Wednesday mornings will never be the same.

A few months ago my sister Laura told me that one night, she dreamed that we lived on the same block. I remember thinking oh, yeah, when we are both eventually-someday-finally married at the age of 48 and have settled down with our extremely well-behaved children and good looking husbands, yeah, I could totally see that happening. But in early April, Laura drove cross country from Boston to San Francisco, knocked on my door, Vanna-Whited the Uhaul parked behind her and moved into the apartment next door. In retrospect it should of come as no surprise – this is a girl who dreams things up, has her coffee and then makes things happen.

Now I should first clarify -or she will do so for me- that my sister Laura is no newbie to San Francisco. As a traveling Physical Therapist, she’s lived here a few times before and has an undeniable love for her city by the bay that keeps her coming back for more. No matter the motivation for her return (dreams of block parties with me clearly being at the top of her list) she’s back and she’s back in a big way.

Laura is the fearless leader of the new November Project – San Francisco.  The November Project is a grass-roots fitness movement that originated in Boston, and I first met some of these yogi-runners during this past winter’s Yoga.Run in Cozumel. Well, it has officially caught fire on the left coast with weekly 6:30am Wednesday morning workouts at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. This morning was my first workout and I’m pretty positive I’ll be going bed on Tuesday nights in my running clothes, phone alarm strategically placed across the room in my running shoes. And I should also add that it’s free. I know us Americans like to pay top dollar for our workouts and I’m certainly no exception but try zero dollars on for size, it actually fits!

So come join November Project on Wednesday mornings, rain or shine @ 6:30am. It’s time to get our sweat on, San Francisco.

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Boston Strong: Amy’s Story

On the third Monday in April, Amy Leedham woke up in the city of her alma mater. Now a northern Californian, she returned to race on the roads of Boston and reign in a new marathon PR. An accomplished distance runner, Amy had put in the training that it takes to triumph but on this day, no amount of preparation would be enough for the type of race day that she was about to endure. 

Guest Post Authored by Amy Leedham:

It has been over a week since I landed safely back in San Francisco after running the Boston Marathon and my thoughts and emotions are still at odds and unresolved. I returned to Boston this year to run the marathon after swearing 5 years ago that I would never run it again (a familiar theme as you will see a bit later)– such is the allure of this infamous race!

First things first.

The conditions for this year’s Boston Marathon were perfect! Notorious for totally unpredictable weather, Marathon Monday can be totally brutal. I joined about 15,000 other crazies on the Boston Common at 6:45 am to wait in extremely long lines to get on school buses. Yup, you read that right. The one benefit to this arrangement is that you get to meet some pretty cool people while re-living elementary school glory days of field trips in your head.

I spent the entire 35 minutes I was in the athlete’s village in line for the port-o-john which didn’t have any tp. Rookie mistake on my part; always bring your own tp!!

One highlight for me was that I was Corral 1 in wave 2 which means I actually started the marathon on the start line, which is totally unheard of! I am still scouring the internet for pictures but this is the closest I have found so far. See if you can spot the highlighter yellow shorts!

Frustratingly, I ran a really similar race to the last time I ran Boston. I am pretty sure my half split was the exact same time as in 2008. However, I managed (despite losing a minute to technical difficulties) to pull out a PR (3:19). I crossed the finish line and once I decided I was not going to die, called my husband o tell him I was never running Boston again!! Those damn hills!!

And then 2 bombs exploded killing three and injuring hundreds.

I went to college in Boston and ended up spending 7 of my most transformative years in this wonderful city. I consider Boston one of my home towns, so the events that unfolded last week were personal for me on many levels: As a runner I feel enraged that someone would attack such a positive, embracing international event.  As a Bostonian, I feel deeply saddened that the city had to go through an event like this. As a human, I was moved and inspired by the incredible acts of compassion and bravery shown by so many civilian and emergency response teams. I was lucky enough to have had a good race and had left the finish area about 10 minutes before the first bomb went off, and ended up watching the events unfold in my hotel room.

 After it became clear what had happened and the phones lines opened up, I called my husband and told him that I was coming back to Boston next year. At first he didn’t really understand why, but it didn’t take much explanation for him to get it. Boston is considered the Holy Grail for runners. It’s not just the storied history and prestige that give the race this elite status. The thing that keeps people coming back for more is the people along the entire route screaming for unknown strangers as if they were Olympians. It’s the high pitched scream you can hear before you can see the source at Wellesley.  It’s the deafening roar that begins at Kenmore Square and takes you all the way across the finish line. It’s the high five shared between two strangers who both PR’d and are trying to put sweatpants on without falling over after finishing the race. It’s the trauma surgeon who finished the race and then went to the hospital to perform surgery for over 40 hours on the victims without thinking twice. This is the spirit of the Boston Marathon and I am planning to run next year to prove that it can’t be broken.

-Amy

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Please join Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL on May 11th, 2013 as we dedicate a race to the runners, volunteers, medics, supporters, race directors and all those affected by the tragedies in Boston on April 15th, 2013: https://www.facebook.com/events/536384389745917/ 

Pray for Boston.

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Let’s Talk Tanks

Since I started this blog I have been relatively quiet about what we’ve been working on at IRUNLIKEAGIRL. I guess I just can’t stop talking about myself  I wanted to make sure that we could deliver on our new product promises as to avoid incurring  total, utter, complete devastation amongst our biggest supporters. I know, activewear can be a very emotional thing.

But! I can now say with confidence that we are nearing the point of full-on production for a new IRUNLIKEAGIRL hoodie and tank top style! Earlier this week we received product samples of the happy-dance-inspiring satisfaction level. Yeah, they were that good. It’s a good thing I live alone.

I wanted to invite you to weigh in on some of our upcoming decisions. Right now we are trying to determine the best color combinations for our new tank tops. These will be activewear tops that are ideal for running/racing/yoga’ing/etc. and we want to go with some bright, fun NEON color combos (for some reason I feel that I need to write NEON in all caps. Sorry I can’t stop it).

So, we’d love to know, what are some of your favorite NEON color combinations?

If you were to pair a black tank top with one NEON accent color, what would that one color be?

And….how are you celebrating St. Paddy’s day? – I am running a 12k race (should be a scenic one- goes from Sausalito to San Francisco) and then brunching with some of my favorite Irishmen. And I may or may not be bringing green food coloring to add to our champagne. Surprise surprise, friends.

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2013 Napa Valley Marathon Race Recap

We did it. A 26.2 mile feat is in the books and forever a memory for Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL. Race weekends really are my favorite type of weekend and this one was no exception. I mean you can’t really have a bad time when the word LOADING describes what you should be doing with carbohydrates. So while my race wasn’t as fast as I what I had hoped for (finished in a 3:35), the experience of seeing my girls & Peter at the finish line made me want to raise a glass or five in celebration.

Here are a few things I’m most grateful for during the 2013 Napa Valley Marathon race weekend:

SuperFANS: To me, a race is a reward for all of the hard training so it was awesome to have such great support in the form of friends, boyfriends and fiances there for our racin’ celebration’.

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“Lucky” rainbow cupcakes: I made these for the team but after they suffered serious cosmetic injuries in transit to Napa, Sally and I decided that it was “best to not let anyone else see them like this.” Not one for wasting food, we settled the situation like any good Americans would; we consumed them.

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My handheld water bottle: I’m all about the All You Can Drink Water Buffets (my term for the water-aid stations to keep me ‘excited’ and motivated to get to next one) but for this race I decided to carry my own water bottle, and I’m glad that I did. It was kind of warm, I was really thirsty and there really weren’t that many water stations. It also has a pouch that kept my GU’s from getting disgustingly warm as they do when I put them in my pocket.

The finish line: These days I’m so elated by the very sight of the finish line that any disappointment due to a slow race time doesn’t typically set in until at least 48 hours after the race. Not a bad deal right?

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Gott’s Roadhouse: For mint chocolate chip ice cream sundaes with chocolate syrup, peanut butter and extra Oreos before we finally left to go home. BTW this was my last dairy treat before starting my ‘3 weeks of veganism before 30’ challenge. But more on that later…

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So here’s to a few easy weeks of running, just-for-fun runs and figuring out where Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL will be racing next.

When it comes to running, what are you most grateful for right now?

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In 72 hours from now…

8 of us from San Francisco, Boston and New York will toe the starting line to race the Napa Valley Marathon. This race is particularly special to me as it’s the first goal race for Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL, which means that I will be tackling 26.2 miles in the company of san fran girlfrans, my longtime friend & high school teammate Sally (sal my pal) and my sister Laura– who is flying in to race the marathon before she moves to Africa the next day to start a new medical clinic that will better the quality of human life as we know it. And you thought you were tired.

On Sunday I can truly say that simply getting to the starting line will feel like an accomplishment. You see, ten days ago during a girls weekend with Jen & Sally in St. Joe, Michigan I took the hardest fall of my life. I was over-achieving as per usual, adding on a couple of extra miles by myself at the end of our long run when I crossed a steel/grated bridge. My foot caught the grate and I tripped and busted my knees, twisted my ankle, shattered my phone and cried for my mom. I hobbled home to Jen’s house and after she assessed the severity of my injuries she took me straight to the emergency room pizzeria for a large pie and pitcher of sangria. What would I do without her.

I was down and out for a whole week. Today I am moving about as smooth as the Tin Man, but I am back to running and just looking forward to racing this weekend with all that I’ve got.

I will admit to you that I have been trying out a few things to speed up my recovery…

1) I went to the Wishing Tree #onlyinsanfrancisco. Some make wishes… I put in for miracles.

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2) I picked up a brand new pair of bright running shoes. How can you have a bad run in hot pink shoes? It’s impossible. And it’s pretty much against the law.

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3) I sat on the couch and ate more of these amazing new pretzel buns than I care to confess. A carb-cure-all is what i’m hoping for here.

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So, I think I will be ALL SET to race on Sunday. Good luck to my teammates and to everyone racing  the Napa Valley Marathon! And to everyone racing other races this weekend, especially my coach Tony who will be making his debut over the 10 mile distance in Redding, CA.

How about you…

are you dealing with any injuries?

are you in rest mode too? either just raced or taper mode? 

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Yoga.Run Cozumel

Day in, day out there is a part of our nation that rises to run, to roll out their mat, to move. Most days only being accountable to one’s self, and that’s enough. But on January 31st 2013, twenty five of these souls retreated to Cozumel, Mexico for Yoga.Run. It was a five day retreat lead by Goldie Kaufenberg (2012 Best of Boston Yoga Instructor) & Brogan Graham (Co-founder of the November Project). To describe it as an AWESOME experience would earn me a spot on The Bachelor this season the Understatement of the Year Award. But instead of inventing and presenting ‘awards’ to myself, I shall attempt to describe the experience more accurately; it was an aweINSPIRING experience that made me appreciate the lifestyle that I have chosen for myself more than ever.

Each morning we gathered on the beach at 8am ready to stretch, ready to sweat.  We ran out and back along the Cozumel coast, the only heavy thing on my mind being french toast, side of pancakes. After which the first of Goldie’s twice daily yoga sessions was held on the rooftop studio. The view was a sight only to be found on istockphoto in paradise.

But it was not the sunshine filled morning runs or breathtaking views that swept the yoga sessions that made this an aweINSPIRING retreat—it was that it was done in step with a group of people that simply get it. A group of people that know what it takes and what it’s like to make sacrifices each day to make their fitness and health a priority. It was in the Cozumel sunshine that we celebrated all of the mornings that we typically peel ourselves out of our warm beds to hit the streets for a dark and chilly run. It was on the rooftop that we rewarded ourselves for all of the times we left work after a long day and chose the studio over the couch. All of the times we chose to stop thinking and just start doing.  Strangers met, lived out Yoga.Run and came out the other side as friends and to me, it’s really no wonder why.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been on a active-yet-restorative retreat?

Would you be interested in a Yoga.Run-type retreat?

[Photo credits to my vacation ROOMIE & sister, Laura and sunglass stomper, Brogan]

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Five Questions for the Founder of GirlyObsessions.com

Senior Art Director for a top advertising agency by day, Chief Obsessor/Founder at GirlyObsessions.com by night, Ashley Rutter is a girl that has got it going on.

I first met Ashley nearly eight years ago while we both worked together at a boutique ad agency in South Norwalk, CT. We bonded over a shared appreciation for frilly lattes, P A R I S, the color pink and the office snack cabinet. And as girlfriends in advertising go, we spent a lot of late nights at the office discussing important things in life like our takeout order and what might of happened in our clients childhood to make them so evil. Ashley is dedicated to producing great work; if she is going to do something, she is going to do it well. She leads with heart, obsesses with grace and gives each day the best version of herself.

Recently I sat down to dinner with Ashley to get the full scoop on how she made her longtime dream of starting her own blog a reality.

I. How did GirlyObsessions.com get started?

I had the idea a few years before it actually got started. I read a ton of blogs and I have successful-full-time-blogger envy, so I had always thought about starting my own. And I knew I wanted to blog about all the things I obsess over, which if you read my blog, is A LOT of things. In fact, I think my obsessiveness has become one of my defining personality traits. Initially, the hardest part was coming up with a name and picking a URL. Everything good always seems to be taken! So one day I had a clear vision of what the blog would be, came up with the name, bought the URL, and GirlyObsessions was born. Sort of. You know the old saying about how the cobblers kids don’t have shoes? The same is true for design, at least for me. I think that most designers will tell you that creating something for yourself can be incredibly difficult, and I am definitely my own worst critic! But I was working in a job where I was feeling less than inspired, so once I bought the URL, the design came together very quickly. And thanks to my super talented husband, it was coded in WordPress and I was up and running in about a month. That was almost two years ago!photo 3

II. What has been your most rewarding moment with GirlyObsessions.com to date?

That’s a tough one! I’ve had a lot of rewarding moments! But I would say one of my first rewarding moments was when I got a blog comment from someone I didn’t know. It might seem small but it’s something that still makes me happy every time it happens. It means that people other than my friends and family are reading my blog! And to me, that equals success!

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III. How do you find the time to manage your blog while working full time as a Sr. Art Director?

Not gonna lie, it’s really hard. I just started a new job in September that I love but is incredibly demanding. But GirlyObsessions is my creative outlet, so I always try to find the time. Although I do have instances like over the holiday break where a one week hiatus turned into three… Honestly, running the blog is like having a second full time job. Almost all of my free time is spent taking and editing photos, writing posts, managing the social media, concepting new ideas, etc. I am working toward the goal that one day by blog will be my full-time job, but for now, I just make sure I find the time. But I also try to cut myself some slack and not totally stress out if I can’t post for a few days due to work or other things going on in my life.

IV. Last year you ran a half-marathon. Are you training for any races currently?

I hate to even admit this, but until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had a regular workout routine in like, 6 months. (Crazy work hours + blogging + life in general = no time.) Although that’s a terrible excuse because I know I always feel better after working out! So I’ve started running and working out again more regularly with the goal in the back of my mind to run that half again in June. And to beat my time. But, at this point, if I could just run it again without dying, I’d be happy!

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V. What advice would you give to those that need help staying committed to fulfilling a goal or dream that they have?

Do what you’re passionate about and set realistic goals for yourself. If you’re stuck in a day job that you don’t love, then find an outlet. I’m lucky that I have a job that I love, but nothing I do there is for ME. The blog is for me. It reflects who I am. And it’s scary putting yourself out there sometimes. But, no risk, no reward right? Sometimes I think if I just stopped blogging, who would even care? Why do I put this added pressure on myself when I could just stop? But it’s something I’ve committed myself to doing. And I know I have readers who love the blog, so I keep it up not only for them, but for myself. Because even though it can be demanding, I truly love doing it. I set a series of small, attainable goals for myself along the way, and reaching those is rewarding. I started out small and as the blog continued to grow, I changed my goals and added new ones, like: write one more post per week, add a new feature, use more of my own photography, grow my traffic to grow by XX%, etc. While I’d love to have overnight success, I have to believe that it’s hard work and dedication that pay off in the long run.

Ashley Says:

My favorite meal of the day is: Dessert

…and I usually eat: Ice cream followed by popcorn. Can’t have sweet without the salty!

I like my coffee: In the form of espresso. In a latte. With a little sugar.

My favorite color is: Neon! Well, specifically, neon pink. Actually, any bright pink will do.

My favorite day of the week is: Going for the obvious choice: Saturday.

If an extra hour was added to each day I’d use it to: Write my blog post for the next day…I’m such a procrastinator.

Most people are surprised to learn that I: Am 31. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve had a lot of that lately. And that I can’t dance. Like, at all. Zero rhythm. And no one believes me until they actually witness it for themselves, and they’re like ok, I get it. Sucks for you.

I run: To stay in shape and de-stress.

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Ashley Rutter

www.girlyobsessions.com

Socialize: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr

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I have an announcement.

Last week I told you about a little pre-race ritual that I was bringing back in effort to start running ‘acceptably-slow’ again. I baked a batch of cupcakes a couple days prior to the Phoenix RnR half marathon (which took place this past weekend), fed them to who are we kidding I ate all 12 my friends & I and what do you know, we all ran pretty well. I ran a 1:35 which is not a PR, not even close (<— my ego had to add that), but I reversed the curse and that’s what’s important. So now you know- 3 days prior to the next race that you are running, pick up a $1.24 box of cupcake mix, get baking and you too can start running acceptably-slow again.

So I’m thinking that if cupcakes did it for the half-marathon, it will take a multi-tier cake for a full-marathon, right? Sounds logical to me. You heard it here first, Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL- throw out that training plan, skip those 18 milers, marathon might as well be called a 5K; Kelly is bringing cake.

Ok, I’ll stop talking about sugar for a few seconds to share this post-race picture of Peter and my lazy-eye:

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And a cuter one of Sarah and I at the Botanical Gardens. We were training partners when I used to live in NYC (a.k.a. she would run easy and I’d hold on for dear life), logging hundreds of miles together in Central Park and probably just as many meals. We are really good eaters.  Image:

In the spirit of announcements, I have a couple more:

1. If you order anything from the IRUNLIKEAGIRL’s online store between now and Valentine’s day (oh I just love Feb. 14th…don’t you?), we will pay for the shipping. Simply use the code: ItsAboutTheHeart and select USPS priority if you reside in the US, and First Class International Shipping if you reside in Canada. Or send me your boyfriend/fiance/husband/mailman’s email address and I’ll be sure to hint at what you really want this Valentine’s day.

2. Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL is meeting tomorrow morning for a 4-6 mile run in GG park and brunch at The Grove. Yummy. Please bring or wear any hoodie that has strings (need to be able to close the hood around your face) for a little pre-run photo op.

What are you up to this weekend? Anyone racing? Any long runs planned? 

I’m heading out the door for 18 miles, fortunately I have company for my misery this long one. T-minus 5 weeks until the Napa Valley marathon. Yeeeah.

Have a good one, friends!

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Hot Cocoa Cupcakes + a Half-Marathon.

I’m getting ready to fly to Arizona where I’ll be racing the Phoenix Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon this weekend (anyone else?). I haven’t been racing my best lately and have been thinking a lot about what I’ve changed that might be attributing to the slow-go-ness. I’ve been training hard, eating well enough and certainly sleeping like a champion. But it occurred to me how I’ve gotten away from being ridiculously superstitious and diligent about certain pre-race routine rituals that I used to swear by. To think how much LUCK I have been leaving on the table every time I’ve been toeing the starting line without eating 12 pretzels exactly 21 minutes prior to the race, wearing my neon striped socks, adorning a piece of pink ribbon in my laces and zapping my shoes (you read that right). To think, I’ve been cheating myself out of new PR’s left and right! Call me Nancy Drew but I think I might have solved this case.

So, back to pre-race rituals it is. I’ve found that the best way to receive good luck is to give it out, so luckily there are two other poor souls  amigos of mine running this weekend: my boyfriend Peter (hi pg!) and fast-friend-Sarah will be undergoing 13.1 miles of torture  who will be in need of fueling up on my good-luck-cupcakes. I’ve run some of my best races after carbing up on cupcakes in the days prior to the race and being that the very thought of cupcakes makes my heart smile, I didn’t have to tell myself twice to bring this ritual back.

So my girl Betty C. and I got to work.

She had boxed up a new mix for me…of….wait for it…… HOT COCOA CUPCAKES (oh. my. GOD). photo (96)

And because I was feeling like I could push the 3-step directions a tiny bit further I made them into…….PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA CUPCAKES (no. you. diiiidn’t….. yeah. i did). I crushed up some of these choco peppermint pieces of heaven and piled them into the batter. photo (97)

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Here’s some proof that I did not eat all of the batter before it was time to actually bake them. I’d post the recipe here but Betty C. is keeping it all to herself. She’s such a quiet one.

I’ll report back on whether or not my LUCK has returned after Sunday’s race…

Are you racing this weekend? How about the Phoenix Rock N’ Roll half or full marathon? 

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you swear by? 

Ever enjoyed a hot cocoa cupcake? Or a PEPPERMINT one?!?

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A March marathon, and what is Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL?

So, I’ve determined that I am prone to R.C.H. (Race Commitment High). It’s a completely made-up condition that is brought on by hitting the submit button and officially entering into a race. Symptoms include an immediate sense of gratification, excitement, purpose for training, and renewed inspiration. Really, R.C.H. is quite the condition to have. So when I heard that my friend Taylor signed up for the Napa Valley Marathon (<— I think there’s at least two of us runner girl’s out there with R.C.H., just sayin’) I was quick to follow.

This will be my second marathon, the first was the Nashville country music marathon that I ran with my older brother and two younger sisters back in 2010. Here’s  a couple of pic’s of us at 5am the morning of the race. As you can see we all received the ‘whole lotta limb’ gene:

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I felt great and finished in a 3:21. Beating my little sisters and eating  copious amounts of cupcakes after the race were my goals. Mission, accomplished.

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After committing to the Napa marathon, I decided it was a good time to find more company for my miserystart a running team for the IRUNLIKEAGIRL active wear brand. And so, Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL was born. If you like to run and EAT, you should come hang out with us.  If you just like to EAT, you should come hang out with us. We have 8 runners training for the Napa marathon in March and a bunch more that come out to run (and EAT) with us! Here’s a quick shot from last week’s 2013 kickoff party right before our run in Golden Gate Park…

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So, I’d love to know…

What are you training for? 

Have you ever run a marathon?

When it comes to cupcakes, do you enjoy the cake or the frosting more?

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