Limiting Language: Or How I Learned to Fly…

“I am ONLY running a half marathon this week.”

“I am JUST a beginner.”

“It’s JUST a LITTLE sprint triathlon.”

“I would love to join, BUT I probably couldn’t keep up with you guys.”

“I don’t have one of those fancy bikes.”

“Thanks, but I have so much more to lose.”

“Have I reminded you lately that I’m not fast?”

 

I have heard it a million times from my husband, gently correcting me and telling me how proud he is of me; that I am “doing fantastic.” I hear it from my guy friends that I always worry only run with me to humor me; “you’re doing great.” But something about being called out by a coach you really respect hit me like a lightning bolt. He did it so perfectly, so respectfully, but in a way that told me that he was serious and not just humoring my lack of self-confidence.

“Let’s remove that limiting language. You’re going with the flow, so just enjoy the journey and see where it takes you.”

“Limiting language.” Wow, I hadn’t heard it that way before. It’s always been “don’t be so hard on yourself.” Which, let’s be real, is code for “stop it, you’re fine, insert gratuitous comment and eye roll here.”

I’m a slow learner and it’s take a few weeks for this to sink in, but I see it everywhere now. I have observed it in almost every interaction I have had. I am constantly limiting myself by subconsciously telling myself that I’m not enough. I see it in all of my friends, too. We are always putting ourselves down in that stealthy way and we shouldn’t be. We like to think that we are telling ourselves that we are enough, but then that little demon that sits on the left shoulder whispers in our ear the complete opposite. It whispers those stupid words: ONLY, JUST, BUT.

When we limit our language, we limit what we are capable of.

Enough! I am making the commitment to stop my limiting language NOW. I am proud of what I can accomplish. I am not in competition with anyone, not even myself. I am not who I was yesterday, three months ago, or three years ago. I am choosing to live in the present and find the joy and satisfaction in doing exactly what my body, and my mind, allows today. It doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. On the contrary! But by releasing myself from the chains of “not enough,” I will build a far better foundation with which to reach those goals because I will have the confidence that I CAN.

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So my challenge to all of my girlfriends – remove your limiting language and let your truths shine on their own merit. Own it all and be joyous in what your body can accomplish today, because seriously, we are all doing truly epic stuff.

“I am running 13.1 miles this week!”

“I am so excited to learn something new!”

“I am training to swim, bike and run – all in the same race!”

“Thanks for the run, guys!”

“I am squeezing every ounce of awesomeness out of this bike!”

“Thanks for the compliment, I’m working hard!”

“Hey Coach, watch me fly…”

 

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Like a cat thrown in the deep end of a pool…

  I.Can’t.Swim.

cat-in-the-pool-5I’m mortified to even admit it. How did I get this way? I’m not sure. I think I have always had a fear of the water. As a kid, I wanted to be at the pool parties with my friends, but I was too terrified of being in the water so I would either not go or I would wear regular clothes and make an excuse. I think I had swim lessons, but I don’t ever remember getting past the “blowing bubbles in the shallow end” stage.

girls at the beach

What a day at the beach looks like – sand only, thank you…

If I got caught up in a body of water that was deeper than me, I can assure you, I could not save myself – that’s how bad I can’t swim. I have full-on panic attacks in the water when I can’t touch the bottom.

But 2016 is my year of #doing epic shit; and epic shit must include facing 43 year old fears. Epic shit includes being a great mom that is a role model for a seven year old little girl that can’t swim, has complete panic attacks in a body of water deeper than waist high and can’t get water in her face when she gets her hair washed. I want so much to teach her that it is ok to be afraid, but that strong girls learn to face fears instead of running away.

So here I am, holding on for dear life in a pool that is deeper than I am tall. So many fierce women in my life have told me they couldn’t swim before they decided that they would learn and go tackle IronMan competitions. I suspect that their “can’t swim” definition isn’t quite like mine, but nonetheless, I have been talked in to trying a triathlon.

Observation #1: Holy smokes, swimming lessons are tough to find for adults! Most of what I find when I search in the great googly for swim lessons is for little kids. I can neither make a 2pm swim lesson on Thursdays nor do I want to be shown up by a bunch of four year olds. Those kids are mean! The little bullies would totally make fun of the “big kid that is holding on for dear life and crying in the corner” (aka, me, LOL). So, off I go to googly “swim lessons for triathletes.” Hmmm, they seem a bit more advanced for what I’m looking for. I’m still holding on to the edge, remember? By luck, I saw that DFW Tri Club puts on a three-class beginner program that is designed for real beginners. A quick email to the coach assured me that it was ok that I really couldn’t swim. So I signed up.

all the stuff

when the heck did I get all this stuff???

Observation #2: How did I amass so much stuff just to swim???  In a short time, I have been told I needed a snorkel (so I bought one), a pair of goggles (yep, got ‘em), a kickboard (can I use this thing in the race???), a pair of flipper things (ok, these are really cool), a weird figure-eight buoy thing for keeping my butt up (really? I’d prefer my head up, but ok), and a nose clip (which I found was perfect with that blasted snorkel).

Observation #3: Despite all this STUFF, I’m apparently going to have to get up and down that pool in the race without any of it. This is not good. I tried the little flipper things, and they are awesome! And the kickboard is better than little arm wings so I’d really like to keep it. The snorkel? Keep it. I hate this thing. It’s like breathing through a straw, which has been the cause of many of my panic attacks because it’s like having a bad asthma attack.

wetcatSo, twenty-five yards at a time, I hang on to the wall and stare at the end, willing myself to make it all the way. With my trusty little flipper-things, I can just about make it all the way down in my own weird little “cat in the deep-end” way. It’s not pretty. I haven’t been able to master the “sing to the fishies, listen to the fishies” method of breathing while moving. For goodness sakes, there are four things going on at once and I’m clearly not able to remember to do them all at the same time! When I move my arms, I forget to kick. When I kick, I forget to breathe, and when I breathe, I forget to pull my head out of the water. I’m a complete mess.

So, I’m looking for any tips and tricks you may have on how to tackle that which might kill me. If you overcame a complete fear of the water to learn to swim, I’m all ears, because “listening to the fishies” is what I’m all about these days.

me and linda

Linda and me, tackling fears of water… I didn’t drown that day…

The best Medal Monday ever… or why you should #runlocal

I’m kind of a fan of bling. Really though, what running princess isn’t? But this weekend’s race tops them all.

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Running clubs across the country are in place to benefit so many local groups and they do great work. My local club‘s main beneficiary is the Tal Morrison Scholarship Fund. They award six scholarships (three boys and three girls) to area high school seniors that participated in their school running program.

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How I race when I’m not racing…

You don’t have the be the fastest on the team and you don’t have to commit to running in college, but you do have to be a great student. Tal, the founder of the club back in 1969, passed away last year and he has said that his greatest legacy was this scholarship fund.

 

Every April at our club race, I have gotten a little choked up by how awesome it is to give checks to these students. We can accomplish some pretty great things with our club and I’m proud to be a part of it all. But this year was special. My son was awarded one of these scholarships.

imageThree thousand dollars is half of his housing paid for. Three thousand is a huge chunk of the out of state tuition bill. I have seen that award become the reason a child went to school in the first place. These kids are fantastic. One of the girls will be attending MIT in the fall. One of the boys will go to Texas A&M and study math. Another girl plans to attend Duke. My son will be at LSU studying political science.

I know it’s fun to participate in the big national races, but for a moment, think about how much good you can do by running in one of your local club’s races. These small clubs all over the country do great things. They are changing lives one mile at a time. Real lives with real hopes and real dreams. I would say that the award received at this club race is better than any age group trophy or finishers medallion that could be won. It is an investment in the future. Alex and Daniel, well deserved boys. I’m proud of you both.

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Rock n Roll New Orleans Race Recap

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Oh, Rock n Roll, how you tempt us. A year ago, friends convinced hubby and I to take advantage of the deep-discounted registration fee for Rock’n’Roll New Orleans and join all the cool kids. Never mind that I knew full well last January that 2016 would be completely crazy with Alex’s final semester of high school. Never mind that planning a year out for me is completely dumb. The only smart thing I did was register for the half marathon instead of the full.

Fast forward a year, NOLA was looming. A hotel was booked, although I didn’t know anything about the hotel. All I had to go on was that “it was on the list” of host hotels. I looked at the hotel’s site and the sparse photos. I just went for it. I had no idea how far away the hotel would be from the start line or the finish line or how any of this would work. We booked airfare and made sure my parents could watch our little girl. I figured my boy would be ok on his own.

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French Quarter shenanigans before our weekend went from adult to family

 

Two weeks before race weekend, my life (as expected) took a turn for the crazy. Alex was scheduled for an audition with the LSU marching band director for that following Monday. Oh, did I tell you, my sweet boy decided on LSU for college??? Hubby got a bad strain of the flu that knocked him completely out of running. I battled turf toe from mountain climbers. That is a whole-nother story!

So, I registered Alex on the very last day of on-line registration for the RnR NOLA half marathon. It was oh-my-god expensive, but worth it. But then came the next chapter of crazy: boy had a track meet for his high school the day before the race. No big deal, I’d just shuffle around flights so that he could fly to NOLA after he ran. It would be tight, but we’ve done stupid stuff like this before. Flights had to be changed and a rental car had to be booked because we would now fly home from Baton Rouge on Monday. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I should have just cancelled the trip and eaten the $50 race fees paid a year ago.

Race Recap

Expo: Well, it was just hubby and I at the expo. Boy wasn’t able to make it because of

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RRCA RoadRunner at the Expo

his track meet. The volunteers and race director were dead-set that I would not be able to pick up my son’s bib without him with me. While I understand policy, there is always room for a race director to show a small amount of compassion and reasonableness on a one-off situation. Not even a quick facetime with the boy would have swayed them. Instead I was given the “show up at 5:30 am on race day and add a little more stupid to the day.” The expo was smaller than I had expected, considering there were so many registrants. Even worse, they shoved all the vendors they did have in an extremely tight part of the convention center. It was worse than Manhattan at rush hour. You couldn’t move and the effect was beyond claustrophobic. I was able to register for a couple of races I already planned to run in the coming months while I was there and save a little money, but after the debacle with the bib for my son, I was pissed off and not really in the mood to be there so we didn’t stay long. (For the record, no volunteers were harmed in the making of this blog post. For real, it wasn’t their call on whether or not to be completely unreasonable, so I let it be.)

 

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How is it that this kid still needs help pinning his bib?

Pre-Race: 5:30am came pretty damn early. There were something like 25 or 30 corrals and they were completely open with no one to ensure that we were going into the right ones.  I can only call the process “stupid.” For a race director that purports to take the rules pretty seriously, one would think they would enforce people going into the correct corrals. But being the rule follower I am, I went dutifully into my assigned area. It was chilly enough to need a ditch shirt or jacket at the start line. I elected to just go with my tank, a pair of arm warmers, ditch gloves and my favorite running skirt and shiver until the race started. My 2:30ish estimated finish time landed me in corral 19 which resulted in not even beginning my race until 47 minutes after the start of the race. It’s always a little disappointing to think that the first place winner would likely cross the half finish line before the last runner crosses the start line. Insert eye roll and pursed lips here – whatever…

 

Mile 1: The race began along Poydras and made a couple of turns to make it over to St. Charles Ave. I was a little faster than my target pace for the race, but I always give myself the first mile to settle in to the race and it wasn’t so fast that I would tire.

Mile 2-almost 8: This is an out-and-back along St. Charles through some really pretty old homes. I feel like I missed a lot of the course because the road was so crummy that a lot of people chose to jump into the median and run on the trolley tracks. I remember seeing a band early on and they were not bad. I think the balance of the music was mostly piped in, which is kind of a bummer. My pace was just about what I was looking to target, considering I didn’t really have much of a goal time. The temperature was really climbing fast, so I ditched my gloves and arm warmers early on and made a conscious effort to stop at the water stops and ensure I was staying hydrated.

Mile 8-10:This stretch was through the streets where all the hotels were at. I had to giggle a little as we passed right by our hotel and I “offered” myself an out to just go back to bed. It was at this point I was getting a little hungry and craving a taco. My pace was picking up and I felt really strong. I remember distinctly hitting the 10 mile mat and looking at my watch. I had never run ten miles that fast (ok, we’re talking about only shaving off a couple of minutes here, but it was faster!) and I actually pulled out my phone to text hubby about it! Yep, this is what it’s like to run with me – be ready for texting and selfies! But then I got to thinking, that’s only a 5K left and I know how fast I have been able to run that distance lately. A PR was possible! Are you kidding me??? That poor little half marathon PR has stood for years! The phone immediately went back into my skirt and I began to focus.

Mile 10-12.5: This portion of the race was all down Esplanade Ave. and the French Quarter area. It is probably my favorite part of the race because there is so much activity. This is where I remember hearing the bagpipes. For real, I’m a sucker for a drum line or bagpipes. I realized that I had watered down my Tailwind over the last six miles through refills to the point where I absolutely had to stop and refill my water bottle at the final water stop. I was sweating pretty badly and fading fast, and I don’t use any other nutrition than my trusty Tailwind. It took a little more time than I would like to deal with my little Ziploc baggies of white powder (LOL), but it was a must. Note to self, I must figure out a better way to deal with this stuff on my road races… Up til now, the marathon and half marathon course was shared, but I was never so happy about my decision to run the half as when the branch off occurred. My pace was good, but not good enough for that PR. No biggie since I hadn’t aimed for a PR in the first place.

Final 3/4 mile: Yep, so this is where we enter City Park. It’s really big and pretty. It might officially qualify as the longest “finisher chute” ever. After such a strong race, I almost cried when, with more than a quarter mile to go, I took a step and my leg wouldn’t move. Yep, calf cramps! Are you kidding me??? I must have looked like a complete lunatic shaking my leg like a wet dog out there mid stride. This was just going to be one of those races that I couldn’t speed up at the end or give that little extra kick. The one thing Rock n Roll generally does well is the finish line. Plenty of water and Gatorade, bananas and salty snacks. I got one of the coveted finishers medals with the Mardi Gras beads. Some of the later finishers got a printed ribbon instead.

Finish: The tough part about a point-to-point race is the travel back to the start line. As in most cases, the race used school buses to transport everyone back. I feel bad for the kids on Monday, because we sure were a stinky bunch! The bus ride was a very long thirty minutes that we shared with an extremely loud guy that had far more energy than the rest of us. My son and husband said they enjoyed the concert put on by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but I was tired

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You know you’re in NOLA when a girl is willing to run 26 miles with a veil and a bouquet.

and really just wanted a shower, so we didn’t stay for the party after the race. I felt like I had run a trail race, I was so beat up. Overall, I didn’t remember a whole lot of bands on the course (mostly it was just music being played like a DJ) and the water stops felt sporadic at best.

 

Hotel

We stayed at the Old No. 77 Hotel on Tchoupitoulas St. It was listed as a race hotel on the site and looked pretty modern and edgy. I was able to get two queen beds at the last minute when my adult weekend went family. It was fairly spendy for my taste. If I spend $250 a night, I better be treated well. We weren’t. Check-in was delayed because rooms weren’t ready. We were exhausted from an early morning flight and being on our feet all day and the best they could do was say they were sorry. Ironically, I saw plenty of people checking in quite early, so I’m not sure why they couldn’t just find us an available room if the original one was still dirty. The hard wood floors were sticky and we didn’t have enough towels. Thank goodness we were able to run down a poor housekeeper on another floor and beg for a few more. The walls were a bit thin, but at least the beds were comfortable. Or I was too exhausted that I could have slept on cement. Who knows.

Travel from the airport

OK, so this is what you need to know about traveling to New Orleans for races. Parking at the hotels is stupid expensive and it is a solid eight hour drive, so it just didn’t make a ton of sense to drive for a short weekend trip. But, airfare is fairly pricey from Dallas if you don’t get it on a deep-discount sale that Southwest does periodically. And even with the sale, the best you can do is about $73 each way. However, I was able to secure airfare on American Airlines from Baton Rouge to Dallas for less than $100 per person a week out! I’m not a great planner when it comes to travel and really just fly by the seat of my pants. I figured we would use Uber from the airport. However, know that it is a minimum trip of $75 from the airport to the French Quarter and surrounding areas. A cab is about $45 each way. There is a shuttle that you can book online with 24 hours minimum advance notice that is $24 per person.

Would I do this race again? Well, that’s a big question. I felt like everyone I knew from Dallas was in New Orleans for this race. So it’s no surprise that the group is already planning their trip for next year and taking advantage of the $50 race entry. Sure, it’s a flat course. But it wasn’t anything to write home about. The cost of the race wasn’t bad but all the rest of the costs really add up. Ultimately, I won’t run this race again. It wasn’t as great as it should have been. But every race teaches us something about ourselves. This race taught me that running a smaller, local, more personal race is what I crave. I prefer to be a runner and not just another damn bib number.

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Yep, could have slept anywhere after this weekend

An Unexpected Twist of Events…

My sister is a runner.

I’m going to let that sink in there for a moment.

My. Sister. Is. A runner.

My sister has never been athletic. In school she would struggle to run even one lap in PE class. She never played any sports. We figured out why a few years ago. In her early thirties, she had to have open-heart surgery to correct some pretty nasty heart defects she was born with that went undiagnosed FOR-EV-ER. And while her cardiologist has encouraged her to exercise now, it’s never something she had any experience with. After she was cleared by her doctor a couple of years ago, I pushed her into joining me in my running. Christmas and birthday gifts were cute running skirts and her membership and training paid for.

I was such a newbie runner. I thought I could change the world if I just got everyone I knew to run.

I learned (not so quickly) that I couldn’t run those races for anyone but me. I couldn’t want health for someone more than they wanted it themselves.

So, I gave up. I decided that I wouldn’t ask anyone again to come join me in a run. I decided to just run.

goofy erinOK, I am an unapologetic, obnoxious post-workout selfie machine. I don’t compose them or do some strange pose, but I have been guilty of a 5 am post to scream “GOOD MORNING?” to my friends. Mostly I do it because my life is pretty boring otherwise and because I can’t stand all the negative stuff on social media. So I fill it with my goofy photos, my exhausted photos, my “ I seriously need to find better hair products because there is no way hair is supposed to look that crazy” photos. People are welcome to like, comment, unfollow or unfriend me as they see fit.

But something magical happened. My sister, who doesn’t exercise, quietly signed up to walk a 5K with a friend from work. And then she did it again. And again. And apparently she began to have fun.

And then one night at our family dinner, I mentioned that I had won an auction for a weekend in New Orleans with entries to the Crescent City Classic 10K and somehow, I don’t know, it just happened… I asked if she wanted to go do it too. “But I only walk,” she said. “That’s ok, I hear it’s just a six mile parade of drunks unless you’re an elite, anyway,” I said.

So, we’re heading to NOLA for beignets and a 10K!

erin and erica 3But fast forward to a random club race in January, my daughter was going to do the 5K. Erica said she would stay close to her and I cautioned Emma Grace on running too fast and not letting Auntie Erica keep her in sight. By some miracle, Erica managed to generally keep up with Emma Grace. But this crazy seven year old showed my sister that it was possible to run just a little bit and walk when tired and cross the finish line faster than she had before.

erin and erica 1

Six weeks later, my sister is officially a bad ass. She has more determination than ever that she will run-walk her way to the finish line of the 10K. A little birdie may have suggested that she was eyeing a (gasp!) half marathon.

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While I was running, I thought no one was watching.

But apparently they were, because my sister is a runner.

inspire

 

Planning Ahead: Staying fed while training

imageCoaches will tell you that a big factor to success in marathon and half-marathon training is fuel. While the fuel we consume during the run is important, the more important fuel is what we eat when we aren’t running. It can certainly be daunting to plan out all of your meals, but the alternative is grabbing something from a drive-thru or skipping your run because your kids are screaming that they are hungry and you have to run to the grocery store. I was asked recently how I make training work with my full-time job and kids and all of the other crazy I have going on in my life, so I am outlining my meal-planning process for you.

Meal planning begins every Sunday afternoon when we have the most down-time. My favorite tool is this weekly planning calendar from Post-It that I got from the local office supply store and includes post-it notes that fit in the box and stick completely on the page.

imageThe process begins with writing out any events for the family that might be a factor in meals, such as run nights or school events, down on the bottom of the calendar. Next, I make up post-its for meals I won’t have to cook, including Sunday dinners with parents or eating out at our favorite taco joint for post-run tacos with our running groups. From there, I begin planning out breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. For the most part, we have a handful of recipes that are fast, easy and family favorites, so we stick with those and add in new recipes to try. Most of the process is just using the stickers I had on the previous week’s menu. My lunches usually are left overs of dinner the previous evening and I always include two or three different small snacks because I love to graze literally all day long.

There are a handful of benefits to planning out an entire week at a time:

  1. I can make sure I eat enough protein or increase my calorie intake on days in which I have a hard workout planned.
  2. I can look at an entire week and make sure I have a varied diet that includes different proteins and carbohydrates to keep me interested.
  3. It’s an opportunity to see if I am including lots of different colors in my menu on a daily basis, rather than just relying on green beans!

imageI love that this process lets us go to the grocery store once a week, which saves at least a few hours every week by staying out of the store throughout the week. It also saves a significant amount of money on a weekly basis (can we say “race fees”???) and, most important, I’m not feeling the pressure at 6pm when the kids are asking what is for dinner.

Mid-Season Unexpected Training Derailment

You know how sometimes life just happens? I thought I was pretty good at managing life, but apparently, I was just on a schedule and a creature of habit.  The  minute I was removed from what was considered normal, the wheels fell off. My training has been sporadic and life has just been exhausting.

Three weeks ago, while fighting a respiratory infection that “looked like the beginning of pneumonia,” life hit like a ton of bricks. On the news was EBOLA. No big deal, but it was in my town. But there is zero risk, so we go on about our business. Until you get that call from the 6-year-old’s school. One of the exposed children from the Duncan household attends her school. Fear, outrage, confusion, uncertainty. It all hits you. I’m a pretty smart girl and did well in science, but when your youngest daughter, too young to be allowed to cross the street by herself, is involved, it’s game on. All of a sudden, the hand washing wasn’t long enough. Sixty containers of hand sanitizer were spread throughout the house and in backpacks and cars.  Seriously, you can’t make this crap up. Custodians in spacesuits were in the school every afternoon to clean with Lord only knows what kind of chemicals. The helicopters that hovered over the house day and night were an unwanted disruption to quiet dinners. The media standing outside of the school each morning were confusing to the kids. School, however, became a safe haven for them. Blinds were drawn, recess and PE were kept indoors, teachers and administrators kept the kids safe and protected and loved, business as usual outside of temperature checks and extra nurses on site. Two more cases of Ebola by nurses in our neighborhood rattled everyone’s nerves just when we thought things were starting to die down a bit. Crazier still was that I was asked to work from home while this was all going on. Things were not normal and I didn’t wish for any of this to become the new normal.

My perfect schedule with my perfect lunchtime workouts in my office building gym and runs at the trail that backs up to my office building were put on hold as I attended meetings via conference call. Had I planned for this, I could have made up a dream schedule complete with early morning runs and workouts at home, but it all happened so suddenly that there was no time to prepare. So, therein lies the root of it all. Preparation. It’s more than just writing it on a calendar. It means coming up with a backup plan when life throws you a curveball. I’m nowhere near where I should be on my Plan B, but I will actively be putting something together over the next several weeks.

I’m now back at work and life is looking more like it did a month ago, complete with lunches brought from home and my runs outside on the trail, which is where I am heading now. I have a half marathon to pace on Saturday morning and a half marathon next weekend I will run for time, so be on the lookout for race recaps!

We were interviewed for our local FOX network about lessons learned in the last twenty-one days, and I answered that the world is a pretty small place when it comes right down to it. What I would like to also say: Have a Plan B…