Tri the Parks – Richard B. Russell Sprint

My original plan was to drive up the night before and spend the night but I realized it wasn’t actually that far away and then I spent my afternoon driving my husband back and forth because he locked his keys in the car and then forgot the spare set again. I decided just to pack everything and stage it so I could leave early in the morning. 

The drive was uneventful except that I hit a rabbit that doubled back across the road and I hit the line of cars of everyone else trying to get into the park at the same time. I love the Tri the Parks series but it’s also mildly annoying to me that the parks charge for the event and then also everyone going to it too. Plus there’s no way for anyone who has a park pass to skip the line.  

I finally got in and then made the wrong choice at a fork in the road and had to turn back around to get to the transition area. I built in extra time but the waiting at the park entrance plus the wrong turn ate up a lot of it. I parked and then grabbed my bike and everything and wheeled it down to check in. 

They had assigned bike racks which was a relief because I was really kicking myself for being so late because I wanted a good rack spot. It doesn’t take me long to set up my transition area so I had time to go back to my car and get my Zoggs goggles for the swim. The water temperature was 79 degrees and the air was 64 so not only not wetsuit legal but it also felt like a warm bath. 

The tri was a sprint and Olympic combo. The Olympic folks did two laps of the swim, a longer bike route, and two laps of the run. I was careful to seed myself towards the middle back because I hate the washing machine but I still got stuck between two women I couldn’t get through. I tried going around and got stuck on another woman and couldn’t get around plus it looked like she was swimming into my direction and pushing my out of the line I wanted so I paused let her get a couple strokes ahead and then cut back inside. I expected my swim route to look like a mushroom instead of a triangle but good ol’ Garmin made it look like I’d swum in many small circles. It doesn’t do well with swims so it’s always an adventure to see what it comes up with. It’s not sport-specific and can pretty much only do running (or skiing) but it works fine so I’m not buying a new one. 

I walked up to transition to get my heart rate back down and then got my bike ready to go. Immediately out of transition was a hill and I lost my only water bottle less than half a mile into the course when I went over the speed bump at the park entrance. I was so mad. I was thirsty and hungry and now my only nutrition was gone. Plus, it was my SOAS team bottle and I’d lost the other one on the Eagleman course. 

The bike route was not too bad. It was very hilly and the road was a little rough. I had to slow to a near standstill to make the two turns on the course. My only gripe was that the dismount and mount were at the bottom of the hill so riding back into transition I had to ride my brakes in order to dismount at the line. 

I thought I had sunglasses in my car but didn’t so I just ran with my visor and no glasses. The first part of the run course was uphill and on a trail and the second bit was parallel to the golf course. They had aid stations every mile so no complaints there. They also had BodyArmour as a drink sponsor and that drink is delicious and tasted great. I haven’t drunk it since I stopped breastfeeding but it’s super delicious. I finished in just under 2 hours which I was good with. 

One thing I really like about a sprint and Olympic combo is that there’s lots of people to cheer and watch the Oly folks and then as an Oly folk I can tell myself that the people passing me are the sprint people. I’ve been on both sides now and I like both sides actually. 

It looked like I only had three women in my age group so I figured I got third unless someone registered late, but when I checked the overall results the other two women in my age group took first and second overall so I got bumped up to first in my group. Not as cool as winning out of a big group but I can’t control who shows up. I took my medal, which is maybe one of the coolest I’ve ever gotten-it’s made from a recycled bike chain and has a bottle opener on it. 

I’ve got two more races this summer in the Tri the Parks series. The last time I tried to race a bunch in the series I got pregnant and then freaked out about being on the bike in the second trimester. 

Saint Mary’s Triathlon Festival

Once I realized that the Saint Mary’s Triathlon Festival was two hours away, I knew it was going to be a solo trip. The folks at Saint Mary’s College very generously offered up their dorm rooms to athletes at the incredible price of $25/night and all you had to do was bring something to sleep in/on and shower toiletries. I took my sleeping bag and pillow and my shower tote and shoes that I usually have in my gym bag and headed down on Saturday afternoon.

I checked into the dorm around 3 and then the packet pick up didn’t officially open until 5 so I spent some time walking around the campus and looking at the course maps. I would’ve left later but I like to eat dinner early and knew I’d want to go to sleep early, too. One thing I didn’t research, and I usually do a TON of research is things in the area. Saint Marys City is a historic city but it is also in the middle of nowhere. So when I was looking for a place to eat dinner, there wasn’t anything “downtown” because there wasn’t an actual town. I ended up driving to a Korean/Japanese place about 15 minutes away and then stopped at a grocery store on the way back to get something for breakfast the next morning. Unfortunately, I had to make a middle of the night run to a gas station because I woke up and needed tampons.

I didn’t sleep great. It was warm and I was hot and the dorms were noisy and I left my ear plugs at home when I know better. I got up around 6, ate my breakfast and got dressed and went down to the start. I’d chosen to park my car and bike by the transition area and it was a five minute walk from the dorm. I got there and realized my car keys were still on the desk in the dorm so I had to walk back and get the keys and then back to my car. Transition closed at 7:45 and it was a little before 7:30 by the time I was finished setting up my space. The water temperature was 70 degrees so I wiggled into my wetsuit and headed down to the swim.

They warned us that there were sharp oyster shells in the beach area and as I warmed up and came in I felt them as I stood up. I noted that the flags in the water marked where the mats were that covered the shells so I’d make sure to swim all the way up to them.

I was in the third wave. They did the Olympic and Sprint on the same day, they just started the Oly first. They had to shorten the swim to two laps of the Sprint course, which I wasn’t thrilled about but was fine.

I’m not a great open water swimmer. I’m not a fast swimmer to begin with and my sighting is all over the place. I don’t use my GPS watch often but I really like to for swimming so I can see how well (badly) I did.

I chose to leave a pair of cheap flip flops by the swim exit so I could run more easily on the pavement and I think it helped. I was careful to swim all the way back to the flags but when I stood up I found that the mats had shifted and I sliced my foot open on a shell. I felt the pain but not fully until after the race when I changed into flip flops and I thought it was just a bad blister in a strange spot – nope, turned out I’d cut my foot pretty much first thing.

The bike was two loops and there was a killer headwind along the longest side. It was mostly flat, except for one nice descent after the headwind stretch. The second lap I was more prepared for the headwind and tried to stay in aero as much as I could. I felt really good on the bike and did a good job of drinking the Tailwind in my bottles. I’ve seen some nicer/more convenient bottle options that I might look into that aren’t so awkward as reaching behind me to grab a bottle.

The run was an out and back with a two loop circuit at the end. A nice person had a sprinkler out there for us to run through and it was so appreciated. It was a hot day by then, the forecast said 80 degrees but by the time I finished it was 87. The mile out and mile back in were unshaded and I really had to force myself to keep plodding along. It’s so ridiculous that when it’s hot I want to walk in the sun instead of keeping going and finishing sooner. I tried to run the entire course, but I settled for walking through the aid stations because I wanted to make sure I got enough water to drink.

My TriDot prediction was 2:52 (lol, I am not that fast TriDot, what are you thinking?) and my actual time was 3:18. My previous Oly time was 3:25, though I was also pregnant and tired all the time. My swim time was slower than expected, my bike pace was slower than what TriDot thought I could do but was the fastest I’ve ever done in a race (17 mph) and my run beat my TriDot prediction, so it was really kind of all over the place.

I placed third in my division and might have qualified for the Age Group National Championships this August. Mostly I’m really pleased with how positive I stayed the whole race. I had a couple of struggles in the run because it’s slower paced and I have less to focus on but I really think I have made a lot of progress with my mental game in saying encouraging things to myself.

I have one last triathlon up here in Maryland before I go back home to Georgia and I have zero goals for it other than to enjoy it and hopefully finish! My next big focus will be the Ironman Augusta 70.3 this fall, plus a sprinkling of other things thrown in for fun. Sa

Rev3 Westfields Sprint Triathlon

I did a Rev3 race back in 2017 in Williamsburg (which is now sadly Ironman Virginia 70.3) and was so impressed by what an awesome event they put on. It was well-organized, the swag was great, and the course was well thought out, manned, and it was an overall five star experience. I knew I wanted to do another Rev3 race again so I was glad to see I could do the Westfields Sprint as my first race of the season.

I drove down Saturday for packet pickup at the Rec Center the triathlon would be at and got to see the early stages of set up. I was surprised at my low bib number, and checked it where my bike and transition area would be before we headed out to a local park (and got stuck in horrendous DMV traffic on the way home)

I knew I wanted to leave by 5 am so I could get to the transition area with enough time to pick up my chip and set up and not feel rushed. I did such a good job of prepping the night before that I was out the door by 4:30. I tried to stop off for a coffee but everything was closed so I gave it up after the first failure.

The swim was short, 250 yards, and a zig zag across an indoor pool. I’ve never done an indoor swim before and didn’t mind it. It was an individual start so it took a while and they had us grouped into our estimated time, but the groups were under 1:30, 2:00, and 3:00. I was after the 2:00 sign because the last time trial I did a month ago had me at 2:14. Still, it was a big range and so there were a lot of people in there. Most people seemed to seed themselves accurately but there were a few bunch ups I could see and a couple who had gone out too fast and were now sucking.

I felt good on the swim, definitely went out a little too fast, and didn’t keep track of where I was so I didn’t kick soon enough.

The bike course was two laps. Normally I don’t like laps, but on a bike it’s not so bad to me. The course was pretty flat and with enough turns to keep it interesting. Another woman and I kept leap-frogging each other. She had a pretty black Quintanaroo with pink accents that I told her I really liked and she told me she liked my pink pedals. It’s the little things.

The weather was a little chilly and overcast and at one point I felt some raindrops. Some had chosen to wear a jacket and I was torn between thinking of how smart they were and also thinking how that would likely make me overheat.

I didn’t drink at all on the bike course despite having bottles in the rear cage. I think I just haven’t gotten comfortable reaching back there and also don’t like feeling like it’s a slow down. I’ll have to work on that or worst case is I use my profile design bottle instead because I can stay in aero while drinking-I just don’t like how the liquid sloshes out from movement.

The run was unexpectedly nice. I thought it was on the road because I saw runners but it was actually a Y-shaped course that was 85% on a paved path behind the Rec Center and shaded with beautiful trees and a creek running alongside it. It was mostly flat with a couple small inclines and one small part along the road. I really enjoyed it because you saw people ahead of you and behind you and made it easy for spectators and aid stations plus, it was such a pretty run through all the trees.

I’ve really been neglecting running so I was happy that I felt strong the whole way. And I was very happy with my time. I knocked four seconds off my /100yd swim time, my bike time was 2 mph faster than any I’ve done, and I had a solid run. I finished 6/10 in my division so squarely in the middle of the pack.

Funnily enough, the low numbered bibs tend to go to pros or semi-pros. Because my bike and kit and even helmet matched so well, several people thought I was either a pro or semi pro. I was really tickled by that, because I am definitely a middle-packer but I did look the part and felt it. Also a testament to how great the SOAS kits are this year.

My next triathlon is an Olympic next month in Maryland and should be a lot of fun. I likely won’t be trained enough to do as well as I could, so it and the Cambridge 70.3 are both C races for me. Cambridge is supposed to be hot and windy so should be a good sufferfest to prep for Augusta later this year.

What’s New for 2018

WELL!

I am

  • a member of Team SOAS for 2019! I know I mentioned that last entry but still.
  • moving to Maryland! Temporarily anyway for work, but I’m fortunate that my family living is flexible enough that I can bring them with me.
  • registered for Eagleman 70.3. I was so deep in the hurt locker at Augusta 70.3 that I wasn’t sure I’d attempt another one but at the same time, I want to take it back and improve. Triathlon does weird things to your decision-making processes.
  • getting promoted! Eventually, anyway, but the point is I made the list for the next rank.
  • also registered for Augusta 70.3 again! I ended up having a good race last fall and am pretty sure I will only do better this year. I’m still so proud of myself for completing that distance especially with being a new parent.

2019 is off to a great start in my book. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the rest of the year takes me.

Team SOAS!

About a month ago I received an email that my application to be a brand ambassador for SOAS Racing had been selected. SOAS has been my favorite brand of workout gear since I first ordered some tights back when I was deployed to Afghanistan and throughout pregnancy I was able to wear their shorts and tank tops when I couldn’t wear much of anything else. So yeah, I’m really pumped that they chose me to be a brand ambassador because I seriously love their stuff. Their shorts are comfortable and their tri shorts don’t ride up. Plus, their fabric has UV protection built in, as evidenced by my killer sunburn from Ironman 70.3 Augusta.

This year they are also allowing their brand ambassadors to choose between two colorways for their kits. I am having a hard time choosing, so much so that I made a poll on Instagram to try to outsource the choice. I love the green and turquoise but my bike is pink and I have so many bright kits already, but then again, I love bright colors.

I’ve begun planning out my season for next year already. I have a loose map right now with an early summer 70.3 and possibly Augusta again. I’d like to, but I have a lot of changes probably coming my way so I’m trying not to plan too far out for next year until I have a better idea of things. In any case, I am so excited to join Team SOAS!

Just Keep Swimming

I credit a lot of my swimming confidence not to being a good swimmer, because I’m nothing special and I know my technique is pretty terrible, but to just starting early and being comfortable in the water. When I was a kid we’d visit my grandparents and go swimming in the lake and my grandma would have me swim to her but she’d keep stepping back and forcing me to paddle further and further. I also took swimming lessons for a few years and that helped me at least learn to freestyle and rotary breathe though again, nothing to write home about. But swimming lessons with my mother is one of my favorite memories and one I wanted to share with my own daughter.

Last year while looking for a pool to swim at I found Dolphin Academy, a swim school that offers year-round instruction for all levels and ages starting from six months. Today was LO’s very first class and I was so excited that I made enough excitement for both of us.

It was a pretty simple class and the first half is singing and playing games with the babies and all about getting them comfortable in the water. The second half is free play where you can work on things or play with toys in the pool. They had floating mats for tummy time or to crawl or sit on, noodle boats to float on, and many other things to play with. We did some more “swimming” on our front and then a little on the back. She didn’t like having the water in her ears, but she did great and by the end of the 30-minute class was splashing the water with her hands and laughing.

One of my absolute favorite things about being a parent is seeing her discover things and experience things and it was so sweet to watch her try to take it all in. She was so interested in the other babies and parents and loved the songs and swimming games. I can’t wait for our class next week and someday I hope she is able to look back and remember us going to her swim lessons together.

No excuses but…

I am and have been working the overnight shift the past week and continuing for a few more weeks. It’s the opposite of my usual circadian rhythm where I wake up early. Instead, now I go to bed early…as in, six a.m. early. As such, it’s been mostly impossible to squeeze in workout time since I would normally do it when I wake up but that’s my only time with LO before I go off to work. It’s not great, but this late in the game I’m confident I can finish the 70.3, just that it may be harder and slower and my recovery will be longer than it could have been.

It’ll be okay. I’m already looking forward to doing more lifting-type workouts once the HIM is over.

Gatorfest 2018

One of the big advantages to having a local 70.3 and training for it is the ability to train on home turf so when I saw that there was a swimming race down the Savannah River, I knew I needed to sign up. I also wanted to sign up for the bike race, but they were on the same weekend and not only did it not seem fair to take both mornings for my own things, I also like any opportunity to “sleep in.”

Of course, LO slept like crap the night before and after so I’m glad I didn’t sign up for the bike race after all. I was so tired the morning of the swim I debated not going, but I’d already gotten the t-shirt and I don’t wear shirts until I’ve completed the race. Plus, I was really curious how fast I could do the 1.2 mile distance with the current.

The night before I drove over to pick up my packet after work. There’s a really great triathlon camp this same weekend that runs Friday-Sunday and is hosted by TriCoachGeorgia. Work is super busy right now so I wasn’t able to get the time off but maybe next summer I can. I parked in a field of other endurance athlete vehicles studded with bumper stickers from various races and distances. The packet pickup was just a drawstring bag and a t-shirt, and also a bumper sticker for the Savannah Riverkeeper, the nonprofit the race supports. I asked what the water temperate was and first he said 77 and then 72. I wasn’t sure about whether to wear a wetsuit or not, or if I even fit in mine since I’m still carrying some extra pregnancy weight and my hips are still widened. Just in case, I went home and tried it on and after struggling to zip it up, I realized it was backwards! But, it fit.

Saturday morning I “slept in” until 4:45 and then got up, put my trisuit on and had some coffee and a couple of stroopwafels. I pumped on the way over and got there plenty early enough to get a good parking spot. They started body marking at 6:15 which was just writing the number of your ship on your hand and giving you the ankle strap and chip. The 3.4 mile swimmers boarded the bus around 6:45 and we boarded ours a bit later. We stood around the start for a bit before we moseyed on down to the water after checking in. I had wriggled into my wetsuit by this point after watching enough other people don theirs and when I got into the water I was definitely glad for the extra buoyancy. The current was a bit stronger than I’d expected and I had to swim up a bit to the start since i didn’t realize I’d been drifting.

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The weather was great, low 90s with some light cloud cover. The water was murky and I didn’t see people until I was on top of them. I wish I’d worn my Garmin to see how my sighting was because I think it was pretty bad. I think I kept drifting left and then correcting to the right. I didn’t see the Boathouse until towards the end so I was basing my sighting off of the swim buoys and other people.

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At the finish I stripped off my wetsuit and hosed it off and then went to change into some dry clothes. They had an excellent buffet of pastries from Panera but no beverages as far as I could see, which was fine since I had packed BodyArmour in my bag. I helped myself to two delicious chocolate croissants and chatted with some other people about our opinions of the swim, SOAS tri suits, and towel covers for car seats.

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It was almost 9 o’clock and I reluctantly headed home. I didn’t pump on the way back because even though I’d cleaned my parts with Medela wipes, I prefer to use parts I know are thoroughly clean and I was hoping she’d be hungry. Surprisingly enough, everyone was still asleep when I got home so I was able to unpack, feed the dogs, and then nurse LO when she woke up. Later I looked up my results and I finished third (out of five) in the military category for the 1.2 mile swim. I should really stop leaving so quickly after races since it seems that whenever I do I place.

1.2 miles in 35:47.45 which was about 30 seconds faster than my usual pace in the pool for 100 yds.

Mistletoe State Park Sprint Tri

This was the last race I did last summer while pregnant because I watched a better, more experienced triathlete go home in an ambulance from the bike course and decided I was more risk averse than I’d thought.

I wasn’t able to pick up my packet the Friday before because I was juggling a workout and also picking up A from daycare and couldn’t swing an extra trip so I just got up a little earlier on Saturday morning. A has been settling into a pretty standard routine at night with wakes around midnight and 3 am so I nursed her and then pumped around 6:30/7 on my drive over. It’s about the same times I pump at work so it was a little easier to figure out a pumping schedule that way.

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I loved this year’s t-shirt design, but it unfortunately runs a little small

The weather was overcast but humid and the water was super warm. I’m at a point where I’m thinking of selling my wetsuit since I’ve barely used it and also I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fit in it again but anyway, I was running a little late because I decided to stop at Starbucks so I parked and rode my bike to the packet pick up and got my packet, went to marking and got my chip before I went to transition. This race assigns spaces based on numbers which I rather like and somehow I got a low number. I set up my area and then made my way down to the swim start.

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One thing I remembered from last year is that I didn’t like how long the distance was to and from transition, specifically the bike in and out, but also it’s a long prickly walk to the swim. Last year the lake level was low so the swim start was further from the finish, but this year it was a rough triangle shape. I put myself towards the back because I hate getting swam over. I felt good on the swim, as I should because I was swimming super slow, 2:40/100 yds. Yeesh.

I made an effort to at least trot towards the mount/dismount line for the bike this year. I saw one other AG competitor who passed me in the first mile and then I never saw her again. Not surprising, because I was also super slow on the bike. I was pretty sure I was faster than I was so I was surprised to see that I only averaged 11.8 miles per hour. My run was still pretty slow, and I was also surprised that my time was only a little faster than last year because I remember walking a lot last year and this year I only walked briefly through the aid stations. Overall at the finish I felt good, though and not smoked.

Last year vs this year

Swim:  18:12  17:29

T1:  1:40  1:28

Bike: 47:19  47:02

T2: 1:26  1:20

Run: 34:19  32:15

So what this tells me is that I went too conservatively. I feel comfortable but also complacent. I raced only slightly faster than last year and the only real difference (aside from racing solo and not pregnant) is that I felt comfortable at the same paces instead of feeling like it was an effort. However, I need to pick up some paces otherwise I may not finish the 70.3 since I likely need to include a 30-minute pumping session in there, too. Possibly in T2. It’s very unlikely I’ll be able to go 7+ hours without a pumping break.

I’ve been using Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 plan for training so I’m not that surprised that I’m comfortable at slower paces since most of my training is at that level, but I need to figure out how to up my head game to hammer out quicker paces during racing. I have another two months before 70.3 and it looks like training is ramping up this next month so if I can hang, I will hopefully be able to figure it out a little better.

48 Hours in Atlanta: Peachtree Road Race, Georgia Aquarium, and Delicious Food

I didn’t have a blast last year at the Peachtree Road Race and definitely not the “party down Peachtree” I’d heard so much about, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it again. Fortunately I have a short memory so I found myself signing up for it again. Since I wasn’t pregnant and it was less hot than last year, I thought I’d enjoy it more.

Last minute P and I decided it’d be worth it just to make it a short family trip so we booked two nights at the Residence Inn near the start and drove up after work to the Expo so I could pick up my packet. A was mostly good but a little impatient at the drive so we were fortunate that all the traffic was headed out of town. I’d pre-purchased parking so all we had to do was show up, park, and I went in and got my packet and did a little shopping at the Expo. One thing I decided to try out was a pair of Goodr sunglasses because I’ve heard so much about them and I was tired of my heavy sweaty sunglasses and at $25, I figured it was a cheap purchase that would hopefully work out.

We were both pretty hungry so we went to check into the hotel and were happily surprised to find out that Tuesdays they have free food so we had hotdogs, salad, chips, and also free beer and wine. It wasn’t great but it was so nice after driving and the Expo to not have to worry about going to a restaurant and waiting to eat and then getting back to put the baby down. I’m also really fortunate in that A sleeps incredibly well in hotels. Like so well that I’m considering moving in. I stayed up a little longer than planned before heading to bed.

I woke up bright and early and headed down to eat some breakfast and then walk to the start corrals. I was in H this year so pretty much middle of the pack. The weather was still hot and humid but much better than 2017. Along the course there was tons of people handing out food and drinks. A men’s water polo team wearing speedos and caps were handing out free hotdogs and other people had kegs and were handing out free beer. Mellow Mushroom around Mile 4 had free pizza. An Episcopal church had a holy water fountain and were blessing the runners going by. I felt last year’s dissatisfaction melting away. This year was so much more fun and I totally get why people make it a tradition every year. I ran by a man wearing a rainbow tutu and others waving flags.

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Once I finished I ordered a Lyft and though it cost more than taking the Marta, it was definitely faster and took less walking. That may be my main criticism is that the Marta stations aren’t especially close to either the start or finish. I was especially eager to get back because I’d realized while running that although I’d brought my pump with me, I had neglected to bring any of the parts. Of course, I got back just as she finished her bottle so I had to figure out (with the aid of Youtube) how to hand express.

We had lunch nearby at a place called True Food Kitchen. It was such a neat place. They don’t fry anything and everything is made to order and their kitchen is open concept so you can watch it all. They also don’t have sodas but they do have drinks made fresh. I had a Coconut Rx and P had a Kale-Ade that tasted like ginger and cucumber.

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Old Navy has some seriously cute baby clothes!

Afterwards we went to the Georgia Aquarium. We took A to the zoo a few months ago but she slept the whole time so it was really fun to see her notice the fish. She was open-mouthed amazed at the jellyfish but the tunnel you walk through under the whale sharks was too much stimulus for her. She also liked the penguins and the otters, but wasn’t as taken with them as she was with the fish. She took a nap through the seal and sea lion show and then we decided to pack up and have an early dinner at one of my favorites, Desta.

Ethiopian is my favorite food and we’ve been coming to Desta for years now and it’s never disappointed. This was our first time with A in tow and it was every bit as good and easy as I remembered. Next time we go A will be able to eat some of it with us and I can’t wait to introduce her to Ethiopian food directly.

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