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EricMN's Jedi Training - from Dagobah to Tatooine


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The timeline for this challenge coincides directly with me preparing for my first Spartan Race of this year:
This is my first Super, and I've been gearing up for this one since last I completed the Miller Park Stadium Sprint last November. Everything I do in this challenge will an attempt to mitigate the number of burpees incurred.
In Hell, you do burpees - in the snow - for eternity.
I got bit by the Spartan bug late last summer, inspired to finally do something outside my comfort zone by my friend Teros. I knew it would be tough, but didn't know how tough. I found the nearest event, convinced one of my brothers to go with me, and headed to Illinois on September 27. There I found out that nearly two years of Boot Camp and attempting 5k runs had prepared me for some of what I would do there that day. I also learned exactly how much I needed to work on my grip strength when I failed both the traverse wall and the rope climb.
By the time I hit Milwaukee a little over a month later, I had improved my grip strength enough that I came within about 4 feet of finishing the traverse wall, which I would have finished had I not cramped up so hard that my legs were literally locked in place and could not move, and 4 feet of finishing the rope climb when I ran out of knots on the rope. I was frustrated by my inability to complete, but encouraged by my progress. This year they've removed the knots in the rope, because Eff You, EricMN, progress is a moving target. And I'll be doing distances I've never run before and run into some obstacles that weren't present in the Sprints that will test me as well.
Main Quest: 
I said "first Spartan Race of this year". I've got a busy calendar. This is what I'm training for over the next two challenges:
I sweat for swag.
Completing a Sprint (4+ miles), a Super (about 8+ miles), and a Beast (13+ miles), all in one calendar year, earns you a Spartan Trifecta. I'm going to knock out my first of at least two Trifectas this year in about 45 days over the first two challenges:
- Las Vegas Super (8+ miles in the desert) on April 18
- Montana Beast (13+ miles in the mountains) on May 9
- Miler Park Stadium Sprint in Milwaukee on May 31
So far I am running the Vegas Super solo. I would welcome anyone who wants to join in the awesomeness and run with me.
I shall be training specifically for this between now and then.
Challenge Goals:
Quest 1: Unlearn what you have learned. 
Spartan Race promises you nothing except the unknown. They don't promise the exact distance of a given race, or specific obstacles. Their unofficial motto is "Prepare for the unexpected." This year, they removed the knots from the rope climb in the first few events, which was unexpected for those first poor suckers. I would have been pissed had I not known and I will need to learn to climb a rope, proper, to conquer this one.
Goal: Learn to do a proper J-technique rope climb and ring the bell in Vegas.




Quest 2: Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose


For the last eight months, I have been doing dedicated hypertrophy training. This meant I was running on my own and doing heavy (for me) lifting. I was able to double both my squat and deadlift and recently surpassed my current body weight. I was able increase my bench press by about 50%. This also meant I needed to adjust my eating accordingly so that I would feed those growing muscles. I no longer look like a slug.


My trainer, Jon, and I decided about two weeks ago that now is the time to change my program and cut weight while trying not to lose my new strength. This will allow me to be dragging less unwanted baggage up and over walls and up the rope. (Rope climb fixation.)


We will also be ending my formal Focus Group membership for the first time in 22 months. This is huge... Focus Group is what got me where I am. Small group training, food journaling and critique, personal workouts assigned online. I'm moving to a new "Fit Dads" group that is starting in March. It will be similar, but instead of food journaling, Jon will be assigning meal plans tailored to the individual. This is both frightening and exciting.


I am about 13 pounds higher than my lowest weight from a year and a half ago, and 20 pounds above what I believe is my ideal weight. I lost 35 in three months two years ago by eating clean, being strict with my meal planning and training five times a week. I'm now training much harder and before hypertrophy was simply maintaining. This is a reasonable goal and is easily attainable based on my current levels of exercise. I've already lost 6lbs since we made the change.


Goal: Lose 15 pounds by the end of this challenge.




Quest 3: Yoda spouted all that BS and never said anything about distance or endurance. Guru fail.


I've never run more than five miles at a time. This is problematic when you are signed up to run several events of 8 to 13 miles. Time to ramp it up. I've got a specific training plan that will help me with this - I'm running the Get Lucky 7k on March 14th (about 4.3m) and Goldy's Run 10m on April 11, which is the weekend before Vegas. I've never done this before, but I can do this.


Goal: Be able to run 10 miles in one session by the end of the challenge.


To make this a SMART goal that can be graded weekly, here are my measurables:


Week 1: Run 1 hour 2x/week (this should be about 4.7 miles per session based on my current ability)

Week 2: Run 5 miles 2x/week

Week 3: Run 6 miles 1x/1 hour regardless of distance 1 other time

Week 4: Run 7.5 miles 1x/1 hour regardless of distance 1 other time

Week 5: Run 8.5 miles 1x/1.5 hour same as above 1 other time

Week 6: Run 10 miles 1x/1.5 hour same as above 1 other time


This might suck. It's definitely going to require me to dedicate the time to get it done.




Life Quest: 


I am an over-scheduled mess. I haven't had a vacation - a non-working, non-spending-all-week-volunteering-as-a-home-repair-project-manager vacation - since 2008.


I am going to take an extra two days prior to the Vegas Spartan and not only be on vacation, but drive to Anaheim and attend Star Wars Celebration, because this makes me happy. I am going to spend a full day doing nothing but geeking out. And I mean, total geek-out. Probably in costume.



Total. Geek. Out.


Goal Grading:


Quest 1 Goal: Learn to do a proper J-technique rope climb and ring the bell in Vegas.

A: Climbed the rope, rang the bell, celebrated like a boss afterward.

C: Was able to climb, too slippery or too tapped to make it all the way, 30 Burpees in the mud, boo freaking hoo.

F: Didn't learn, didn't climb, just... didn't.


Quest 2 Goal: Drop 15 pounds by Vegas Super

A: Lost 15 (or more) pounds

B: Lost 10 pounds

C: Lost 5 pounds

F: Didn't lose any weight


Quest 3 Goal: Run 10 miles in one session

A: Met all weekly goals and ran Goldy's Run 10m

B: Ran 10 miles at least once, regardless of the other days, and ran Goldy's Run 10m

C: Never got in 10 miles, but ran Goldy's Run 10m

D: Never got in 10 miles, ran the Goldy's Run 5k instead

F: Didn't do 10 miles, didn't register


Life Quest: Attend Star Wars Celebration

Pass/Fail. Either I'm there or I'm not.


I'll assign attribute points at the end, depending on my results.

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Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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That looks awesome.  Definitely going to give this series of races a good some day.


Good luck for the new challenge!

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Big Show: Human Swift Hunter

Respawning. One day at a time.

Battle Log: #OperationWeddingSuit

Previous challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38  

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Last weekend was a mixed bag so I'm excited to get going this week.
I have a pretty well-established exercise routine that includes a 30-minute HIIT class back-to-back with 45 minutes of Boot Camp on Saturday morning. In months that don't end in "Holy crap it's cold" I try to run on Saturday evening, but it ain't happening because this past weekend the temps - including windchill - didn't make it above zero and just no. Plus, I spent the weekend driving my small monsties from place to place, including a birthday party for my 10-year-old's classmate that included a party bus.
Seriously. A party bus. As a parent, how do you ramp it up from there if you're getting party bus for your kid's 10th birthday? Do you hire male strippers when they hit 12?
This may or may not be the must-go party of the week if you're a Valley Middle School student.
Anyway... with all the errands, I didn't run Saturday or Sunday, wasn't as mindful about my food as I should be and I probably inhaled five or six of these tasty wonders:
Yes, I'm drooling as I type.
Which isn't the end of the world - it's not a box of Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies (which my daughter is selling - not allowing them in the house) or a plateful of deep-fried stuff with cheese, but five bars is about 1000 calories and they're not the kind of quality calories I need to meet my goals.
I managed to feel a little better about the weekend by ending Sunday at the gym with a full-body weight session that began leg-heavy. Also, I'm modifying programs right now and leaving out overhead stuff because I'm having a tendinitis flare-up in my right shoulder that has made sleeping hard for a week. I'm doing a metric crap-ton of foam rolling and industrial-strength stretching to get my shoulder back to normal. Also, pull-ups make my shoulder happy, so I'm continuing doing pull-ups and chin-ups, which I started last challenge. In the last three days I've probably done 35, although I'm not tracking them.
Monday's schedule is back-to-back classes at the gym. First is 30 minutes of Crossfit-style weights, followed by 45 minutes of Boot Camp. Both were leg-heavy. To keep my shoulder healing, I skipped doing any overhead presses, I stopped at barbell cleans and I left out the Wall Ball stuff and just did weighted squats or sit-ups.
Monday's food was spot-on - all whole food and healthy fats except for a pre-workout Clif bar, which even Jon, my trainer, doesn't gripe about because I don't eat dinner until after I get home from the gym.


Not a bad start to the challenge.

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Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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I just saw the fact you're running vegas alone. There will be a huge Weeple contigency, you can email and request to be a part of the team. can also find them on facebook.


Thanks for the reminder. I will definitely get ahold of the Weeples if I am unable to find a personal contact. Everything I've ever heard about them is good.

Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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Tuesday is my rest day. No workouts, although I did get in about half a dozen random pull-ups and did a combined 60 push-ups at my desk, 20 at a time when I'd felt like I had been standing there too long without a break.

You can tell it's not me because among other things, his beard needs significant help.

Tuesday's food was a continuation of Monday's success. It includes my exception meal, which I have spent the last two years building into my program. I make sure it fits my calories and doesn't detract from my nutrition goals.

Every Tuesday since I became a single parent, I take my kids to the same pizza place and eat from the buffet. We have sat in the same booth every Tuesday for almost five years. After the first six months, the manager started reserving it for us. When they were younger and it was cute, she used to take my kids in the back on secret missions and they would shoot the cooks with their finger guns. Sometimes she would put the registers in training mode and let my kids ring up orders. I have two or three regular- to small-sized slices of thin-crust (think cracker-thin) Buffalo Chicken pizza and a salad with no dressing. They eat their favorites. We are happy and Jon doesn't have a freak-out.

Wednesday I did the first of my two programmed lifting workouts this week, a full-body set that was upper-body heavy. I spent an extra 15 minutes afterward stretching my shoulder to make sure I wasn't going to regret it later in the evening.

Food was just about spot-on Wednesday too. After looking a little closer at my metrics and comparing to my ideal from last year, I could stand to replace calories from fat with protein, drop the sugar, and lower the sodium, but I'm not going to freak out on any of this yet either.

Today I replaced my scrambled eggs with scrambled egg whites and it cut my fat calories by "daaaaaaamn". This will be a rule going forward.

This week's food so far:

Not pictured: me, gazing longingly at the box of frosted cupcakes sitting next to the copy machine right now.

This evening I will be doing my last official Focus Group workout before I tranisition to the Men's Challenge Group and then off to the other gym to do my first run of this challenge on the treadmill because Winter Sucks and today looks like this:

The temps are frantically pushing their Life Alert button because they've fallen and they can't get up.

Winter, just No. I'm training for Tattooine, not Hoth. Hoth SUCKS.

Pictured: suck.

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.......... wait....  what where you saying???  ;}


 Jk Jk  Doing well so far!


I love egg whites!!  All the protein not so much fat.  Every now and then I will throw a whole egg in.  My breakfast go-to


Love the tradition of pizza and how you have adjusted it for your nutrition.

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Level 4 Demon/Assassin

We Can't All Be The Hero.


STR:6  DEX:7 STA:8  CON:5  WIS:8 CHA:2


"No power in the 'verse can stop me." River


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I want to go to Valley middle School! Thanks for the eye candy. Party bus for kids? Unreal. And we wonder why the kids are,growing up expecting everything with no effort.

Your Tuesday night pizza night is wonderful. Something your kids are going to remember forever. Kudos to you. We still have family game night on the weekends we have the kids ( my step kids) even though they would rather be on electronics now that they are older. They roll their eyes at first but then get into it.

Keep up the great work. You are killing it! Stay warm. Midwest winters suck. ( I am in Iowa) I can't wait to get outdoors.

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Level 36 Ranger Sorcerer 


Current challenge 




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Good to see the manager rewarding loyal customers like that. A nice weekly ritual for you and the kids, too.

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Big Show: Human Swift Hunter

Respawning. One day at a time.

Battle Log: #OperationWeddingSuit

Previous challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38  

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Time for a check-in:


Food has been going really well. My calories have been consistent and I'm not feeling hungry between meals. Jon wants me to get my protein intake to about 180g per day. That's anywhere from 30g to 65g more than I did last week. That's like a whole extra meal more than what I ate last Tuesday.


Also, I'm going to try to drop down from 2000 calories daily to 1850 next week while keeping up my protein consumption.


This means no guacamole on the Chipotle double chicken bowl. Suck.



Parting is such sweet, sweet sorrow...


The Men's Group started yesterday with assessments. This is very different from Focus Group. The measurements were much more limited and basic. It was nice to meet the other guys; a couple I knew from the gym, one is a personal friend and former roommate, and one I knew when our kids were in Cub Scouts together. There's a wide range of fitness levels present here. I am looking forward to the different challenge that this group will bring.



We took a group picture. This is not my group picture.


Jon switched up my workout routine again. We're light years away from dedicated hypertrophy. Last night I didn't read the instructions closely enough and wound up running a half-mile between every round of a superset of weights instead at the END of the superset. At least I figured it out before I started the second superset and did a half-mile after we hit the actual heavy stuff. While this was an intense OCR training workout, it was over the top for what I was assigned and a definite Reading Comprehension Fail.




Quest 1: Learn to do a proper J-technique rope climb.

No progress on this so far. I am either buying a rope later this week or will be visiting Allegiance Fitness at least three times between now and April 16. They have a rope, and there's a bunch of people from North Star Spartans who work out there.



Quest 2: Drop 15 pounds by Vegas Super

3 pounds down this week. It's amazing how that works when I journal my food and am strict about adhering to plan. That's on pace for an A.


Quest 3: Run 10 miles in one session

Weekly goals, Week 1: Run 1 hour 2x/week (this should be about 4.7 miles per session based on my current ability)

Did 4.57 miles on Thursday and 4.57 miles on Saturday. Thought about rounding it up to 5 on Saturday but didn't due to a generally sucky attitude. That's still an A for the week.


Life Quest: Attend Star Wars Celebration

I am going to start on my leather goods for my Jedi costume this week - belt and boot spats. I'm actually kind of stoked about this. I haven't done anything like this in... a long time.


This is the belt I'm going to attempt, although the actual fasteners may wind up different.




I'm not married to a specific tunic and robes design yet. I've considered just Obi-Wan canon, but that's a bit... subdued for me. Here are a couple options I'm considering:


These two I like a ~lot~. I'm not married to the dark browns on the second one - they don't really mesh to me.


This last one just looked cool. Steampunk ~and~ Jedi Robes.


Week one in the books with an A overall...

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Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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With the jedi robes, make sure you check out the tutorials for the mock under tunic. April can be a little hit or miss weather wise, but if you don't want the full under layer it is an option. If you need inspiration you might also check out KoJ's Gallery all of those are Rebel Legion Approved costuming, but there are some different colors you might see. There are a few green ones (Jedi Judith being one and Delvic at the bottom of the page) some of the maroon. If you want to get away from some of the more subdued colors


Depending on how true to movies you want to be most are inner tunic, outer tunic then the tabards (of which there are several designs) 


Let me know if you need any more info! I'm working on my design right now too!

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Try not, do or do not- Yoda

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Inspiring challenge! The Star Wars celebration sounds like so much fun.

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Wisdom 15.5   Dexterity 11   Charisma 12   Strength 14  Constitution-11

Elastigirl:Just Living Life , Part II - Current Challenge: February 14 to March 20 - Nerd Fitness Rebellion

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song, above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world" J.R.R.Tolkien

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Well, last night was a first for me. I got kicked out of the gym. Sort of.


My Monday routine has included 30 minutes of CrossFit-style weightlifting, followed by a 45-minute boot camp.


This was last night's early class:




This was the shortest amount of time in which my ass had been brought to this level of kickededness since my first HIIT class. The 220 combined sit-ups smoked me. Even though I was working fairly light, I got to the end and felt like this:



Dude, I so feel you. Your 26.2 miles, my 30 minutes working with relatively light weights at they gym. We're like twinsies.


Traci knows I'm working my shoulder back up to strength due to this latest bout of tendinitis. Once class was done, she looked at her set for boot camp:




...and told me to go home.


I packed up and left, only momentarily considered stopping at the other gym to run as I drove past, and did not even feel like a slacker.


Also, food win yesterday. Jon has been on me about protein intake. Killed it with room to spare and I couldn't have forced any more food down my throat.




Monday, I may have had my own butt kicked, but I kicked yours.

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Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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I was exhausted just reading what you did let alone doing it! 




You are killing it!  


I am having the same issue with the rope.  Hard to find a place close by that is high enough to make it worth it.  May be time to take to the trees.  ;}

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Level 4 Demon/Assassin

We Can't All Be The Hero.


STR:6  DEX:7 STA:8  CON:5  WIS:8 CHA:2


"No power in the 'verse can stop me." River


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This has been a rough week.



Tuesday was overall a Good Day, although it didn't go the way I am used to. I am a creature of habit. When things go awry, I can get... edgy. The Men's group I'm doing at the gym runs on Tuesdays at 5:45 pm. This is problematic; it is smack-dab in the middle of my Tuesday Pizza night with my small monsties. I had to leave in the middle of dinner, leaving them with my older son (who just turned 27). This stressed out nobody but me.


Also, I did not get any Buffalo Chicken pizza. I had eight ounces of marinated turkey breast and some sweet potato fries. It was awesome and my food metrics that day were amazing. Still, I felt totally off-kilter for the rest of the day.


The workout was pretty good considering Jon had to account for a spectrum of ability. Most of the guys in the group are beginners to fitness and watching most of them flail at certain points reminded me of my first boot camp, right up to the point where none of them went and puked in the garbage can in the corner.



Pictured: some random bro. You can tell it's not me because of the lack of awesome.


I was especially proud of my friend. He is somewhere between where I was in 2008 (fat, sick and out of shape) and 2012 when I started Boot Camp (fat and out of shape) and he did not quit. We did circuits as a group and I jumped into a different group than him just because being able to do more than him right in his face didn't seem to me like it would be encouraging. I hope we start exercising together outside class soon, and I will throttle back to stay with him at every step, but when I'm in class, I want to go hard, and there are plenty of guys who are at each of our level and I think I can do that without it being patronizing. He has expressed his frustration at my ability to get healthy in the past and I don't want him to get discouraged and give up.




Again, I don't want to come off patronizing. I love where this part of my life has taken me and I want him to experience his own version of the same thing.


Wednesday went completely to hell in a very personal way that affected my family. I'm not going to talk about here except to say that there was a moment when me choosing jail time seemed like a viable and reasonable option. Nobody should mess with my family.

All I have wanted to do for the past two days was get in the gym and lift something heavy and then run until I cannot move so that I can get the... filth that I feel from that day out of my system. And I have not had the opportunity. 


Thursday morning my daughter had a choir concert at school. She sings like a freaking angel, not that you can hear just her on the risers in the gymnasacafetorium among a hundred other elementary school kids. This child is goofy. She was up there with her friends, doing what she loves, singing like the world was hers and doing all these very subtle but distinct and goofy motions that were totally not choreographed as part of the program and occasionally shooting me these sideways glances to see if I'm noticing. She is an otherwise shy girl who can't speak loud enough to be heard by a waitress that she has known since she started freaking Kindergarten, and here she is being Random Clown Girl in choir in front of her whole school and a hundred or so random parents she doesn't know.



Someone alert the Men in Black, somebody has body-snatched my daughter.


Thursday night, my son had a 6th-grade band concert. He plays the Baritone. When people don't know what that is, he tells them "It's the baby tuba." He's very good for his experience level, according to his instructors. I was proud of him...


... riiiiiiight up to the point where they were taking yearbook photos. Everyone else in the photo looks more or less like this:



Well done, Stepford children! Cookies for everybody!


But as the camera was flashing my son made a face that reminded me of this:



The benefit to being a single parent is that it was mom's night to deal with the shenanigans.


That's right, my kid is that one kid in the band picture - sitting at the end of a row, no less - who looks like he skipped his meds that day.


In the past, crap like this would have been an excuse for me to tank my nutrition and bail on my goals. Not this week. This week has been a




I haven't exceeded 2000 calories all week, my sugar and fat intake has been less than 50g every day and my protein has been north of 195g (!) per day every day this week.


Now I'm off to buy a buy a rope and then work myself into a sweaty pile of goo on the floor as I shed this week like a dirty shirt.

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Jedi Knight - Current ChallengeBattle Log - Epic Quest

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Your awesomeness amazes me. Hope you got your daughter on tape. Isn't it amazing when they open up? Being free and not caring what anyone thinks. Good advice for a lot of us. Peed my pants with the comment on your son and his photo. You don't want those lovely medicated Stepford kids.

Sorry to hear about family issues. My thoughts....you can't do wrong if you are protecting your family. I am here for you if you need to talk.

You are a good friend in not throwing your sucess in your friends face. He has got to do it on his own for him and no one else. You are a good source of inspiration for him ( and me) and proof that hard work pays off if you live through it.

Kick week 3's ass!

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Level 36 Ranger Sorcerer 


Current challenge 




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