Friday, May 31, 2013

May Goal Update

I'm liking this monthly goal update thing. It keeps me accountable and I get excited when I am able to report progress.

In January I announced my goals for the year:

- log 1000km of running this year
- run the Tel Aviv half marathon
- complete three triathlons, including one Olympic distance
- stay injury free
- pay down debt

Then, as winter turned into spring, I had to make a few adjustments to my goal list due to injury.

My new goal list, as of April, is as follows:

- complete three triathlons, including an Olympic distance
- pay down debt
- log 1000k of running this year
- complete two events in the Activ Swim Series this summer
- play 10 round of golf

- play the baby steps golf course until I can do it in 50 rather than 61.

Drum roll please...

Complete three triathlons, including an Olympic distance. Well, I'm in the early days of my return to running after my second stress fracture program so I don't want to get to far ahead of myself but I think it's still possible. If there are no setbacks, I should be running the 10k distance I need mere days before the Olympic triathlon in July. I'm a little worried that I won't have had a smaller distance tri first to get into the swing of things but c'est la vie. And, if I'm in good enough shape to do that race, I'll be signing up for two more sprint distance triathlons later in the summer. So this goal is still very much on the table.

Pay down debt. I continue to cut corners and limit spending as much as possible and I continue to see my debt slowly but surely decrease. I managed knock another $400 off the pile in May and not add a single penny to my credit card. That's pretty exciting. I need to make a large insulin pump supply order in June but I'm waiting for my quarterly cheque to come in so that I can charge the order to my credit card and immediately pay it off. My goal for June is $500 towards the debt and no credit card purchases other than pump supplies.

Log 1000k of running this year. I was on track in the first three months of the year but April was stress fracture month and I didn't run 100m let alone 100k. I started my return to running program last week and can proudly add 20k (does walk/run count?) to my total. I've gone from 258k to 278k. Not much but more than I could add a few weeks ago so I'll take it. The goal still stands because, if the healing goes well and I can plan for a fall half marathon, there might still be hope. I solemnly swear not to work on this goal if it puts me at risk of re-injury.

Complete two events in the Activ Swim Series this summer. I mentioned this series in April. It's new this year and put on by a local triathlon store. They are organizing weekly open water swims for half-ironman and ironman distances (1.9k and 3.8k respectively). I thought it might be fun to try the distances out and see how they go. The spring in Canada has been on the cool side so there is no open water swimming yet for me as I do not own a wetsuit. Another two weeks I hope and I can test my mettle in the Welland Canal. I'll start with the 1.9k and then, when I'm feeling braver, try the 3.8k.

Play ten rounds of golf. Well, one down and nine more to go. I have three golf lessons under my belt and about 8 (I forgot to keep count) trips to the driving range. I need to book golf games but I'm so focused on getting better that I prefer to spend my time on the range. I guess a balance of both is probably a good idea. By the end of June I'd like to have played two games at least. And a shout out to my friend Erin who said she wants to brave a golf game with me. Just waiting to book the date...

Play the baby steps golf course until I can do it in 50 rather than 61. My first golf game was at, what I nicknamed, the baby steps golf course. Only nine holes and all of them a par three. My first time there I played rather poorly for a golfer but not to shabbily for a newbie and scored a 61. My goal is to play it 9 more times this summer and get that score down to a 50. Since I've only played it once so far, I have nothing to report. Ask me at the end of June.

Speaking of which, come back in a month for the next goal update.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Yesterday was rather busy at work. I got home late and was home for about 12 minutes before Doug and I hopped in the car and headed out again. So I didn't have time to blog very much when it was all said and done.

But I can show you what we hopped in the car to go see.

The famous Canadian Snowbirds were flying over Niagara Falls last night. The sky was blue. The weather was lovely. How could we not head over there, cameras in hand, to try our luck at aerial photography?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Scaling Back

The first time I had to take 8 weeks off of running for a stress fracture I lost ten pounds.

I admit that I was worried because I knew I would not be running, or cycling, and I had not yet discovered swimming. Basically I was not going to be doing very much of anything for two months. That is a pretty dramatic drop after the marathon training I had been doing.

I figured I would have to carefully watch the scale and watch what I ate to make sure I didn't gain a pile of weight.

That's why it was so crazy when the pounds started falling off, without any effort on my part. I never lost a pound in the years I ran and, suddenly, it's dropping off and I'm buying new jeans.

I chocked it up to:
- starting to swim which was a different kind of exercise and
- decreasing my calories since I wasn't eating to fuel my running and fend off post-run lows

When I went back to running I then wondered if the weight would come back on again. It didn't. I stayed stable at my new weight for a year and a half with no effort on my part.

The second time I had to take 8 weeks off of running for a stress fracture I gained four pounds.


I actually thought I might lose weight again because I replaced my running with three days of cycling which is not a typical activity for me. Also, cycling doesn't typically cause lows so I don't eat any more than I normally do in the mornings despite working out for an hour. I have the same breakfast I always do, go to work, and eat the same amount of food throughout the day. Increased exercise and no increase in calories should equal weight loss non?

I figured I'd either stay in my steady state or drop a pound or two.

Imagine my surprise when, in the last few weeks, the scale has started creeping back up.

Four pounds isn't horrible by any means but it's enough to notice that my clothes feel a little tighter.

I don't like it.

I don't understand it.

I'm not sure how to fix it.

Here's hoping that being back running again is enough to knock it back down. If not, I'll have to take a close look at what I've been eating to see if portion sizes have crept up or snacking has increased. I don't think I've changed my diet and my insulin usage is pretty stable, if a bit lower than it was when I ran.

I don't know yet what needs to happen but I do know that it's a hell of a lot easier to deal with a four pound weight gain than a ten pound one. So I'm on it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Must Admit

Well, I must admit that it is nice to be outside again. 

My swims are, for the moment anyway, indoors. The air at the pool is a bit, um, lacking in the fresh department. Unless you're one of the people who find the smell of chlorine fresh...

My morning cycling routine on the trainer takes place in our basement. I have the fan blowing so there is air movement but, again, it's not particularly fresh.

Now that I'm working my way back to running form, I get to tie on my running shoes and head OUTSIDE!!

I smell lilacs, lily of the valley and mulch. After a rain, I smell fresh dirt and worms. Freshly mown grass and barbecuing. It's a wonderful wonderful thing.

Well, I must admit that it is nice to be able to stretch on my back deck again. 

From fall to spring, I do my stretching and icing routine on the living room floor. Often with a coffee beside me. The radio is usually on, unless it's Sunday morning, and then Sunday Morning is on. It's nice.

From spring to fall, as soon as the sun is warm enough, I bring my mat and muscle relaxing paraphernalia out to the back deck. I find myself a sunbeam and I bask while I stretch. It's really really lovely.

Well, I must admit that it is nice to hang up my coat and tuck my pants to the back of the drawer. 

Living in Canada means that, from one extreme to another, we have a range of 60 degrees of temperature that we rotate through. We can go from minus 30 in the winter to plus 30 in the summer.

I love the extremes as well as the middle. I rejoice when it starts to get colder because I much prefer to be cold than hot. But I also dislike the amount of clothing I need to pull on when I run in the winter time.

As winter changes to spring and then summer, the removal of layers and the transition from pants to shorts and jackets to tanks is cause for celebration. It's celebration time!

Well, I must admit that it's nice to: 
- have breakfast and dinner on the back porch
- come home to a glass of wine and a plate of crackers and cheese waiting for me on the deck
- spend the weekend puttering in the garden, washing windows, and riding around Niagara
- sleep with the windows open
- head to the driving range after dinner to practice my swing
- bring out the arsenal of summer salads and barbecue recipes

I must admit that it's nice, and really important, to always be grateful for the little things. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Medical Report

I went to see my sports injury doctor on Friday.

I felt kinda sheepish since my injury feels pretty much gone but he told me not to worry. Nature takes its course while we wait for appointments he said. It's still good to come.

I explained the situation. I told him that I ran a half marathon on March 15th and felt no pain. I told him that I then spent ten days in Israel with my sister, walking all over the place for hours and hours every day.

I told him that my foot started hurting and hurt more and more every day. By the end of the trip I could hardly walk.

"Well we both know what that is right?" he asked. "A stress fracture".

I told him I had figured as much and that I haven't run in 8 weeks. In fact I had avoided doing pretty much anything that put weight on my foot for 8 weeks. He approved.

He told me to ease back into running to see what happened.

"This is my second stress fracture in two years" I said. Both happened during pretty intense periods of weight-bearing activity (marathon training and all day walking). "Should I be worried?"

"Well" he replied, "that might be a sign that there is a bone density issue". "Is there osteoporosis in your family?"

Yes, there is. My grandmother and my mother have it.

He suggested I contact my family doctor and ask for a bone density test. I'm a bit young for one but two stress fractures is a red flag apparently.

So I called my doctor and I'm seeing her this Friday. Hopefully she sends me for the test. If not, my sports injury doc told me to call him and that he would send me.

He also told me to get new orthotics since it has been 1 1/2 years since I got my first pair. My feet, as I am well aware, are not designed for running. I am pretty flat-footed and my feet flop flop flop when I run. Calcium issues or not, that doesn't help and contributes to shin splints, tight calves and plantar fasciitis which are always threatening to flare up again.

When I got home, I pulled out my Vega protein powder and my multivitamin to check the calcium. Between those two things and my soy milk and yogurt in the morning, I get a bit more calcium than a healthy woman my age should be getting. But I did a bit of online reading on the weekend and what I found seems to say that people with type 1 have difficulty absorbing calcium. So perhaps I am deficient?

Guess we'll find out soon enough won't we?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Early Days

I started my return to running program three days before my 8 weeks were up.

Don't tell anyone!

I just couldn't help myself and, I rationalized, I have an appointment with a sports injury doctor this morning and I wanted to be able to report how things were feeling. So I figured I had better get two days of the return to running program under my belt before I saw him...

So I walked for thirty minutes on Wednesday after work. I walked around and around our neighbourhood. Never going too far from home in case my foot started to hurt.

Despite a brisk pace and more pounding that it has had in months, there wasn't a twitch of pain or discomfort.

Last night I came home from work, changed into my shorts and running shirt and headed out with my Garmin on my wrist. The routine felt nauseatingly familiar. It is one I did 1 1/2 years ago when I was recovering from my first stress fracture that sidelined my marathon plans. I remember that first run well. I had to walk for nine minutes and then run for one. I remember those nine minutes going by much too quickly and being so desperately afraid of running for one minute. I was terrified of feeling pain and being sidelined for another few weeks.

A year and a half ago, I did not feel any pain when I ran that first minute. I did, however, feel desperately out of breath and was shocked at how hard it was to run for one minute. Depressing considering I had been running for three hours before I was injured.

Anyway, I have learned and grown since that time. This time, during my 7 1/2 weeks off running, I cycled and swam hard for to keep my fitness level where it should be. I knew what to expect. I knew what to do.

Still though, as I turned the corner last night and saw 8:45 on my Garmin, I couldn't quite believe I was walking down the same road, preparing to run down that same road, hoping that that same road would not cause me any pain.

At exactly 9:00 I ran. I ran for a minute. I ran at a 7:00min/k easy pace.

I didn't pant. I didn't struggle. I felt no pain. At all.

I repeated this routine twice more, walking for nine minutes and then running for one, for a total of 30 minutes. Nothing to report other than it feels pretty damn good to run again.

Today is a day off and then, on Saturday, I walk 8 minutes and run for 2 (three times) and on Sunday I walk for 7 minutes and run for 3 (three times).

These are early days yet but I am cautiously optimistic and enormously relieved that I have not felt any pain.

I'll let you know next week how the recovery is going. I'm trying not to think to far and not get ahead of myself but, if everything goes perfectly well, I'll be back up to the distance I need right on time for the Gravenhurst Olympic triathlon in July. If there is even a week setback, I won't be running the distance I need to compete.

So I'm thinking about it but trying not to thing about it.

Know what I mean?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

To Basal Test or Not To Basal Test?

How many of you out there do basal testing? 

Raise your hand. 

(I'm staring hard into the little camera on my laptop but I can't see any hands up in cyberspace.) 

I've never really done it before. Not in a serious, official, follow the book kinda sense. 

Oh, sorry folks, I should probably explain. Basal testing, for those of you whose aren't pumping, means that you test your blood sugar frequently over a certain period of the day (say from 6am until 6pm) to see if it remains stable. If it is stable, that means that your basal rates are correct. If it goes up or down by any great degree, your basal rates are off. The kicker is that you can't have any carbs during that time period so your meals would look a lot like the Atkins diet. 

My kind of basal testing goes sorta like this: 

5pm - early dinner. 
9:30pm - blood sugar check. It's at a good number (say 6.5). 
Go to bed. 
Get up to pee around 3am. Check blood sugar. It's 6.2. Cross my fingers that basal rates are good and don't eat anything. 
Wake up at 5:15am. Check blood sugar. It's 6.5. Yay, nighttime basal rates are good. 

Yesterday I ate lunch at noon. At 3pm I checked my blood sugar. It was 5.9. At 4pm I checked again. It was still 5.9. I checked again at 5:30pm. It was 4.3. 

My basal rate might be a tiny bit high but then it was dinner time and I had a greek pasta salad and bread so that pretty much ended the testing. 

So I go back to my original question. How many of you deliberately test your basal rates? 

I understand the logic behind doing it. I understand the value of doing it. (I understand that having a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) would help. I'm anxiously awaiting news that Dexcom has arrived in Canada.) I like to exercise every morning and then compensate for the different exercises by adjusting my breakfast bolus. I like my 40 carb super yummy breakfast shake. Oh, and I don't fancy waking up every hour in the night to test. 

But I will if it's worth the bother. 

Is it worth the bother? 

And, if yes, tell me how you do it, what you eat and any other things that might be helpful to know (like how much variation in blood sugar levels is acceptable and how much warrants a basal change? or how many days in a row would you test before making a change?). 

Oh, and thanks! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Which 'ism Will it Be?

Doug and I drove to Ottawa last weekend. We took an extra long long weekend and celebrated with delicious food, a fun dinner with friends and a lovely dinner with oysters and lobster, photography, history and a cycling tour along the Rideau river (on the Ontario and the Québec sides). 

On Saturday, we did a lot of walking. Not 10k of walking but definitely more walking than I've done in the seven weeks that I've been keeping off my foot. 

Halfway through the day, my foot started to ache. There were two spots along the top of my foot that I could clearly identify and that were clearly aching. No pain per se but an ache. The kind of ache that went away as soon as I took a break but that came back again after I walked some more. 

As we walked, I watched countless people effortlessly running along the Rideau canal and I felt a moment of unbelievable sadness. When will I run again?

We walked along the route that, this coming weekend, will host the Ottawa marathon and half marathon and I tried hard not to cry. When will I run again? 

I learned from my stress fracture two years ago. I immediately stopped running when my foot was first injured. I did not rush back after a few days without pain. I did not push my foot to do more than it wanted to. I decided not to run the Women's half marathon in June. I decided I probably wouldn't be able to do the Welland triathlon in June. I went into recovery mode and my mental health hardly took a beating. 

Until Saturday. 

Seven weeks of no running and very little walking. I shouldn't feel a thing by this point other than a happy foot. And the first day of walking caused my foot to ache. 

Sunday morning I woke up and didn't feel any pain or aching at all. We headed out for a few hours of cycling and it felt fine. We walked around the Byward Market - no problems. We headed out after dinner to take some night photos and walked all over the place. Not even a twinge. 

What to make of that?? 

Well, it depends what 'ism you talk to. 

Pessimism: your foot is broken and is not healing properly. Probably because you have diabetes. You have done irreparable or serious damage to it. The times you don't feel any pain or ache are probably because you have lost the ability to feel pain in your foot - remember, you have diabetes. You will not do any triathlons this summer and the Tel Aviv Half may turn out to be your last half marathon. So be careful you don't get a swimming injury next or you won't be able to do anything.

Optimism: it's FINE! It's only been seven weeks and you're supposed to wait eight weeks after a stress fracture. This week will be the turning point and it will be fully healed and ready to run by Saturday. You'll probably feel so good that you can build up your mileage quickly enough to do the Welland triathlon on June 22nd. Zero to 7.5k in four weeks - that's nothing for a strong runner like you. 

Realism: Well, you have stayed off your foot as much as possible for seven weeks. You've done what you were supposed to do to let it heal properly. Now your feet are not used to that much walking and the aches you felt on Saturday are probably just aches from doing an activity you're not used to doing. Not from an unhealed injury. The fact that Sunday felt ok just reinforces that fact. You should probably give it until this Saturday and then ease into the back to running program. Aches are ok at this point. Sharp pain is not. Take it easy. You won't be able to run Welland but, if you're careful, I bet you can do the Olympic tri in July. 

Guess which 'ism I am going with? 

Realism of course. It's my middle name (most of the time). 

Of course, being realistic also means that I know that there is always a chance that things could still be problematic. So I'm keeping my appointment on Friday with the sports injury doctor I saw when I had my first stress fracture. We'll see what he thinks about the whole thing. 

Hopefully, on Monday, you'll be reading about my first two days on the back to run program. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fourth Time Trial of 2013

Christine told us a week before that we were going to have a time trial on May 15th. Our fourth one of the year. She didn't mention it again and she didn't send out a reminder email. 


Because there are some people who won't come if they know it's happening. They're just not fans of time-trialing. 

I am not one of those people. I LOVE time trials. I love pushing hard for not too long and then finding out if what feels like pushing hard is actually pushing harder than last time. 

As per usual, for the time trial we had to swim 300m. Three times. 

We started off with a 600m warmup. I spent the entire 600m trying to pay attention to all of the parts of my stroke that I need to work on. Keep my head down. Finish the stroke, don't cut it short. Stretch my body out. Tighten my core. Kick kick kick. 

After the 600m warmup, we had to do 8x25m sprints. That was to get our bodies ready for swimming fast and pushing hard. 

Then we got to decide who was going first. During time trials we break up into pairs and one person swims while the other person times them and writes down their times. After the first person finishes all three 300m swims, we switch. There are pros and cons to going first or second. I prefer first and George, my time trial partner, preferred that I go first so we were both happy. He scrambled out, grabbed a shirt to stay warm and set himself up by the side of the pool with a stopwatch, paper and a flutter board to write on. 

"We'll leave red top" Christine announced. I look at the two swimmers going with me. They were both faster, much faster, so I had no hope of pacing with them. I wouldn't even be able to see their bubbles by the end of the first 50m. So I headed off on my own, with nothing to gauge my speed by other than my breathing and energy level. 

Every hundred metres, George wrote down my time. Every hundred metres, George and Christine yelled something at me but all I heard was yelling noises, not words. So I had no idea if I was too slow and they were yelling at me to speed up, if they were just yelling encouragement or if I was super fast and they were telling me to pace myself. I swam hard, or what I thought was hard anyway, and finished hot and gasping but not dead. 

"You swam 100m in 1:34!" yelled Christine. "And broke 5 minutes for 300m!!". 

I grinned.

We had a few minutes to cool down, catch our breath and sip our drinks before we did it again. And again. Three times through. The first is the easiest I think because I still have lots of energy. The second is the hardest because I am tired and know I still have another one yet to do. The third gets easier because I know that, when I'm done, I'm done. 

I slowed a tiny bit with each 300m but not horribly so. I felt good all the way through and could definitely have done another one if I needed to (not that I offered of course). 

I did not remember my times from the previous trials so I had to wait until I got home to compare them. But I knew that I had never broken five minutes before and I knew that 1:34 for 100m was pretty damn fast because I usually struggle to break 1:40. 

So here are the results from January, February, March and May (we didn't have one in April). 

January Time Trial   5:12 5:21 5:17
February Time Trial 5:09 5:12 5:15
March Time Trial     5:13 5:08 5:06
May Time Trial        4:59 5:01 5:05 

Pretty cool eh?

Even better - at the March Time Trial, Christine said that her next goal for me was to be able to swim 100m in 1:35. I laughed and said 'maybe by July'. Well, the first 100m for each 300m was 1:34, 1:35 and 1:37.

Sometimes I don't mind being proved wrong. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


I have been swimming now for the past year and a half. I have been swimming at the Kiwanis Aquatic Centre for the last ten months. The staff there say hi to me every morning when I arrive and they wish me a good day when I leave.

Most of them know I have diabetes. No one has ever made any kind of issue about it. Not even a comment. I just waltz in, plant my ziplock bag of carbs by the pool, swim and go about my business.

No one made any issue about it until last Monday when I showed up with my insulin pump clipped to my bathing suit. My diabetes, for the first time, was visible for all to see.

And then the oversupporting began.

Oversupport is something I see a lot in my line of work. I see people with disabilities who are capable of so many things and I see people who work with them hovering over them and doing more for them than is necessary. People thinking it's ok to ask personal questions in public places. People feeling that it's ok to tell strangers that the person they are with needs support and then telling them what kind of support they need.

On Monday I was the same swimmer with diabetes that they have watched swim for the past ten months.

The same swimmer who stops at the edge of the pool after swimming the required distance, takes a sip of Nuun water and then heads into the next set.

But with my pump clipped to my bathing suit, I suddenly looked disabled. I now look like someone who is sick and someone who might have some kind of diabetes episode in the pool.

So when I stopped at the side of the pool to sip my water, the lifeguard at the other end of the pool pointed to my pump and yelled over "are you ok?".

"Ummm, yes". I replied. (and please don't yell at me like that for goodness sakes I thought).

When we were tethered to stretch cords, my coach brought my bag of carbs to the deep end for me "just in case". She has never ever done that before. She never even asked if I needed it before.

On Monday AND Wednesday, one of my swimming buddies asked me multiple times "how is your blood sugar?".  "Fine" I replied. (I wondered if he'd even know what I was taking about if I tossed out a number. And I wondered why he suddenly was so interested in my blood sugar anyway).

My coach, the lifeguard, my swim buddy - they are being nothing but kind. Knowing that, it's hard to get too bothered but it is a pretty interesting social experiment. When I left my pump in the locker, I looked like everyone else. Even my bag of carbs didn't stand out because lots of people bring snacks with them.

Now I'm obviously different from the rest of the group and looking different opens up the door for personal questions to be asked and presumptions to be made.

The same thing happened at the YMCA once when a keen lifeguard spotted my medical necklace and read the words 'type one diabetes'. When I got out of the pool she came running over and asked if I was ok. I nodded. She then asked how my sugar was. "I don't know" I replied, getting annoyed. "Well, do you feel shaky or anything?" she asked. "I never have a problem when I swim but I promise that if I need help, I will let you know" was my polite and curt response.

Oversupport is overrated.

I'm hoping it doesn't take long for everyone to get over my new pump and start treating me the way they did before I waved my diabetes in their face.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day Five - Freaky Friday

Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?

Well, my first thought when I read this topic was 'seriously?'. 

Then I decided to play along and think seriously about trading chronic diseases. I even googled chronic diseases to see what my options where. 

Some of the fun things that popped up were: 
- Crohn's disease
- epilepsy
- rheumatoid arthritis
- muscular sclerosis
- schizophrenia 
- ulcerative lupus 
- alzheimer's
- celiac disease 
- grave's disease
- fibromyalgia

ummm, no thanks. 

Let's be honest, I wouldn't pick type one diabetes off the list either but I have it and have made my peace with it. Even more, I have managed to turn it into an ally who takes me on adventures and helps me make memories. 

But seriously, would I give it back if I could? Hell yes. 

I know at least one person who puts a real face to each of the chronic diseases listed above. Family members, friends, co-workers and people I support. None of those diagnoses are easy to live with nor are they diseases they would have chosen. Each person faced their diagnosis bravely, with tears in their eyes. Each of them has great days and days where they wish they could make it all go away. 

I would only trade my diabetes for one thing and that is a cure. Otherwise, as my grandmother says, better the devil you know than the devil you don't. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day Four - Accomplishments Big and Small

We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you've made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small - think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.).

Diabetes kicks my ass most days - not with crazy blood sugars but like an over-eager coach. 

Get up! Keep running! Push to the top of the hill! Don't give up, you only have 50m left to swim!!

Before diabetes, my exercise routine was half-hearted and sporadic. Step class at the Y was about as crazy as it got. Sometimes I even lifted some weights. 

Then I was diagnosed and the fear of long-term complications set in. Once I moved past the crippling fear, I found myself in the motivational fear zone and I decided that I wanted to be as healthy as I could so that diabetes would have a tough time catching me. 

I started small and it wasn't easy but I kept pushing and working at getting healthy and strong and fit. 

Ten years later, I am not the woman I was and I am pretty proud of the woman I have become. So, I'm going to take advantage of today's blog topic and brag a wee bit. 

Thanks to diabetes I have: 

Boxing day ten-miler - twice
Twin Cities ten miler
St. Catharines Run for the Grapes half marathon - three times (2008, 2009, 2010)
Ottawa half marathon (2009)
Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame half marathon (2010)
Grimbsy half marathon (2011)
Niagara Falls Women's half marathon (2012)
Niagara Falls half marathon (2012)
Tel Aviv half marathon (2013)
Around the Bay (10k relay (2009), 15k relay (2010) and the whole 30k run (2011))

Completed three duathlons (Welland - twice (2010, 2011) and Grimsby (2011)
Completed three triathlons (Welland, Grimsby and Guelph - all in 2012)

I think the look on my face here say it all. Diabetes gives me the determination I need to meet just about any challenge head on. 

I think my greatest diabetes accomplishment is learning how to use diabetes as a motivator rather than an excuse. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day Three - Memories

Today's topic: Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.

I am a photographer. I am a blogger. My memories are sometimes captured in words. Sometimes in pictures. Today, it's pictures. Pictures of me living life with my pump on my hip or pictures of me and my DOC friends. 

They are not in any particular order as you will notice from my ever-changing hair length. 

And I refuse to conform to the request to focus on just one memory. There are so many wonderful ones to chose from!

The day my friend Erin (hi Erin!) convinced me to take my glass of red wine for a walk down the street just to prove that Céline would indeed do something she was not supposed to do. 

The final stretch of the Niagara Falls half marathon last fall. 

The best race finish ever - wearing my Medtronic Global Heroes singlet with Doug at my side. 

Meeting the famous Scott and both of us in hysterics within minutes. Dude, you totally need to move to Canada so we can hang out more. It's warmer here by the way...

Jeff and Scully, two of my diabesties. 

Unhooking my pump before heading to the start line of the Guelph triathlon last September. 

The Run for the Grape half marathon. The second time I ran it back in 2009. 


On our cycling trip last summer. My pump is tucked in my back pocket for the ride. 

Just before we boarded the plane and enjoyed a tour of Niagara with Doug as our pilot. 

There is no pump in this picture but there is a man that I kinda have a big crush on. He's my type awesome and makes memories extra special. 

Oh, not much, just hanging out with Kerri and Scully

Waterproofed and ready to race. 

My life is rich in adventures and memory-making moments. Diabetes is the impetus for some of them, the cause of some of them and, for the rest, it just comes along for the ride. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Diabetes-Blog Week: Day Two - We, the Undersigned

Today's topic: Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let's pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) - get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change?

We, the undersigned, petition the diabetes gods for a day of rest. 

Rationale: diabetes is omnipresent and diabetes management is relentless, taking a toll on everyone involved. 

Specifics: we request that you consider our petition for one 24-day out of seven to be diabetes-free. The day must be consistent every week so that we know what to expect and when to expect it. There must be no extra punishment on the six diabetes days. And rest days must be granted to everyone with diabetes, no matter their A1C, their carb-counting skills or the frequency of their blood glucose testing. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week: Day One - Share and Don't Share

Today's D-Blog Week topic: Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one's daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don't see?

When I blog, I write to an unknown audience. I regularly get about 200 hits per day on my blog. And yet I get comments from the same handful of people. Occasionally someone I don't know will post something but, otherwise, I have no real idea who is reading what I'm writing. 

I imagine other athletes are reading about my adventures the same way I read about theirs. I imagine that people with type 1 diabetes who are looking for information, support, new ideas or perhaps a bit of motivation visit my blog. In my more paranoid moments I imagine that Assistive Devices (the people who help cover the cost of my pump supplies) reads my blog to see if I change my infusion sites as often as I should. 

I also imagine, and secretly hope, that members of my medical team read my blog. I want them to and then I want them to click on my blogroll and read other blogs. Why? Because in the 15 minutes I spend in their office, I am a patient. I want them to see me as more than my diagnosis and more than the numbers in my logbook. I want them to know about the frustrating crazy rabbit diabetes days. I want them to know about the perfect blood sugar 20k run. I want them to know about the amount of time I spend training to run, bike and swim and the amount of time and energy I put into being healthy. 

I want them to know about the other amazing bloggers out there who are pushing the limits of what we are supposed to be able to do. I want them to read about the crazy contraptions and creative solutions people find to deal with diabetes challenges. I want them to know how scared people get before their appointments. How stressed they are and how a supportive, encouraging, non-judgemental medical team can make all the difference. 

I would love to know that my medical team starts their days by reading blogs written by members of the DOC. That they discuss interesting ones over lunch and talk about what they can say and how they can best support people based on what they read. And I would love it even more if they told other people they support about the DOC and encouraged them to find support there too. 

What I don't want them to know? 

I don't want them to know that I change my lancet about as often as I change the batteries in my smoke alarms. 

I don't want them to know that I fall back to sleep most night before I retest my blood sugar after a low. 

I don't want them to know that I get excited when I could drag my insulin and infusion sites out for a full seven days. 

But I guess if I want them to read my blog every day, fair is fair. They're going to get the good, the bad and the non-compliant. 

I'm ok with that. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fourth Annual Diabetes Blog Week

Next week is going to be a little different here at Running on Carbs.

Next week is D-Blog week!


This is the fourth year of D-Blog week and the third year I've taken part. The way it works is that there is a topic every day that I will have to write a post about. Other bloggers in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) will also be writing about the same topic.

We can then hop around from blog to blog reading different people's perspectives on the same topic.

It is a great way to meet new bloggers and learn new things, diabetes related and otherwise.

So if my blogs seem a little random and not typical Running on Carbs, don't worry.

It's all part of the plan.

Bonus: I have to post on Saturday and Sunday next week too so there will be plenty of reading.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trial by Water

On Monday night, at approximately 5:30pm, I disconnected my Medtronic pump and snapped my new green Animas onto my belt.

We grinned at each other like two little kids who were just sent to the store to buy ice cream cones.

Lucky was a little nervous as it was her first time being connected. I, a veteran pumper knew what to expect. I tucked her in, nice and tight, and gave her time to settle.

Later that evening I introduced her to Doug and the three of us climbed in to bed together. Don't worry, everyone is over 18 and fully consenting.

Tuesday was a pretty easy day. Get up early, spend an hour in the basement with the spiders doing our weekly Bending Crank Arms session. That was followed by a calm day at the office and a quiet evening of dinner and a trip to the driving range.

Wednesday morning however, I raised the bar.


The alarm went off at 4:50am. I pulled on my bathing suit and clipped Lucky to the front, facing in. That little tip came from Jocelyn, my go to Animas expert. I pulled on my sweatshirt and pants and padded to the kitchen. It was 5:05am.

Here was the plan (and the logic behind it).

When I had to disconnect my pump during my swims, I would be without insulin from 5:30am-7:30am. I would then reconnect, set a 150% basal rate for two hours and carry on with my day. My blood sugar, during the 90-minute swim, would have climbed about 4-6 points.

Now that I don't have to disconnect, my plan was to keep the pump running at 100% basal during the workout and NOT increase the basal afterwards. I figured I'd either a) still climb but not as much b) not climb at all or c) drop and then I'd need to figure out a plan to reduce basal.

When I got to the kitchen, I tested my blood sugar and it was 3.7.


I hate being low before a swim because, as I mentioned, my blood sugar climbs when I swim. Even if I treat a low with a tiny amount of carbs, say a few raisins, I'll go up to 5 or so before the swim but then spike up to 11-12 by the end of the workout.

I had about 10 raisins and crossed my fingers.

I got to the pool and discovered that we were in for a crazy workout. Pushups. Planks. 4 x 300m of pulling buckets. Fifteen repeats on the stretch cords and, finally, 50m sprints.

I was a little worried and wanted to eat a bag of fruit chews just to be safe but decided to trust my gut.

I started the workout with a blood sugar of 5.0. Every time I stopped swimming, I tried to gauge how I felt (which seemed tired but fine BG-wise). I pulled buckets. I stretched stretch cords. By the end, I was exhausted and shaky but not low blood sugar shaky. I showered, dressed and drove home, still feeling ok.

I pulled out my glucometer, pricked my finger and tested. Doug and I both watched the five second countdown. And saw the number 5.7 flash on the screen.


It hardly budged despite a really tough workout.

My blood sugar did well after breakfast and no mid-morning spikes that I thought might happen because I didn't increase my basal.

It will take a few more swims before I know for sure if it's really going to be that easy but I'm thrilled with the first experiment.

I thought I might notice the pump tucked in my bathing suit but, once I started swimming, I didn't feel a thing. The biggest deal of the morning was figuring out my new locker routine. I used to disconnect before my swim, tuck my pump in my bag and then reconnect after my shower. Now I need to disconnect after my swim but before my shower. So I had to set things up in the locker a little differently.

Other than that, Lucky survived the first big test and passed with flying colours.

Green colours that is.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What do the Numbers Mean?

Every once in a while, someone on one of the type 1 diabetes blogs that I read will post their basal rates. Or their daily bolus amounts. Or their insulin:carb sensitivity factors.

I'm usually surprised by the numbers they post.

Probably because I am used to my numbers and, because my numbers and I spend so much quality time together, they become the norm.

It has me wondering though. Is there a norm when it comes to insulin usage? Is it like body mass index or hip:waist circumference where there is an ideal range to be in? Is insulin sensitivity of any importance to a type 1? Is it something to try to improve the way we work on our A1C?

In the interest of full disclosure, here are a few of my numbers.

My basal rates are, using the 24-hour clock:

00:00-03:00 0.75 units/hour
03:00-07:00 0.80 units/hour
07:00-11:30 0.90 units/hour
11:30-17:00 0.95 units/hour
17:00-00:00 0.80 units/hour

My bolus rates are:

00:00-06:30 1 unit of insulin for every 10 grams of carbs (or 1:10)
06:30-11:00 1:8
11:00-16:00 1:6
16:00-00:00 1:8

My correction factor is: 1 unit of insulin will drop my blood glucose by 4.8.

On a typical day, I use about 40-45 units of insulin. Twenty units of that is my basal, the other 20-25 is my bolus for food and for correcting high blood sugar.

Some people I know use 20-25 units of insulin per day. Total.

Others use 60 or 80 units.

I'm sure that there are people out there who use less than 20 units and those that use 100 units or more.

I'm just trying to figure out if insulin usage is just like every other part of diabetes - completely random and completely personal. Or is there a magic range, like the A1C range, that we are supposed to strive for?

Not that I need anything else to worry about. Just curious is all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

450 Balls

Last weekend was a little busy.

Nope, it was a lot busy.

So was last week to be honest.

Despite a busy schedule, I'm managing to squeeze in some driving range practice and golf lessons on a fairly regular basis. It has been 12 days since I started learning how to play golf.

I have had two lessons and three trips to the driving range. Plus one golf game.

I have hit 450 balls at the driving range since I started.

Some balls I miss three times in a row before I make contact.

Some I hit and they roll off the tee and stop about five feet away.

Some I hit really hard and they roll really far but never take flight.

Every so often, I hit a beauty. It sounds perfect when the club hits the ball. It soars in a perfect arc and it lands really really far away.

It's those ones that keep me going because I know I can do it.

On Sunday, I headed to the driving range on my own. I set up 6 tees in a row and put six balls on them. I hit one after another. Set balls and repeat. I missed some, I hit some, I carried on.

I tried, at one point, to add a bit of extra power to my stroke. I wound up, took aim and swung the club. I knocked two balls of two tees...two tees that were about 6 inches apart. I have no idea how I did that.

I also almost managed to kill a bird that was flying by. I missed by a few millimetres and it lived to see anther day.

Surprisingly, I never felt anything other than peaceful. When things got rough, I felt resigned. Never frustrated. Never annoyed. I think, if nothing else, I'm pretty pleased with my ability to take this game in stride.

A stranger came up and tried to give me pointers. I would have been appreciative except that his tips didn't really make much sense. So I politely thanked him and told him that my coach wanted me to work on specific things. Which was true.

Golf is a game of millimetres and improvement comes in baby steps.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Today's the Day

It's Monday, May 6th.

At 4:30pm today, I'm going to be disconnecting from my Medtronic pump and launching a new pumping chapter with my new Aminas.

I'm excited.

My new pump has been sitting patiently in my closet since it arrived last week. Patiently waiting for my pump training session. Once that is complete, I'll be good to go.

I've watched the training videos. I've installed the batteries, set the date and time and played with all the buttons. I've learned that if I enter my basal rates into a pump with no insulin, it sets off alarms bells. I quickly learned how to clear my basal rates. I entered all of my bolus calculations into my new meter, I paired my new meter to my new pump and discovered that the pump settings override the meter settings so they all disappeared.

I've got my basal and bolus settings from my current pump written down. I know my insulin sensitivity factor and my target BG range. They are all ready to be input into my new pump once I put some insulin in there.

I'm excited.

To be honest, I don't expect much to change on a day by day, moment by moment basis with my new pump. I'll still clip it to my belt every morning, enter my BG and bolus for meals. The colour will be different and the beeping noises will be different but it won't change much in my daily life.

But I do expect some days and some moments to be very different thanks to my new pump.

I have high hopes for my early morning swims. I expect a bit of a learning curve but hope to figure out how to avoid the consistent post-swim highs I experience.

I have higher hopes for triathlons days and I can't wait to test out a basal profile for race days that includes the swim.

And I have really high hopes for my goal of swimming longer open water distances. I have no idea what I'm going to need to do with my basal rates when I try to swim 5k and even build up to 10k but I am so excited now that I have an option to even be able to try.

I also can't wait to be out running and get caught in a rain storm. Because, for the first time in 4 1/2 years, it won't matter if I return home dripping wet.

Finally, now that I can remote bolus, I have another goal for this summer. Find a sundress that I like and wear it. I don't think I've worn a sundress since I was a little girl but I really like the idea of going out for Sunday brunch or a Friday night dinner being able to dress up in something other than capris. I like the idea of hiding my pump under my clothes and not having to dig it out to bolus.

It's not my biggest goal but it's probably my craziest.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Golf is Fun! Who Knew?

"Learning how to golf is 30% skill and 70% attitude" I announced when we got home from a trip to the driving range.

Doug laughed but he agreed.

Two years ago, I made a grudging, half-hearted attempt at golf. I expected to dislike it and I did. I expected to suck and I did. It didn't go well for anyone and I quit before I had even gotten started.

This summer I decided, without an ounce of pressure, to learn how to golf. Not to try again. Not to go once and then decide but to learn how to golf.

I knew I would suck. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be a long long time before I got even remotely good. But, by committing to learning how to golf, I accepted all of those things are par for the course (ha! Par for the course. Get it?)

In the last two weeks I have had one lesson, two trips to the driving range and one 9-hole golf game.

I am better than I was when I started but I'm still really inconsistent and most good balls I've hit are more about luck than talent.

It doesn't matter. I'm having fun. And the second I feel even remotely frustrated, I remind myself that it doesn't matter and that I'm supposed to suck. And I immediately go back to having fun. Golf has become my latest puzzle to solve and it's a lot more fun when I look at it that way. My brain analyses every stroke to either figure out what I did wrong and correct it or what I did right and repeat it.

Hit ball, learn, correct, hit ball, learn, correct.

Switch club and start over.

I hit an entire bucket of balls last night with Doug watching me and giving me tips. That kind of stuff would normally make me crazy. With the right attitude, it becomes almost like date night. An opportunity to spend time together, have fun, learn a bit and enjoy each other.

I'm liking this new hobby of mine.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Diabetes and Exercise

On Monday night, Doug and I drove twenty minutes down the highway to listen to a presentation on Diabetes and Exercise put on by Animas. The speaker was Sébastien Sasseville who, I quickly discovered, is a pretty impressive dude.

He is 33 years old and has had type 1 diabetes for 11 years. He pumps. And he takes his pump to places like the top of Mount Everest, the Sahara and five (soon to be seven) Ironman races.

He is my kind of diabetic!

At the beginning of the presentation, I put my hand up and asked him to please share any tips he had for triathlons, particularly things he learned about diabetes management while doing three very different sports.

Sébastien had a lot of really interesting and motivational things to say during his two hour talk. I was impressed with his accomplishments but I am active enough in my own life that I didn't need any more motivation. I have lots of that. I was looking for information. And he gave me plenty of things to think about.

Two things in particular really struck home. It's funny how we sometimes need people to point out the simplest things.

Sébastien talked about his approach to eating during races and long workouts. He used to, like me, focus on keeping his blood sugar in range (as much as possible) and would only eat to avoid lows. Meaning that he, like me, would often struggle with not eating enough during long tough workouts to keep energy levels high. He has since tried a different approach that makes a whole lot of sense. He starts off by deciding how much food he wants to eat during a race or long workout. He then figures out the insulin he needs in order to accommodate the carb intake.

Figure out the food first, then factor in the diabetes.

Makes so much sense.

The second thing he shared that really impressed me was his basal settings for an Ironman. He used to, like me, reduce his basal rate before the race. He would, like me, struggle to remember to change his basal an hour and a half before the start. He would, like me, often forget in the pre-race craziness. He would then, like me, struggle to know how to deal with the fact that he had too much insulin in his body before the race.

So he changed his tactic completely. He now programs a basal profile for race day into his pump. His basal rates change based on his predicted times in the swim, bike and run. I won't give you his numbers because everyone's diabetes is different. It's not the numbers that matter anyway, it's the logic behind it.

This summer I am hoping to compete in an olympic triathlon. Let's assume that it starts at 9am. I would probably swim for about 30 minutes, cycle for 1 hour and 20 minutes and then run for 1 hour and ten minutes. I know my blood sugar climbs when I swim, drops a bit when I cycle and drops a lot when I run. Based on that, here is what my triathlon basal profile might look like

7:30am - reduce basal rate to 60% (don't want a low while swimming)
9:00am - swim starts
9:30am - increase basal rate to 150% (to make up for the fact that my BG climbs when I swim)
10:00am - bike starts
10:00am - reduce basal rate to 50% (to prepare for the run and the fact that I drop quickly on the run)
11:00 am - run starts
11:30am - increase basal to 120% (to prepare for the post-race spike I usually experience)
12:00 pm - race over
12:30pm - reduce basal to 40% (keep it there for 3-4 hours to prevent post race lows)

I don't know if this is exactly what I will do on race day but it's a good first attempt at planning. What I really love about this way of doing it is that eliminates or reduces a lot of the variables on race day. I still can't forget for one second the I have diabetes. But by creating a basal program I wouldn't have to remember to change my basal before the race, bolus after the swim, change basal after the race etc.

Having a waterproof pump will also help a heck of a lot.

Four more days!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Goal Update

We're four months into the year and it is goal update time again.  My list of goals is getting smaller by the minute...for all sorts of reasons.

I may need to add a few more just to spice things up a bit.

Here is my list of goals for 2013 as it stood on January 1st.

log 1000km of running this year
run the Tel Aviv half marathon
complete three triathlons, including one Olympic distance
stay injury free
pay down debt

Here is the update: 

Log 1000km of running. By the end of March, I had logged 258km of running. One month later, I have logged exactly 258km of running. I did not run one step last month thanks to my foot injury which, according to my massage therapist, is looking more and more like a stress fracture than a bruised foot. So I'm four weeks into my recovery and probably four weeks away from my first baby run. My goal of 1000km this year is fading fast. 

Run the Tel Aviv half marathon - done! 

Complete three triathlons, including one Olympic distance. The first triathlon I was going to do this season is the last weekend in June. If I don't start running until the end of May, I may not be able to safely build back up to the required 7.5km by then. So I may be signing up for the swim/bike portion (swim 750m and bike 30km) but not the run. It would let me get back into the swing of doing multi-sports but it won't officially be a triathlon so I certainly can't count it towards my goal. 

I am signed up for an Olympic distance in July which, if all goes well with my foot, I should be able to do. The thought of doing an Olympic distance as my first tri of the season is a little daunting but doable I think. Then I will most likely do the Niagara and then the Guelph tris later in August and September, bringing my total up to three. So the goal is not met but it's still quite possible. I'll know more in a month as to how possible it really is.

Stay injury free. Well, I think we can officially scratch that goal off the list. A stress fracture (or an assumed one anyway) qualifies as an badass injury. My new goal is to recover from my foot injury and be back running strong by the middle of the summer. 

Pay down debt. Well, I'm inching my way along with that goal but the numbers are moving down much more slowly than I would like. I'm proud to say that I survived my trip to Israel in good shape and didn't add anything extra to my debt by going. This month I was able to pay off another small chunk but then had to make a large credit card purchase because I needed to stock up on pump supplies. Sadly I needed to stock up on my Medtronic supplies (I had none left) but will only use 3/10 sets before I get my Animas pump in two weeks. So I will need to buy Animas supplies now. Anyone want to buy some Medtronic infusion sets and reservoirs at a discount? If not, I may get trained on Animas but then continue to wear Medtronic for 4-6 weeks to use up those expensive supplies. 

I'm thinking that I may need to add a few more goals to the mix just to make things more interesting. Goals like: 
- play 10 rounds of golf this summer. 
- play the baby steps golf course until I can do it in 50 rather than 61. 
- complete two events in the Activ Swim Series. Doug and I went to an open house at a local multi-sport store and discovered that they are planning a summer swim series where, on 6 Fridays this summer, they will be hosting timed swims at the half-ironman (1.9k) and ironman (3.8k) distances. I would love to swim 3.8k in open water. I've done it in the pool but never that long in open water before. So I think I'll add: swim a half-ironman and an ironman swim distance with the Activ Swim Series. 

Come back on June first to find out how May shaped up.