Saturday, July 2, 2011

Experimental Error

It helps, I think, that I’m a scientist. Trained in the art of developing experiments and studying results. I’m not so hot with statistics but I do understand that you don’t always get what you want on the first try. In fact, you don’t always get what you want…ever. It’s all about asking the right questions.

My question after this week is: “what the hell happened!?!”

Week two of marathon training has come to a close.

Our long run was 18k.

We have changed the start time of our runs from 8am to 7am in an attempt to beat the heat. Being a good little diabetic - that means that I set my alarm for an hour and a half before the run so that I could change my basal rate. Five thirty am on Saturday mornings seems particularly cruel but I do what I need to do.

I’ve been reducing my basal insulin to 40% before runs and, except for that crazy high I had two Saturdays ago, it’s been working well. I’ve also started increasing my basal to 150% for an hour after a run to avoid the post-run highs. So far, so good.

This Saturday, I did the usual basal reduction and had my usual breakfast with my usual bolus reduction.    

Week one of the great long run experiment. My goal: to figure out a plan that works well for long runs. I want to keep my blood sugar not too high and not too low and I want to be able to eat during long runs. Not a twelve slice pizza or anything but I get hungry when I run so I want to be able to have dates, raisins or something to keep my stomach happy and my energy up. I can’t eat with high blood sugars though so it’s a tricky balance to work everything out.

The plan: check my blood sugar after an hour of running (probably at about 9k). Bring dates for a snack. If blood sugar is where it should be (around 10), have a date. If lower than that, have two. If higher than that, adjust based on how high I am.

In order not to mess up the data, I decided not to have a gel before the run.

The first 8k went well. My pace was good, my shins warmed up and felt strong and Benny complimented me (twice!) on looking good. Yay me. 

Between 8k and 9k, my ears began to feel like they were being stuffed full of cotton balls. Not a good sign.

I pushed it to 9k and then checked my sugar. I knew I was high. I was not sure what to expect but I did NOT expect to see 20.4 on my glucometer.

Insert random expletives here.

I was so pissed off.

Damn it, I’m trying to work things out so that I don’t get numbers like that. Work with me here diabetes gods. Just give me a little something to work with ok?

The problem now was that a) I was hungry but couldn’t eat anything b) my energy was flagging but I couldn’t have a gel and c) my blood sugar was over 20.

My pump told me to take 3.5 units of insulin to correct for the high number. I had another hour of running so taking that much insulin would be insanity. So based on intuition and years of practice, I took 1.2 units, crossed my fingers and resumed the run.

I headed back to the store, my ears feeling full of cotton balls, my breath laboured, my strong pace markedly slowed. I guzzled water, refilled thanks to Kevin (he saved me today), guzzled again and carried on. I checked again at 13k and I was 13.4.

That’s better. I was starving and still low on energy so I ate one date (15 carbs).

I soldiered on.

I got back to the store and checked again – 10.3.

I should know better by now but I let the unexpected high get to me. I was pissed off, emotional and fighting tears. Thank goodness for sunglasses. Doug took me home, I stretched on the back deck and drank water until the cotton feeling went away and I felt better – physically and emotionally.

Experiment number two will be taking place next Saturday. I running twenty kilometers but I’ll be damned if I see a 20.0 on my glucometer again. And there is no way I’m running for over two hours without food or a gel so, diabetes gods, you have been warned.

Don’t piss me off again.


  1. Oh no bummer!!
    I wonder if it's due to the time of day and that you're out earlier?
    I know my BG's run much higher at that time and if I was to go for a run I set a less aggressive temp basal.
    I feel for you though. The hungry feeling with high bg's while needing energy for exercise is like the worst scenario ever. :( I hope it gets better for you.

  2. I feel your pain. It doesn't help that having high BGs makes me (at least) feel really, uncontrollably crabby. So we're hit with the disappointment of "getting it wrong" and the physical/emotional consequences of a 15+ reading.

    Yesterday I started a bike ride at 341 (18.9) and was so frustrated and cranky that I just turned it into an interval workout that started out with me "riding angry," attacking all of the intervals. It helped. That and knowing next time will probably be better.