Then it was training partners. There were so many times that I asked anyone and EVERYONE (including those poor Red Wing YMCA masters runners with knee braces that tagged off to pace some 200m segments during my 1k repeats!) to help me pace those workouts. I needed every second.

I need regular hip alignment to keep me healthy. Enter Jim Patterson. Then mental prep. Enter Dr. Asp.

I could not be more thankful.

Fargo Marathon Win!
Little did I know it, but I was forming a tight-knit, rag-tag, cast of characters all willing to help me to get to something that should have been "impossible". They believed in me, I believed in them. Fully. It was "Team Nichole".

Except, the goal wasn't impossible. I made it, I qualified. 2:44, well under the qualifying time. It was one of the best days of my life. I have that "team" to thank for it.


The point of the long story to this athlete was that you can take moderate talent and make it great. I did not have the talent to run with those individuals in 2012. I am not a Meghan Peyton. I was probably one of the least qualified to race there (based on past results). I just plain WANTED it, and was able to turn that fire into a dream come true.

Mesa has trained so many miles with me! Thank you Stunt Puppy! (See the team page for a big discount)
I wouldn't have changed anything. All those miles, all that hard work, all those "little things" that I struggled to get in because time is short. I unintentionally assembled "Team Nichole" (individuals, professionals, and sponsors!) to get there. I am SO happy with what I've achieved.

I wanted it. I wanted to make it happen. I did. You can too.

The fire is there for that athlete. Start assembling your team and start thinking of those little things. Let the fire burn brighter. Every second counts.

One shot, one opportunity. Prove yourself.


* If you want to chase your impossible, I have the ability to take on one more individual for coaching. Contact me! nichole (dot) porath @ gmail.com

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Birkie Fever

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We had a great weekend at the cabin this weekend. Birkie weekend is always so much fun, between the anticipation of the race, the MOUNTAINS of food we always eat, and the friends and family that crowd the cabin.

This year was Greta's first year cheering which also made the weekend special. Plus, she got a lot of grandma, grandpa, and auntie time!

We woke up early Saturday morning to get ready. I was proud of myself. We were supposed to leave at 8:15. I pumped, fed Greta, fed myself, bundled ourselves up, put my cow costume on, fed myself, put the dog away and put Greta in her car seat. Next was hauling everything we'd need for the race to the car.

The night before. Making sure the cow suit fit over monkey suit. It did, but it was comical to see a "stuffed animal" on the table then!
Did all of that and was in the car waiting for everyone else at exactly 8:15. BAM. :)

We headed to "OO" (Pronounced Double O - it's a highway). It's about 1/2 way into the race and it's where we always cheer.

The 'OO' cow cheer crew
We then hustled Greta out of her car seat, put on her gigantic monkey suit, cow suit over it, and quilt to keep her even warmer. A production!

Me and Grandma Karen working to get Greta to cheer!
I'm Nate's designated gel-giver (thanks, Boom! nutrition!) at this point in the race. I always get so nervous handing feeds for a ski race. There are flying poles, skis that I could trip up, other skiers to not interfere with. Plus you don't want your skier to have to slow down to get it (also think grabbing a gel with two ski poles in your palms). Plus Nate is moving at - oh - 15 miles an hour? Yikes.

But I did it!

[Later I asked how I did. His exact response: "You did okay". Guess I need to work on my skills.]

Then we saw Nate at Mosquito Brook, about 3/4 of the way into the race.

He looked in better spirits at this point and even gave me a high five!

High Five!
Greta was a little fussy at this point - turns out yanking your kid in and out of a car seat, pushing them into a stuffed animal looking outfit and running to the trail FAST - because you don't want to miss the skiers! - isn't super fun for an infant.

Once she could see the skiers, though, she perked up. Ohh, mom! Movement! Colors! That looks fun! I'm sure that's what she was thinking.
Mosquito Brook aid station - Greta loved staring at the fast skiers passing
We then moved to the finish line. Nate was in 48th place! His goal was top 50, which is so impressive since this is basically the NYC Marathon of cross country skiing.

500 meters to go!
Last turn!
Birkie bridge - new this year
Plus, training has been a little more difficult now that Greta is here and we haven't had much snow!

Ski training this year
So, to say I was proud was an understatement :).
Congrats, Nate! 
Craig cracked the top 50 for the first time, placing 33rd. WOW! All of his training this year really paid off!
This is the coolest picture. These are the bags waiting for their finishers. It sort of inspires me to do it next year... I would just need to learn how to ski...
The rest of the weekend was spent telling  fun race day experiences, eating, and hanging out with family. It was so much fun. I can't wait for it again next year!
Hanging out with Tia Jessica!
I distracted Greta with my picture taking, but she LOVES to read now! She found the "buzzzz" sound in this book particularly amusing.
In the meantime, I'm excited for the days to continue to get longer and warmer and for the upcoming running race season! Yikes!

In terms of that racing season, I am calling to get into see a chiropractor tomorrow. I'm hoping he will allow me to bring Greta with me (since I don't have a baby sitter network yet and he is only open when Nate is working). My knee hasn't improved despite two weeks of cutting things back and ellipticalling instead. I think it's because I'm running every other/every three days, which may have been too often for it to heal.

I think it's classic runner's knee now, but I'm not sure.

I also connected with a PT student at the Birkie who had emailed me with a suggestion and a test based on my previous blog. SO NICE! I'm going to email her back with pictures and more info after the chiropractor visit and hopefully she can help more! I need to get over this asap. I can tell I'm losing running fitness by the day.

Anyone else had Runner's Knee and beaten it? What worked? Didn't?

Because I couldn't run, I took this entire weekend off. It was actually kind of nice, but I ate WAAYY to much for not exercising at all :) Oops!

I also have a little nerve pain around my lower tailbone. I am guessing this is just due to hip placement (since post-partum I can tell I move around a whole lot more - yay loose ligaments and lack of strength the last 9 months). *sigh*

Let's hope tomorrow or Tuesday I'll have a little more information!

I'll leave you with two more Greta pictures. Because I can. :)

So serious! Are her legs really this skinny?
When I was trying to organize all of our tax information. She thought it was hilarious and wouldn't stop smiling for an hour and a half. Needless to say, I didn't get much done :)

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Mark your calendars! TNC Endurance Camp!

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What are you doing May 15-17th? I have 10 available spots!



I am very hands on during the camp. I look over current plans, make suggestions, look at heart rate data, and provide advice on "the little things". You will also leave the camp with just a *few* miles/hard workouts on your legs!

Pre-registration required. Cancellations = $100 refund.

We will fill up fast, so register now (Just 10 spots)! nichole.porath@gmail.com

*Special rate for current TNC members - contact me!

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Knee Trouble & a Baptism!

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It's been a challenging week and a half! My knee has been really bothering me :(.

I decided to try to nip it in the butt early and resort to training mainly on the elliptical. It's now in the middle of our family room so I can watch Netflix and library movies.

I threw out a lot of my old shoes. Some were 2+ years old, not sure how many miles were on them, which used to be fine (I was so efficient and durable!) but I think now I've changed bio-mechanically so need some some new shoes. Good thing I had a couple new ones stockpiled!

Today I ran 6 miles for the first time in a while and although it didn't hurt DURING the run, it's sore now. *Sigh*

Hard elliptical for me tomorrow. Good thing I am a master at pummeling myself on that!

In other, more positive news, Greta was baptized!

She did great!
We were lucky to have 40 people that love her here to help celebrate. We are honored to be so loved!

We're also prepping for the Birkie this weekend. It's a huge weekend for Nate, and it's always fun to celebrate the weekend with friends and family!

Short post, but figured that was better than nothing!

My mom holding Greta the night before the baptism!

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55 mile week!

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I survived last week's 50 mile week. So it's just natural that my coach would increase things to 55 this week, right?

It's hard to believe that I was running 100/week consistently not too long ago!

So, here's a training recap from where I left off:

My 50 mile week:

10 miles with 1 minute hill repeats. NAILED IT! I didn't even struggle with my hip flexors or control of my legs!! Thanks to Craig for pushing Greta and thanks to Jeff for making the workout that much more fun! (Jeff was in shorts and without a shirt... YAY awesome runner-temps for the middle of January!)

10 miles with 7 moderate miles. Another NAILED IT! workout! I held my HR right around 180 where it's supposed to be and we clipped along at about 8:20-8:30. It's nice to see my paces slowly come down!

13 mile long run. Luckily I had a lot of distractions to help the miles pass. I started before my parents came to the house (for the baptism). We picked up Craig after about 2 miles, then ran back to the house. They weren't there yet, so we made a big loop before coming back to the house. We passed Greta off to them and then ran for the remaining miles. BAM. 13!

I have to say that the thought of 26.2 miles, much less racing 26.2 is a little frightening...

This week's 55 mile week:

Monday: 6 miles easy, to and from "Mom Club". Greta was her normal, smiley, "I like attention and will talk/smile if you like it!" personality, self. She disrupts conversation every so often because the person talking can't help but talk/smile back at her. Where did she get this personality from??


10 pounds, 9 ounces this Monday. A chunk!
Tues: 10.5 miles w/ 6x3 minutes at 5k effort. I dry heaved after this and felt sick for a few hours afterwards. So - it was probably above 5k effort, but I was just trying to get everything out of me. I was chasing down Mike, another training partner, but couldn't maintain contact. I tried. So hard!

I was worried we might not get through the run with some protests, since she was so talkative and smiley before the run.



But, being the awesome baby she is, Greta fell right asleep in the stroller and didn't start squaking until we ended the run & were walking back up the driveway.

Wed: 4 miles easy with Teresa and then a 60 minute strength class at the YMCA. It kicked my butt. Hopefully this will be my normal Wednesday routine.

We joined the Y as a family that night. They have free Child Watch for 2 hours/day (you can actually go in the morning for 2 hours and the evening for 2 hours). It's nice to do something without the distraction of your kid (or having to push her!), although I did just think about her for a lot of the class. Mom syndrome, right? :)

Thurs: I am planning to run to the Y (3.75 miles), drop Greta off at Child Watch, and then do my 4x1 mile at LT on a treadmill. Then we'll run back home. I am dreading this workout so I'm writing this here so you all will hold me accountable!

My knee has been bothering me for the last 2 days. I'm a little concerned... I now have ice cups in the freezer and have been working on glute firing and loosening up the Vastus Medius muscle since that might be pulling the knee cap out of its normal place.



The pain is to the left of the patellar ligament (as you're looking at it in the above picture). Anyone have any advice on how to nip this early? I'm willing to do anything!

This weekend: A 14 mile long run. Yikes!!!

Life updates:

Greta was baptized this Sunday! I was so nervous... so much that the morning of the baptism I was scrambling to find the lid to the blender...

Only to find that I had put the blender lid on the Generation UCAN tub which I had put back into the pantry. What? When I get nervous I swear... my brain goes down the drain. 

Not sure why I was so nervous, since that seems silly, but once we got to the church and the service started I was much more relaxed.

She did great during the service and the baptism!

I didn't drop her! YAY!
We were so lucky to be surrounded by 40 guests that love her and were happy to welcome her into Christ's world! Many of my athletes came, my college coach, family friends... we are SO blessed. I cried because of the overwhelming support. Guess crying isn't surprising coming from me :)

In other news... hmmm.. guess the week was spent scrubbing the house in prep for the baptism. Only to walk down Monday morning to find it a disaster again. *Sigh*

Embarrassing moment of the week: I'm scrubbing a pot of wild rice soup that was burned on to the bottom of the pan. I pour the contents down the garbage disposal and turn it on. Turns out, there was a spoon in that pot, and spoons and garbage disposals don't mix.

Hence my 2nd clogged drain since Greta's been born. This time there's a spoon handle sticking out of the disposal and a gross wild rice slime on the bottom of the sink. Jeff is over for a run and sees it, but makes no comment. I ask him for help with the spoon later and he says, "Oh, I was wondering about that!". Guess I need to step up my house cleaning skills if my athletes don't bat an eye at food slime covering the entire sink bottom!!! HAHAHAHA!

Best quote of the week: I am pouring myself the 7th glass of water for the day. I explain to my mom how much I love water now.

She looks at me very concerned. "Do you have diabetes? Because when you have diabetes you love water"

(Awkward pause)

No, mom, just breastfeeding. But thanks for the concern!

All for now, folks. Need to get after this 10 mile workout...


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And the Winner is...

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You've been anxiously waiting, I know! We had a baptism this weekend so were a little busy.



video

The winner can contact me via email to give me their contact info! Thanks everyone for commenting - hope 2015 is full of goal accomplishments!!




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Training update and a GIVEAWAY!

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Mileage is getting up there!

Running at the cabin, putting some good miles on my YakTrax.
Training update:

This has been a great week. I was able to get all of my workouts in, which is the first week I've been able to do that - mostly due to motivational issues.

I asked Craig to hold me accountable this week. I would have asked Nate, but it's all too easy to make up a lame excuse to him (I cannot be coached by my husband!).

So, this week involved:

Monday: Easy 5.5 miles to and from mom club

9 miles with 30 minutes of 1 min on/off. I was feeling terrible from the start of this run. My heart rate was super high even running at 9:30+ minute miles. I knew this would be rough. But, I powered through. It hurt. A LOT. On my last repeat I looked down to see that I had hit a new workout max HR: 202. Wow. That's hard to do on a fartlek workout that has a lot of rest! 

Then all of a sudden I needed to throw up. I dry heaved a few times, while Craig and Greta looked on. I have never done that before in a workout! Guess that means I pushed it hard? :)

Wed: 4 miles easy. I ran to and from a meeting with the Red Wing Girls on the Run program director. More on that later...

Thursday: 10 mile progression run. I nailed this workout! I started at a HR of 165 and worked up to 202 (again!) by the very end of the run. I was a little sad to see I had only run a 7:40 mile the last mile -- I was working SO hard for that! Oh well. The only way to get faster is to put in the work every day. I made myself faster that day.

Friday: off. Slept. 

Saturday: 12 MILES! I am so pumped I did this!! This seems so freakishly long now that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around running for that long when I'm 2 miles in...

Sunday: 4 easy peasy miles with the pup!

= 45 miles!

This week is a 50 mile week. I've already nailed a 10.5 mile run with 1 minute hill repeats and a 6 mile recovery run. For the first time in a long time, I didn't struggle with my hip flexors or control of my legs. DOUBLE AWESOME.

--

Goals:

I cheered on an athlete at Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon last week. It reminded me how great of an event it is! Perhaps it's a good thing memories fade after a bit... I vaguely remember saying I'd never do it again... but there's a world record out there that would be really, really fun to reset. So, I tentatively have that as my "A" race goal for the year. Chris, my coach, said he'd tentatively agree to pace me.

Chris is in red with the white hat.

But, before then my intermediate goal is to break 3 hours at Grandma's this year. Brenden, the GAC assistant coach that ran my OTQ with me in 2011 at Grandma's is also going to try to break 3 with me as a training run for an ultra. Picturing 2:59 definitely helped me push a little harder on those hills today. Show Greta 2:59, Nichole! (She will be 8 months old by then)

--

Life updates:

Greta is becoming so much FUN! My heart is so in love - both with her and also with our small little family. I apologize for being a sap but I really, really do love being a stay at home mom. As in, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to corporate finance. That's saying something coming from me.

Greta is ridiculously smiley and happy now. I love it! 


Little G and I reading. Pretty sure she has no clue what we're doing, but she happily stares at them and bats at the book every so often. If nothing else, I just want to teach her that reading books together is fun snuggle time together.
Printed off some newborn pictures. This is my absolute favorite!
Greta is getting baptized this Sunday. I give myself a 0% chance of getting through the service dry-eyed.

Craig's mom was able to alter my old baptism dress since it was just a little big :). I don't think I was that big of a baby, but I was able to wear this when I was 2 months old. She'll be 3+ months old. Ha! 

It's so beautiful and can't wait to hold her at the front of the church in it!

HAHAHAHAHA
One of my athletes made this for us! How awesome is that?! I can't believe one of my athletes would do something like this for us (I know how much time is involved) - we are so unbelievably lucky! BTW, Greta's given name is Gretchen in case you were confused :) We use both names interchangeably, but mostly use Greta.
--

Giveaway!

Let's be honest, you've just scrolled down the post because the giveaway is the real reason you're reading this!

Stunt Puppy is offering one lucky blog reader a STUNT RUNNER! 

Fast and the Furry with our Stunt Runner! I'm signed up for it again this year and can't wait!!

To enter, comment below with your 2015 goals and what color Stunt Runner you'd like (they'll have all colors in stock next week).

Mesa will pick one lucky commenter on Friday 1/23, so get your commenting on!

All for now, folks!

AHHH, I can't get enough of this smile! 

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