Tag Archives: half marathon training

15 weeks: friends, fun, fortitude

When I agreed to take on the leadership role of the UBC run study last fall, I was at a crossroads with my running; I was in a state that was fast becoming find some inspiration, find something to regain the love, or move on. When the opportunity was first presented, I had some hesitations: I had never led a training session before; I am seriously directionally inept; what about the Little Ring sitting; could I put my goals aside to help others with their goals?


The 15 weeks of training ended about three weeks ago and this week I am about to embark on my second stint as run leader with the UBC run study. If that’s not evidence enough that this was very much the missing link I needed, I don’t know what is.

How could this not be considered fun???

How could this not be considered fun???

Finally, I was happy running again. Some days the program was more challenging than others, but because I was the leader, there was no whining or wimping out, I had to lead by example; it was full boar up those hills, and gust or bust through those speed intervals. And while the numbers dwindled somewhat over the weeks (might have had something to do with the light snow and sharp cold) there was always someone(s) to run with. I was no longer lonely running, which was pretty freaking awesome. But it wasn’t just running with other people, it was running with these chicks!



Finally – finally! – after a crazy long search, I had finally found another group of solid favourite running chicks. Seriously, I am not just saying that. It took all of one, maybe two runs with these chicks to feel as though we’d been running together for years. We griped at things, we laughed at things, we told stories of our lives, and yes, we even talked poo!

That’s huge.

Running with my new set of favourites didn’t feel like a chore. I was excited to get on the trails, the roads, the hills with these girls. I wanted to be out there. And even though the majority of our runs were repeat runs, routes we’d done time and time again, it didn’t feel repetitive, it didn’t feel long. Some of the speed intervals were out and backs multiple times which I normally loathe, which normally feel so tiresome and long, but with these chicks, it was like a snap of the fingers and the run was done. And almost always, if not always, with a smile at the finish.

That’s huge.

So many laughs!

So many laughs!

And so, when the organizer of the study asked me (probably in the best way possible, calling me a favourite) if I’d be interested in taking on another group of ladies, there were no hesitations this time. I knew I could do it. I knew I loved doing it. And by golly, I convinced a few of my favourites to keep coming out, hells yes I was going to do it.

Tomorrow starts the first day of the next 15 weeks.

Here’s to the love of running again 🙂

(Final note: This is a promise: I will be posting about the dynamics of the study and the man behind the study in a future post, just not as of yet.)

All struggling. All smiling.

You win some, you lose some. And yesterday’s run, much to my dismay, was very much in the loser file.

I could not get my bearings at all. My ankles felt crazy wobbly, and the upper half of me felt as though it was going all over the place too. My breathing was heavily laboured. I was crazy overheating. My stomach innards were flopping. And Dear Diabetes was being a major jerk face!

I woke up at 4 a.m.. I didn’t intend to, my blood sugars went low, and by the time I’d finished slamming back some oj, my brain had turned on, my eyes wide awake, there was no falling back into a slumber. That was just the beginning.

It seems Dear Diabetes is making a habit of getting in the way of my Sunday runs these days with her stupid hypoglycemic ways. So I thought yesterday I’d head it off before it had any chance to begin. I had a full banana, instead of half, 30 minutes before the run. I cut my basal insulin by 50 per cent starting 15 minutes before the run. Two seconds before the run, I chomped on two shot blocks. And instead of waiting 30 minutes into the run before fuelling up with my homemade sports drink, I started right off the hop. Surely that would make a difference.


Twenty minutes in they had gone from 9.4 to 5.5 (I further reduced my basal to 90 per cent at that point) and by 40 minutes in, they were 2.9. That sucked.


Four shot blocks stuffed in my mouth and every last bit of my sports drink downed in seconds. Hello gut rot.

Yes folks, if the above issues weren’t enough, the last 30 minutes of my run had me dealing with serious gut rot. It took everything in me to keep going, to focus on the running, and not the disaster that was my body. There were moments where my eyes were blurred, and maybe even a few where they were completely shut, as I tried to find my happy place, the zen running zone, the one where my pace is being pushed but I don’t feel a thing. That, my friends, is one of my most favourite places, and yesterday it was so incredibly hard to get there. But the last 20 minutes of this run, despite everything else wrong going on, was spent in that place. That’s a positive.

I may have nearly crippled myself running in that place though. Heavy rainfall the day earlier left a few sink holes along the trail. Sink holes and blind running don't really mix!

I may have nearly crippled myself running in that place though. Heavy rainfall the day earlier left a few sink holes along the trail. Sink holes and blind running don’t  mix!

8:45 a.m. BG before: 9.4
Temp. basal: -50 per cent (to start) -90 per cent (to end)
Pre-run carbs: 1 banana plus 2 shot blocks (no bolus)
Time: 1:34:24
Workout: 90 minutes: 10′ warmup; 80′ alternating 15′ at half marathon pace and 5′ 30 seconds slower than half marathon
Distance: 16.25 km
Average pace: 5:48 min/km
BG: @20 minutes: 5.4; @40 minutes: 2.9; @60 minutes 3.9
Fuel: honestly, I can’t tell you. I was just stuffing my mouth full of shot blocks and sports drink to keep my blood sugars afloat.
11 a.m. BG after: 9.3
Temp. basal: +110 per cent (2 hours)

As I’m sure you can gather I was pretty disappointed with the majority of this run. It wasn’t just the unfortunate events, it was the fact that this run, in my mind, was to be a measure of how well my training has gone the last couple months. I haven’t written much about it, but with this training program, while it’s not much harder, if at all, than Coach NZ’s program (maybe the hills) I’ve found my consistency has been near bang on, and I’ve really felt I’ve pushed myself well and seen the results in my Garmin stats. And so, with this run, given that the majority would be spent running at half marathon pace, a new speedier pace that I intend to attempt, I made this run was THE marker.

And when everything was seemingly going down hill, I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I felt I failed that marker. But, you know, sometimes there’s just one thing to do: scream at the top of your lungs, EFF IT!!! (Or maybe I did that in my head 😉 )

It was a beautifully muggy morning that felt as though I should be in shorts, not tights; I wasn’t in an area being threatened with the blizzard of the century; I was running with some of the loveliest running chicks around; I was running.

Parts of it were crummy, yes, but other parts were pretty freaking fantastic… like this moment:

Being chicked by a high school girl's soccer team and both of us thinking: Give it 10 years then let's see how fast you are!

Being chicked by a high school girl’s soccer team and both of us thinking: Give it 10 years, then let’s see how fast you are!

And this:

A mid run stripping of the layers. All struggling. All smiling. LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!

A mid run stripping of the layers. All struggling. All smiling. I LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!



Waiting out the low

Last Friday, I hated Dear Diabetes, like really, really hated it. If I could, I most certainly would have kicked it in the teeth. Most certainly.

It all started minutes before I was to go on my long run. I always test my blood sugars before a run with the rule of thumb that any reading below 7.5 gets a dose of carbs, anything above I wait until my first walk break. But Friday morning, when my BG read 5.7, I did not feed it with carbs – all because I trusted BLOODY technology over my own knowledge of my own body.

I recently got myself a Dexcom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitoring system, which, for those of you not in the diabetes know, essentially shows the trend patterns of your blood sugars. And so, just before my run, after testing, I looked at the CGM and it showed a slanted upwards green arrow meaning my blood sugars were on the rise, and given that I’d already ate a couple figs an hour earlier, without insulin, I put my trust in CGM. I down dialed my basal rate 50 per cent and was on my way.

About 25 minutes in though I started to feel heavy, drowsy, unfocused, a sign that maybe my blood sugars were descending fast. But because I had done 1 km speed intervals the morning prior, I just cracked it up to tired legs. At 30 minutes, I checked my CGM: 4.0. I pulled out a couple figs, but before I could even finish the first bite, my insulin pump started incessantly vibrating and beeping the tone of death (the same you hear on Grey’s Anatomy when the patient’s heart stops) alerting me of my low. I pulled out my metre: 2.6. Oh freaking hell!!!

Two figs were not going to cure this. Into my mouth went a handful of sharkies and a chocolate bliss ball on top of those figs. And down onto the cemented curb of the Seawall went my butt. There was no way I could keep running at that point. I had to wait the low out.

I even had to turn my basal off, which I’ve NEVER done prior on a run!

It took about 20 to 25 miserable minutes for my blood sugars to get back into a good zone. And by that time, thanks to the surge of sugar in me, I was now feeling nauseated as hell. I still had 1.5 hours to go. Frick.

Every walk break, and then some, I was testing my blood sugars making the breaks way longer than one minute and waning my motivation to continue. There were several times throughout the run where I contemplated bailing out, calling Big Ring asking him to meet me at a new locale, but I didn’t. I don’t know what kept me going, I felt like I was running slow as hell, every time I looked down at my Garmin, I cursed the numbers staring back up at me, my ankles were tightening up, I was stopping prematurely, sometimes doubled over with pukiness, but I did keep going.

Common sights on the run: blood and figs.

And when I finally reached the meet-up point where Big Ring and Little Ring were waiting, I had two options: I could have been the glass empty or the glass full girl, and if I’d chosen empty, no one could have blamed me, I hated diabetes with everything in me, and yet, in spite of it, in spite of all those nasty obstacles it presented me, I finished that run. It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful route. I didn’t get lost. And I had two of the bestest smiling faces waiting for me at the end… how could I not be smiling in return 😀

It was most definitely a glass full finish.

But Dear Diabetes, you do that to me again, and oh man, you won’t know what hit you. Revenge goes both ways JERK FACE!


  • 9:50 a.m. BG before: 5.7
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent (30 minutes) -100 per cent (1.5 hours)
  • Time: 1:53:26
  • Distance: 19.16 km
  • Average pace: 5:55 min/km
  • Average cadence: 88 spm
  • 1 p.m. BG after: 10.7
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (2 hours)