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I may waddle when I run, but I'm running all the same

By John Bingham

Photographs by Tim Bower


PUBLISHED 09/19/2007


The late Dr. George Sheehan,

beloved Runner's World columnist and arguably the first running boom's

premier philosopher, once wrote that the difference between a runner

and a jogger was a signature on a race application. (For the youngsters

out there, there was a time before online registration when you

actually filled out a paper application, signed it, attached a check,

and mailed it in. Quaint, I know.) As succinct as Dr. Sheehan's

definition was, it made the point. If you were motivated enough to

train for and participate in an organized running event, then you were

a runner. Anyone willing to risk public failure in order to be a part

of the running community--no matter what his or her pace per mile might

be--was a runner. Period. Kind of hard for anyone to argue with that



But a few months ago, an ad ran in this magazine that drew a very hard

line between runners and joggers. I immediately heard from tons of

readers who were upset by the distinction. To me, however, such

definitions are meaningless, since those of us who call ourselves

runners already know why we call ourselves runners. Your reasons may be

different from mine, but here's why I know I am a runner:


I AM A RUNNER because my runs have names. I do tempo runs and threshold runs and fartlek runs. I do long, slow runs and track workouts. My runs are defined, even if my abs are not.


I AM A RUNNER because my shoes

are training equipment, not a fashion statement. The best shoe for me

is the one that makes me a better runner. I choose the shoe that goes

with my running mechanics, not my running outfit.


I AM A RUNNER because I don't have running outfits. I have

technical shirts and shorts and socks. I have apparel that enhances the

experience of running by allowing me to run comfortably. I can say

"Coolmax" and "Gore-Tex" in the same sentence and know which does what.


I AM A RUNNER because I know what effort feels like, and I

embrace it. I know when I'm pushing the limits of my comfort and why

I'm doing it. I know that heavy breathing and an accelerated heart

ratethings I once avoidedare necessary if I want to be a better



I AM A RUNNER because I value and respect my body. It will

whisper to me when I've done too much. And if I choose to listen to

that whisper, my body won't have to scream in pain later on.


I AM A RUNNER because I am willing to lay it all on the line. I

know that every finish line has the potential to lift my spirits to new

highs or devastate me, yet I line up anyway.


I AM A RUNNER because I know that despite my best efforts, I

will always want more from myself. I will always want to know my limits

so that I can exceed them.


I AM A RUNNER because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far.


I AM A RUNNER because I say I am. And no one can tell me I'm not.


Waddle on, friends.

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my race day packet for the marathon came today... my race number is 17044 and i am in corral number 17, which basically means that i'll start in the 17th group of runners at 7am on april 26th! hooray. also, i learned that those who would like to watch my progress from home can do so at the following website: click on the "LiveResults" Bug on the homepage during the race!



all of this is incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. i just want to finish!!



reminiscing a little bit... this has been an amazing and rewarding experience. my next fundraiser is wednesday, april 9th at village inn pizza from 11am-10pm and LLS gets 15% of all the profits from the day! i am going to try and publicize like crazy. go team! 



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this week was our cut-back from last week's 18 miles to a measly 12... haha. just kidding! 12 miles is a whole lot, but it did make me realize how far we have come from our 30 minute runs being something that caused stress. ty asked me last night what the hardest part about running was and i came to the conclusion that the most difficult part of this training process is not the physical changes (which i truly appreciate), but rather the mental decision to finish a run. once you start everything's easy-peasy... it's just continuing on (especially when your body is tired and your mind is bored). making that decision to finish whether at mile 16 for the 18 miler... or at mile 24 for the upcoming marathon will be something that i will always fight with. it's so much easier to be lazy than it is to put one foot in front of the other, pump your arms a little more, and move your booty up the hill.



the 12 mile run was beautiful in our slightly-warmer than normal 45 degree weather (35 with windchill). after the run samit met me at LOTW and we walked the dogs along a part-trail part-paved path. i think that they truly enjoyed it! 



the only downside of our run this morning was that i got my very first owie which is a diamond shaped chafed spot on my chest! the culprit: the inner seam of my singlet. i have a band-aid on it now, but it definitely burned in the shower! it was totally my fault for not realizing that it wasn't a flat seam and for not adding enough body glide to prevent that from happening. regardless, i should heal up fine and it's not serious!



this upcoming week we are preparation for our 20 mile run on saturday and then the following wednesday, april 9th, we'll be having a fundraiser at Village Inn Pizza (corner of Mattis and Springfield) to raise money for the LLS. go team! 






samit and nala                                                                        and herschel and me






my neck owie and the culprit seam!

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from nike+: a view of my 18 miler!

Posted by pavni Mar 28, 2008


p.s. the stops are water breaks (running up the stairs to my brother's apartment!).

603 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: run, mile, 18

March 27, 2008


Dear Friends, Family, Mentors and Colleagues,


Hello! I wanted to update you on my progress towards the Nashville Country Music Marathon on April 26, 2008.


First off, it’s less than a month away! Hooray! I am registered and ready to go! 


Secondly, it’s been an amazing experience so far. Training with Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is truly a wonderful addition in my life. Last night at our Wednesday group run at the Armory, Diana, our team in training patient honoree came to watch and visit. She has survived two runs of Leukemia and two bone marrow transplants and is an incredibly strong woman. From mentoring patients with the LLS who are fighting the same type of cancer she had to working with elementary school kids with childhood leukemia and taking them to the zoo, she’s giving back to the community that she believes has given her the power to fight for her life. It was truly inspirational and her saying “thank you” to us as a team and as individuals was so rewarding. I thanked her for sharing her story and for being so open with her life with a group of strangers! 


After our workout, I felt that we had been able to get to know her better as well as show her that this is a two-way street. Her commitment to the LLS as well as her service to the patient population pushed us towards fundraising and running towards a goal as well. So, I am proud to say that with your help and generosity I am 87% of the way towards my goal of $3,400. I have until April 7th to fundraise and no donation is too small. Many of you who have donated have helped countless individuals and families get access to care, find a physician that can help them, pay for travel costs, or even help an entire family for a year… I am so thankful for your contributions.



If you’d like to read about my running adventures (this past Saturday was 18 miles!) I am keeping a blog at: Also, if you would like to donate online you can do so at: If you prefer to write a check, if you make it out to: “The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society” and mail it to me at: 3724 Thornhill Drive, Champaign, IL 61822, I can mail that in for you as well. I thank you in advance for your generosity and to all of those who have helped me get closer to reaching my goal!


Thank you and I hope to hear from you all soon!


I appreciate you all… keep reading as I keep running!










Subject: Team in Training Marathon Update #3




February 18, 2008




Dear Friends, Family, Mentors and Colleagues,




I hope that everything is going really well for you all!




I wanted to update you on my progress towards the Country Music Marathon on April 26th in Nashville!




This past weekend we did 12 miles! I would have never imagined that I could be capable of running that distance, however it gave me a lot of time to think about life, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and why I am doing this marathon. So far, I have been running, cross-training, hill training, and pretty much every other kind of training I can think of, trying to get myself physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming 26 miles. Our first team speed workout is this Wednesday night and I am so excited!




It's been incredibly gratifying so far and everyone has been incredibly generous. My personal goal is to raise $3,400 before the race in April. So far, with the help of my generous family, friends, mentors and colleagues, I am a little over 50% of the way there! I am going to be meeting with local businesses in the upcoming week to plan fundraisers- Village Inn Pizza, Marble Slab Creamery and other local businesses in Champaign have agreed to help us!




Anyhow, if you have any questions, suggestions, comments or encouraging words, I would love to hear from you (since I am sure I will need all of the support)!  I will keep you updated on my progress in terms of training as well as my personal well-being. I hope to hear from all of you and wish you the very best in everything that you're doing. Your support in this will keep me running, and I truly appreciate your help.




Thank you and take care.










  P.S. My Illinois Team website is at: and I am keeping a blog of the training at: Keep reading as I keep on running!








  From Jan, 2008




  Dear Friends,


  I’d like to tell you about a new adventure that I am embarking upon


  and would like to ask for your help in achieving my goal. I, Pavni


  Mehrotra, will be running the Country Music Marathon in Nashville,


  Tennessee, on April 26th, 2008. Yes, you read that correctly… I’m


  running a marathon!




  I know… I’m not very fast (Herschel, my dog, trots faster than I run),


  and I’m no athlete (although I have always wanted to be!). However,


  with the help of Team in Training, my local coaches, a lot of hard


  work and a positive attitude, I believe that this is going to be an


  amazing experience.




  Team in Training (TNT) is one of the largest sports training programs


  in the nation and supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. For the


  past twenty years TNT has trained beginners like me, helped us with


  our personal goals, and used our fundraising to support cancer


  research and improve the lives of those affected. Our coaches are


  local students and athletes who have been devoted to the cause and are


  incredible resources.




  Lymphoma is a cancer that has directly affected my family. In 1996, my


  grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma and I spent that summer with


  her while she went through chemotherapy for the first time. She is an


  incredible woman and role model, who not only persevered through the


  cancer (three times), but also volunteered to be part of the original


  research study on combination therapy (solely because she thought that


  it would help others afflicted by cancer). Now after having been in


  remission for many years, she is as vibrant as ever. She has kindly


  agreed for me to run my very first marathon in her name which is an


  incredible motivation. For her to have fought the disease and


  triumphed is amazing day-to-day motivation.  I cannot wait to cross


  that finish line, raise funds for our Illinois Team, and support an


  organization that has been vital in helping many others grow up with


  their grandmothers around.




  So, that’s where I need your help. My personal goal is to raise $3,400


  before the race in April. Although that is a daunting number, what you


  donate goes towards research and patient and community service from


  the Society, and I truly believe that is a worthwhile cause. If I can


  raise enough to help someone’s family member or friend… then perhaps I


  can make a small 26.2-mile step to return the blessing that my family






  If you have any questions, suggestions, comments or encouraging words,


  I would love to hear from you (since I am sure I will need all of the


  support)!  I will keep you updated on my progress in terms of training


  as well as my personal well-being and I hope to hear from all of you.


  Your support in this will keep me running, and I truly appreciate your






  Thank you,






  P.S. My Illinois Team website is at: and I am keeping a blog of


  the training at: Keep reading


  as I keep on running!

925 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, update, team, in, patient, honoree

this past "week" i was in california visiting my brother and family in berkeley! it was an amazing little city (not so little), and has tons of wonderful hills and visual stimuli to keep me going during my training runs. i flew in on wednesday and ended up doing hills/incline training on lombard street! haha. talk about an incline. also, for my thursday short run, i got to roam around the uc berkeley campus which was absolutely beautiful- and i should not forget the near 30 degree difference between my normal running temperature and that of beautiful california.


for my eighteen miler on saturday, i have to admit that i was pretty nervous, and had planned out a route (as per my brother and his labmate's suggestion) around cesar chavez park down off of marina blvd. the night before. however, when i woke up, and realized that it was incredible outside, i just took off. herschel was with me in berkeley, and i know that he appreciated the extra hour of sleep while i ran my first 8-9 miles! i ended up running in a small neighborhood up and left of my brother's place off of college st. and i believe it was off of a street called clairemont. it was a charming neighborhood with hedges for fences and really friendly neighbors. there were the locals going to the bakery (which had a great set of aromas permeating from it's doors!), and others sitting with their pups outside enjoying the sunshine. i got to run on a little trail through their neighborhood as well and observed some of the biggest squirrels i have ever seen!




the neighborhood quickly transitioned into a downtown area and i passed those getting on their various methods of mass transit... from there i ran down until i passed the residential area, the shops, and ended up somewhere near a shopping plaza that consisted of a jamba juice and boston market... i think! haha. i ended up turning up one of the streets past 51st and ran into a tiny bakery where i asked for a glass of water. they were very kind and i thank them for being generous to me (even when i probably looked like a sweaty mess!).




anyhow, the rest of the run was me turning back past a school and ended up at my brother's. herschel did the next seven miles with me towards a beautiful park off of martin luther king jr. drive near sacramento where there were some playing a game of soccer, a dog park, a baseball game, and a group of men doing partner tai-chi! it was great to be in such a lively environment.




after returning back to my brother's and downing a fruit cup in record time (i didn't bring any power- or gator- like things!)... i went back out for the last set of miles and followed a path down oxford and across another stretch of campus. sigh. it was completely and wonderfully exhausting. i suppose the best way to get to know your neighborhood is to start walking (or running, in this case) and get lost! then figure out where you are and come back! it was a great adventure and i had a lovely time.




it took me right around 4 hours, which although was slow for me, reflected the hills effect upon my normal strides as well as including my stop time... so i didn't really mind. i appreciated my nike+'s company (and technological advances which kept me going), as well as the neighborhood's inspiring ability.




the rest of my stay in berkeley was wonderful and i got to visit with some friends and family as well as get in another short run on monday morning before flying back to illinois!




this week (i thought we were doing 20!) we're cutting back, so it'll be getting into great (if not better) condition for the future runs. i had a wonderful vacation and now must get reaccustomed to the new time zone as well as the temperature and weather. california spoils you rotten!  



p.s. i'd like to thank everyone who has donated lately - your donations have helped me tremendously in reaching my goal of $3,400! i appreciate it very much! 



778 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, update, miles, eighteen

training while traveling

Posted by pavni Mar 18, 2008

i am on my way to uc berkeley to hang out with my family for a few days, so i'll be doing my training on the go. i hope that i can still keep up the energy and be stronger when i return! i am going to be doing my eighteen miler on saturday, so i am looking forward to that as well! i've got all my stuff packed... here we go!

456 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, traveling

Celebrities and their marathon times:

Billy Baldwin, actor, 3:24:29, NYC 1992


Shannon Miller, former Olympic gymnast, 4:17:33, NYC 2006


Lance Armstrong, 7-Time Tour De France Winner, 2:59:36, NYC 2006


Tate Donovan, actor,  3:28:43, NYC 2005


John Edwards, 2004 vp candidate, 3:30:18, Marine Corp 1983


Kristin Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance, 3:35:29 Chicago 2005


George W. Bush, 3:44:52, Houston 1993


Peter Weller, actor, 3:51:26, NYC 1988


Kim Alexis, supermodel, 3:52:00, NYC 1992


Bud Badyna, former world record-holder for running marathon backwards, 3:53:17, Toledo 1994


Will Ferrell, Comedian, 3:56:12, Boston 2003


Vanessa Carlton, singer, 3:56:20, NYC 2005


Keri Strug, former Olympic gymnast, 4:14:31, Boston 2004


P. Diddy, rapper/musician, 4:14:54, NYC 2003


Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, 4:29:20, Marine Corps 1994


Bill Rancic, winner of Trump’s first “The Apprentice”, 4:31:31, Chicago, 2001


Al Gore, former vice president, 4:58:25, Marine Corps 1997


Anthony Edwards, actor, 3:55:40, Chicago 2003


Lisa Ling, formerly of “The View”, 4:34:18, Boston 2002


Bill Frist, US Senate Majority Leader, 4:54:36, Marine Corps 1997


Freddie Prinze, Jr.,actor, 5:50:49, Los Angeles 2006


Ali Landry and Mario Lopez, model and actor, 5:41:41, Boston 2002


David Lee Roth, musician, 6:04:43, NYC 1987

1,191 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marathon, times, celebrity

cut-back week

Posted by pavni Mar 15, 2008


so we had our cut back week between running 14-16 miles and the upcoming week's 18-20 miles! it was nice today to run outside in the light drizzle for 80 minutes listening to music. the trails were all clear at LOTW since the snow has melted over the past week (we had temps in the high 50s and low 60s!). also, it had not yet started actually raining, so it felt more like misty-drizzle than anything else. also, this week is the start of spring break (hooray!) so i will be taking a short adventure trip outside of IL which i am really excited about.



today's roughly seven mile run was nice since it wasn't distance based, and now that i am done i am seriously craving some soup! haha. i think it's cause my throat has been a little bit sore since yesterday, so i am looking for some warm liquid to soothe it. also, i realized that cough drops are really fun to run with since they slosh around your mouth a little bit... i guess i could find mundane things entertaining if i keep running long enough!



wednesday's speed workout was pretty intense and i was definitely exhausted afterwards... thanks coach D!



well, off to next week and i have to start getting mentally prepared for 18 miles! hopefully, i'll be running by the ocean in 75 degree weather... halleluijah!  



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stretching, hills and new shoes!

Posted by pavni Mar 11, 2008


i have truly learned the value of stretching after realizing on monday that i couldn't even lift up my left leg since i was so sore...



also, tonight was treadmill hills (although our little gym was crazily packed for 9:45pm) and it was actually pretty fun! hooray.



new shoes: i went to body and sole today and ran into the same salesman who got me my first pair of running shoes (ever!) about a year and a half ago. he's the same guy that motivated me (gave me the pamphlet and told me to try it out) to go to second wind's women's running group. i can't believe that from that one experience, i am now here... it's been an amazing transition.



anyhow, my new shoes are asics gt2130 (totally skipped 2120 from my original 2110's!), and i can say that they're pretty much the same fit as before, and are pretty comfy so far. i am a little bit nervous in them, and i guess it's  just cause my first shoes are my "old faithfuls", but maybe they need some rest. i have to give these new ones some time to break in and some time to gather up some character.  



603 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, new, shoes, hill

16 miles

Posted by pavni Mar 9, 2008


this saturday, i ran 16 miles at lake of the woods (the first three and a half miles and the last two were with coach d)! j had a symposium so i missed my "sole-mate", but it was nice and frigid outside none the less. it took me around three hours plus, and i was really glad to be done. the coolest part of our run was trying a gel for the first time and i used a raspberry cream gel from powerade (1/2 at 7 miles and the other 1/7 at 10.5 miles). also suggested were sport beans, but the jingling of them in my pocket drove me nuts so i left them at the covered bridge to pick up when i was running back to finish!



anyhow, i am now officially sore (but mostly in my left leg), and i was trying to figure out if i lean into my left... it seems odd to have unilateral soreness (or to have one side more sore than the other), but i am not sure what the cause is. as i was running i was trying really hard to stay in the crown of the road (near the center) so that i wasn't leaning to an edge, but the ground is still pretty uneven, so that may have resulted in my weird stance. i am sure that by tomorrow it will be fine, since that's what happened last week.



i still have around $1000 to raise, but many friends have come through this past week with incredibly generous donations that have pushed me closer to my goal! now that exams are over for a bit i am going to try and fundraise like crazy!



hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend i am truly appreciating my rest day. 



478 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: workout, miles, sixteen

ageless wonders

Posted by pavni Mar 4, 2008


dave passed on the following story from BBC UK: (


Man, 101, to run London Marathon

<!-- S BO --> <!-- S IIMA --> |<div>!!<div class="cap">Buster is counting down to the London Marathon on 13 April</div> </div> | <!-- E IIMA --> <!-- S SF --> A 101-year-old man has his sights on the London Marathon in a bid to become the world's oldest competitive runner.


Working plumber Buster Martin ran Sunday's Roding Valley half marathon in Essex in five hours 13 minutes, and is now focusing on London's 26-mile event.



On finishing the run, the first words of the ex-member of rock band The Zimmers were: "Where's my beer?"



Mr Martin, who has 17 children, started work at Pimlico Plumbers in London three years ago because he was bored.<!-- E SF -->



He drank a tankard of ale before signing autographs and chatting to fans near the finish line of the Essex race.







Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers, said he was "amazed" when Mr Martin appeared at work on Monday morning after his exertions.



He said: "I was amazed and delighted, he turned up on time and set to work polishing the vans.  He's a revelation."



Mr Martin's trainer is marathon enthusiast Harmander Singh, who helped Fauja Singh, 96, break the London marathon record for the over-90s.



Buster, who lives in London, made headlines last year when he signed up as an agony uncle for men's magazine FHM, offering guidance to a younger generation.



He also found fame when The Zimmers, who had a combined age of more than 3,000 years, scored a hit single last year with a cover of The Who's My Generation.






After I finished this, I looked up coach Harmander Singh: ( who trained Fauja Singh...



* * Tripti Nath* *Tribune News Service



London, January 30 Fauja Singh, the 93-year-old tireless marathon runner from London, hails from Beas, near Jalandhar. He has run seven marathons and hit the headlines last year during the Toronto Marathon in the 90-plus category.



Three other Sikhs from the UK, Fauja Singh’s 45-year-old trainer Harmander Singh, Ajit Singh and Amrik Singh were in Pakistan with Fauja for the Lahore Marathon. All of them have participated in the London Marathon and they run together every weekend.



Ajit Singh is 73 years old while Amrik Singh is 69. Harmander Singh has participated in 21 out of the 25 London Marathon races, besides the New York and Toronto Marathon and Half-Marathons in Glasgow and New Castle. Harmander says he has never stopped running since he was at school and can run a full marathon (42.195 km) at a minute’s notice.



The principal adviser to Sikhs in England, an Internet-based advocacy group, Harmander began training Fauja Singh in 1999 and then helped him participate in the London Marathon.



Last month, Fauja Singh was among the distinguished persons invited by the Queen for a reception at Buckingham Palace. The reception was held for citizens who have made significant contribution in different spheres.



In 2000, when he participated for the first time in the London Marathon at the age of 89, he clocked 6 hours 54 minutes. He clocked the same time the following year. In 2002, he clocked 6 hours and 45 minutes. At the Great North Run Half Marathon in October, 2002, he clocked two hours 39 minutes.



Harmander says that Ajit Singh has run more than 40 marathons. Both Ajit and Amrik Singh have particiapted in marathons in various continents. Amrik has run 20 marathons, including 10 London Marathons.






So Inspirational! 



991 Views 1 Comments Permalink

Med School Bake Sale

Posted by pavni Mar 3, 2008

Today I had my very first fundraiser and am so amazed at the generosity of our student body. I am not sure how much I raised today, but I know it exceeded my expectations by all measures. I am so grateful and appreciate everyone who bought a cookie or mini-muffin today. Hope that you have a wonderful week!

600 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: fundraising, success

14 MILES! yessiree.

Posted by pavni Mar 1, 2008

Woohoo! I am wiped out. We just finished our 14 mile run this morning at LOTW and it took us somewhere around 2 1/2 hrs. J and I did some funny loops and psychological analysis to figure out our route, and it was a truly beautiful day to run. Although the path was icy in spots, we tried to avoid the snow (and the frozen grass) so that we didn't get injured. the roads are usually plowed, so once we make it to the road... we know we're going to be just fine.  


Around mile ten or twelve, we both started to get really tired, but we pressed on and finished strong. I ended up with some salt crystals on my eyebrows and a little bit of soreness in my right leg (and J had the same soreness in her left leg). we think it's because i always run on her right and i was leaning to that side while she leaned to the other. her theory was that we were having sympathy pains... haha.




a highlight from our running conversation: we desired having hallucinations of justin timberlake (although we thought he was single and recently discovered he is dating jessica biel... sorry jess.). i am sure it would be motivational to see jt, especially since it's what i love listening to on my drive home post-run! 




i had used the body glide (thanks j-pow) that i had gotten for xmas all over me again today and it saved my body from chafing in all sorts of regions... the funniest of which is my elbow! i think it's since my arms are at right angles the whole time, that's where it used to turn red... but not anymore! 




i am so proud of us for finishing and after we were done, i went home and poured myself a bath with the l'occtaine orange sugar scrub ( which made my entire tube smell wonderful and promptly dozed off for about ten minutes before devouring a banana, pb&j and chocolate milk and heading over to campus for persian new year dance practice. 




hooray for finishing... next week is 16 miles! i love talking to people about it and hearing them repeat your mileage back...




me: 14 miles today.




friend: 14 miles today?!




me: yep. 14 miles today.







my first "real" fundraiser will be on monday at the med school post-exams! i am hosting a bake sale from 10-1. i hope that it's a success.




our mentors (j&r) stuck with us today and stayed til we finished (they're so kind). i've attached some photos!   












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