Category Archives: Community Events

Race Report: Fallen Leaves 5K #3 2016

While this race wasn’t my best time (or even best effort), I will remember it as one of my favorites because I got to race with my girls instead of just cheering them on from the sidelines. I didn’t go into the race well-rested; travel back from Rochester was rough and I ended up being awake for almost 36 hours by the time I went to bed on Friday morning. I barely ran during the week so I decided it would just be an adaptation week and I would go into the race with a positive mindset. Regardless, it wasn’t pouring rain (although it was cold), so it was an upgrade from my past two races.

After an extended warm-up without the girls (diesel engine over here) and then our regular warm-up routine, we revealed our awesome new singlets and started behind a few other high school boys and other area men. One of my favorite things about this race is that you do the first two laps on a kitty litter track so you can calibrate your pace. Our first lap was an 82 and I said out loud to the girls with me “WHOA we need to slow down.” My/our goal was to be around 19 so that was a little hot. We went through the 800 at 3:04, which was a much more appropriate pace.

Squad Up!

Squad Up!**

As we hit the grass, I felt good and stretched out a little to find a rhythm. We made the first sharp turn onto the bike path and I went through the mile at 6:10 on the nose. Another woman caught up to me at this point and although I tried to stay with her, my legs felt more like lead than I’d anticipated. We rolled along the bike path and picked people off, made it around the 180 degree turn and headed back towards the school. These 180 turnarounds KILL me. I came to almost a complete stop and it took me a few seconds to get back into my groove. The woman I was running with got away from me here and I couldn’t make contact with her again.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

I ran my second mile in 6:02 and mentally tried to gear up for the last mile. I felt like I was moving well on the bike path but when we got to the last sharp turn back onto the grass, my form went from collected to…terrible. It had warmed up enough that the grass was soft but wet and slippery and I got the oddest cramp in my forearms and felt like they weren’t moving at all. I just kept my eyes on the people ahead of me and trudged forward. We hit the track for the final 100 meters and I saw the clock ticking towards 19 but couldn’t find any turnover to get there. My third mile was a 6:18 and I crossed at 19:09 as second woman.

A rare decent finishing shot!

A rare decent finishing shot!

The upside? I can still beat my girls and I’m still improving every week! The downside? I’m a little frustrated with my third mile. I think it’s mostly a lack of specific fitness but my turnover is just nonexistent at this point. I’ll get a chance to race again this Thursday and will hope to continue to improve. I’m still waiting to hear what the new course will be for the First Run 5K but am planning on that as my next “goal” 5K.

**We are super lucky to have a parent who is also a professional photographer. He takes HUNDREDS of pictures at every race, shares them for free with our team and this time, I’m one of the lucky beneficiaries. If you are local and need sports, family or senior pictures, I can’t recommend Phil enough.

Race Report: Halloween Hustle 5K 2016

For better or worse, I’m getting good at racing in the pouring rain and high 30s! Saturday morning was gray with moderate drizzle…until I started my warm-up when I got totally soaked. Since this was a Halloween race, I tried to get in the spirit without ruining my stride and had the unfortunate idea to rock a cotton Superman shirt. Red bunhuggers topped off my look and yes onlookers, I was cold.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

I didn’t get back from Asheville until 11 pm and when my alarm went off at 7:30, I almost scrapped the idea but since I was registered and awake, I dragged my butt out of bed and got dressed. I was at the race site by 8:30 and the race went off at 9 am, leaving my with just enough time to jog a couple of miles and do a strider up the sidewalk. Right before the race, I asked Joe was his plans were and he said he was hoping for a 5:40 first mile. This comes into play shortly…

The start was a bit hilarious as the airhorn misfired and we took a step out, then came back to start again. We rolled out in the pouring rain and I was a few steps behind Joe and Adam and with Tim, Francis and Todd. We quickly separated from the rest of the group and headed out into the neighborhood loop. Since I thought Joe was running a 5:40 mile, I settled in behind him and felt super comfortable which probably should have been a sign that something was amiss. There were no mile markers, so I just went on time and assumed that I’d crossed mile 1 around 6 minute pace given where I was off Joe and Adam.

The first mile rolls uphill but each hill is followed by either a downhill or a flat for recovery, making it a great course to move on. Tim and I separated from Francis and Todd but worked together for the rest of the race, a needed boost in the pouring rain. Once we got to the top of the hills, we picked up the pace and started to hammer down the hills and float on the flats. I focused on keeping Adam in sight until we took a series of tight course turns and there weren’t any straight stretches to get back in contact. Around this time, I also stepped in a river running down the street and soaked myself up to my shins.

For the second two miles (again, no markers, so I was just guessing on time), I just focused on pressing the pace. When I got to 12 minutes, I picked it up again and worked on convincing myself that I had the fitness to do so. Unlike last week, I found it a lot easier to find that next gear and hold it. My only big mistake was that I didn’t know the course so I wasn’t sure when we were getting near the final turn. Tim did, however, and shot by me with 200 meters to go. I crossed the line at 19:22, very happy to no longer need to drag my cotton shirt along with me!

After the race, I was a tiny bit disappointed that my time wasn’t faster but then found out our splits from Tim. Mile 1 was 6:39, Mile 2 was 6:06 and Mile 3 was 5:49. Turns out, Joe had decided to run the first mile on heartrate and ran a 6:16 instead of a 5:40. We all gave him considerable grief about this! The upside is that I felt so good in the second two miles and was able to push hard. I do think I could have had a similar progression with a slightly faster first mile so that’s a lesson for me to be attuned to BOTH my perceived effort and what others are doing.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Overall, I was happy with a race well executed in crummy conditions and feel like I’m starting to remember how to race again. I also cannot recommend the course enough. It is a certified 5K course and has an awesome combination of hills, downhills and straightaways. I would LOVE to race it again when a) I’m in better shape and b) the weather is a little more favorable because I think it is definitely a PR course.

Race Report: Victory 5K

Also known as, find a starting point. 

To be blunt, running has just not been that fun lately. My schedule is totally unpredictable and I kept trying to find ways to fit a marathon training schedule around TAing, coaching and traveling for a bazillion interviews literally across the country. It just wasn’t working. I didn’t want to run, let alone do a workout and most days, I just wanted to pitch my running shoes across the room. I let go of the idea of a winter marathon a few weeks ago but then found myself in a new predicament: aimless running. With no goal race, what was the point of going out the door to run? After a couple of weeks with no goal, it became evident that I needed something to focus on and I decided to jump back in with a surprise 5K last weekend.

I went in with no goal; I just wanted to go through the motions and get a starting point. I also wanted to support Karen Newman, the beneficiary of the Victory 5K. Karen was one of my first athletic heroes when I started racing again. She would dominate local races with her Olympic singlet on and I remember just being in awe that I got to share the road with someone of her talent. She has recently been battling a return of her breast cancer and the race was a fundraiser to help defray some of her healthcare costs.

Saturday morning was a great day for ducks in Antarctica. It was a chilly 40 degrees and during our warm-up, it started POURING and gusting. We got warm enough while we were jogging around but when I stepped outside for the start, my singlet was instantly glued to me. In fact, I had a few moments during the race where my shorts were so soaked, I wasn’t sure I was wearing any.

The start went off and I just tried to remember how to race. The first mile is essentially downhill and I aimed for a pace that was a click above tempo. During this mile, the rain was dumping down and I mentally kicked myself for not wearing a hat as water was streaming down my face. I went through the first mile in 6:06 (18:57 pace) and although I knew it was above my fitness, hoped that I could still hang on for a respectable finish. The second mile is half slight uphill and half slight downhill on gravel; the turnaround is in the middle of this mile. Although the footing wasn’t too bad, the turnaround was ridiculously tight and I came to a complete stop as I tried to figure out how to turn without falling. On the first part of the return trip, the puddles had started to accumulate and it was getting slippery. I went through Mile 2 at approximately 12:30 (19:31 pace) and realized I needed to stay focused to not totally fall off. The last mile wasn’t as bad as the last mile usually is in a 5K, probably because I was just running on aerobic fitness and not actually redlining. I worked on reeling in the guy ahead of me and just tried to stay upright in the puddles. I rounded the corner for home and pushed it in in 19:28 (6:15 pace).

My initial reaction was to be frustrated (19:28 is slower than my half marathon pace when I’m in decent shape) but I followed that up by being happy that I got through my first race back and cared enough to be frustrated! The nice thing about the 5K is that I can try it again this coming weekend. The Halloween Hustle is all on pavement (I think), so I’m hoping to improve on my time and keep turning my wheels over. My ultimate goal from this training cycle is to break 18 minutes at the First Run 5K (provided we don’t have a massive snowstorm or Arctic blast).

Race Report: Plattsburgh Half Marathon 2016

Short Version: 2nd Woman, 1:26:44. Got to hang out with the Skechers crew and had a BLAST at the Expo and post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Long Version: 

I went into this race with relatively low expectations. I’ve been lucky to run consistently this Spring but as I remarked in my recent post on this cycle’s inventory, I have been low mileage (for me) and only doing maintenance workouts. On top of this, I did a lot of driving (and not a lot of sleeping) going into this race.

The morning started in an entertaining fashion. As I pulled up to the Ferry Dock to cross the lake, the 6:30 ferry was pulling away. Plattsburgh is actually only about 6 miles from my house but there’s a big lake in the middle with no local bridge so you have to take a ferry to get there. I texted Dave to tell him I might be cutting it close and he responded “Ha! I’m on the ferry that just left you!!” Needless to say, I had to wait for the 6:45 ferry and decided to change into my racing flats (GoMeb Speed 3) and take my inhaler on the boat. As it turned out, I arrived by 7:15, found a porto-potty on my way to the Rec Center and found Erin Lopez for our warmup all by 7:30. We did 20 minutes of easy jogging then stripped down and headed for the start. It was PERFECT racing weather at 40 degrees and overcast. I wish I’d been in amazing shape because it was a PR day for sure.

At the start line, Erin and I had to get a little aggressive to get a spot as a few misplaced souls found themselves on the line. We did a strider, got our spot and we were off. Although we’d both planned to run around 1:25, Erin took off from the start and I opted to hang back and stay comfortable for me. Erin went on to win overall AND post a new PR!! We made our way around the Oval and I was happy to find that I felt smooth and effortless. I only had a stopwatch on but when we went through what I presume to be mile 1 based on the Garmins beeping around me, my watch said 6:15 pace. I put the brakes on a bit here because optimism is great, but I doubted that I was in 1:22 shape. At around 10 minutes in, we went by the mile 1 marker. Two and a half minutes later, we went by the 2 mile marker. So much for using my watch to track splits. As such, I have almost no data points from the race other than that my first mile was a 6:15 and I finished in 1:26. Since it was obvious that I couldn’t rely on mile markers, I just ran on effort through the first half of the race and was happy to feel like my effort was about 7/10. I crossed the halfway point around 41 minutes. We would later learn that it was not exactly halfway but the 10K instead…

During the second half, the turns began. Although it made it hard to hold momentum, I was in a bit of a funk at this point and appreciated the opportunity to refocus every few hundred meters as we turned. I was running alone and had quite the pity party between 7 and 9, cranky that I felt like I could hold my pace all day but couldn’t click up as I’d planned. I was also cranky that the mile markers were 100% unreliable. I had no idea if I was running 6:15 pace or 7:15 pace or if I was at mile 7 or mile 8.5.

At mile 10, we went over a little bridge and into a 2 mile flat neighborhood loop. I was able to click up in effort for a few minutes but by mile 11, felt like I was running out of fitness and found myself back at tempo effort. Mile 12 was an insidious uphill and I was just ready to return to the Oval and finish. Mile 13 is around the Oval and taunts you, as you can see the finish but you’re minutes away. I just tried to finish strong but really didn’t have much in the way of gears.

As it turns out, the race course had to undergo some changes and 13.1 miles came…a bit before the finish line did. According to one of the local ladies who runs for Skechers as well, it is actually in the middle of the final turn before the straightaway where we finished, so probably over a quarter mile long. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have adjusted the start or the finish since it was on an oval, but regardless, it’s questionable how far we actually ran. The first and second half splits are hysterical too; all of us had 4 minute “positive” splits since the second half was more like 7 miles.

The 1-2 punch!

The 1-2 punch!

Despite some course snafus, it’s actually an awesome course that I would readily race again. It has a nice combination of flats, small hills, and some cruising downhills, it winds through a lot of Plattsburgh and had great course support for a small race on Sunday morning. The weather was also PERFECTION. The vibe before and after the race was fun too; people who just enjoy running and community events. If it gets re-certified, I would definitely consider going back to aim for a PR since it’s my kind of course.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect a bit, I find myself slightly frustrated with my race. It was one of my slowest half marathons ever (1:33, 1:29, 1:28 all come to mind as slower…). The logical part of my brain knows that it’s great that I got a 13+ mile effort in and that it wasn’t a race I could expect to knock out of the park. The emotional part of my brain is frustrated that I feel so…flat right now. I feel like I have one gear and although I know that I haven’t done workouts to develop my other gears lately, I have an illogical fear that this is just the beginning of slowing down as I hid my mid 30s.

Week in Review 4.25.16 to 5.1.16

Monday: 3 mile run WAY too fast for taper week.

Tuesday: Combo workout at Waveny. 2 by 5 minutes at tempo, 3 by 1 min hard for 5 miles total

Wednesday: 3.4 mile recovery run, again way too fast.

Thursday: 3 mile run on the treadmill.

Friday: 2 mile shakeout progression. Mini arms workout.

Saturday: 2.5 miles with 2 laps of ins and outs on the track.

Sunday: Plattsburgh Half Marathon, 2nd woman in 1:26:44 on goodness knows what length course. 16 miles total for the day.

Total Miles: 35

Total Miles for April: 170

Definitely suffering from cumulative exhaustion from stress, poor sleep and a lot of travel! I drove 5 hours home on Friday night, to Plattsburgh and back on Saturday for the Expo then drove back to Norwalk after the race this morning. I’m also not being careful about my recovery paces (7:15 for my run on Monday, 7:37 on Wednesday?!) and it’s starting to show up in my race results. I’m not unhappy with my run this morning but I’m definitely lacking gears and some of that is coming from an imbalance in stimulus and recovery.

Just a few more days left in Norwalk and I head home to Burlington and hopefully lock into a more steady routine. I’m also hoping some of my 4th year electives lock in soon so that I can really start to look at the next few months and not have absolutely everything up in the air career wise!

Depending on my call schedule for June, I’m hoping to add in the Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany on June 4th. This is a race that draws some unbelievable talent and we have the opportunity to race through Skechers. It will take a bit of an effort to get some turnover back in my legs but I’m hoping that with my fitness base, I can turn in a PR effort in 4 weeks.

Welcome to Skechers

For someone who generally has plenty to say, it’s hard to put into words what today’s post means to me. For anyone who has run competitively, sponsorships are an incredible gift and shoe sponsorships are the holy grail. Yes, shoes serve a practical purpose since most of us go through shoes at an alarming rate but beyond the practical, a shoe sponsor is validation, hope and motivation all wrapped up into one incredible document.

I met Dave at the Craft Brew Race last June, where he got a pair of GoRuns into my hands. I subsequently fell in love with the shoe and started trying to get SkiRack and Fleet Feet to carry them locally. When the opportunity to apply for the 2016 Team came around, I jumped. Dave and I were able to chat leading up to Philly and I had high hopes that I could demonstrate to Skechers just how great an investment I would be. I won’t lie that part of my post-race disappointment came from feeling like I’d blown my chance with Skechers. Imagine my relief when within minutes of my race, a text came back from Dave that said “It’s just one race, we all have bad ones.” That’s a company that gets runners…

All of this to say is that for 2016, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I’ll be racing for Skechers Performance along with some other awesome Northeast runners.

As you’ll start to see on my sponsors page and with product reviews for Skechers shoes and apparel, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. I’ve always aimed to be transparent when I am given gear to test and this will be no exception. Yes, Skechers will be providing me with free and discounted gear but they are extremely clear in their social media policy that we are not only encouraged but expected to be honest, good, bad or neutral. 

I’m so excited to reveal this next chapter in my life to all of you and to join with Skechers Performance as I strive for the next level in my running.

Have a fast day.

 

Millinocket Half and Full Marathon 2016

Maine has always held a special place in my heart. Although my dad was born and raised outside of Boston, his parents moved up to Belfast, Maine with his youngest sisters and that’s where we went for holidays and summer vacation. My aunt Stacey is one of Dad’s younger sisters (he has 6 of them!) and has always been a runner. She came down to cheer for my first marathon, held me in an ice bath after and continues to encourage my running in a zillion ways. She now lives in Lincoln, Maine on a beautiful pond where she continues to kayak, run and live the “Maine way.”

Millinocket is right next to Lincoln and as this article points out, has been hard hit by the closure of Great Northern. One of my uncles worked for the paper mills in Maine, another worked for Bath Iron Works and one of my cousins worked for the Verso mill in Bucksport, so the idea of using a race to stimulate the economy strikes a chord with me as I’ve heard my family talk about the very real impact of mill closures on their lives. I’m excited to see that it’s already full but also hoping more spots open up so that Suzanne, Stacey and I can run it in December.

What do you think about this idea? Have you done this kind of event before? Anyone sign up for this one before it filled?

Dear Cyclists

We’ve had a bit of a rough summer here in Vermont, with three fatalities already following car versus bike. Two were alcohol related and one was speed related. All have heightened the intensity of conversations about what it really means to share the road. Some people are blaming the cyclists; from what I understand of these three accidents, this is wholly inappropriate. All three were experienced riders, wearing helmets and following traffic laws. All three drivers were incredibly irresponsible and totally out of control of their 3000 pound vehicles.

The impact of all of this is that many of us, both runners and riders, are feeling a little skittish about being on the roads. Last weekend, Will and I talked about going for a bike ride and then decided we just didn’t feel comfortable given the current climate. It was also a topic of conversation in the OR this week; one person stated that she won’t ride anywhere but the bike path now. Another said he’s been riding more, almost in homage to the three riders who passed away.

I am a fervent supporter of safe running, biking and whatever other person powered movement you want to engage in, but with that said, I am also LIVID at some of the behavior I witness as a driver and as a runner. The saying “one bad apple” comes to mind and although I think most of the cyclists in town are fantastic, I have two enormous pet peeves that I just need to get off my chest.

1. The Surpriser. He comes up behind you silently either on the road (why he’s riding against traffic is another issue) or on the bike path and without saying a word either pushes you off into traffic as he passes or scares the life out of you as he blows by. Related to this is the peloton of who come upon you at 40 miles an hour or the person who yells “On Your Right!” If you’re on the bike path, ride a reasonable speed to accommodate all the other people using the path and pass on the left. Passing on the left is such a convention that when I start to hear someone speak, I automatically move to the right. Following this convention keeps everyone safe; I don’t jump in front of oncoming bikes and you don’t hit me as you pass on the right.

2. The “I’m a Car No Now I’m a Pedestrian.” Pick one. You are either operating as a vehicle or as a pedestrian. You cannot invoke the privileges of both as it is most convenient. I see this most often at stop lights and on cross walks. If you are on the sidewalk (which, by the way, is not allowed in Burlington), stop at the Pedestrian Cross, dismount and wait for your turn to cross. If you are on the road, it is 100% not acceptable to blast through the red light that all the other cars had to stop at. I see this at stop signs all the time as well; cars dutifully stop and wait their turn while bikes blast through. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve almost been hit by a bike while running as I cross an intersection when it’s my turn as a bike blows a red light to turn across the cross walk.

We are all responsible for sharing the road and most of us use the road in different ways throughout our week. When we are drivers, we need to be aware, drive the speed limit and give as much space as we can to other users of the road. As cyclists, we need to ride single file, follow traffic signs, wear bright clothing and lights and generally use common sense. As runners, we need to do much the same. Anger over cyclists trickles down; one bad experience as a driver makes it more dangerous for the next cyclist or runner.

Sharing the road is every single person’s responsibility.

Race Report: 10th Annual Montpelier Mile

Alternate Title: Years of marathon training do NOT prepare you for a road mile.

I made the last minute decision to run the Montpelier Mile instead of Clarence DeMar earlier in the week, in some part because I wanted a new experience and in some part because there was a lot of cash on the line. Regarding the latter, I should learn that if in any other year I would have won going away, assume that if I’m there, at least four other faster women will show up. Sarah Luck. Anyway, with a $15 entry fee and the opportunity to race through my hometown in front of tons of people, I signed up to donate my lungs to the streets of Montpelier.

Since I’ve never raced a road mile and my last 1500 meter run was literally in the 90s, Will and I hit the track on Wednesday to try to calibrate me for a 5:30 mile. My job was to run 3 200s in 41 seconds. I was not successful. The first was a 36, the second a 39 and the third a 38. Eff it, we’ll do it live.

I will admit to being incredibly nervous. I spent most of yesterday worrying about how to approach the race. I realize that the plan is to run as fast you can for a mile but I worried that I’d either go out too fast and suffer for 300 meters or go out too slow and run out of real estate. The course was set up well with two turns and a round-about. The best part, however, were the crowds. I’ve never run a race with so many people out to cheer us on! Brilliant to have the race just before the parade.

I didn’t wear a watch because the course wasn’t marked, so I have no idea what my splits were. There is a “Dash for Cash” built in for the first 400 so I just tried to stay clear of all the people sprinting for that line. The top 4 women (of which I was a part) were all within steps of each other at the 400 meter mark but a high school girl (she’ll come back into play later) got there first then as we rounded the turn, dropped back quickly. I had my eyes on Christina’s back (ok, her braid, it’s swingy and easy to watch) and the woman in 2nd but was just trying to stay calm. Just before the Roundabout and 800 meter mark, I heard my godparents cheering. As I moved around the Roundabout, people were dropping back quickly and I actually felt pretty good. Somewhere in here, however, Christina and 2nd Woman got away from me. I’m not sure if I was slowing down or they were speeding up but I lost contact big time.

My original plan was to round the last corner and kick for home, which seemed like a lovely plan when I was talking it out with Will. When it came time, however, I rounded the corner and wanted to die. The finish banner was SO SO SO FAR AWAY. And by so far away, I mean 400 meters. I just tried to keep it together but my legs were done with the idea of a mile. As we closed in on the finish, suddenly the high school girl from the start was back and before I could respond, we were over the line. 5:31 for her (and $125) and 5:32 and $0 for me.

To say I spent the first few minutes (like 30 minutes) seriously effing pissed is an understatement. I actually took my singlet off and threw it. Dramatic. I don’t know why I expected to have an amazing mile in the middle of a 70 mile training week, after years as a marathoner but somehow I did. I was more frustrated that instead of staying focused and kicking it in, I just let someone by me in the last 10 feet. Yes, the prize money would have been nice but I was (and am) more frustrated that I didn’t fight all the way to the line. Definitely a race lesson that I need to learn and improve upon…

All in all, it was a great experience to race a totally different distance and I’d actually like to continue to do more short races, both because it hurts in a completely different way (I mean seriously, what’s with the lung pain?) and because it forces me to be razor-focused from the start. I’m already looking forward to the next track meet to keep honing my speed skills!

2nd Annual MMU Cougar Chase 5K

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

One of the great parts of a cross country race is that it’s unlike any other course and instead of focusing on matching your road 5K PR, you can just let go and try to run the best race you can with the conditions of the day. In hosting the Cougar Chase, the hope is that we can share a bit of the magic of cross country while doing our annual team fundraiser. We set it up as a chase with women heading out 3 minutes ahead of the men to try to set up great sprints to the finish and stoke some inter-team competitiveness.

Last year’s top woman was Kate Leugers in 19:54, holding off Derrek Schulz in 17:10 (20:10 clock time).

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

This year, the prizes are shaping up to be AMAZING, with a pair of shoes for the top three finishers (male or female, whoever gets to the line first). Huge thanks to Skechers, Fleet Feet and SkiRack for the donations so far!

If you’re local, the race is July 18th at 8:30 and 8:33 am at Mills Riverside Park in Jericho. Entry fee is $10 and all proceeds benefit MMU Cross Country. We are in desperate need of new uniforms this year and will be using our funds for that!

Online Entry or Day-Of Entry from 7:15 am to 8:00 am.

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