Friday, August 31, 2012

A Day in Montréal

To wrap up our adventure, Doug and I headed to Montréal. We arrive late Saturday afternoon and checked into the hotel Doug had found - right in the middle of Vieux Montréal - on a cobblestone street for heavens sake.

I must say that the best shower in the world is the one that you have after cycling in the heat and dust for six hours and then driving in your dirty sweaty clothes for an hour to Montréal. Especially when the shower has lots of pressure and lots of heat. The water was turning brown at my feet as the stone dust washed off and I felt more and more human as I worked out the kinks in my shoulders.  

After washing off the remains of Le Petit Train du Nord, we changed into big girl and big boy clothes and headed out onto the cobblestone streets of Montréal. 

Joseff Ribkoff - the only designer I know and recognize - thanks to the dress my mother bought for my sister's wedding last year. 

We explored the old town. We marvelled at the stone architecture and the old stone columns.

After having spent four days in rural Québec, do you know what we noticed? Montréal isn't nearly as French as it seems. It sounds French and you hear people speaking French wherever you go but, if you speak with the slightest hint of an English accent, they immediately switch to English even if, as I did, you continue to respond to their English with French. 

Not that we were complaining - it just seemed odd after having spent so many days surrounded by people who didn't speak much if any English. 

We bought maple fudge and I found a funky ring and matching earrings that I bought as a souvenir.

We ate dinner in a fancy french restaurant.  

We lingered over Sunday breakfast reading the newspapers and sipping our coffees. 

We had Sunday brunch in a lovely outdoor spot tucked away between buildings.

We knew we had to leave but the relaxed pace of the week lingered over us and we didn't feel pressure to do so. 

When we finally did climb into the car for the long drive, a peaceful silence followed us home. We hardly talked. Having spent so much time together, we were just happy to be in each other's company. Quietly lost in our thoughts, looking out the window, reliving the journey we had just been on together. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Petit Train Du Nord - Part Three

Friday morning was bright and sunny. We lazed around a bit and I enjoyed a birthday call from my sister and her husband in Israel. Guy and Dianne fed us a gourmet breakfast to rival dinner the night before and sent us on our way.

Day two had us cycling from Nominingue to St. Faustin-Lac Carré, about 80km down the trail. The trail was paved for a little while but, as the map had warned, it switched to crushed stone. I was a little worried about that it because we had our road bikes but it turned out to be ok....for the most part. The path was packed and hard but there were tiny sections that were loose sand and, every once in a while, our bike tires would fishtail a bit.

It was at that point that I was grateful that we decided to forgo the clip in shoes in favour of regular pedals and running shoes. I was much more comfortable riding over the slippery sections knowing that I could plant my feet any time I needed to.

Before breakfast, I had decided to switch my basal rates to 70% for 7 hours. It seemed kinda crazy but we were planning to be out there for a long time and I didn't want to be fighting lows the whole way. Turns out that was a pretty good plan. I had great blood sugar all day (staying between 5-8) and only dropped below four once, when we were about 5k from our B&B at 4:00pm.

The day turned out to be a scorcher. Thankfully, you don't feel the heat as much on a bike because of the breeze. Every time we stopped, we immediately realized how hot it was. The trail is quite well organized though and, every few kilometres you can find water and washroom. And every 10-15k there is another converted train station with shade, water fountains, nice washrooms and often a restaurant too. So we cycled, we chatted, we stopped, we changed our one and only flat tire of the trip and we enjoyed just being part of this wonderful little cycling world.

One of the many gares we stopped at: water refills, washrooms breaks and friendly French-speaking staff there to answer any and all questions. 

We'll take your photo if you take ours. Photo courtesy of the lovely family we saw multiple times each day and who stayed at the same B&Bs that we did every night.

We discovered about 10k from our B&B that not all rail trails are flat. While there were never any arduous climbs, we found out that there are slow, long, gradual ones. Like 10k of long slow gradual. At first it felt fine, then it felt a little less fine, then we were slowing down and then I felt like I was pedalling through sand. That's when I begged for a blood sugar check. It shouldn't be this hard I panted. A quick check confirmed a 3.8 so I had a quick snack. That's when Doug told me that we had been cycling uphill for several kilometres. "So it's not just my sugar then? This is really getting harder?"


Sufficiently recovered, we made it to our B&B but with significantly less energy than the night before. No hikes through the woods or swims in the lake. I just wanted a shower and a glass of wine. And dinner.

And that's what we did. The family of three also arrived and we were all happy and thoroughly enjoying ourselves but significantly less energetic than the first night.

Gîte La Bonne Adresse

Funny thing though - a good night's sleep and I was ready to hop back on the bike again the next morning. My body was loving all the fresh air and exercise.

One of the many rivers that kept us company along the route. And a cute little water sprite I found.

Hip-hopping back to shore

Day three and I dropped my basal rate to 60% for 7 hours. I wanted to avoid that end of the day low if possible. We hopped back on the trail and found ourselves heading uphill immediately. For probably 30 minutes straight. Between my increasingly sore behind and the slow, constant climb - I was quickly developing a lot of respect for the Tour de France guys.

Once we crested whatever mountain it was that we were climbing, we found ourselves going We coasted through several kilometres at 26-30km/hour hardly touching our pedals. Long slow uphills = long downhills. We made great time and found ourselves in Val David by 11am. A quaint little town with a Saturday market and lots of tiny shops. We parked our bikes and headed off to explore. It felt like a tiny town in France.

We found a fun little spot for lunch and I ordered "Un croque-monsieur et de l'eau svp". I expected Doug to say "la même chose svp" (the same thing please) but instead he said, without a moment's hesitation "un croque monsieur svp et est-ce-que vous avez du thé glacé?" (one croque monsieur please and do you have some iced tea?)

Wow! Three days in Québec and the man is bilingual.

Monsieur Thé Glacé

Croque-Monsieur (aka a very yummy ham and cheese sandwich)

We ate, we laughed, we refilled our water bottles for the upteenth time and we headed out for our last 42km of the trip. Two hours later, we pulled in to St. Jérome and rode under the arch we had first seen three days before.

Three days. Two hundred kilometres. Countless French accents, lots of stories, pile of photos and enough memories to last until our next adventure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Petit Train du Nord - Part Two

Thursday morning at 6am. We were up, dressed in our cycling digs and having our 'continental' hotel breakfast. We jammed our bags back into the car, under the bikes, and headed to Tim Hortons for our morning coffee. I gallantly offered to go in to order for us. I was, after all, the French-speaking half of this partnership.

Our order was simple. One medium decaf - black. One medium with milk.

I went in and listened to the people ahead of me place their order. Tim Hortons, after all, has its own lingo and it is not something you learn in OAC French class. When my turn came, I asked for "deux cafés moyens svp. Un décaf et un avec du lait".

My order was greeted with a very confused look and the question "est-ce que tu parles français?" "Do you speak French?".

Ummm yes, I am currently speaking French actually....

I tried again and this time my order was met with a hesitant "Ah d'accord" and the price. I paid her and walked out with what turned out to be one medium decaf - black and a medium vanilla latté with extra milk.

At least Doug got his order.

And I got to try my first ever vanilla latté which, as it turns out, has a LOT of sugar in it. By the time we got to the station my blood sugar was a whopping 18 and climbing. I bolused and Doug agreed that he would be in charge of coffee orders for the remainder of the trip.

At the station we were greeted by a very fun sight. A bus with a trailer attached for our bikes plus a mini van for our luggage. The bikes were strapped in within an inch of their lives - they weren't going anywhere.

Holding my café avec du lait (aka Vanilla latté)

Our luggage was weighed and, if it was less than the allowable 15kg, it was allowed into the van. If not, you had to pay for the extra weight. Doug's weighed in a 9kg. Mine weighed in at 21kg.

Back to the car I went to dump my running shoes, my sandals, my running belt, hair dryer and water bottles. I got down to 17kg and they waved me on without a comment...other than Doug's teasing jibes about how much crap I bring with me.

The cool thing about this trip is that it's all organized for you. The mini van transports your luggage to the first B&B (or gîte as it's called in French) and the bus takes you and your bike to Mont Laurier, 200km up the trail. We are told where our B&Bs are and we have to be there in time for dinner. When we arrive, our luggage is in our room and when we leave in the morning, we leave it at the door and it gets moved for us.


By 10:30am, we were in Mont Laurier. We were dropped off in a grocery store parking lot, our bikes were unloaded and we were left to fend for ourselves.

Two hundred kilometres of cycling and three days - here goes nothing!

Day one was the shortest day - only 55km. I say only with a bit of trepidation - we normally cycle 30km when we go out - I've done 60km once and never anything longer than that. I had no idea how my legs were going to hold up. How my neck and shoulders were going to survive. How my blood sugar was going to do. We hadn't trained for this other than our usual fitness routine of running, cycling and swimming. I hoped it would be enough.

Turns out it was more than enough.

Day one was lovely. The trail was paved and fairly quiet. I had pictured a much busier route where we would have to ride single file most of the way. Instead, we could cycle for 30 minutes without seeing anyone at all so Doug and I rode side by side. Sometimes we chatted, sometimes we pointed things out to each other, sometimes we quietly enjoyed the adventure.

We had too far to go to the B&B without stopping somewhere for lunch. This far up the trail the towns were few and far between so, when we found a place that looked even mildly inhabited, we stopped. The only restaurant we could see in any direction was a quintessential chip truck. Nothing says Québec to me like one of those. When in Rome...

I flexed my French muscles and ordered "deux cheeseburger, une poutine et une frites". I got an odd look from the man but he seemed to understand. He did comment on my accent though. He also thought Doug and I were completely crazy because we only wanted la moutarde on our burgers. No relish? No ketchup? Rien??

Nope, seulement la moutarde.

Some things, like homemade pizzas or soups, taste different when made by different cooks. Poutine in Québec tastes exactly the same no matter who makes it. One of the reasons going to Québec feels a little like going home.

Suitably full of calories, we resumed our ride to Nominingue, stopping en route to admire the scenery, take photos and check blood sugar. At two-thirty, we emerged from the trees to find ourselves at a lovely little train station. We had arrived.

We parked our bikes and headed into la gare where we met a lovely and very helpful woman who told us all about the history of the place and its French. When I responded to her stories with more questions  - she commented on my lovely French and accent.

From St. Jérome where they didn't think I was speaking French to the chip truck where I had a funny accent to Nominingue where I have a lovely accent. We were quickly discovering that there are pockets of people in Québec and each pocket has its own little accent and vernacular. I could understand them all but they couldn't all understand me. Funny.

We cycled the few kilometres through town to our B&B - Le Provincialart. A lovely house run by Guy and Dianne. Guy is Mr. Social who met us at the door with water and lime, who helped us put our bikes away and told us all about the house the town in about five minutes. They obviously cater to cyclists and their barn was all set up for our bikes. Guy assured us that they would be fed and watered and ready for us in the morning.

Dianne, his wife, kept more out of sight but we quickly discovered her talents at dinner. She is a trained chef.

We had a few hours before that though so we changed and headed down a path to the lake where we enjoyed a very refreshing, or freezing cold depending on how you looked at it, swim in the lake. We followed that up with a shower, a bottle of wine from the local dépanneur, and a pre-dinner game of cribbage. A family of three arrived (they had taken the bus up with us that morning) and another couple who were cycling the route from South to North. We all settled down for a four course gourmet dinner.

One post-dinner card game and it was lights out for everyone. Fresh air and hours of cycling makes for early bed times.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Petit Train Du Nord - Part One

Oh mon dieu - j'aime les vacances.

Yes folks, I love being on vacation.

Particularly with someone who loves the same things that I do and who thinks cycling for five hours a day in the blazing sun is fun. Someone who is willing to practice French for weeks before going just so he can order his own ice tea and speak to the locals.

Last week was my birthday week. Not because I'm one of those people who likes to celebrate their birthday for days on end but because it's the week I normally book off in the summer. Where I work we get our birthdays off so it only takes four vacation days to give me a 9-day holiday. Last year, we did the Simcoe Shores Relay Race and then headed to Gravenhurst in the Muskokas for a few days. This year, we decided to explore Québec for five days. We had heard about a cycling trail called Le Petit Train du Nord (The Little Train of the North). It's a 200km rail trail that has been converted into a cycling trail. It starts in Mont Laurier and heads down to St. Jérome (about 50k north of Montréal).

We headed to St. Jérome last Wednesday at the crack of dawn. It was a seven-hour drive (if the traffic was good) plus lunch and water refill breaks and we wanted a bit of time to explore the town. We took my little Nissan Versa and had worked out a system for getting two suitcases (mine being much much larger as Doug pointed out on multiple occasions), two bikes, helmets, bike bags, purses (well, ok one purse), water bottles, coffee mugs, and enough snacks to feed everyone on the trail into my hatchback. It wasn't very elegant but it worked and we were able to keep everything relatively out of sight and inside the car. I've never had a bike rack before and didn't like the idea of whizzing down the highway, possibly in the rain, with our two bikes exposed to the elements.

The drive to Québec is fun. Eighty percent of our journey was in Ontario and then, not long after we passed Cornwall, we saw the Bienvenue à Québec sign and everything immediately changed. English was no longer the language of choice and the Canadian flag was replaced with the Fleur de Lys. Instead of Swiss Chalet - it's St. Hubert and Giant Tiger is now Le Tigre Géant. I grew up speaking English and French fluently but, having little opportunity to practice French now that I'm finished school, I'm a bit rusty. I was excited to have the opportunity to practice my Joual.

We had to be at the train station (la gare) in St. Jérome at 7:30am on Thursday morning so we figured we had better find it the night before. After a quick check-in at the hotel, we headed into town. As we got closer, I knew that we were headed somewhere fun. Bikes were everywhere. On cars, in cars, being walked, being ridden. We got the sense that we were approaching a cycling mecca.

We pulled into a very large parking lot full of cars with bike racks. There was an old caboose, a train station and a huge archway that read: Parc Linéaire Petit Train du Nord Kilomètre 0.

We had arrived!

Cyclists were everywhere. Hardcore folks riding Cérvelo with their clip in shoes. Grandparents and kids, people preparing to head out for a short ride and others coming in looking like they had just cycled all 200km in one day.

We went into the Bureau Touristique and got a map of the route - and yes, I asked for it in French. We explored the downtown, walked along the rivière, had a lovely dinner of mussels and veal parmesan and headed back to the hotel. It was a long day, a long drive and we had a long bike ride ahead of us.

Lights out at 8:30pm like good little cyclists

Monday, August 20, 2012

Off the Grid

It's vacation time folks!

A week full of lazy days, long drives, yummy food, cycling, running, swimming, speaking French, being together and getting away from it all.

I may take a moment or two to blog.

I may not.

Either way, I'm not worried and I don't want you to either.

We're fine, we're happy, we're having adventures!

Talk to you on the other side.

Friday, August 17, 2012


When you train for a race, typically, you build up your mileage and then you taper down.

Build up


Build down


Half marathon

Tomorrow I'm running 16k. It's my build up for the Niagara Falls half marathon on October 21st.

The next time I see 16k will be when I'm tapering for the race.

That also happens to be the day that Doug and I are running the Twin Cities 10-miler in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The one where I get to wear the Global Heroes singlet.

Just the thought is enough to send shivers.

I'm excited and can't wait to be there.

I'm excited and hope it takes forever to arrive because I don't want it to be over.

I'm just exited.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Different Kind of Marathon

Last year - I was all about the marathon.

The 42.2k marathon to be exact.

You know, the one that you complete by running?

Well, now I have a new kind of marathon bebopping around in my head.

The marathon swim.

For those of you who don't know - a marathon swim is a long distance swim but the distance varies. And, if you watched the Olympic marathon swim, you may have noticed that Canadians are apparently good marathon swimmers. We won the bronze for swimming 10k in under 2 hours.

I am more and more drawn to open water swimming and am more and more drawn to longer distances. But, like running, it should be done one step at a time. You don't go from 5k to 42.2k. You go from 5k to 10k to 21.1k to 30k to 42.2k.

Same idea with swimming I would guess.

I swim between 2-3k three times a week. So I'm guessing that 5k would be next...and then 10k?

Which, in swimming terms, is a marathon of sorts.

And, based on my current swim time, it would take me 4-5 hours. Kinda like my predicted running marathon time.

It's appealing to say the least.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to your Burrow

I had another crazy rabbit day yesterday.

What's a crazy rabbit day?

This is a crazy rabbit day:

You can read all my original crazy rabbit day here. 

Tuesday morning dawned kinda grey and overcast but lovely for running. My blood sugar was 9.2 when I woke up which is higher than my usual morning number but not ridiculous. Usually, when I'm 5-6 and have to run between 5k and 7k I will have a gel before the run and come back home at pretty much the same number that I started out at. 

I didn't take anything and ran for 35 minutes. I was 7.0 when I got back. Not bad at all but I would have expected something closer to 5. 

Anyway, I had my regular breakfast at 7:30am and bolused the full amount. I checked my sugar at 9am and I was 7.0. A little low that soon after eating but the little voice in my head said not to eat anything so I didn't. 

I checked again at 11am and I was 18.9. 

That's when I heard the welcoming chime of diabetes crazytown. "Welcome back!!!" screamed the rabbits. "It's been a while!".

I ignored them and took a correction bolus. By 11:30am I was 13.0 so I bolused for lunch, waited about 20 minutes for good measure and then ate my lunch around noon. 

I tested at 1:30pm and I was 7.0. Again, pretty low that soon after lunch but I did nothing about it. 

I waited until 3pm and checked again. I was 12.8. 

I corrected with a sigh and was 10.0 when I left work at 4pm. 

I was 5.0 at 4:30pm and 4.4 at 5:00pm. I had a few fruit chews to keep me in the safe zone and then helped Doug make dinner. 

Dinner was a brilliant brainstorm on Doug's part to get rid of aging asparagus and four pieces of peameal bacon. Eggs Benedict with poached eggs and homemade hollandaise sauce. We even learned how to save the sauce when it separates by pouring in a bit of cold water and whisking like mad. 

If only all leftovers looked this delicious!

Definitely not low fat but pretty low carb. I bolused for the english muffin and promptly got back on the roller coaster. Lower than normal after dinner and then high an hour later. 


I was due for a pump change anyway so I did that after dinner. 

I followed it up with a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie because, well, because it's just really tasty. 

Here's hoping the crazy rabbit gets his fuzzy little ass back to his wee burrow. He is NOT my favourite houseguest. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Where I Am

There are plenty of pretty incredible places on this planet of ours and more than a handful of spots where I would happily set up camp. Each spot on my list is on the list for a different reason.

The East Coast of Canada I would move to for the pace of life, the people, the delightful accents, the scenery, the ever-changing weather and the seafood.

Northern Ontario I would move to for the rugged, wild, untamed wilderness, the fact that bears, moose and wolves roam free, the starry nights and the just begging to be swum in lakes.

Ireland and Scotland I would move to because just the though of it stirs my ancestral blood. Because of how I feel at home the minute I arrive. Because I actually understand what everyone is saying despite their crazy accents. Because it's rugged, it's beautiful, it's ancient and they have delicious whisky to boot.

Instead I live in Southern Ontario. And I was reminded on the weekend why that is such a wonderful place in which to live.

On Saturday morning we headed out. We stopped at a roadside market to pick up a basket of local peaches, a basket of local tomatoes, a flatbread pizza covered in local spinach, peaches and asiago cheese. And, because we couldn't resist, we grabbed a few treats - cherry, butter and lemon meringue tarts.

Then we headed a little further down the road, past vineyards, corn fields, peach and apple orchards and wineries. We made our way to Jordan to pick up a gift for my parents. Off to their house we went, driving down backroads, up the escarpment, past fields of horses and cows that made me feel like we were driving through Europe. We joined them for a spontaneous lunch that consisted of the treats we picked up at the market.

On the way out, my father handed us some local corn on the cob (yellow corn, not peaches and cream he pointed out) and a pint of local strawberries.

We stopped at the world's best meat market to pick up so local sausage and some peameal bacon. The sausage was part of our traditional pre-race dinner and the peameal bacon was for post-race toasted tomato, bacon sandwiches.

Maybe one day I will spend an extended period of time on the East Coast of Canada, in Northern Ontario or in Ireland.

In the meantime, I have found my own little happy oasis right here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Niagara Triathlon

I faced my demons and came out the winner. The Park Road Hill has nothing on me!

Here's how it went:

6:00am - the alarm went off and up we got. The next hour was filled with breakfast, race outfits, last minute checks to make sure we had everything...and constant glances at the television to see how the men's Olympic marathon was going.

7:15am Game faces on, basal rates dropped to 50% (mine anyway - Doug's basal rates are just fine), bikes in the car and, with a wary eye on the cloudy skies, we headed to Grimsby.

We set up our transition area and I began my obsessive blood sugar checks.

7:45am (7.4)
8:00am (7.2)
8:15am (7.0)

Time for my warm-up swim.

I was in Wave Three, aka the pink swim cap wave. Nice of them to coordinate my cap to my outfit. 

The water was the perfect temperature - cool but not cold. The botton was rocky (hence the dainty walking pose) but became sandy quite quickly. 

I headed out to the buoy to warm up. Didn't make it all the way but went far enough to know that swimming in Lake Ontario was going to be just fine. 

Coming out after the warm up. Apparently I was not thrilled with having to make my way through the blue and yellow cap people. And what's with all the wetsuits? It's August people! 

I did my last pre-race blood sugar check at 8:45am and I was 5.0. Having dropped from 7.0 to 5.0 after a quick swim, I had a package of fruit chews and a gel (40 carbs total). Then I looked at how far I had to swim and decided that another 10 carbs would make me feel more comfortable. In hindsight, that was a very bad idea...

Back in the water I went. This time there were a few more people. The race was about to start and we were being sent out in waves. Wave one (blue caps) went at 9am. Wave two (yellow caps) went at 9:03 and my wave (pinkies) went at 9:06. Wave four (white caps) finished it off at 9:09. 

Wave one start. 

Making my way in as the yellow folks prepared to head off. 

The swim went very well. I was surprisingly ok with people hitting me, grabbing my legs accidentally and cutting me off. I made my way to the front pretty quickly and just kept my head down and swam my own race. At one point I lifted my head long enough to hear what was going on above water. Lots of gasping, chocking, panicking people - I couldn't believe how crazy and scary it sounded above water. I quickly lowered my head back down and just listened to the sound of my own breathing. I made it through the 750m swim and the 300m run to the transition zone in 16 minutes. I was pretty happy with that! 

I transitioned as fast as I could and headed out on the bike. I spotted Erin as I headed out and she said something that sounded like "remember, that hill is YOUR bitch!". I gave a thumbs up as I ran by. 

The hill that haunts my dreams is about 4k into the ride. Because the tri swim started before the duathlon run, I was actually relatively near the front (as opposed to dead last) which meant that the road was full of bikes. As soon as we got to the hill, you could see who knew what to expect and who trained for it...and who didn't. I saw several people fall over because they couldn't handle the incline and couldn't unclip fast enough when they came to a dead stop. I passed people who were walking. I passed people who were retching. I made it to the top in one piece and feeling ok. I was pretty proud of that. It took about 5k to recover though and my legs were not feeling very strong as I tried to speed up to my goal pace of 30k/hour. I kept moving and felt better as the kilometres flew by. Around halfway, Doug came sailing up beside me (he did the duathlon) and asked how the swim was. "Fabulous!" I yelled. 

As I approached the dreaded downhill, I expected to get more and more nervous. Particularly because there were so many people around me. I didn't. Instead, I was feeling more and more like my blood sugar was climbing. I drank my water but could tell that I was pretty high. Nothing to do but finish the ride and get my hands on my glucometer in the transition zone. The downhill came and I did it like a champ. I braked a little bit but nothing ridiculous. I clocked 55+ km/hour and felt ok doing it. A little sheepish as I watched people sail by my like I was standing still but proud nonetheless. 

In the last few kilometres of the ride, I was passed by a large man with a British accent who commented  "I have never gone down a hill that fast in my life...and I never want to go that fast again!". "Scary isn't it?" I replied. I was then passed by a man who had obviously fallen. The back of his shorts were completely shredded and he had so much road rash and blood that I gasped in horror. 

Bike done! 

Blood sugar check in the transition zone confirmed my suspicion. I was 15.6 and feeling crappy. I took 0.6 units because I had to get it down but didn't want to crash during my run. I was hoping it would be enough to get me down to 10 by the end of the run. 

Only 7k. Only 7k. Only 7k. 
If I repeat that enough, perhaps 7k won't seem that far...

The run went fairly well. I was tired and high but I was able to keep running. The deal I made myself was that I could stop and walk at water stations but, other than that, I had better be running. So I did and, almost before I knew it, it was over. 

The last 100m! 

Post-race blood sugar was 13.0. I immediately took a full correction bolus and set my basal to 150% for two hours. And hour and a half later I was back in range and feeling much better. Lesson learned for next time - don't over carb before the swim. 

Other lesson learned? When you swim in Lake Ontario, you will discover that you are covered in all sorts of fun green and brown aquatic plants when you finally peel your clothes off for your shower. 

Oh, and how did Doug do you ask? 

Fabulous as usual! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Plan

Sunday is triathlon day. The big girl triathlon this time, not the little girl one.

750m swim

25km bike ride

7.0km run

I'm excited about the swim. I've never swum in Lake Ontario and am not sure what to expect with waves and temperature but I'm still excited. I just really like swimming.

I'm nervous about the bike ride. I've ridden the route before, several times, so I know what to expect...which is why I'm nervous. That escarpment climb is scary. When we do it in practice, it's a really tough hill to climb but I know I can do it. On race day though, there are lots of other people doing the hill at the same time. And not everyone can do it. Some people walk their bikes up the hill. Other people start off cycling but get off their bikes half way. Not everyone moves over to the side of the road. Last time, the lady right in front of me slowed down to the point that she stopped dead on the hill. Being clipped in, she fell over and I had to swerve around her to avoid falling too. Not easy to swerve when you're using all of your energy just to move forward.

The ride down is scary when you're alone. It's scarier when you're not the only cyclist out there. Particularly when you're braking like mad and still doing 50km/hour and people are rushing up behind you screaming 'on your left!'.

So I'm nervous about the bike.

I'm feeling mild dread about the run. It might be fine. I should have plenty left in the tank for the run. But the race starts at 9am which means I won't be running until about 10:30am. I've been running before 7am for weeks and weeks now because the heat and humidity has been frightening. The thought of running for 45 minutes starting at 10:30am has me feeling more than a little apprehensive. Hopefully it cools off a bit and doesn't pour down rain because that would make the escarpment descent even more hairy.

So I'm excited, nervous and apprehensive.

Sounds about right for a race doesn't it?

Oh wait, I forgot something.


Triathlons and diabetes, I'm discovering, are harder than they should be because there really isn't an opportunity to practice. The only day I swim, bike and run is race day. So I have to take the knowledge I've gathered about how each sport affects me and put it together.

Unfortunately each sport affects me differently so putting it together means I'm using about 60% science and 40% witchcraft.

My game plan is that I'm going to treat this as a running race since running is what affects me the most. I'm going to pack a bag with carbs and my spare glucometer and bring it down to the water with me. I'll test before and eat accordingly. Then I'll stash my bag in a nearby bush for retrieval later (shhh!). After the swim, I'll test again in the transition zone and I'm hoping I'll be around 10.0. Then I'll test again after the bike ride, hoping to see a nice 8-9 looking back at me. I prefer to stay between 8-10 because it means I have less chance of having a low while being low enough not to feel crappy.

That's the plan anyway. And we all know how well diabetes sticks to the plan.

Fingers crossed everyone. Race day is coming!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Out of Sight...

Why is it that when I have unopened bottles of wine in the cupboard - they can happily sit there unopened?

Or when I have unopened bags of chocolate chips in the cupboard - they sit unopened?

Or when I don't have shacks at work like peanut butter filled pretzels or chocolate mint cups, I don't crave them?

And yet...

if the bottle is open, I will drink it,

if the bag is open, I will grab a handful or two of chocolate chips,

and if there are peanut butter pretzels at work I will check my sugar, bolus for a handful, eat them, check my sugar again in an hour, bolus again, eat again...all day.

Out of sight out of mind is right.


Good thing is that I know myself well enough not to open the bottle of wine or the bag of chocolate chips.

And I only have treats like that at work every three weeks for a few days (leftover from a regular meeting I run).

I enjoy it when it's there but I don't really miss it when it's not.

Yesterday was a peanut butter pretzel glass of wine kinda day.

Today is not.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Numbers Game

Lots of numbers in the last few days. 
  • I went for my contact lens training session. In other words, I learned how to hold open my eyelids and not freak out as I inserted foreign objects into my eyeballs. It took 6 tries to get the first contact in. It took 5 to get the second. I took 8 tries to get the first one out and 6 to remove the second. It took 60 minutes for the entire lesson. 
  • I went home and braced myself to put them in again. I was told to wear them for 4 hours the first day so I put them in at 4:30pm so I could take them out at 8:30pm. It took me 10 tries on each eye to get them in - or 15 minutes. Good lord!  
  • Doug and I went to cycle the big bad Park Hill for a pre-race practice ride. The nasty hill is actually three hills in one, the last one being a 19% grade. The hill was both harder and easier than I remembered but we both made it to the top. I kept my eyes on my Garmin during the ride up and down. On the way up, I crawled along at 9km/hour. On the way down, I applied full brakes and never slowed below 35km/hour. The hill is so steep that I felt like I was going to flip forward over the handlebars. Don't worry - I didn't. But I don't mess with this hill - it just feels too steep, too fast and too dangerous to even ease up on the brakes. Other hills I will push my comfort zone. This one I will not. 
  • Monday morning, I went to the pool. Christine is away on vacation this week so Deliah has been coming over from Brock University to be our coach. She put us through several routines, one of which had me swimming 12x50m. On the even numbered ones, I had to practice getting as much glide as I could on every stroke. On the odd numbered ones, I had to build. I had to get a little faster (one second or so) on each one and the last had to be the fastest of the lot. My second last one was 52 seconds. My fastest (timed) 50m to this point has been 51 seconds. I pushed off and gave it everything I had - and got back to the other side to hear Deliah say "48 seconds!". She doesn't know me enough to know what a big deal that is but I gave her a huge grin and told her it was a world record.  The one speed wonder has broken through the barrier! 
  • I ran out of VEGA Whole Food Health Optimizer the other day. I love that stuff and have a breakfast shake with it most days of the week. But it's expensive. So I went online looking for a deal and found one. Regular price is $70 but I found it for $40. So I ordered 2 of them. They are the older version (before the changed the container and the formula) but I liked the old one so I'm happy to go back in time a year and save a few $$.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Slowing

I'm reading a book called The Age of Miracles. It's fiction. It's the story about a young girl coming of age but there is also a larger plot going on in the background. The rotation of the planet, for reasons no one can explain, has begun to slow down. They call it The Slowing.

Days start lasting a few extra minutes. Then an extra thirty minutes. Then an extra hour. I'm at the point in the book where days are lasting about 40 hours. When I say a day, I mean the time it takes for the earth to make a complete rotation. For the sun to rise, cross the sky, set, and be ready to rise again.

One of the interesting things that happens in the book is that the world decides to continue to function on a 24-hour clock in order to keep everything moving on a predictable schedule (like stock markets, bus systems and factories). Imagine a 24-hour clock trying to fit into 40-hour days. You might wake up every day at 6am clock time but sometimes it's pitch black outside, sometimes it's dawn and sometimes the sun is high in the sky.

What I'm finding even more interesting is that there are people in the book who refuse to follow clock time and they are following real time. So they sleep when it's dark and they are awake when it's light. Which means that their days are slowing down. They are sleeping longer and longer and staying awake longer and longer. They have one day when the clock timers have two.

I've been immersed in the book for the last week. When I get immersed in a book, it creeps into my thoughts and my dreams. This one now has me looking at the sun and the moon a little differently.

And on Friday morning, I really felt the pull of the darkness.

I've been getting up at 5:15am for ten months now to go swimming. In the winter, I would wake up in the dark, pull on my hooded parka and boots, drive to the pool, swim for an hour and watch the sky change from black to dark blue as I swam. As spring approached, the darkness evaporated a little earlier each day and, all of a sudden, I noticed that I didn't have to turn the back light on when I headed to the pool.

For the past few months, I've left the house in the daylight. The sun has been in full force as I headed out the door and it was already heating up the day. In the last two weeks however, I've noticed a change in the early morning sky. The sun is taking a little longer every morning to wake up.

Not something you'd notice if you wake up at 7am but it's becoming more and more evident at 5:30am.

We're used to annual cycles in Canada. The changes in temperature and sunlight are pretty dramatic from winter to summer. As a runner, I feel the changes in temperature, in humidity, in windchill. As a swimmer, I'm noticing the changes in light.

Last month, I was going to bed before the sun set and waking up after the sun rose. Now, I'm still going to bed before the sunset but just barely. And I'm waking up the same time the sun is. In another few weeks, it will be dark before I go to bed and dark when I wake up.

Fall is coming.

I'm still running in my shorts and my tank top. I figure I have another few weeks and then it will change to shorts and a t-shirt. And then shorts and a long sleeve shirt. Then pants, then a coat, then gloves, then a hat.

Right now though, I'm just feeling the change in the light and, because of the book I'm reading, it has me thinking. Wouldn't it be interesting if we functioned according to the light? and the dark? If we slept when it was dark and woke when it was light.

Because bit by bit, little by little, it feels like the earth is slowing down. Curling up. And getting ready for winter.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eye Spy

Yesterday I let a (not quite complete but almost) stranger put her fingers in my eyes twice. Actually, technically, it was four times because she put her fingers in each of my eyes twice.

It was contact lens trial day. I drove to the office at lunch with more than a few butterflies in my stomach. I have been wearing glasses for twenty years but have never, ever, tried contact lenses before. So putting something in my eyes - on purpose - and leaving it there - on purpose - was going to take some getting used to.

She tilted my head back, unceremoniously held my eye lids apart, and popped the first one in. Then the second. It was over and, suddenly I could see clearly without my glasses. It was really neat to be able to do that but it was also a very weird feeling and I felt oddly naked without my glasses on.

I was sent off with a reminder to be back by 4:30pm to have them removed. I popped on my non-prescription sun glasses and drove back to work. I read every street sign and saw everything as it should be seen. THAT was awesome.

I spent the next few hours in meetings or working at my computer. I got used to the idea of having contacts on my eyes but never got used to the feeling. I could clearly feel them sitting there. Towards the end of the time, I started to notice that my vision would get a little blurry but, with a few hurried blinks, it would clear up again. Never having worn these things before, I didn't know if that was normal or not. So I kept blinking rapidly when needed and, at precisely 4:15pm I pulled into the parking lot.

As I sat in the office I explained what the contacts felt like, the random blurring of my vision and the blinking. She tested my vision with the contacts in, checked the fit and then proceeded to try to take them out.

Emphasis on the word 'try'.

Apparently they were stuck to my eyes. Like fused.

"That explains it" she said. You have very dry eyes. (yup). Diabetes can cause dry eyes. So can allergies. So can birth control pills. Looks like I have three strikes against me. She put eye drops in and managed to peel the contacts off.

Emphasis on the word 'peel'.

I liked the contacts enough to try them again but there will definitely be eye drops in my future. We booked an appointment for next week so I can go in and learn how to put them in and take them out myself. They're also ordering me a few different trial sets so I can see if there is one that feels a little better than another. And they're going to give me some eye drops.

As for learning how to put things on and peel things off of my eyeballs. I figure I've learned how to lance my fingers, give myself up to 8 needles a day and change my infusion sites. This should be a piece of cake.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thoughts on Thinking

I was thinking yesterday as I drove home from dropping my bike off for its annual physical. I was thinking about how much time I spend thinking. It started because I was trying to work out what the bike tuneup would cost and how to pay for it: cash or credit. And I realized that I spend a lot of time thinking about money. Which is sad because it's not a very interesting topic. I try not to stress about money (too much) but it does take up probably an hour of head space every day. Not all at once but spread out here and there across the hours.

Then I began to ponder what else I spend time thinking about.

Diabetes is an obvious one. How am I feeling? When am I eating? What am I eating? Am I exercising? Did I exercise? And on and on. Probably, what, like two hours a day of diabetes-related thoughts?

That leaves about thirteen hours of awake time. We could talk about what my brain is doing while I sleep but that's a little more crazy and best saved for another day.

I'm at work for 8 hours a day but don't actually think about work every second of the day (who does?) so I'd say I think about work for 5 hours.

That brings us up to 9 hours (out of a possible 16)

Sports (running, cycling, swimming). I am sure I spend at least an hour a day thinking about those. What I did that day in terms of physical activity. What I'm doing the next day. When? How long? How hard? All that fun stuff. I'd actually change that to two hours because I'm usually thinking about the activity while I'm doing the activity.

The people in my life - they definitely hold a firm spot in my mind and are constantly there, keeping me company.

Food definitely takes up an hour. Not diabetes-food thoughts but just really like food kinda thoughts. What's for dinner? What am I craving? Oh, that dinner last night was delicious - is it too soon to make it again? What do we need at the grocery store? That sort of stuff.

I spend a hour a day either thinking about or writing my daily blog.

I spend an hour a day thinking about daily stuff. Like calling my parents, booking appointments, planning the weekend etc etc.

That leaves about two hours which, I would argue, I spend in conversation about things other than what I just mentioned. And, since I like to focus on the conversation rather than let my mind wander, I would argue that I'm thinking about conversation for entire time.

So, to sum up:

1 hour: money
2 hours: diabetes
5 hours: work
1 hour: loved ones
2 hours: physical activity (swimming, cycling, running)
1 hour: food
1 hour: Running on Carbs
1 hour: daily stuff
2 hours: fascinating conversations

Now that I've got that all figured out, I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's probably more varied and interesting than what goes on in a lot of people's heads but still, I'm sure there is room for improvement.

I'll have to think about it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Le Mois d'Août

Ah August! 

One of my favourite months of the year. 

It's peach time in Niagara. 

It's triathlon time again - twelve more days until I take on Lake Ontario and Park Hill!

Summer still feels like it's going to be around for a long time. 

It's back to school time and, whether I'm going or not, I still get excited every August and have to control my urge to go buy new Trapper Keepers. 

It's vacation time. Time to walk away from routines and responsibilities and just enjoy a week of freedom. 

This year, Doug and I are going on a cycling holiday. We've booked a five day trip to Québec - three of which we're going to spend cycling along the route called Le Petit Train du Nord. We've got a great little adventure planned that's packed with fresh air, exercise, yummy food and lots of French. Best of all, all we have to do is have fun. Thanks to the package we've booked, our bags are shuttled from B&B to B&B for us. So it's just the two of us and our bikes - exploring the world together.

Two more weeks of work first but, now that I've flipped my calendar, it feels deliciously close. 

First thing's first though
- bike goes in tomorrow for a pre-ride tune-up
- car goes in next week for a pre-drive tune-up
- gotta buy me a bike bag to carry all my diabetes paraphernalia 
- I'm trying out contact lenses tomorrow and, if all goes well, I'll be able to get me some. Then I'll be able to wear proper cycling sunglasses and still be able to tell the difference between a garbage can and a dog