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The BAA Distance Medley & a World Series

8 Nov

Seven days after my latest marathon was the BAA Half Marathon. Although I wasn’t terribly mentally excited to race again so soon, it’s nice to be able to sleep in your own bed the night before a race, have a coworker ready to run with you, and know that the race was about much more than just 13.1 miles.

This is the second year of the BAA Distance Medley (5k in April, 10K in June, half marathon in Oct) and my second year participating. It took on new meaning this year after the Boston Marathon bombings as the 10K and the half marathon were the only other BAA races for 2013.

I honestly didn’t care how tired or sore I was from the marathon, this race was happening. Luckily, I wasn’t sore at all and we had a good time.  It’s not a race you can PR on because it is so packed and parts of the final 2 miles in the Franklin Park Zoo are on a footpath wide enough for just one person – and its always a bit funny to reach the halfway point, a few hundred yards from my home, and then have to turn around and run away.

There was a mile long stretch with absolutely no spectators and it was directly after they passed out Gu. You know that awful feeling in the movie theater when your feet are sticky with everyone else’s spilled sodas and buttered popcorn?  It was like that but on steroids.  All you could hear was heavy breathing (we were running uphill) and squishiness (as everyone’s soles were coated in Gu).  It didn’t make me real interested in trying to fuel with Gu again, there’s no way a substance that slick and sticky and sugary is going to be happy in my system.  We gained time on the hills which was great – all those stadium steps and hill climbs and box jumps must be paying off – because we passed people constantly and while I was breathing heavy, I actually enjoyed the challenge.

I remember thinking – well, that wasn’t emotional at all.  But when you see the finish line, and you think back to that finish line, it’s hard to not get a little sad.  I heard one runner say “Well, only a few more months and we can cheer another Boston Marathon and put this all behind us.”  I agree with the sentiment of moving forward faster and stronger and with more determination. But can a tragedy like this ever be swept away, packed away, thrown away?  I don’t think so.

I know personally that it isn’t completely behind me.

Game 6 of the World Series brought an announcement to Fenway residents that Boston Police were expecting riots (regardless of a win or a loss and also for Game 7, should there be one). We were asked to “shelter in place” for the evening.  Those words again.  Those words + the incessant drone of media helicopters definitely had me on edge the entire evening.

Part of me was enjoying my Boston Red Sox not only winning but winning big. It was hard, even during the final 3 outs, to fully comprehend that my team made it. That this was the World Series and we were about to win it.  That I might have been raised to cheer for an underdog losing team but kids born in the past 10 years have been raised to rout for a champion – and its the same team.

Part of me was going crazy with the noise. I had on the air conditioner, a fan, the dishwasher and a radio and all  I could still here was chopper blades hovering overhead – an experience I hoped to never live through again after that week in April. It happened again at 4 AM on Saturday, the morning of the World Series parade.  One minute, sound asleep.  The next minute, awake to the noise of 3 media helicopters already aloft, already circling, making me feel anxious.

It will take time to appreciate helicopters again…to not jump at loud noises…to not panic when I have no phone service (this happened during Game 6 of the World Series thanks to so many people in such a small area all trying to call and text at the same time…once again eerily reminiscent of April).

I am not a pack rat. I throw things away as soon as possible.  Yet I held onto these Sports Illustrated covers from April in case. I guess even then, I was hoping, although not hopeful, that the Boston Red Sox could pull it off.  Triumph from tragedy is, after all, essentially the American dream.  And more than that, maybe the greatest universal human desire.




Race Recap: The Smuttynose Marathon

28 Oct
October 6th dawned dark and gloomy.  In fact, it really didn’t dawn at all.  Or, if it did, I missed it because I was huddled in my brother-in-law’s car trying to stay warm and texting my Mom across the country to see if she would think any less of me if I ditched the race.

I know, I know. Pathetic.

But sometimes all the arguments of “I trained hard for this and put the miles in” fail you when you’re really cold and wet.  And all you can think of is the sleep you are missing out of.  Honestly, and this is horribly honest, probably the only reasons I actually ran were 1) I had a friend running her first half marathon and I wanted to not wimp out on being there and 2) I had a friend running the marathon that I could run with and misery loves company…even damp company and 3) carb loading.  I had to justify the Flatbread Company pizza I ate the night before, right?  And 4) I’m annoyingly stubborn.  So there’s that.

Fast forward 4 1/2 hours and I was back in the car…even more wet, even more cold, but with a marathon medal and a very empty stomach.  Also a reflective piece of marathon foil (which really does nothing when you’re soaking wet and there is no sun). I turned up the car heat to the highest it goes…and kept it like that for the 15 minute drive to my sister’s house.

And I could leave the marathon story like that. Because it’s all true.

But I could also talk about the rest of it. Which was fun and rewarding and reminded me why I love running.  And that part is all true, too.

I ran with a good friend who also completed the same half Ironman that I did. But of course you can’t really hang out with someone during a triathlon (that is, even if i could keep up with her in the water…which I clearly could not) in the same way that you can during a marathon.  I figured that worst case scenario was I quit the race at the half marathon cutoff. I’m not sure why I was so adverse to running alone…since I like running alone.  Maybe I remembered how long 26.2 miles can seem when you run without any musical distraction and much as I love New Hampshire, I recognize that Hampton Beach isn’t a particularly scenic marathon route.  20 of the miles are run around cul-de-sac neighborhoods.

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So we started together.  And we finished together.  And I felt like we had been running for 2 hours when we finished but not more than double that. I felt good – injury free, happy lungs, cold enough to leave my arm warmers on for most of the race but not uncomfortably cold other than miles 11-13 when the wind and the rain picked up and we were running along the ocean and my hands wouldn’t bend.

We thanked all the race volunteers with words and smiles both.  We ran up the one beastly hill twice (even faster the second time around – which impressed the volunteers).  I fueled properly and laughed and we entertained the other racers around us. Here’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t PR.  There came a moment where I could choose to try for a PR or I could continue to hang out with my friend and push her to a PR.  I chose the latter. And no, it wasn’t all selflessness. I am a pretty good person but a lot of factors went into not making this an A race.   Maybe I could have PRed, maybe I couldn’t.  I’ll never know.  It was a flat race but conditions weren’t perfect. I PRed at my 5k and half marathon distance this summer so maybe I was ready to run faster…or maybe I was overtrained and tired.  I could come up with lots of excuses for not PRing and lots of reasons why I would have succeeded.

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But, I honestly don’t care in the least. After the other races this summer, I was grateful to be outside and running, with a friend, without any discomfort (other than the knowledge that I had run too much in my shoes and needed to) and without any time pressure. There will be more marathons in my future. There will be a race time PR.

But this race included:

– a PR in fueling well

– a PR in “undertraining” for a marathon in less than 8 weeks and feeling better than when I follow a full 16 week schedule

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I referred to myself as the “uninvited pacer” as I basically chatted my friend to the finish line. I’m pretty sure she was running faster than her normal pace not only because she’s in better shape than she thinks and because sometimes you need a slightly faster runner to push you out of your comfort zone but also because she wanted a break from my incessant chatter. I mean, I don’t listen to music on marathons so I come across as that person who wants to commune with nature and hear each painful footfall and heavy breathing and really live in the moment.  And then I become the person who talks and talks and talks and comes up for air only to ask about our pace and time (God forbid I wear a watch) and to realize I’ve missed 4 mile markers and we’re much further along than I thought.

I ran my other marathons alone (except for the partial marathon I ran with a friend where my entire role was to distract her and pretend that my IT band hadn’t allowed me to only run 2 miles and now I was attempting to run 10 times that…)  I guess I treated this marathon more like a long training run.  Maybe I should have capitalized on that and done another marathon or ultramarathon shortly after.  Or maybe I just needed to lie to myself “this is not a marathon, this is just a friendly training run and you can stop whenever you want and go home.”  Lies, all lies.

I was no less proud of this race, my Personal Slowest, than I have been of any other marathon. Since I’m not a competitive racer, although I can be a competitive runner sometimes, I think that makes sense. What’s the point of growing older and wiser if that doesn’t include learning to cut ourselves some slack, to enjoy the memories, to relish the 25 minute hot water shower we take afterwards (sorry about your hot water bill, Debs!) regardless of what goals we met or did not meet.  I started, I ran, I finished. In a respectable amount of time. I smiled, I thanked people, I laughed at myself, I didn’t throw up any Gu, my friend’s husband was waiting at the finish to cheer us for those last pesky yards…then I went home to a hot shower (sorry again) and an afternoon of puzzles and football and Indian food in the crockpot…because the best part of visiting family is that you are separated from your to do list and can do nothing but relax in your sweats (especially after a marathon). What more could one ask for?

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Race Recap: Timberman Triathlon (Part 2)

27 Aug

Morning Of the Race – Transition SetUp

Catching the bus at Gunstock and taking it down to Ellacoya State Park was a breeze. Not only that, but we pulled into the parking lot fairly early, and as we parked, another car pulled in next to us. I looked over and realized it was my training partner A and her husband.  How fun is that?  Of the hundreds of triathletes, I got to park next to the one person I knew well and sit with her on the bus ride.  Misery loves company…so do nervous triathletes pre-race.

We had plenty of transition time…well over an hour before we were supposed to exit the transition area. Unfortunately, it ended up not being nearly enough time for me. First, I had to deal with the girl next to me who said “Do you have to put your stuff there?” as if  I had any other choice than using the few inches allotted to me under my bike. I hate to call people names but if you’re thinking of one right now that starts with “B” that was her. She actually went and got race volunteers to come and yell at the girl on the other side of her because her bike was not exactly in the  middle of the race sticker where it belonged.  The guys on the other side of me were much nicer, although I did wonder if I was in the wrong place when I realized I was mostly in the “guys” transition area.  Then I realized we were lined up by age group and being a Z, I was the last girl in my age group before the guys in my age group.  They were helpful with figuring out the route from the swim to our bikes and from the bike racks to the run.

Second, I laid out my biking and running gear and then headed to the portapotty line with A.  We had 40 minutes left to setup our transition time.  After we had reached the front of our line and done our business, we had 3 minutes left.  Really, that was not cool. Even after we picked a line that mainly had men in it.  Next year, I plan on setting up transition with everything I need, handing my wetsuit and swim gear to my family, and then waiting in the dreaded line.  When you don’t start swimming until 7:29 but have to exit the transition area at 6:45, it doesn’t make sense to waste transition time in a long bathroom line.

So I spent my 3 minutes: grabbing my wetsuit and swimcap and goggles and Morning Bag (in which to leave my sweatpants and sweatshirt) and ripping open my Honey Stinger Waffles and putting them all in a baggy together for the bike. I had already taped 2 Gu packets to the top tube on my bike.

Timberman – Swim

A and I met up with my parents and my Dad dropped off my Morning Bag to the tent where they were keeping them after I downed some pre-race fuel.  Then we waded thru some freezing cold water to line up with our Swim group (#9 out of 20).  At this point, I realized I was wearing my Nike FuelBand…which isn’t waterproof. Ugh.  So I waded back thru the freezing water to find my parents (and failed). With timing running out. I went to the Morning Bag drop and tried to find my bag (and failed). They were all organized numerically….except for mine. I ended up taking my fuelband off, telling my race number to the teenage girl working there, and asking her to find my bag and put it in there. I figured my odds were: 10% of finishing the race and seeing my fuelband again versus 100% chance of it being destroyed during a 1.2 mile swim.  Then I waded thru the freezing water again.

The only good part about this unexpected interruption was that I had less time to stand around on the beach getting nervous about the swim. I am way too short and muscular to be a good swimmer.  Fact.  The very things that make me able to bench press more than my body weight and power thru Crossfit workouts are the very things that make me inelegant in the water.  Not to mention that swimming straight, not hyperventilating when people swim on top of me, and remembering to breathe are not skills of mine.

We headed into the water, I had about 60 seconds in which to panic and decide that it would be less embarrassing to quit now than drown, and then we were off. And…it was awful.  I would say that the first 5-10 minutes of the swim were the worst part of my entire race. People kicking me, hitting me, swimming over me, not to mention choppy water and my whole “10 strokes and then sight one of the buoys” turned out to not be enough to keep me swimming straight.  We swam straight out…and out…and out.  I made a game of counting the buoys (I pretended there were 20 even though there actually ended up only being 15) and telling myself to stay calm and slow and steady.  We had a short swim out, a long swim parallel to shore (which was very far away), and then a short swim back to shore. The middle section was actually the easiest for me. I caught up to a number of swimmers from the group before us and that felt good. I only panicked and thought “I’m the last swimmer in my age group!” once every 15 seconds.  The last part of the swim, even though I knew I was swimming to shore, was the worst.  My wetsuit zipper was pushing on the most painful part of my aching neck and I felt like passing out a few times. It made moving my head very difficult and I knew the shooting pain wasn’t a good sign. I also started getting passed by all the swimmers who started after us. And they were ruthless.  A bunch of them grabbed me as they passed by and literally pushed me away.  This does not happen on the bike…this does not happen on the run. No wonder I hate the swim so much.

44 minutes later, and in the bottom 10% of my age group (94 out of 104, I believe), I finished.

The wetsuit strippers were easily my favorite part. They were yelling “get it down over your hips” as I approached but one of the guys sized me up (being petite has some perks) and told me to get down and ripped off the suit in one smooth move, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me up (I think I weighed less than he thought as I went flying about 7 inches off the ground before I landed), threw the wetsuit in my arm and pushed me to the transition area.  Either I lucked out with the wetsuit stripping champion or he saw my swim cap, realized I was the last one in my age group and wanted to help me shave a few seconds off.

Timberman – Bike

Not only had I forgotten to take my FuelBand off during the transition setup, but I had forgotten to put a sports bra on under my tri suit. Tri suits are made for skinny women with no curves. The short run up the beach had proved to me that the tri suit alone was not supportive enough for my run.  But I figured it would be fine for biking and I would deal with it later…56 miles on a bike is plenty of time to make a plan.

Threw on my bike shoes, grabbed my helmet, realized that my plan to loosen my bike helmet in advance had actually resulted in me tightening it, fixed my helmet and headed for the transition (Clearly I’m not very organized and prepared when it comes to these things…but I also am unflappable and don’t get bent out of shape when things don’t go smoothly). Raced out of there as fast as I could and began the first awful ascent of the ride.

Between mile 1 and 2, while climbing uphill, I saw a horrific sight – two guys bloody and unconscious at the side of the road.  Medical personnel was shooing us over, away from the shoulder, and I instinctively knew that the accident had not just happened so the fact that the guys were still unconscious was probably not a good sign.  Regardless of that, I managed to not get nervous about bike accidents.  And having previewed the course was very helpful as I knew when to prepare for the badass hills, when to prepare for some nice descents, when to fuel. I got passed.  A lot. But I also exchanged pleasantries with a number of cyclists and the weather was ideal.  I reached the 30 mile mark having averaged over 17 mph which is not good for a professional but is very good for me.  Sadly, the last 26 miles were brutal: the worst hills, wind against me, bathroom stop mid-hill at the first unoccupied portapotty I saw.

There wasn’t much time to think on the bike, I told someone recently.  Really?  3 and a half hours wasn’t enough time. But its hard to explain…I was thinking…about hills and fuel and how I was going faster than I expected and how I couldn’t turn my neck and guessing what the tattoos on the guy in front of me stood for…and how I went 45 miles needing the bathroom before I stopped…and how after seeing the 7th cyclist repairing a wheel I began praying that my bike would make it without any repairs…and how I only stopped at the first (of 4) fuels stations and how the women were pretty timid on the descents but I slammed down the final downhill at 47 mph and the guy who came after me pulled up alongside with a huge grin on his face and said “That was the best part of today – that was incredible” and I felt the same. I get a feeling of sheer terror biking that fast but I also feel incredibly energized and alive doing terrifying things like that.

I owned the last 5 miles of uphill.  Not sure why but my fuel stores were starting to kick in and I passed 27 people, mostly guys, in the last 5 miles.  The harder the uphill got, the faster I pedaled.  I was in the homestretch and although slow, I was going to finish without any walking or even standing up in my saddle.  Thanks to the neck pain, I hadn’t even had time to worry about my hands going numb (happens if I don’t switch position often enough) or my groin hurting (always in tri shorts) or how everyone else had fancy aero bars. I saw A up ahead, finishing the “no pass zone” on the bike and speeding back into transition. She had predicted that I would “pass her at the end of the bike leg” but she was wrong. I was mostly happy that we had both finished without accidents and well within the time frame we had expected.

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Honestly, it was a slow bike ride but I am a slow biker. I biked faster than expected, was able to hold down more fuel than I had hoped for, and finished in good spirits.  I was 95th out of 104 in my age group but I knew my secret weapon was next – I can run.

Timberman – Run

I was ready to rip off my tri top, throw on a sports bra I dug out of the bottom of my race bag which was under the race bag of the guy next to me, and head out. But I remembered the whole “no nudity” rule and the fact that spectators (including my parents) might be able to see me so I headed to the portapotty next to the run course and did a quick costume addition there.

Having run all of my marathons without headphones, I was prepared for this. What I was not prepared for was having age stations every 3/4 mile apart (lots of fun to look at but also disconcerting when you prefer them spaced every 1-2 miles apart) and the fact that my legs didn’t feel bad at all (I should have biked faster).  I had A and two coworkers S and P to look for and cheer on and that motivated me. Not to mention I had downed some caffeinated Gu towards the end of my bike and I never drink caffeine…which means I was high on energy. My goal was to enjoy the first 6.6 loop and slog thru the second one. I ran the first loop so fast that I don’t remember enjoying it but I also don’t remember hating it either. It just was. And there was Andy Potts, the winner, cheering us on as we started our second loop.

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The second loop was slower.  My hips hurt and my IT band started aching and I needed a bathroom stop.  But it was also a fun run. There were so many spectators lining the course…the aid stations were a nice distraction…I had people to search for…I had lots of fun chats with people on their first leg of the run and I was excited to get to the Finisher: This Way sign at the end. Without my watch, I hadn’t a clue what time it was so I kept asking people, then attempting to do math in my head, then realizing I was running really fast and that spurred me on to move faster. My finish time was 1:44, putting me 8th in my age group!

Funny to compare this with a half marathon – where everyone gets cheered on for the last mile or so. In this race, having already been competing for many hours, we needed cheers for every mile of the race. The atmosphere was festive, very festive. As if the run was just icing on the cake, the race was already over.

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I got my finisher’s hat and my medalsome water and immediately found my parents by the finish line so I could wait for and cheer A. Finishing felt good, watching other people finish with huge smiles on their faces and being handed their medals by a dimpled Andy Potts felt even better. Every single person who ran had a personal story of victory and triumph, stories I will never know, but stories that matter nonetheless.

I’m not super into finishing times and competing against others.  I compete against myself, often against courses and weather and pain and other things that could slow me down.  But I post these results just to prove that people can finish and finish happy regardless of their placing, regardless of how much body fat they have, regardless of whether they have aero bars and expensive clothing and sponsors.

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Race Recap: Timberman Triathlon (Part 1)

26 Aug

Not everyone loves race recaps. I completely understand that. So here is the short version for those who wish they cared but truly don’t: There were some obstacles and issues that I encountered but I finished. Shortly afterwards (2 days later) I learned that I was DQed – disqualified – due to a timing chip issue which meant some of my race splits weren’t recorded and some were recorded at places other than the timing mat. Not sure how that happened. My results are now blanked out on the Timberman website but can still be seen at Athlinks and other race-result websites.  Although the DQ was a disappointment and very frustrating, it was also completely out of my control, so I’m taking everyone’s advice to heart (that I know and my friends and family know that I finished) and not worrying about the officially-scary-looking DQ next to my name.

Preparation could have gone better for this race, I won’t lie. And that’s not an excuse.  After my PR in July at the Old Port Half Marathon and my sprint triathlon 5K run PR a week later, I suddenly lost all desire to run. Add that to my lack of motivation to swim for the entire month of July (when you are on a jury trial far away from your swimming pool, and you’re not the most keen swimmer to begin with, that happens) and my frustration at how slowly I bike, and it wasn’t the greatest training season ever.  Also, I was starting to set PRs at Crossfit in my 1 rep maxes and I was finding it fun – so fun that it was hard to focus on the cardio required for this triathlon.

Also, and maybe this was just my issue because I followed a very bare bones training plan, I succumbed to a lot of stressful guilt about training.  It’s hard enough to juggle work, exercise, social life, sleep, chores, etc.  Now I found myself juggling swimming, running and biking.  I had a really good week swimming and biking, felt guilty about my less than stellar running. Next week, I had a great swimming and running week, felt guilty about my lack of biking.  And so on. Ironic that those of us who exercise don’t sit around feeling guilty about not exercising but we can still fall into a trap of guilt over not doing enough exercise.

Enter: Random encounter at the gym with a girl wearing a triathlon t-shirt. We start talking and realize we are both doing Timberman, both about the same biking speed, and we both have some long bike rides ahead of us. It was one of the best random encounters I’ve had. Having a training partner made all the difference.  We rode 50 miles around Arlington and Concord one week, we biked 40+ miles of the Timberman course the next week, we got in a nice swim at Walden Pond + biking brick during our taper.  I would not have entered the Timberman as prepared if it were not for her.  Best summer surprise.

Week Before the Taper
This went surprisingly well. I didn’t experience any of the anxiety and stress and nervous energy that I usually do.  That might be because I was busy in a 4 1/2 hour job interview and working on my handstand push-ups and preparing for my busy season at work and trying to figure out how to pack for 4 days camping and a half Ironman.

Thursday night, I got to my parents house after a fun date with my Dad and some car trouble, went to bed, woke up unable to move my neck.  Shooting pain in my upper back, shoulders and neck.  No idea where it came from although I had spent a significant number of hours holding heavy babies on Tues, Wed, and Thur. And I spent a month sitting in an uncomfortable jury chair. And my sports masseuse is convinced that the stress of the summer finally caught up to me during the taper (which doesn’t entirely surprise me – you are most susceptible to colds and other illness during the taper weeks – and it is often when I go home to NH that my body relaxes and gets sick).

But I muscled through it with some pain reliever. Spent part of Friday testing out my wet suit at a friend’s lake and playing with her kids. I was shocked that I actually liked the wet suit. The one I had tested before was more expensive, rated better, and I hated it. Hated it. Felt so confined in it that I was ready to DNS (Did Not Start) the triathlon solely because of the wet suit. This one I like. It’s about as flattering as a wetsuit can be, it fits perfectly without being too tight or too loose and I don’t even notice it once I’m swimming.

Packet Pickup
There were two fun parts of packet pickup: being with my Mom and meeting up with my friend A and finally meeting her husband.  The packet pickup went smoothly, dropping off my bike was easy and a little scary (this is really happening…) and the race info session was helpful. 

There were a few not so fun parts of packet pickup: like how incredibly fit and lean and intimidating everyone looked.  I knew going into this that I would not do well in the swim and the bike.  I had read the race results from the previous years and knew that this was not an “average person” event but the cream of the crop of triathlon racing.  That didn’t discourage me so much as prepare me for the inevitable – being passed a lot on the bike. I had no idea how I would fare on the run because I hadn’t been running a lot (other than weekend long runs and a lot of short sprints at Crossfit) and I certainly hadn’t been doing many bricks (I think I followed up a bike ride with a run once…or maybe twice).  My philosophy was: don’t drown, don’t bonk on the biking, you can muscle thru the run.

It helps to know that someone else is doing this as well – someone else is signing up for what might be a great experience or a horrific one. And I figured if my neck was going to hurt and I was going to spend my days rubbing Bengay into it, I may as well do something more painful in a vain attempt to forget about my neck (it actually kinda worked).


Forcing myself to eat extra carbs – unsalted pretzels and hummus with an unhealthy dose of Goldfish crackers thrown in – and extra liquid –  Powerade Zero wasn’t as awful as it has been in the past. I typically get excited at the thought of eating extra carbs and lounging around….then the days before the race, I lose all my appetite and force myself to eat delicious things without even tasting them. This happens after the race, too.  Beforehand, I think “I can eat whatever I want after the race!” and spend many long runs imagining what I will indulge in.  Then, after the race, I lose my appetite and think “You have to make yourself eat” and I can’t.

Informing my parents of our 4:30 AM departure time wasn’t fun, either. Because nothing screams self-centeredness like “Want to come spend 8+ hours in the sun in a crowded venue cheering for me?” with the added incentive of “And we need to leave by 4:30 AM?”  I console myself at times like this with two thoughts: 1) my parents didn’t have to to do a lot of cheering for me in my childhood and no one is forcing them to now and 2) I will probably be blessed/cursed with children that expect the same out of me. Possibly even a husband who races.  Karma and all that.

I slept about 3 hours before the race which is normal for me. What isn’t normal is that I also slept 2-3 hours (because of my neck) on Thursday and Friday nights. I yawned the entire drive up to Gunstock on Sunday morning.  That may or may not have been an omen that this race wasn’t going to go as planned…thank goodness I hadn’t spent a lot of time making plans!