News From The FDA

>> Thursday, August 30, 2007

“In a surprising reversal of its longtime single-helping policy, the Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of seconds Tuesday, claiming that an additional plateful of food with every meal can greatly reduce the risk of hunger as well as provide an excellent source of deliciousness...”

“...‘besides, with people staving in other parts of the world, it would be an absolute shame to let our nice food supply all go to waste,’ the commissioner added.”


The OLD food pyramid on the left is single helpings, and
the NEW food pyramid on the right is simply 2 pyramids.
Genius!

I’ve been consuming food like this since I’ve been competing in triathlons. This past Saturday morning, I got up and had breakfast. I went to the Y to workout, and then stopped at Cub Foods for a few things on the way home. The fresh “food-by-the-pound” was being set out, so I figured I’d listen to the FDA and have my 9:00 am meal between breakfast and lunch:



So my brunch consisted of an egg roll, 3 pot stickers, 2 taquitos, 2 chicken parts, and a pile of cheesy potatoes. I’m not gonna lie: most items were a letdown. And I was still hungry.

See you all mid-afternoon for lupper, and then a few hours later for supper.

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The Ironman-In-Training Curse

>> Sunday, August 26, 2007

It’s a huge paradox. A bit of a catch-22. Maybe a little ironic too. I have 2 points to make:

1. Training for an Ironman gives you an awesome body.
With all of that training, one achieves great muscle definition, super-duper stamina, increased lung capacity, and just a sweet, sweet body. Hmmm... a married couple, both training for an Ironman, both young and fit... Do I need to paint you a picture?

“Let’s stay in tonight...” Wink, wink. I think you know what I’m taking about.

Sex. I’m taking about sex. Young, hot, fit, SMOOTH, sweaty, IM-in-training sex.

That leads me to point number 2: The Paradox:

2. Training for an Ironman makes you tired.
Very tired. This is a conversation that takes place a few times a week in our bedroom around 11 pm. The 2 members of this conversation are just “A” and “B” because Pharmie or I may play either roll on any given night.

A: “Ummm...ya wanna?”

B: “Well...I don’t know. I have to hit the pool early tomorrow.”

A: “I guess I’m pretty pooped anyway. And I need to get up and bike early tomorrow. Maybe we can have some ‘Mommy and Daddy time’ sometime soon.”

B: *snoring*

A: *snoring*

Stupid paradox. Here are my emotions summed up in a photo:

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Rhonda’s Had A Makeover!

>> Friday, August 24, 2007

It’s true. Big Rhonda, The Dyke Bike, just had an overhaul. I had her fitted to me earlier this week. I had a “Professional Fit” done, which took 2 hours and drained my wallet. We now work as one. She also lost a little weight. Those clunky toe-cages? Gone. In their place: sweet, sweet clipless pedals.



I know what you’re thinking: “Steve, isn’t it a little close to Ironman to be making major changes?” No, and mind your own business. No really though, I talked to Chris (who fitted me), and he said that after a true-fit, I am just better in tune with my bike. It’s not going to be something that I’ll have to “break-in” or get used to. I believed him. I hope to take Rhonda for a nice quick ride tonight to see how things go, and then for a speedy 60-miler this weekend.

Anyway, I would have had my bike fitted earlier, but I was busy turning this:






...into this:




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Inspiration

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This happens to be my 100th post on this blog. So, I wanted to write something worthwhile. Part of me just wanted to write something goofy like this: “If I were to go head-to-head with Jesus Christ in a triathlon, I would TOTALLY beat him. He’d be DQ’d for walking on water.” But I decided to post these thoughts on inspiration that I’ve had floating around in my noggin for a while.

(Note: This post appears on both of my blogs. For those of you reading from my Triathlon Blog, you need to know that I am a photographer and a college professor by day. For those of you reading from my Photo Blog, you need to know that I’m a triathlete, and that I’m training for an Ironman Triathlon in September [under 3 weeks - yikes!]. There are pieces of both artistic and physical ideas in here, and I thought it’d be best to have it on both blogs. The following are a few issues that have been floating around in my head for years.)

Chuck Close, the famous American painter, recently said the following during an interview with Charlie Rose: “Some people wait around to be inspired. The rest of us just get to work.”

What inspires people to lose weight? To start eating right? To share their vision through photography, painting, sculpture, etc.? To go back to school and continue their education? To run a marathon? To compete in a triathlon? Are they external forces? Or are they all internal influences?

Why is it that on my way to making photographs, I need to listen to certain music? What is it about Dave Alvin, Johnny Cash, and a few no-name folk bands that place me in the right mindset to make my photos? It’s music and photography: a purely audio medium and a purely visual medium (before you even bring it up, I know we could argue the truth of this statement all day). What happens in my head when I connect certain music with my photography? What causes this link to occur that makes me crave a certain kind of music before feeling ready to make photos?

The problem is not that I’m not making enough photographs, it’s that I’m not inspiring myself in the correct way that will make me WANT to make photographs.

Maybe inspiration comes from carrying an emotion, a feeling, a thought, or an idea in your subconscious and needing to expel it. It’s our way of dealing with being bombarded internally for too long. It could be that inspiration comes out of us as a way of dealing with some internal conflict, as a way of venting.

I watched a random video on a friend’s blog on July 17th of last year. I didn’t know what it was about. The only text that accompanied it was “Puts things right in perspective, no?” I didn’t know what to expect, and my curiosity got the best of me. So I clicked the play button. It turns out it was a 4 minute video about Team Hoyt, who are a father/son team who do Ironman Triathlons, marathons, and all other kinds of races and events - they have nearly completed 1000 races together. The son had complications during his birth, and was without oxygen for quite some time. Because of this, he can’t walk or talk. For the Ironman Triathlons, the father pulls his son in a raft for the 2.4 mile swim, sets him on a seat at the front of his bike for the 112 mile bike, and pushes him in a wheelchair for the 26 mile run. They do all of this to try to integrate the physically challenged into everyday life by making people more aware of the issues that the disabled face everyday. It moved me to tears the first time (quite a ways past tears, actually). I watched that video 5 times in the first few days after discovering it. It was inspiring all times except for the third time. The first, second, fourth, and fifth times, I cried my eyes out. I’m talking about bawling. Salty rivers running down my check. Puddles-on-the-floor weeping. Those times it really moved me. But why not the third time? What made that time different for me? Now, I’m not saying that crying equals inspiration, but it has moved me many times. Was I so moved because the first time I watched it I had just completed my first official Olympic Distance Triathlon 2 days before? That was probably part of it. Definitely part of it.

That video not only inspired me to want to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, but it also inspired me to be a better person. It made me want to get off the couch, turn off “Big Brother 8,” and go make some photos. Or go update my resume. Or go out for a long bike ride. Or take a French cooking class. That video stirred me on almost all levels.

In case you’re curious, here’s the video (the original has been removed, but this one is quite similar). If this doesn’t do something to you, you must be dead:

Here’s a big issue inside my head right now: Does one need to be open for inspiration in order for it to strike? Do we sometimes live our lives closed to possible inspiration without being aware of it?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I wish I could remember the exact moments: the moment that I knew I wanted to go to school for photography; the moment that I knew I wanted to marry Sarah; the moment that I knew I wanted to go back to school to get my Masters in photography; the moment that I made the crazy decision to sign up for Ironman WI. I wish I could remember what was going through my mind. I wish I could go back and feel the state of my body and soul when I had those revelations. Maybe that would give some insight into this little rant. The problem is, these thoughts and inspirations don’t hit me like a bolt of lightning. They slowly sneak up on me, hanging around until the time is right, much like a 45-year-old internet predator on MySpace. Inspiration doesn’t strike me instantly like a ton of bricks. Something may inspire me, and that seems to set off a chain reaction that may last a few days or a few months. After that, the inspiration has sunk in, and voilĂ , I have been inspired. I suppose you could say the manner in which I become inspired is a little uninspiring. Great...another hurdle...

When I see an exhibition of great photographs, I’m inspired to go out and make photos. But each time, I’m inspired to go make photos close to the same style of the photos that have just inspired me. After seeing the Diane Arbus show at the Walker, I wanted to go make photos of "freaks" and transvestites. While viewing an installation at the International Center of Photography in New York, I wanted to be a mixed media artist. While cheering on Sarah at all of her marathons, I’ve been inspired to train for a marathon (although I haven’t). Watching Sarah and all of her new blog friends compete in Ironman WI last year absolutely moved me to want to train for Ironman WI 2007. It always seems to go hand in hand: I see it, I’m inspired by it, and I want to do it myself. Is this a normal form of inspiration, simply wanting to copy something else? Is inspiration in league with imitation? Is there really that much difference between the two?

So why is it the Team Hoyt video inspires me on many levels? That video has (obviously) helped inspire me to train for my first IM triathlon (I’ve turned to this video a few times in the past months when I’ve wanted to quit training). But it’s more than that to me because of the father/son bond that is in the forefront of their story as well. And that idea that they are doing something for "the greater good" and not just for themselves. They inspire me on many levels because they are touching me on many levels.

I’m not trying to write a ground-breaking essay on this subject, and I would question anyone who has claimed to. These are just a few of my thoughts (many of them cheesy or corny), and I hope you’ll add your views. Do you have any insight? Thanks.

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LET THE TAPER BEGIN!

>> Monday, August 20, 2007

...almost.



In these next few days, I hope to have one last long swim, and one last decent long-ish run. Then the taper can truly begin. Here are some training updates:

• Yesterday, I was supposed to do my last long bike ride. I was shooting for 115 miles. It didn’t quite happen. It was cold, windy, and rainy, and there’s something about that combination that my knee didn’t like. I got really sore around mile 15-20. Crap.

I stuck it out for a total of 75 miles, but then I called it quits. I stopped a few times to do the main exercise that helps my knee, but it never helped a lot. (People keep asking about this “magical exercise.” Here’s what I do: I first I get a bad haircut, put on some baggy clothes, and stand like this:



Then I slowly lunge forward while pushing hard just below the tibia/fibula joint:



This helps to train those 2 bones to move correctly. Incorrect joint movement has been diagnosed as my main knee issue.) Anyway, back to the ride, my knee was not happy. I didn’t want to overexert my knee at this point in training. Last weekend, I had a good 107 mile ride, and that helped to boost my confidence. I didn’t think that proving that I could go 112 this weekend was worth it. Had it been a month ago, I would have “tested” my knee and stayed out there. But I needed to be smart 3 weeks before the big dance.

I could second-guess this forever, I could ask everyone in the blog-o-sphere what they think about my decision, but I’m not going to. I know I did the right thing for me and my knee. If there’s one thing that IM training does, it’s that it puts you in touch with the workings of your own body. My body was telling me to stop. I’ll take a day or 2 off, and then hit the workouts again. I’m putting this behind me and focusing on these last 3 weeks before IM.

• At a long swim this week at the Highland pool, I shared a lane with John Surprise, who has finished 5 IMs and is going to be doing WI this year.

We were both there early, and we decided to share a lane. We introduced ourselves, and he asked how long I was going to swim. “As long as I can,” I told him. (Lap swim is only 80 minutes.) I don’t know if he spotted me checking out his tattoo – you know, THE tattoo – but then, out of nowhere, he asked, “Are you doing Madison?” I give him a strange look and said yes. He proceeds to tell me that he’s finished a bunch of IMs. Once we started swimming, I tried to swallow as much of his IM water coming off of his body as I could. Good karma, I figured. It was nice to meet you John! See you in WI!

• My sore toe is doing fine. The nail is more black, blue, and dead, but it’s no longer sore. I just hope I don’t lose the nail before IM:



• Some people have been comment on my run times. I’ll make a remark like “my run is getting there.” Many people are saying that I’m speedy and I have nothing to worry about. And I REALLY appreciate those comments - don’t get me wrong. But this issue is if my knee can hold up to that distance. I was quite happy with my 1:11 10 mile training run and my 1:48 Half IM run time in the last few weeks. But I’m not sure what’s going to happen past that. Mile 16: scary. Mile 20: a long ways off. Mile 26: inconceivable.

• One of my drunken female friends said something GREAT this past weekend. Pharmie and I were at a friends cabin for the evening, and we were getting ready to throw a pizza in the oven.

Being I don’t know if the woman in this story wants me to use her real name, I’ll call Rachel. Most people call her Rachel because that happens to be her name (I’m evil). I was sitting next to her and complaining about my IM training weight loss and muscle loss. I said that I needed to eat a lot of that pizza because I’m so skinny. My exact words were, “I’m a skinny little bastard.”

She gave me a typical, drunken, disapproving, female look, and said, “NO STEVE, you’re a FIT little bastard.” Perfection. We all laughed so hard. Later that night, after a little too much Captain, she puked in the flowerbed.

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Lots of Nipples and Hair - For Bubba

>> Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It all started when the cats were about a year old. Kermit and Ella started licking the sweat off of me after hard workouts. I’m just a giant, hairy saltlick to them. Their tongues are rough, so my chest always turns red. Pharmie calls them hickeys. They’re TOTALLY NOT hickeys. When they lick me, my chest hair becomes “styled” by their tongues - they’re like mini-combs. I posted a photo of this about a year ago, and Bubba was just amazed (disgusted) by 2 things:

1. How hairy I was (for a triathlete).
2. That I let my cats do this to me.

When Bubba and I met face-to-face during WIBA, he confirmed that I was as hairy as he thought. I PROMISED (threatened) him that I would collect many more photos of this phenomenon. So, I proudly present the following photos for your review:

















Once I became hairfree, the cats disowned me. I was no longer “one of them,” and they stopped licking me. Recently, they’ve come around. This photo is from 2 days ago:



Bubba, you can now go wash out your eyes. Thank you.

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Scariest Bike Ride EVER

Is it just me, or when random things happen in your life, do some of them get you saying, “If I was ready for THAT, I’m ready for Ironman?” I’ve been thinking like that a lot lately, and I had one of those moments last night.

The plan was to do a swim/bike brick. I took my bike to the Highland pool and planned to practice transition out of my trunk. I swam 3200 meters at a decent pace, ran out to my car, grabbed my stuff, hopped on my bike, and headed out for a 40 mile ride on the Gateway Trail. My legs were heavy and I wasn’t going too fast. I was going against the wind on the way out, and I was riding about 16-17 mph. Nothing fancy.

Then I came across 2 women walking a huge German Shepard. Yep, this story is about to take a turn for the worse. The 2 women had their backs to me and were taking up most of the trail, so I gave a friendly “on your left” as I was coming up behind them. They scooted over. As I passed them, the German Shepard reared up like a bucking bronco. He was on a short leash, and the woman in control was holding him back with all her might. I must have startled him. Or he thought I was a deer - a perfect lunch. It was quite a large animal when it was standing on its back legs!

I got past the hyper German Shepard only to have my heart sink when I heard these words come from behind me: “Riley, NO! RILEY...RILEY, NO!!!

Shit.

A second later, I hear the sound of the German Shepard’s claws on the trail getting louder and louder. It’s not a pleasant sound. He came up on my right. (So I’m thinking, what an impolite dog - don't you know you’re supposed to pass on the left? I’m such a bike nerd.) He’s staring at me the whole time. He’s bounding with giant leaps. He’s not barking or growling, but he is making these deep, rumbling noises. He gets ahead me, still looking over his shoulder at me. He cuts in front of me and cocks his head back around to look over his right shoulder. I crouch down and lay into my bike - I hunker down in my drop down bars. “I’m getting out of here,” I think. I start pulling away.

The German Shepard now realizes that I’m an admirable foe, and he kicks into high gear as well. He comes up again on my right. We’re staring at each other - I’m looking just over my right shoulder at him. Then he makes his move.

He lunges at me. Full throttle. I can still see it happening in slow motion. In real time, I felt like it was happening in slow motion. His front paws are spread wide apart, ready to take me down. We were about to meet face-to-face, or should I say teeth-to-neck. I did the only thing I could think of: I took my right hand, kept my palm open, stretched my fingers back, and nailed the heel of my palm right in the dog’s face. The blow landed with a CRACK right between the dog’s eye and corner of his mouth. (Now, before I get any nasty comments, I LOVE animals. I have 2 cats, and I grew up with a total of 5 dogs. I’ve never hit an animal like this before. I only struck this dog because it was about to kill me. I hope you understand.)

I didn’t break anything, and the dog didn’t break anything, but the shot was loud. I swerved out of control to the left from the power of the punch. I didn’t wipe out. Holy crap, how did I NOT wipe out?!? I didn’t look back. I never looked back. I dropped into aero and gave it everything. If I still had hair on my body, it all would have been standing on end. I looked down. My bike computer said 33 mph. This was on the flat, against the wind. I had been pulling 16-17 mph just a minute before. I took a moment to give myself a little half-cocked smile indicating how proud I was of that speed, and then I got serious again.

A moment later, I realized that I had a long scratch on my right arm. No blood, just a long red mark. That was all I was left with from this encounter.

Immediately, I wanted to bottle this feeling that I had. All of these endorphins, adrenaline, and everything else that was coursing through me - I wanted to keep it. I wanted to remember it and use it on those 112 miles on the bike on September 9th. But after a few miles, the feeling was gone. All I have left is the visual of the leaping dog coming at me. Maybe that visual can be my secret weapon on the bike...

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IM Nutrition, Man-Scaping, Boy Scouts, Other Random Crap

>> Sunday, August 12, 2007

107 Mile Jungle Ride!

I went for a nice 107 mile ride yesterday, and, can I just say, that I LOVE Boy Scouts. Not like-love, but love-love. The ride started nicely, but there was a NASTY storm the night before. It turns out the Gateway trail was pretty messed up – downed trees, branches, and crap everywhere! I had to dismount and carry my bike over or under a ton of trees. About 9 miles into the ride, I came across a series of downed trees all in one spot. I think they went down like dominos. I couldn’t see the other side of the trail at all! I was stopped there with a middle-aged couple, and the 3 of us blazed a trail through the trees around to the other side of the trail. We went back and grabbed our bikes, threw them over our shoulders, maneuvered them around trees, and got to the other side of the mess. When we came through, there was another biker looking at us like we were crazy. We were covered with mud from the knees down and wet leaves from the waist up! It was like jungle riding!

In the next mile, I came across a troop of Boy Scouts cutting apart downed trees and clearing the trail. I shouted my thanks to all of them. Boy Scouts ROCK!!!

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. It was windy and sunny. I finished in 6:25 on the bike, and 6:58 total time counting pit stops. Not super fast, but the important thing was to simply get the ride in. Oh, and the toe held up OK (see previous post below). It just turned a little bluer.

Perpetuem, Recoverite, etc.

Last week, I tried to do up to 100 on the bike, but I tried Perpetuem. Bad idea. It didn’t go over well with my digestive system. I don’t think I was really ready for the fat and protein that Perpetuem has in it. I had to stop at mile 72 because I was getting close to ralphing. This week, the nutrition was much better. I had a bottle with good ole’ Carbo-Pro (1400 calories) that I sipped on the entire day. I had some Power Bars, some Hammer Gel, and a bunch of water. No problems.

And has anyone out there tried Recoverite?!? That stuff is AWESOME!!! I used that for the first time after my hard 10 mile run earlier this week. I really think it helps with some of the muscle fatigue issues and sore muscles the next day. Yesterday, I got in the house after the ride, IMMEDIATELY ordered a pizza, chugged half a gallon of chocolate milk, and then mixed up 2 glasses of Recoverite.

Also, about 2 months ago, I received 2 free cases of Accelerade. I was supposed to try it out and write about it on my blog. I kind of have the same feelings as TRI Vortex. “Accelerade = Cottonmouth.” It doesn’t taste good. Not even cold. I’m not a fan. But they did send me a sweet shirt a few days ago. I’m totally going to wear it.

Man-Scaping

Embarrassing Thought: There are now 2 razors in our shower:



Even MORE Embarrassing Thought: Mine is the pink one.

The last time I touched up my shaved body, I got some razor burn around my navel. It looked like my belly button had herpes. I don’t have a photo of that...

...you’re welcome.

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Losing As Much Un-Needed Weight Before Ironman

>> Friday, August 10, 2007

Yesterday, I figured that I might as well not carry more weight than I need to for IM. So I decided to get rid of a toenail that I don’t need:



I got home from a 40 mile bike and 5 mile run-off yesterday, and my 2nd toe was sore again. It got a little sore after my 10 mile run earlier this week. It looked fine, though. An hour later, it looked like the above photo. Purple and blue. And SORE. Crap. I’m gonna lose that nail. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much for my 100+ mile ride this weekend.

p.s. Can you tell that when I shaved my body, I left my feet and toes alone? Again, a man has his dignity.

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I Do NOT Photograph Well at Triathlons!

>> Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The “official” photos are in from Chisago HIM last weekend. Wow, look at this one:


Apparently, I can’t keep my hands out of my pants.
Gross.


I look like a duck.


Here are a few more:





Going through all of the race photos, I found this guy. He’s gangsta - flashing gang signs:


“West side of transition, boy-ee!!
I’ll pop an electrolyte in your ass!!”
I’m not sure what else a tri-gangster would say...


OK, being those first 2 photos of me hurt my ego a little (not to mention the ego-pain from the previous post), I have some ego-boosting good news. Yesterday I finished a 10 mile run in 1:11:02! That’s 7:06 per mile! That felt good. My run is getting there. My knee is keeping up. My bike still needs a little work. Four and a half weeks and counting...

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Less of a Man, More of a Triathlete

>> Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This photo should probably carry some sort of warning, but what the heck. Here it is:



Yes, that’s me with a half smooth / half hairy chest.

Yes, that’s a ring of hair still around my nipple. The hair remover said to stay away from your nipples and anus. Not a problem.

YES, I DID shave that hairy ring off.

It takes some people 2 photos to show a “before and after.” Not me. There it was, all in one photo. Before / After.

On Friday night, I took care of my chest, shoulders, and little patches on my back. I used “Hansen’s for Men Hair Removal Lotion” that I got at Target. It said it was “Extra Strength.” I didn’t know if that was a good thing, or if that just meant that it would burn all my skin off. It worked quite well. My skin stayed intact, my man-sweater did not.

On Saturday, I finished with the rest of my body. First, I shaved my arms with an electric razor:



Then I shaved my legs with the same electric razor:



Then I touched it all up with shaving cream and a razor:



That last photo is the one that will make my Dad disown me. Sorry Dad.

I’m not sure what comparisons to make. Here are my choices:

A. Robin Williams came over, showered off, and didn’t “clean up” after himself.

B. 140 cats broke into our house, licked themselves all over, and hacked up hairballs all over our bathroom.

C. A Wookie had an abortion in my bathtub.

I’m leaning towards C. Yep, defiantly C.

I didn’t remove EVERYTHING. I had to hang on to a little of my dignity. So I’m left with... how can I put this... I... I’m still wearing a “Sasquatch Speedo.” I think that about sums it up. When all was said and done, I looked like this the next day at the Chisago Lakes Half IM:



It’s a strange feeling. I can really feel the shirt that I’m wearing. I mean, really FEEL it. I’ve never had any shirt feel so close to me. I think I’ll keep this “lifestyle” up through Ironman, and then I start growing my furry winter coat out again.

My official results:
• Chest, shoulders, and back hair removal (cream) - 40:00
• Arm and leg hair removal (electric) - 15:00
• Arm and leg final shave (razor) - 15:00
• Clean up time - 5:00
• Total - 1:15:00


(Note: I blatantly stole the title for this post from Mr. P. I knew exactly what that title meant when I read it on his blog 3 months ago. I had to use it and give him credit. Also, he posted this slightly inappropriate clip from the Family Guy about Stewie shaving his body. It’s funny, but it’s a little raunchy. You have been warned.)

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