Confessions of a Wayward Runner-in-Training

It’s true. I fell—and fell hard—off the marathon training wagon. Well, it’s more like I fell, bounced twice, then landed square on my hip and got injured. In truth, I came down with a nasty head cold that sucked the life out of me, slipped on a wet kitchen floor and knotted-up my back, hip, and shoulders, and then travelled three weeks consecutively.

Why did I fall so hard and stay off the way so long (it’s been about a month). There are lots of excuses I could make, but probably the truest is that I still really struggle with the mental and emotional aspects of endurance training. Yes, marathon training is hard stuff. It takes lots of strength, both physically and mentally. Forcing myself to get up at 4:45 AM to conquer miles before heading to work, fitting in runs around a hectic travel schedule, fighting back from a cold, trying to manage a stressful patch at work, and balancing all that with family left me thoroughly exhausted.

As I get back in to the swing of training, at my core I’m confident I’ll conquer 26.2. I know that at the minimum I need to get up to a 20 mile run. After running a number of 13-milers, I’m confident I can conquer the 7 more needed to get me to 20. But quite simply, the sheer thought of the number of miles, and speed drills I should do, and the repeated 4:45 AM alarms is intimidating. To keep me honest and on-track, as of today I’m committing to check in here—on my blog—with each week’s training plan, reporting back with my progress. I know I’ll miss some runs or workouts, I know it won’t be perfect, but I know I can do it. It’s both that simple and that hard.

So, here is this week’s plan. Today (Monday’s) training goal was simply to rise at 4:45 and make it out the door. It was cool and drizzly, so I kept it short—2.25
Tuesday: with a 7 AM meeting, it will have to be some short cross training, probably yoga
Wednesday: 4 miles before work
Thursday: 5 miles before work
Friday: 5 miles before work or hill repeats
Saturday: rest
Sunday: long run of 14-15 miles
Total mileage: 30.25

This is an ambitious schedule, but I need to get back up in the upper-20 to 30 miles-a-week range. The Dopey Challenge isn’t far off, and I’m ready to own it! Stay tuned.

I’m a Half Marathon Mama

On Sunday April 28th I crossed the finish line of my first—and certainly not my last—half marathon.

In spite of weather reports, the race day was perfect. Low 60s at the start, over cast, just beautiful for a run. This race was a family affair, with my husband and son driving down to Myrtle Beach with me for a nice long weekend. My loving husband volunteered to drive me to the race shuttles at the butt-crack of dawn—with my son in tow—and then drove back to the hotel (about 30 mins away) for some more sleep before heading BACK to the race to see me finish.

At the starting line I enjoyed seeing all the teams hug, pray, and get excited for the day. Since I was running solo, I didn’t have the same camraderie, but I quickly chatted up a nice woman named Caroline who was running in a fantastic Fancy-Nancy-style tule running skirt. A teacher, she promised her students she’d wear it for the race. We ran together for the first three miles, since our paces were pretty similar. At mile three, still feeling awesome, I decided to take my first walking break through a water station, so I lost Caroline, who wanted to run straight to at least mile six. I was doing great through about mile 6, when my energy and motivation to run—and walk less—dropped. Around mile 8, I was doing the, “Why did you sign up for this?” internal question and answering. I kept telling myself, “Only 5 miles left, that’s a short distance! You could run that on any day!”

DJs along the way, lots of great signs, amazing spectators speckled throughout the route, and just a general sense of good will and the power of women pulled me through to the finish line. Just shy of the finish, I grabbed my tiara and boa, and met a woman who was running the race while horribly sick. I was doing—yet another—walk break, and she and I made a pact to race to the finish. As the chute to the finish line came close, I let her know it was on. As I rounded the corner to the finish line I spied my boys—waiting for me at the finish! After briefly stopping for a kiss (I knew my time goal was shot), I ran through the finish, arms in the air (straight up!!!).

The race was amazing. I was nervous at the start but not nearly as much as during my first race. I knew I was prepared, but I also doubted my ability—and it showed in my time. The fall-off in the last third of my training reared its head during the last third of my race, and I missed my time goal. I finished in 2:42:52, well shy of my dream of a 2:30 race. Importantly, however, it was a PR because it was my FIRST HALF MARATHON! I can’t complain really. The race was incredible. I’m quite certain that I smiled the ENTIRE route. But, I did learn a few things.

  1. Open up any race nutrition before the race starts. My hands got crazy sweaty and I swear it took me about 4 minutes to get my ShotBloks open.
  2. Chat up the crowd around you at the starting line. You might make a new (if temporary) running buddy.
  3. Keeps those hands straight up in the air as you cross the finish line, look up, and SMILE! My race pics turned out amazing. SO much better than for my first 5K!
  4. Remember that the key to the race is mental more than physical. Part of why I slogged through the last part of the race was that I just lost my drive. And that is all in my head!
  5. As they say, the training in the hard part, the race is the PARTY!

I love my first half marathon I promptly signed up to repeat the race next year. It comes at a crummy time of the year, but it’s totally worth the scheduling challenges at work. The race was well organized, efficient, and most of all, FUN!


The Spin Cycle

Today’s post is about acknowledging the elephant in the room and how it’s connected to some other issues in my life: my complete failure to show up on this blog for the past six months! My relationship with this blog speaks volumes about my relationship with my weight and exercise over the past six months.

Some days I was, “What are you doing? You should just do it. It’s important and you want it. It makes you feel better. It makes you happy. DO IT!” This was always followed by a burst of excitement, optimism, and then phhhbbbbtttt.

Then I was all, “Who do you think you are? You can’t do that. It takes too much time and commitment. Quit fooling yourself. STOP IT!” On this thought, I always followed through—and failed to do anything.

My exercising/running and weight management/loss has been the exact same loop of positive/negative thoughts. If you’ve fought this spin cycle (and I think most of us have fought it at some point in our lives), you know it feels craptastic. It’s ups and downs, highs and lows, self-flattery and self-abuse. It’s nasty. It’s rude. It doesn’t want to go away. Importantly, however, it simply is.
It simply is part of life.

But today, I broke my cycle and I’m here. I’m reporting. I’m sharing. I’m screaming aloud: My weight is up almost (gulp) 20 lbs from my lowest (happiest) weight. My mental health is not what it could be. I’m feeling flabby. I’m feeling disappointed in myself. I’m feeling angry. I’m reading to fight. And, I’m here.

Today I showed up.
Today I’m doing what I know: I logged my food. I ran 2.5 miles before dawn. I’m making good decisions (funny how one leads to another…) I’m buying healthy foods I love, I’m making meal plans, and I’m creating a workout schedule.
Today I’m reminded that I need to show up. Open the food tracker (Lose!). Make meals, coffee, and snacks at home. Plan to eat. Plan workouts. And write.

Since I said goodbye to Weight Watchers in lieu of I haven’t been able to get a handle on my weight. I’ve been up since Christmas. While I know how to do the food piece, the missing piece of this particular puzzling puzzle is being accountable to others. I have a few venues for this, yet writing and reflecting on my victories and challenges is really important for me.
So, I’m showing up here.
I’m here to stay.
I’m here to report.
I’m here to play.
I’m here to succeed.

And up tomorrow: a race report from my first half marathon in April!

2012 Victories!

Like most folks, I made a list of resolutions for 2012. In retrospect, they seem more about a particular moment than accomplishing something long term. Here they are if you’d like some amusement.

2012 Resolutions
> wear skirts and dresses
> make a sensory box for Simon
> redecorate/design our bedroom, living room, and kitchen/dining
> take control of the family finances
> spend at least 15 minutes every day with Simon just playing, snuggling, or having fun
> laugh more
> go on at least 10 dates with Paul
> find a baby sitter for Simon (other than Heather)
> maintain my weight loss and continue healthy habits
> maintain my commitment to me
> keep working on worry
> create/use growth chart for Simon

I certainly can’t say I accomplished them all. I do now own one skirt and three (!) dresses, I spend quality time with my son, I’ve maintained my weight loss and health life. The little things, um, not so much. Sensory box? Nope. Didn’t do it. But in spite of being unable to check off these items, was 2012 great? Yep! Here’s what I accomplished with my running and weight loss:

  1. Ran my first 5 K, then did a second setting a new PR (personal record).
  2. Ran my longest distance yet: 8.5 miles.
  3. Ran in the dark! Bought a head lamp. flashing light, and a friend permanently loaned me a HIGHLY reflective jacket.
  4. Conquered the cold weather run with new run gloves, headband, hat, and layers. Last winter I wouldn’t run outside when it was below 50!
  5. Ran with my sister, TWICE!
  6. Signed up for my first half marathon.
  7. Set a goal to run my first marathon during my 40th year (more on that later!)
  8. Discovered Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother! I’m using TLAM’s Half Marathon—Finish It plan for my half in April! Dimity and Sarah are very inspiring mother runners that offer motivation and bring the tribe of women runners together.
  9. Learned that if I gain back some weight, it’s normal, and that I’ll lose it—because I know how!

Turkey Day Adventures

This morning I ran my first ever Turkey Trot! It was an informal race (no fees, no registration, no cops to block off the street). It was great. I ran with two friends, one of whom is an avid cyclist. The other is a former runner, and is getting back into the groove. They chose to run slow with me, which was both fun and sort of intimidating. I know they run at least a minute faster than I do (I’ve been averaging about an 11:30 mile) and would be going very slow for me. But, hey, it was their choice, so I let go of any reservations and had fun—and really pushed myself!

We started out fast—too fast for me. And, I quickly slowed (them and me!) down. I only walked once (about a half block), at the 1.5 mile turnaround. My time was 35:16 according to NikePlus. Average pace was 11:10. Can’t complain at all! I’m thankful that my running pals pushed me to run faster.

In addition to this being my first Turkey Trot, it is also the first day of my Runner’s World Run Streak. I am going to run at least one mile every day between now and Christmas. I’m tagging all my runs with #RWRunStreak on Twitter (follow me! @pinkmonsterkate). Tomorrow I’m going to aim for just a mile, with a five-miler this weekend. I haven’t run more than 4 miles since the end of July. My goal is to build up to 7 miles by the end of the year in preparation for half-marathon training. Adding a mile to each weekend’s long run will get me there, no problem. Can’t wait!

The other part of the Thanksgiving adventures was cooking. I’m no chef, but I do enjoy cooking, and today was a marathon day. Since my dear husband has been slowly getting on the running (!!!), exercise, and weight-loss bandwagon, we chose to do some lighter side dishes and dessert. In a word, it was: amazing! The turkey was divine! It was the juiciest and tastiest I’ve ever made (last year’s was a bit on the dry side). Here’s the run down on our menu.

We brined the turkey again this year using this amazing recipe from Pioneer Woman. Then, I cooked the turkey according to Alton Brown’s directions, after stuffing the cavity with about 1 onion (wedges), 1 apple (quartered), about 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, and 1 cinnamon stick. We switched it up a bit with the cooking since we only had a 12 pound bird. It went in the oven at about 470ish degrees (kept the heat down because the oil was smoking us out of the house!) for 30 minutes, then turned it down to 330 for 60 minutes and covered the whole bird with two layers of tin foil (it was already browned enough!). Checked the temp, then did another ~30 minutes. The turkey was at about 160 degrees, so I pulled it out and it rested (covered) on the counter for about an hour while I cooked the rest of the dinner. It was SRSLY the best turkey ever. Moist. Flavorful. WOWZA!

My husband and son sitting down for our Thanksgiving feast.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
I used the famous family recipe (it’s just the recipe from the back of the OceanSpray bag, with the sugar cut in half). 12 oz fresh cranberries, ~1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup water. Dissolve sugar in water, add cranberries, bring to a boil and reduce. I threw in about ~1/2 cup OJ because we had it around. Great as always. This year I got smart and decided to control the cranberry splatter by using our grease splatter guard. Brilliant! Gotta remember this one for next year!

I think that stuffing the bird is gross. I make our stuffing on the stove top, and once again this year we used Weight Watcher’s Sausage, Apple, and Cornbread Stuffing. Like last year, I doubled the recipe. This stuff is amazing and doesn’t disappoint. My favorite stuffing.

We tried a new recipe for the potatoes. This year’s (Potatoes Au Gratin from Weight Watchers) were good, but not as great as last year’s (from Our Best Bites). I might have to go back to the Our Best Bites scalloped potatoes recipe because it is my favorite thus far. And can I just tell you, every year I make these potato dishes I am thankful for my Cuisinart!

Green beans
In the spirit of making a healthier meal, I tried a new green bean recipe rather than the usual can-of-cream-of-mushroom-soup recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I LURVE the stuff, but it’s not that healthy, and my husband dislikes it. So, time for something new! I sauteed about 1 cup of onions (thin sliced), then added 8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms and 12 oz fresh green beans once the onions were partly caramelized. I cooked them al dente, then topped with toasted panko crumbs. They were, eh, sort of meh. Okay. Not fantastic. I’ll definitely try something different next time. Oh well. They were healthy and still good, just not special.

Mini Pumpkin Pies
For dessert this year I made mini pumpkin pies. I used this recipe from Weight Watchers, and rather than use one crust, I used 9 mini Keebler graham cracker crusts. This is a GREAT recipe, but I think I cooked the pies at too high a temp, as the bottoms of the crusts were slightly burned. Might eat a second tonight! Topped them off with Cool Whip Free. Awesomesauce!

So, on top of cooking for about 5 hours and running 3 miles, I had a fun day with the family, wrangling a pre-schooler, and enjoying being at home. These are the true blessings in life! I hope your day was special, too!

Setting goals and looking ahead

As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a fall of ups and downs. Good days, bad days. Some running, lots of wishing I had the time to run, and even wondering if I should give up running. Today, however, I feel (once again!) like the universe is unfolding and the possibilities in life are truly endless. I LOVE those days when I have this feeling. I have come to cherish them, revel in them, and seek them.

On to goals. I’ve recently joined the Twitter-verse (follow me: @pinkmonsterkate) and yesterday tweeted to win a Garmin 10 from Another Mother Runner. The directions instructed us to tweet a goal race we’re aiming for in 2013. Mine? Run Like a Diva’s North Myrtle Beach Half Marathon! I am ALREADY really excited to train for (and conquer!) 13.1. Returning to NMB—where I ran my first 5K!—will be great. I loved the flat, fast course, the girl-power vibes, the tiaras and boas near the finish line, the hunky medal dudes, and the post-run champagne. Can I tell you how giddy I am to start my training in January? And like a true mother runner, I’ll be using Train Like a Mother’s Half Marathon—Finish it Plan. Maybe tonight I put all the training into my calendar! Oooooh, the fun never ends!

When I tackled the 5K in May I couldn’t image doing 13.1. 26.2 sounded seriously insane. Ultramarathoners, I thought, must be mental. But it’s funny how things change. My new long-term goal is a marathon for my 40th birthday—spring of 2014. I still can’t begin to wrap my mind around 26.2 but the distance entices, excites, and inspires me. And, I’m truly excited by the notion that at 40 I will go for 26.2 miles, push my limits, and do something I never thought I’d do. Heck, running is something I never thought I’d do!

In addition to 2013′s half, I’m trying to look ahead to other races I want to run. The half will be the big race in spring. But, I’m certainly looking for any suggestions on shorter distances for spring 2013. Send ideas my way, please!

What is your goal race for 2013?

Getting off track—then back on track

It might have happened to you—you are doing great, getting in a groove, and them BLAMMO! along comes a life event, a holiday, or a special event. And then you’re right back in that space where you’re not making the best choices.

This has been happening to me time and again for about two months. Just look at my blogging history—almost zilch since August! Oi! Here’s how it starts: I take time “off” from a) exercising and/or b) tracking. Then, I make poor food choices. One meal tumbles into two meals, which tumbles into days, then weeks, then months. I oftentimes tried to get back to that happy place of tracking, exercising and making good choices, but by that time the temptations are (quite literally!) around me constantly. Saying “no” to a McFlurry, a doughnut, laying around instead of running, or that HUGE bag of Halloween candy is just about impossible. So I say, “yes.”

Then another cycle starts, and I begin beating myself up about how bad I’m being.

But, this time around, I’ve beat myself up just a bit less. I’ve purposefully tried to be kind to myself. When I feel that guilt coming on, I remind myself that life has ups and downs. That this too shall pass—everything in its own time, including making better choices, tracking, and exercising.

And so I went through one long downward spiral, and had start to come back up. And then….HALLOWEEN! It was my DS’s first trick-or-treating and it was a blast (including the sugar high we all three had that evening!). And one day turned into five not-so-awesome-decision days. And then the numbers (on the scale) started to haunt me. I had gained almost ten pounds over the 2 months away from WW, but had then lost almost 4. But, was I headed back to that ‘danger zone?’ AUGGHHHHH! The horror!!!

So, I had another talk with myself. Yes, we have ups and downs in life, but I needed to accept that we also have some flat periods—those times when you are in a holding pattern. Holding patterns are good, especially when you are moving through a tough, stressful period in your life. So, I’ve decided that I’ll try to “hold” my weight where it is now.

My happy weight is about 155. I was recently up to 166. Now I’m back to 161.7 today. I’m going to focus on holding around 160ish (the ISH is REALLY important here, folks!) until the new year. So, this allows me to move through this holiday season and enjoy my family and life.

I’ve also been beating myself up about my lack of running and exercise. I’ve made far too many excuses, but I think I’m ready (finally!) to come back! I ran 3.5 miles on Monday, and this week my goal is to simply run twice. Total. Next week, I’ll ramp it up to three times. The following week, I’ll try to throw in a cross-training workout. I had forgotten how to slowly build back up—something that my husband has reminded me of as he is starting to lose weight (SO proud of him!!!).

So, that’s where I am. I’ve JUST put a run on the calendar for tomorrow (Thursday)!

(P.S. this blog post is a repeat from my Weight Watcher blog, so apologies to anyone that reads both! I promise more original content is in the future!)

The tale of the toenail

There are lots of aches and pains that runners can endure—chaffing, sore feet, tight muscles, and the black toenail! During my long run last Sunday (8.5 miles, thankyouverymuch!) it happened. I got my first hideous, awful, no-good, very bad black toenail. Can I just tell you that it is gross (don’t worry, I won’t show you any pics!).

My trusty indoor track.

Near-abouts mile 7.5 on the indoor track the discomfort/tenderness/soreness I’d regularly felt on my left foot in the two toes nearest my big toe got much worse. Not, however, bad enough to stop running (I REALLY wanted those 8.5 miles—a new PR for distance!). When I finished, I took off my left shoe to check out the damage/issue. Sure enough, peeking out from behind hot pink nail polish was the beginning of a black toenail. It was tender to the touch, but honestly not that painful. More awkward and uncomfortable more than anything. I stretched and then headed home, bound for interWebs and the mighty Google-machine to figure out what up with my toe.

Previously I had only seen mentions of the dreaded black toenail, so at least I knew it was kinda normal for runners. After reading this bit by Jeff Galloway and then doing some self-assessment after my two mid-week 4-mile runs, here’s my hypothesis. After the tenderness/soreness in those two toes (thankfully only one got the dreaded black injury!), I think the following things might be to blame:

  • too small running shoes for longer distance (e.g. > 7ish miles) due to foot swelling
  • too small running shoes, causing rubbing against the toe or top or whatever part of the shoes
  • fluffy socks (my SmartWools are kinda bulky)
  • my physiology—those two toes might just grip differently than my right foot, which doesn’t have this issue
  • over training (I did 4, 5, and 8.5 mile runs last week, racking up my most per-week mileage EVER!—17.7!)

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to get some thinner SmartWool socks. I’m going to go to the local sporting goods store to have them check my fit and gait. If they suggest another pair to help the issue, I’ll get some (if they fit, of course!). I’m going to make an appointment with my primary care doc to talk about the issue.

Here’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t pop the blood blister that formed beneath the nail (ewwwwwww!). I didn’t stop running. I’ve put in two 4-mile runs so far, but I am going to cut back on my long run this weekend, and only do 7 miles. Okay. Well, just maybe I’ll do 8, but no more mileage than that. I swear!

My funky toe, however, had some other side effects. I have developed a serious pain in my ass. Really. It’s a pain in my left glute (you see that, I made a funny—bah ha ha!). It feels like a knot in my left hip/glute; when I roll onto my left cheek just right it HURTS! The pain didn’t start until Tuesday after my run. And, I’m fairly convinced it’s related to my gimpy left toe. My best guess is that I’m somehow compensating for the sore toe and it’s affecting my form. During yesterday’s four-miler I ran the first mile on the indoor track, stopping after the first mile to stretch out my hips and hammies. Then I finished up on the treadmill for a gentler run and to focus on form. Well, when I did my regular body scan (lift from the top of my head, shoulders down, arms swing front to back, breathe from diaphragm, pelvis rotated back, slight lean from ankles), guess what? Ass pain be gone (if only getting rid of other pains-in-the-ass were so easy!). I’m thinking that I was compensating by heel striking more than mid-food striking, shocking/tensing the left side of my body. Ouch. Now I’ve just gotta loosen up the knot and fix my form. This running thing never gets boring!

Have you ever had a black toenail, or other dreaded running injury? If so, do share! We can revel in our aches and pains together!

Happy running, friends!



This is how I roll

Well, more like how I run. Here are some fun facts.

Nuun in my pink monster Tervis tumbler.

  1. I kinda, sorta do ChiRunning. I haven’t read the whole book (I know, I NEED to finish it), but I got the gist of the approach and mostly follow it. It’s treated me well, so I’ve no plans to change it up.
  2. I’m in love with Nuun electrolyte drink tablets after my run. Tuck one in my Armpocket for the post-run re-hydration and I’m good to go. No need to carry extra beverage containers. I’ve only tried Strawberry Lemonade, but have my eyes on some more flavors.
  3. I wear wicking singlets and capris when I run. Can’t stand anything on my arms, or shorty-shorts.
  4. I rock pigtails when I run. Keeps the back of my neck cool, and I think they’re cute.
  5. I LOVE SmartWool PhD running socks. In pink, of course. They wick, they cushion, they rock.
  6. I tuck my phone, ID, cash, Nuun tablet (in a baggies) in my trust hot pink ArmPocket on every run. I love it. No chaffing. Only awesomeness. I have the Sport20, but if I were to buy another, I’d go with the smallest size, the Aero. I really don’t need the extra storage space right now (which is why I bought the 20 in the first place).
  7. I’m a tracking fanatic. Currently I use Nike+ for tracking speed, distance, etc. while running. I also track all my exercise on DailyMile, which I use more as an exercise log. I ALSO track my exercise on WeightWatchers and MyFitnessPal (to monitor caloric intake, of course). Crazy, eh?
  8. I love to listen to pop when I run. My current favorite playlist is called “5K Diva.” I’ve been known to belt out a few lines while running to help pump me up (I’m a beast, I’m an animal!—gotta love Usher’s More!).
  9. I run alone. I don’t have a running partner, not because I don’t want one, but because I haven’t yet found anyone. Will you run with me? Please!!!
  10. I haven’t yet found a sports bra I like. Hopefully I’ll be able to try a few different models this fall and find one I love.

I think that’s all for now. Happy running to you, my friends!


Taking my show on the road

Last week I was away on vacation (north Florida) visiting my mom and her hubby. My son was along, but my hubby had to stay home to work his new job (!!!). I had three runs planned for the trip, two 4-milers and an 8ish miler. I did what I planned—I asked for my mother’s help watching the little dude. And, she did. Our first full day there she took the dude to the park while I did 3 miles. It was hot. Like, running in a sauna hot. Humid. Hot and humid. YUCK! I had to walk—A LOT—but I made it the three miles. And you know what? Three miles felt short! That realization was a wee bit o’ a surprise, but seeing as I’ve been running 4 milers for my short runs, it makes sense. Wow. This hard work thing really pays off! Who knew?

After getting my one set of running gear all washed up, on the next day marked for a run I awoke to the hottest, most humid morning weather—at 7 AM! GRRR! Well, I scrapped the run that day, and it all went down hill.

My run total for the week: 1 run, 3 miles. Not what I’d planned, but there is a silver lining. This was the first trip in which I successfully got in ANY running! Big victory there, I’d say! I can’t complain about that, even if I didn’t hit the 15ish miles I’d wanted.

But, I’m back at it. Motivated to get 50 miles in by the end of July, I ran 4 miles on the dreadmill yesterday, have four planned for tomorrow (Thursday), an 8 miler for my weekend long run (can’t get enough of that LSD, baby—long slow distances!), and 4 miles on the following Monday. With the 39 miles I’ve already logged, I’ll hit 50 if I stick to the plan.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress, and provide an update on my July training schedule. Oh, and I suppose I need to create my August schedule! Oooooh! So much to do and write! Stay tuned, faithful friends!