Monthly Archives: February 2015

Diabetes and the racing equation

(It’s taken me longer than I intended to post this second part of my Vancouver First Half half marathon recap; again, I blame chemistry.)

So where were we? Oh right, I had just kicked my last personal best out of the park, knocking off a solid four minutes. And oh how I wish I could have started this post with a conquering WAHOO all around, but sadly, frustratingly, Dear Diabetes was having none of that.

Vancouver First Half: Racing strategy win. Diabetes strategy fail.

Dear Diabetes drew me in early on, tantalizing me, teasing me with a good, solid streak of no lows while training. I didn’t dare gloat or boast about it for fear her ugly head would rear, I just kept happily running along, diabetes NOT at the front of my thoughts. But then, it all turned sour. About a month and a half ago, ohhh right about the start of chemistry (see above), my running blood sugars went every which way but the right way to Sunday.

Race day was no exception.

At about 9 p.m. Saturday night, I started feeling pukey. I checked my blood sugars and they were higher than I like. They kept going up and up and up. I checked them multiple times through the night, gave myself insulin at least three times, and still they didn’t come down. I woke up with them at 8.8 (I like them to be 6.0). I knew they’d surge up following breakfast given how they’d been the last month or so for long run Sundays. I increased my basal rate by 80 per cent for the hour following breakfast, hoping that would counteract a major high. By the time I got to the race course an hour before the start, they were 10.1. It was too late to give another dose of insulin or to increase the basal. I hoped, though, also given the Sunday run patterns that they’d soon drop… just not bottom out.

Initially I was planning to take drastic measures with my temporary basal throughout the run. Instead of dropping it down 50-70 per cent has been my normal, I was going to shut it off outright to avoid any kind of low. But something in me just didn’t feel right about that decision, so I was bit more conservative and only dropped it down to 80 per cent.

The second part of my diabetes strategy was to load up on shot blocks and my homemade sports drink throughout the entire run. Again, maybe a little drastic, but I did not want a low, and it seemed for all my long training runs lately, I couldn’t stuff the shot bloks in fast enough to keep my blood sugars level. I popped my first three shot bloks and took a swig of drink about 5 minutes before the start . Every subsequent 20 minutes, I popped two more with a shot. In total, I went through two packages of shot bloks, save two, and two 400 mL bottles of the sports drink.

The third and final diabetes strategy: I was not to test my blood sugars.

So let’s review shall we: I dropped my basal to 80 per cent for the duration of the run; I loaded up on sugar-filled carbs, some might say overdosed; and I did not keep a running track of my blood sugars while doing so. Pretty much, the basics for What Not To Do With Diabetes.

Five minutes after crossing the finish line, my blood sugars were 15.8. Crap. I jacked up my basal rate to 100 per cent for two hours, gave myself an instant bolus correction dose, did not have a thing to eat (no recovery carbs/proteins for me), and shook my head with the injustice of it all. About an hour later, they were at 23.3. Holy freaking crud ugly monkey, what the frick! One hour after that they were 18.8. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. And three hours later they were 3.1.

Bloody freaking hell. Just run me over with a train why don’t you.

Death by highs.

The feeling of high blood sugars, 5,000 times worse than the worst hangover!

No wonder I felt like absolute crud the last 4 or so kilometres of the race.

Diabetes fail.


“Holy freaking hell, I did it!!!!!!!”

Yesterday’s half marathon effort was a personal best in so many ways. Oh my goodness the pride and joy I am still feeling today; seriously, the endorphins are in major overdrive.

Getting ready to race.

Getting ready to race.

Despite spending the last 15 weeks training for a half marathon, I wasn’t planning on running a half marathon. I was still pretty jaded from my last half effort, and had promised my body we’d concentrate more on conquering the 10k than the half… for awhile at least. But then the UBC run study happened. A study that, despite being targeted for “beginner” runners, had a killer training program that, not to gloat or anything, I was killing! How could I not see if the solid training would translate over to a solid race? So, two weeks ago I managed to secure a bib for the Vancouver First Half half marathon.

Days leading up to the half I kept going back and forth on music; do I run with it or don’t I? I had never raced without music, but for the last 15 weeks, I haven’t run with music. Could I survive the push without Eminem telling me to lose myself, or Green Day hitting me with Saint Jimmie, or Lady Gaga assuring me I was born this way?

Could I?

I sure hoped so, because race morning it simply came down to the annoyance of ear buds, the possibility of them falling out, or being uncomfortably jammed in my ears, or my arms getting tangled in the cords. It had been more than 15 weeks of not dealing with that, more than 15 weeks of happy, solid running. I couldn’t risk the music, no matter how many times it’s gotten me through a run, messing with that.

Solid decision.

Standing in the washroom line, for like the umpteenth time, I ran into two of my favourite run study chicks, who happened to be aiming for the same finish time as me. “Hey! We should totally run together?” Yes, yes we should.


Pre-race pee stops are aplenty.

I have been running for several years now, and as many of you know, I’ve had a few favourites over the years. But never have I ever run a race with any of them. It’s always been all about me. I generally shoot out the start gates and hope to keep going that way right to the end. But you know the thing about “me” when the “me” starts breaking down, as it inevitably does when you’re exerting yourself so far beyond your state of comfort, if there’s no one else around to help you keep that push going, nine times out of 10, if you’re not Ms. Champion Marathoner, or even just made up of the same mental fortitude fabric, slowly that nasty little devil on your shoulder takes over and slows your pace. At least, for me, that’s how it’s generally been. No matter how hard I’ve trained, when the hurt comes, I haven’t been able to dig deep enough to fully battle through it.


Three pacers are better than one.

But yesterday? Yesterday was different. I had two incredible runners next to me. Each of us taking turns to pace the others. Pushing each other forward when our legs slowed, or voicing reminders to ease up through the start. Checking in every couple kilometres, making sure we were feeling good, or at least not dying. And talking – talking about the sights, the beautiful sights, the endless rays of “god-lighting” greeting us every which way we turned; the fog still hovering across the pathways, and lifting from the Pacific Ocean with the rising sun; the two white swans hanging at the side of the Seawall as we passed, their heads arced together in a perfect heart; and hey, look at that heron over there chilling with the pigeons; and the signs: “How about those nipples?” “Suck it up Princess!” “You paid to do this;” and the people, the cheers, the encouragement. Before we knew it, we were 10 km done, then 15, then just a few more to go.


One day my running smiles won’t look so pained.

It did not feel like any other half marathon I have done. It was fun. It was social. I was pushing myself. I was maintaining a fantastic pace. And for three quarters, it did not feel like work.


Smiles AND thumbs up!

But then, at about 1 hour and 17 minutes in, I took my last 2 shot blocks and my stomach revolted. It was two too many. Instantly I felt the nausea. My stomach had a stitch full across the abdomen. I got burpy. The dark cherry was desperately trying to escape back up my esophagus; some of it did. I’ve been here before. Not with shot bloks, but with gels. Previously, my pace slowed, my gumption faltered, my hopes for a fantastic finish dashed.

But this wasn’t previously. I kept going. I wanted to stop. I wanted to slow. But my girls were still there and our plan, if we were all still together in the end, was to run across that finish line, feet charging together, hands clasped in the air together. I had to keep pushing.

Early on in the run we made a plan, that if we were still feeling great, with about 4 km remaining, we were to push the pace up to lactate for the remaining. Unfortunately, I was not feeling great. My girls, however, were. They pushed. I did not. But I also did not back off my half marathon pace. I maintained. THAT was huge.


Mama’s coming Papsy!

This race, as beautiful and mostly flat as it was, was somewhat evil. There was a hill, about I don’t know 800 metres in the final stretch. That hill, pure, nasty, evil. Pretty much, I cursed it from bottom to top. But as soon as I crested it, I knew I was there, I could hear the people, see the crowds, I was just about done, my eyes started darting from side to side looking for my Rings, as soon as I spotted them, suddenly the nausea was nothing. My pace shot up, as did the smile on my face. And then, I saw the clock.










My own personal pace bunnies.


And another of my favourite run study chicks who also PB’d. Yep, we rock 🙂

Vancouver First Half half marathon, I love you ❤

Ramblings of a Type-1 No. 6076

The other day after reading one of my most favourite fellow type-1’s blog posts about a recent low she had, I started reflecting on the lows of my life. This isn’t an unusual thing. I think when something out of your control renders you completely helpless to the point of holy freak that happened and I survived (yes, some have been that dramatic!) it sticks with you and is a constant reminder that no matter how well you manage your Dear Diabetes frienemy, you just never know when her evilness will underhandedly strike you down.

I’ve had some doozies over the years; some I’ve already shared, some I will never share. I’ve passed out alone in a ditch; I’ve smashed head first into the corner of a pointed glass coffee table, full weight down; I’ve woken up with my tongue a throbbing, swollen mess and the insides of my cheeks red and raw from an evening of repeatedly biting down on them; I’ve come to, more times than I can count, with my head a heavy, groggy haze, not knowing what happened, how I got to that point, where I was.

All scary, but none even close to the nightmarish middle-of-the-night low I had two and a half years ago. A memory that still shakes me to the bone.


Little Ring was an infant, probably less than two months old. My body was still adjusting to its non-pregnant state, and the breast feeding depletion of energy stores. I had been having several lows, but had kept on top of them pretty well, catching them before they got too low, eating an endless supply of fruits and peanut butter to keep me going (on top of my regular meals and snacks) and hopefully, eventually find a balance.

For the most part, Little Ring was a fantastic sleeper. But still, early on we were doing  I think one or two feedings in the middle of the night, and there were a couple of nights when I was so exhausted I fell asleep with him nuzzled on my chest. One night, around 2:30 a.m., I woke up and my heart leaped straight into my throat.

He’s not there!

I started frantically digging around the bed, pulling up the duvet, throwing my pillows (one of which is super firm and crazy heavy), tears filling my eyes.

“Where is he? Where is he?”

Big Ring woke. He didn’t know what was going on. He tried calming me. He tried smoothing my arm. I would not still. The words would not form. But the thoughts…

Had I suffocated my son?
Is he buried under my pillows?
Is he tangled in my blanket, struggling for oxygen?
Where is he?
Where is he?

He was in the bassinet soundly sleeping next to our bed. I had put him to bed hours earlier. He was never on my chest. It was a moment that lasted probably less than a minute, but a moment that cracked my heart, a crack that won’t ever be repaired.

All because of Dear Diabetes dropping down to 1.7.


8:45 a.m. BG before: 10.8
Carbs: 1 shot block
Temp. basal: -50 per cent (30′) -100 per cent (60′)
Time: 90 minutes
Distance: 14.8 km
Average pace: 6:04 min/km
BG: @30′ 4.0; @50′ 4.6
Fuel: 2.5 bottles homemade sports drink and 5 shot blocks
10:45 a.m. BG after: 7.9
Temp. basal: +110 per cent (2 hours)

It’s taper week!!! 🙂

“Oh bloody hell”

It’s time to come clean folks. I am not going to lie. I did not want to do these hills. I dreaded these hills. Secretly, I hoped, wished, silently begged for my critter-loving running chick to have a critter-style emergency resulting in her being a no-show.

No such luck.

I first saw the agenda for Tuesday’s hills about a month ago, when I was organizing the Sunday babysitting schedule. The second my eyes drifted past the workout, they nearly bugged right out of their sockets.

What the frick? Are you kidding me? No! No! No! I am not doing those. I can’t do those. I will not do those hills. There is no way my legs, let alone my lungs, can withstand those hills. Ninety second hills should not be allowed. Eight times 90 second hills should never be spoken of.

Dear Hill, we are NOT friends.

Dear Hill, we are NOT friends.

I spent a month trying to concoct the perfect excuse, but to no avail. Basically, I am bad liar’ I have people holding me accountable; and frick, that little cheerleader on my left shoulder wanting to give the naysaying devil on my right a serious beat down.

So Tuesday, I was tired, but I laced up my shoes; I was not confident, but I laced up my shoes; I had hours of studying needing to be completed, but I laced up my shoes.

And the run, it totally kicked my ass. I felt like I was running with bricks for legs. I thought for sure I would be experiencing my very first, and subsequent, puke-induced run. And my breathing, wow, I’m honestly shocked I didn’t pass out from hyperventilating at the top. I was struggling for air so bad I was shaking my hands desperately trying to regain control. I wanted to stop.

I did not stop.

The precursor for every repeat was the phrase: Oh Bloody Hell.

Indeed, it was hell. And we survived.

Top of the last hill and we smile – because running is what we do.

Top of the last hill and we smile – because running is what we do.

7:15 p.m. BG before: 9.7
Temp. basal: -50 per cent
Workout: 10′ warmup; 8 x 90s hill repeats with 3′ jog after each; 10′ cool down
Time: 48:41
Distance: 6.02 km
Average hill pace: 5:52 min/km
8:30 p.m. BG after: 11.1
Temp. basal: +80 per cent

Direction by committee

(Note: I am seriously behind on blog posts; this one should have been posted Sunday or Monday. Please send all your complaints to the Douglas College chemistry department.)

You say tomato, I say tomAto.

This is the map of the route we were supposed to run Sunday.


This is the map of the route we actually ran Sunday.

013115Sunday run

Pretty much totally the same.

Yes folks, the lost runner in me struck again. But hey, a few added hills never hurt anyone right… right? As one of my favourite running chicks noted, we weren’t lost, we were exploring.

Two hours in the trails – just look at this beauty!

Next time, we do planks!

Next time, we do planks!

And with a water station on route, we were totally set – lost or not!

Riddle me this: How many running chicks does it take to wash a dropped shot block?

How many running chicks does it take to wash a dropped shot block?

8:45 a.m. BG before: 6.7
Carbs: banana + dried apricots 30 min b/f and 15 min b/f (no bolus)
Temp. basal: -50 per cent; – 70 per cent; -30 per cent
Workout: 2 hours: alternating 30′ easy with 10′ at half marathon pace
Distance: 19.28 km
Average pace: 6:13 min/km
BG: @25′ 5.7; @45′ 5.1; @70′ 8.0; @100′ 10.1
Fuel: shot blocks and sports drink – continuous
BG after: 15.7 😦

Seems I had the opposite blood sugar problem this time around compared to the last few Sundays. For this run, I pre-programmed a basal setting on my pump that was about half the reduction from my normal settings and then I started out with a 50 per cent reduction on top of that, upped it to -70 per cent at the 25′ mark, and then when I saw they were rising about an hour into the run, lowered it to -30 per cent. I was also taking in fuel right from the get-go – I did not want to be dealing with lows on this run. Apparently, it wasn’t the proper math all around. See above.

Blargh! One of these days I will figure this bloody thing out!