My ScotiaBank Waterfront Toronto Half-Marathon Race Report

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You: This entry looks long. What is it really about?

Me: This is a race report, summarizing my training, but more importantly focusing on actual race day. It explains what I learned, what went wrong, and what I should certainly do again. It’s meant to be a personal guide so my next race will be even better. This was my first half-marathon, done a year and three months after being diagnosed with t1d.

I hope this will help other newly diagnosed type 1’s on their fitness journey. You can do any distance you want, any race you want. It’ll take a lot of prep, but anything is possible. Don’t let your broken pancreas stop you from anything.

Goal: Complete the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon feeling good!

Goal completed? YES! Finished in 2:39:10, no medic tents and great bg’s *happy dance*

Lessons learned: 

  • Cross training is essential for running or any other sport you decide to do
  • Be patient. Really patient. What works one day won’t work another day. Enjoy the little victories and don’t dwell on the bad numbers or yucky runs. If you have a type A personality like me, this will really drive you up the wall. Stay strong!
  • Don’t listen to anyone else. Only you know your body. Everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing and many times those people don’t have your disease and don’t know even know what type 1 diabetes really is anyways. So smile, say thank you (because they mean well), and in one ear…out the other.
  • Plan for sick days/weeks and allow enough wiggle room in your training to rest and recover if need be
  • Don’t eat/drink ANYTHING new on race day, stick to what you know
  • Warm up. I preach this all the time and yet on race day, I did not do this. I could have saved myself 3km’s of grief.
  • Bring clothes you can throw away after you get warmed up
  • Be prepared for your bg’s to do anything they want to. I was so surprised at how many carbs I consumed. My body was just burning up everything. In future I need to carry a lot more with me
  • Bring your support team. At the end when you are really drained, your support team cheering will carry you home.
  • Write race report RIGHT after the race or you’ll forget the details

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How I got to the start line (aka. training): 

Before I started training for the half-marathon, I was coming off of my first two try-a-tri’s (that’s a mini triathlon 400m swim-10km bike ride-2.5km run) that took place at the end of July/early August. Prior to that, I took part in an triathlon training clinic that had me exercising about 5 times a week (on top of my usual weights at the gym, roughly 3 times a week).

Since I had never done a triathlon before, my body was definitely feeling strong and getting solid from all the cross training. I believe this provided a great base for me. By working other parts of my body aside from running muscles, it made me a better runner.

Key Lesson: Everything is Connected. 

After the two triathlons I felt like I needed to play catchup. The half marathon clinic my friends were part of was in full swing and I had missed a significant portion of it. I ran on my own and tried to follow a general schedule. I was frequently going low and remedied the situation by taking no insulin prior to runs and 50 per cent less post runs. I got to this after many long meetings with my team at the hospital and LOTS of trial and error. LOTS.

I eliminated hill training and speedwork as after many attempts, it just made me feel sick. My numbers would spike and since I have a really tight range of bg’s at the moment, it made me go high and I would feel like vomiting. One scary run took place when I tried to attempt a faster-than-a-jog 3k. I upped my speed just a tad (I miss running at a faster speed since being diagnosed) but by the time I made it home I fell to the floor and was dry heaving in a dizzy mess. That was my tipping point where I said enough is enough and to just not push too hard. I have a hard time giving myself a break with these things so that was a huge breakthrough that my goal should be to have fun and enjoy the process.

Capital F for Frustration

I found it extremely frustrating and at times, I just wanted to take off my running shoes and hurl them into the air (but I didn’t. Because I love my running shoes. And they are expensive). Sometimes I felt like all I was doing was going in circles. Test, eat what I thought was a lot of carbs pre-run, run, test, felt dizzy, thinking “am I low or just tired?”, stop, test…

I’m tired from just writing it out. Let’s just get it out there. When I ran on my own I broke down. A lot. All I wanted was my body to just co-operate. But no. My pancreas was like Newman from Seinfeld, coming in and disturbing me at the most inopportune times.

As I was and still am in a type of honeymoon phase (that’s when your pancreas is still working somewhat, and it’s never consistent), it made it even more difficult to calculate my insulin and how many carbs I needed for each workout.

What’s worse is that I was dealing with the post frustrations of guessing three different kinds of exercise for the triathlon. I think my patience was running out.

Correction, I KNEW my patience was running out.

Go away flu. No time for you. 

Then came the flu.

It was my first time getting the flu since being diagnosed. It seemed to have lasted three weeks.

Realizations include: not all medicine is carb free, it takes much longer to recover from the flu, my blood glucose levels were significantly higher and dehydration can creep up on you, so drink lots of water.

It was a huge interruption to my training. I tried a few times to run and push my body but it wasn’t having any of it.

Finally I came out of it but by then there were only a few weeks left before the half.

I did some long runs running a lot slower than I would have but I managed to get them in so hurrah!

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Race Day: 

Woke up around 5:15 a.m. as I had to be on the bus by 6:30 a.m. I ate my usual breakfast (coffee with two stevia packets and almonst milk, one slice of gluten-free toast with almond butter, with chia seeds sprinkled on top).

Disclaimer: if you don’t want to hear about digestion issues, please skip to Start Line. 

Before I left the house I went to the washroom as usual. I was happy! Typically for races I get nervous and can’t go. However by the time I got down to the race site I had to again. And again. It was not fun. I was happy that my system was empty however I was worried that this pattern would continue well into the race. Luckily it didn’t.

Start Line. 

Stayed near the 2:45 pace bunny as I thought that would be a realistic time to follow. I was estimating I would finish around 3  hours if all went well (so my final time was a surprise!). Bonus: it wasn’t too cold.

The first 3k were so painful. Because I didn’t warm up and it was slightly cold, my calves just seized up. I could barely keep up with the 2:45 pace bunny and I just kept thinking to myself, “I don’t know how I’m suppose to run a half marathon. This hurts too much.” Luckily my legs got warmed up and I was able to keep going.

Never try new things on race day

Was feeling fine, testing and downing Gatorade at each stop including water, which worked out wonderfully. Again, I didn’t take any Gatorade during training runs. I also downed a PowerGel having never tried it before. I now realize this could have caused some major gut rot.

13k my right knee started to feel very painful. It got to the point where I was hobbling on it. It was hurting with every step. I don’t know if I eventually became numb to the pain or it went away, but either way, I worked my way through it.

The last km was such a rush. I got a bolt of energy. I saw my Connected in Motion friends first! I gave them both sweaty hugs. Then I saw my cousin, then some run club friends. I was on a high! I sprinted the last stretch and was so happy.

Post race I had a banana, and half a can of Coke and my numbers were still good. I was afraid of going low before bed so I ate a lot and was subsequently high but I think it’s worth it going to bed at 13 after your first half when you don’t know what on earth will happen as you sleep. I’d take that over having a low.

I’m not sure if I’ve covered everything but this is what I’ve got so far. If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck on your fitness journey and let me know how you exercise with t1d 🙂

Race Day bg summary (mmo/L)

*food/water times are mostly guessed for actual race time

5:24 a.m. 6.4 wakeup/before breakfast

-1 coffee w/ two Stevia packets, almond milk

one slice gluten-free toast with almond butter and chia seeds sprinkled on top

7:00a.m.

-one granola bar

8:28 a.m. 5.4 (last check before race)

-ate another mini Lara Bar

gatorade and water

chocolate PowerGel

10:12 a.m. 5.2

-gatorade and water

-ate mini Lara Bar

11:20 a.m. 5.7

-Lara Bar

-gatorade and water

12:13 p.m. 6.6

-banana

-1/2 bottle of Coke (tasted so good)

1:22 p.m. 6.8 (before lunch)

-gyros wrap, french fries

-50 per cent less insulin

4:03 p.m. 5.8 (after lunch)

6:09 p.m. 4.7 (before dinner)

9:26 p.m. 6.7

-I can’t remember but must have ate up a storm

11:56 p.m. 13.6

Next day 5.6 morning bg

Please share with me your race experiences. Thanks for reading 

Coming out of the closet: my first meet up with other Type 1 diabetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This post got the Best of the ‘Betes Blog award for my story about a D-meetup in October 2013. Thank you!

 

 

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Connected in Motion‘s trampoline dodgeball tournament this past weekend. Here we are, team Tight & Bright! We lost, but we can be seen a mile away in our neon attire. That’s a win in my books. 

It’s funny how quickly I went from a confident, bubbly personality to an insecure little schoolgirl.

The night before my first type one outing, I felt like it was the first day of school.

Thoughts went as follows: Will they like me? What time should I get up so I have ample time to prepare? Will they like me? I hope I don’t seem like a newbie diabetic. What’s wrong with being a newbie diabetic? Will they like me? Is everyone going to be on pumps? What if I get a low? Will they like me? Maybe I shouldn’t do this….

You get the point. But once I got in and introduced myself, that feeling went away in about 90 seconds.

Cue applause for Connected In Motion-an amazing group of T1D’s and for the first time, I was surrounded by people who got it. Got what it meant to deal with diabetes day in and day out.

The most beautiful part of all of this? None of it had to be said.

It was a very big step for me. Last year I remember being in hysterics crying to my close friends and family, begging them to keep my secret.

I remember that dreaded moment when I realized I had to tell my pace leader at run club that I had diabetes. I motioned her to come close to me, separating us from the group.

“Listen, you can’t tell ANYONE but I have type 1 diabetes. Please don’t say a word. But I just thought you should know in case something happens.”

To this day a lot of people still don’t know I have diabetes. 

I think part of the reason I was and still am at times apprehensive about talking about it is because I feel that the majority of the population really don’t know what it is. Diabetes is made fun of. It’s associated with overweight and unhealthy people who don’t take care of themselves.

Every time I had to tell someone I would say very sternly…

“This has NOTHING to do with how much sugar I consumed. I did nothing to provoke this. I was living a very healthy lifestyle.  No I cannot be cured by a detox cleanse or boiling seeds from the highest treetops in Costa Rica. I’m sorry to hear your great uncle Bob has diabetes. He still eats cake? That’s nice. No I can’t just pop a pill be fine. This is an autoimmune disease! It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault… do you hear me? This wasn’t my fault.”

In fact it wasn’t until recently that I stopped asking my endocrinologist each and every visit if there was anything I could have done to have prevented type 1 diabetes.

She has been wonderful about it, being supportive and with a calming voice reassuring me each time. I knew the answer wouldn’t change, but I needed to hear it from a medical professional. Multiple times.

It has been a long, dark and incredibly challenging journey this past year. Spending half a day amongst people with the same disease has helped me in ways I’m sure I don’t even know. I don’t feel alone anymore.

I will delve into this topic in more detail in later posts but my main message is this: If you are dealing with diabetes, break through the insecurity and go find a support group. You don’t know what you’re missing until you experience what it’s like to be supported by strangers and hopefully new friends.

Thank you Connected in Motion. Saturday’s experience is one I’ll never forget. Now here is a shot of two amazing legs from team Tight & Bright.

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Putting one foot in front of the other,

Jessica

Vacationing, Type 1 Diabetes & Exercise

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Bon Voyage (to me) !

I’m heading away somewhere hot (to be decided at this point), but I know for a fact I’ll be plopped on a beach, tanning, swimming, and singing out loud to the discomfort of the strangers around me.

It’s my mission to escape the Canadian cold for just a little while.

Just to be clear, I really do love the crisp fall air as it’s perfect running weather. 

Now enter that little uncomfortable grumbling in my belly. This will be my first vacation outside of North America. Last year I ventured to Pennsylvania for three days but other then that, I’ve been in province. I’m a bit nervous!

As I usually do, I took to the Twitterverse to ask for your help! Here are some great suggestions I got from Jen Grieves aka. MissJenGrieves,  Jolene aka. Yoga_Pumper, Anne Marie Hospod aka. SweetRunMDSara Nita aka. NitaCure4T1D & JDRFAdvoacy.

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TIPS ON TRAVELING 

1. Purchase a Frio to keep insulin cool. Your insulin is no good when it’s boiling under the hot sun. Or freezing in the Arctic.

2. Pack double the amount of all supplies just in case of emergency. That includes a spare pump, extra insulin pen etc.

3. Obtain a letter from a doctor instructing security officials about passing through x-rays with a pump, carrying an insulin pen and lancets etc. on board, whatever needs to be clarified before your vacation. Better safe than sorry.

4. Carry all supplies on board with you. It guarantees you’ll have it when you land. This can’t always be said of your checked luggage.

So here’s what I need to do: compile a list of must-have’s for the trip, and make sure I feel safe so far away from home with all my supplies so I can vacation, exercise and enjoy myself! Yes, I’m that person in the hotel gym for over an hour or running the streets of my vacation city.

Diabetes supply list for happy vacationing and out of town exercise: 

  • Insulin Pen (x2)
  • Lancets (10)
  • Pricker (x3)
  • Test Strips (100)
  • Alcohol wipes (10 individual packs)
  • Glucose Tabs (5 Dex 4 bottles)
  • Needles (10)
  • Extra batteries for metre or charging device
  • Stevia packets (20)
  • Glucagon (1)
  • Letter front doctor
  • Vaccinations for international travel
  • Know the location of the nearest hospital and english speaking doctors
  • Extra antibiotics
  • Proper footwear to protect your feet
  • Road ID bracelet
  • CamelBak Podium Chill water bottle (I like that these bottles never leak, are great for cycling and are easy to clean. I also bang these around a lot and they seem to take it pretty well.
  • e Load Endurance Powder in zip lock bags (4) I take this during long rides/runs and it keeps my bg’s pretty steady. I also like the taste!
  • HammerGel Recoverite in zip lock bags (4) I take this after heavy weight sessions and after intense training events. 
  • SPI Belt (or whatever you need to carry all your goodies on the go). I don’t run without it. I also keep it poolside when I’m training too).

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Helpful Links

JDRF Advocacy’s article on traveling with diabetes

Jessica at blog Mastering Me has a great article on traveling with type 1. Her experience when trekking in Asia.

Am I missing anything? What do you think of the list?

Peace, Type 1 & Exercise,

Jessica

 

What do YOU want to know about type 1 diabetes & exercise?

It’s one of the first things I did when I heard my pancreas decided to attack itself.

Google.com-type 1 diabetes-exercise-search.

What I found was some really great articles, a ton of extremely accomplished athletes with type 1, but not quite a one-stop shop filled with the resources I was looking for. After some experimenting, a concrete diagnosis and a total life haul, here I am. I’m going to build what I need and hopefully help diabetics of all kinds in the process.

So hello! (Waves to the computer screen). What do YOU want to know about type 1 diabetes and exercise?