A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: A little honest reflection

When I was in Baltimore last week, I did a lot of reflecting on where I am in my weight, how I feel about where I am currently and what might have gotten me here. The truth is, at 185ish pounds, I’m 15 pounds above where I feel good about my body. The harsher truth is, that isn’t just a number on the scale – that’s a reflection of the fact that I’m letting “sometimes” food sneak in a lot more often than I should. I had french fries twice in Baltimore and dessert more than once. I definitely want to live a life where I’m not restricted such that those are “never” foods, but mediocre fries in a Baltimore hotel are not a worthy indulgence. If I’m honest with myself, that’s happening far too often. I need to get back to focusing on a healthier diet overall. If the data in the study we talked about last week is true (which is might not be), then I don’t have as much room for error as someone who hasn’t lost a hundred pounds. I can’t take the approach of “everybody gains a few pounds on vacation – I’ll just lose them when I get home” if it is going to be harder for me to lose them and I’m going to count every work trip as “vacation.”

Travel is part of my job and will continue to be. I suspect travel for vacation and for work, with a few pounds gained each trip that I never manage to lose, is why I’ve gained 15 pounds in the last year. It’s time to get back to my proactive approach to eating on the road that I used when I was in the first year of weight loss. I used to be really good about planning for healthy meals and snacks. It takes a little extra planning, to scout out grocery stores and resist the peer pressure (or fatigue) that tempts me for desserts every night, but it’s worth it. If I can tighten up at work and at home a bit, then I can still have the TRULY occasional indulgence without feeling like I do now.

Truthfully, while I’m not happy with how my clothes are fitting, this is mostly about looking at how I’m eating and admitting to myself that a lot of things have been sliding. If I was really eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and at this weight that would be one thing, but I’m not. I’m going to focus on getting things in better shape between now and marathon training in August (because I know marathon training will be a different nutritional challenge!). I’ve tweaked my calorie goal down a bit in My Fitness Pal because the amount of calories it automatically gave me a) weren’t resulting in weight loss and b) were generous enough that I could have those unhealthy indulgences every day, which was snowballing a bit. I’m satisfied with 1700 calories of healthy food a day, so let’s use that calorie counting structure to keep me at that level rather than tacking on an extra 250 calories of snacks at night.
Veggies

Fortunately, summer is a good time to get back to lots of veggies. Last night I had an old favorite – spaghetti squash with grilled veggies, roasted tomatoes, capers and a little feta cheese. The good news is that I don’t have any work travel until later in July, so I can firm up my good habits again at home before I hit the road again. I do have house guests coming next week and then again on Memorial Day weekend, but I’m taking this moment of motivation to use it to plan a healthy approach to those potentially tempting times.

I’m in no rush to lose this weight. I know it will take a while. However, I can no longer use that as an excuse to keep eating things I know aren’t great for me. It’ll all be okay. When July gets here and I’m looking at my third anniversary of reaching that 100 pounds lost milestone, I am going to be in a better mindset.

Do you find it easier or harder to eat healthy foods in the summer? The abundance of fruits and veggies I love makes it easier for me at home, but the travel and special events can be tricky!

 

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TotR: Budgeting for Destination Races

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is a potentially touchy one: Budgeting for Destination Races. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting what is sure to be an interesting discussion!

ToTR logoBudgeting for destination races is a tricky topic because everyone’s definition of “destination race” is different, as is everyone’s budget. My husband always laughs at the idea that running is “cheap” exercise because you can easily spend a fortune on race fees and gear. How do you keep that in check?

imageFor me, I consider a destination race anything I have to fly to rather than drive. For the most part, that’s been runDisney events. My biggest strategy in ameliorating the cost of Disney races is to incorporate them into our family vacations. For Princess, Wine & Dine and the upcoming 2017 Marathon, we plan our family vacations around races. If we would fly to vacation anyway, might as well do it at a time there’s a fun race, right? Fortunately, I have the support of my family and the schedule flexibility with my vacations to do this (although that may change now that O is starting kindergarten).

For the Star Wars race weekend, which I undertook alone, we considered that my birthday and Christmas gifts for the year and used frequent flier miles to offset the costs. For the Marathon weekend in January, we’ll be staying on our DVC points and not (gasp!) going to the park at all for the weekend because the price of tickets for such a short stay is getting a little out of hand. Obviously, that’s a trip without Oliver because there’s no way a 5 year old could SEE the Magic Kingdom and not go in. My husband may have trouble with that too!

Half Marathon: My favorite California Adventure photo!

Half Marathon: My favorite California Adventure photo!

Other things that might help offset the costs of destination races:

  • Register early, as registration only gets more expensive as time goes on. Be sure to look around for any coupon codes on blogs or even on Groupon for some races.
  • Find a roommate, if you’re comfortable with that, to decrease the costs of a hotel a bit.
  • Get groceries rather than eating out for every meal. At Disney, I’m a big fan of GardenGrocer for grocery delivery to the room, both for convenience and to save a little money on eating out. It also lets me eat what I’m used to pre-race.
  • Use your gift giving occasions, like birthdays or Christmas, to ask for gift cards to offset the cost (like airlines or Disney or hotels) or even a race registration.

Mostly, though, be careful about letting the fear of missing out drive you to spend more on destination races than you can afford. It would fabulous to run all of the Disney races and I drool over pics from San Francisco and DC and New York races, but I could run locally for a few years for what it would cost for one trip for a Disney race. You can have a great experience for a fraction of the cost, locally or within driving distance, so don’t let the pretty pictures out in social media and on the web suck you into spending more than you should.

How do you figure out a race budget? Do you have trouble sticking to the budget once you’ve set it?

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Maybe a little TOO much taper

I have a really bad habit of letting tapering go too far and not running at all once I finish my last “real” training run. This is not something I’d advise! Tapering means cutting back, not cutting out, your running. Oops! I think I’ve only done this well in one or two training cycles, where I kept up the runs as scheduled during taper time. This week was not one of those weeks. Between the travel at the beginning of the week, finishing up my research meeting in Baltimore, and then the crazy catch up from traveling once I got back to Omaha, I got lots of steps this week but only one run.

On the bright side, I did lots of walking this week and got a fun workout in Saturday when I ran around with Oliver before tee ball practice. We raced and played tag and red light-green light, having an all around good time. It’s interesting watching him play tee ball because he wants so badly to be good at it and like his perfectionist Mama, tries to avoid the parts he isn’t naturally as good at like hitting and catching. He’d run bases and throw all day if we let him. His coach is doing a nice job working with him on the techniques that will help with the batting and he’s made leaps and bounds with catching. It’s so amazing to watch little bodies develop.

Baseball time

I told him that I had to practice with the things I did too, like running in order to get better at it. I did finally get to practice that running thing again on Sunday, my one run of the week, in a 6 mile Mother’s Day gift to myself. Gotta love spring in Omaha – this guy gobbled at me the whole time I was going down the street!
TurkeyI got a nice 6 miles in before we headed out to brunch and more walking at the botanical gardens here in town. I love that we can be so active as a family now – very different from the old days when weekends were spent watching TV and playing video games. Definitely a huge NSV!

Mother's Day

I will say that all of those hills at the botanical garden after a 6 mile run left me with sore legs today, in that pleasantly “used” sense. I will be sure that this week includes some dedicated rolling and yoga time to be sure things are loose for Sunday’s half marathon. My goals for this half marathon are just to finish with a smile and feeling good. This race was primarily a motivation to keep me moving this spring and it served that purpose admirably! Who knows how long I would have let the winter weather to keep me indoors if I didn’t have something to train for. 🙂 Right now, the weather looks pretty nice for a half marathon on Sunday but we’re still too far out to take much comfort in that. Fingers crossed it isn’t too hot! May can be very unpredictable.

I did a good deed last week that made me smile, because it was in recognition and thanks of an even bigger good deed that someone else I know is doing. To keep it a surprise, I can’t say more, but I will say it truly amazing to me how much love people find in themselves to give to those in need. People can be amazing.
Mother's Day at prekindergarten

Today I am grateful for the chance that I get to be Oliver’s mom. He’s an amazing little soul and I’m glad I was chosen to help guide him through life. I’m also grateful he thinks I’m 25 on our little Mother’s Day cards. His buddy James thought his mom was 62.

This week, I’ll run a couple of times to keep loose, stretch out with some yoga and foam rolling and enjoy the fact that I get to go run 13.1 miles for the fun of it this weekend. It’s a good life.

I’m linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap Up and looking forward to reading about everyone else’s weeks as spring racing season winds down.

weekly wrap up

Any big plans this week for you guys?

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A tale of two 5Ks

I haven’t done a whole lot of racing this year, which is a far cry from last year’s 100 miles of races! Without that race goal, I haven’t been as active about seeking out races and a couple of the runs I’ve enjoyed in years past fell on weekends where I was traveling this year so I couldn’t do those either. I ran a 5K on New Year’s Day and then didn’t do another until just a couple of weeks ago – 4 months without a race! I don’t think I’ve done that since my first 5K ages ago. 🙂

I’ve run two different 5K’s in the last couple of weeks and they were VERY different experiences. The first, the Run to Remember 5K in Omaha, came across my radar thanks to the Omaha Running Club’s Facebook feed. It was a weekend I was home and it had been ages since I’d done a 5K, so I signed up. I confess I was a little wary once I started getting bombarded with emails about the teams running the event – apparently, this was largely a team focused event, with families and groups who’d lost someone to car vs pedestrian accidents. I wasn’t sure how awkward it would be to run this as a solo runner, but it fit my training plan so I headed out and it ended up being not quite as bad as I thought. There were lots of families present, which I always enjoy, and a balloon release that was beautiful (if environmentally unfriendly) on a gorgeous spring morning.

Balloons

There wasn’t really a starting line – we just all started going at some point. As we were in grass and I was stuck behind a bunch of walkers, strollers and dogs, it took a minute or two to find some space to run.

Slow start

Once I was clear of the group, we were on sidewalks for an out and back course. There were a couple of little hills, but nothing too bad. I enjoyed running around families with children and through a park full of little soccer players. It was occasionally crowded, but not too bad and I was able to stick to my 2 minute run/30 second walk intervals for my tempo workout like I’d planned. After two miles, those intervals felt HARD! This was a much harder effort than I was anticipating and I’m not sure why.

Bridges

We headed over a pretty little bridge and then turned back for the start. The race finished on the high school track, with a narrow finishing chute since this wasn’t chip timed and I confess: I kicked past someone at the end. I felt a little bad passing her, but my legs felt it and it wasn’t like I was SUPER close to her. I finished in around 36 minutes, with my last two miles sub-11:30 per the Garmin, which is on target for my tempo runs.

Sunday, I ran a totally different 5K, here at the research meeting I’m attending in Baltimore. I decided that I’d run this without a Garmin because it was cold and rainy, so I’d be worried about my footing more than my pace. I was going to take it easy and count it as my easy 4-5 miles for the day since it was a half mile walking over to the start.
Dreary 5k

I lined up toward the back of the pack and gratefully started running so I could warm up a bit. It was 50 degrees, windy and rainy so I was freezing while waiting at the start! This was a small race, so there were no water stations or mile markers and as I went along, I eventually realized “hey, I’ve been running for quite a while here!” I confess that part of my original motivation to run without a walk break was because there was a much older woman running in front of me. I was determined to run longer than her and figured once I got well past her, I’d walk. However, once I got past her, I realized I still had the ability to run in me so I kept it up. I was careful when the road changed under me (bricks and cobblestones and curbs to normal sidewalk and a slick boardwalk) but at no point did I stop to walk. It was a flat path for the most part, which helped, and the Hamilton soundtrack was keeping me company, so I kept going. Soon enough, the evil uphill finish was in sight and I finished.

PAS Medal

I finished in 33:13, with a 10:41 pace (and frankly, since it was a gun start / chip finish and I was at the back of the starting pack, I was a few seconds faster than that). At no point during this race did I feel like I was pushing as hard as I did in the Run to Remember 5K that I ran with a eye on my pace and my effort, but still somehow slower. Isn’t it funny how that works about sometimes? The faster 5K was by far the easier effort run. Maybe it was the flatness or the weather or the peanut butter pie I’d had for dessert the night before – or maybe it was the fact that I was running naked, with no watch and no pressure. Side note: Others wearing a Garmin assured me it was the right length course. It’s definitely something to consider and definitely makes me wonder what kind of 5K I could run on a flat course if I really tried, but that’s a goal for another year.

Do you run faster without a GPS or specific goal? Or do you find that you need the “push” of constant data?

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Long term metabolic consequences of obesity and weight loss

Last week, I saw a couple of articles about Ali Vincent, the first woman to win the Biggest Loser, having regained most of the weight she’d lost on the show and the worry she felt about people discovering she’d failed. In both of the articles below, they note a quote from Ali’s conversation with Oprah in which she said “I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to know how to do this.” Boy do I know she feels – I suspect all of us who have successfully lost weight feel this way when we regain.

On Monday, we got a glimpse into why people like Ali and me and many of the rest of us struggle to maintain our weight after we’ve lost it in a journal article published in Obesity that looked at changes in our metabolism after weight loss. In this study, they evaluated a group from the Biggest Loser before the started the competition, at the end of the competition and now 6 years. They found that at the end of the competition, when they’d lost weight, their resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories we burn just existing) had gone down, which you’d expect since they have less body mass to maintain. However, at the 6 year follow up, when many of regained most if not all of the weight they’d lost, their metabolism looked the same as it did back at the end of competition. It never made the adjustment to burn more calories at rest to maintain their larger size like all of those daily calorie requirement formulas tell you it should. If you wonder why it feels like it is harder to lose weight the second time around, this might be why, or at least part of the reason. This was true even for the competitor who hadn’t regained weight, so this doesn’t appear to be a factor of massive weight loss and then regain, but maybe just the weight loss. The whole paper is here and a good New York Times article discussing the results are here.

Scientifically, this is nowhere near complete. There aren’t control groups of any kind, so we don’t know if this metabolic stagnation would happen to anyone morbidly obese over time or if it is a result of the weight loss. We don’t know if it is a result of the rapid Biggest Loser style weight loss or if the same would happen with more gradual weight loss. We don’t know if what you eat or how you exercise affects it. We don’t know if this looks the same in people who’ve lost 10 pounds or 20 pounds or 100 pounds. There’s a lot we don’t know. However, this makes a fair amount of sense and the researcher is at the National Institutes of Health, which is not a fly-by-night research operation. I expect there will be a fair amount of follow up on this.

It’s depressing data, but may explain why the success rates in people who’ve lost weight are so abysmal. That in itself was an interesting point at the end of this article – despite the large amount of weight regain in these patients, they are still statistically more successful than most people who’ve lost weight. 57% had kept off at least 10 percent of what they’ve lost, compared to 20% of people reaching that bar in other studies. To put that in real numbers, I lost 100 pounds. I can regain 90 pounds and still be considered a weight loss success because I kept off 10 percent of what I’ve lost. That’s how unlikely success is and in this study, they give a glimpse as to why. We aren’t weak. We haven’t forgotten everything we learned in weight loss. We’re fighting against a system that’s rigged against us.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

A friend of mine worried that this would make people depressed about even attempting to lose weight if it is this impossible. I think what this means is that we need to change the message. Weight cannot be the only measure of success because that may be the hardest level of success to achieve, through no fault of our own. Just because my metabolism is screwed up and makes it easier to regain weight does not negate all of the good I do for myself when I eat a healthy diet in healthy amounts. It does not negate the good I do when I run or strength train or get a good night of sleep. What this means is yes, it’s going to be hard, but we need to accept that and look at other measures of success other than the scale, which appears to be literally tipped against us.

I think this also emphasizes the importance of trying to avoid weight gain in the first place. In the same edition of Obesity, there’s an article that discusses the fact that childhood obesity continues to increase despite the increase in awareness and attempts at interventions in the last few years. If we really are going to be in a no-win (or rarely win) scenario once we get to adult obesity, then it is IMPERATIVE that we help our kids to avoid that. We’ve got to find ways to get our kids healthier foods and more movement. Oliver ate fast food at Sonic twice while I was gone – sorry buddy, but Mommy is home and that is OVER.

We needs more of this!

We need more of this!

Did you read about this study? What do you think? Does it change how you think about your weight loss / weight maintenance efforts?

Articles:

First Woman to Win ‘The Biggest Loser’ Opens Up About Gaining Back the Weight from Huffington Post

‘Biggest Loser’ Winner Talks Regaining the Weight from CNN

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Tuesdays on the Run: Shopping for Running Gear

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is all about where you shop for running gear. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting the link up.

ToTR logo

Most of my running gear has come from a couple of sources: My local running stores (Peak Performance and Red Dirt Running in case you’re looking for a running store in Omaha) and online sources like Amazon, Zappos, Brooks, etc. Local running stores are a fantastic resource when you haven’t yet figured out what style or brand of something you need. I’ve gone to my local store for shoe fittings, to talk about warmer socks in the winter and to try to on hats and gloves to figure out what works best for me. As much of an investment as running gear can be, it helps to actually put your hands on things. It’s also helpful to have people that really know running to answer your questions about what you might need or want.

I actually use my grocery store a lot to try out new kinds of fueling. My local HyVee has reasonable variety of Nuun flavors and other hydration options, as well as Gu, waffles, chews, etc. If I’m just trying one or two things to see if I like it, they actually have a bigger selection than my running store.

Once I’ve figured out what brands and products I’ve loved (which we talked about back here), I can shop around a little more for better prices on things in the future. I buy my shoes on Amazon or Zappos frequently (especially if you can find a Zappos coupon!) as I go through a lot of shoes. With my weight and heavy stride, I tend to feel the age on my shoes at around 250 miles so that’s a lot of shoes every year. If I can get a little break on price, I’ll take it. I also buy my salted caramel Gu and sunscreen in bulk at Amazon for the price. Occasionally, there are things I have to buy online like the sports bras I like (no longer on Amazon, but on Brooks running) and my beloved SparkleSkirts.

I almost never shop for running gear at big sporting goods stores. If I’m going to shop in a store rather than online, I’d rather support a small local business like my running stores than a big box store. I will confess that I just bought a bunch of stuff a Sports Authority that was closing, but that was because I couldn’t resist my favorite UnderArmor Cold Gear at 40% off! I just read that Sports Authority stores are potentially all closing, so I need to use a gift card my staff got me before the store disappears!
Sale!

All in all, I try to balance my running shopping between the convenience and cost savings of online shopping with the expertise and local small business support of my local running store. And of course, I window shop all of Jennifer’s stylish clothes over at DashinginStyle all the time (Seriously, she finds the cutest stuff!) Where do you do you running shopping?

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Weekly Wrap-Up with Unexpected Progress!

Last week, I mentioned that my tempo workout was faster than I expected and Jennifer (of Dashing in Style) commented on how nice it was to see gains even when I’ve been taking training a little less seriously this time around. She’s so right! Even with a laid back approach to training, I’ve definitely seen the benefits of training this cycle. Yet another example of this? Yesterday I ran every step of 5K. Not a big deal to many, I know, but I’ve technically never done it. I ran everything but the water stops in ONE other race but never have I run every step. I ran a 5K in Baltimore yesterday and somehow ended up running it all (and in around 33 minutes – reasonable time for me!). I was amazed to see that my legs and lungs can totally do that when I let them. Training does pay off!

Workouts

Monday Rest day, since I was running long close together because of my travel this week.

Tuesday 10.5 miles on the treadmill  – I moved my long run up from its usual spot on the weekend because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it done in Baltimore. Unfortunately, we were under thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings a lot last week, so I couldn’t run outside. Instead, I hit the treadmill at my gym with a goal of 11-12 miles. I cut it short at 10.5 because I was having a lot of foot pain, which is odd for me. I’m not sure if it something about my treadmill form (which I know gets off on long runs on the treadmill) or if it was because I was still feeling the 11 miles I’d run just a few days before. While my legs felt fine immediately after last Saturday’s 11 miles, I definitely felt those miles on my legs once I got to mile 7-8 on Tuesday! Other than the foot pain and tired legs, I felt fine with the 10.5 miles and feel good about my half marathon on May 15, knowing I have four good 10 mile or longer runs this training cycle.

Wednesday Rest day! I spent the part of my afternoon I’d planned to spend at the gym huddling in the hallway during a tornado warning (only touched down briefly – we’re all okay) so no workout.

Thursday Flying to Baltimore, so lots of airport walking. I made a regrettable dinner choice Thursday night in my hotel restaurant and ended up with reflux so bad I couldn’t run, but I walked the 3 miles on the schedule anyway.
NSV

My NSV this week is the fact that I threw away yucky airport cheese even though I was hungry for a snack. It tasted horrible but the old me would have eaten because a) I was traveling and tired, so of course the calorie rules are different right? and b) I’d paid for it. Instead, I threw it away and just ate the fruit. Big win!

Friday Hill workout on the treadmill to get ready for my hilly race course – six 3 minute hill intervals on the treadmill. I love hills because just when I think I can’t possibly move another step, it turns out that I CAN and then it’s over. Always a great feeling of accomplishment!

Saturday Lots of walking, but no runs.

Sunday I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a workout on Sunday – I had the option of a 4-5 mile run or a 3 mile tempo run, based on what was left on the training plan for the week. I decided on the 4 miles easy, since I was running a 5K that started about half a mile from the hotel, so an easy half mile out there followed by a little 5k and a half mile back would get me over 4 miles. I headed out without my Garmin both because I wasn’t planning on pushing the pace for tempo intervals and because it was raining. I surprised myself by settling into a steady run that I didn’t feel like stopping during the race and ran the three miles at a 10:41 pace, definitely my fastest tempo pace of this training cycle and it didn’t even feel hard! Amazing what a flat course will do for you. 🙂 I was even taking it carefully because it was rainy and slick on the bricks along the waterfront!

Dreary 5k

That was a great workout to officially end training and enter taper time on. I’ve got two weeks of tapering because my race on May 15 and I feel confident that I’m going to have a good time that day. It’s been a really pleasant training cycle! I think despite the lackadaisical approach, I’ve done well by sticking to my long runs and getting 4 good 10+ milers in, as well as at least one quality hill or speed or tempo workout every week.

My good deed this week has been saying lots of thank yous. I’m at a research meeting and I’m frankly embarrassed at how rude and abrupt many of the other attendees have been with the staff at the convention center. It’s appalling. I sort of want to tell them they aren’t as high and mighty as they think they are and even if they ARE, thank you is still appropriate. I’ve gotten lots of grateful smiles from staffers I’ve thanked and it’s a shame they aren’t getting that more often. I’m grateful that I have little eyes watching me at home that have really made me step up my manners game. Oliver is fantastic about saying please and thank you, which keeps us on our toes so we don’t screw up his good habits!

I’ve got two more days of travel to get through. I’ve definitely let my eating when I travel slide a lot in the last year, which I think has a lot to do with the weight gain I’ve struggled with (won’t lie – I winced at my pics from the 5K but I’m working on thinking loving thoughts). I used to be really proactive about finding grocery stores and going out of my way to find healthy foods when I travel. The last few trips I’ve been on have definitely not been that way and as much as I travel for work, that’s definitely going to catch up with me. There’s a difference between indulging on vacation and having crappy crab cakes and french fries in a Baltimore Days Inn restaurant because you don’t feel like walking to find something healthier. Thankfully, I’m done with work travel until late July, but I need to do better because the travel part of my job is only going to get more intense as time goes on.

I work in infectious disease and my favorite thing I’ve heard at this meeting is “don’t cuddle vermin” (in a talk about people catching monkey pox from a pet rat imported from Africa). A friend and I were discussing if this included our children or not, because love them though we may, they are a little disease-ridden during these early childhood, snotty years. 🙂

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our weekly wrap up! What should I bring Oliver as a souvenir from Baltimore? I’m thinking a toy crab. PS I’m both grateful and a little appalled that my name badge for this meeting has information for secure escort services on the back of it. This is definitely not a city I travel alone at night!

weekly wrap up

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