A blog about Trace and her races.

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San Joaquin River Trail 50 – A Home Away From Home

MIle 16-ish.

MIle 16-ish.

“Roll, won’t you come roll with me, slow, fast, full speed…”

 These were the lyrics I played over and over on my shuffle and in my head for the last 8 miles or so and in review they fit so perfectly well with the rhythm of my race, or at least that’s how I thought it played out – my splits could say otherwise.

I can honestly say I am proud of myself for this performance – it has been a trying past few months, but somehow I managed to keep it together. Today I ran smart – not too fast, but good enough to enjoy this incredibly beautiful and challenging course AND take the top third spot and F1. The course was gorgeous, the aid was perfect and I got really teary-eyed near the finish because I have the privilege to run and race with such good friends. So proud of everyone today, definitely a special day! 8:26:35.

 

 

 

 


An Angel Named Heaven

 

She did it - Triathalon complete for Heaven!

She did it – Triathalon complete for Heaven!

A few weeks ago I was asked to be the running guide for Heaven during her run portion of the iCanTri here in Fresno and without hesitation, my answer was YES! You see, Heaven is 10 years old and is blind. The opportunity to guide her on a one mile run around a grassy and bumpy high school may have been to help her, but in the end, it was obvious that she would be the guide for so many of us who let small obstacles stand in our way when trying to reach our goals.

I only met Heaven the morning of the race and I was very nervous to guide her without prior training with her. In 2011, I was one of two guides for my now good friend Adrian for the Surf City Half Marathon and I will say it again, it was actually him who helped me because at the end of the day, he inspired me through all of our training runs, forgave me for the many accidents I caused (forgetting to tell him that there was a curb coming up, or a tree branch near his head, or a pack of cyclists heading our way through Griffith Park!) and helped me with a huge PR. He taught me a lot about the human spirit and what we can achieve all by effort and attitude. Read about that race experience here.

For this event with Heaven, she started out with a swim, followed by bike and then the run. When she got to the bike/run transition, she was so calm – it was as if there were no concerns. She was there to do something and there wasn’t anything going to get in the way of that or anything else she wants from life. She did great and finished strong and happy, not to mention she inspired many.  It was a great day — thank you, Heaven!


Christmas 2013

This year for Christmas, D and I headed to Colusa – we had a great time, ate a little too much red meat (did I just admit that?) and D was able to run with me for his first run since double foot surgery! We really did have a great time and this time, I was finally able to bond with Rupert, the male goat in these photos. I just love Rupert and Ida – they are so funny, as long as I don’t look into their crazy eyes, I am alright with them!


Change of Plans: The North Face Endurance Challenge (TNF50)

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So, about little over a month ago I sent my running bio/resume in to  be considered for a spot in the The North Face Endurance Challenge – this was after Ian Sharman retweeted something about them opening a few slots for elite athletes in the 50-miler championships.

The truth was, I really wanted an opportunity to race in this uber competitive 50-miler that just so happens to be on my favorite training ground. The problem was that by the time I realized this, the race was already sold out and chances to get in were impossible.

Within a few days of submitting, I received a code to enter into the race with a nice email, congratulating me on a great 2013 race season and well wishes in hopefully finishing out my season with a great race at the event.  Of course I was elated at the last-minute opportunity, but I was also very mindful to not get ahead of myself and spend a lot of time thinking about it when I first had to get through Javelina which was only a few weeks away.

Today, after I received an email reminder that the event was only four weeks away; I decided that I would not race in this event and sent an email right away in hopes that someone else could fill that spot and to avoid being a no-show or ungrateful for the opportunity.

My reasons are simple – I haven’t been running much since Javelina because I want to make sure that I am FULLY recovered, I am not as excited about it now as I was when I first entered which will definitely play a part in my race performance, and finally, because racing needs to take a back burner for the remainder of the year.

Am I a little disappointed? Yes, but I know this is the best decision and it is the right decision. Going into 2014 healthy is also a priority and I would be devastated if I raced this event and found myself injured prior to the race because I was too selfish to listen to my mind and body. The race will be there next year, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to give-it-a-go then!

Update: My email was received and I was told they would bring in someone from the waitlist and it gets even better, they have deferred my entry to 2014. Very excited about this!


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“Not all those …

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien


Miley Is Making All This Much Easier

I hate hearing/reading anything about Miley Cyrus (or any other troubled starlet – for that matter), but I let my curiosity get the best of me and I found myself Googling her “Wrecking Ball” video in hopes to understand her recent over-the-top behaviors.

What I found was that I actually liked the song, not the wrecking ball-humping or hammer-licking stunts, but I genuinely felt her pain and could almost imagine what it would feel like to lose someone I loved so dearly. Let me be clear about this, I am not talking about any past/present/future relationships, I am just trying to say that I could feel her pain, if in fact there is pain to feel at all – this is Hollywood after all.

Anyway, the point here is that after watching the video, I went straight to the iTunes store and purchased the single since I am desperate for a fresh, new, and motivating playlists for my tough runs and for races.  For months now I have had the same songs playing over and I find myself distracted, tripping at times while I try to skip over songs that I now despise during my run.  Mumford and Sons used to get me going and running quickly but now I get this dreaded feeling when I hear them – time for new stuff!

I noticed today that I had a little pep in my step when her song came on and I even repeated it a few times. I came home from my run and pre-ordered her CD and got to hear her other song that is available called “Bangerz” which I also liked. If you enjoy running to music then I am sure you can understand why it is important to pounce on songs or artists that motivate you and get you through your workout/race. Right now, regardless if she is a horrible artist or not, she is helping me so that is enough for me to support her music.


Pic of the Day: Death March to Mt. Baldy

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Charlie, D and Balmore at the top of Baldy.

I am exhausted after a very long day that began with dreadful march up to Mt. Baldy. Even on a good day, the 6 mile and 6, 000 ft. climb can feel daunting, but today I did it with DEAD legs and got my butt handed to me. As lousy as I feel right now, I  am so grateful that I wasn’t alone and that I was able to spend that time with D and Balemore.


Pic of the Day: 30-day Plank Challenge

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Day 3. At this point, I can’t imagine getting to 5 minutes!


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“You must find …

“You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.”
― Deepak Chopra

We are all capable of so much more than we sometimes realize. Dig deep, believe, and GO FOR IT!


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Pic of the Day: Hello Yosemite!

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Pic of the Day: I Never Really Got Away

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Today I thought I would take a photo of something that reminds me of where I grew up: Taft, CA. My dad worked in the oilfields there while I was going through school. Very tough, hard work. I should visit soon.

Update: I failed to mention that I took this photo right near my house in Orange County.


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Pic of the Day: Los Pinos 50k Training Run

Los Pinos 50k Training Run

Gorgeous views for all as we headed up to Los Pinos Peak from Lazy W Ranch. Approximately 11.75 miles from the Ranch to Blue Jay Campground finish line. Starting at Lazy W, around 12 miles into the race to about the Main Divide is where it gets brutal — 8 miles uphill with limited aid station access.


April/May in Review

Wow, time sure does fly when you are having tons of fun — I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the year already! Here is what I have been up to lately:

PicsArt_1369032446883APRIL
I spent most of the month preparing all the details for the Leona Divide 50 which, at the end of the day, did not turn out so well for me.  I dnf’d at the mile 29 aid station due to urinary tract issues.  Leona was the race I was really  looking forward to and it didn’t have the ending I expected. In a weird way, I don’t and didn’t really feel hurt or sad or anything like that because at the time of making the decision to drop, I was sure I was making the right one. Trying not to put wasted effort in to an outcome that I cannot change has allowed me to restructure my goals and to move on.

Mid month I was able to crew/pace D for his 50-miler at American River. This was a big deal for D as he had been putting in tons of time and effort into his running program while at the same time flying tons at work (exhausting). This race would be his first “real” 50 and give him an opportunity to really put himself out there.  I was so happy that he wanted me to be his pacer but at the same time I was beyond nervous to run the last 23 or so miles with him. I knew I was fit enough to run with him but I worried that I could have a bad running day and I didn’t want that to interfere with his big day.  Luckily everything went well and we managed to get to that finish line in just under 7:50:00. In retrospect, I didn’t really “pace” him, I was just there for him in case he needed me and on that day, there wasn’t any other place I’d rather have been.  It was a good day.

MAY

I knew May was going to be a pretty quiet month because the only thing I had going on was the Gold Rush 100k where I’d be pacing/crewing D again. Again, this would be another important race for him as he prepares for SD100 coming up in June. Both American River and Gold Rush were just stepping stones in getting him to the start of that 100 next month. On this day at Gold Rush, I would be running that last 20 or so with him and I had spent the morning at the early aid stations to check on him and make sure all was good. It was a very hot day reaching into the the 90’s and I knew it would be a challenge for all. He looked really great all day but when he made it to me after running 40 miles, he had decided his race was over. He was concerned with  new knee pain that he had felt since the start of the race. I felt bad that he apologized when he saw me because I wouldn’t be able to run with him after a long day out there. I could have cared less about that — he was my concern that day and as long as he was OK, I was OK.  As of now, his knee is fine and shouldn’t be a concern next month.

After Leona, I realized that I didn’t really have any immediate races on my schedule, and since I was already in race shape, Ashley and I began to scour race calendars everywhere. Unfortunately there weren’t any races that  would fit into my schedule with my current commitments so I thought I would look for a marathon.  I did this for a few reasons — one was because of the horrible tragedy that happened at Boston, and the other was because I felt like I needed more structure and I needed to get back into a real rigid training schedule. Every since I started running ultras, I had become kind of lazy and I could actually get away with it. I didn’t like that. My hopes are that I will have 16 weeks of marathon training, race, and then slide back into the ultra scene with that same marathon training mentality.  With ultras I don’t worry about missing one day, two days or even three days of running because I figure I can just make it up on the weekends with a longer run. With marathon training, you can bet that I will NOT miss a track/speed/tempo workout because I know that it WILL affect me (mentally if not physically).  The marathon I chose to run is Santa Rosa Marathon on August 25th and I am beyond excited.  Already two weeks into the training program and I feel like I never stopped training for them, it feels so natural to be back at it. It’s a great feeling.  Note: I will be running a few 50k races between now and then (Marin Ultra Challenge and MAYBE Mt. Disappointment) but they will not be my focus.


Why Do I Run?

Sometimes I find it hard to come up with an answer when some inconsiderate person questions my (or our) sanity because we thoroughly enjoy running. I couldn’t even explain to you why I am a runner. I just am. And most great things that have ever come into life are because of it. As a child, it saved me. Literally. As an adult it keeps that spark inside me that reminds me that hard work and persistence will one day get me to that finish line. And also, because I met you (only runners are reading this).

In a way it ticks me off that people even question us. Like, is it really any of their concern? Do they really have the right to question me? I already know they wouldn’t understand it even if I tried to explain. Honestly I think it would be the same for us to ask them, “Why do you love your wife (or husband)?” Everyone of us has a reason and that reason is our reason and good enough.

And so I go back to my childhood, a lonely and horrible place that I hold in the deepest part of my mind and I used to think that it was that time of my life that actually “made me who I am today.” Bullshit. I wholeheartedly believe that it was actually running that got through it and helped mold me into the woman I am today. It was the one thing I could actually do as an individual to get away, be in control, and feel free and strong. I laugh now when I look back at photos of me after a race and I am completely dead – hunched over without anything left in me. I could barely breathe. I hardly feel that way after a race as an adult and I wish I still felt that way. For some reason, as an adult, we seem to hold back too much, over-think and over-analyze everything. Man, if I could still run with a kid’s mind and heart, I’d be a much faster and competitive runner. 🙂

Anyway, the point is that my running started for one reason and it has evolved over time. It is still evolving. I used running to get me through that time of my life and later to get scholarship money for college. I used it to stay fit. I used it to stay sane. Then I used it to hit other personal milestones that I created for myself. Now I use it as a reminder that this world is amazing and fragile and that I am so lucky to be a part of it.

Funny, I guess I really do know why I am a runner and maybe you do too. Whatever your reason, you don’t owe an answer to anyone.


One Race At a Time

It’s been a couple of weeks since Javelina Jundred and I could still sit here with you and talk about it for hours if you’d let me. The whole experience was special and my heart is still fluttering with excitement and appreciation knowing that I will be able to get back out there and try again.

Sometimes I do question whether or not I could have continued on those last 9 miles but then I realize that a lot of time has passed since then and some of those dreadful moments are less vivid now including my feet which have pretty much healed up (except the loss of a toenail or two).  I have to remind myself that I did everything I thought I could do out there that day and then I move on. Over it.

Here with Javier P. at Wilson about to head down the Manzanita Trail.

I was able to spend the first week after the race working on personal projects and goals instead of running and I completely backed off after a 10 mile run/hike on part of the Chimera course with Ashley (my hip flexors weren’t having any of it).  I figured a few more days of rest would do nothing but help me recover more appropriately.  Finally during the second week I was able to get in a decent workout up to Mt. Wilson and felt confident enough for the coming weekend where I was able to get in three consecutive days of running and hiking, one of which would be a 12-mile trek up to Kaiser Peak and back in the snow! (more…)


Time To Put In Work

@ 10,060 ft elevation: My first time up to Mt. Baldy from the village and I didn’t think I could make it — quick elevation gains over a short distance and I found myself ready to head back to the car. Thankful for the extra motivation and patience of my running partner that day.

When I got injured this past May during track season and set my new sites on trail running, I knew I was in for a change but wow, I had no idea I’d have such a hard time adjusting.   Here we are four months later (I did take some time off in between) and I still find myself adjusting.  I haven’t had much trouble with the actual long-er runs, but I am finding it challenging to find enough time to fit them all into my schedule.  I am not just referring to the extra time that goes into all the extra mileage, but also the time it takes getting to and from the trail heads.  Before, I’d simply jet home from work or where ever I was, throw my bags on the floor and quickly change into my workout gear before heading out the door and running on the pavement.  Now, it seems like I have to drive at least 40 miles (1 hour in LA traffic) to get to the start before I head out on a 3-hour plus run in the mountains somewhere.  By the time I get back, it’s already near noon and my day is toast.

Being very ambitious, I registered for a few races, giving myself ample time to train and prep and yet with less than two weeks away, I will be toeing the start line of a 100k.  Talk about having the jitters — I am constantly replaying the times I went on a 30+ mile run, and there are only a few, and then I imaging multiplying that feeling or distance by at least two.  I would be lying to say that I have done everything I could to be better prepared but I really haven’t.  The initial feeling I got transitioning to ultra training was that everything was less intense – looooong SLOW runs, no coaches to report to — just get the miles in, and hopefully they are at elevation.  I have always been the good athlete to coach, doing exactly as I am told and absorbing as much information that I could. Heck, to be honest, before the coaching I was pretty on task to do what I needed to do to reach my goals. I guess it just seems apparent that I haven’t made my new ultra goals a priority in my crazy current life or maybe I just have been too laid back. Either way, I now know my mistakes and I know that this 100-miler coming up in November is no joke and if I want to finish, and finish proudly, I have to put in some work!  Recently I have been in talks with Coach Jimmy Dean Freeman and it is only a matter of time before we start working together.  Working with Jimmy will be great for me, he is a great motivator, has a great record of successful coaching (including his AMAZING wife Kate), and, I will have the accountability that apparently, I need. (more…)


Annual Yosemite “Traincation”

My second trip to Yosemite and I am so in love!  This year’s trip was much different than last year, but amazing nonetheless. This year we came prepared and we didn’t call this three-day trip a vacation, we called it a “traincation,” as we were ready to crush our time from last year (Curry Village to Half Dome and back down through Vernal falls). Having been training on the trails and even running a few 50k training runs this year, Ash and I were eager to see our improvement, and of course, enjoy the beautiful scenery.

A little foot soak at Bridal Veil Falls.

As soon as we got there, we headed over to Bridal Veil Falls as suggested by a guy we met on our way up. This place was gorgeous but the SHORT hike and very big and slippery rocks that led to the falls were really dangerous — Ashley  slipped and fell on her already hurt shoulder and I carelessly jumped off a rock and hurt my ankle! Great, and only on our first day!  My ankle wasn’t hurting too badly so Ash decided to stay back while Dom and I continued up.  It was very gorgeous up there at the falls and I quickly soaked my ankle for a few minutes just to be safe. We headed back down and continued on our way to Curry Village. (more…)


Perfectly stated Johnny…

Now, to just start believing this!


Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,
You came to me in my dream last night. It was sad seeing you cry but I was so happy to hug you. I miss you. I love you. Wish you were here and will think of you tonight in my race.


Hitting THAT Wall – Cuyamaca 50K Training Run

We did it!

Today was an extraordinary day for me, running over 30 miles in what I think was extreme heat! Ashley and I headed out super early down to Cuyamaca to get in a 50K training run organized by the race director of the Cuyamaca 100K. I was so excited and nervous for this day since I had never run this far before.

We were really surprised to see how many runners showed up for this training run (36 in total). I guess like us, they also thought it would be a great way to log in needed mileage with others to make the run feel a little easier, and of course, a great way to get to know the course we would all soon be racing.

By 6:20 am, we were off on the course. This particular training run consisted of loops two and three (we had missed the first loop training run previously) which basically allowed us to regroup near the start. (more…)


My new addiction: Trail Running

Mt. Wilson

I can’t believe that every single year I find something new that I love about running.  After coming back from nearly a 10 year break from competing, I fell in love with the marathon distance. Shortly after that, I fell in love with track, which by the way, is something I hated in high school and college.  I knew that I also wanted to get into ultra marathons (anything longer than a marathon) after reaching some short(er) distance goals first.   What I love about ultras is the opportunity to be out in nature, breathing in crisp cool air, rugged and challenging terrain, and of course, not having to worry about getting hit by a car.

A few weeks ago I went to REI and bought a Camelbak and Peanut Butter GU (YUM) because I wanted to start hiking and trail running on the weekend.  It might seem silly but that stupid pack really got me excited and moving in that direction to finally get out there.  My friend Ashley, who also had an infatuation with the marathon had recently switched to running ultras and was hiking nearly every weekend at Mt. Wilson, so I asked if I could join her the next time she was headed out there. Although I had become somewhat familiar with this trail, seeing her check-in every weekend on Yelp and noticing that it took several hours to complete, made me anxious to challenge myself in a new way.  We agreed on the weekend and headed out really early, around 6am, stopping by on our way out. Duh. We were definitely on a mission, and I was glad that Ashley had let me join her. (more…)


It's Only 4-1/2 months of my life…

Trace's Anatomy. Amazing opportunity to record my Echocardiogram.

Wow, I don’t even know where to start since so much has happened lately. I guess I will start by saying that I had been planning to return to school and keep my resolution to finish everything I start (and not start things that I may not want to finish) and had registered for classes in Orange County at a junior college with only two classes needed to complete my AA. My plans following this completion would be to go back to the university and focus on what I really love: athletics.

Surf City Marathon was less than a month away and I began having serious talks with my coach Sylvia. I remember her being really honest with me and asking me to ask myself if I was ready. We began these talks after I began to get frustrated with injuries that seem to haunt me during marathon training. One particular conversation left me sad for an entire day, she said that maybe we should even consider focusing on shorter distances including the 5,000m or 10,000 for the upcoming track season. Although I had been talking about running track after Surf City, I was in a bad place that day and I just kinda blurted out, “I am too slow to run a 5k or 10k, I am only decent at the marathon!” Boy, did that make her frustrated, considering I just had a pretty good summer season of 5ks and even nearly breaking 18:00 at Cypress. It was her next few sentences that made me rethink everything, especially when she said, “this marathon is controlling your life.” Wow, she was right in a way. All I could ever see or appreciate was the damn marathon. I wanted to (and still do) want to break 3:00:00 so badly that I simply put on my blinders to any other running competitions. How ridiculous…I love running and running was becoming my worst enemy.

A few days later while I was picking up some things at a random place in Fullerton, a gentlemen came up to me and asked which events I run. I was wearing a USA T&F backpack that my therapist had given me after returning from the Pan American Games. I simply responded, “10,000m and 5,000m but I am about to run a marathon in less than a month and haven’t competed in track since Bakersfield College (BC) back in 1999.” We exchanged a few words and I gave him my card and found out he was the head throw coach at Cerritos College. A few days later I was contacted by the head distance coach John Gold Goldman at Cerritos College and he was interested in me joining the team for a season of track.

What?! Really? Me? I am 32 years old and I don’t even think I have any eligibility left since I red-shirted my freshman year at CSU, Sacramento (1997-98) and even ran XC and track at Bakersfield College. At this point I was really confused. School started at Cerritos nearly the next week and I was already set at the other school in Orange County. Long story short, all this started happening at the same time I was conversing with my coach about stepping back from the marathon to get in a good track season as an unattached runner, getting my ass kicked and gaining some really good experience and hopefully a few PRs. I thought long and hard over the weekend, my coach told me she would support me no matter what I decided but to think it through. Without a lot of time waste, I consulted with my close friends and boyfriend and the consensus was to go for it. I met with my potential new coach at the school, we had tracers ran on my transcripts and before I knew it, I was all cleared to run (kind of). Lucky for me, I was eligible simply for the fact that I only ran one season of track at BC and had somehow managed to complete an additional 24 units since my last season of competition over 10 years ago! Weird. Luck. Whatever!

The hardest part about making this decision quite honestly was leaving my coach. I feel like I learned so much from her and we figured out how to work like a team. I really grew as an athlete and a competitor and most importantly, found a new respect for the sport that I hold so dear. The easiest part however, was knowing that I was given another opportunity to complete something that I left behind so long ago. Seriously, who can honestly say that they have had another opportunity after such a long break? I did have my doubts and even called my new coach to tell him that I kind of felt like I was in shock, going to practice again with college athletes much (much, much) younger than me. I told him I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision and asked if I could think about it over the weekend to make sure. I also asked him, “What’s in it for me?” I mean really, why would I do this? He was really honest and told me that he wouldn’t go through all this to get me on the team if it wouldn’t benefit Cerritos as well and we agreed that the plan would be to get picked up for a Division II school (I don’t have any Division I eligibility left since I redshirted at a Division I school previously) which should be very possible if I could run like I had this past summer.

Finally, after committing, I was almost in when I failed my school physical due to a detected hear murmur. I told my boyfriend, this is all too coincidental — either I was called to run and get back in school, or I was called to find out about this so-called heart condition. A week later, after getting an EKG and Echocardiogram, and probably a good amount of money later (still waiting for the bills), I was finally given the green light and tomorrow will be my first race at Mt. Sac running the 5,000m. I really don’t feel race ready but it is still early in the season. My goals are simple: Break 18:00 in the 5,000m and try to run a 36:00 10,000m and hopefully go to the Stanford Invitational again and state finals!

When I start to get uncomfortable with my decision I just remind myself that I have the opportunity to finish what I started, I get to do what I love, and most of all, according to my new coach, “It’s only 4-1/2 months of (my) life.”

That’s right, it’s been nearly 12 years, what’s 4-1/2 months?


Changes

So all of my friends have been messaging me like crazy wondering what is going on. I know…I have been avoiding you all because I didn’t want to tell you anything until I had firm plans. Anyway, Surf City passed and I purposely didn’t run since something else came up. Will update you about that later…Right now I am in the middle of updating this blog — I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore! Right now the theme looks different and it will continue to look different as I have more time to update it. I found out today that teammates are visiting my site and sharing with everyone — I find that funny and I hope they find what they are looking for. If you know me, you know I am an open book and can ask me anything. Anyway, will update you soon.

XO,
TRACE


Sometimes it's All in Your Head

Yesterday’s Santa to the Sea Half Marathon closed out my 7th week of running including my first 50-mile week in a very long time.  These past weeks have been very trying and roller coaster-like.  It was interesting to see my fitness level upon my return, which was much better than I had anticipated and I was elated, but then my mental fitness seemed to suffer more and more as the weeks progressed.

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