Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The 5 hour barrier - can I break it?

When I first signed up for New York this year my main goal was to finish under 5 hours. I really don't care if I finish in 4:49:59 but I do really want to get in under 5.

As my training has progressed, I've slowly convinced myself that getting in under 5 isn't really a realistic goal. Since the Megatransect my miles have been somewhat scattered and my pace hasn't really been great. I haven't even felt particularly good on my runs and I've mentally backed off the idea of breaking 5 hours.

Today I spent a little bit of time with the online pace calculators trying to figure out what breaking 5 hours actually means. Finishing in 4:59:59 means maintaining a 11:26 pace for the race. Can I do that? Probably but I'm really not sure.

Then I went to McMillan running calculator and plugged in some of my recent times to see what it thinks about my chances. My most recent 1/2 marathon (virtual half) recorded by Nike+ was 2:21:26. I don't think I was really that fast, but if I was, McMillan projects a 4:58:17 marathon time.

My horrible feeling 18 mile run with the group took me 3:29 minutes and it was rough on me. I walked A LOT and felt lousy for at least half of it. That translates to 11:36 per mile and a 5:04 marathon.

My most recent real 1/2 marathon was the PDR where I ran 2:23:16 and felt pretty decent but had some odd chafing issues that shouldn't be a huge problem during the marathon. Plugging that time into McMillan yields a 5:02:09 marathon.

The bottom line is that I still don't think it's very likely that I'll finish New York under 5 hours. But now I do think it's possible for me to match or maybe even improve my time from last year (5:07) and if all goes perfectly and I really stick with my plan of remaining with the 5 hour pacer at all times until the very, very, very end, then maybe I can do it. Maybe.

Mostly I just want to enjoy myself but man, it would be really awesome to get under 5.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The women's race

I've been thinking aboout who I want to win the women's race in New York since I can't win myself. I'm checking out the list of women who are running and I'm torn between a few of them:

Jelena Prokopcuka has won the last two years and if she wins on Sunday she'll be only the 2nd woman to win NYC three years in a row (the only other is Grete Waitz). She'll also take home the big prize for the World Marathon majors. I think she's super cute when she wins and I kind of love her dominating the race, so I think I'm rooting for her repeat victory.

Paula Radcliffe is pretty awesome, she's the World Record holder three times over, and this will be her first race in about two years (she's been off having a baby and recovering from a broken sacrum). She's also won 6 of the 7 marathons she has run (the other was the memorable DNF at the Olympics). A victory in New York would be a pretty awesome comeback. I like Paula because she congratulates me after every one of my runs (thanks, Nike+) and is always telling me what a great job I'm doing.

Catherine Ndereba I like because she has such a cool name and cool nickname "Catherine the Great" and she's nipping at Paula's heels in the World Record race. Plus, she trains here in Valley Forge so I feel like she's my buddy even though I've never actually seen her in person. She's finished on the podium in 16 of her 17 marathons so I expect she'll be doing well on Sunday.

Last but not least, is Gete Wami , I have to admit I've never heard of her until today but I should have because she's currently in the lead of the World Marathon majors competition and if she wins on Sunday she'll win the prize.

I don't much care about the men's race because I'm more interested in the Men's Olympic trials on Saturday. More on that later but right now I really need to do some work.-

Me & Lance, together again November 4th

Wear Yellow and take to the streets of NYC on November 4th!

Bring your Marathon bib to Niketown New York, Macy's Herald Square, Paragon Sporting Goods, or Long Island and New Jersey area Dick's Sporting Goods November 1st - 3rd to receive your FREE Nike Dri-Fit LIVESTRONG Yellow Race-Day top (available in both men's and women's sizes), a $45.00 value!

5 Lucky runners caught wearing their shirt on race day will win an autographed LIVESTRONG shirt...signed by Lance himself!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thinking about the weather

That's all I can do these days. The ideal forecast of 47 and sunny is now 63 and rainy. I know it's too hard to predict this far out but I really don't want it to rain. That stinks for everybody.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nice weather for New York!

The first glances at Accuweather are looking pretty favorable for race day:

Saturday, Nov 3
Partly sunny
Low: 34 °F
High: 47 °F

Sunday, Nov 4
Sunshine and some clouds
Low: 34 °F
High: 47 °F

The waiting around at Fort Wadsworth might be pretty brutal but the running should be good. I need to get out and find some hand-warmers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay?

I can't believe he's gay. I always thought that he was secretly married to Professor McGonigle!

I wonder why JK decided to drop that bombshell? She was already in hot water with all the conservative types who found the magic offputting so this is really going to send them over the edge.

I'm just sad to hear that he had his heart broken by that awful Grindelwald. It's as sad as hearing about how Tim Gunn had his heart broken 20 years ago (or more!) and hasn't had a relationship since. Poor Tim and Albus!

4 miles a day

By the way, no sooner did I decide to run/walk 4 miles a day that I started skipping days.

Thursday I came up with the total miles of 4.1 and I went to VF to run the loop. When I arrived I realized I didn't have sneakers.

Friday, we had rain and thunderstorms most of the day, plus I had a headache bad enough to send me home from work AND somebody stole my credit card. Fun!

Saturday I ran with the girls so I logged 4.5 for the day! Yay!

Sunday, I did the virtual half plus an extra 1.3 warm up miles.

Should have run: 16.4 miles
Actually ran: 18.9 miles

And today (Monday) I actually have my sneakers, so I should be good for a mile or maybe two at lunch.

Water Stop / N+WM Virtual Half marathon

We manned the water stop at mile 16 / 20 for PhillyFit's 21 mile run on Saturday. I was really a lot of fun and I was very happy to see so many happy faces in contrast to the miserable, stiff, grouches who were finishing up their 18 miles last week. There was much improvement and good spirits and a few people decided to take the plunge for the full marathon. Very exciting!

I ran a short 2 mile out and back with a couple of my friends to pick up an easy four miles for the day. It felt great to be able to do that.

Sunday, I got up to run the Nike+ Women's Virtual Half marathon. This was my last long run and I was hoping to feel and perform better than I did at the 18 mile run last week. That run killed my legs until Wednesday! It was terrible.

Sunday was a perfect running day: sunny, cool, breezy. I ran on the Perikiomen trail, Schuylkill River Trail, and the Valley Forge loop (why did I decide that adding 6 miles of hills to the middle of the run would be a good idea?) and I felt great the whole way. My bizarre belly button chafe re-appeared -- I can't figure out what's causing this. nothing seems obvious to me -- but other than that the run was pain free. Monday morning, I felt like I hadn't done a thing, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

I ran at an easy pace, walked on the hills when I had to, but tried to run as much as I could throughout the whole thing and I was thinking so much about New York and how things would be on race day. I really can't wait for the race. I hope I can have a good day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

4.1 miles a day - can I get it done?

When I first signed up with Nike+ (January 1, 2007) I joined a challenge that was to run 1001 miles in one year. I just calculated the status of my efforts and I'm tantalizingly close but I'm still not sure that I'll be able to do it.

As of now I have logged 693.51 miles for the year. That means I have to run (or walk) 4.1 miles per day for the rest of the year to make it to 1001. I think I can do that. I might not like it, but I think I can do it.

Tonight I'm heading to VF so as long as the daylight lasts I should be getting credit for a full loop: 5.5 miles. That would put me 1.4 miles ahead of schedule.

I'm guessing I'll get about 6 miles or so for Urban Dare on Saturday - that's 2 extra miles and then I'll get 9 extra miles on Sunday when I run the virtual half marathon. So by next week I'll only have to do 3.9 miles a day for the rest of the year.

This is going to be a nifty little sub-challenge, isn't it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Orange Start Again

The marathon is almost here! It's really pretty awesome to come home from work and find this in your mailbox.
My sister and I both have very similar numbers and we're both in the Orange start. That's exciting for her since she was in the green start last time and has never been on the top of the bridge.
My legs feel better today and I'm looking forward to running again tonight.
Only 18 days to wait........

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!

I ran 18 miles on Saturday instead of the 20 on my schedule. It was about 6 miles too many for my poor legs. I am really paying the price for all my resting!

I haven't really run much in the last few weeks -- at first to save my legs for the Megatransect and then to recover from it. I've done walking but very little running. Saturday had the PhillyFit group doing 18 miles on a paved trail -- not the normal gravel/dirt trail we usually use. I think the combination of time off, increased milage and different surface created a perfect storm for sore legs.

My friend Melinda was an awesome cheerleader and kept me from throwing in the towel at mile 12 when we passed our cars and could have bailed out on the long run. She also kept me from totally walking in the last three miles like I wanted to. I did walk the last half mile, but other than that I tried my best to do the run/walk shuffle. There were three of us who were really struggling at the end (Melinda wasn't struggling at all -- she was just super patient with the three of us who were!)

Anyway, my legs were hurting Saturday afternoon. On Sunday my quads were in bad shape. Steps were like torture. I haven't felt like this in a long time. Today they are a little better but still sore. I'm worried about New York. I know I can cover the distance but it's going to be pretty hard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not much to report

I don't have much going on to report since the Megatransect.

Over the weekend I decided to sleep late instead of getting up early to run and wound up taking a 7 mile walk instead of doing my scheduled run. Sunday my legs weren't really into running either so I did a 20 mile bike ride instead. I think those were good decisions.

Tuesday I did some walking but was cut short by thunderstorms and I don't know what the rest of the week holds for me.

Saturday, though, is my 20 mile run in prep for New York. This should certainly be interesting -- but the good news is that the weather should be ideal for the long run. Here's hoping my poor legs can handle it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect - Race Report

Despite that awful picture I posted, the Megatransect is really a pretty amazing event. The folks who organize it do a great job and the volunteers were all over the place making things go smoothly for the runners/hikers.

Friday night we got to the start/finish area to collect our goodie bags and race numbers. We were greeted with music, a nice fire, and food. They had typical happy hour stuff: cheese and crackers , chips and dip, salsa, some pizza squares, and some mini meatballs and some other kind of sausage type thing. Good snacks but not a real meal. It also looked like there was beer and wine, soda and Red Bull, but I was only interested in the water. Lots of runners were camping out and socializing at the pre-race party.

The goodie bag was fine – nothing too exotic but Brian did get lucky and found a really nice nalgene bottle in his bag. There were also some Clif bar samples and some Hammer Gel in the bag. On the table of food there were also boxes of Hammer Gel and the Hammer version of e-caps with signs that said “Take as many as you want”. So I helped myself to a couple of each flavor. I haven’t tried them out yet but it will be fun to finally have a new gel in the rotation.

It also included a nice gray Asics tech shirt with the logo on the left breast. It’s a very nice shirt –much like my shirt from the New York Marathon. I was hoping for something a little more flashy since this is such a strange event but it’s fine. I was a little jealous of the guys wandering around camp with the long-sleeved cotton shirts from years past because those had nice elaborate designs. Oh well. It’s not about the shirt, right?

Saturday morning, we were up and out before the sun rose. We arrived at the start/finish area and had time to collect our chips, use the rest room (indoor, yay!) and have some breakfast. I had some scrambled eggs to augment the Oatmeal-to-Go bar I had eaten in the car. They also had two big pots of oatmeal (one with raisins, one without) and a ton of bagels and cream cheese and peanut butter. It also looked like they had coffee and maybe juice but I’m not 100% sure. At this point, you could even see the pigs cooking away for later.

As the sun rose, and 7am approached, the race director addressed the crowd, thanked us for coming and did a quick survey to see who was returning for their 5th time (a shockingly high number) and how many were attempting the Mega for the first time. It seemed like at least half of the group were first timers. After that they wished us luck, started to play the Rocky Theme and then somebody shouted GO and we were off!

Take note of Brian's Camelbak in the photo. If only we had known what was ahead of us, he never would have dared to wear that sign!

The first three miles are on paved road through a little town and it leads to the base of the mountain and the first big climb. At this point most people were just walking at a decent pace -- the runners were out of sight right off the bat. We were sizing up the competition and didn't see anybody particularly scary. I'd seen some seriously fit women during breakfast and in the ladies room but I was sure they were at the front of the pack. The folks in the back looked like us -- just normal people. Some old, some young, some a little pudgy.

We thought we'd be able to hang with this group. HA! We stopped along here for a brief - like maybe 5 minutes - of stretching and they left us in the dust. We caught a few people by the time we got to the first climb, called the Jump Up, but we lost what little ground we had gained as we ran into a little bit of trouble getting our hiking poles to lock into place. So, we started up the mountain in close to last place.

The climb up the mountain is just beyond brutal. They warn you that it's steep but it's worse than you think it can be. I don't know how anybody could do it without poles. It's like completely straight up the slippery, muddy, side of a mountain. We were actually able to pass a couple of people here who were just huffing and puffing beyond belief. We were huffing and puffing too, but we did get up to the top. I was slightly encouraged here because I knew it was hard but I could tell I didn't feel quite as bad as some of the other people around us.

This is a really hideous close up of us at the top of the Jump Up. You can totall see how sweaty and gross we were already. We have 21 miles to go! At least we're smiling. That didn't last much longer. On the next stretch of trail, which was made of up of gradual rolling hills on super rocky and slippery terrain (so tricky that a few times I felt the rocks starting to pull my shoes off!) that Brian says "I'm not having fun". Behind us I can hear another couple talking and the woman asks the guy what his Garmin is saying about pace. We're moving at 1.9 miles per hour. We haven't even reached mile 6. This is when I had my first gel in anticipation of what was to come.

Mile 6 is the Boulder Field called the Bald Spot. We're greeted at the base by a group of volunteers who offered us encouragement, advice and candy. We made a mistake here and didn't pack up our poles so we spent the next hour or so climbing up the boulder field and handing them off to one another. This part is hard, but it's actually fun. The views are really quite spectacular and since there were no snakes (at least not that I saw) it was enjoyable. Really hard, but enjoyable!

This picture is taken maybe a quarter of the way up the boulder field. You can see the brown patch in the center of the photo - that's where the volunteers were and the woman in the picture (she's on the left and she kind of blends into the rocks) is one of the people we were able to pass on the Jump Up. She eventually had to drop out of the race because she couldn't make it to the Checkpoint before the cut-off.

The views from here were incredible and this part was well worth doing. What's the reward for making it to the top of a mile of boulders?
A trip on the technical, rocky Crossover that race descriptions call the part of the course most likely to cause a twisted ankle! If you look in the photo to the left you might see some people wearing red shirts. The girl that was part of that couple fell three times during the descent on the Crossover.

At last we came upon the first aid station/checkpoint and were rewarded with a variety of sports drink (Gatorade, PowerAde, Heed) and water. They also had tons of food: fig newtons, bananas, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, gel, peanuts, m&ms and more. I ate a section of banana, and a fig newton and had some gatorade. Our brief lift at arriving here was ruined when runners started passing going in the other direction -- they were at mile 18 and we had barely reached mile 7. We had until 12:15 to make it to the first official Checkpoint at mile 10.2 and we had about an hour and a half to do it. Time to hustle.

Luckily this section is kind of an old rutted dirt road and we were able to power walk and jog along here to make up some time. About a half mile from the Checkpoint we found a runner who was lost - she had been running around in circles and couldn't find her way to the aid station. We showed her the way but had to keep moving, hoping that she would keep us in her sights. She did manage to make it to the cut off in time.

We arrived at the Zindel Park checkpoint with abou 15 minutes to spare. We were able to take a port-a-potty break, refill the Camelbak (I was carrying 70 oz. of Gatorade in mine. Here I was about 3/4 through it and I topped it off with water), and get some snacks. I drank two or three cups of Gatorade, ate a small cup of peanuts, a small cup of Raisinettes, and a half of peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread. I can't even begin to list all of the food options they had here. PB&J, Just PB on both wheat and white bread. Cookies and candies of all sorts. Awesome spread and lots of it! With a warning that we had just 7 minutes to leave before the cut off we, made our way across the chip mat. Our band of back-of-the-packers included: me & Brian, the couple in the red-shirts, Mr. Green shirt who had been close behind us since the Jump Up, and a family of three that was a mom & dad and a college age daughter. Brian joked here that our best possible outcome for the day was finishing DFL. And we'd be lucky to manage that!

Next up was the newest and most difficult section of the race. It's called the Goat Path and it's a seemingly unending climb straight up a ridgeline and across the face of a cliff. It goes up and up and up and it tries as hard as it can to kill you. I stopped halfway up to ditch my long-sleeved shirt and to take some Tylenol 8-hour. My legs were feeling OK still but my wrists were killing me from the hiking poles. Our merry band of slow people were passing each other all over the place here - leapfrogging one another and then falling back again for one reason or another. It was just brutal.

On the way back down, on the section called the Lightening Bolt (it's terribly steep) Brian really started to suffer with IT band pain in his right knee. He was really struggling to keep a decent pace and talked to a couple of EMT guys who were along the course. I gave him some 8-hour and told him about a couple of stretches but nothing was really helping much. At about mile 13 the EMT guy told him that it was probably just pain from doing this unusual activity and that if he kept going he wasn't going to do permanent damage. He said everybody had been moaning about that downhill and that he'd probably be OK once the pills kicked in. Brian wasn't ready to quit yet (rats!) so he took an Ace bandage from the EMT and decided to press on and see if we could make the 3:45 cut off at the next checkpoint at mile 18.1.

While we were waiting, all the people we knew passed us, and so did the lost lady, and an old guy with a pink bandana. Mr. 500, the guy with the Garmin who was going at 1.9 mile pace also passed us. He told us that his girlfriend had to abandon the race because she couldn't make the Zindel Park cutoff. We were officially in last place and in real danger of having to give up.

Luckily, the pills started to kick in and the terrain leveled off a bit and we were able to pick up a little bit of speed. We were hoping to make it to the next checkpoint,and thought we could, but we weren't sure. It would be close. Have you noticed that I don't have any pictures to post? That's because we couldn't spare a minute to take any we were so worried about not finishing!

We passed the old guy with the pink bandana and the Lost lady and then we came upon a different lady in a red shirt and passed her just at the approach to Fleming Way, another wickedly steep climb. On this climb we also caught up to Mr. Green Shirt and the Red shirt couple, and Mr. 500. We all wound up at the water stop at the top of Fleming Way but were sad that there was no water left. Thank goodness for the Camelbak!

Brian took a minute to eat a protien bar here and then we started to book it as fast as we could along the flat section. We really did great here and passed everybody ahead of us, including the family of three who we hadn't seen since Zindel Park. Eventually though, we came across another downhill section that killed poor Brian. The leapfrogging started to happen again but we pulled ahead of the gang by the time we got to the 18 mile checkpoint. Along here I ate another gel and a Soy Joy bar. We were less than 15 minutes ahead of the 3:45 cut off when we arrived. The best part here was that we had reeled in another person! This was a new guy in a red shirt. I was so thrilled by this fact because I couldn't believe that nobody ahead of us had fallen off the pace. Finally we had reeled somebody in!

This checkpoint was low on food by now, but they did have peanut butter and animal crackers as well as water and gatorade. I topped off my Camelbak again and chowed down on some animal crackers. Time was still ticking and we had to make it to the base of the Chilkoot by 5 or we'd be swept. No time to waste.

I think the trail here was pretty but I'm not even sure. There was a stream along one side but mostly we were just like zombies moving along the trail trying to get where we needed to go. It was around 4:00 and we had until 5 to make to to the checkpoint and it was 2.5 miles away. We should be able to make it with ease but you can never be sure after you've been on the trail for nine straight hours. You heard me right -- nine hours! And just about every step of it you had to be concentrating on where to put your feet to avoid tripping and falling. You just can't imagine what it felt like. Luckily, my legs felt pretty good and I was in shockingly good spirits. I think I was just stunned that we were still moving along.

At last we got to the checkpoint and we were in the clear! It's only 4.4 miles to the end and one cheery volunteer kept saying "and three of them are flat". Unfortunately, that part wasn't true. Two of them were flat. The others were either brutal up hill, across rickety boulders with lots of weeds and bees, or an incredibly steep downhill made up of loose dirt and rocks that was a total knee killer. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

We got to the checkpoint first, but soon Mr. 500 and the red shirt couple caught up to us. We had a few more snacks (more raisenettes for me) and then quickly moved on. We couldn't wait to get done.

The Chilkoot starts with a trail so steep that the race people have installed a blue rope that you can use to pull yourself up. This is a shot of Mr. 500 heading up the rope. We let him go first while we stowed our poles.

This part was hard too but sort of fun in a bizarre way. What was at the top of the rope -- not so fun. This was another boulder field, only this one had smaller, more unstable rocks and also had a bunch of bees. It also tricked you because you got to the top, and there was a flat road, but then the boulders kept on going. I hate you, stupid boulders!

Towards the top a college kid was waiting and warning you steer clear of the bees nests.

He was nice, we were all joking about how slow we were but he was really nice and told us how impressed he was that we were all sticking it out and getting through it. While we were here taking some pictures, the Dad from the family of three popped up over the top of the mountain surprising us all. He'd taken a different line up the mountain but he still made it. That was pretty funny.

This is us smiling before we begin the descent from hell. I don't know how Brian toughed it out here -- his poor knee was killing him every step of the way. We got passed by everybody here except for the Lost Lady, the old man with the pink bandana and the sweeper. It was so hard for him I wished I could have made it easier but there was no way down short of making some kind of makeshift sled out of our backpacks or something.

Luckily, at the bottom of this hill we were back on the pavement and with that came our ability to use the Turbo Boost to catch some people Brian's fastwalker ability came to him and I started to jog along side him and before you knew it we were passing the pair of Mr. Red Shirt and Mr. Green Shirt and then the red-shirt couple. Amazingly we were not going to finish in last place!! A small victory, but HUGE to us.

It took everything I had to run (I can't even imagine how slow I was running) along that road to the finish. It seemed to go on forever even though it was only a couple of miles. I kept thinking to myself what good practice it would be for the final stretch of the New York Marathon and then I remembered that last year, along Columbus Circle I saw that guy ahead of me with the "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". That mantra got me over the finish line in Central Park and it did it for me again at the Megatransect.

Of course between repeating the mantra in my head I would talk to Brian and my grouchy, miserable self was saying stuff like "we're not going to make it in 11.5 hours" and "they might not give us a medal" and stuff like that. I should have known that wouldn't happen because as we were running it in people were driving out of the campgrown beeping and waving at us and shouting encouragement from the windows. It didn't seem like the kind of crowd that would deny us medal for finishing a few minutes past the cut off.

As luck would have it, we crossed in 11:38 just as the sun was setting. We were greeted by loud applause and a guy shook my hand as I finished and said "Congratulations, Megatransector!". Which made me think that's probably as close as I will ever get to hearing "You are an Ironman!"

We stopped and they handed us our medals and my legs were just shaking from being so tired. I've never had that happen before. This is certainly the hardest medal I've earned.

We were able to sit down and eat our awesome pork BBQ dinner with yummy peach/berry cobbler for dessert and I also scarfed down a couple of slices of Domino's pizza too. We watched the last few people finish: first the red-shirt couple about a minute behind us and then Mr. Red Shirt and Mr. Green Shirt finished together about 8 to 10 minutes after us and finally, about 20 minutes after us, Lost Lady and Pink Bandana guy.

Hats off to all of them and to the absoultely mind-boggling fit people who finsished this crazy thing in 4 hours, and of course, all the other people who got through the ordeal.

I think if Brian didn't have knee pain, and we didn't take pictures, we could have been at the very most an hour faster than we were and probably not that much ahead. We were just completely overmatched by the whole event and I'm really, really proud that we were able to stick it out and finish even though we were close to last. Brian especially impressed me since he had pain for at least half of the course. He's tough.

We hung out and socialized for awhile after we ate and people seemed to be having a great time, drinking beer and talking and listening to the music. We were just beat so we headed back to the hotel (by way of Dairy Queen for some ice cream) and then snuggled into bed for some much needed rest.

Here's a shocking thing: we slept for 9 hours -- less time than we were on the mountain!

It's Monday now and my legs feel pretty good. My right calf is pretty sore still, but other than that, just typical soreness that you'd expect after a marathon. Brian's knee is feeling loads better and he's happy about that.

So that's the tale of the Megatransect. By far the hardest thing I've ever done.

I'd like to say thanks to the Megatransect people who really put on a great event. It was hard for us, but it was really well done. The fault wasn't theirs, it was our inability to grasp just how intense this thing really is that did us in.

As the red shirt girl said at one point along the way "This is clearly for crazy people - not typical Outdoor enthusiasts." She couldn't be more right!