Running and Swimming in London

I planned on posting this earlier, but then my body completely melted down and gave me two big middle fingers for running it into the ground. Needless to say, I couldn’t do more than hit play on episodes of “New Girl,” which isn’t half bad considering I have finally found  a TV character that most resembles my true self. No, not Schmidt. But better late than never…

As I mentioned in my earlier post, London surprised me.

UntitledIt’s not just a major urban metro filled with history, but it’s focus on expansive green spaces and parks puts New York City, Los Angeles and many of the major U.S. cities that I’ve visited to shame.

Sure New York has Central Park, but that’s pretty much the extent of large parks within the city to run in and around. I didn’t get a chance to visit even the top five, but the few that I did run in left me wondering, “Whoa, when is this park going to end?”

From zoos to open water swimming, fountains and spectacular sunrises, every turn I took led to the discovery of something new. Listed below are a few of the parks and pools that I visited and hopefully they’re helpful if you are ever across the pond.

UntitledSt. James’ Park: The first and smallest of the parks I ran through, but I’m leaving it on the list because of one specific spot, in the middle of the bridge, where you can watch the sun rise over the London eye and it was simply beautiful.

UntitledLondon 2012 Aquatics Centre: London recently reopened the Queen Elizabeth’s Park and all of the buildings that athletes competed in for the London 2012 Olympics and made them accessible to the public. It’s a 30 minute or so ride on the tube from central London, but it well worth it when you get to swim in the 50m beauty.

UntitledVictoria Park: Just a short jog away for the London 2012 Aquatics Center is Victoria Park, which seemed to go on, and on, and on. From football games, to super hero themed cycling groups, this park was perfection for flat running with great people watching.

UntitledMarshall Street Leisure Centre: Don’t expect luxury when you stumble upon this place in Soho, but the 1930’s, full marble, 30m pool was recently refurbished and is worth the drop-in fee for the unique experience. (Oh and don’t try to take a photo, you will promptly be whistled at and told, “NO PHOTOS!”)

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UntitledThe Regent’s Park: One of the smaller parks on the list, yet still large enough to have the world’s first zoo in it. No need to purchase a zoo pass, because you’re run will take you by the giraffes (who just happened to be out and eating when I ran by). It also has a dirt track in case you’re that dedicated.

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UntitledHyde Park: One word: huge. No, no, another word: amazing. This is what I would equate to a Central Park. It’s one of the largest parks in London and has everything from open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis, horse riding, and more. I knew I was in London when I was running on the flat paved path, right next to an large dirt path for horses and their oh-so-proper looking riders (I have no idea what the correct language is for that sport). Go when it’s sunny to relax, but go during sunrise for spectacular views.

Untitled Untitled Untitled UntitledHampstead Heath: A bit further from central London, but still a runnable distance. I ran to the park when I was physically feeling the worst, but it brought so much discovery and joy. I couldn’t believe I was in London as the greenery made me feel like I was in Portland.  There’s trail running, art, historic homes, an all-weather track, and so much more. Definitely a must visit.

I also kept hearing about Richmond Park being one of the best, but the hour plus journey didn’t work with my schedule. I hope this helps anyone else who is thinking about a trip to London.

Any other recommendations for other travelers or locals?

Enjoy and happy running!

   
12 Comments | Posted in running, Swimming

With love from London

What started as, “You’ll be going for a week,” then “you’re not going,” then “we need you for almost three weeks and you’ll be living out of a hotel room the entire time,” has resulted in an eye-opening experience that I am beyond grateful for.

At the end of March, I hopped on a plane to London for work and I am now sitting in the airport now on my way home, writing my, “Hello! I’m still alive!” post.

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If you looked at my Instagram feed, one would perceive that it was full of nothing but frolicking around a city that has grown to share a special place in my heart. But the reality of it all was that I would try to get in some version of training done in the mornings, then it was non-stop work, resulting in severe sleep deprivation, but a new sense of camaraderie with my team.

Overall, the event went off successfully and the team managed to pull off some of the best work I’ve seen, but this is a triathlon blog, not a “Page’s career blog” so allow me to shift topics: training was tough.

In the beginning, I was able to explore and discover new places to swim and run, but cycling was officially put on hold and the 20 meter pools left vague distance estimates. I’m going to leave the location recommendations for another post, but it has since been confirmed: the best way to see a city is by running it’s streets, it’s parks and discovering their historic pools. And I am officially in love with all of London’s parks.

Sorry NYC, you lose.

Aside from exploring, stress was high and I could feel it everywhere. My legs felt like lead, my heart rate was off the charts and sleep was minimal at best. But when I could, I dragged myself up and out, and kept things easy and device-less. London’s expansive parks were just what I needed to melt the stress — I even had one of those “moments.”

You know, when you’re running and despite your speed or how you physically feel, all of a sudden things just become overwhelmingly emotional. You’re happy because you love what it is that you’re body is capable of doing, you love your husband, love your family —  just overwhelming love brought to you by running and recognizing how happy it truly makes you. The cheese is overwhelming, but if you’ve experienced this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

From the usual London sights and sounds, to swimming in the official London 2012 Olympics pool and eating my way through the city, it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m anxious to get back home, see my husband and Lola, and focus on training — I have some new possible goals and ideas on the horizon (email coming at you soon, Sonja). But I’m also a little sad to leave a city that will leave your wallets empty, but your face with a stupid smile smeared across it the entire time. Oh, and did I mention the FOOD!?!

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More to come soon…happy running!

   
9 Comments | Posted in Life

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 6

Baby Hoppin’ [bey-bee-hop-in]; verb: the act of D.I.N.K.S spending an entire weekend in their hometown, bouncing back and forth between new nephews and nieces, while fending off prying questions from elders regarding the state of one’s ovaries.

That about sums up week six.

It’s evident that adult life is full of phases. There was the college graduation phase, the engagement phase, the wedding phase and now we’re officially in a “everyone I know is either pregnant, just had a baby or is currently tracking their ovulation” phase. And it’s spreading like wildfire.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of these little new bundles of joy and I think I have it even better than their parents. Love ‘em, spoil ‘em and do all the fun stuff.  But I think I’m just still struggling to accept that we’ve come to that phase in our lives; I’m supposed to still sit at the kid table, not have kids at the kid table, dammit!

UntitledWait, wait, I do have a kid.
See, she likes Sunday morning brunch as much as the rest of us (minus the mimosas).

As juvenile as this entire post is making me sound, I was beyond excited to see my (now extended) family over week six and get in training in vastly different conditions. From not being able to feel my fingers after running mile repeats at elevation and in the cold, to a long run in my first heat wave of the season (80+ degrees), I felt like I was checking off my training extremes list.

The more I face these challenges during training, the more I know I’ll be mentally prepared should they occur come race day. Extreme cold? Been there. Extreme heat? Yes, I can handle it. Mental training at its finest and one of the most undervalued strengths…that is, until I have to run in 80 degrees again.

I closed out week 6 with:
7:38 hours training:
7,900 yards swimming
15.3 miles cycling
26.2 miles running
15 minutes core/rolling

Happy Running!

   
17 Comments | Posted in Training

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 5

Things that come in threes:

  • Sports in a triathlon, duh.
  • The quantity of sisters in my family.
  • The number of times I cursed during my long ride, times 27.
  • The number of scary ER trips my friends and family have now in the past month.
  • The number of nieces and nephews I now have.

Week five was a bit of an experiment: both emotionally and physically.

When I saw the total volume my coach had planned, I reacted audibly as I haven’t seen those hours since Ironman training. But Sonja assured me that it was all part of my MAF testing and seeing what kind of volume my body can handle as I get back into it.  The great thing about having a coach is that I don’t overanalyze, just do what they say, and provide my feedback along the way. It’s magical.

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Post-workout selfie. Guilty as charged, but I was so excited with the MAF results!

The good news includes not only finishing an almost 15 hour week, but my MAF (maximum aerobic fitness) mile tests showed considerable improvement after only four weeks. Well would you look at that…working on being aerobically efficient and not just anaerobically efficient can actually work!

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And any time you can eat copious amount of the best peanut butter ever while on a long trainer ride and watching movies is a good day.

In addition to some confidence boosting MAF results, a coach pep-talk and my chicken arms getting schooled in the pool, we also welcomed a brand new nephew into the family. I’m on my way to meet him for the first time as we speak – I can’t wait to gush over other babies and then hand them back when they poop!

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The first-world/idiotic bad news is that my inability to follow turn-by-turn directions in new places is still limited. I took Rocko out for my first outdoor, Portland long ride and proceeded to get lost on a new loop and battle the ever-present rain and wind. I was my usual happy-go-lucky self at first, but after hours of being covered in mud and being unable to help some poor kids who fell off their bike (that’s another story) I was over it.  I don’t have a garage or a patio, so there was only one way to get Rocko clean (don’t worry, I didn’t turn on the shower head).

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And in the real-world scary news department, another family member ended up in ER and thankfully they too are ok, but seriously people. Can we catch a break for a hot minute?

In the end, week five was challenging while still giving me the courage to charge forward. And I also learned that I can eat an entire head of cauliflower, in one sitting, by myself. I know, I know, you’re impressed. (Don’t worry, the aftermath wasn’t that scary).

I closed out week 5 with:
14:40 hours training:
8,300 yards swimming
116 miles cycling
24 miles running
60 minutes core/rolling

 Happy Running!

   
13 Comments | Posted in Training

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 4

Week four bled together with week three.

Full of life stressors and the unfortunate accident (thankfully everyone is ok and healing well — thank you for your kind words), it’s more prevalent than ever that training isn’t just physical.

In fact, I’ve been reading one of the best training books I’ve ever read, The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. While I’m still in the early pages of the book, Dr. Philip Maffetone paints one of the clearest pictures I’ve encountered regarding endurance training.

The true holistic approach to developing endurance is one in which all aspects of the athlete are considered — these are the triad of structural, chemical and mental fitness and health.

Dr. Maffetone goes on to explain that this approach to holistic training can be represented as an equilateral triangle. The two obvious sides of the triangle are the structural (physical and mechanical aspects, e.g. muscles, joints, etc.) and chemistry (bio0chemical reactions, hormones, food, etc.).

But the one side of the triangle that is gaining increased awareness in my life is the “mental and emotional” side. This is the side that “incorporates our behavior through the activities of the physical and chemical brain.” Among other things, we’re talking about moods, anxiety and stress. It’s not about fitness, but health, which are two very different things.

While I’ve only scratched the surface of the book (and I’ll leave it to Dr. M to further elaborate), it made me realize that I need to stop neglecting this part of my endurance triangle as it is just as important. Being cognizant of the stressors and mental well-being in my life are critical and directly effect my athletic performance. It’s not just the hours I put in, but how I take care of the other two triangles.

The proof was in the pudding when I tried to run shortly thereafter Chicken Face’s accident and my heart rate was through the roof and I simply couldn’t get it down. Week four’s workouts tended to follow this pattern, but they are also what bring me the biggest stress relief.

UntitledWhen Cate & I gave the wind and it’s attitude a big middle finger.

So as I look down the path of the rest of my training cycle for the season, it will still be about quality over quantity and getting the workouts in, but it will also be about taking care of the entire triangle and making changes in my life to do so, even if they do make people raise their eyebrows and ask, “Why?”

Then I’ll just smile.

UntitledP.S. It was dark and cloudy when I started this ride…thus the clear lenses. And I still don’t have the heart to rip my Ironman sticker off my helmet just yet.

I closed out week 4 with:

10.45 hours training:
4,750 yards swimming
66.1 miles cycling 
18.7 miles running
15 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running.

   
15 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

LAKE STEVENS 70.3: WEEK 3

What’s that saying?
God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.

Well, the big man upstairs (or whoever you believe in…just be a good person) is pushing the limits with two trips to the ER for my friend who was in a running accident and for my husband who was in a car accident. Details aside, I’m thankful everyone is ok from situations that could have been much worse.

A few lessons learned:

  • If you get a deep gash in your face and are rushed to ER, ask for a plastic surgeon to stitch you back up. It’s your FACE.
  • When it’s raining outside, hydroplaning is real. Fail to understand the risk involved and staples won’t just be office supplies — they’ll be in your head.
  • The best remedy is always laughter. ALWAYS.

Needless to say, training happened, then it didn’t happen and I can feel my heart literally aching with stress. Thankfully, getting out and training is the one thing that calms me back down and helps get my mind back on track.

I can’t even recall what it is that I did over the past week as all I’m focusing on is making sure that work projects are launched without a hitch and that residual concussions don’t suddenly appear.

But I will tell you this: go tell your family you love them. Go tell your friends you care for them. Go for a run and be thankful that you’re healthy and alive, because there’s nothing better than that.

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I closed out week 3 with:

10 hours training:
5,500 yards swimming
66.1 miles cycling 
~23 miles running
30 minutes core and rolling

 Happy Running.

   
16 Comments | Posted in Life, Training

Lake Stevens 70.3: Week 2

Week two is in the books, as well as a three-day weekend with my two favorites that I’ve missed so much: Chicken Face and Lola.

UntitledAround and around in the dark.

From my first beeper swim (more on that later), ramping up yardage in the pool, and getting out of my own head running loop after loop in the dark on the track, the training felt like I was getting back to the old triathlon Page. A sign of comfort and happiness as my heart misses those two emotions more frequently than not.

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Then came Friday, a reprieve from the work week and the chance to go wine tasting with my husband, take walks with my dog, hide from the rain in the movie theaters, binge watch House of Cards season two, and to do a little heart rate testing at a local 5K.

As part of my heart-rate/MAF based training, Sonja needed to see just how high I could push it — enter the Heart Break 5K. Well, let’s be more specific, here’s the race day plan that we laid out:

  • A mandatory 1.5 mile warm-up and some strides. No warm-up? Then pack your stuff and go home.
  • Race strategy: go easy for 1 mile and then “nail it to the wall,” with a reminder that time didn’t matter in this race, only effort. We want to see just how high we could get my heart-rate…oh, and absolutely no looking at my watch.

So I did just that: warmed-up, turned my watch around and just ran. Those miles weren’t the most visually exhilarating and the four hair-pin turnarounds with volunteers randomly standing in the middle of the cones where I had to shout at them, “What one do I go around?” were less than ideal. But I won’t lie, it was fun to feel like a top female athlete: I was the second female, first in my age group and fourth overall.

Sure it was a small local race, but it was a hell of a lot of fun letting the race standings transport you to a little dreamland for 3.1 miles. I’ll take my 20:14 minutes of small-town fame and enjoy it.

While it was no PR, Sonja reminded me that I’m not allowed to PR this early in the season…or maybe it was all that wine from Friday’s wine tasting rendezvous.

But can we just talk about the best part of the race for a second? Seeing Chicken Face finish, taking one too many KIND bars, and the post-race strawberry shortcake and make-your-own oatmeal bar. I can appreciate a 5K with solid food options.

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So hurrah for 5Ks and post-race food goodness, but HURRAH for time with the people that I care for the most.

I closed out week 2 with:

7.23 hours training:
4,950 yards swimming
41.4 miles cycling 
18.2 miles running
35 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running!

   
9 Comments | Posted in Training

7 Things I Learned In Week One

While it has technically been 10 days, I’m calling it week one. We are officially back in the saddle of triathlon training, focusing on all things 70.3 this time around.

But even with an Ironman under my belt, I’m still considered a total noob in the long distance triathlon world and am ready to learn more. Thankfully, Sonja is by my side and at times helping me learn new lessons, and at other times, confirm what I know I should have always been doing. So without further ado, here are the seven things I learned about triathlon training in week one.

1. Sleep: It’s a no-brainer. Sleep is important, sleep is good for you, and I won’t take up space explaining the benefits on the blog. Google it. It’s a scientific fact.

But as much as we all know this, I logged my 6-7ish hours of sleep per night and I received very clear feedback that this needs to be my number one goal of the week: GET MORE SLEEP. At least 8 hours. I can’t argue with that, so I’m going to do my best to get off the computer and into the covers earlier each night.

2. Pre-Fuel: Another no brainer, but because I don’t always wake-up hungry, I usually just drink tea prior to working out, then would eat breakfast after. WRONG. I need to take in a light snack, half an apple and some peanut butter (or something along those lines) prior to the workout. About mid-week in, I started taking in some pre-workout fuel and would you look at that, I had more energy throughout the workout. Shocker.

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3. Paddle Placement: During my previous year and a half of triathlon training, I didn’t use paddles much. But when Sonja put them on my list of gear to get, I ordered them (the XS size for my chicken arms) and texted Sonja to see if the awkwardness on my hands was correct. Well, I was all wrong — note that we shouldn’t use the wrist strap on the paddle.

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4. Elbow Dropping and Drills: If you’re a new swimmer like myself, you likely fall in the same boat of dropping your elbow before your hand enters the water with each stroke (apparently it should remain high). To start remedying this issue, we’re doing three strokes of high elbow drills with EACH length. Here are some other high elbow tips/drills. Get outta here elbow — you’re getting in my way.

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5. Weather Isn’t an Excuse: While I realize it pales in comparison to weather in other parts of the country, Portland experienced it’s own version of SNOWPOCALYPSE this weekend — complete with iPhone emergency alerts to stay inside.

Because the city isn’t built to handle this kind of weather (it never happens; hence the very few snow plows and infrastructure), the entire city practically shut down. I am not exaggerating — even Starbucks was closed. This also meant that I couldn’t run outside because of the extreme ice warnings and I couldn’t get to work to use the treadmill.

So what did I do? I shamefully admit that I found a gym within walking distance of my apartment, found out that they weren’t yet closed and signed up for a free trial week just to get my run in. Ridiculous, but kind of fun checking out new places while the rest of the city is snowed in. Sorry weather, you couldn’t do in my first week!

6. Google Hangouts: Every Sunday Sonja has a team Google Hangout chat. While I’m addicted to gChat, the multi-person Google Hangout is a really great tool with some fun features — including showing the speakers face in the main screen when they talk, “hats” to wear and more. I’ll be using this more in the future. If you don’t use gChat, I question what you’re using. AIM?

7. I Kinda Love This Stuff: I can feel that little flame inside lighting back up and I love it.

I closed out week 1 with:

9.32 hours training:
3,600 yards swimming
45.9 miles cycling 
15.1 miles running
1 hour and 25 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running!

   
25 Comments | Posted in Weekly Recap

Starting With Intention

I haven’t posted since early January.

It hasn’t been for a lack of adventures — far from it. Over the past two years, I trained, got injured, trained again, raced, recovered, moved, started a new job, trained, ran a marathon PR, traveled and more.

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I’ve enjoyed amazing runs with some of the best friends I’ve ever had and I explored new countries with the love of my life…with a little work mixed in.

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Oh and did I mention the food in Europe?!

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I am extremely lucky for these amazing opportunities and my husband who supports me and my nomadic tendencies (with a few hearty arguments along the way). Overall, I’ve done a decent job of keeping my mind busy  – especially since Ironman.

Yet ever since that big race, that deep, inner motivation and athletic happiness gauge that used to overflow on a daily basis was waning. I was still happy, yet that “X factor” just left me a bit nonchalant and unfulfilled with where I was — I didn’t even admit to the funk I was in until Saturday.

I decided that February would be my New Years — my fresh start.

I needed to figure out what it was that I was missing, and I also decided that I am going to reprioritize/change some personal/life things over the next year. Not just about my own athletic endeavors, but choices that will help me beyond “Page the athletes” and into the “Page the wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, etc.”  Redefining who I am outside of my sports and career. Let’s just leave those there.

As for the athletic side, I decided to change coaches and start a new journey toward Ironman 70.3 — Lake Stevens. My former triathlon coach was GREAT, my last running coach didn’t fit my style, and this time around, I just knew I needed something different. Someone who would be “all up in my shiz” and help me build both physical and mental confidence — enter Sonja Wieck.

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My first, weekly GoSonja Google Hangout. Sneaky screenshot style.

Saturday was my first Sonja workout and consisted of a 2 hours and 15 minutes “test ride.” In other words, “let’s see what I’m working with here.” I finally got a Cobb saddle and was equipped to do an actual workout (not just spinning because it hurt too bad to go into aero with the other saddle).

I mustered up my gear, fuel, electronics and enough entertainment to get me through the workout. Unsure of what to expect, I just hopped on and followed the cue sheet.

Over two hours later, sweat literally pooling, my legs pushed to a limit they haven’t been to in a while…I smiled. There I was, solo in my apartment, smiling ear-to-ear and I pumped my fist in the air — I kid you not. It was the first time that I can recall that the “X Factor” was back. I’m sure it was the result of an overwhelming endorphin high, but whatever it was that I was missing, it was overwhelming my entire being.

I called Chicken Face while riding my endorphin high and he was a bit confused with my inexplicable glee. I continued to ride that high the entire weekend…into the BARRE3 class (bad idea), onto the Sunday test run, and meeting me here, as I write this post.

As I try to wrap my brain around what “clicked”, I can only guess that it’s partly due to a few things: my 2014 “life reprioritization” and its associated intention.

I know and am ok with a full Ironman not being in the books for 2014. Instead my intentions will be on my family, friends and focusing on half Ironmans. My intentions are no longer to get in as many new adventures as possible, but to enjoy the now and those that I am with.

We are always seeking for more, more, more (myself included), but what about what we already have? What’s in front of you and the beauty in the daily nuances, the sweat you’re shedding at that moment and the people who want to share those moments with you. I intend to make them and those moment a priority — over everything else.

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Happy Running!

   
15 Comments | Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Back At It

It’s no secret that running is my golden child. I love it. I cherish it. I give it preferential treatment and sugary cereal on Saturday mornings. Would you blame me with views like this?

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But it’s also no surprise that my least favorite is also the sport in which I’m the weakest. Oh you want me to try and use my chicken arms to propel me through water for an hour plus while staring at nothing other than a black line? Sounds EXHILARATING.

But as we transition from marathon mode to triathlon training, and knowing that I have some audacious goals in front of me over the next two years (yes years), I’m declaring my avoidance of swimming officially OVER and facing the fact that I have some work to do in the pool. I will embrace the “drowned-rat” look, beg for forgiveness at work, and will boast about chlorine as my fragrance of choice. Plus, swimming in this pool is kind of a dream come true – in fact, it’s the only pool I actually…dare I say…enjoy swimming.

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February is going to start a new training regime and while I have a lot of rebuilding to do in the pool, I also know that I’m aiming to get some yardage under my belt and some meat on these bones.

What’s your least favorite and how are you embracing it?

Happy Running (and Swimming)!

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29 Comments | Posted in Swimming