How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Tribute Tuesday #5 – Benjamin Mena

There are people out there that take everything in stride and just let the world unfold around them, and there are people who have decided there is so much negativity in the world it is much easier to be oblivious to everything.  Either way, in my opinion, if it makes you happy, then do it.  There are a few people out there, that have a passion for making the world a better place.  There are those who find one cause and passionately support it, which is phenomenal, but a rare few people out there are able to spread their power of influence, courage, and passion to every cause, organization and individual in need they can.  My friend Ben is one of those people.

Before I tell you about his cool “Run for Cause” fun runs, or the races he has organized and the races coming up, let me tell you about Ben Mena the runner.  Ben and I met through friends from my tri-club the A-Train and some friends from the Run Progressive track workouts.  I knew of him and knew he was fast, but that didn’t justify what I saw when I first ran with him.  I am amazed at people who can run a marathon with 7:30 average per mile pace.  This guy hammers through half-marathons in under 6-minute miles and then will turn around and bike for 20 without skipping a beat.

My favorite memory of watching Ben was actually a cycling workout.  Ben was coerced into joining us and Pete (Tribute #2) let him borrow his road bike.  This bike had pedal cages on it because Ben didn’t have cycling shoes or cleats and this was going to be his first ride.  Well, Ben goes out in front with the “A” group and is really strong.  We all thought, “OK, we will just hang back here and watch him die out and pick him up at the turnaround.”  He reached the turnaround and just kept going and beat us all.  First time out!  A few weeks later he decides to do a duathlon in Orlando for the first time and he finishes first, overall.   Ben’s VO2 max is off the charts.  Maybe that is why he continues to help those in need, with a VO2 max that high, his heart is huge.

Ben organizes a monthly fun run in Brandon, Florida that gives to a different charity each month.  I have been running in every one since July and I have seen no less than 50 people at any of them.  He also is part of a duo with Beth Shaw (Dis-com-BOB-ulated Running), of which they have successfully completed their first race called the Shape Up for Summer 5k and now they have another one coming up called the Corporate 5k in downtown Tampa.  The Shape Up for Summer 5k had well over 750 runners which is well over what they expected and as I used the race as a culmination runs for my clientele, let me just say it was one of the best organized 5k runs I had participated in.  Beth and Ben did a really amazing job, so if you find a race organized by MenaShaw Races, you can be sure to have a great experience.

With that being said, Ben has another race he has organized and this one has an interesting spin on it while helping out some people that can really use it.  I will let him tell you in his own words.  Let me introduce, Benjamin Mena.

Benjamin (Ben) Mena
Birthdate: 8/25/83 – Virgo
Place of Birth: Virginia Beach, VA
Place growing up: Charleston SC and Bremerton, WA
High School: Cocoa Beach High
High School sports: Soccer, Cross Country, Track
College: University of Central Florida
College Sports: Cross Country, Track
Other Sports: Ummmm…..  nope

I usually describe you as one of the fastest runners in the Tampa Bay area. What started you running?
I used to be the guy that would make fun of the runners and throw stuff at them.  (in HS).  I thought running was dumb and pointless.   So after a win-less soccer season, the soccer girls tried to convince me to run cross country to prep for soccer… I said yeah right, that’s dumb… their response was just run behind us.  What teenage guy can say no.   after my first year running (JR year) I developed a passion for it and it quasi-took over my life.
JR year was just an introduction to the sport. Our workouts were easy as hell, but the one thing I loved my coach for (she was hot also) she taught us all how to make running fun and enjoyable.   My Sr year of high school we had a new coach.  She had a background as a professional runner, so she knew her stuff.  She helped give me the dream of being a college athlete.   At that point, I wasn’t good enough for any college team but I worked my ass off as hard as I could.  I had the one gift that every coach wants in their athlete.  Burning desire to make it.
The summer before college was pretty crazy.  I was working 5 jobs to try to get ready for college (until my car died) then I had to drop my job at Publix [Supermarket]because it was a 20-mile bike ride each way).  I would bike to my different jobs, then get home and run and then would be able to start hanging out with friends after 11 pm.   During that time I would never miss a run no matter how bad I wanted to have fun.
I still to this day don’t know why coach chose me out of all the other walk-ons..  but I am thankful she did.  I ran with my heart and I knew I had more to prove that everyone that came in on scholarships.  (I also didn’t have a car… so I got a lot more miles in than most people.   Outside all the running I was walking 5-14 miles a day to and from, and around school)  By the end of the first season, I was granted an athletic scholarship and the following year I was team captain…

Ben doing what he does best

What and When was your first 5k time? What and when was your fastest 5k time?

Year of high school.  I don’t remember the time but I was low 20s, but my fastest was 15:20 in college.

What kind of workouts did you do to get that fast? 
You don’t want to know the schedule.  But my favorite workout was mile repeats!



What was your average weekly mileage?
60-80 was the average.  During the summer we would crank it up for base building.  My highest week was 112 and 90% of those miles were done along the Appalachian Trail.

I mentioned above that you hold a monthly fun run named “Run for a Cause” at the Cork & Olive in Brandon.  How did that come about?
Just had the idea while at the bar.  I love hosting fun events for people…  and it came about from there.  our first event I was hoping for 10 people… and over 50 ended up showing up.

How many different charities have you hosted?  
7 or 8 now

If someone had a cause they would like to have hosted at one of your events what is the best way to contact you? Best is through FaceBook.


The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has devastated the country. You chose to act quickly and do something about it by hosting this Virtual Run. Can you give the details?
This is a virtual half-marathon and virtual 5K. Since it is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. You can run, walk, swim, bike, anything you like, and you can complete the 13.1 miles or 5K all at once, over the course of a week, or whenever you can. Just complete all miles between now and Jan 31st. This is on the honor system – you do not have to report your miles.
The registration fee for the Half Marathon is $30.
Register Here: http://www.active.com/half-marathon/tampa-fl/sandy-hook-elementary-memorial-half-marathon-and-5k-2013
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/186264894845690/ 

What gave you the Idea?
I am on the board for a few charities, and I was already researching a way to do a virtual 5k. When the devastation occurred, I couldn’t sleep, so I mulled it over for a while and by Sunday I had it up on Active.com and Facebook and 200 people already had agreed to participate. Today on Facebook there are over 1800 that have committed and a little over 250 that have actually signed up on Active.com
It grew a lot faster than I thought. It went viral. I originally thought about a few people here in Tampa to raise around 1000 dollars, but now it is well over that.

Beth and Ben

 

Do you have any other races coming up?
Beth and I have been organizing a Tampa Bay Corporate 5K.
This is an event where the runners choose one of the 4 charities that this race will give back too. Every person that registers for the race will get a vote (fill in the blank) for the charity of their choice. The charity with the most votes will receive a portion of the proceeds along with Little Things for Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis (Tampa Chapter), and Operation Helping Hand.
You can get more details on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/131275133693630
or on the event website: http://www.tampacorporate5k.com/

Ben and his fiance Jennifer
Ben and the Goof

Tribute Tuesday #3 – Lisa Jamison

There are people that come into our lives that defy all expectation.  Have you ever met someone whom you previously had heard about, or may even have spoken to, only to find out they not only lived up to their values and skill but by far exceeded them?  It doesn’t happen often right?  I can truthfully state this about my massage therapist, confidant, and friend; Lisa Jamison.

I was given a brief introduction to Lisa by my good friend Scott Bragan.  He mentioned that he made massage a big part of his training, and in his opinion how much of an expert Lisa was, and how she worked with him on some injuries and ailments.  I finally decided to talk to her and see if she could help me.  (I will give you my story about my injury in another posting, but I currently have a L5/S1 herniated disc in my back)  I had been going to a chiropractor for my injury and they were keeping me running, but I felt like I had to make frequent visits, but that all changed when I met Lisa.  The first thing she did was look at my posture and how I hold myself, and immediately gave me analogies to think about, and exercises to do during the day to help.  She assessed my injuries and then……and then, she went to work on me.

All I can say is O-M-G!  That first massage was an experience.  She loosened up muscles I didn’t even know I had, all the while telling me what she was doing and why she was doing it.  Lisa and I are both talkers so we also were getting to know each other.  It turns out, she is not only an LMT, but a USAT Level 1 coach, a Yogi, a Certified Personal Trainer and an IRONMAN.  At this time I was still seeing my orthopedist and my neuro-surgeon.  Lisa educated me more on bio-mechanics than either of my doctors, and when I questioned them about the aspects of my anatomy Lisa educated me on, they both looked like a deer in headlights.  Lisa’s knowledge and experience was far superior.   First impression; this woman knows her stuff.

Lisa at Fight for Air Climb 2012

As we continued our professional relationship we started to become friends, and I learned that she was not only passionate about helping athletes, but also para-athletes.  She was close personal friends with Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to finish the Kona Ironman!  She was also contracted by tri-clubs all over the nation, to meet them at races and work on their athletes and their para-athletes.  Whenever I had a question about about form, posture, or training Lisa always either knew or found a way to help me out.  Second Impression; she cares about her clients and will go to great extents for them. Amazing!

Then she told me the story about her brother-in-law that passed a day before she was to compete in Ironman Florida.  This immediately brought tears to my eyes, and continues to whenever I recall her words about him.  She did end up competing in the race, but returned home immediately afterward.  She said that her brother-in-law, Mike Dalton, wouldn’t have it any other way.  Currently, she has dedicated herself to American Lung Association and the Fight for Air stair climbs across the country dedicating herself for another friend taken from her, John Foley.  Lisa started Team Foley and she recruits athletes every year to do the Tampa Stair Climb at the Bank of America building.  Last year I participated, wouldn’t you know it, WE WON!  Yep, I stepped up the 42 flight climb with Team Foley and I would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact I am already signed up for 2013.  Lisa also completes stair climbs all over to include the Sears (not Willis) Tower in Chicago.  Can you imagine 103 flights?  She does it and often.
Third impression I am in love with this woman.  I defy anyone to meet her and not feel the same way.


Lisa Jamison
DOB:  March 27,  Aries 
POB:  Massachusetts 
Grew Up:  Vernon, CT 
High School: Rockville HS 
High School Sports:  Drill team/Dance squad, figure skated(outside of school) 
College: University of Connecticut
Sports:  Inline Speed Skate (as an adult), Triathlon, Running

I describe you as the best LMT in the Tampa Bay area. How and why did you start with massage and sports training? 
I studied Sports Med/Athletic Training in college.  Through college I worked in the fitness industry (I was one of the early ones…”aerobic instructor”).  After college I spent time working as an athletic trainer and teacher while still doing some fitness work on the side.  At some point I could see that I wanted to spend more time working in the fitness industry, but liked the sports training model.  It seemed to me that if people could take their workouts and view them as something as they “got to do” vs what they “had to do”, our health and fitness might be more enjoyable.  I started personal training in the late 1980’s.  I moved here in 1991 and have just kept plugging along.  I read a lot, take a lot of classes, and just keep trying to throw something new into my “bag of tricks”.  I went to massage school about 8 years ago.


If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling  you get when you are working what would it be?

I like the aspect of the day that keeps me looking for a different way to get the job done.  Maybe that’s because I need to shake things up for my own sanity, and maybe that’s because healthy clients are in their for the long haul and may get bored doing the same thing over and over again.  I can’t think of an adjective…but I do get lost in my own head while I’m working in a the quiet of massage.  While training and watching people in their setting, it’s almost like I can get in their body and feel it.  

Lisa at IMFL

When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
It was the late 90’s.  I was working with a lot of triathletes, finishing up with a stint in speed skating and looking for the next sport.  I knew I’d get involved in triathlon, but was afraid of the swim.  I didn’t rush into it.  I participated without training for a couple of years, then changed my workouts to focus on triathlon a little bit.  After a few years I started legitimately training for it.  Now it’s been a couple of years since I’ve raced.  Not sure what will happen next. 

What is one thing you love most about triathlon?
The people, the training partners, the group of people.  I really like the balance of the group training for an individual sport.  I like having to get lost in your own head in the midst of a crowd.   

After being in the business as long as you have, what possesses you to still take the classes for continuing Ed that you do?
I have to for many reasons.  I am self employed and live alone; if I don’t work, there isn’t money coming in.  I learned very early on that people’s incomes can change, and you will be the first person they give up in difficult economic times.  If I weren’t “multi-talented”, I wouldn’t work.  I always have to be looking ahead to see what else I can do.  Personally, I like a day that’s filled with different things.  I enjoy being able to train a few fitness clients, work on re-patterning a skill with an athlete, do a relaxation massage, help with injury rehab, do some yoga, and meditate.  I like group work as well as private work.  I’m a teacher at heart, so as long as somebody is learning something, I go home feeling like I made a difference

Lisa & the Goof at the Fight for Air Climb


What was the turning point for you to decide make this a career?
All through high school I volunteered in hospitals and physical therapy clinics.  I always said I wanted to work with a “well” community, or one that was injured but was motivated to come back strong.  I started working in fitness in 1981 and it’s just all evolved from there.  I’ve just had to set the path for what I’ve wanted to do.

What would you say is your greatest obstacle  you ever overcame?
There wasn’t a career in “personal training” or “corrective exercise” or even massage during my early days.  I’ve always referred to myself as a bit of a hybrid.  Now the hybrid careers are becoming more popular.  I wish I knew that…I would have saved a lot of time looking for the career that was right for me spent more time “just doing it”.

What is your greatest victory?
When I can help someone get that “a-ha” moment and their day/life/sport makes more sense

Final Impression: I want to be just like Lisa when I grow up.

Carpe Viam!!
For More Info and to register or help click above


Tribute Tuesday #1 – Amy Bennett Eck

I mentioned yesterday I am planning on having a regular column called Tribute Tuesday where I will select someone in my life who has had a positive influence on me in some way or another.  Most of the time these people will have coached to increase my athletic prowess (which is actually pretty easy), challenge me intellectually (which isn’t really all that hard either), and/or  inspire me to be a better human being.  My first Tribute Tuesday subject has done all three.  With no further ado I would like to introduce my coach, and friend; Amy Eck.

This is a kind of crazy picture of her, but it does really give the best possible introduction to her personality.  She is a wild, and free spirit with the most positive outlook on life I have ever known in a human being.  She refuses to believe there are limits to anyone’s potential, including her own.  Just to give you an idea, this woman has competed in the Kona Ironman World Championships, the World Xterra World Championships, numerous ultra running and mountain biking events, and was a competitive wrestler in high school and college (yes I said wrestler).  I credit her incredible coaching to my 47 minute reduction in time for my PR at Ironman Augusta 70.3.  There is nothing Amy cannot do and her energy is uber-contagious.  She gets so excited when she is able to help and/or see someone succeeding that she turns bright red.  I cannot believe she doesn’t get muscle cramps in her cheeks.
Now she and her husband Erik are training for her biggest event ever, the birth of their first child.  As you can see her pregnancy hasn’t taken an ounce of her positive energy away.  She continues to enjoy life and even with all that drag she still beats both me and her husband in the pool.  Obviously she doesn’t let anything conquer her competitive side.  She was brought here to Florida due to Erik’s mobilization as a Reserve Navy Officer to CENTCOM, so the only negative thing I can possibly say about Amy is that she will be leaving to return to her home and coaching practice in Hawaii.  (It was impossible to find a photo of her where she looks “normal”.  In most of the pictures she is either in a superhero costume or in race clothes, but it’s…well…it’s Amy)
Now when I said that she has also inspired me to be a better person, she does this by example.  This is a woman whom rode a mountain bike for 10 days through Peru to do missionary work, and she did it for her honeymoon!  Talk about combining all her loves; Erik, mountain biking, helping others and God.  The stories she tells of that trip are absolutely amazing. 
I had a chance to ask my friend some questions that I thought might give some insight to one of my most favorite people in the world, and here is what she had to say;
Name: Amy Ruth Eck (Bennett)
DOB: 5 March 1978, Pisces
POB: Royal Oak, Michigan (Ford Baby)
Grew up in: Arlington, Texas
High School: Arlington High School
High School Activities: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Track, Soccer, FFA, JROTC
College: United States Merchant Marine Academy
College Sports: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Sailing
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?

(I) Started triathlon in Hawaii with the motivation of my knee surgeon Dr. Bottoni who thought it would be better than straight running and my crazy friend Marcy Fleming.  Went to watch the XTERRA World Championships and loved the LIVE MORE and family atmosphere of XTERRA.  Came home and bought a mountain bike!  Within a year I was racing the Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA World Championships.

What is one thing you love most about triathlon?

I love the people!  Triathlon is all about challenging your body with a group of friends around the beautiful playground of earth. 

I know that you run an Xterra Race in Hawaii – How did that start?

Erik and I had wanted to do something fun for the community that challenged people to get outside.  We also wanted to launch an event that would give us a way to raise money for charity.  In 2009 we started Freedom Fest as part of our wedding weekend.  10k run, 20k mountain bike, off-road triathlon and then get married…it was awesome! 

The race has now grown to become an XTERRA World Championship qualifier with 500 people from 8 countries and 24 states.  Come join us!  www.xterrafreedomfest.com

Do you enjoy Xterra more than road traithlon? Why?

XTERRA does a great job of making every race challenging and fun. Off-road racing works you anaerobically and provides an adrenal rush that I am addicted to.  I do enjoy mountain biking more than I enjoy road racing, but I am probably better at road racing. You have to spend a lot of time in the saddle on the road to get the proper base training for off-road.  I think the major attraction of the off-road is you get to explore!  You are away from cars, out in nature, and get a real chance to connect. It is also something my husband can do together!

What was your favorite race and why?

Favorite race…that is hard.  Favorite marathon would be Boston, favorite on-road triathlon would be Wildflower, favorite Ironman would be Kona, favorite trail run would be our XTERRA Freedom Fest race, favorite off-road triathlon would be the old XTERRA Worlds course in Makena, favorite 100-miler would be Leadville, and favorite stage race would be La Ruta.  A great race is determined by the terrain, the people it attracts, and the after party! 

Congrats on the baby!  I know you are waiting for the surprise of the sex but do you have any names for either that are in your head?

We have some names…possibly Bennett after my family or Hudson Taylor after my childhood hero. But we will have to see what the lil hero looks like when they come out!

Do you plan on continuing in Xterra or Triathlon after the baby?

Yes, I would love to get back to racing.  I am signed up for the Frogman 5k Swim in JAN and the Princess Half in FEB.  Will likely race Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA Mountain Man in hopes to travel to the World Championships.  As a mom I have a new career path but I think having my child seeing me (compete) in sports is important.  They need to know the importance of investing in yourself and in investing in others.  

Do you plan on bringing your child up around the sport?  

YES!  As a USAT, USATF, and Newton Coach I think sports are great for children.  They teach sportsmanship, discipline, commitment, failure, success, and they develop your mind, muscle, and soul.  Watch out for lil Eck in the 2032 Summer Olympics!

As your friend and client I always describe you as the most positive free spirit I have ever met willing to go out of her way to help people.  How did you end up with this wonderful way of life without falling to the negativity of the world? Thank you Brad, I love people!  I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where we were always helping people and it was contagious.  I feel I have been very blessed and there is nothing better than to pass those blessing on to others.  My favorite Proverb says, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is within your power to act. Basically I have one life to live, one life to give.  I take the responsibility to heart and try to share JOY with others in everything!

What is your favorite motivational quote?

I have two J

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
~ Mark Twain
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” 
~ Abraham Lincoln


Is it possible to not love this woman?  I think not.

(Amy’s coaches virtually as well using email, telephone and Training Peaks software.  You can find more information at www.campbennett.com)
Carpe Viam!

Paint Wars Mud Run

Last weekend I participated in the Paint Wars Mud Run in Oldsmar, Florida. Well, mud run is not necessarily an accurate term, most of it was just wet, but it was fun. The obstacles were more nature made with some added ropes for safety, some hay bales and of course paint.

When registering for the run I was taken in by the description of the race which was, of course, a little exaggerated. The paint was to be squirted by Paint Ninjas at a lot of different points in the course. I only came in contact with two, but the anticipation made it fun. Let me start at the beginning.

I drove into the Whispering Oaks Horse Ranch with my little Mini Cooper Clubman where a volunteer pointed me in the right direction of the parking lot. Thank goodness I was driving my little car, because I ended up having to make a spot down a dirt road, but it just added to the suspense of the run. Upon following the signs to the registration table, we, Sarah and myself, were told to sign a waiver for the property, ok no problem. As we made our way to the registration line however we were then told to sign a waiver, this time it was for the race. One waiver for the property and one for the race? Whatever. We then got into a line for the registration and goggle pick up. It didn’t seem all that long, maybe 10-12 people, but it took almost 45 minutes to get through it. When we finally had a names checked and were given a SWAG bag with two promotional flyers in it, we moved over to the t-shirt line where we gave the volunteer our sizes. The next words out of his mouth floored me. “That will be 38 dollars.” What? Really? For a cotton t-shirt? Yeah, thanks but no thanks buddy. We went back to the car to drop off our phones and bags and headed to the start. We did receive a decent introduction to the course, basically letting us know that there was a few river crossings where if we decided to take them, we should know how to swim, because the depth was not shallow. At that point, my progressive 4b friend Sarah and I, took off at a decent pace.

It started with a trail run for about 500 yards and then a dead stop to wait for an obstacle. A tree crossing where the tree was underwater. I guess a lot of people took there sweet time, but Sarah took it like it was not even there and I just a tad slower. (Sarah is about 18 years my junior, so give me a break.) The crossing ended with a steep climb both up and sideways, with the recent rain adding to dirt making it a little slippery. Sarah was nice to her old partner and waited up a bit. I didn’t fall but I realized my agility is a little less than I would like it to be. (I think I need to get back to boot camp. As a matter of fact all the way through this course I was thinking that.) The next couple of obstacles were through the trails over trees and up hills till we came to another stop. We actually couldn’t see why we were stopped until we reached the top of this hill that then returned back to sea level, but in the middle was a rope swing that dropped you off into the water where you then swam about 100m to the other side with a strong current that could definitely keep you from reaching the exit point if you didn’t have some sort of skill. I think I had just enough.

I will say I wore my New Balance Minimus’ during the race which didn’t hold much water, but I think I might have been happier with the five fingers. The minimus’ would be great for Tough Mudder where there isn’t a lot of hill climbs, but here I think I would have liked the extra traction my toes would have received, but I digress.

After the swim there was a nice trail run with only a couple of puddles and a few hay bale hurdles to include a run through the ‘WAR ZONE’. OOOOOHHHH….we thought we were going to get it bad, we actually wore white so we would get it bad, but…nothing. Not a single Paint Ninja anywhere. SOOOO disappointing. Oh well, we kept running and a real nice pace. Sarah is has ridiculous stamina and while I was right on her tail the whole time, I was starting to feel it, luckily we hit another line for another tree crossing. This one was elevated over the river. We crossed that with ease and headed through another long trail run, through the war zone again, and with the same result, no Paint Ninjas, right into the one and only mud obstacle where our shoes got muddy, and it sprayed a little on our legs, but that was it. We crossed the finish line and went to the beer line.

We got in line and saw that athletes were paying 3.50 and we both decided to forget it. We found the cooler with gatorade had a couple of dixie cups and headed back to the car.

Was it fun, yes, but I wonder was it because of the race or because I had a partner who was very enjoyable to run with. I am going to say the latter, or maybe a little of both. Sarah said this was her break from studying for the third test out of four for her CPA. Sarah if your reading this…thank you for inviting me, thank you for running I had a great time, and I really hope you were extremely successful on your test.

and After