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Chip Timing

I have to admit, I’m a little upset.  This morning our running club met for Raleigh’s Finest 5K.  It was about 85 degrees at the start (sounds like Boston), but the course was pretty shaded so the heat wasn’t a big deal.  I finished the race in 20:40 and 5th female overall.  However, my chip fell off my shoe a little over halfway through.  I stopped to pick it up and carried it for the rest of the race.  But when you look at the results, my name isn’t even there. I guess carrying it across the mat doesn’t work. Sad face.  Now, I’m curious to learn more about chip timing as well as disposable bib chip timing…

Chip timing is great for larger events when not everyone can cross the start line at the same time.  It also helps to prevent human error from manual timing.  It works by wearing a chip tied across your shoe and when you run across mats placed along the course, it records your time.  It works the following way: there is a chip with a unique ID number and an energizing coil that is encased within a durable shell.  The chip’s transponder is activated when it comes close to the magnetic field created by the special mats.  Once within the magnetic field, the coil becomes energized, produces an electric current, and powers the transponder.  The transponder then sends a signal, reporting the ID number which is then captured by the receiving antennas in the mat, and then sent to a computer.  Now, you have your time.

The timing system that I’ve been seeing a lot more is the disposable bib chip timing.  I love this type of timing because I don’t have to tie anything on my shoe, I never notice I’m wearing it, and it’s one less thing to remember.  There are several different companies that make disposable chips, but they all work in basically the same way.  The chips have a built in transponder and microprocessor that includes a unique ID number.  Along the course, there are antennas that have special readers that read the disposable chips.  This information is then sent to a computer and now you have your start time, mile splits, and finish time.  Once you cross the finish line, you just keep going and can toss the bib, along with the chip, in the trash.  They only cost about 10 cents each.

I guess carrying the chip in my hand interfered with the magnetic field.  However, I’m hoping if I email the race directors with my Garmin info they will update the results.  I don’t want a prize.  I just want my name on that results page.  Lesson learned.

Here are some pics from the race:



I hope everyone has a great weekend and stays cool! We are breaking temperature records here in NC.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Olympic Trials – 5000m

Today I was fortunate enough to chat with the 9th place finisher of the 10000m Olympic Trials.  Bobby Mack works at the local running store where I had to pick up my race packet for tomorrow’s 5K.  We chatted about Eugene, the race, and the 5000m last night.  Unfortunately I did not get to watch the 5000m race because we were busy with run club.  However, there were two more runners with ties to Raleigh, NC and I wanted to know how they did.  For today’s blog…

Who won the 5000m in the men’s and women’s race.  How did Julia Lucas and Ryan Hill do?

The men’s 5000m played out similar to the men’s 10000m – Galen Rupp sprinting to the finish and setting a new Olympic Trials record.  The win came down to Rupp and Bernard Lagat, but in the last 100 meters, Rupp dug deep and took the lead.  He beat Lagat for the first time in the 14 times they have raced against one another.  He won with a time of 13:22:67 and Lagat followed in 13:22:82.  Third place went to Lopez Lomong, with a time of 13:24:47.  Ryan Hill, from North Carolina State University, finished 5th with a time of 13:27:49.  Perhaps the coolest things from last night’s race was the fact that the previous Olympic Trials record holder was Steve Prefontaine.  Galen Rupp broke that 40 year record.

The women’s race came down to a few hundredths of a second.  The surprise winner of the race was Julia Cully, who won with a personal best of 15:13:1.  Molly Huddle, who is the American record holder, came in second with a time of 15:14:40.  Here she is in a post race interview talking about how the race unfolded.  With 100 meters to go, Julia Lucas was in a battle for third place with Kim Conley. At the very, and I mean very end, Conley had the energy to lunge just past Lucas and earn her spot on the Olympic team.  In her post race interview, Lucas says she gave the race away, and “ran out of steam.”  You can watch her post race interview here.  Conley won third with a time of 15:19:79.  Lucas was so close behind, and crossed the finish line in 15:19:83.

Great job to all of the runners last night.  And kudos to Ryan Hill and Julia Lucas for representing NC State runners so well.  Although I don’t know either one of them, I still feel so proud. Go Wolfpack!

Now I’m off to finish my preparations for the race tomorrow – finishing off the bottle of beet juice (it has been a day long process), and drinking lots of water.  It’s going to be 104 degrees tomorrow!

Beet Juice, Carrot Juice, and Lemon – Definitely NOT delicious (but they say it makes you run faster!)

Maybe a cool glass and a bendy straw will make it a little better =)

Happy Trails and Happy Running!


The Fastest Human vs. The Fastest Animal

This morning I was doing a tempo run, and right before I started wishing it were over, I wondered to myself, how fast does the fastest human run?  And how much faster is the cheetah?  I mean, I think I run somewhat fast, but people like Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, and Justin Gatlin clearly run much faster.  Sometimes when I’m doing intervals I think about how much faster Usain Bolt would run a lap around the track.  And what if there were a cheetah (perhaps in its own lane/cage), running too?  I’d be lapped before I even got started.

As fate would have it, my Google Alerts sent me an article titled “What Runners can Learn from Cheetahs.”  Well, if there is one animal we can learn from to run faster, it’s obviously the cheetah.  The article basically goes through an analysis of the cheetah’s running form, and then compares it to the fastest human – Usain Bolt.  Before answering the question of how fast is man, I want to share a little about what makes the cheetah so dang fast.  First, it uses a rotary gallop, where its legs churn in a circular motion and its hind legs reach out almost past its ears in full stride.  (Us two legged humans will have to stick with our normal gallop.)  Second, when cheetahs pick up the speed, they increase their leg turnover dramatically and lengthen their stride even more.  In comparing the cheetah with the greyhound, it was observed that cheetahs leave their paws on the ground slightly longer, which allows for more shock absorption.  Also, the claws of the cheetah are never retracted.  They are always out so they act somewhat like the spikes of a sprinter.  The bones of the cheetah are lightweight, it has extra large nostrils to suck in more air, and it has extra large lungs and adrenal glands. The cheetah was truly born to run, and really fast at that.  Just how fast does the cheetah run?  It can run up to 65 mph and here is a video showing the world’s fastest animal in action:

Now how fast is the fastest human?  Usain Bolt, during his 100 meter sprint in 2009, ran an amazing speed of 28 mph.  Here he is, running faster than any other human:


So there you have it.  The fastest animal is over two times faster than the fastest human.  I really do feel for any animal that falls prey to the cheetah.  It never even had a chance.  Unless of course, it is running from this cheetah:


So cute!

Happy Trails and Happy Running!


Hips Don’t Lie

Ok, maybe you were expecting this video, but I wanted to talk about something different. Running and hips.  When I first started running long distances back in 2004, I would easily put in 50+ mile weeks and not think twice about it.  Well that was until I let a pain in my hip gradually grow into a sharp, debilitating pain that kept me from running for an entire summer.  The doctor wanted me to get an MRI but when I wasn’t biking, I was working, and I didn’t have/make time for a MRI.  Therefore, I self diagnosed myself with a stress fracture.  Since then, about twice a year, I get some sort of leg pain that sidelines me for a month or so.  My massage therapist even asked me if I had scoliosis.  That was a wake up call for me.  I finally realized how much stronger my left side was than my right side, that my hips were tight, and that I needed to work on my posture if I wanted to stay a healthy runner.  Over time, I developed the opinion that healthy running revolves around healthy hips.  When I focus on a strong core, strong hips, and good posture, running just feels so easy. (This is the idea behind Chi Running.)  Hips are an important part of running, so I wanted to dedicate a blog to these very important bones in our bodies…

Why are hips important and how can one have stronger, less tight hips?

Danny Dryer, the author of Chi Running, has an excellent article that explains the importance of hips in running.  Some people’s hips are too tight, while others are too loose.  However, according to him, correct hip and spine rotation is the key to good running form.  How does one achieve proper rotation? Learn to engage your core muscles while running, while letting everything else relax.  To do this, align your posture (you need a straight axis to rotate your hips around) and level your pelvis.  Here is Mr. Dryer’s explanation of how to do level your pelvis:

Use your lower abdominals and gently pull up on your pubic bone. The lowest of the abdominal muscles is called the pyramidalis, which attaches to the public bone. If you cough, you will feel this muscle. It may be hard to find and feel at first, much less isolate the use of it, but it is worth it to practice finding it and using it. This is where you will practice being a yogi. When you use the pyramidalis and just your lower, deepest abdominal muscles to level your pelvis, while relaxing your gluteus and lower back muscles, you will change the structure of your body and improve all kinds of movement, not just running. It is especially good for men and women who suffer from lower back pain.

Stretching your hips is also just as important.  After our running group every Thursday, Sara leads us through some exercises to stretch out the hips.  We are all pretty amazed at just how tight our hips actually are.  The two poses we do the most are double pigeon pose and pigeon pose.  I have been doing these every day for about a month and can tell a huge difference.  And of course, strengthening the hips is important to any runner as well.  Here are some exercises from Runner’s World.  The hip abductor is my favorite.  When I first started doing it, I was amazed at just how weak my hips were.  Some other exercises can be found here on

Over the years, I have learned that running is so much more than just running,  It is stretching, lifting weights, eating clean foods, getting enough sleep, and really becoming in tune with the body.  I am finally starting to understand that for me, healthy hips equal healthy running.  And maybe if I practice some of Shakira’s moves, that will help too.



Happy Trails and Happy Running,


A Hard Workout and Getting Sick

Let me preface this blog by saying if you prefer not to read about people getting sick, stop reading and go listen to this awesome new workout song I found. It’s much more entertaining. Although not my favorite video, the song gets me pumped up and running a little faster. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about puking and working out. And I digress…

For the past two weeks my fabulous friend Emily has been meeting me Tuesday mornings for speed workouts. Last week we were on the track, but today it was locked so we made the most out of a long straight road on NC State’s campus. My planned workout was to to do 8 X 600 with 200 meters recovery in preparation for a 5K this weekend. Well after a 7.4 mile run in 85% humidity followed by a one hour high intensity interval class at HEAT studios yesterday, 600 meters seemed like 2 miles and the leg turnover just wasn’t there. During last week’s workout, I could maintain around a 5:45 pace and it felt tolerable and not too difficult. This morning? Yeah, different story completely. Although the distance was a little longer and there were some slight inclines, I was happy to do an interval sub 6:00. And the 600 meters were more like 400 meters. But thanks to my new workout music (here is my other new song), I was determined to find my limit. Six repeats in, and I think I came close to finding it. Although I didn’t actually puke (maybe because I hadn’t eaten since last night), I was having some serious gag reflexes. It was the closest I had ever come to getting sick from exerting so much effort, and I felt like I earned a badge of honor. (Yes, I got sick in Boston, but that was due more to hydration issues and the heat). I couldn’t wait to tell Emily. She gave me a high five.

Anyway, it led me to my question today…

Why do people get sick when working out really hard?

This article on explains that getting sick can come from four things:
1) Dehydration
2) Heat Exhaustion
3) Vagal Reaction
4) Hyponatremia

Personally, I didn’t feel like I belonged in any of these four categories so I kept looking. This article, which describes contestants on The Biggest Loser puking while working out, sums up how I felt today: “you’re overexerting yourself for your current level of fitness.” Yep. That sounds about right. It goes on to explain that as your muscles start to demand more oxygen, blood supply is diverted from its normal route and towards the muscles in need of oxygen. As a result, there is less blood flow to other organs such as the kidneys, liver, stomach, and intestines. This can make you nauseous or even make you puke. I guess there wasn’t enough blood getting to my digestive system this morning.

I’m sure some people say I’m crazy for thinking this is a good thing. However, I’ve been really motivated lately, especially in watching the Olympic Trials. You may say pushing yourself so hard is a bad thing, but I say it’s how I come closer to finding my limits.

Here is my run today:
Warm up with repeats, recovery, and easy jog with Em
Two more miles once I drove back home

AND since there has been so much about the positive effects of beet juice in the news lately, and my G+ friend Otto mentioned Ryan Hall is also touting the benefits, I went shopping this morning…

Yay for Earth Fare having beet juice!!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Sun Salutations and the Africa Yoga Project

This past Saturday, we took our Run Inspired group to Franklin Street Yoga for a something a little different.  Sara was teaching a power yoga class and we thought it would be nice to complement our running with a little yoga.  Plus, there was the promise of Crunkleton afterwards.  Before Sara began class, she made an announcement that on Sunday morning, there would be a class of 108 sun salutations to benefit the Africa Yoga Project.  I’ve heard my friend Kelley mention sun salutations before but I had no idea people would do so many of them.  And I had recently seen pictures of the Africa Yoga Project at the new Lululemon in Southpoint, but I was still unfamiliar with what exactly it was.  So today I have two questions… Read more

The Decathlon and Ashton Eaton

In case you missed it on Saturday afternoon (as I did), Ashton Eaton became what some say to be the greatest athlete ever and set the world record for the decathlon.  During the second day of events, he ran the 1500m in 4:14 to earn a total score of 9,039 points, beating the previous world record by 13 points.  I had read about Ashton Eaton in this month’s issue of Runner’s World, but I still didn’t know what the 10 events in the decathlon were.  In the spirit of the Olympics, I decided to make this my topic for today.

What exactly did Eaton do to become one of the best in the world?

The decathlon is a track and field event taking place over two days, and the winner is determined by combining the results of all 10 events.  The men’s and the women’s events are not exactly the same so I’ll start with the men’s event first.  Day one consists of five events – 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters.  Day two consists of the other five, – 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500 meters.  The points earned for each event can be determined with the following formula:

  • Points = INT(A(B — P)C) for track events
  • Points = INT(A(P — B)C) for jumping and throwing events

Click here to learn how to calculate the scores.

It wasn’t until 2001 that the IAAF approved the women’s decathlon scoring tables.  Before then, it was the heptathlon.  The shot put, discus, and javelin weigh less and the hurdles are 100 meters instead of 110 meters.  The order of events is also different than the men’s.  Day one is the 100 meters, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 400 meters.  The last five events on day two are the 100 meters hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters.  The order of the men’s and women’s event is different to avoid scheduling conflicts when both decathlons take place on the same day.

I admire anybody who can compete in all 10 track and field events.  And even more, to be great in all 10 events.  Perhaps one of my favorite moments from the Olympic Trials so far is watching this video of Joe Detmer and Curtis Beach slowing down to let Eaton win the 1500 meters yesterday.  They helped achieve his world record and they gave him his moment of glory.  An emotional moment for sure.

Congratulations to Ashton Eaton.  Personally, I do consider him to be one of the world’s greatest athletes.  He can jump, run, and throw – and he can do it better than anyone else.  You can watch his post interview here on Runner’s World and see just how happy he is.

London Olypmics: 32 days, 17 hours, and 57 minutes.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

This month’s issue of Runner’s World with Ashton Eaton

10,000m Olympic Trials

Who won the 10000m Olympic Trials?

I can appreciate most any sport. Although it may not be my favorite sport to watch, to witness how truly driven athletes are and how they give it their all, day in and day out, always inspires me.  Take the Miami Heat for example. Last year they lost in NBA Finals.  Yet they came back this year wiser, better players, and played a phenomenal series against Oklahoma City, winning in 5 games.  They wanted it and they rightfully won the title.  One of the more somber moments of the night was watching Kevin Durant with his mom at the end of the game Thursday night. It was beyond heartbreaking.  However, something tells me he will be back next year, playing better than ever before. Amazing athletes take their failures and learn from them.  That is what makes them so amazing.  And of course this same mentality and awesomeness can be applied to runners as well…

Back in January, the Olympic Marathon Trials took place in Houston.  In both the men’s and women’s race, the saddest part was watching the fourth place finisher.  Both Amy Hastings and Dathan Ritzenhein were so close, yet not close enough.  Fourth place doesn’t get you a ticket to London.  I remember watching Ritzenhein in tears and I almost cried with him.  It was so sad.  But as amazing athletes do, those fourth place finishers in the marathon, earned their ticket to London last night in the 10,000m Olympic Trials.  I never knew watching 25 laps around a track could be so interesting.

Last night around 9:45 pm the men’s 10,000m was ready to start in Eugene, Oregon, and in very rainy conditions.  I was excited for two reasons.  First, this was the race Ritzenhein needed in order to secure his spot on the Olympic team.  And second, Bobby Mack, a Raleigh resident who I know through a local running store, was also racing.  (Of course I wanted to see Ritzenhein go to London, was I was ultimately Team Bobby.)  The race last nigtht was a demonstration of how running is not only an individual sport, but also a team sport.  Dathan needed the Olympic A standard to make the team (27:45:00), which he did not have.  If he got the A standard and finished in the top three, he would make the team.  Ritzenhein’s teammate, Galen Rupp, was the heavy favorite of the race.  With his time of 26:48:00, he had the A standard, and only needed to finish in the top three.  So what did they do?  Rupp and Ritzenhein worked together, trading off leading the race, to ensure Ritzenhein got the 27:45 time he needed as well as finished in the top three.  It worked.  With one lap to go, Ritzenhein was in the top three and on pace to run a sub 27:45.  Rupp then took off, easily sprinting the last lap and finishing in 27:25:33.  Second place went to 30 year old Matt Tegenkamp (27:33:94) and Ritzenhein got his 3rd place finish, with a time of 27:39:94.  He was so incredibly happy and it was so obvious during his post race interview. Bobby Mack ran an amazing race as well, and finished 9th.

The women’s race was a little more interesting.  First, Shalane Flanagan was racing even though she had no intentions of being on the Olympic team (I’m sure the marathon is enough to train for).  Second, only four women going into the race, Flanagan included, had the Olympic A standard of 31:45:00.  The other three were Amy Hastings, Lisa Uhl, and Janet Bawcom.  This meant that if nobody ran under 31:45:00, those three women automatically made the team. Right at about 8 minutes, Natasha Rogers was cut off and fell to the ground.  She immediately go up and sprinted to the front.  The commentators said she would be paying for that sprint later in the race, but that didn’t exactly happen.  With one lap to go, Flanagan picked up the pace to take the lead.  However Rogers, the girl who had previously fallen, passed both Hastings and Flanagan.  With maybe 100 meters to go, Amy Hastings dug deep and found her inner jet.  She flew past everyone with an intense look of pain on her face and finished first in 31:58:36.  Rogers ended up finishing second, beating her previous best time by 42 seconds, with a time of 31:59:21.  However, because she didn’t meet the Olympic A standard, she didn’t make the team.  Flanagan finished third, in 31:59:69 and fourth place went to Lisa Uhl, who finished in 32:03:46.  Bawcom finished seventh with a time of 32:17:06, but because she was the only other person who had the Olympic A standard, she is the third member of the Olympic team.

I really enjoy watching all that athletes can accomplish.  They are the ultimate demonstration of hard work, drive, and determination.  Two people finish fourth in the race of a lifetime and come back months later to rightfully earn their spot on the Olympic team.  Another girl falls during the Olympic Trials, yet gets up and finishes in second place.  This is only the trials! I can only imagine the exciting things that will happen in London.  Did I mention I can’t wait for the Olympics? 34 days, 1 hour, and 55 minutes.

Amy Hastings, 1st place finisher

Want another example of what phenomenal athletes can do? Watch this video.  It gives me goosebumps.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Shalane Flanagan

Who is Shalane Flanagan?

The third and final member of the Women’s Olympic Marathon team is Mrs. Shalane Flanagan, who has her own ties to North Carolina as a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Not my favorite school (Go Wolfpack!), but nonetheless, it’s pretty cool the Olympian ran many miles just down the street from here. In fact, I saw on her Twitter page a while back that her favorite place to run in NC is the American Tobacco Trail. Now every time I’m out there running, I keep my eye out for a really fast blond girl with compression socks. I haven’t seen her yet – maybe after the Olympics. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Shalane has it in her blood to be an amazing runner. Her mother set a world record in the marathon on her first try (Cheryl Bridges, 2:49), and her father was a World Cross Country Champion participant as well as a pretty fast marathoner (2:18). In school, Shalane had a pretty diverse background in running, swimming, soccer, and art. Her running skills are no different. Not only is she a pretty amazing marathoner, she is also a US record holder in the 3K, 5K, and 10K. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she became only the second woman to win a medal in the 10,000 meters. Her time of 30:22:22 set a new American record (which was previously held by… well, herself), and got her a spot on the podium with a bronze medal.

After the Olympics, she began working with a new coach, Jerry Schumacher. Since then she has had a strong presence in the long distance running world. In 2010 she competed in and won her first ever half marathon with a time of 1:09:41 (and set a course record). That same year, she competed in her first ever marathon and came in 2nd place with a time of 2:28:40 – the best finish for an American woman in 20 years at the NYC marathon. You can see just how happy she is here in this video. In only her second ever marathon, she PR’d by 3 minutes and secured herself a spot on the Olympic Marathon team with a time of 2:25:38. Although the marathon is where her focus is for London, she is actually competing in the 10,000 meters Olympic Trials tonight. (You can follow the Trials here on Runner’s World.)

Some other random things about Shalane are she currently trains with team member Kara Goucher, she is married to Steven Edwards (also a track and field star from the University of North Carolina), and during a period of time when she was injured, it was discovered that she had an extra bone in her foot. Shalane has a blog that she updates about once a month, you can follow her on Pinterest, and her and Kara have some pretty entertaining videos with Innovation for Endurance.

So there you have it. The three fabulous ladies competing in the marathon on August 5th. They are all amazing, classy ladies, with many great accomplishments and I am so excited to watch this event. And in all seriousness, I think I’m having a marathon party. Who wants to come?

Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher, Amy Hastings

Photo Courtesy of Meghan Hegarty

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Kara Goucher

Who is Kara Goucher?

Since I researched Olympic marathoner Desiree Davila yesterday, I thought it only fair to also write about her two teammates, Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan.  As I’ve already admitted, Kara Goucher is by far one of my favorite runners.  She is tough.  She is fast. She is a mom. And she seems to have such a great personality.  I’ve been following her for several years, but I still had to do a little research for today’s blog. (I’m not a stalker, I promise.)  So here you have it, Kara Goucher 101:

Born Kara Grgas in Queens New York, she had her first run with her grandfather when she was six years old.  By the time she was in the seventh grade, she was running because she truly enjoyed it, and also because she wanted a medal in something. (She probably earned a few of them.) After graduating from Duluth East High School, she continued her running career at the University of Colorado.  You can check out her accomplishments here.  Most notably during college, she was the NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, the NCAA Cross Country Champion, and a 5000 meter Olympic Trials finalist.  She made her first appearance at the Olympics in 2008 where she placed 10th in the 10000 meters, with a time of  30:55.16, and 9th in the 5000 meters with a time of 15:49:39.

As a marathoner, Kara made her debut at the 2008 New York City Marathon.  She placed 3rd with a time of 2:25:53.  That’s a pretty nice way to make an entrance into the marathon world if you ask me.  Since then, she has continued to have many impressive performances:

-2007 Great North Run, 1st place: 1:06:57
-2009 Boston Marathon, 3rd place: 2:32:25
-2009 Lisbon Half Marathon, winner: 1:08:30
-2009 Chicago Half Marathon, 1st place (20 seconds before the 1st male): 1:08:05
-2009 World Championship in Athletics, 10th place: 2:27:48
-2011New York City Half Marathon, 3rd place: 1:09:03
-2011Boston Marathon, 5th place (personal best AND 7 months after giving birth!): 2:24:26
-2011 Miami Beach Half Marathon, 2nd place: 1:12:59
-2012 Olympic Trials: 3rd place: 2:26:06
-2012 Portland Half Marathon, 1st place: 1:13:05
-2012 New York Half Marathon, 3rd: 1:09:12

Kara is married to fellow runner Adam Goucher and she has a son named Colt. Other than running, Kara and her husband keep up a pretty entertaining blog, told from Colt’s perspective about her preparations for London.  She also has her own blog (although not updated that frequently), and has just recently joined the Twitter world.  Currently she is training in Portland with teammate Shalane Flanagan and has a little over one month to go before the 2012 London Olympic Marathon.  And if you want to see how she is getting her son ready for the world of running, check out this video.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sink Brown

Countdown to London: 36 days, 5 hours, and 31 minutes!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,