Monday, December 15, 2014

Sudden Transformations & the Genesis of Adventure

There's always this mix of loneliness, fear and unbridled excitement that spells the start of a good adventure. It grows out of a desire to get away and a growing feeling of introversion. Then I hit the road: my truck, my notebooks, music, and anything I might need to go trail running.

I always throw in a couple cute dresses, crazy tights, and sexy shoes just in case. For exactly what, I'm rarely sure. Perhaps for an equally exciting extroversion: a full on exploration of a city. It may be passion that drives me to leave the comfort of my home and the ease of a city, but it's that need to connect that drives my return, if only briefly and colorfully. 
I grew up not being able to tolerate spicy food and one day in my late 20s, as quick as a hawk swoops up a mouse, I realized I couldn't get enough of spicy food. My tolerance for mouth burning excitement generally far exceeds anyone else's that I hang out with. I'd rather have my food too spicy than settle for lackluster mildness.

Even faster and more intensely than bland food needing to be spicy, something more cathartic struck today. I instantly needed to explore the icy, snowy mountains. I must explore them. I was driving south after running on the PCT where it goes over Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades when I realized I'm ready to explore winter in the mountains on foot, perhaps on skis as well. 

I've always loved the heat, the desert and running with next to nothing on. Running on the beach and above the surf, or in it. But all of a sudden, inspiration hit in those icy steps on the PCT and I want to run up cold mountain veins, camp on the soft snow with icy winds biting into my tent and feel the life that is all around me. It seems like one would find death and loneliness in the frigid mountains, but I know better. 

The mountain is life. The gale force winds are its breath. Trees poking out of the billowing snow are a sign of the warmth below. And I'm a light that travels up the mountain illuminating it for others to see its beauty. 

More on these topics later, for now, there are miles to drive along the Columbia River Gorge, a squished banana to dissect, and cold camping in the back of a truck with a teething, grain free puppy who is being potty trained. 

Some of my personal necessities for road tripping: 
Running shoes
Dancing shoes
Jet Boil
Single cup coffee pour
5 gal jug of water
Sleeping pad
Tent and/or truck with canopy
Sleeping bag
iPod, earphones
Ultimate direction Jenny Vesta for shorter runs & UD Fastpack 20 for longer ones. 
UD hand bottles 
Good coffee & mug
Puffy jacket
Colorful yoga tights
Yoga mat
Dr. Bronners soap
Good book
Running shorts & tights
Cute dress, tights, sweater
Long socks and short socks (really loving sockwell wool compression socks, cool patterns)
Trucker hat for those no shower days
Knife & nail polish
Almonds, almond milk, apples, canned salmon, hearts of palm, and poke whenever possible.

Want More?
For more daily fitness ideas, inspiration, and humor, check out my Facebook Page
Yoga based core and strength exercises on my YouTube Channel
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Short, sweet and sassy on Twitter

Friday, December 12, 2014

Get in Killer Shape with 200/100 Daily Challenge

After more than a year, I still love this workout I created last October 2013 because it's so damn simple you will do it every single day. Why does something simple mean you will do it every day? Because that is what you must do to complete this challenge and there's no excuse not to do something that only takes 10 minutes. For 30 days. Here is the workout. Remember, it is a daily challenge.

Consistency trumps intensity or duration. Clearly duration and intensity are good, but if you set a goal for yourself that is too hard to attain daily, you won't do it consistently.  So here's my challenge to all the runners out there, again back for 2014:

200/100 Daily Challenge

Simple: Every single day you do 200 reps of core/abdominal work and 100 reps of upper body work, in addition to your regular running routine.  You can do reps of anything you like, that's where the magic lies. You can change it up every day or weekly. But you must do 200/100. We're counting on you.  I did the workout the past 2 days when I put in loooong workdays on my feet and just wanted to curl up in bed with a good movie.

For some of you, this is going to be really tough. If that's the case, ease into it with a 100/50 challenge. For those of you that it's really easy, be sure to slow down on each rep and feel free to add more reps, just don't add so much that you don't want to do it consistently. The beauty of it is that on a day when you don't want to do it, it only takes 10-15 minutes. On a day when you're digging it, add some extra.

Here are some ideas for what you can do in each category:

200s: Focus on your core strength
bicycle legs (I do these as double tap elbow across to opposite knee, and switch)
plank (use 1 sec=1 rep)
kettle bell

100s: Focus on upper body
kettle bell
tricep dip

Also check out this awesome site: 22 Scientific Core Exercises for some new ideas. This website has hundreds of exercises for mountain athletes to build strength with links to videos/descriptions: Mountain Athlete Exercises.

IMPORTANT EXTRAS to add on if you can:

2 minutes of plank (continuous). If that's too hard for you, you can give yourself a little break by temporarily going into downward dog. But try to keep doing it for 2 full minutes. 
I do 2 minutes of plank face down and 1 min on each side (side plank). 

Credit: 57 Physique

One legged Squats
10 one legged squats (on each side) or 20 reg squats if that's too hard. Tone it down if it hurts your knees. Keep your form!! To make it easier, start with fewer reps. If you cannot keep your form it's better to do as many as you can do with good form and slowly build up. 

Credit: Running with Jack
Do you have any exercises you particularly like? Share with us. 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weekly Workout: 20 minute Tabata Workout

No excuse not to do this weekly workout! It may be short, but it is one of the more intense workouts you can do. It's High Intensity Interval Training and it will work your whole body! The workout is simple and each set is just 4 minutes. You will do 5 sets for a total of 20 minutes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tabata, it is essentially this routine (you will do 5 of these sets):

  • Workout hard for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete eight rounds
For more information on Tabata, see this website: What is Tabata Training. High intensity Interval Training has been shown to substantially increase both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. 
The Workout:
Warm up for 2 miles. Choose a hill, it can be steep or not, but choose a hill that is not too technical since you will be sprinting up it at your highest intensity possible for the first set of reps. For more ideas on great Tabata exercises, see 11 Butt Kicking Tabata Exercises. The list below is designed specifically for runners. It's tough, I'm not gonna lie! Remember the point is to do as many reps as possible in the 20 seconds and to fully rest for 10. For running, you sprint as fast as you can. 

Beginners: Please do this very mindfully your first few times. If you are not used to High Intensity Interval Training, you could injure yourself. Better to back off and increase intensity as your body gets used to it! If you are under 30 miles of running a week, please just do 8-12 minutes of this workout, instead of 20 minutes. So you will choose 2-3 of the sets instead of all 5. 

What you need: 
Timer/stop watch/or interval timing

Set 1 (4min) SPRINTS, hills
  • Sprint up the hill for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes
Set 2 (4min) PUSHUPS
  • Pushups 20 seconds, again as high intensity as possible (as many reps as possible)
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes
Set 3 (4 min) SPRINTS, flat
  • Sprint on flat for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes
Set 4 (4 min) SQUATS
  • Squats for 20 seconds, again as many reps as possible
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes
Set 5 (4 min) BURPEES (how to do a burpee)
  • As many burpees as possible for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes
You're done! Now do a 1 mile easy cool down. 

Overachievers Challenge: If you've been doing the overachievers challenge, then you did 2 days of clean eating last week and a yoga class, congrats! I'm impressed! This week, keep the 2 days of clean eating and add another yoga class, yep that's 2 yoga classes. Also try to do 1-2 of the other weekly challenges as your quality runs. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Weekly Workout: Double Run Day with Tempo

I love double run days! You know you are getting in good running shape when you can handle 2 runs in one day. For those of you who have not done this challenge, you might find that you implement it every week after trying it. It is very effective at upping your mileage in a sneaky way. I begin doing a lot of double run days when I want to get my mileage over 80 miles a week. It gives your legs and feet a little break between runs and spreads out the impact making it easier to handle higher mileage. On the downside, it can be time consuming and can require more showers than usual. One of the runs will be a quality run, a short tempo. The other run will be an easy recovery run. I also suggest that you begin keeping track of your workouts every day so you can see how your training affects your performance and daily life.

Summary for the week:
  • Begin keeping track of your daily workouts 
  • Do a 'two run day' (tempo quality run + recovery run), 
  • try a yoga class
  • practice 2 days of clean eating
Miles: Quality run will be 6 miles, recovery run will be 4-9 miles. Total of 10-15 miles

Elevation Gain: Not important

The Workout: You will do two runs. One run, preferably in the morning, will be your Quality Workout. By "quality" I mean that you will put a lot of effort into it. The other run will be recovery. By "recovery" I mean that you will run easy. If anything ever feels hard on a recovery run back off and ease up. The recovery run is not designed to make you a better runner like the quality run is. It is designed to get your legs used to the stress of running higher mileage, to loosen you up, keep your metabolism up, and aid in recovery.

Quality Tempo: Run 1 mile easy as a warm up. Run the next 3 miles (5k) at your 10k race pace (hard tempo). If you don't know your 10k race pace, then run the 5k at a pace that feels intense. By intense I mean that you should feel uncomfortable but be able to maintain this pace for 10k (6.2 miles). Run the last 2 miles easy as a cool down.

Recovery Run: Run between 4 and 9 miles on your second run of the day. Notice how your legs and body feel. Be sure to take it very easy. Easier than you think you should. Slow down, enjoy the views.

Additional Challenge for Overachievers: Last week we did a day of clean eating. This week try doing 2 days of clean eating. In addition, I challenge you to do a yoga class this week. I recommend that if you don't already have a studio you go to that you choose a location that only does yoga. In other words, don't pick a gym or athletic center with yoga. Yoga studios will have more choices and usually be higher quality than the classes you find in gyms. Become a yoga snot from the start. My favorite classes are Power Vinyasa classes. For more on running and yoga, go to my Yoga for Runners Page.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weekly Workout: One Minute Speedwork & One Day Diet Challenge

I'm ready for some speed work, how about you?! I love this workout because it hides its quality in a seemingly innocent 1 minute that is nestled in each mile you run. It will sound easy but you'll be cursing my name after about 30 seconds. As an added challenge, do all 3 weekly workout challenges as your quality workouts during the week. Be sure to take an easy day as needed. I'm also adding a food challenge for this week for the overachievers in the group, the One Day Diet Challenge (scroll down for details)

One Minute Speedwork Tempo

Miles: 6-10 miles(for most people), or 40mins-2 hours. Choose a distance that fits your weekly mileage. This workout should not be more than 15% of your weekly mileage.

Elevation Gain/Loss: Not particularly important for this workout. If you choose a route that is hillier your speed will be slower, which is fine for target events that are longer and hiller. If you are targeting a race that is flatter and faster, choose a flatter/faster route for this workout so you can push the pace.

The Workout: You will begin by warming up for a mile. At the end of 1 mile, you will begin your 1 minute of hard running. The 1 minute should make you feel like you want to be done, it will be uncomfortable but not an all out sprint. You should feel like (or literally) cursing me as your legs burn and you count down the mili seconds until you can run at a moderate pace again. For each mile you run do this 1 minute of high intensity running. It shouldn't be so fast that you cannot complete the entire workout. Pace yourself.

Don't have a GPS or way to track your mileage? Then do the workout by time. You can run moderately for 6-8 minutes and run hard for 1 minute.

Another way to pace the faster run time is to do it at a certain race pace. For 100 mile runners, the pace need not be faster than your 5k pace, for example. For shorter distances you can quicken that pace.

OVERACHIEVERS: (You rock!) 1-Day Diet Challenge
For those of you wanting to up your game, try this Diet Challenge for this week. Pick one day to practice healthy eating. For one day cut out all added sugar, sweets, processed foods, alcohol and grains. Eat foods that are whole, meaning unprocessed. Include plenty of vegetables. For ideas visit my blog post about healthy eating here: Clean Eating and Running 100 Milers

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekly Workout Challenge: Downhill Technique Oct. 25- Nov. 1

Here's your weekly workout challenge! Future weekly workouts will be posted every monday and we will have Monday-Sunday to complete it.

Downhills are the hidden key to success in 100 mile races

It's really important to prepare your body, and legs especially, for long descents. This is key when your goal race has long downhill sections, you are moving up in weekly mileage, or moving into ultras/trails from road running. Gradually building up your intense downhill mileage is as important as working on your uphill speed and strength. Practicing long fast descents will help you build the strength around your joints to support fast and efficient downhill speed. 

Kill the Downhill Workout & Mindful Breathing
Miles: 4-10
Elevation Gain/loss: 1,000-4,000 feet
Uphill Miles: 2-5

Downhill Miles: 2-5

It is important that those who have not done a workout like this before start with lower miles and ease into it. Always make sure you are warmed up before doing the downhill section. Experienced ultra runners can begin by doing a 10 mile workout. Beginnners make sure this workout isn't any longer than 1/3 of your weekly long run, so if you normally do a 15 mile long run, this workout shouldn't be longer than 5 total miles. For newbies, pick a downhill that is not too technical so you can focus on speed rather than dodging rocks and roots.

Pick a hill that has about 500-1000 feet of gain per mile. Again, 1,000 feet of gain per mile is more for the experienced runners, whereas 500 ft of gain is better for beginners. You will run or hike at a moderate pace on the uphill. This will be a good warm up. Once you reach your turn around point, or the downhill section you will increase the intensity so that you are running hard. Watch the video in this post to see good downhill form. Each mile you will increase your pace by 30 seconds per mile. If you run the first downhill mile in 8 minutes, the second mile should be 7:30, third mile 7 minute, fourth mile 6:30, and so on. Be sure to start at a pace that you can increase the pace as you go. 

Add in Mindful Breathing
Part of the challenge of this workout will be to really bring your deep, calm breathing into it. As you increase your speed make sure you are breathing in a calm, controlled manner. This technique should be added to ALL your weekly runs. Be mindful of whether you are holding your breath. I often find that I hold my breath when I get tense/tired or if I am on a technical section. When you notice yourself doing this begin by breathing more deeply. 

For downhill technique please see this blog post and watch the video

From Ultra U Fitness, here are the main points of good downhill form:

  • Loose shoulders and arms
  • NO leaning back to put on the brakes
  • Hips leading, nice kick back
  • Landing on the front of his foot, no heel strike
  • Looking 10+ feet ahead, not looking down at your feet!

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    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Video Preview of the Bigfoot 200 mile Endurance Run

    I've been busy making videos for my newest race, the Bigfoot 200 & 120 mile Endurance Runs. Here is a full preview of the course, it's quirky and has lots of trail porn, you know the scenic mountain type. Enjoy!

    Follow me on YouTube here: Candice Burt's Videos

    Saturday, October 18, 2014

    Weekly Workout Challenge: Steep Continuous Uphill Oct. 18-24

    STARTING TODAY I will be posting a weekly workout challenge for Trail Runners. In most cases it will be a running based workout with the occasional cross training/strength training based workout thrown in. These workouts are designed to get you fit and fast on the trails & in the mountains. You'll have a week to do each workout. I look forward to hearing feedback. Here's this weeks, and since the week is almost over, you have this weekend and next week to complete it!

    *I will include modified versions for those people who are just getting in trail shape.

    Steep Uphill Continuous Run
    Miles: 4-8
    Elevation Gain: 2,100-3,000
    Uphill miles: 2-3 (continuous)
    This workout should be 4-8 miles in length. The quality part of the workout, the part that is most important to focus on is the uphill section. For this section you will run steadily at a pace you can maintain for 2-3 miles. The uphill miles should be steep, between 700-1000 feet of elevation gain per mile. Your challenge is to RUN the entire 2-3 miles until you summit the mountain.

    *Modified Version:
    You will run as much of the steep hill as possible using hiking to give yourself a break as needed, but try to keep the hiking at high intensity. If you are still at relatively low weekly mileage (less than 40 miles a week) you should keep this workout closer to 4 miles in length.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Fastpacking the Bigfoot 200: Part 2

    Easy enough: 100 miles in 3 days unsupported on the Bigfoot 200 course to complete mapping and determine exact aid station locations. I guess when I thought "It's gonna be easy" I should have been worried. I grudgingly packed 3 days of food, 80oz water, a small tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and warm clothes (wool shirt, real rain jacket with hood, extra socks, gloves)...and more. Carrying all that weight is tougher than just going out and running 33 miles a day as you can imagine. I like to travel light so I can travel faster and cover more ground, and this was more than I would normally bring.
    Easy enough, riiight. Just one of those sections was 4 miles longer than the mapping program said. All sections were varying distances longer, never shorter than expected. I've learned to expect this.

    I knew that I had to take this course seriously though and bring appropriate gear. First off, I was doing it in mid-October and the weather is colder and less predictable. Second, the course is VERY, I mean VERY remote. I couldn't just hitch a ride out whenever I might want or need to. If something went wrong I might have to wait days before getting help or getting a ride.
    Run 200s, in my case, hike!
    Due to the weight of the pack and the long winded nature of mapping trails, I ended up spending all day on my feet, moving 12-14 hours a day. Each section was longer than my mapping program had said it would be and it was just slow going since I was mostly hiking, albeit "fast" hiking. Day 1 brought a heavy downpours eventually turning into a wind storm. I was glad I brought my heavy duty rain jacket. Despite the rain jacket and a rain cover for my backpack, I got wet down to my bones. I slept fitfully and was cold most that first night. I could only hope that the rest of the trip would be drier.
    A little creepy when you're 30 miles out in the middle of no where ... solo
    Luckily day 2 and 3 were free of rain and it even got sunny on day 3. Day 3 brought a different kind of challenge however. I woke up and thought, I feel sick. I had felt hot and a little feverish the night before and I realized my body was out of whack. It's not that I thought that I had caught a bug-- rather I think the fever / flu symptoms were from my body being broken down from the cold, dehydration, and long days of high physical stress. At one point on day 3 I wished I could hitch a ride out as I wasn't sure I could make it the last 20 miles. There was no other option than finish, so I popped 2 ibuprofen and picked up the pace. And why not? Get done and then rest.

    Shortly after finishing I met my friend Jake at a nice little brewery in Cascade Locks and he drove me to my truck which was parked out in the boonies, a whole 2.5-3 hours away from Portland. Thank the trail gods for good friends! I had planned to head back to P town after picking up my truck but I continued to feel worse. My head ached, I was racked with chilled and my face was flushed. I crawled into the back of my truck where I had a sleeping pad and wrapped myself up in two sleeping bags unable to eat even after a tough 3 days on the trail.

    That night was long and painful with aches up and down my body and heat emanating from my chest and face so strong I felt like a forced air heater. I rolled around for what seemed like most of the night at some point falling asleep and finally waking in the morning when the fever had broken.

    Two days later I'm feeling great. I ran a 5 mile loop at Multnomah Falls in the Gorge and literally ran the entire 2 mile 1800 foot climb up, plenty of strength and energy. I was able to finish permits for the Bigfoot 200 a couple days ago and I'm working on another surprise plus permits for the Tahoe 200. Here are some pictures from the 3 day fastpack of the Bigfoot course, enjoy! Oh yeah, just throwing out the "another surprise" bomb, ha!

    This tree was ENORMOUS. Hence the caps. Much of the course goes through old growth forests and you'll see a giant like this quite often.

    Me with my GPS, it's never far from my hand.

    Mt Adams, one of 4 major mountains you can see from the course

    Like green? There is a lot of green.

    Someone wrote 2,200 on one of the reflectors for the PCT hikers heading North, apparently that's mile 2,200, wow!


    View of the Columbia River Gorge 10 miles from the finish!

    Crossing the Bridge of the Gods into Cascade Locks, OR

    Saturday, October 4, 2014

    No Such Thing As Far Away

    I'm sitting in my truck
    On a quiet city street in Portland, 
    Looking at your text:
    A picture of your skateboard,
    Pabst Blue ribbon at your feet

    I'm thinking of how I'd like to see you
    On that skateboard 
    Making your favorite sound,
    Urethane on concrete.
    But there are 663 miles 
    Between your board and my truck. 

    In that moment, I'm frozen 
    In a flood of memories, 
    Trying to figure out where home is.
    From behind me I hear the sound
    Of urethane on concrete: 
    It melts my reverie.

    A man is practicing a trick 
    With his skateboard 
    In the middle of the road. 
    The urethrane on concrete 
    Sings a gritty song:
    There's no such thing as far away
    On a quiet city street in Portland. 

    Fastpacking a New Washington/Oregon 200: Part 1

    I came away from organizing the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run with even more energy and inspiration to create another 200 mile event. I felt like I could've gone either way: never wanting to direct another 200 or be enamored with the distance. Happily, it was the latter. I chose Washington for obvious reasons: it is chock full of amazing mountains and extremely varied terrain and it is my home state, so I know it very well.
    Coldwater Lake
    This new race course will (assuming permits go smoothly) begin near Mt. St. Helens in South Washington State and head Northeast toward Mt. Adams. Before reaching the Mt. Adams Wilderness, the course will head South and run all the way to Oregon finishing just over the border and right after crossing Bridge of the Gods and the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, in Cascade Locks, OR.
    Bridge of the Gods
    I have learned a lot about myself through ultra distance running and one of those things is that I continually seek to make things more difficult for myself. I say this with no judgement, it is an observation. When I envisioned a race at Tahoe I envisioned the most incredible traverse of the area that would be just one single loop circumnavigation of the largest alpine lake in the United States. The rest is history. The race was an instant success and I was overwhelmed by athletes wanting a chance to run this historic, first ever single loop mountain 200 miler in the USA.
    Celebrating the finish of the 2014 Tahoe 200 Sept. 9
    As I drove toward my destination last Tuesday, the start of my 3 day fastpack trip, I felt fear. Fear of night, of being alone, and fear of the unknown. I kept going fueled by something I couldn't quite understand. It was what kept bringing me out to these remote places. There is this intense sense of purpose, as overwhelming and powerful as a tidal wave, that drives me to adventure, the mountains, and to create these insane race courses. As an ultrarunner, even when I'm out in the most remote locations, I'm never really that far from civilization, even when I am. That is, unless something goes wrong. Without these adventures, full of fear and purpose, I'd rather die. So die doing them or die without them. The risk is clearly greater in not doing them.
    When I get an idea in my head I cannot stop until I've accomplished it. Shouldn't be long now :)
    I am hoping that my Washington/Oregon 200 miler (to be named soon!) will provide runners with yet another opportunity to run a multiday event through the mountains in a point to point traverse of some of the most incredible mountain on the West Coast. The race, as envisioned will feature Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, long exposed mountain ridge lines, dark mossy old growth forests, misty mountain lakes, roaming herds of elk and perhaps a Bigfoot or two. I'm posting a number of photos from my fastpack of the first 100 miles of the course. There will be a part 2 with photos from the second 100 miles after I fastpack it next week.

    Some quick details about the new race:

    Proposed race date: Aug 7-11, 2015 (4 days /100 hr cut off like the T200, but possibly a 4.5-5 day cut off depending on findings from my fastpack adventures)

    Registration date: TBD, depends on permits. Hoping for Nov/Dec. What type of entry? Most likely first come/first serve (my preference), but possibly lottery if we are limited to fewer entrants.

    Elevation Gain: Between 50,000-55,000 Slightly more descent than ascent according to Caltopo

    Mileage: Around 215 miles. Caltopo says 200, but it's already coming out longer in the first 100 miles.

    Start: Washington State, near Mount St. Helens

    Finish: High School in Cascade Locks, WA

    Entry Limit: Again, depends on permits. I will ask for 140 entrants and go from there.

    Race will be very similar to the Tahoe 200 with 4-5 Sleep Stations, well stocked aid stations 7-20 miles apart, full medical & communications team.

    ALL details subject to permitting and may change which is why I'm not getting into specific trail names.

    Breeze, rain, mist, it was cold in early October! 

    See the elk?