Team Dopey at Endure24 – The Laps

It’s the day after Endure24 and other than a little bit tired and some ‘interesting’ chafing I feel pretty good. As promised in yesterday’s overview blog, here’s my story of my 6 laps. I didn’t do a picture round this year but the course was the same as last year so if you want to get a sense, have a look at my description of the course from then.

Lap 1

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Ready!

For some reason I had decided I wanted to go first. No idea why really. So I lined up on the start line and set off with the crowd. It soon thinned out and I settled in towards the back of the pack. It was incredibly hot. The start section is a grassy very slightly uphill pull before you turn right down a nice gentle slope before turning quite sharp left into the first wooded section, the first bit of which is again gently uphill. Then you reach the Black Fen Drop and go downhill before the next right turn. Did I mention it was hot. I turned right and then walked a little. I might have got caught up in the running at the start and gone off a little too fast although I felt good. I went on running the shady flat and downhill bits and walking anything that was uphill and/or in full sun. It was hot. Just before the drinks comes a section called sheep rush – more like sheep pile up in the shade on this lap. They were all packed in as tight as they could under the trees at the edge of their field. I didn’t stop for drinks this time round although I sipped my own as I walked through that section. I chatted to a few solo runners on this lap

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That Bloody Last Bit seen from the top

including Caroline who is also in the #Run1000Mile group, we walked Ripple Rise together and then somehow chatting with her and another lady that caught us up I managed to run up ‘That Bloody Last Bit’. So lap 1 was a success. I came in in 1 hour 5 minutes and 44 seconds and it felt like pretty easy running.

Lap 2

This was about 2pm. Kath had had a good run round but warned me to be really careful because it was so so hot. So my strategy was to run the downhill and flat (there isn’t much that is genuinely flat!) and also walk anything that was in full sun and just walk the rest. I was keen to just get a couple of gentle laps in and then have another good go at running one later when it cooled down a bit. I thought this might be a sociable lap just because I was walking lots but it wasn’t really. I was passed by lots of speedy people

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The Deep Dark Wood Sign

running for their teams – all very impressive. I was just hot. It seemed hotter out there than on my first lap. I had one lovely chat with a solo lady who was walking. We chatted about how solos often team up and pairs and teams are sometimes more ‘solo’ than solos. I stopped for some water at the drinks station. The Deep Dark Wood just before had been a welcome bit of shade but it hadn’t really cooled me. I plodded on mostly walking and came in in 1 hour 13 something. I was happy but hot and very glad of the cooling towel Kath had for me.

Lap 3

I went out for Lap 3 at about 5pm ish. Guess what, still hot. I felt pretty good but didn’t cropped-img_8636-e1530472381580.jpgwant to go silly so my plan was the same as for the lap before. I thought there would be a few more shady areas now so I might run a little more. The first part of the lap was non eventful and I just happily plodded along. Then someone recognised my Dopey t-shirt for a Dopey Challenge T-shirt and we had a quick exchange about how awesome it was as she flew past me. There were lots of comments about Dopey on this lap – most people not knowing it was a Dopey Challenge T-shirt. Many identified with the sentiment and I got lots of ‘Go on Dopey’ and ‘Well Done Dopey’ calls as I plodded round. Going up Temple Drag I saw a stunning Dragon fly. It was enormous – bigger than I’ve ever seen and shimmering as the light caught it. It made me smile and for a minute or two I forgot I was hot. I saw another one at Sheep Rush. I stopped for a drink and a chat with the marshals and then plodded on past the 5km mark to the next set of marshals at the bottom of the next hill. They were offering water sprays – who knew a simple spray of water in your face and on the back of your neck could be sooooo amazing. Thank you! Plodding up the hill I suddenly smelled camomile. It took me a minute to realise that I was running on the edge of the field and that the grass was edged with the low growing creeping sort of camomile – I must have been disturbing it and making it smell. It was lovely though. The rest of the lap was just hot although as I came to the end I vaguely wondered if maybe it was cooling off a bit. I was also suddenly aware of discomfort on my knicker line and inner thigh. Hm

Lap 4

Before lap 4 I had to investigate the discomfort. Well it turns out that my thighs had won the material v thighs battle once again and my running tights had a hole in them running

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Not a picture of my chafing!

from the knicker line down my inner thigh. This isn’t news to me, that’s how all my pants eventually die. Unfortunately though this one went without warning and caused some nasty chafing along the knicker line and down my inner thigh – like red raw kind of chafing. I hate vaseline. The consistency/ feel/ texture/ everything freaks me out. It’s vile. But there was nothing for it, vaseline it was going to have to be.

Patched up and in a different pair of pants I set off. Partly I really wanted to get another lap in without having to use a head torch so this was my last chance to do that. I also wanted to capitalise on feeling pretty strong. Lap 4 was probably the most eventful of my laps. I set off and it was now definitely cooler (though still quite warm) and running felt a little easier. I still walked the sunny bits but there were now markedly fewer of them. I was going well and then we got into the Deep Dark Wood coming up to half way. There was a solo runner in front of me. I nearly went flying (hahaha) past and then realised that he was really struggling. I stopped and asked if he would like a bit of company, if that would help. It seemed to so I walked with him a little while – just short of a mile maybe, and we chatted about competing with ourselves, coming last and race bucket lists. I had a flicker of ‘oh well there goes a decent lap time then’ but it lasted less than a split second. Helping a fellow runner round was far more important. We chatted until we got to the drinks station and then he seemed to know a few people and was chatting away with them so I had my drink and headed on.

I was actually running strong and wondered whether I should try the next hill but it was still in full sun so I walked up smelling the camomile and watching a ewe on the wrong side of the fence getting more and more anxious because one of her lambs was on the other side. Marshalls were trying to herd her in the right directions round the fence but runners were coming through in a steady stream so she wasn’t for going that way. Eventually the inevitable happened and she launched herself through the fence, got stuck and sort of fell through it and stayed down lying on her side. I’d got to the top of the slope by now and the two ladies I’d been chatting to carried on as I went to see if I could help. The marshals didn’t know what to do and everyone seemed to think the ewe was badly hurt. I wasn’t so sure – I thought she was just being a sheep and giving up on life rather easily. I stroked her through the fence and checked her legs, no obvious pain, nothing felt broken. I couldn’t see any injuries. I think she was just stuck – or rather I think she thought she was stuck and was doing the usual sheep thing of ‘oh ok, well I’ll just die here then’. I walked round the fence line and over to her on her side of the fence.

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20 Mile Face

She just looked at me. I stroked her while untangling her legs from the fence and then, helped by a gentle slope at the edge of the field, we rolled her over. As soon as she realised she could get up she jumped up and legged it over to her lambs (who had helpfully run off to be with the flock ‘bye mum, nice to have known you’ style). The marshals thanked me for stopping and apologised for ‘ruining’ my race. That made me laugh – it can’t have looked like I was racing anyone or anything! I reassured them  they hadn’t and got going again. Towards the end of this lap my legs were feeling a little tired but otherwise I felt good. I was looking forward to a recovery drink and a little rest. I came home in 1.22 and a bit in spite of the lovely walk and chat and the sheep rescue.

Laps 5 and 6

When Kath came back after lap 5 I had dozed off so I was a bit dazed and confused. I set off on lap 5 really looking forward to a good run. I felt good. I certainly didn’t feel like I’d already covered 20 miles. I power walked the grassy slope to get used to the head torch

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First slope seen from the bottom

and wake up properly and then I jogged down the first hill. I felt sick. Not running related sick, not tummy bug sick, nothing like that. I felt motion sick. I know that feeling well. I can get motion sick standing still. I nearly puked after doing the Star Wars simulator at Disney World with Kath even though I kept my eyes shut for all of it. But running? I realised that I got a wave of that deep nausea that can’t be shifted every time a runner approached from behind me and the light from their torch merged with mine. It was worse when they had a torch that flashed or moved a lot. It was completely disorientating me and I was unsteady on my feet. I walked. The nausea didn’t shift but at least I could walk in a straight line – sort of. I turned my torch off and for a couple of glorious minutes it was just me in the dark and the sick-y feeling eased, then more runners came past. Whenever I could I turned my torch off but there was a steady stream of other runners so it didn’t help that much. I tried to run but I kept nearly falling over and it made the nausea worse. I sipped my tailwind and kept walking. I was grumpy. I felt strong, nothing hurt, nothing was even achey and my legs, which had felt tired at the end of lap 4, felt fine. I tried to run again, stumbled and nearly fell into the path of another runner. ‘This is stupid’ I thought. I’m obviously not safe to run with the head torch light. I have run in the dark but when we do we tend to run in the dark. We take the head torches and will sometimes use them on tricky patches but generally we run without them as it is rarely so dark you can’t see.

So I kept marching round. I was upset and disappointed. This was going to be my flying lap. I wanted to try and get round in about the same time as my first lap. It should have been doable. I was in full blown battle mode in my head by the time I got to the drinks station. The guys there were singing Robbie Williams ‘Millennium’ and having a laugh and it was so cheerful and supportive that while I was there I forgot I was grumpy. I marched on a little more positively and as I crossed Festival Crossing the moon was in full view. It was stunning. I realised that I was missing all the wonders of being out at night. I tried to focus on them. I could hear the sheep nearby but couldn’t see them, I could hear owls screeching and the undergrowth at the path edges was full of hustle and bustle. I could feel the mist every time we descended into a dip but I couldn’t see it and the air had a stillness to it that you only get in the middle of the night. I walked a bit faster. I breathed more deeply, I was keeping the motion sickness under control. It was still there but more like the lingering car sickness that stays with you a couple of hours after a long journey. I marched up That Bloody Last Bit. Decision time. I wanted to stop. I was tired and felt a bit of an emotional wreck after that lap. I wanted to stop. But I also knew that if I stopped now that would be it. I wouldn’t go out again. I came for 6 laps. I wanted to stop. I knew I couldn’t run with the torch light. I knew I could wait for it to come light and then go but I also knew that I’d be unlikely to do that. If I stopped for any length of time I’d stiffen and if I fell asleep I’d struggle to wake up properly and if I slept too long it would be hot. I was also mindful of our long haul flight on Tuesday. I needed

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The start/finish section

to not be broken to get sorted for our trip and be ok on the flight and on arrival. I wanted to stop.

So as I came into the finishing straight I kept to the right hand side, as far away as possible from the exits to the change over areas. I wanted to stop and I knew if I was on the left where it was easy to just duck out I might not keep going. I knew I could walk another lap. I knew I had to make myself do it or I would be so disappointed. I still wanted to stop though. I wasn’t sure I’d make myself do it until I had walked all the way down along the grassy slope along the far right away from the tents and opportunities to duck out. I basically kept my hand on the guide rope as if begging it to hold onto me and not let me quit. I turned right down the slope ‘ Right then Dopey, you’re doing this’ I said to myself. One foot in front of the other. I kept moving. I was more focused on my surroundings now, looking around and listening. There’s a certain quality of quiet in the night. Granted, it was punctured by the huffing and puffing of runners storming past me, but it was there. I got my ears in and heared different noises – different owls I think screeching and I caught the noise and movement of one swooping but it was too far in the wood to actually see it. Once or twice I more felt than saw a bat close by and once or twice my head torch caught eyes in the wood and reflected them back at me. It was stunningly beautiful. A few times I just stood and listened. I’d forgotten about time.

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The lap

At a mile and half I saw a solo runner, Martin according to his sign on the back of his pack, walking slowly down the hill to Temptation Corner in front of me. It was tempting to fall into step with him, he was walking more slowly than I was at that point and I was aware of tiredness creeping into my legs and hips. But I kept walking offering words of encouragement as I went past. He overtook me later and looked strong. At the 3km mark there were marshals who were basically dancing the night away and they made me smile and I did a little series of salsa steps as I went passed – or I think I did. Who knows what I actually did. The next stretch was probably my favourite bit of all of it. In spite of now being quite tired and a bit emotionally drained because this was not the plan I love my slow walk through the Deep Dark Wood on this lap. I got lucky and saw almost no-one on this stretch. I turned my torch off and it was lovely and dark. My eyes adjusted quickly, the motion sickness faded further into the background and it was just calm. I realised I was happy and I realised I was going to complete the lap and get to 30 miles and I realised that that was what I wanted and that after the lap I would call it a night without any regrets or what ifs.

As I got to the drinks station I realised my hips were tight, very tight. The guys there were now playing Abba. I laughed. I wondered how many Abba songs I could sing in my head. Quite a few as it turns out and I hope for everyone’s sake that the singing happened in my head only. Can’t be sure though.

It must have been about 2.45 am and there was some light in the sky now. I could see the

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First uphill slope from one of Kath’s laps

mist patches as I walked into them now and the sheep were more visible. In fact the scene at Festival Crossing was spectacular -the moon shining its light onto a large peaceful flock of sheep below. I thought about the ewe I’d helped rescue earlier and hoped she was ok. As I walked up Ripple Rise I caught up with Gareth who had a broken ankle and was hobbling round in his boot and on his 3rd lap. Seriously impressive stuff. On the flat he was walking faster than I had been and as I fell in with him and was forced to stride out a little more to keep up I stretched my hips and the pain eased. We chatted to the finish. It felt good to finish. It had an almost melancholy sense of achievement. 30 miles is a big deal. It just wasn’t quite the way I wanted to get to 30 miles. I wanted more running. But on reflection I’m really happy. The 10 mile walk in the middle of the night did me good, it did my brain good. It took forever – nearly 3 and a quarter hours in the end but it wasn’t about time. In many ways time just stood still as I toddled off into my own world, a world were calm and quiet were there in a way that they so rarely are for me these days. It might not have been what I wanted but it was perhaps what I needed. Sometimes the universe knows.

I’m still coming back for 7 though!

More f-ing snow

Right so it was supposed to be spring by now. I did not order this snow and I am thoroughly sick of it now.  There was a dusting of the white stuff yesterday morning and I was grumpy. We had a lazy morning but at some point in the afternoon decided to get out. The roads were clear and in between flurries of snow there was glorious sunshine. So we went for a run. Once I worked out that the road actually wasn’t icy I was quite happy and settled in nicely. I had decided to turn off my run/walk intervals and run by feel. My rule for that is that I can walk whenever I want but before I do I need to pick the landmark where I will walk and the landmark after that where I will start running again. I haven’t run continuously for ages and I think the last few times I’ve tried my feet and/or calves have been sore after about a mile.

It was also a ‘Chase Kath’ run. I don’t actually chase her – that would be pointless! But we set off at the same time and run the same route and at an agreed point she turns round and comes back to me and then we run back together. It works quite well for any route than involves the canal because we can work out a loop or an out and back where we can definitely come back together at some point without risking missing each other. The wind was bitter but the sun was quite warm and I soon realised that I had too much on. My hat came off before I’d gone a mile but I was glad I had my jacket on whenever there was a gust of wind and happy that I could pull my ruff over my ears when needed. So mile one was fine – much of it is downhill with just a very slight incline about 3/4 of the way in. I don’t really remember running mile 1. I think I was just lost in my thoughts really. Not long after the mile 1 beep I passed a woman wrapped up against the elements who lifted her head just long enough to inform me that I must be mad. ‘Yes I am’ I replied quite cheerfully. I think her speaking to me had taken me out of whatever world I was in before because I was suddenly more aware of running.

I crossed the road to continue along the canal towpath and watched a swan trying to get airborne. ‘Bloody hell mate!’ I said as I watched the swan run across the water frantically flapping its wings. ‘You’re making that look harder work than I am!’ Suddenly I felt too loud. My breathing was too loud, my feet hitting the ground were too loud. I spent last week catching up on reading running magazines that had piled up and I remembered something about running better when trying to run quietly. I also remembered reading quite a lot about controlling breathing. So generally it might be best to concentrate on one thing at a time but to be honest I didn’t really concentrate on either – I just kept telling my self to try and be quiet and breathe properly. 2 miles.

My feet and legs felt fine. I passed some Geese and hissed back at them. They’re evil you know, proper evil. I was starting to feel it a little bit but thought that I could probably make 3 miles. I tried to slow down a little bit just to make sure. I said hello to a lone duck, it ignored me. At 2.5 miles I was beginning to wish Kath would hurry up so I could turn around and break up the ‘running in a straight line is beginning to feel hard’ feeling. I got  to where I could see the next canal bridge. ‘I could stop there’ I thought. ‘She can’t be far off now. I’ll just stretch my calves and wait for her’. Hm. I had to give myself a talking to:

  • ‘Do your legs hurt?’
  • ‘No’
  • ‘Are they tight?’
  • ‘No’
  • ‘Then what the fuck do you want to stretch them for – move your moomin butt past that fucking bridge’
  • ‘Oh just fuck off

But I ran past the bridge and just as the canal takes a gentle left hand bend I could see her! Yay! I turned round and managed to run to 3 miles, had a very brief little walk break (less than 20 seconds) and then started again. It was nice listening to Kath talk about her run and the woodpecker she’d heard but hand’t been able to pick out. My feet were beginning to niggle a little but nothing major. I seemed to have decided that I wanted to run to 4 miles. So I did. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t ridiculous either. At 4 miles I had a short walk break and then ran the last bit along the canal over the bridge and to the bottom of the slope to walk home. Happy.

Today I was meant to run 3 miles. I didn’t. There’s this vile white stuff on the ground. I don’t run in snow. Kath did, she had a lovely time I think and when she showed me her photos I almost wished I’d gone with her. Almost. So I’ve done very little today – I did some strength exercises but that’s about it. Never mind, tomorrow’s a new day.

Oh yeah, it’s Sunday – ‘hate the scales day’. The scales are not friendly today. I’d stay off them if I were you.

Tentative Ten and Accidental Five

I didn’t set out to run 5 miles today. But I did. Well I ran some of the 5 mile outing, possibly most of it but I had a great time. But let’s start at the beginning. I put off running all week. Somehow I never really quite got round to getting my butt out the door. I did go to the gym on Thursday and did a bit on the bike and some strength work but my hip was a bit niggly so I spent time stretching and then walked on a fairly steep incline on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I wanted to be sure I could manage the planned 10 miler at the weekend. Eeek. On Friday I finally got my butt out for a little run. I used the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse training run which was a Take 5 run. So you run to cover 5k, take 5 pictures and note 5 things you’ve enjoyed about the run. Here are 5 photos from that run: First bit of proper trail on the run (and a bugger of a slope but you can’t tell on the picture), blackberries, downhill across the old golf course, heron by the canal, me.

Then came the 10 miler. We’d thought about Bolton Abbey and doing our extended plus normal loop but then we were awake early and thought we could go closer to home rather than wait for Bolton Abbey to open. Then we had an argument about the route (mainly because I got canal bridges muddled in my head so we argued about distances), got grumpy, bitched at each other a bit, got over it and had breakfast. We decided to do our 1 hour run instead and the ten miler the day after. At lunchtime we decided we could try for the 10 miles after all, agreed the route (now that wasn’t so hard was it!) and set off.

I never really settled down properly. I ran the first mile, walked a little in the second, then ran the third and most of the 4th although I wondered whether I should just do the 1 hour and have another go at the ten another time. I felt like I was cheating, not doing it right – but then I thought that as I was out, I might as well try and do it now. Seemed silly to have to worry about it all over again. Towards the end of the 4th mile we walked a little and I had a couple of sips of the torque energy drink we had in our bottles. When we set off running again at about 5 miles I got really nasty tummy cramps and nearly threw up everywhere. I walked a bit, tried again and felt very very uncomfortable. We walked a bit more and then sat on a little wall watching a heron on the opposite side of the canal. Here he is just before he crossed over to where we watched him.

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I’d pretty much decided to give up and walk to the golf course bridge and up towards home but as Kath pointed out, I’d done 6 miles, seemed silly not to carry on. I tried running a little and while uncomfortable, I was no longer in pain and no longer felt sick so I settled back into running very slowly for mile 7 where we saw another heron and a little further on a group of swallows seemingly playing around two moored canal boats.  Then we turned back towards home run/walking mile 8 and 9 trying to walk up hill as fast as I could and stopping briefly to say hello to Dino – the last time we’d ever run past him as he was being picked up by his new owner later.

The we walked most of mile 10. My hips and lower back were tight, as were my calves and I was now feeling the lack of fuel but otherwise I didn’t feel too bad and I recovered really well once I had some water and food in me. I was grumpy initially for having walked so much but that grumpiness has gone. I did 10 miles. I learned a bit and I’m looking forward to having another go. I also did pretty well on a number of strava segments in spite of my walk breaks and the distance. I am excited about the distance and doing it without it being a massive big deal – which it was the first time I attempted double figures.

Today we were supposed to do an hour. I woke up feeling a few after effects of the 10 miles but nothing too bad. Calves a little tight maybe but they soon got moving. I did want to be careful though so decided not to run first thing and wait until everything had got moving and I was sure nothing hurt. Then it got hot and then we thought it might be busy and we didn’t want people so we ended up going late afternoon after having had a curry for lunch. To make her miles up to this week Kath wanted 6 miles. I’d thought about an hour gentle, slow plod with walking to look at things and thought maybe 4 ish miles for me, max. Really I just wanted to go for a walk with the odd little run thrown in. 3 miles would have been fine!

So we set off at the same time, going the same route. Kath went ahead and when she got to 3 miles she was going to turn round and collect me on the way back. I figured that if I was going about 13.5 minute miles and she was going about 10 minute miles we wouldn’t be too far off and it’d be close enough to an hour. I was so proud of her as she sped away down Ilkley Road into the distance. By the time I got the the end of the road and turned left she’d gone. I didn’t see her again until she came back to meet me.

I was going too fast. I didn’t mean to. I felt quite comfortable for the first mile and a bit

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Where the Weasel Wasn’t (ok, Mink)

and then I was suddenly aware of the sun and felt hot so at a mile and a half I walked for a minute and then set off again. I still felt good and even though I was consciously trying to slow down, I didn’t by much. At two miles I decided to walk because I didn’t want to suddenly feel tired when Kath came back. I also didn’t really want to go much further. I wanted this to be an easy run. I walked and as I did I saw movement in the water. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘a water vole’ but it was the wrong shape and size. I swam straight at me and I got a good look. It was a mink. It hadn’t seen me. It moved gracefully through the water, totally unconcerned and I marvelled at how absorbed it was in doing what it was doing (which may have been just swimming for the fun of it). As soon as I moved to get my phone for a picture though, it clocked me and disappeared. Kath had seen it too it turned out.

At 3.36 miles I decided to run slowly to the next bridge because I’d got bored walking.

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I thought I could wait there for Kath. She was going fast when I last saw her so she couldn’t be far off (Yes that was over 2 miles ago but still). I didn’t have to wait long at all but while I did I watched some cows and their calves in the field opposite and then as we started back we saw the little calf frolicking in another field. Lovely to watch.

We ran about a mile and I was finding it harder now but just as I was getting a bit grumpy about finding it hard, there was the now so familiar (but always exciting) flash of blue and orange and a kingfisher came past, stopped on a branch as if gently teasing us, before flying off again, flying a couple of loops over the canal and disappearing into the distance. I managed a bit further and then walked for a bit to let my tummy settle. Curry for lunch pre run was turning out not to be the best idea I’ve ever had. We ran walked to the end of the canal section and then ran up the short sharp hill into a little housing estate, walked up through a snicket and up and up and up home. I did run a bit of the slope (it’s a f-ing hill) but I felt no need to push on past the pub or up our road. I felt really happy with my weekend running and wanted to finish with that feeling. 5 miles. 5 really easy miles. Yes I walked and yes my tummy wasn’t great towards the end but it was a lovely 5 miles and it wasn’t a big deal. My ‘not a big deal’ numbers are going up and I’m quite excited about that! I’m also excited that I am now fit enough to accidentally run/walk 5 miles the day after completing 10!

Oh – Sunday Weigh-in. Same as last week.