Monthly Archives: February 2012

crazy amounts of yard work, is that exercise???


Friday was another beautiful day, and as soon as me and kid got home I started on some serious yard work while Joseph did an easy run on our trail. When I say yard work, I don’t mean trimming a few bushes. We have a bit over 17 acres, so I can pretty much go crazy. Been letting the area between the road and my house and between my neighbors and my house grow up for the last 17 years. So, I decided to thin out some of the weedy stuff and spastic, gnarly trees that were filling in those areas. Also, I had planted 1000 pine trees 15 years ago (or so) and some have died here and there, plus some just needed to be thinned. Trying to take the tangled mass and sculpt something from it. Well, I probably cut down over a hundred scrubby trees, bunches of wiry bushes, vines, etc. Trees were mostly smallish-2 to 8 inch diameter, but also some bigger ones (dead pines, etc.). My neighbors, who are nice enough, but have zero in common with me, and whom I don’t hang out with (I don’t hang out with anybody really), must not have liked the fact that I opened up my property some, because while I was at work they put up a nice wooden privacy fence between our properties! Awesome! I have continued my crazy pruning like a madman. Also planting various shrubs here and there, including along the new fence! I spent the entire weekend moving the trees and branches from this part of the property to another part, where I burned piles of wood! Of course, I saved some good stuff. Truckloads and truckloads. When I saw how much I had to burn and move, I thought it would take me months! But, I am a maniac when it comes to this stuff. Lots to do still, but its coming along. Everything that I cut, I managed to burn.

In between my slash and burn weekend, I took Joseph to the MSU track Saturday at noon. Nobody there but us chickens. There was a baseball game going on at the same time. I jogged around the periphery a bit as Joseph did a warm up run. Then I timed him while he did 16 X 400m intervals with 400m jogs between each. This was an awesome workout, and I thought he did a good job with it. I asked him to do them at 1:09 if possible. 7 of the first 8 were exactly 1:09 and the other one was 1:10. The next 8 were not as steady, some were faster, some slower. Laps 9 and 10 were a couple seconds slower, but 11 and 12 were faster (12 was 1:02), then 13 and 14 were again a bit slower, but 15 and 16 were faster. However, at the end of the day, the average for all 16 was 1:09! He then ran around campus a while for a cool down, and ended up running about 11.5 miles total.

Back home, back to work. Burned stuff into the night! Joseph and I, and an old high school friend, Gentry Lewis, hung out by the fire a while as Jupiter, Venus, and the crescent moon were aligned in a triangular pattern in the early night sky. Magical, mysterious. What does it all mean? I wondered what sort of thoughts were going through the minds of ancient man eons ago as he viewed similar celestial skies. In tribute to shaman of old,  we pulled out our African Djembe drums and smacked them around a while. We are not any good or anything, but who cares? Joseph and Gentry also took turns singing their own songs while playing guitar.

One particular song with Joseph singing and playing guitar, Gentry playing a drum, and me attempting to play banjo, actually sounded pretty good. At least to my ears, which could have been slightly off after working all day and breathing large quantities of wood smoke and after also drinking a couple of tasty brews.

Went to bed late! Back up early the next morn to continue on my never ending quest to beautify the yard. Took a break at 3 pm and Joseph and I headed to the south farm for his long run. Only our ever faithful Steve Shaffer showed up today. The day was gorgeous, so it was somewhat surprising that no one else showed up. On the other hand, maybe because it was so nice, nobody wanted to go run! Either way, we got on it. I ran with Steve a bit, only 2 miles – 1 mile out and 1 mile back. Then I hopped on my bike and caught up with Steve again.  Cruised back with Steve a while, then went back and found Joseph and cruised around with him some. Steve did a 6 mile loop, and Joseph ran for 90 minutes, probably around 13 miles. At some point, I sped up and headed back to my truck, then put the bike up and jogged a little more. Nothing serious, just trying to get something in even though my foot is far from healed. I ran until I saw Joseph, then turned around and came in with him.

Yep, you guessed it. Back to the house to cut and burn more stuff!

Monday, Joseph and I went over to the Research Park, where we met Arash. After a pretty substantial warm up jog, they did 4 X 1200m intervals with 4 minutes jogs between. They both did a decent job, not great, but not terrible. Back home, cut another couple truck loads of stuff for the burn pile and moved some holly bushes to their new location. Basically, worked out in the yard until it got to dark to see! Then came in the house and got in a pullup, pushup, and curl workout. Took a couple of sets to get into it because somehow this weekend with all the tree cutting I smashed my hand ,and it hurt to hold the dumbbells. But, after psyching myself up with loud Nirvana music I was able to push the pain aside. Felt fine after a while. Yard work is dangerous! Speaking of which, its 10:13, I better go check on my fire!

Back to the South Farm tomorrow for an easy run….

In other running news, on Saturday, Starkville High’s track team competed in the first meet of the year, a practice meet of sorts, at Pearl High School. Don’t know how they did, but hopefully everybody ran well. Of course, with Joseph not running track this season, we did not go. Not sure who ran the 3200m or 1600m events, which he would have run in, or how they did. Curious of course. In some good news for the team, Kamau Bostic has apparently been reinstated to the team, and will join them in the meet after the next one. He has a great chance of winning the state title in the 800m run and possibly the 1600m as well, so I was glad to hear that things worked out for him!

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Pretty weather this week


Been doing lots of pushups and pullups and curls and crunches and other stuff lately. Feeling pretty good with all that. Getting in quite a few most days, probably somewhere between 700 and 1000 pushups in a workout and 120-200 pullups. That sort of thing. Have not been able to get to the gym at all lately though. Went for the first time in about a month the other day and felt better than I expected. On my last set of dumbbell incline bench press I got 12 reps with the 95 lb dumbbells. I guess the pushups are keeping my weight training fairly stable.

Hit the Research Park on Monday where Joseph did 6 X 1000m intervals with 3 minute jogs between each. Not a crazy pace, but not terrible, all between 3:09 and 3:18. Of course, 1.5 mile warmup and then a 2 mile cool down. I cruised around on my bike pacing him. Following that workout, he did an easy run at the South Farm on Tuesday, probably about 7 miles or so.  I decided to try my foot out a little, so ran about 2 miles at a ridiculously slow pace! AHH. Did I mention that I hate running slow!! Probably should not be running at all for at least another month, but damn! It was so nice out. Anyway, only went 2 miles, then got on my bike and cruised the gravel roads at a decent clip. Met Joseph back at the truck and headed out.

We met Arash Taheri at the North Farm on Wednesday afternoon for a 4 mile tempo run. Of course, I mean they were doing a tempo run! I biked.

Rose Garden at the North Farm

They took off for about 10 minutes for a warm up jog, then came back and stretched. Some kind of road work or something is happening on the west side of the area out there where they warmed up with trucks flying by throwing up lots of dust. They also said there were some more idiot dog owners out there with about 8 unleashed dogs on this research farm that has signs clearly stating that all dogs must be on leashes. With this in mind, Joseph and Arash went the other direction toward the east for the tempo run, going out and around for 2 miles, then heading back. Whew! Windy, windy, windy, crazy windy! Probably not the best day for a tempo, but that’s ok. It is hard enough to run a decent pace on gravel, much less with strong winds. But, even so, I like Joseph to do tempos out here (as do I when not injured!) so we can compare to previous runs at the same location. Also, it is so much harder to run on gravel, if you can get used to running a decent pace on it, running on pavement or on a track just seems much easier. Long story short, Joseph finished up at 23:28 and Arash came in at about 24:09, both of which were pretty decent times considering the harsh wind. That was Joseph’s best 4 mile tempo at the North Farm ever, and if he can get that down to about 22 by mid to late summer, we will both be happy. Probably would have been in under 23 today if it weren’t for the wind.  They finished up with a 10 minute cool down and stretching.

Joseph and Arash after a great run on Wednesday at the North Farm

Back to the South Farm on Thursday afternoon for an easy 45 minute run. Arash joined us again! He seems to be enjoying the punishment. I cruised along on the bike with them as we headed into 18-20 mile per hour south winds. As we began, the MSU distance runners were leaving the farm as they finished up some kind of tempo run (or so it appeared). Always nice to see them out there. Anyway, I rode along with Joseph and Arash for a while, with Arash going at a pretty decent clip today and Joseph running a bit easier. After about 4 miles, I picked it up and rode back to the truck at a nice pace on my bike. Biking does seem to stretch my plantar fascia out some, which makes my foot feel better for a while anyway. So, I jogged a mile or so after the bike ride. Didn’t feel too bad. I may start trying to do 1-2 miles about 3 days a week just so I don’t go more crazy….

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Another week over and done with


After Joseph’s crazy repeat mile threshold workout on Tuesday, Wednesday was an easy day for sure. But, he got a decent one on Thursday out here in Sessums. It was less of a distance based workout than time based. The workout consisted of 4 X 2 minutes fast with 1 minute jogs between, 6 X 1 minute fast with 30 seconds jogs, and 8 X 30 seconds fast with 30 second jogs. On Friday, the kid got a run in over near the high school and Longmeadow neighborhood where he said he ran for at least an hour.

We planned on doing a workout on Saturday at the track, but the weather was crazy, with rain all day, so we took the day off from running. I got a decent upper body workout in that morning though! It rained pretty much all day and night into Sunday morning. Even so, the gravel roads at the South Farm were runable and bikeable on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, with the rolling hills there, it drains pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t muddy  however! We met at the South Farm at 3 PM and Kamau Bostic, Steve Shaffer, Brent Wallace, and James (Brent’s roommate) joined us. I thought about running and testing the foot, but opted to be good and ride my bike.  Kamau and Joseph took off at a brisk pace, with everybody else following. Not sure why, but they were cruising along at about 5:55 for the first 3.6 miles and probably were not slower than 6:30 for the next 4 miles, at which point Kamau headed back to his car for about a 10 mile run in total. Joseph wanted to get in 90 minutes of running, so he kept going, albeit at a slightly slower pace for the remaining few miles. The other guys did a six mile loop. James and Brent were pushing each other (literally, I saw James trying to push Brent into a ditch!). But, it was all in fun.  Overall, it was a pretty afternoon, cloudy, about 50°, but very windy, with winds from the north at around 20 miles an hour!

I ordered a night splint (see photo below) to wear while I sleep for my plantar fasciatus issue. Don’t know if it will help, but it probably won’t hurt! Actually, some people have told me they had successful recoveries while using them. I also read in the book “The Lore of Running” that a study showed much higher and quicker rates of recovery for runners with this same injury who used a night splint type of boot. Guess I will see. Also still doing the recommended stretches, but probably not enough!

Thinking about taking Joseph down to the Vicksburg Run through History 10K on March 3rd. This is the 33 year for this race. I have never raced it myself, but I did take my youngest brother Mike down there when he was about Joseph’s age.  Pretty difficult course with lots of hills, but I have it on good authority from Peter Rabideau that the awards are way cool.  The day before that race is the Southern Mississippi High School Invitational in Hattiesburg, MS. I thought about entering Joseph in that as an unattached runner and got word that he was entered from the coach there. However, after talking with the higher ups at the Mississippi Public Schools Athletic Association, I am unclear if he is eligible to  run as an unattached runner in this meet or not. Because his is not running track at his school, which has a track team, he is not permitted to run in high school sponsored meets. But, apparently he can run in true College hosted high school invitationals. I say true, because if the entire team from a high school is allowed to run at the meet, then it is not really considered an invitational, and he would not be able to run. The college hosted meets in MS limit entries to two persons per event, so I am unclear on how this affects his running. Are they true invitationals? Everybody can’t run, only 2 per event. I don’t know, I  am just a parent dude. Looks like I need to make another call! What happens if he runs and he was not supposed to? Does this disqualify him from running track at the school in his junior or senior years if he wants to? Does he turn into a monkey? Grey areas. Need answers. The other question is does he even want to run at a track meet right now. The running is going well for sure, and there are plenty of road races to keep him occupied if he so desires.

Ah well.

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Millsaps 5k Cross Country Challenge Over and Done With


Got up early Saturday morn and left the house around 5:30 toward Clinton, MS for the Millsaps Cross Country meet. So weird to have a cross country meet at this time of year, but this was some sort of fund raiser for Millsaps’ track team.  Wow, what a crazy morning weather wise! Freezing temps and wild wind! On top of that, the course was waterlogged and runners had to deal with slogging through standing water while braving the temps and 20+ mile an hour winds! Glad I did not run to be honest, as everyone looked chilled to the bone!

It was a cool race even so, with many of the runners being college runners from Millsaps, West Alabama, and other places. A few high school kids, including Kurt Knight, another great 15 year old runner. Kurt goes to Jackson Academy and when Joseph went to Starkville Academy, they were great competitors. Also some other kids that attended the Millsaps Running Camp last summer with Joseph. There were even some random grownups there braving the cold and the difficult cross country course!

I don’t know if it was the weather and the rough course, but nobody ran particularly fast today. It might have also been the fact that everybody seemed to treat the race as a group run, the goal of which was to just have fun and cruise along. The winning time was just 16:40 something, and everyone else was over 17 minutes. Joseph was 4th at 17:34,which sucked for him. In fact, he had run this course in 16:42 in the mid fall. Of course, the conditions were different and it was not wet. But, that had nothing to do with it. He has been running like a beast lately, and on rough terrain. In fact, he ran slower today than he had earlier in the week during some tempo training. I actually figured he would have run closer to 16 flat. If anybody had pushed it, he probably would have. I think he just felt like running along with everybody else at a somewhat relaxed pace instead of trying to kill himself with the weather. One thing is for sure, everyone seemed to be having a great time. Millsaps’ Coach Andy Till is a super nice guy and his runners seemed to be the same way! This seems to be a trait of XC runners in general. They are just about always super nice, very goofy, and somewhat strange!

William Kazery, Drew Kellum, and Joseph at the 1st mile mark

Anyway, crazy day! Thanks to Coach Till for hosting the race!  We made a couple of detours before heading back to Starkville. First, we stopped by the Music Store on Lakeland and oggled the many beautiful guitars and pianos! Then got some Mexican food at a place we like down near Dick’s Sporting Goods. Of course, we then visited Dick’s Sporting Goods. Bought a couple of 40 lb dumbbells, new pair of Brooks running shoes, and some inserts for my shoes.

When we got back to Starkville, we dropped by the SHS track where Joseph did 6 X 200m runs at a pace of 27-28 seconds each with 200m jogs between. Then he did some plyometric skips and what have you. Got home a bit later and did our fabulastic upper body workout!

Sunday we made it over to the South Farm and Steve Shaffer and Brent Wallace joined us for a run. Before they arrived, I ran about a mile just to test my foot. It is of course still sore, but apparently I can run a mile. Jumped on my bike while they were running though. Joseph sped off ahead and I cruised along with Steve and Brent until the 3.6 mile mark. They then ran 1.9 miles back to the parking lot while I caught up with Joseph. I left him a while and biked here and there, and eventually headed back to the truck. He showed up after about an hour and 20 minutes.

We were planning on going to the North Farm gravel roads on Monday for a workout, but it was raining/sleeting, so decided to go to the South Farm instead, because the hilly roads there drain better. In light of the weather, we opted to forego the workout as well, and just did an easy 5.5 miles in rain. We went home and did an awesome workout while listening to Zeppelin and Hendrix!

We met Arash Taheri over at the Research Park on Tuesday afternoon for some threshold paced mile repeats. Arash has not been running as much as Joseph lately, but has been using the stationary bike to keep some aerobic conditioning. He wanted to come out and kind of see where he was. After a good warmup, about 2 miles, we got started. I rode my bike along to pace them. The plan was to do 5 X 1 mile at tempo pace with 1-1:30 minute rests between each repeat. I was thinking Joseph should be at about 5:30 per mile. First mile was 5:22, a bit ahead of Arash; 2nd mile was 5:21, Arash had slipped back a bit, but still pretty good; 3rd mile was 5:17, Arash was 5:40 on this one, and obviously did not need to do any more, so he called it quits and started a cool down; 4th was 5:18, and the 5th was 5:23; then a cool down and stretching.  The last one probably would have also been about 5:17 or so, but I was bugging Joseph as much as possible, talking to him, messing with him, and all that. He is in great shape physically and I feel sure he could run a 15:50 5k right now if he believed that he could. Like many people, he limits himself by not believing in himself. He lets other people get in his head. So, I sometimes try to get in his head a little to get him used to dealing with it. At any rate, today was a great workout for him. He was running 5:20 miles like they were nothing, with very little rest. Form is looking better too! It probably did not hurt that some of the girls on the MSU track team were also out there doing a tempo run!

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Millsaps 5k Cross Country Challenge


I am still not running, and I imagine it will be a while before I do. My foot, the heal especially, is still fairly tender when I do more than walk, and depending on the shoes I am wearing, that is sometimes annoying as well. But, I think its getting better. Probably should go to the doctor, but that’s crazy talk. Runners don’t do that sort of thing. Can’t complain anyway. I can still bike and everything else. In fact, I biked about 10.5 miles on the South Farm gravel roads on Sunday afternoon. Mostly rode along with Joseph, but also Kamau Bostic, Damian Grady, Ethan Musser, and Steve Shaffer. Everybody seemed to be going different distances, with Kamau, Damian, and Ethan only doing a 5.5 mile loop, Steve doing 6, and Joseph doing 10.5. Steve looked as happy as ever! The other three did not push it overly hard, and all seemed to be fairly worn out by only 3.6 miles. Of course, they have not been going with us too much lately, so maybe they are getting a little out of shape. Joseph was cruising along pretty well, with his first 3.6 miles being at a 6:20 pace. He stopped at that point to drink some water (I made him) and then he took off again. Slowed the rest of the run down a bit, but still well under 7 minute miles. He said stopping got him out of the groove for a while, but he found it later. Gotta get in that groove baby! I heard that.

We headed home and got in a great pushup, pullup, ab, curl type workout. We do our pullups on one of those crazy bars you can hang from a door frame. I like the traditional grip, but especially the side grip with the handle that stick out at 90° angles. We also hang ab straps from those bars for ab exercises.

pull ups on the awesome pull up bar!

Been using the perfect pushup handled deals for some of the pushups.Doing sets with arms at regular grip, wide grip, and narrow grip. Whew doggies! Those jokers are a lot harder than regular ones!

Since I have not been running too much lately, I have been doing more pushup, crunches and pullups. Sets of 100 pushups are easy now, even did 220 in a row the other day. Not bad for me. But, I can’t do 200 on the raised perfect pushup rotating devices. As hard as pushups using them are, pullups are harder! I can get 25 to 30 in a row if I don’t go all the way down to a dead hang, but only 16-20  full hanging. At any rate, super-setting pullups, pushups, curls, dip, crunches, dumbbell lateral flies with little or no rest is proving to be a good workout. The only problem is that since I am not running, and only doing moderate biking, I am getting more muscled up. By the time I can run again, I am going to be slow as molasses, but I will be able to do a bunch of pushups.

Took Joseph over to the SHS track Monday at 5:30 PM. Kamau Bostic also showed up to do a workout. Maybe they worked that out ahead of time, or maybe Mondays are the best day for both of them to be on the track. Either way, it was nice to see Kamau out there running. Unfortunately, the lights were off, so they had to run in the dark! It was chilly, but not bad. After they warmed up, Joseph did the same workout  as he had done the previous Monday: 3 X 400m/400m jogs, 3 X 800m/800m jogs, 6 X 200m/200m jogs, and a cool down jog. 400’s were around 1:09-1:10, 800’s were 2:23, and 200’s were all 32 seconds. Kamau did his own workout, but ran 4 of the 200’s with him, but slightly faster. They have always been very good about pushing each other. Man, it was dark out there on the track! Especially on the back side. Not much choice though, since they are not on the track team this season, if they want to run on a track on  a weekday, they have to run after the team has finished practice. Even though they are out there on there own, they are working hard. I love seeing their intensity and love of running. The fact that they are running in the dark on a crappy concrete track with no lanes just to get a workout in speaks volumes for how much they love running and their dedication to it! As it happens, in our 5A division preseason rankings for the state, Kamau is ranked #1 in the 800 and #2 in the 1600 and Joseph is ranked #1 in the 3200 (not sure about the 1600). Unfortunately, since neither of them will be on the team, that is a moot point and  Starkville will not reap the benefits of their speed! Bummer. Don’t know what Kamau is planning on doing instead this spring. He is certainly good enough to run in college next year. Of course, Joseph is only 15 and is just a sophomore, so maybe he will decide to run next year. Who knows. He will probably do some AAU meets early summer and a few 5ks before then. He would like to be under 10 minutes for 3200m this year and whatever the equivalent is for the 3000m race for the AAU meets.

Tuesday was just an easy day, so we did 6.5 miles at the south farm. Joseph finished off the run with a series of 20-35 seconds strides especially trying to work on speeding his arm movement up. Nobody ran with us today. Most of the high school kids are either running track, playing tennis, or something else. So, it looks like Joseph will be mostly on his own during the weekday runs, except for the occasional college student that runs with us. One of our regulars, Ethan Musser, has tennis practice every afternoon. Actually, 3 of our top XC boys from the fall are playing tennis this spring. They should have some good endurance!!  When we got home, Joseph did some plyometric skips and bounds and some fast arm movement running drills. Then we played a game of basketball. Sweet! Hadn’t played in a while. Darn kid is taller than me now. Blocked a couple of my shots. Punk. Then we did another really good upper body workout. Listened to Rage Against the Machine to pump us up.

Wednesday, back to the Research Park Loop for the 3rd and last installment of the workouts Joseph had done the last two Wednesdays in a row:   a 10 minute warm up, a 10 minute tempo run, 2 minute rest, 10 minute tempo, 2 minute rest, 1000m at 3:14, 2 minute jog, 1000m at 3:10, 2 minute jog, 3 X 400m/400m jogs between (1:09, 1:17, and 1:10), 2 X 34 second runs fast, with 1 minute jogs between, and a cool down jog. The two 10 minute tempo runs were much better than the week before with each one being exactly the same pace, 5:32 per mile pace. The week before they were 5:40 for the first one and 5:45 per mile pace for the second tempo. In fact, he showed significant improvement for the entire workout from week to week. Just a matter of getting used to it I guess. The only part today that was slower was one of the 400s, which was done at 1:17. However, along the way during that one, somebody we knew started talking to us and he slowed down for that. So he did another one to make up for that. In fact, everything he did would have been faster than it was if he did not have to wind around the various walkers (some with dogs), runners, and cars that seemed intent on pulling out in front of us. Not to mention it was very windy on the back side of the loop. He did all of the 400s and 200’s into the wind and a good part of the 1000’s was against the wind. Very good day I thought. If he can get that tempo pace down to about 5:15-5:20 for a 20 minute tempo by this summer, he should have a very good XC season. The fact that his 5k tempo pace is about 17 minutes right now is pretty good already. Very nice to see his form getting better too. This is a pretty hard workout, and by the time he was done running, he had covered at least 9 miles with warmup and cool down. If you think this is easy, try it one day! 1.82 miles in 10 minutes, 2 minute rest, repeat, 2 minute rest, then 2 X 1000, then 3 X 400, and 2 X 200! Awesome workout, but not for the feint of heart. One benefit of riding my bike is, I can actually push him on these faster type workouts, because I can’t really keep up with him any more running.

Tomorrow we will be back at the South Farm at 3:30 pm. Probably will take Friday off, except for an easy jog around the trail at the house. We will be heading to the XC race at Choctaw Trails Saturday morning [http://www.msracetiming.com/Millsaps_College.php]. This race is open to anybody, not just cross country runners, which is way cool. Should be some decent college runners there, so there could be some good times.

In other cool news, I am now facebook friends with Cullen Crothers. He has a website at http://www.cullancrothers.com . Cullen was an amazing distance runner from Mississippi back in the day, as was his wife Teresa. For what ever reason, there seemed to be a lot more really good runners on the local circuit back in the 80’s. Lots of folks running 5k’s in the 15’s or better. Hell, I could even do that! Maybe it was the water? But, you just don’t see 5-8 guys running times like that around here now in any given race. Not sure what happened. It is weird, because running is considerably more popular now. But, the idea of pushing yourself to the limit has lost its appeal for most people I think. Its easy to run, but not easy to run fast. You have to push yourself in a different way. You have to punish yourself, but like it. A lot of things have to go right to run fast too, including luck, good training, minimum number of injuries, genetics, good form, and a love for cruising along at a nice speed. There is nothing like running 6-10 miles at a 5 minute per mile pace. I can’t describe how it feels. I long for those days! Ah, the joys of aging. But, I am so glad to see my son now loving it.

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