Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012 Rockville Twilight 8K Race Report

The Rockville Twilight 8K is pretty much the race of the summer.  It's the most competitive, and you get a mix of collegians who are home for the summer, africans and area elites all thrown in a distance that isn't too short but isn't too long either.  The course is tough, with several U-Turns and rolling hills.  It fairs well for a strength runner such as myself.  Before 2012, my highest placing in this race was 11th from last year, when I ran 25:32, my best time on the course.  I did have a good race last year, and was proud of the effort I gave.  This year though, I wanted more.

The conditions were somewhat like Oregon/Seattle weather as a faint mist covered the air with temperatures in the 70s.  It felt great.  Especially since I raced that mile a few weeks ago in 90+ degree heat.  This was no doubt a breath of fresh air.  I got to the elite room and found Matt and a few GRC guys.  I was bummed Joe Wiegner didn't show up, as he has run well in the 8K in the past.  I chatted with Wilson Komen and Mike Wardian for a bit(who just completed the GRUELING Western States 100 Miler).  I also met Anna, who recently joined the =PR= Racing Team and was happy to have her on our team.  (Our team ended up placing 2nd by a mere 5 seconds to Capital Area Runners).

After warming up, I threw on my Mizuno Wave Universes and got ready to the start.  I was debating on debuting my Ronin 4s(pictured below) but this shoe is really going to be more ideal for my half marathon/marathon racing.

The Universe 4 is my perfect road 5K-10K race shoe(pictured below).
But enough about shoes.  The race ended up being delayed by about 10 minutes.  As I got into position to start, several college guys lined up behind me saying stupid shit and I really wanted to shut them up.  No matter.  I would leave them in the dust once the race started.  Stay calm.  I looked over my right shoulder and saw a dozen africans anxiously waiting for the G word.  I suddenly felt confident, strong, and fearless.  I could beat these guys, I thought.  We took off.

We surged down Washington Street and a large pack of 10-12 runners mostly africans surged to the lead.  I started off at the tailend of the pack.  A few other guys(either college or local) went out fast briefly in front of me before I would pass them later on.  As we made the turn onto Martins Lane we climbed the hill and the pack began to make itself whole.  I tucked right in the pack with 2:16 marathoner Wilson Komen at my side.  The pace did not feel that hard.  I looked around and knew I was hungry to beat these guys.  Then the downhill came, and the pack surged.  I am not really a downhill runner.  Komen, who is like a head and a half taller than I am, sprinted downhill to gain meters on me.  I was trailing the end already.  Still I stayed consistent and hung tough.  I heard coach George Buckheit(who formerly coached Brandon), who gave me a helpful "STAY IN CONTACT CHRIS!"  I didn't let them leave me as we turned a hard left onto Mannakee I pulled up next to Komen as we passed another fading runner.  Mile 1 I split 4:50something.  We climbed up another hill towards Beall where we would make another left.  Komen and I worked together and hung at the back of the lead pack, which was already starting to break up.  Staying straight all the way down, we surged up a long hill-a hill that I run up frequently some days.  It's a bruiser, and it's easy to lose your rhythm on it.  I started to pass Wilson Komen at this point.  (A quick word about Wilson: From Kenya and a coach himself, he is one great guy-just positive about everything-if you talk to him-he will give you great advice-especially to "hammer" during a race!)  I "hammered" and got to the top of the hill and surged downhill towards Washington Street again where the crowds were.  I hit 9:50something for 2 miles.  I made the turn onto Washington again and began the real part of the race.  At this point there was only one white guy ahead of me, with everyone starting to spread out.  Now, is the time.

I began to surge slightly to begin my attack on some of the Africans falling off the pace.  As we climbed up Martins again, I began catching one.  Just one, for now.  Others ahead.  As I passed him, he looked over at me in surprise.  Hello, have you seen me before?  He didn't want to let me go, though.  As we got to the top of the hill, he surged down the hill and I stayed on him.  I hit another gear and passed him again and stomped on it.  I heard a moan.  He was hurtin.  I could feel him losing ground on me.  I prevailed and moved on to the next one.

I made the hard right turn onto Mannakee Lane(right before Mile 3) and could see a few others in the distance.  I split 14:58 at 3 miles or something under 15.  Another left turn and I would begin to catch the next guy.  As we meandered through the Montgomery College Campus, I caught the next guy on the uphill, and he had no response.  I kept moving.  GO!!!!!

I felt so strong.  Nothing was going to stop me from continuing to catch guys.  My strength as a cross country runner and endurance athlete kicked in at the right time during mile 4.  It was a series of U-Turns and uphills and downhills.  I then caught Seife Gelatu, whom actually I know and was having a very good race.  He is a strong runner at the 8K-10K distances.  He grunted a "hey" and tried to hang on to me.  I began really pushing the gas pedal at this point.  As I ran up the hill towards mile 4, I noticed Wardian and other runners who usually have beaten me in the past way back on the other side.  A new perspective, I saw.  I was far up.  And I wanted more. 

I hit mile 4 in 20:10 or something, so it was a slow mile due to all the turns and hills.  I turned for home onto 355 and continued to press on.  Seife had lost ground on me, and I was on my own.  I had to keep pressing though.  Less than 5 min left.  Last mile.  I ran in a series of fartleks, I would surge and then coast, surge and then coast.  I finally saw a guy who looked like he dropped out who I past.  At this point I knew I was close to top 5, which earned cash.  This mile is in a way a dragger, you're just running on 355 waiting to get to the damn finish line.  The pain has set in from all the hills and it isn't getting any better.  But it's less than 5 minutes!  I continued to cruise and made the slight turn onto East Hungerford Drive toward home. I could see one runner in the distance but he had too much on me to catch him.  He would eventually get 5th.  I made one last final surge toward the finish line and let out a loud roar for some reason while crowds cheered and crossed the line in 6th place in 25:08, a new course best for me by 24 seconds.

In terms of team results, I am happy to welcome Anna Holt-Gosselin to the =PR= Racing Team.  Previously a GRC runner, she is now joining the Benedict-Sloane running club.  Anna ran 28:36 for an outstanding 6th place among the females.  Matt Linman also ran strong, finishing in 34th place in a time of 26:49.  Our team placed 2nd overall by a mere 5 seconds!  So close but what can you do.  Runners who I coach: Brandon ran a solid 29:59 for 98th and Marie ran over 40 seconds per mile faster than last year! 

Results below:

1   1/158     15 Eyob Alemu            30 Washington DC         24:12 24:12
    2   1/79      33 Christopher Mills     22 Falls Church VA       24:12 24:12
    3   1/164      3 Tariku Bokan          28 Herndon VA            24:21 24:21
    4   2/158      2 Demesse Tefera        30 Washington DC         24:22 24:22
    5   2/164     14 Temesgen Ilanso       28 Washington DC         24:52 24:52
    6   3/164      8 Christopher Sloane    29 Rockville MD          25:09 25:08
    7   3/158     16 Seife Gelatu          30 Washington DC         25:16 25:15
    8   2/79      67 Chalie Bitew          24 Washington DC         25:18 25:17
    9   4/158      6 Wilson Komen          34 Washington DC         25:27 25:27
   10   3/79      21 Kyle Stanton          21 Columbia MD           25:35 25:33
   11   4/79    1620 Graham Peck           23 Lutherville MD        25:42 25:38
   12   5/79     983 Cameron Hanlin        24 Hagerstown MD         25:48 25:44
   13   4/164    422 Chas Ballew           27 Washington DC         25:45 25:44
   14   1/112     59 Vladimir Tontchinski  45 Eugene OR             25:44 25:44
   15   5/164     17 Alex Battaglino       26 Baltimore MD          25:49 25:48
   16   6/79      57 Garret Martucci       24 Arlington VA          25:52 25:51
   17   7/79    2249 James Noonan          22 Rockford IL           25:54 25:52
   18   1/131      7 Michael Wardian       38 Arlington VA          25:55 25:55
   19   6/164   1705 Carlos Renjifo        29 Baltimore MD          26:00 25:57
   20   8/79    1888 Ryan Stasiowski       23 Eldersburg MD         26:14 26:11
This was a great summer race and great maintenance race before the fall.  I hit 78 miles this week with one day off.  This next week will be close to 100 and the weeks that follow as well.
Contrary to what some think, I will not race again until September.  I got an elite entry into the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon again.  Race date is September 16.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

FLASH: 25:08, 6th at Rockville Twilight 8K

 1   1/158     15 Eyob Alemu            30 Washington DC         24:12 24:12   4:53
    2   1/79      33 Christopher Mills     22 Falls Church VA       24:12 24:12   4:53
    3   1/164      3 Tariku Bokan          28 Herndon VA            24:21 24:21   4:54
    4   2/158      2 Demesse Tefera        30 Washington DC         24:22 24:22   4:54
    5   2/164     14 Temesgen Ilanso       28 Washington DC         24:52 24:52   5:01
    6   3/164      8 Christopher Sloane    29 Rockville MD          25:09 25:08   5:04
    7   3/158     16 Seife Gelatu          30 Washington DC         25:16 25:15   5:05
    8   2/79      67 Chalie Bitew          24 Washington DC         25:18 25:17   5:06
    9   4/158      6 Wilson Komen          34 Washington DC         25:27 25:27   5:08
   10   3/79      21 Kyle Stanton          21 Columbia MD           25:35 25:33   5:09
   11   4/79    1620 Graham Peck           23 Lutherville MD        25:42 25:38   5:10
   12   5/79     983 Cameron Hanlin        24 Hagerstown MD         25:48 25:44   5:11
   13   4/164    422 Chas Ballew           27 Washington DC         25:45 25:44   5:11
   14   1/112     59 Vladimir Tontchinski  45 Eugene OR             25:44 25:44*  5:11
   15   5/164     17 Alex Battaglino       26 Baltimore MD          25:49 25:48   5:12
   16   6/79      57 Garret Martucci       24 Arlington VA          25:52 25:51   5:13
   17   7/79    2249 James Noonan          22 Rockford IL           25:54 25:52   5:13
   18   1/131      7 Michael Wardian       38 Arlington VA          25:55 25:55   5:13
   19   6/164   1705 Carlos Renjifo        29 Baltimore MD          26:00 25:57   5:14
   20   8/79    1888 Ryan Stasiowski       23 Eldersburg MD         26:14 26:11   5:16

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Return to Marathon Training

7/9-7/15: 85 Miles/Week.

This was my first week of marathon training.  I hit 85 miles with one double but nothing longer than 15.  I have begun the 2nd half of my year.  The second half of 2012 will be higher mileage than the first.  Basically the first half I concentrated on staying right around/slightly below 75 average per week, and I worked very hard on VO2-Max and Threshold.  I think, if there is one thing I was dissapointed about for the first half of 2012 was the fact that my threshold intervals indicated a higher level of fitness than what my half marathon race time was.  I was hoping to hit faster than 1:08 for the spring and I had to settle for 1:09.  At the same time, I also improved my VO2-Max significantly which gives more room for improvement.  Having a higher VO2-Max now (in Daniels Running Formula I have achieved a VO2-Max of 70) I was able to break new barriers in anything shorter than 13.1 pretty much.  But, the threshold workouts I did(8xmile, 3-2-1 mile, 2400m repeats) stand out to me as some of the more impressive, even though I think VO2-Max workouts are some of the most intense workouts a runner can do.  Basically, the VO2-Max workouts I was able to punch out in races, and my threshold stuff from this past spring has yet to show its true potential in races.  The only race where some of it showed was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

This is where mileage comes in.  I am not suggesting that I should have run more miles in the spring.  That perhaps would have interfered with the quality vo-2 intervals I did or lead to injury/burnout.  BUT, I do think that having a larger base volume while training for a marathon will give a really good shot at crushing a half marathon PR too.  Last year, it certainly worked.  I ran 90-100+ miles/week over the summer, and when it finally came down to race in September, I ran a near 2 minute PR for the 13.1 distance at the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half.  I would say that is my best "long distance" race I have ever run.  In fact, what's interesting is that time is exactly on par to equivalent race times I did this spring.  I don't want to get too analytical here, but I just enjoy this shit because I'm a math guy.  Daniels chart below(in red are my times):


mile: 4:19 (4:26)
5000m: 14:55 (14:58)
10K: 31:00 (30:56)
13.1 Miles: 1:08:21 (1:08:39)
26.2 Miles: 2:23:10 (2:37:22)

Well no shit I have some work to do in the marathon.  My mile's a little off but who cares-its the mile and I am not a miler.  But for the marathon, Daniels gives a VDOT value of 63 for my PR.  Pathetic.  Honestly.  But I'm not going to beat myself up.  I'm hungry now.  Everyone has a race they need to work on.  I don't care how good you are.  Look at Dathan Ritzenhein-sure his marathon is solid(I'd take it!), but he's admitted he feels he hasn't "had THE race" in it yet.  This is what makes consistency and perserverance worth pursuing.  Dathan is one of and has always been one of my favorite runners.  He has had lots of injuries, but he just sticks with it and doesn't give up.  After placing a heartbreaking 4th at the Olympic Marathon trials in January, the guy came back to make the Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters.  He was 15 seconds off pace in a deluge, and came back to hang on with Rupp...who yes helped him but Dathan made the DECISION to go with him.  This kind of stuff is uncoachable.  It is just pure will of iron.  Tough as nails.  It's certainly admirable.  I wish him well for the Olympics.

But no matter what, high volume training and mileage building will help me become better in not only the marathon, but at other distances as well.  And this is where I think many people lose perspective.  There are so many marathoners out there who train for the race and don't run the way they expected to, and feel it was all a waste.  It wasn't a waste!  A marathon training cycles(when done without injury) gives unbelievable amount of fitness gains.  In 2010, I had a terrible experience at the Chicago Marathon, but the following spring was the start of a maginificent 2011.  I believe that year went as well as it did because of all the work I did over the summer and fall in 2010.  Runners must remember the simplicity of what you put in eventually you will get out.

The key is to just have a little faith in yourself.  Like Ritzenhein.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The 1999 & 2000 State Cross Country Championships

Out here in the fields
I fought for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

Sally, take my hand
Travel south crossland
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder

The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older

Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland

-The Who 

A friend of mine, Kevin Graves, who ran for Good Counsel high school posted this 1999 photo above on my facebook page.  Can you find me? The picture is the 1999-All County Cross Country Team for Montgomery County.  As I looked at this, I immediately remembered what a great season it was.  It was my junior year, the year I needed to step up and fill in the big shoes of Chris Graber who had graduated and went on to run for Duke University.  Graber was a tremendous runner and was easily one of the top runners not only in Montgomery County, but in the State, as well as the Metro Area.  I remember during my sophomore year when he was 3rd place in Reston's Footsteps Invitational behind the dominant runner Alan Webb(who would go on to become one of the nation's top runners in cross country and break records on the track).  Meanwhile, during the same race, I was back in 60something place.  Yes I did have a lot of work to do.  The 1998 season was a series of ups and downs, with Chris Dwyer(#2 runner) not running as well as he had the previous year, and Graber in a league of his own.  I was floating around as the #3 guy, and tried my best to keep up, but I was not at that level yet.

The 1998 MD State Cross Country Championships:

Sophomore year.

This was my second state meet, and Graber's last.  My first year I had placed 61st as a freshman.  As a sophomore I was hoping for top 30.  Graber of course was shooting to win.  Dwyer was also hoping for a solid finish...
Graber put himself into 3rd place for most of the race-against the defending champ Jason Santucci, and the Whitman runners on his heels.  The state championship course was a tough one, and there was what was called "the dip," a mountainous climb up and down TWICE during the race(among other hills).  Graber was in 3rd place when suddenly he collapsed at the top of "the dip."  Chris unfortunately got dehydrated and thus ran until exhaustion, causing him to collapse right before the end.  He dropped about quarter of a mile from the finish.

Meanwhile, Dwyer was having a tough day, stomach cramps causing him to drop way back.  I remember passing him during the race and thinking "this is not a good sign."  I wasn't running that great either, though I still managed a top 50 finish, coming in 49th.  That put me as QO's number one runner.  As I crossed that finish line, I realized that I now had to take the reigns and get the team back on track for next year.  We would lose Dwyer, Graber, and a few others.  There would be a lot of work to do.  Heck, it wasn't even certain we would make states next year!  I told myself I would not allow it to happen.  I was the new leader of the QO Cross Country Team.  I also told myself that I would get myself into the top 15 at states.  I set the goal and kept my eyes on it.

The Dip


The summer of 99' I trained my ass off.  I ran up every hill I could find.  Luckily, I had a training partner: Chris Shank.  Perhaps I didn't realize it then, but he was the best thing for my running back then.  Chris was competitive-just like me(I'm sure you're realizing by now that there were lots of Chris' on our varsity team...I think we had as much as 5 on varsity one year....known as the QO Chris team....everyone cheered by our last names....except my nickname was "Puffer").  Chris Shank wanted that top spot.  So he too, trained hard.  We would stupidly race workouts.  I always needed to be ahead of him.  It was like Maverick vs Iceman....but we were on the same team.  We would argue a lot.  It was counterproductive at times.  But now I miss it.
 The season started off slowly for me and our team actually was looking pretty solid.  Chris beat me in our first race back at the Fort Detrick Invite.  He ended up 9th place and I was 10th.  After that, he never beat me again.  His determination to get back on top motivated me even more, and our team followed.  As the season progressed, we got better and better, and I became familiar with the other top runners in the county, climbing my way up.  I placed 13th in the county and 11th in the region, with our team placing high enough to earn a trip to the state championship.  But I still didn't have that breakthrough race I was waiting for.  Not yet anyway.  I wanted to make states a good race.

Teamwork:  Me shaking Matt Grunseth's hand after a dual meet with Whitman.  I had happily won the race on QO's home turf.  Matt was key competitor to our team and was our 6th varsity runner.

The 1999 MD State Cross Country Championships:

By the time states rolled around I had become a good runner, but I still had much to prove.  There was no better race to do it than states.  I started out in the top 30, but worked my way up during the race.  I remember passing runners left and right, while Sean Pelkey, my coach was going nuts telling me where I needed to be.  I battled it out with Whitman's Paul Tufaro below, knowing I needed to beat him to earn top 15. 

I barely edged out Tufaro, finishing 14th in the state and running the race of my life.  Our team placed 10th.

Cross Country
1999 State Championships
At Hereford High School
4A Results

    Name                    YR School                  Finals    
1   Hershberger, Marcus     11 Gaithersburg           16:28.94
2   O'Connell, Jesse        12 Westminster            16:33.17
3   Davis, Josh             12 Westminster            16:34.94
4   Hayes, Stephen          11 Winston Churchill      16:36.66
5   Marvel, Justin          11 Severna Park           16:38.77
6   Gaske, Mike             11 Wootton                16:46.04
7   Pool, Kevin             11 Westminster            16:47.24
8   Gilbert, Tristan        12 Westminster            16:49.74
9   Albertine, James        12 Walt Whitman           16:58.34
10  Seymour, Matt           12 Magruder               17:01.01
11  Pickett, David          11 Meade                  17:06.81
12  Sheff, Adam             12 Winston Churchill      17:08.04
13  Still, Jacob            12 C Milton Wright        17:09.40
14  Sloane, Christopher     11 Quince Orchard         17:15.41
15  Peterson, Mike          12 C Milton Wright        17:16.71
16  Tufaro, Paul            12 Walt Whitman           17:19.17
17  Mathrani, Vik           12 Winston Churchill      17:20.75
18  Rice, Alexis            11 Woodlawn               17:21.45
19  Thomas, David           12 Meade                  17:26.77
20  Hart, Andrew            12 Perry Hall             17:28.90
In 2000, my senior year, we placed 7th in the state as a team, and I placed 12th individually.  
Chris Shank placed 30th and had a solid race as well.

Chris Shank and I after 2000 Cross Country States.

Cross Country
2000 State Championships
At Hereford High School
4A Results

Boys 3 Mile Run CC
    Name                    Year  School                    Pace   Finals
  1 Hershberger, Marcus      12   Gaithersburg              5:28  16:26.02
  2 Bailey, Pat              10   C. Milton Wright          5:30  16:31.37
  3 Gaske, Mike              12   Wootton                   5:31  16:34.85
  4 Pool, Kevin              12   Westminster               5:31  16:36.66
  5 Duffy, Billy             11   Dulaney                   5:34  16:44.69
  6 Knox, Will               11   Dulaney                   5:38  16:54.00
  7 Rice, Alexis             12   Woodlawn                  5:39  16:57.28
  8 Anderson, Aaron          12   Gaithersburg              5:41  17:03.17
  9 Reuwer, Aaron            12   Dulaney                   5:43  17:10.06
 10 Ali, Maksudul            11   Gaithersburg              5:43  17:10.35
 11 Weller, Stephen          12   Broadneck                 5:44  17:12.31
 12 Sloane, Christopher      12   Quince Orchard            5:44  17:13.85
 13 Blass, Jeff              12   Arundel                   5:45  17:15.04
 14 Koehler, Scott           11   Broadneck                 5:45  17:15.54
 15 Sobeck, Kyle             11   Walt Whitman              5:46  17:21.35
 16 Strawbridge, Shawn       12   Severna Park              5:47  17:23.02
 17 Slowikowski, Jesse       10   C. Milton Wright          5:48  17:25.06
 18 Bernstein, Daniel        12   Walt Whitman              5:48  17:26.82
 19 Hayes, Stephen           12   Winston Churchill         5:49  17:29.07
 20 Koj, Hubert              12   Watkins Mill              5:49  17:30.60
 21 Ramdial, Peter           10   Bowie                     5:50  17:31.73
 22 Smith, Aaron             11   C. Milton Wright          5:50  17:32.23
 23 Coughlin, Ryan           11   Severna Park              5:50  17:33.35
 24 Serio, Phil              11   Westminster               5:50  17:33.53
 25 Schmidt, Craig           12   Broadneck                 5:53  17:40.01
 26 Adams, Daniel            12   Magruder                  5:53  17:41.90
 27 Rafoth, Jason            12   Arundel                   5:54  17:43.24
 28 Pauley, Eric             10   Gaithersburg              5:54  17:43.66
 29 Sparkman, Jason          12   Broadneck                 5:55  17:47.06
 30 Shank, Christopher       12   Quince Orchard            5:56  17:49.19

Friday, July 6, 2012

OFFICIAL: 4:26.5, 3rd at MidSummer Night's Mile

Clocked 4:26.5 tonight at the Midsummer Night's Mile for a 1.3 second new PR(previous was 4:27.8) in very hot conditions. I was also very pleased with some runners I coach.  Brandon Hirsch clocked 5:07, Pat Savoy 5:27, and Marie ran 6:47 who is still in the earlier stages of her training with me(started coaching her in May). 

This was a good race to get my gears going and to just have fun.  It was certainly a solid effort and I really can't complain considering I'm just getting back into the swing of things, even though I wanted to go faster. I got competitive with Joe Wiegner beating me(though the guy has run 4:10 and just has something that I don't with this short distance stuff), who ended up grabbing 2nd place in 4:21.  The winner ran 4:20.  I can't really remember my splits.  I know the pace went out hard because a guy said he was going to rabbit in 2:05(!!!).  I was like hell no.  Brian McCabe went with the rabbit but me, Chris Barnard(eventual winner who ran for Georgetown I believe), and Joe hung back.  I think my first lap was around 65 and the 800 was somewhere near 2:12.  The rabbit dropped out after 800 and Brian was leading.  The 3rd lap(always the hardest) I fell off pace and Joe passed me, hitting 1200 in 3:20, but I knew if I could kick it in I could PR.  Up ahead I saw Joe, Chris, and Brian all running together and a small gap between them and me.  But it looked like the race was really going to be between Joe and Chris.  Brian was falling off pace quickly from going out hard with the rabbit.  Suddenly, just like that, a switch flipped on in me, and I ran fast as hell to catch Brian with 150m to go.  I nipped him right at the line, hitting 4:26.5 and him running 4:26.9.  The PR was a nice bonus for the kick. 

Not a bad start to getting things going again.  I still really haven't dove into marathon/half marathon training again yet.  My mileage is still low(60s).  But its in the early stages now of development, and I will start slowly getting it back up again to where I belong.  This fall I have set up some great races, and I won't be racing too much over the summer.  I will be doing the Rockville 8K Twilighter as always, and after that, I won't be racing again until September when things really get into more focus.
The USA Half Marathon Championships last month completed a journey and progression I have made in my running since the beginning of 2011.  Tonight sparked the beginning of my next journey, and I am excited to see where it will take me.