Ultrarunner Paul Stofko Talks About Being Capable of More Than We Think We Are…& Why We Should All Be Writing Our Own Obituaries.

May 26, 2022

What’s On Your Plate is honored to welcome Paul Stofko to the conversation!

In this vulnerable discussion, Paul gives us a glimpse into his daily life as an Exercise Physiologist, who specializes in senior care, and the perspective he has gained from his residents and how it applies to other areas of his life.  Listen in as he talks about how the hard things in our lives are what shape who we become and why we should live in a way that won’t leave us with regrets as we age.

Share a laugh with us as he tries to convince you he’s just like any other runner (spoiler alert…he’s not!) and gain a smile today as you hear this humble human talk about whether it’s for seniors, runners, or speaking out on injustices…he just wants to help people. 

Paul is a 30+ year avid ultrarunner, a friend of the Indiana Dunes State Park & National Lakeshore, and a Race Director specializing in trail races. He has a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Northern Arizona University & an Associates Degree in Dietetic Technology from Purdue University Calumet. He is a husband, father, son, & friend to many.  His races support many nonprofit organizations including NWI Pride, Jennie Hamilton Scholarship Fund, Outdoor Afro, Tyron Farm Institute & Feline Community Network, amongst others. 

Learn more about Paul, Crazy Legs Race Series, & the causes his events support via the links below.






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Sarah Metzger 0:00
All right. Welcome to What’s on your Plate?. I am Sarah, your host. I am here today with Paul Stofko, whom I am lucky enough to be able to call my friend. He is one of the first people that I thought about when I was entertaining the idea of starting a podcast because I think he is inspiring on many levels in his life. And lucky for all of you, he agreed to come talk to me today! So you all are just as lucky as I am. He is a father, husband, Exercise Physiologist, running enthusiast, winner of several ultra marathons, race director, friend to many, including the LGBTQ+ community. His accomplishments are far too great to list here today. But that is some of his amazingness. So welcome, Paul, thanks for joining us today!

Paul Stofko 1:02
No problem. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Metzger 1:04
As I said, you were one of the first people I thought about when I thought about starting this type of journey. There’s just so many things that the way that you live your life and so many ways that I feel like you have overcome and push through. I’d love to hear you talk about things like being capable of more than we think we are, in many, many ways. What are your thoughts on that?

Paul Stofko 1:35
I guess for me, you know, I wear many hats, and you know, there’s other stuff that we’re involved in. But I think for me, probably when I was younger, I wasn’t involved with a lot of different things. And then, as you get older, you become a father, husband and those kinds of things. And I think for me, you want to get involved with things that you have passion for. So, running has been a part of my life since high school. So that has always been a part of my life that pretty much fueled me to do my degrees. So first I was nutrition major at Purdue Cal, so I have my Associates Degree there but then I was like, you know what I wanted to exercise science. And at that time, Purdue Cal didn’t have that degree. Now they do have that bachelor’s degree. But I said, You know what, I want to go somewhere out of Northwest Indiana, some random website I went on, I found as a college that was offering that to a bachelor’s degree in Flagstaff, Arizona. So I packed my bags and left, you know, here just to kind of go and explore the different areas. I think, for me, especially in college, I was able to kind of get away from Northwest Indiana. So you experience different cultures, religions, faiths, those kinds of different things. So I think I’ve had a pretty great life where I can kind of go and meet different people and for the running, and all that kind of stuff. And then everything that I’ve done is kind of around there. So I think I always wanted to make people aware that, you know, there’s so many different things that you can do in your life, you’re capable of more than than you think. And that’s kind of like the theme of a lot of stuff that I talk about. Even from a small town, you know, growing up in Schererville, did I have any idea what I was going to do and what I do now? No way. I think for me, that was the thing. I just wanted to kind of experience different everything, you know, areas, people that kind of different things. And that’s why it’s kind of led me so you know how my life is now. So I have a little bit of dabbling in a little stuff. I’m not a master in anything. I think I’m learning anything from ultra running to fatherhood, to husband, to race director, I can never say that, Oh, you know, I know everything, I don’t. So I think that people that I hang around with or you know, that I have part of my life are always a constant encouragement. And I think we have seen this or I think you have maybe you mentioned it, you try to avoid the people that definitely want to look at the bad sides or aspects of life. You know, get there’s all kinds of bad things that are going on in the world. It’s but it’s kind of your life and what you can do to make it better. No matter what aspect of life you know, I tried to do you even in my job. You know, I work with seniors. So for me, that is like an opportunity. When I first started in fitness. I never thought I would end up doing that. My big thing was like, I’m gonna work with athletes, and I’m gonna train like high intensity athletes. And I did dabble with that when I was in college. But then 13 years ago, I got a chance to work with seniors. And it wasn’t, it was a temporary job. And I thought, Oh, I don’t know if I’m gonna like this. And I can say, honestly, of all my 25 years and fitness, I mean, that’s like, the greatest time I’ve ever had is working with seniors. And there’s so much stuff that we can learn from older individuals, I think they don’t give them enough credit. The knowledge that, gosh, I can go on and on about that my residents that I get to work with every day.

Sarah Metzger 5:40
Yeah, I’m sure you have just heard so many different stories over the years and met so many interesting people. I imagine that you could probably write a book. Maybe you will one day, amazing endeavor. Just hear the stories of the people that have influenced your life? What do you think is one of the best and worst things about working with that part of the community,

Paul Stofko 6:11
we’ll start with the best. I can honestly say, being a, you know, a husband and a father, and, you know, the knowledge in terms of the individuals that I come to meet, just listen, I think that a lot of people tend to think that seniors, they blow them off like for instance, maybe they don’t understand technology, or iPhone or whatever. But the learner life experience, you know, at the age of 80, or 90, is greater than anything that you’re going to get on the internet. You know, I think that is the greatest aspect of working with those individuals just listening. I mean, the stories that they have, you know, most of our residents now, unfortunately, we are in the phase where people that, like served in World War II, most of them have passed away, in terms of the aspect that I work at, see, if you did serve, and you did see service, you probably be like age 95-96. So we only have maybe a few residents like that. Now we’re getting to the we have residents that are like Korean veterans, you know, some Vietnam vets. So I mean, that those kinds of stories, one in particular, that I always can remember one of our residents, she was in an internment camp during World War II. If you’re familiar with that, Japanese Americans at that period, they had the feeling that they were going to be infiltrating the United States. So they put him in internment camps in, in California. And, you know, you would think, when I would talk to her, I said, you know, aren’t you like mad, you know, being in an internment camp for two years, and she had no ill will towards the United States for you know, what had occurred. And that kind of related to the fact that, you know, God, if you this lady can forgive people that did all that for, you know, two years, you know, and you know, what, I’m arguing with my brother for some dumb reasoning, it’s like, ridiculous, you know, so I think that you’re kind of getting a perspective. Now, on the other hand, when we work with seniors, the duration that you get to see these individuals, you know, a lot of them are, you know, older individuals have health problems. So, you know, in a 13 years I worked, I’ve seen, you know, the good, bad and ugly from people that started off as an independent resident, very fit to, you know, go into different levels of care, from assisted living to skilled living, and then, you know, ultimately passing away, which, I mean, that’s a tough, that was difficult, especially when you’re working in general, I was working with people that were fit, you know, middle aged people that I’d never would witnessed that it but you know, in what my field is this, that’s going to happen, or to see people that are very active, and then they have some dramatic health problems. Alzheimer’s disease is very difficult. One of the kind of my, you know, things I raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, just because I see that every day from people that, you know, that I work with, and to terms how that puts a stress on not only them as an individual, but their families.

The positive roadways, the negative, I guess, in that aspect of what I do, but that is tough, you know, especially, I always tell people, you get close to these individuals, my grandparents are no longer with us, and they have not been with me or think gotten going on 10 years, 10-15 years. So like, when I go to work, I feel like I have another opportunity to see my grandparents and talk about my kids. And, you know, I think that’s that’s it kind of nice, you have like a huge family, you know, in terms of independent residents, we have, like 110. So not everybody comes to fitness center, but in general, like, you know, I’ll come to work and talk about my son’s soccer, baseball game or my daughter’s, you know, because that’s their part of my life, you know, that’s like a, I guess it’s for another opportunity to if I can’t have my grandparents, I can, at least, you know, have them as part of my life, you know, in a small way. And then, you know, the nice thing about that is, when individuals have people come to visit, for instance, you know, Friday, when I worked, there’s a lot of families that were coming in town to see their mothers, you know, for Mother’s Day at our facility, so we get to see their family. And, you know, it’s always nice to have people come in and say, you know, my mom appreciates everything you do for or she loves coming to the fitness center, she loves a little fun things that you do. I mean, that’s, you don’t get that I mean, I’ve worked gyms and did all that stuff. I mean, I, I enjoyed that. But I guess the appreciation is fairly different with seniors, because it’s you. I mean, you get to see them constantly. And you know, there’s more than just like, Let’s do exercise and go home. Like literally people come and just like talk or come into my office, I’m like, kind of like the, the gateway to all the different parts of the facility, we kind of that’s we’re right in the center of the building. So everybody comes and visits and sits down and talks about something or whatever. So I mean, I like that when people just come in, and it had nothing to do with fitness. But just to come in and chit chat or asked about how would my daughter do in our soccer game? Or, you know, How’s your wife doing that kind of stuff? So, yeah,

Sarah Metzger 11:41
That’s fantastic. I mean, in some ways, what you do every day, is fighting a losing battle.

Paul Stofko 11:48

Sarah Metzger 11:49
Because you know that for many of these seniors, probably all or most of them, they’re not getting better in a way to like, end up going home again,

Paul Stofko 11:59
correct. Yeah.

Sarah Metzger 12:00
How do you deal with that type of mindset of knowing that you’re improving their quality of life, I would imagine day to day, especially sharing your own personal life with them on those levels. How do you process the other end of that, though, knowing that, the battle is ultimately not going to be won, at least not from a earthly standpoint?

Paul Stofko 12:27
Yeah, I think for me, you just tried to do the best you can with the, you know, the time you have left, you know, some of them residents, you know, are independent residents in terms of that are, you know, fairly healthy, and are very active. But then again, as you go to different levels of care, like assisted living, as again, we’re going to more they have more assisted. So their ability to do like out outside activities, or go on trips is kind of limited. And then when you get into skill, that’s like a totally different thing. So that, in terms of me as an individual skill is very difficult. And in general, I work with more independent residents. But before I came to the facility I’m at now I did three years where I just did more more skilled. And that is, that is very difficult, because and then that in that time, we went through COVID. And gosh, we got a horrible outbreak. And I can tell you, like, as a health care person in fitness, like I’ve never… like my my wife’s respiratory therapist. So they see critical, they see people die, and they see death… that’s not fitness. I mean, we see people pass away for the whole day, we don’t, when we see past people that were fairly healthy, and then they get COVID. And then it’s just horrible. And that particular time in my life, it’s like, it’s tough, like I go to my lunch hour and cry, because it was just difficult to see these individuals that you work with them for years, and they end up passing away. And that was just tough.

Sarah Metzger 14:00
Yeah…thanks for your vulnerability, and sharing that…. I can’t imagine, you know, that was such a, and continues to be such a hard period of time in our lives. And I feel like people in your position were way more in the trenches of it. Yeah, in and day out. And you know, being with seniors and people at that stage of life is hard enough, but to see them you know, making strides and then it’s like the doors just shut. You know, the reminds me of that, that notion of you know, I always cringe anytime somebody says, Oh, it sucks to get old or you don’t want to get old. But in my mind, it’s what a privilege it is to get old. I mean, the alternative is not desirable. I wouldn’t choose to die young. You know, so that’s just something that comes to mind when I think of people in your situation working with People of the aging community that those that are trained and capable and passionate about helping them is just, it’s just amazing. Yeah, what a service you’re providing.

Paul Stofko 15:10
Yeah, healthcare in general, it’s just been kind of a tough road. I think, you know, my wife’s been in Respiratory Therapy probably close to 20 years. And, you know, even COVID got to the point where she, you know, see saw all the outbreaks, my wife is pretty, to the point where she’s, I guess, say, I hate to say it, but harden, like, that’d be a nurse, that’d be anybody a doctor, those kinds of different things, I guess, when you have COVID , even with being seen things that you have seen in the past, it’s just the volume and the, you know, the despair of it. And I guess, for me, that was difficult, because that’s not me. I mean, that’s fitness, what, you know, we don’t see that that’s, I mean, we have people pass away, but to see that, where it’s now it’s like, Oh, my God, I’m in the falls of, you know, pandemic, and, and we, I always tell people, when you come to the fitness center, it’s like, a positive thing. And that was not, you know, I’m not ready for like, the bad things and, you know, things that are happening and trying to deal with that. So for me, that was like, totally like, whoa, like, my psyche has not developed to handle like that, you know, like, my wife can go in and like, she can do her job. And she can, you know, that’s like clinical care, or doing CPR or whatever, then people pass away, and then she goes on to the next person. Well, that’s not me. I mean, you know, I, remember it, the bad thing about that particular time is, so not only did you have this COVID outbreak, but then you had no family connection with the individual. So you had these, like posters on the wall, and they’re yelling at their family from the parking lot. It was, I mean, I, understand all of that, in terms of the procedure, but, you know, to not go through that, I guess, you know, for me, I that was something unheard of, in a fitness field to have to be like, Oh, my God, this is not, I don’t know how to handle this emotionally. And, you know, it wears on you, because you don’t that positivity you ain’t getting that back, like, you know, when I would do my job, you know, people would pass away from old age or some things they had, you know, problems before. And that was easy to kind of just like, you know, hey, you know, that was understandable. But then with COVID, you had a person that was probably, you know, doing the best that they could in terms of the situation, to have something just like, take them away, and then have no family there to talk to them. And, you know, at that point in their time that they were gonna pass away, nobody there. Oh, god awful. I yeah, that was tough. I remember that, that time, I was like, and that kind of hate to say, and when another position opened up to work with more independent residents, I took it because I felt like I just can’t do that. I just can, you know, even though I still work with skilled, it’s a very small segment of what I do. Now, I primarily do independent residence, because we can do fun things like we had grilled cheese sandwich day, we have hamburger Day coming up that kind of stuff, or we can go out and do we took them to the dunes to, you know, a presentation over at the the nature center. That is what I missed when I was gone away from that independent residence. And it kind of pushed me into like, you know what, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t work skilled all the time. That’s just not me. And it’s very difficult. And that was your only interaction. You didn’t have any, like, long conversations about their family or what they did for a living or whatever. And I’m like, you know, I is working with independent, you know, residents for most of my time, I need to get back to that because I needed to, you know, listen and talk and, and be interactive, not just like, Okay, your 30 minutes is up, I gotta get back to the next person. And that was just kind of how I did it. That’s, that wasn’t me. And I, you know, it’s, it made me like, think you know, what, I just got to, personally to be emotionally to get away from that I needed to do more independent. And then when I went back, I felt like, this is what I need to do. I mean, I felt like this is home and I had, you know, I enjoyed that. I, you missed that interaction with skill. I mean, God loved those people. But it was just so difficult to be like, here’s your segment, I’m off to the next person. Here’s your segment, I’m off to the next person. There is no like, you know, you may see him in the hallway or whatever, but it’s not like you’re sitting down you know, when I’ve independent residence. You know, my office is in the fitness center. So literally, I just walked in my desk and if people want to talk to me, and they can talk to me and they can come and see me, but with scale, it’s like they’re in my room, they’re out of my room. So I think for me at that point in my career, I’m like, You know what, I just can’t, I just can’t do it, you know, some people can do that it’s just not me. And then I think that took a toll on everything, from your positivity to your anger to, you know, so much stuff was going on. And it’s just like, I don’t know, it was just a bad time. And, you know, I’m not saying that that was like, you know, on the verge of emotional breakdown, but I can definitely say, put a damper on who I was, who I am. And I just needed to get out of that situation. So I think, you know, I have no climb, you know, I’ve, you know, been more independent since, like September last year, I started with more than facility, and that would have primarily more independent residents. And I never looked back, it was like, that’s what I can do. That’s the interaction from the residents. And even the staff, you know, when we did a lot of skilled stuff, you just see the staff periodically, but now in the fitness center, we’re just like, kind of the hub of everything. So that’s what I enjoy. I mean, I guess, you know, God bless anybody that can do the health care, and the nurses and my wife and all that. But that’s just that I know, I get all that there. I just remember just a lot of times just God….. Horrible, just a horrible like, well, I’m at home, you dwell on that on lunch. And I don’t know, this was something that was not my forte. So I’m glad where I’m at.

Sarah Metzger 21:28
Yeah, it sounds like you found you, for sure solidified your niche, and who you want to help in that type of field and environment. And, you know, honestly, I’m not sure it does take a special kind. And honestly, it humanizes you to know that you can’t just, because much too popular belief, I mean, many people feel like you’re superhuman in a lot of ways, especially as it pertains to running, you know, you have some extra chip that the rest of us don’t, knowing that you’re human, you know, I think comforts. But how does running play a part in that? I mean, do you in part run for the reason to process all of the hard things in your life and all of the stress in your life? Why do you choose to do what you do in that regard?

Paul Stofko 22:22
I think, you know, I had this, I had a discussion with somebody the other day, and they’re running for them in particular is to get like awards and medals. And I remember, maybe in my early stages of my career, when I started running when I was young, that was big. And then, you know, then I started doing Ultra, so you know, ultra distances, you know, anything above the marathon distance, is considered that. So then, I kind of that was never big to me in terms of getting like, whatever awards, you know, I’m always happy to do well. But in terms of like you said, I think emotionally, it evens me out. To the point where I am more a person that looks internally as I run longer distances, and the whole aspect of, you know, time and placing and all that is not the main goal. I mean, yeah, I was one great, but it’s especially the distance that you know, when you go like beyond like, the 100 miles or, and those kinds of things, there’s a lot of time by yourself to really find out who you are. And I, you know, and I’ve had that situation where I had to drop out of a 200 miler, and then I came back and a couple years later did it again, and, you know, and horrible weather and finished it. So there are times in my life, especially during COVID You know, that definitely running I’d never taken a break from running, running has been like entwined in my life. So if they’re even after like a big break, like say, I do 100 miler, for me, it’s like an after a week, I just get edgy, edgy to the point where the running is just, it’s this part of me. So if I don’t do it, then I just Yeah, I don’t know, it’d be like, emotional control in terms of helped me process like things that I just can’t do at the moment. So I think for these long distance runs, I get to do that, you know, and you have a lot of time, you know, either by yourself or with friends or whoever. And you know, and sometimes you even with people that you’re running with, when you’re in long runs, you’re not talking to them, they’re just like leading you and you’re just in your own little world. And I think that that’s why I enjoy ultras. I kind of got into the point where that’s my race 5K or 10K, this not that. It’s just too tied into time and pace and all that ultras is like you go out there and you’re just like, you have a whole nother world you have, it feels like there’s a whole life that goes on and for 24 hours or however long out there, it’s just a, you know, and I think for me that that balances me out, you know, because I tried to be, you know, as positive as possible in most of my endeavors. So, you know, and I can tell a lot of people, there might be some aggressiveness or meanness that does come out when I don’t do that stuff. So that definitely helps Leave me out. Because I think a lot of times too, I get frustrated with something that’s going on with ever and I can tell you, when I go out for a run, that just takes me back like, yeah, all right, you know, just work it out, you know, work it out in your mind. And I think that, that is the aspect of running that is important to me. And that has come over years, you know, I’m, I think I started running when I was 15. And now I’m 46. So yeah, so you know, you I think as a runner, you change, you know, you look upon running differently for me now, it’s like a stress relief and opportunity to go out and think about different things, I, you know, a lot of the races that I develop for, as a race director, come to me through running, you know, just running and thinking, well, that’d be a good idea, or a recent run over there or something like that. So and the same thing for like, work related stuff or stuff at home, I think if I, if I don’t, I when I’m on my runs, I can well with it just kind of use, you know, I’m in my own little world to kind of figure out what’s gonna kind of be the best outcome for me in terms of what I need to do for this particular project with kids, whatever.

Sarah Metzger 26:48
So like that notion of, I really like to think back on movement provides clarity, clarity provides action, action provides success. It just saw sort of all snowballs together. And you know, once you create that space for yourself mentally to actually think about the things and process them feel like it’s much easier to move forward towards those goals or things that you want to accomplish. Would you say for you running is almost like your form of meditation?

Paul Stofko 27:19
I think that’s my, my Zen moment, as I like, say, by my religion, I guess you can say as well. Yeah, I definitely think that that works for me. And yeah, and I know, some people will use running as like a very competitive thing. And I think that we have mentioned this before. I think a lot of times when people hear about stuff I do, I feel like they think I am like this guy that just goes crazy. This is the issue that I always have when I talk to people that I first meet them, they know of me, not me, you know, they they see the things posted, or they all they know this guy ran 200 miles or whatever. And then I meet him for the first time. And they said, I don’t think I can run with you because I think you’re gonna run me in the ground or whatever. And that drives me crazy and I talked to Aaron…. And I said, I just don’t understand why people always think that and then I invite people all the time for runs that we do. And I feel like man, they just don’t want to run with us, that’s fine. But I feel like these people think that I’m going to drive them to prove a point and I and you know who I am, I would never say if you’re coming to run and you’re new to running and just come with us and that drives me like batty, like I meet people at races and they like this is they have this impression about me is this like, oh, well, you know, we can’t run with you. And I yeah, I always like running with different people that I think I run into a lot of resistance towards me and I don’t understand it.

Sarah Metzger 28:49
Well I can tell you… I’ll tell you right now.

Paul Stofko 28:52
lol… okay.

Sarah Metzger 28:54
I love running with you. I miss running with you. You know, hopefully we can get back to that one day, but on the surface for people who don’t know you , you can be highly intimidating because of your accomplishments. They don’t know how humble you are and how just arms wide open no embrace anybody that wants to run type of guy you are. So I would say for sure anybody that is new to running new to you new to the trails. And the inkling enters their mind of running with Paul Stofo because let’s face it, you are sort of a local running legend probably nationally as well because I know that the ultra running community is tight knit. That’s kind of a big deal for newbies to be kicking out miles next to a guy like you but hopefully people can get past that about them because you’re one of the best people to run with in my experience. And yeah, you just kind of accommodate people you just meet them right where they’re at. Yeah, that is something very unique to you, I think.

Paul Stofko 30:06
Yeah. Because I, there’s a couple times that I what I try to do sometimes is like, I go to group runs like say let’s say Michigan City or Laporte, which, and I don’t tell anybody who, you know, if they don’t know who I am, that’s fine. And I just run with them. And they’re like, oh, you know what, there’s some guy that does these 200 milers. And I’m like, yeah, no, those guys are crazy. And I love that because I love to be like, just, I’m just another runner, that at that point, they don’t know who I am. So we just run together. And, you know, we have discussions and, and then they maybe they’re new the run community, they’ll know who I am. So that’s, I think that’s nice. I always, yeah, I don’t know why. I am always welcoming people. But yeah, that does it. Not that I’m mad at people that think I just feel like, I don’t ever want that people to be intimidated. But again, you know, yeah, we do these long stuff. But you know, I, I always enjoy another group that I don’t know, really well. And there’s always good conversation, you know, that’s what running is, you know. I get questions all the time about two in particular races or whatever. I mean, that’s, you know, I’ve coached before so yeah, I am always open to it, there’s no like, hidden secret, or, my runs are like, you can’t see them on Strava, or something ridiculous like that. You can go on Strava and look on my, whatever I do every day, I post some of my stuff online or whatever. But yeah, it is funny, because then the, the funny thing now is a lot of people know me as a race director. And then when I come out to a run and do a race, they’re like, Oh, my God, you’re a pretty good runner. And I said, Well, yeah, that’s I said, You only know me as a race director. You know, I run a trail race here and there, but I just don’t do it as often I, you know, I still get to get, you know, can be halfway decent on a shorter distance stuff. But it is funny, because everybody comes in, you know, you go to those small race, and everybody’s like, Oh, my God Paul’s here. And I’m like, Oh, Jesus, come on, relax, everybody I just come to is like, this is a training run, or whatever I Yeah, it is funny. But then sometimes I feel like I just don’t want people to be like, I can’t approach this person, because he’s whatever and it’s not. And you know, you can vouch for that. I’ve never been like, you know, if you’ve got a question or something that I’m totally willing to everything that I tell you that I’ll you know, we have these great experiences as, as runners from different events that we do. And I’ve never been like, Oh, I’m not going to talk to you tell you about that, or whatever. But I’ve always been willing to tell you and I think for me, as a runner, especially as an ultra runner, you make mistakes, like who I mean, I make mistakes, like every year, like last year, I had a race just, you know, got dehydrated and threw up. And, you know, everybodys was like, oh, you know, I said, that’s stuff happens. I think that that’s the nice thing about you. On any given day, you can have the greatest race in your life, or you can just be like, God, I just want to give this and get done. Even me, I have horrible races and stuff like that, or do stupid stuff that I shouldn’t do. And I think that I think I like to, you know, I don’t shy away from that. I think a lot of times when people look at Facebook, and you can always talk or social media and just in general, we always harp on the positives, which I do enjoy the positive. But if I have a bad race, I say, You know what, I did stupid things I threw up and did this but I finished, you know, so I think that if you show that there’s weakness or, or things that go wrong, even for a person that’s been running for a long time, I think that helps to bring people in the fold, like, Hey, this guy didn’t run in, you know, all this time. And he even makes mistakes, because that’s your human, you just, you know, whatever you and I do tend to get there’s some aspects of where I get a little cocky, like, oh, I you know, I can eat this, or I can do this and it’d be won’t be fun, then I, you know, screw up or get sick or whatever. And I’m like, Okay, well, then, you know, I even make those mistakes. So I think that, yeah, yeah. And that helps. I hope that helps when I post stuff like that, where like, hey, you know, even Paul has a bad day. You know, it’s alright, you can have a bad day.

Sarah Metzger 34:17
I think it probably does help and not that anybody wishes for you to have, you know, anything but success. But again, it does kind of humanize you. And I think so many people are scared to make mistakes. It’s like a primary reason that people don’t start something that they’re passionate about because they’re worried about the perfectionism or having all their ducks in a row or just wanting to right out the door be perfect. And it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall. You know, it’s more about getting up and trying again, and I feel like people just are scared to do that. I think it has a lot to do with them feeling like they’re judged.

Paul Stofko 34:54

Sarah Metzger 34:55
And the fact that you put your I hesitate to even call them shortcomings. Because I mean, anybody that’s toeing the line at 100 or 200 mile races doesn’t have shortcomings in that regard. But you know, anybody that’s willing to just be transparent and real about the experience of it all, and that, you know, yeah, I, I’ve been running for 30 plus years, but I still, you know, screw up my hydration or nutrition or whatever it is, but you know, what I’m going to just keep going and, you know, go on to run another day, is empowering to people to know that, that they can do that, too. And that’s okay. It’s like giving themselves permission to fail in order to try again, right, because we don’t get to where we are with anything in life unless you fail multiple times.

Paul Stofko 35:39
Correct. And I think that when I started race directing, you get humbled pretty darn quickly from either people like emailing you something about your race, to whatever it may be. And I think that that was a unique experience. Like I started I think my first directing was 2008. And I was still in Colorado, and I had a race out there. That was my first like, one that I actually did my whole self, you know, like, ran the whole show. And that aspect of directing has a new appreciation and coming in as a runner, it has, you’d have a great advantage to understand, like, you know, what runners would want or whatever. But you know, I think for me, we just have a discussion with Tim Fealy. So Tim and I run sometimes during the week, and I was saying that our races, his races and mine are unique to our personalities. So if you’re going to Tim’s race, there are unique things that Tim will have to his race that are unique to him. And for mine, I have unique things like trails and like water crossings and craziness. That’s just me, as my persona is coming up as a race director, and I can’t, I can’t be Tim and Tim cant be me which is great. That’s just the way it is. But that’s the nice thing about you have these choices, and whatever in terms of running, if you want to have a road race, or you want to come out do some crazy thing that I put together, like 5k runs through the pond or something like that it’s stony run or something like that. I think that was nice aspect for me, as a race director to have another aspect of my life or my personality as being a race director, that’s just that bid, you know, my thing is, in terms of my races, I want to emphasize that, you know, what, they’re crazy, you know, but you know, you’re not going to get this at your 5k you know, road race that they have every weekend. This is unique. This is like trails, this is the nature this is tough. This is you know, if you finish, it’s a great accomplishment, who cares what the time is, you know, so slowly, but surely, we’re getting some people over to my side, but but we’ll see, you know, it’s trail running, you know, and that has a lot of my ideas or things that I envision, you know, come from, you know, living in Colorado, going school in Arizona and Flagstaff, that community is super strong in terms of outdoor activities and trail. So for me, it’s like, Alright, I just want to kind of shove the Northwest IN community a little bit more to make it like you know, let’s see, you know, there’s a bunch of parks that are available here in Northwest Indiana that nobody takes advantage of. I mean, a lot of the races that we have people didn’t even know I’ve never heard of them or oh my god I didn’t know this was back here so I think that’s also a nice aspect of it in terms of what I do is race direct is introducing people to to areas that they’re probably close to their house they never even thought about it you know, maybe you don’t have to run there but you can bring your family for a walk or something like that. I think we get to the point where we think just the dunes and that’s it dunes and the trails and dune… there’s all kinds of like little smaller trails throughout you know, Lake Porter Laporte counties that that nobody is there and so when I started doing the races, I went to all the parks department and said, Hey, what parks do you feel like they don’t get used as much and let’s see if we can have a race there and they were all for it because they want people to come up I mean, that’s why the parks are there, let’s let’s use them.

Sarah Metzger 39:13
I love that you sort of just bring it back to the region, I you know, I noticed your Indiana Coast hat you’re wearing today too you know, kind of wearing that loud and proud in support of this area of the world. And you know, when you have traveled to different places where the terrain might be a little bit more in line with what people might think of as trail running or ultra running. It’s cool to bring it back to sort of where your roots are at.

Paul Stofko 39:44
No Yeah, definitely. I mean you know, I’ll be out in Colorado and a month from now to direct the race that I you know, own since I lived out there and it’s unique. The group that we get out there in terms Colorado people you know, in Indiana, I mean the that particular race you can get, it’s easily in trail running. It’s the big, you know, usage out there for trails. And the trail, the trail system that we use for this particular race in Colorado and Loveland, Colorado, receives like, over like, 2 million visitors, you know, it’s a trail system that interconnects all their different towns and cities. And you know, just like how we do with like, a lot of the stuff they’re trying to accomplish here. So I always like to go, especially when I’m in town, is to get ideas for races or how they do it, or what is the big trend. I see a lot of, and we see this now, pairings of like, beer and trail running. That was fairly common when I lived out in Colorado and in Arizona, that was like, you know, 10-15 years, they kind of like, we’re starting that. And then we’re now we’re seeing that more like not only as a aspect in terms of doing like a difficult race, but the camaraderie after with, you know, alcohol. I mean, you know, in moderation, please….lol

Sarah Metzger 41:07
I mean, whatever gets you out on the trails? Right?

Paul Stofko 41:09
Correct. And I think that is sometimes you need that, that camaraderie is like, hey, let’s do this trail, and you can hang out and talk about it. I think that’s the aspect that I like with my races is, like, I’ll meet people that know nothing about what I do as a runner, but they know me as a race director, and I’m like, Hey, I did you’re one of those crazy races that you put me in a pond, I’m like, oh, yeah, that was one of mine, you know, so I like that aspect. Like, they have the instant memory of that particular race because of the uniqueness of it. And that’s, that’s what my race is I want even if there’s a theme, or the terrain or something like that makes you kind of come back. And then you know that that’s kind of how I feel like out West that we have to kind of bring that here we have that camaraderie where it’s not like you run the race and go home, it’s more like you run the race, and you hang out and talk about like, now remember that crazy hill or whatever, as you enjoy your beverage or whatever. And I think that that was what I enjoyed when I lived out there. And I see that here as well. But sometimes, you know, with like a 5k or 10k road race, it’s like you do something in that, you know, you’re off, you know, I like the whole like, just, you know, I think that’s a big Ultra running thing as well. You know, because we’re out there for a long period of time you have family out there. I mean, we tent camp, I’ve slept in a sleeping bag, you know, for my 200 I’m like on the trail right there. I mean, that’s like, it’s a home basically, you’re like set up like a tent camp system out there. And everybody’s in it for to finish, you know, so you have that camaraderie, you know, that aspect. That’s why I enjoy a lot of the trail running in the ultras, just because of that, you know, you’ll find somebody that is, you know, from some other place in the United States, but you become best friends by the end of your, you know, 200 miler, because you saw them like gazillion times or, you know, you helped them or gave them some Advil or something like that, you know, I think that’s the aspect that of why I enjoy what I do now. I mean, you know, I’ll still throw a periodic like 5k or 10k, but that doesn’t have the thrill to me as as doing a trail run, and especially a long distance one too, so. And I think that everybody has to find their niche or what they enjoy. I mean, I have no qualms about people that just do road races, but I always try to encourage people to come out at least try a trail just something different. You know, it’s something unique and you know, maybe you like it maybe you dont. I’ve had some people have some choice words for me after certain races they have ran of mine and that’s fine. Maybe you tried it, you didn’t like it, then that’s fine as well.

Sarah Metzger 43:48
Well, it’s no reflection on you, right? It’s just a reflection of themselves and what they enjoy or don’t enjoy, so that’s fine.

Paul Stofko 43:54
Oh, yeah. I think you need to kind of try it out. If that’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine. You know that same thing with me. I, I, you know, I’m always kind of like, Alright, what’s the next big thing you know, a lot of these now in Ultra community now the 200 miler is kind of the new 100, You know, so everybody’s doing that. And now there’s races that are like multi day. There’s 250 milers then there’s the last like the last person standing is another popular race and kind of our genre and I think we’re more you know, when I first started did my first Ultra in 1998 we were a very small community. We are still very small but we are more out there I guess in terms of people understanding the ultra community and trail running and that kind of stuff. It’s slowly kind of creeping into every aspect and I think that’s nice. I when I first started off, you know, the technology that we have for hydration packs and headlamps and all that stuff. I remember running a couple of my first hundreds and we carried flashlights for, you know that I mean, come on. And we didn’t have any like, well we had Gatorade, which, you know, I still use. But now there’s like gazillion and gels, we’re never, we, I can honestly remember running the western states in 2004. And back then there was no real gel products. So what we used to do is we take the power bars, you know, the ones that were really like, horrible, like, you know, like, remember, and you would cut them up, and you’d hold them in your hand, and then the heat from your hand would make them more pliable, so you could actually eat them. And that’s just There you go. That’s kind of how we did it. But then, you know, I think that’s the interesting aspect of that is like, there was some person that was probably at that race was like, you know, what, I can go in my kitchen. And I can make, I don’t know, Clif Bar or something like you know, or come up with a gel that could be packaged, you know, and I think that’s the, that’s the cool thing about innovations. People like me, were just in these races when I was racing. And they came up like, hey, they’re in a kitchen, like trying to figure out like, how to make bars and how to make gels and all that, and then these companies come about. So I think that that is cool. I mean, that that’s the nice thing about those kinds of races, you’re thinking oh, my, you know, we were on the cusp of, there’s somebody out there thinking of that. And you know, same thing, they had a passion for what they did. And then they kind of said, You know what, and I can imagine there’s probably many stories of those people like making bars and gels and all that, that started off and had years and years and years and trying to figure out exactly how to make that product available, or how to package it and all that stuff. So I mean, that’s it’s kind of nice to be like, oh, yeah, are early stages kind of pushed somebody to find the passion to, you know, make a whole business out of it. Yeah, I can imagine that. I mean, that’s crazy.

Sarah Metzger 46:46
Well, that kind of brings it back to what I said earlier about, you know, being willing to try and fail. And there’s a difference between people that are complaining about what is not there versus those that are creating what is not there. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that my storefront Lelulo’s opened is because I wanted to go out to eat and there weren’t enough vegan places in the area, really none. So I’m like, Okay, well, I’m just gonna create that space, then. Yeah, so showing up in a way in your life, where you’re doing less complaining, and we’re doing I think, is fantastic. So thank God for the evolution of running products. Yeah, what they are today as a vegan food as well. Paul, what in your life are you unwilling to compromise on?

Paul Stofko 47:33
That’s a good one. I think my beliefs, you know, I tend to be, even though I’m like, positivity is like, my big thing, if I see wrong, and justice, those kinds of different things. You know, I think that the everybody’s like, Oh, well, you know, Paul’s some nice guy to do that, and I am, but if I see some things that I believe that are just don’t go with what I know, my internal moral compass is, then I’m going to say something. And I think that you can’t compromise your moral integrity just for some reason, that is, whatever financial gain or whatever that may be. So I think that for me, that’s just kind of, and then, you know, the aspects in terms of that. So like, the love is love 5k, we support the LBGT community with donating money from that. I like cats. So one of our races, we donate to the cat shelters. You know, the big foot 5k, we do outdoor afro, which is basically a organization that promotes African Americans and outdoor activities. So the nice thing about as a race director, I can do whatever I want in terms of supporting the people that are organizations or people individual, that pretty much are the same thing that I support. So I think the can’t compromise on what you believe in. And there’s people going to be like, Well, I don’t agree with this or that. I mean, that’s ultimately, that’s their decision and their opinion, but I gotta do what I got to do kind of thing. So I think for me, that is a nice aspect of like, race directing, is you can kind of like, go out there and support those people. And then you know, Dunes is awesome, you know, the, the dunes and we do beach cleanups, that kind of stuff. That’s also another big thing for me as well. So, I think for me, I, I want to incorporate whatever I do into, like, my moral compass, and keep doing that kind of things. And you know, I always tell people, you know, one of the things that I always like to do and and I post this on my wall, which is kind of morbid, but I was in a creative writing class like 15 years ago, and they recommend every five years you write your obituary, and in your obituary, you try to look at what aspects that you’ve been doing. And again, your obituary will grow as you get older in terms of your career, whatever. So when you look over that obituary, is there some aspects in your life that you’re going to remember for that are not fully developed, something that you want to be known as, you know, your work is work, and that will be whatever, but the person or the, you know, what you want to be remembered as, for whatever they think that little like skilled writing thing that you do by looking like writing a obituary will kind of be like, Oh, my God, there’s maybe aspects that I need to focus in on and then as you get older, again, that, you know, I think for me, I look internally more so than I did, when I was younger. And that that comes with the what I do as a job as a runner, the husband and the wife and well not the wife, yeah, husband…being married. But I think that , you know, that’s where you kind of start to go, okay, you know, you know, nobody’s gonna remember you for like, hey, you know, what, Paul did a great job at work. I mean, sure, I did, but I wouldn’t remember some more than like, like, encouraging people to kind of follow their passions, and that kind of stuff. So I think for me, as I get older, that’s where I’m starting to look like, okay, you know, Paul, never compromising what you believed it. And if that’s something that, you know, that that you get from what I do, then that’s a good thing, you know, materialistic and stuff Like, that’s never been big on my list. I think for me, I just, I want people to like, you know, we talk, to follow your passions to never compromise in terms of what your beliefs are. Those are important things. Those are, you know, something new, you know, you can’t put that on a, like, I got a new TV set, or look at this car. I like that. And some people that’s materialistic stuff is their forte, but and oh, man, that’s, I rather be known as a good human, you know?

Sarah Metzger 52:18
I think that task of writing your obituary every five years is, is something that I’m certainly going to put into my circulations of things that I grow from. Wow, what, what an amazing thing. That it’s like one of the single most I feel like important things that you can do for yourself, the more I think about that, that is, that’s amazing. That is like such a tool to learn about your own growth and what you’ve done with your time. Have you used your time? Or have you wasted your time? You know, it’s like that notion, something that you’ve said recently is, what we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived. What a way to put things in perspective.

Paul Stofko 53:01
Yeah, yeah, no, obituaries like, this is the end all come all. So the, you know, when I was younger, I never really thought about obituaries. But as I get older, I read them often, because a lot of my residents are there. And a lot of the time, the residents really don’t really talk about their lives, what they did. And I only found out a lot of stuff about them in those obituaries about the career they had, or, you know, they worked on secret projects during World War II, or they did that or they travel the world. And you know, those aspects, it’s almost like, you’re getting a snapshot of those individuals that you thought you kind of knew fairly well, maybe knowing them for years working with them, but then the obituary comes out, and you’re like, Oh, my God, I did not know he worked this or he did this for 50 years, or he was a woodworker, you know. So I think that you those obituaries, you know, just reading them give you a snapshot of that person’s life. So you know, if you’re doing this, like creative writing thing, as you’re looking at it, that obituary that you write that gives a person that maybe know nothing about you a snapshot of what you did, or what you what kind of person were whatever that may be so and that’s the last that’s the last thing you’re gonna get, you’re gone dead. They’re going to be reading that and you’re going to be like, Oh, wow, you know, Paul sounds kind of interesting. He had an interesting life that and that’s the aspect that I always liked about it, which was like, wow, there’s some interesting things that happened in this individual’s life. Like, and, you know, they overcome adversity or whatever. They were married for 70 years or, you know, they, whatever they made it, I think that encompasses your life and how many paragraphs I guess, and then, and then I can tell you like, as I’ve gotten older, some of the aspects that were important to me is younger, those are omitted, like, who cares like You know, I did this, but it’s like, that’s not really important to me anymore. You know, because you didn’t have kids and weren’t married. So the obituary be very small. I mean, it typically, when I first started in college, you know, you only could do so much your life experience were very small, but then every five years, there’s dramatic things that happen from marriage to kids to whatever happens in your life, good, bad, and all that kind of stuff. So I know for me, like my writing, in terms of what I did in college, was I started to journal like my days, you know, mundane things to very dramatic things. And I kind of fell out of that. And then during COVID, I started to go back. So I was journaling from probably like, for 10, or 11 years through college and my first jobs and my relationship with my wife when I was dating her, and then my kids birth, and then I kind of stopped and then after COVID, I was like, I remember watching some, somebody given a presentation, they said, generally should go back to journaling, you know, the, you’ll look back on these and, and you know, those moments in time, then when you write down the journal, you kind of they start to fade, but then when you go back to the journal, everything kind of comes back. So I’ve been, I try to write every week something about what’s going on. And I’ll, and most of mine were, like, really mundane stuff, like, I went on this date did this. And now I’m like, Well, there’s a, you know, Russia invaded Ukraine, you know, this is the, you know, that kind of stuff. So I tried to now I’m more like looking at the whole world of what’s going on that time. So God knows who’s gonna read these journals, maybe my kids will, but that’ll give you like a slight slice of the pie in terms of what’s going on that particular thing where maybe I’m looking internally at what’s going on in my life currently, but then is the broad spec. Like, we have a, you know, a pandemic, and this is how I feel this is, you know, whatever. So, I think that my hope is, when my kids read it, they understand, like, you know, what was I going through? Or what was they thinking, you know, that would be great, you know, I would love to, you know, my parents still alive, but I would love to hear my, like, 40 year old dad now my dad’s 81. So that would be a you know, that perspective in terms of that, you know, like, oh, you know, that, I think journaling is great. If you can get into that, you know, write an obituary is great. But the journaling, even the mundane things, who knows what your kids will think about the mundane things to them, they get, they get to know who you were, as that person in that particular aspect of your life. And I know, I look back on my journals from like, the late 90s, to now and my writing styles change to more of like, internally looking at, like, things that are going on in the world, where in the 90s, I could care less mundane or like, I want to get through my chemistry test without failing, or I’m gonna run a 50 miler this week, that was pretty much it. Now I’m like, okay, you know, look at the, you know, aspects of, you know, what’s going on in our town development and stuff like that, like stuff I would never think about before.

Sarah Metzger 58:08
Well, it’s amazing where you’re at at different points in your life, and what’s important to you and what resonates and what doesn’t. What I love about the notion of journaling and wondering who’s going to read it at some point is no people have the, you know, the idea of an inheritance potentially receiving something from people that have passed that they’ve left behind, I feel like finding a box full of journals from my parents, would be far more valuable to me than physical things, or monetary inheritance. I mean, just to have the richness of knowing somebody’s life, especially somebody that you loved and cared for. That’s, that’s an amazing thing to do. Paul, I have one more question for you. What, if you have a chance to encourage people to change their mindset on what would it be?

Paul Stofko 59:02
Um, I would say that, in general, if you have a passion for whatever that may be, you need to pursue it. And I think that, you know, we’ve talked about this. There’s a lot of difficulty, I mean, from running or racetrack or whatever I end up doing in my life had, there’s been so much setback, things that go wrong, my career, that kind of stuff. So I think that I try to encourage, and I always tell people, they think that I think people get the aspect of like, when I talk about what I do, it was very easy, like it was a straight linear road to where I wanted to go. There was like this. I mean, I stayed pretty much consistent of what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people. That was my big thing. When I was out of high school and going into college. I wanted to help people. So whatever that career ended up being, you know, that’s what I kind of ended up doing, you know, But I think a lot of people get so hung up on, Well, you know, if I fail and all that kind of stuff, make what she says. I think that in my aspect in terms of my life, every failure, every bad thing that happened to me that’s like a tapestry of your life. And if you were to, you know, some people will always want to go back and be like, well, if I did this or that, and things would be better. I say, hell no, I would rather have all the bad things happened to me in my life, because each one was like learning to, you know, aspect or lesson in my life to make it better. And I think that, like, I always tell people, your life’s kind of big tapestry, like the kind of, if you’re thinking of knitting, it’s like a big thing. If you start to pull on that string about like, Why don’t I take this away of that away or, or I regret that I did, that. That’s not your life. Those are the what you become now from your past, all those bad things, and good things that occurred in your life make you who you are now. So I think that’s the issue that I always have with the people just scared. I mean, I get it. I mean, I’m, there’s stuff that I do, and I’m like, holy, I don’t know if this is gonna work out. And I’ve had things that didn’t work out. I’m like, I remember, good aspect that was like, dead set on having the trail fest, where in Colorado is very popular, we have these like three day kind of things where you have like an expo, and you have like races, and you have like, you know, it’s like a big camaraderie kind of thing. So I had like the place like, rented and I was getting people to speak, and then COVID hit, and then that was the end of that. So then I never did go, you know, so I was like, Ah, so then, you know, for me, I’m like, Alright, this is this in my back burner with all the other stuff I want to do. So I’m like, You know what, I got it. It’s that that pretty much took a hit, like, oh, my god, that was I really had all this effort and time and then COVID hit, you know, what are you going to do? So it’s a setback. And, you know, again, I’ll, that’d be something when I want to do in the future. But you just kind of have that setbacks and just going to, I tell people to, you know, I think and this comes back to my seniors is never gonna live with regrets. And that was one of the aspects that I always saw on my residence where, you know, I wish I did this, I wish I did that. But now I’m 90, and I can’t do it. And that I remember, many of my residents would tell me do it, whatever it may be, even if it doesn’t work out or whatever, go on this trip, or whatever, if you have the advantage of doing it, do it. Because you’re going to be at a point in your life, that you can actually be able to do it. And you’re just gonna, like, you don’t want to live with that regret. And there’s a lot of people that end that residence where they did stuff that everybody told them not to do or that’s dumb, or whatever. And they did it and they became successful, or they had setbacks or whatever. But they never regretted the decision that they did back that. So I think that that comes back to my job, I get to hear that often. So when I have some crazy idea, and I said, You know what, what the heck, what’s the worst can happen? If it doesn’t work out and doesn’t work out? Maybe then it leads you to something else, or lead you to people that will do something or give you an idea or something in terms of the you know, career. I think everything that I’ve done, and the mistakes that I’ve made, something’s good come out of it eventually. Not that at the time, it wasn’t thinking good things. But yeah, everything good came out of it. So I guess in terms of aspect, you know, just do what you want to do. There’s no, you don’t want to be especially coming from a person that works with older individuals. You don’t want to regret when you get older because the the they’ll eat at you there you think that you’ll have you’ll have a different life and you can’t do that now that you’re you’re in your 80s or 90s or something like that. So let’s leave that yeah, live a you know life where you know, you live that you lived and be able to do what you want to do, you know, and you’ll never regret it when you get older.

Sarah Metzger 1:03:58
All this has been such a gift. It’s such a I’ve loved this conversation so much for your time and your perspective. Tell us where we can find you and how we can support you and maybe you know what some of your upcoming races are?

Paul Stofko 1:04:12
Sure, sure. So I’m the owner of the Crazy Legs race series. So your best bet just go put Crazy Legs race series in the Google machine and it’ll tell you everything. We’re on Facebook and social media, Instagram and all that kind of stuff. In terms of races. Well, I will be out in Colorado for my next one but you’re always welcome to come down. That’s June 5 in Loveland, Colorado, but more local. We have the love is love a 5k run walk which occurs at Blum county park on June 23. And again, if you go onto the Facebook stuff, it’ll say all the information and then I think we have the Jenny Hamilton five miler Memorial run at Stony Run Park in Hebron and that’s, I believe, July 11. So those are my two ones that are coming up. I’ll have more usually I take a break for the summer, just because I’m running ultras at that time, and then I’ll be back in the fall. But those are the next two ones, local ones, except for the Colorado ones.

So fantastic! Thank you so much for joining me today. And I can’t wait to share this with whoever is willing to listen. Once I publish this and, and share the conversation with other people. Thank you all so much for your time today.


problem. I’ll see you soon. All righty.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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