Vancouver Marathon Training-Week 1 in the Books!

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Oh man—it is Tuesday night and I didn’t get my blog out on Sunday. It really has been crazy around here since, let’s say, Christmas. The semester wrapped up at the high school I teach at on Monday, and we have now entered exam week. This is a great time to get prepared for second semester and just BREATHE! I need to work on some relaxation techniques because this past week was so stressful, as we were working down to the wire to get possession of our new house. All worked out and we got the keys Thursday! To our friends who helped us move this weekend-THANK YOU! It went seamlessly in Saturday and it was all because of you guys! Peter, Mac, Matty, Toby, Patrick, Morgan, Amie….thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

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In the midst of this craziness, I began my Vancouver Marathon training. The first week or three of any official training program is always a bit interesting, as often it takes a step back in total distance one has been perhaps doing on their own, but adds intensity. The intensity was something I was definitely missing the past year as I trained for my fulls, and I am grateful I contacted Dean Johnson of Run Dean Run.

I was pretty nervous, honestly, to be starting the plan he created for me….would I not be able to hit the pacing requirements set for me on each training run? Would I not be able to complete one of the days? Well…so far so good. And yes, I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for that day during this plan that I hit a wall and perhaps break down and cry….that I mess my run up….it may happen. But that chance of pain and frustration is worth it—having a coach and a plan never felt so good.

My plan is on a Google Doc and every day after my run, I log my details into the document. It is linked between Dean and I, and we will be going over my progress after my Hypothermic Half Marathon in Calgary on February 8th. If need be, adjustments will then be made. My first week consisted of a variety of training runs—easy pace, Fartleks, steady state, and long runs. Below are my comments on each day:

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I know each week will obviously get more challenging, but the plan set in place will allow me to be able to make the transition to each week. In fact, the speed work I did at Henderson Lake today (30second sprint, 1 minute jog, x12) felt solid, albeit having to dodge walkers and strollers and ice!

On weeks that I don’t have a race or something earth-shattering to let out, I will be talking about my training. Not as exciting perhaps as old posts, but training is important right now. In the past two years while doing this blog I have became a more confident long-distance road racer and have been able to tackle distances and meet times I never thought I could. But I need to take it further. And this training is the key!

Day 1-BMO Vancouver Full Marathon Training

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Today was the day. Today I did my first official training running in preparation for the Vancouver Marathon, which is Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. This is the first training calendar for a race which I have had someone create one for me! Thanks in advance to Dean Johnson from www.rundeanrun.ca for the calendar (I may be hating you by week 8….no hard feelings).

I knew I needed to take this training up a notch, and having Dean formulate a plan for me tailored to my race times in the past year was key. Each day is laid out to work with my schedule, and there are detailed notes on the types of runs I will be doing during training, the endurance pace ranges for each type of run and more. This is the most extensive training plan I have ever followed. This is key for me reaching my goal of qualifying for the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Today’s run was one that can be done on Sunday or Monday, or both days. It is 30-45 minutes easy, cross train, or rest. Now, without having a definition of what my “easy pace” should be, I would have gone and ran 45 minutes in somewhere around 9 minute miles. But, according to the plan, “easy” means I must run between an 8:02-9:02 minute mile pace. I went out down to the river bottom for this first run, in the middle of the afternoon. Sun was still up, wind was down, albeit a chilly day of around 15 Fahrenheit. I was also on a running high because the Packers had just won, and was just plain excited for this run to start.

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I headed out a bit fast, but was feeling strong, so it was hard to slow down. I ran faster than the goal pace with a 7:53 minute mile. I tried to slow up the second mile and hit 8:12. Much better. In my head, I had thought I would try to hit somewhere between an 8:15-8:25 for each mile and I would be happy. The stretch from mile 2 to 3 is fairly flat, so I again went a bit too fast, hitting a 7:57. Still on track but I needed to slow up and hit my pace ranges. I was able to do so in mile 4 and 5, running an 8:11 and 8:23, respectively. I finished with 42:54 minutes of running, reaching 5.28 miles, with an average pace of 8:07. To say I was pleased with day 1 would be an understatement!

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But I have a LONG road ahead of me. Race is 16 weeks away. And during this time I also have two Spartan Races, a half marathon and a 10km. I have a pretty aggressive training plan. And I have motivation, heart, drive, and support. That is going to be what gets me through this, that is going to be what makes this possible.

The rest of the week will go as follows:
Monday-cross training with circuit training in the gym (shoulders, core)
Tuesday-medium hill repeats 6-8x OR Fartleks 8-10x with 1min hard run, then jog recovery
Wednesday-40-50 minute easy
Thursday-40-50 minute easy with 2 miles at “steady state” pace (half to full marathon race pace)
Friday-off
Saturday-long run of 75-100 minutes with pace between 8:06-9:23 minutes a mile.

I am very happy that the training focus is mainly on the weekends, with really only three days during the school week that I have to power out some training runs. At this point I plan on utilizing the Monday as cross training on the gym (Spartan race prep and/or elliptical), or a rest if needed. I need to stay healthy and get strong. This plan will help guide the way.

Have a great week everyone.

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First Run of 2015-Not What I Expected

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My 67 day RunStreak ended January 1, 2015. I am happy that I kept with it, because I like staying with goals I set, but I was also glad to wake up New Years Day and not run! I had ran the night before at the Red Deer Resolution Run 5km, a nationwide run put on by Running Room. It is not a chip-timed event, and the draw is mainly to get in a final run before the new year. You also get a really nice jacket as part of your registration fee (I’d say the registration fee basically just pays for the jacket). The weather was VERY cold, barely in the teens (Fahrenheit) and the race started at 6 pm. I had forgotten my head lamp in Lethbridge, so I was hoping someone in the group of 150 plus runners would be near me with a lamp. Well, we took off and three guys sped on out ahead. In retrospect, I could have maybe been able to stay with them given the proper footwear (more in that later) but I stuck at a comfortable pace and ran pretty much solo (well, not pretty much, I was alone!) for all 5km. I finished in a comfortable 24:25 and was the first female to finish. I was happy with how I did, especially since the Bower Pond trails had negligible lighting. The thing, though, that I took away from this event was how at peace I was with myself.

Now, I am not going to go on and on about how I had some crazy-ass personal revelation on the year 2014, or how 2015 is going to play out, but as I approached mile 1 and realized I was alone….I smiled. I was in a “race” but I was pushing just myself. With no one nearby, I couldn’t see or hear anyone ahead or behind me. The sun was long gone, the moon was behind a hazy, cloudy sky, but the bright white snow of central Alberta lit the path. The sound of feet moving through this crunching snow was mesmerizing. Occasionally, runners would hit turnoffs up onto sidewalks, but then would be led back onto the trail along the river. Whenever I was along the river, I was alone…but so incredibly happy. When the race finished, while I didn’t have anywhere close to a personal best, I was happy.

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So I took two days off after the Resolution Run. We were back in Lethbridge after a whirlwind of holiday travels. It felt great to be back in our own house. I knew I wanted to head out and run Saturday morning, but it was COLD, not just cold, but downright miserable. It was -1 F or so when I woke up, and by the time I got set to go on my run around noon it was a mere 2F. With four inches or so of snow freshly fallen in Lethbridge, which was on top of some older snow and ice, I decided to try out my new INOV-8 X-Talon 212 trail shoes. I had ordered these shoes in Amazon in November after Ali told me how awesome they worked for her during the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I wanted these for Spartan Races. But, I knew I could use them on the trails in Lethbridge.

I drove over to Bull Park Trail on the Westside with the goal in mind to run down into the valley to the bridge and back. With it so cold out I didn’t know if my phone would cooperate when I wanted to take photos. I packed it away deep in my pockets and set out. As I jogged from where I parked my car in a nearby neighborhood (wasn’t sure if my car would make it into the not-yet-plowed trailhead parking lot) to the trai, I could tell right away these shoes were different. I was just running through snow, but my feet were flying. I hit the trail, which has shale below the snow, and was still moving so fluidly. These were great! The wind was quite cold on my face, but my body felt good and my feet weren’t even cold.

Before descending into the river bottom, I had to watch my footing as I could see ice below the snow, especially noticeable in areas where drifts had occurred. But the shoes gripped these areas so well too! Even descending into the river was easier than what it would have been had I worn my New Balance!

I made it down to the river and could see foot prints. I was not the only crazy person out there running today. I did never actually see anyone on the paths during my jaunt, but I knew people had gone the same route as me! I headed north in the trail with the river parallel to the trail. Roughly parallel, actually, as this path is more of a goat trail. I have done this path before, and it is now probably my favorite stretch in Lethbridge. Running it in the snow, in these shoes, was a completely different experience. I stopped for a bit (didn’t bother stopping my watch whenever I stopped) to try to get a photo. Frozen. Well, not frozen, but it gave the “extreme temperature” message. I putzed with it a little more, but ended up putting it in my sports bra (heat against my body would help???) and went toward the bridge.

I had to stop and pause and take in the surroundings as I reached the bridge. While I had seen Lethbridge from this vantage point before, I had not seen it covered in snow and almost frozen in time. It was awesome.
As I headed back, I checked my phone again. It cooperated! I stopped a couple spots to take photos before heading back up the coulee. Below are some of the shots I was able to get. These were all down in the river bottom, as once I headed back up the coulee, it stopped working again.

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By the time I made it back to my car, I had completed a cold, yet extremely satisfying, 4 miles. Extremely satisfying doesn’t even begin to hit how awesome it was. Yes, I stopped a lot to take in the sights and did not run 4 miles hard, per say. But I felt like I was running in a cloud when I was moving. Much like my run on New Years Eve, I had a smile on my face. I also realized part way through this run that if it had been two years earlier, I would have never set foot outside in these conditions, in this cold, in this snow, in this river valley. But now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. That is good enough for me, and I call that a successful first run of 2015.

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2014 Running Recap

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It is almost a wrap on 2014…what a year! Ok…I hate that I used that as my first sentence, but I am currently going on my 26th hour in a sleeping car on the Amtrak and am not thinking straight. So maybe writing my recap now isn’t the smartest idea, but I don’t have anything else to occupy my time with really (or that I want to be doing?) so I may as well type this on out!

The numbers

My total of unique race events (ranging from 4km, 5km, 10km, 10 milers, halves and full!) in 2014 is currently at 24, and my 25th event will be on New Years Eve when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. Last year, I finished with the Lethbridge version of the Resolution Run and that made for my 22nd event. So I will be up three events from 2013 when the clock strikes midnight! Doing the Dopey Challenge (4 individual events) and Dumbo Double Dare (2 distances) in 2014 made the yearly total add up quickly, that’s for sure! And in the process, I ran personal best times in the 5km, half marathon and full marathon distances. Now, will I be trying to “beat” that total and “feats” next year? Not exactly…

This year actually could have been a few races less than 25, especially since before Dopey, I didn’t even have another full marathon planned. After Dopey, I had gotten the bright idea that I could maybe push for a Boston Qualifying time. While I did drop my time in the two latter races I ran (in Calgary and Edmonton, June and August, respectively) it wasn’t enough to qualify. Looking back, I probably did too much in between if Boston had been my main focus for 2014. Going into 2014, Boston wasn’t even close to being on my radar…but my mind started going after seeing some of the possibilities. Was I frustrated I didn’t qualify for Boston last year? You bet I was….but now, I can look back and realize that looking at the progress in my full marathons is something to be proud of. My old personal best before 2014 was a 3:56 full from 2007. In 2014, I ran a 3:50, 3:46 and 3:44 over the course of my jam-packed year. And now I know what I need to work on more of while I prepare for 2015.

Boston qualifying is the main focus for 2015, as I am going to officially start my training program on January 11th. I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, and my events leading up to Vancouver will help supplement my training, while not overdoing it. I have been able to get the half marathon distance down pat (running sub 1:40 now three times in 2014) but will need to work on building distance/endurance in my training.

In addition to Vancouver, I am currently registered for 8 additional events. Six of these events are Spartan Races. I will be doing the Temecula Super Spartan & Sprint on two days back-to-back in January, alongside my best friend. Then in May, my husband and I will be making our way down to Montana for their yearly Spartan Race! Only this year, we aren’t doing the Sprint….we are doing the newly added Beast! This means I will earn Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe Status by May! So I should be done with Spartan Races then, right? Of course not, as that is a Trifecta in the US, so I also want to earn a Trifecta in Canada! September will be the Red Deer Super and Sprint, and then off to Sun Peaks for the Beast! But not just the regular Beast….the Ultra Beast! I have already tackled the Beast in Sun Peaks in 2013, so I needed to take it up a notch and give the 26.2 miles of hell a shot. I guess that’s the main thing that’s bound to happen once you start trying all the different types of races out there…you want to keep pushing yourself beyond the proverbial limit.

I know I will pick up other smaller, local races throughout 2015, but my focus is on my full marathon in May and the Spartan Races. And oh yeah, I do have some things to worry about in addition to running…we have a new house to put sweat-equity in, an old house to sell, and I have a killer schedule for second semester that will take up all extra energy I have. Spring will be very busy for myself (and my hubby!) and while the training takes up time, and one might say I should “go relax or something”, I think I can beg to differ, as my running, training and racing is how I, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X !!!

Cheers to 2014 and here’s to looking forward to 2015! And GO PACK GO!

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Weekly Wrap Up-My Random Thoughts From This Week

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I don’t really have much to report on “race wise” but I am still trying to keep up with always posting a new blog on Sunday’s. I am actually quite shocked that I have kept up so well with it since starting this blog, as I mentioned in early posts that “journaling” was never really my thing. So the fact I am still at this almost two years and counting is amazing!

This past week brought some unseasonably warm December weather for Lethbridge (low 50s on Friday!) and then a pile of snow yesterday. Go figure. I went on an awesome 8 mile run Friday to take advantage of the weather. It was my first run with my new pair of shoes…aren’t they pretty!?!

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My RunStreak is now 47 days strong (will be 48 after a quick run this afternoon!). I think yesterday was the most comedic of the runs, as I did 1 mile on the WCHS treadmill….with my dog and two cats in the room. Why? Well, we had an open house from noon till two and I had to get the pets out of there. So taking them to work was the logical solution. I watched them in the mirror as I ran the mile and holy crap, they were confused in there. They were much more at ease once we got to my classroom. I Spy a little orange cat…..

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I also received my tentative training plan for the BMO Vancouver Full Marathon, which I am running on May 3rd. This blog will definitely focus a lot on my training for this race, as I attempt to try and qualify for Boston. I will talk more about the issues I have had in attempting before in the past year in a later post, but I can say that I feel very positive about my chances after seeing this plan. I had Dean Johnson, of RunDeanRun a local Lethbridge coach, make my training plan. He took my previous race times into account and customized my plan quite nicely. He did tell me that the plan is “pretty aggressive” and that’s what I need!

I have one last race this month, and that is the New Years Eve Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. I was hoping to find a race during Christmas week in Milwaukee, but apparently none exist. Oh well, I’ll just have to go on traditional training runs while home for Christmas. I may do a non-traditional run next Monday, though, while at our station stop in Minneapolis, MN. I need to keep that RunStreak going, and the Amtrak stops over there long enough that I could bolt off the sleeping car and get in a mile before we leave again…that could prove for an interesting story!

And in conclusion to this weeks random thoughts and stuff, RunDisney picked me as their “Fan of the Week” on Facebook. I had submitted my Dopey Challenge photo last week and they picked me! No, I don’t win anything for this, but it is pretty damn cool if you ask me! Have a great week everyone! The holidays are right around the corner!

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Santa Shuffle 5km 2014 Recap

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Yesterday, I participated in the Santa Shuffle 5km. It is a “fun run” and it is not chip-timed. This event is hosted by Running Room, and just like their Hypothermic Half and Resolution Run events, it is held in various locations all over Canada. The event is ran over at Nicholas Sheran Park, which is less than a mile from where we live, so it makes for an easily accessible event. I also registered early enough so it was just a $25 entry fee, which would include a finisher medal (a rare thing for 5km events). I opted to not purchase the t-shirt (yeah, don’t need another long sleeve cotton shirt).

I decided to tack on some extra mileage to my run that day, wanting to total 8 miles, so I went out at 9:15 am and put in 3.3 miles before the 10am start of the event. After the event, I would cool down jog what I needed in order to reach 8 miles. I made it over to the start area at 9:52. People were milling around pretty clueless by the start. They had a 5km and a 1km “Elf Walk” starting at the same time. When they called out to start in one minute, everyone around me was questioning “what the hell is the route?” Some older woman volunteer was then honestly in THE MIDDLE of the pack of people waiting to start trying to explain this half-ass planned 5km route around the lake. While she was in the middle of explaining, they started the race. Needless to say, that isn’t the best organization.

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We were off….it was perfect weather for running (above freezing!) and sunny, very little wind. However, the snow we had had the previous week was just melting, and was still drifted and packed down in spots on the trail. The route would be two laps around the lake, with an additional straight-away added each time once you made it around to near the start. You would turn south and head down the path to where it reached the end of the park, then make a quick almost dead-stop turn, where you would the route again.

The first mile brought runners to this quick turn, and I had ran it in 7:07. At this point, I was actually the leader. Not the female leader, but the main leader. Yeah—it was a small race. I decided I wanted to hold this position because it’s fun to beat guys. Doing the second lap was more challenging, because you had to dodge families coming back from the out-and-back Elf Walk, plus the walkers (who usually had their dogs too) doing the 5km. My feet were feeling heavy with the snow stuck to the bottom, but I kept pushing. Mile 2 slowed to 7:19 and mile 3 even more to 7:32. I finished the event (which my GPS had at 3.18 miles) in 23:11…quite a bit slower than my 5km personal best from the Mustache Dache in November (21:08) but was still good enough for a 1st Place Finish.

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I was very surprised when I received a small “gold medal” for being first place female, in addition to my participant medal. Sure, my husband made fun of it when I got home later because it is pretty tiny, but I thought that was nice and not expected since the race wasn’t officially timed. That is my huge complaint with these “Fun Run’s” and most of the events Running Room hosts nationwide—-they aren’t timed. Why? I have no clue. I am guessing that if I asked them, I’m sure they would say “Well, we want to just encourage people to come out and run without pressure of being timed.” I think it is because they are being cheap and don’t want to pay a timing company to come out and run the event. Is that harsh to say? Maybe. But it is pretty sad when the largest running store in Canada can’t even do an officially timed event.

That being said, with the lack of organization and perks to this race, I will not be registering for it again. I would recommend it for families because of the Santa theme, but for anyone else (even a beginner runner) do yourself a favor and choose a better 5km for your first event. I can give you suggestions to local races that have better experiences than this for a 5km. And hint—none are put on by Running Room.

And with that crabby post, Happy Sunday!

So…About This Past Month….

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I wrote about my overall alterations I was going through with my eating/drinking/running habits. Well, I can say that the RunStreak is still alive and well (35 days strong…even just got back from a 3 mile run at 7:45 am this morning in -11F temperatures-probably not the healthiest or safest running conditions, but I ran!). This RunStreak has been vital to me staying positive and happy during this seemingly tough stretch—reaching Christmas break while teaching some heavy-duty Math courses, trying to overhaul my nutrition….and, add in the fact that Dan and I bought a new house! We take possession on January 15, 2015…it is not conditional on the sale of our current one, but selling it before moving would be epically awesome. Just trying to sell during the arrival of winter and the holiday season is a whole different ball game.

I am struggling, though, with longer runs. While it is not necessary for me at this time (no “big” event coming up that I need, let’s say, a 10-miler in the weekend), I just feel lazy with my three milers. And winter is a tough time for finding races in Alberta! I don’t even care if they are legit, Chip-timed things…I need some gritty “underground” events to keep me motivated. Likewise, I need marathon club to start STAT. It doesn’t start until the weekend of January 24th….which I won’t even be at since I’ll be doing my Spartan Races in California then…so I will have to do the first weeks’ distances the week before. After California, I plan on going to both Saturday & Sunday’s run….do the full marathon training distance on Saturday, and the half training distance in Sunday. Having these routes pre-planned for me, plus the camaraderie of a group of other die-hards, gets me fired up and I am better at sticking to my training plans! This will hopefully lead to me reaching my BQ in Vancouver!

I have already day-dreamed about additional races to register for this coming 2015. I am currently registered for the Spartan Super & Sprint in Temecula (January), Hypothermic Half Calgary (February), Moonlight Run (March), Vancouver Full (May) and Spartan Beast in Montana (May). The more I can register for, the better, as I have come to find out I thrive on pushing myself to my limits. Ten-Mile Road Race, Woody’s RV 10km, any local 5km races I can get my hand on…also deciding if I want to go for Trifecta status in Canada for Spartan Race (already am in the US) Pushing myself to the limits is what I did this past month, but not necessarily in regards to running. I attempted to cut alcohol out of me “diet” and also overhaul my eating. The eating of crappy snacks can be eliminated by me just not buying the shit. The biggest offender-TOSTITOS. Oh my god, I love my chips and salsa and sour cream. And I used to NEVER eat sour cream until University….must have been the fact that the food at Whitney Center tasted “that good” that I needed to add sour cream. I improved quite a bit with my snacking, and I am trying to make Dan and I better evening meals. With Dan not working as late of hours during the winter, he can also pitch in and cook. We have tons of fish in our deep freeze, which were all caught by Dan’s dad…it is just now trying to find different ways to cook it all so we don’t get bored with it.

And the alcohol? Ok. It was going to be a two month dry-spell, with the exception of Tyranena Beer Half and Christmas. However. I love beer too much. Dan loves beer too much. And we have a very pricey craft-beer Advent Calendar to start tomorrow. Ok, that isn’t the real reasons why the two months became just one. During this last month, I realized how good my body felt during the week as I was working out. I have been increasing my muscle mass steadily, as I have been getting into the fitness center before school twice a week, where I do a lot of arm and core workouts, courtesy for Shannon and JJ. While I had been doing it sporadically in September and October, I really tried during my “dry-spell” in November. I can see, and feel, the difference. I now recognize what I need to intake and not take in my body on a day-to-day basis, and I also have realized the levels of moderation I need to take into account given the results I seek to obtain. Before it was always “I run so I can eat and drink what I want.” Now, I am going to be running, lifting and more and seeing more results by making small and steady changes in the diet realm. Sure, if I nixed beer out of my diet completely, maybe something amazing would happen FAST. But I enjoy beer for the taste and the variety—not just because it is alcohol. So, the amount I take in now will be substantially less than I used to a month ago. And I know it’s for the better.

I could ramble on and on about more of the crazy stuff going on in my head—what I want to accomplish, how I think I can get there, training frustrations I have had, and more. But I’ll save that for another time. Until then…GO PACK GO! (Halftime of the GB vs NE game… 23-14!)