Days 127-131 – Getting back on the running wagon

11 05 2010

My Botanic Garden Mother's Day Purchases

In the many days since my last post I have hit a wall. Not a bad wall entirely, because it came with a fabulous Cinco de Mayo block party with friends Saturday, Mother’s Day festivities with my family Sunday (Zach’s card says he loves me because I “give him cokes.” That’s supposed to be “cookies.” He had never had a Coke until Saturday night at the party when I wasn’t paying attention.), and the new flowers in this photo — my annual Mother’s Day present to myself from the Denver Botanic Gardens Spring sale Friday.

Exercise-wise I am still in a bit of a funk. Ran 7 miles Saturday (before the party) that felt similar to pulling the wagon uphill with Zach in it at the Gardens’ sale. I stretched on other days and went for a bike ride with Anna Sunday, but yesterday I gave in. No run. No stretch. Busy shuttling to ballet and just decided to take a for-real rest day on Day 130. We have cold, windy weather — even a chance of snow for tomorrow — that is not helping my cause.

The dread of the race has one bright side though – totally making me forget that on Sunday I also turn 40. The whole reason for doing this now seems like an afterthought…making it still a perfect plan that is now only FIVE days away.


Days 125-126 – A free pass for my birthday

6 05 2010

I have to admit – I am sick of running right now. After logging over 280 miles this year, I have suddenly lost my desire to get out there, and I’m just ready for a break beyond the Classical Stretch I did yesterday.

Today — a windy, chilly, drizzly day — I forced myself into running tights and planned to do 6 miles. After 3 miles my blood sugar was dropping — near 60 — so I cut it short at 3 miles. Tired of pushing my blood sugar up quickly enough to run more miles in my short afternoon while the kids are at school. Is this burnout? Just 10 days before the race? I know I will get back into my groove…

But I’ve been thinking lately how nice it would be if — for just one day — I could give back my diabetes, take a vacation from it, leave it with grandparents and get a long overdue break. Would I remember how to eat willy-nilly, whenever and whatever I wanted without estimating the carbs or pushing buttons on my insulin pump? Could I really eat pizza or a slice of birthday cake without worrying about how tired it would make me later when my blood sugar rose? (Because I rarely estimate enough carbs for those treats).

Without my pump on, I could wear a very fitted dress — the one I always avoid in the dressing room…I could jump into the pool on a whim and not flinch when someone hugged me — in fear they might knock it off my waist. Would I feel like I was missing a part of me without it on?

I don’t feel sorry for myself very often. But Type 1 diabetes is with you 24/7. There’s never a snack or a walk in the park that doesn’t impact your body and require you to make adjustments. And I think I’m tired of how much work it is to run 13.1 miles with it. Almost always I don’t think about this…I let it inspire me to fight back and prove it can’t limit me. Deep down, I know I am blessed with many, many amazing people and good fortune in my life — including the technology and doctors that make managing Type 1 a realistic pursuit. And there are so many more tragic diseases I suspect are much harder to live with. Or that you don’t get to live with.

But I still crave just one free pass…and one chance to remember freedoms long forgotten over 28 years. Can I have that for my 40th birthday please? The day of the half marathon would be perfect — when running those miles would be so much easier without the extra weight.

Days 123-124 — Overthinking the long run

4 05 2010

Tired tired tired from Sunday’s 13-miler. Seemed like a great idea at the time I was doing it, but wow did it zap me ever since! I muddled through Monday and today — fighting to keep my eyes open while playing marbles with my son and watching my daughter’s soccer game. Forced myself to do a late night Classical Stretch Monday which did help my stiff leg muscles once the painful plies were finally over.

Maybe I shouldn’t have tried the full distance. Should have stuck with the SmartCoach, who told me to do 11. The debate goes on in my head…good to know I can do 13 without blood sugar crashing, but paying the price with a tired body now that just wants a rest day — from all things — work, shuttling kids, cooking, exercising. That would be a perfect reward after the race itself, but not in the cards when I have two weeks left to go ’til the half marathon.

The most famous race in our area is the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day. Equivalent to the Peachtree in Atlanta, most everyone who runs has either done it before or is training for it. You will always find a dozen people you know proudly wearing the t-shirt in June. I have never done this race and probably should someday when we’re not traveling for the holiday weekend or when I haven’t just run a half marathon…

This morning’s sports section in the Denver Post had its typical race-prep article: 10 ways to get ready for the Bolder Boulder 10K

I took number 3 to heart today — running my 2-mile recovery run loop in the park in blasting wind that sucked the Spring right out of the warm air.

“3. Train on fatigued legs. The key to running fast is to be able to train your body to run the second half of the race as hard or harder as the first half. To do that, you have to be able to train the body to run fatigued via a variety of specially designed workouts.”

And number 8 suggests you run the course to practice where to go fast, etc. This would take about six hours in traffic on busy Colfax Avenue in Denver, but I happened to drive part of it yesterday when we were near the route for a doctor’s appointment. It felt…long. And it was not even half of the course. Maybe it was all the stop lights? I seriously have been studying the map so I’m not totally surprised by how far it feels in real life. I’m adding what should be #11 on the race prep list: Don’t overthink it.

I find myself obsessing a bit over what I will wear in various weather conditions, what time I will get up that morning, how many glucose tablets can I fit in my pocket, whether I should try the Hydra Pouch water holder instead of the Amphipod, blue or purple Gatorade?….on and on. I need to have a solid plan, but I need to let go a bit too and remember this is for fun. There is no exactly right way to do the race. And I will very soon forget whether I chose the Pouch or the ‘Pod, wore the tank or the sleeves — tucking the race t-shirt into my bottom drawer with other milestone memories.

Days 121-122 – Trial Run

2 05 2010

Saturday I did a Classical Stretch Miranda said was good for runners, which I appreciated when I set out this morning to run 12 miles with my Gatorade-filled bottle in hand. A test run for hydration/sugar on board for almost the half marathon distance. It was a cool morning, but clear skies and mostly sunshine. After a 6 miles on the dirt road loop I was in good shape — blood sugar at 89, 8 ounces of Gatorade consumed and not too irritated by carrying the plastic Amphipod bottle that fits pretty nicely in my hand. I refilled the bottle quickly, ate a few glucose tablets on my porch and set out for another 6 miles. I took a different route to keep my brain from going numb. But between 10-11 miles felt numb all over.

My CGM (continuous glucose monitor) showed my blood sugar wasn’t dropping, and I kept sipping the blue drink. By the top of the hill at about 11.5 miles I felt fine and sprinted downhill to home. A quick blood glucose meter check on my porch read 90, and I decided I could do one more mile around the park trail. This would be my last chance to go the full distance, so why not?

More than two hours running is a lot of thinking time. For the beginning, I was super-focused on relaxing my arms and shoulders — harder with that bottle in my hand making it colder than it needed to be, yet warming the Gatorade too much. I passed horses on the farms and wondered at what age I stopped being so into those? Nine, ten maybe? Still like to look at them, but not too close. Noticed dozens of blooming trees and shrubs and tried to remember their names from the botany class Wendy and I took in college — when we got to wonder around campus staring up at branches. Thought about my sorority sister Lecia, who was running a marathon in Cincinnati today in the rain — so impressive, and wow that seems farther than ever now that I’ve done 13. Who can do that again!?! Made mental notes of several songs I need to add to my “Top 40 for 40” list to make it through race day. And wondered if you’re even allowed to have iPods. A must have for me. I will hide the wires under my shirt. Have to look that up in the rules. Thought tons about the race course and how I need to study it a bit this week. I like to have it tattooed on my brain so I can anticipate the mile markers and celebrate the landmarks on the way.

Happy to say I did it — stopping near the end to chat with Jo-Anna who was flying kites with her family. So a slow, cool down last mile put me at 2 hours, 11 minutes. (stopped my watch for the few minute pit stops, of course) I am so glad I did the distance (minus the .1) to know that I can make it in two weeks. And this put my total mileage for the week at 26.1 — almost a marathon… Should have done that .1 just to get there!

Most people think I’m nuts for going the whole distance in training, but when you have Type 1 diabetes, there’s not a lot of room for surprises if you want to finish a race. The SmartCoach training plan only had me going up to 11. I know after two runs over 10 miles that I need more food to get through the last 3. Even if I weren’t a diabetic this would be the case. So more snack experiments to come, with an 8-mile and 11-mile this week (back to what the SmartCoach prescribes). Then I get to scale back in prep for May 16.

I actually took a short nap this afternoon — hitting a wall a few hours after the run. Better make that part of my 40th birthday plan!

Day 120 – Cut short by carbs

30 04 2010

Yesterday’s 10-mile run fell a mile short due to an experiment. I’ve been trying to find the right energy/blood sugar boost to get me through longer runs. I’m picky about this…don’t want anything that’s going to slosh in my stomach, and eating gummies, Gu, etc. makes me want to hurl. I picked up Dex4 at Target. It’s flavored glucose for diabetics packaged in a small, 2 oz. plastic bottle meant to quickly raise low blood sugar with 15 grams of liquid carbs. Seemed perfect to fit into my running skirt pocket for chugging.

At mile 4, I downed my “Berry Burst Liquid Blast” and kept moving. The taste was tolerable! But a half mile later I felt a bit nauseous. Too fruity… At mile 6 I was running by my house, where I stopped to check my blood sugar on the porch — it was just under 100 — good to go for another 4 miles. By mile 8, cramping knives hit my stomach and had me sprinting home in pain. No way was that 10th mile happening. And so much for my stomach for the rest of the day.

This is why trial and error is key to my long runs (only three left ’til the race). Now I know Dex4 is not an option. Monday’s Denver Post had a relevant article: “You can fuel your body like an athlete: Timed carbohydrates and liquids will keep you running strong”

“‘Athletes who run more than 90 consecutive minutes must continue to refuel the muscles and the brain with carbohydrates,’ says Bouquet. ‘About 30 to 60 grams (100 to 250 calories) of carbohydrates per hour from ‘go-gurts,’ dried fruit, frozen grapes, sport drinks, gels and bars, and even jelly beans will do the trick.’…Fluids are vital during a race as well to prevent dehydration that can drastically affect performance, says Bouquet. She recommends switching back and forth between water and sports drinks — 6 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes — during endurance events to supply fluids as well as essential electrolytes (especially sodium).”

I’m reminded why 9+ miles (more than 90 minutes for me) has always been intimidating. Even non-diabetics have to worry about this as the article describes:

“So it’s important not to ‘bonk’ — the term used to describe what happens when muscle fuel (glycogen) is depleted and a runner ‘hits the wall.’ The brain cannot burn fat for energy, says Bouquet; it needs carbohydrates before and during strenuous events. Otherwise, blood-sugar levels drop drastically and cause disorientation and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

My next experiment includes a handheld water bottle called an Amphipod that has a pouch for my glucose tablets (sticking to solid form). Thinking I’ll fill it with Gatorade to sip along the way to give me extra carbs and electrolytes. Will try to grab a few waters at the stations on the course — but I’m fearful of the “stomach sloshing” and needing to pee! Will try out the Amphipod on my planned 12-mile run Sunday — the longest practice run before the actual race on May 16.

To those readers who have done a half marathon or more — please share what you ate and drank along the way. I’m very open to suggestions… My two-mile recovery run today will be a nice break. Hands-free with no food or drink required!

Days 116-119 – April Shower Brings May Power?

29 04 2010

This is a marathon week of work deadlines and kids’ performances, projects and sports pictures and practices… I managed to up my IT quotient with a new (i.e., manufactured in this decade) PC monitor, new-and-improved email hosting provider for my business AND helped my daughter with a Microsoft Photo Story program that didn’t run on my Vista operating system (also made by Microsoft — h-e-l-l-o!!).

A quick exercise recap:

Monday — 2 mile recovery run prior to Anna’s late night theater performance
Tuesday — late night Classical Stretch “to open and stretch your hips” after spending the day on the kindergarten zoo field trip keeping up with my group of four little boys in purple dinosaur hats. Didn’t lose a single one of them!
Wednesday — 5 Day Pilates DVD: “P.M. Pilates” is seriously the name to relax your muscles before bed, which sounded perfect at 10:30 p.m. Was a bit short, but better than nothing
Today — a 10-mile run planned, but right now there are SNOW flurries outside my window. I managed to run in weather like this in the winter. But that was WINTER and I wasn’t going 10 miles… Maybe by this afternoon it will just be rain. Is that better?

Here is my favorite quote of the week — from “A Life of Discovery,” a biography my daughter brought home for her next school project. She chose Eleanor Roosevelt because her real name is Anna — who knew? I haved learned so much from the third grade this year.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence
by every experience in which you really
stop to look fear in the face….
You must do the thing you think
you cannot do.”

17 days ’til my half marathon, a 10-mile in the rain, intimidating technology, a swirling schedule — I can conquer these things I think I cannot do…thanks Eleanor!

Day 115 – Going to 11 with my CGM

25 04 2010

My backyard tulips are blooming!

I made it today — an early morning 11-mile run by the horse farms on the country road loop, then through my neighborhood and park back by my house to chug Gatorade left on my porch to keep my blood sugar from dropping too low. Exactly one hour and 50 minutes took me to 21+ miles for the week.

Yesterday, I hooked up my continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It’s a device I can wear near my waist to monitor my blood sugar levels 24/7. It talks wirelessly to my insulin pump to show levels on the screen and alert me if it’s rising too high or low. I should have been wearing this sooner in my half marathon training. It really helps to see early on vs. feel much too late when blood sugar is dropping.

I’ve put off wearing the CGM, mostly, because the supplies are expensive, and my insurance won’t cover them. They “accidentally” approved the $1,000 device itself just over a year ago, but since it was a mistake, I’m on my own for the supplies — the sensors you inject into your tissue to take the measurements. One can last about 5 days, so it’s clearly not very affordable to use constantly.

I love the information from this device, but I don’t love wearing it. A little bigger than a quarter, but much thicker, it’s a bit in the way and tends to feel sore. It’s at the exact height my kids bump into and hug often. Other downsides: unlike my insulin pump, you can’t temporarily disconnect it and reconnect it. And you still have to check blood sugars with a finger stick to calibrate the CGM every 12 hours and before giving any insulin.

Researchers are working on a CGM that communicates with the pump without human intervention. Also known as the promised artificial pancreas. My doctor knows I would love to be a guinea pig for clinical trials if that chance ever comes up.

I have enough sensors to use the CGM for the next three weeks to get to the half marathon. The data it provides is great for my doctor to use to make insulin pump adjustments, and invaluable when like today, I’m dropping, dropping, dropping as the miles accumulate — especially early morning with breakfast insulin on board.

The pros outweigh the cons, so for now, I’m committed to wearing this little machine around in the name of going beyond 11 in true Spinal Tap fashion!