Thursday, February 28, 2013

Magic Threshold

How many carbs does it take for you to reach for the insulin?

I know, I know. There are so many other variables involved with diabetes that it's impossible to give a definite answer for that. What our blood sugar is at the time. If there is any insulin on board. Just finished a run? Just heading out for a run? Blah blah blah.

I'm not looking for your special formula. I'm talking about whether you would grab a Swedish berry and pop it in your mouth without testing your sugar or taking insulin for it.

According to my extensive research (ahem: Googled it), one Swedish berry = 3.2 carbs.  That equals 0.3 units of insulin.

I don't think I would ever bolus for one Swedish berry. The exercise it would take to reach for my pump and punch in the numbers would be enough to burn it off. I also don't think I would bolus for two. Or four.

What about five? That's 16 grams of carbs. That's also 1.5 units of insulin. Which is like a medium-sized apple.

I'd definitely bolus for an apple.

What about those mini chocolate bar pieces you can get in bulk? Like mini Oh Henry bits that are about the size of a Swedish berry. I'm guessing 3-4 carbs? I'll often walk by the bag of them after dinner and grab three. That's 12 carbs but I don't bolus for them.

I would if I took 6 though.

What's the magic number?

Four grapes? Nope. Ten grapes? Probably. Fifteen? For sure.

It makes me sound lackadaisical with my blood sugars but I'm really not. I'm as anal as can be with testing, documenting and bolusing. My numbers are usually reflective of that and I would never grab Swedish berries if my sugar had been high all morning and wasn't coming down.

But I would grab a few on a normal day. When things were moving along as they should. I'd pop a few in my mouth and think nothing of it. And normally, my sugar doesn't move very much at all with that extra bit of sugar.

I'm just wondering where my seemingly random magic threshold comes from though. It's not like the dieticians told me that three mini chocolates = free but five = you had better test and bolus. In fact I'm guessing I'd get the finger wag if I told them.

What about you folks? Anyone else notice that there is a certain number of carbs you will eat without bolusing? What is it? And how did you reach the point where that number became ok?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Counting Down

I have five more swims until I go away.

Five more runs too.

Two more curling games.

Eight more days of work.

Thirteen more sleeps.

Funny how each of the things that I count down make me look at the passing days differently.

Five more swims makes me feel kinda worried that I'll lose some of my newfound speed in the pool after two weeks off. I will be swimming a few times in Tel Aviv with my sister but I doubt she is going to stand at the side of the pool yelling at me to swim faster and harder. We're going to be doing the leisurely swim thing followed by a stroll on the beach.

Five more runs means that I'm almost at race day which makes me feel excited and nauseated all at the same time. I've trained in Canadian winter temperatures for the past three months. The weather in Tel Aviv this week is in the 20s every day and hits 28 degrees on Sunday. I'm trading in my toque (hi Scott!), mitts, two long-sleeved shirts, pants and warm socks for shorts, a tank top and a hat. I hope I remember how to run in the heat. Better pack some extra electrolytes!

Two more curling games makes me sad. There are still a few weeks left in the season but, once I leave, that's it for me until next Fall. It's been a great season and I've really enjoyed curling two nights a week.  I've learned so much and gotten so much better on the ice. I'm going to miss my new Monday night teammates and I'm going to miss seeing my Friday night buddies on such a regular basis.

Eight more days of work makes me feel mildly panicked. It's shaping up to be a busy year at work and the next few months is particularly busy. Missing work for 12 days takes a lot of preparation and I'll be hitting the ground running from the moment I get back - jet lag or no jet lag. Did I mention that I have a really hard time recovering from jet lag?

Thirteen more sleeps makes me feel a little homesick..and lonely for Doug. I'm doing this trip solo and we haven't been apart this long since we've been together. Over four years now. I know I'm going to have a fabulous adventure and I'm excited to go but there will be an empty space beside me where he should be standing, taking pictures and making me laugh.

It also makes me think that I want to see if I can jam my pillow into my suitcase. Having a really thin pillow can make or break it for me and is totally worth sacrificing space in the suitcase so I can sleep well for two weeks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weight Restrictions

I've made my packing list for Tel Aviv. I've checked out the carry on and checked luggage weight and size restrictions for both United and US Air. I've done the math in my head.


I am allowed to check one 50lb bag for free. If I check a second bag, or if my first bag is overweight or oversized, I have to pay $100. Each way.

I am allowed to carry on two bags as long as they are under the size and weight restrictions.

I am going for 14 days.

I need running clothes, shoes and other race day stuff.

I need my bathing suit, swim cap and goggles.

I need clothes for warm days and cool nights.

I need clothes I can wear to nice dinners and clothes I can wear to hike in the desert and visit the ultra-conservative Jerusalem sites.

I have stuff to bring for my sister and her husband.

I want to bring my camera and two lenses, a small point and shoot, my ipad mini and, in an ideal world, my laptop.

I wouldn't mind bringing a monopod and my legs would be grateful if I can squeeze my roller into the bag too.

Oh, did I mention that I have diabetes? And that I need to bring 3x the supplies I need for two weeks...just in case? Plus three bottles of Dex4s and lots of packages of fruit chews for low blood sugars. Not to mention lots of granola bars, Larabars and almonds for the 17 hours of travel.

And I may, just may, want to bring home a souvenir or two.

It's going to be tight and I may have to wear a coat with lots and lots of pockets.

Thankfully, I'm staying with my sister and she has a washer and dryer. So I can bring clothes for 3 or 4 days and just keep washing them. I'll go through a lot of diabetes stuff, shampoo and conditioner and Dex4s so my return bag should be a little lighter...I hope. Otherwise I'm going to be one of those really annoying people who opens their suitcase at the checkin counter, starts pulling out dirty clothes and stuffing them into their coat pocket just to drop a few pounds.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Slow and Steady Versus Fast and Furious

Last week I swam three times - as per usual. Monday was a statutory holiday (Family Day in Ontario) so we didn't have a Masters class. Doug and I just went and swam lengths for a while.

Wednesday and Friday are the swims I want to focus on because I noticed a pattern that I have started to realize occurs in my running too.

Wednesday's swim was about speed. Friday's swim was about endurance.

Wednesday, we warmed up for about 800m and then we were told that we were going to swim 20x75m. The first four 75m were supposed to be done at pace. The next four were supposed to be two seconds faster. The next four at pace. The next four 3 seconds faster and then the last four at pace. We had about ten seconds of rest between each 75m sprint. In other words, we swam 1,500m of hard sprinting with wee rests in between. Kinda like running full tilt with regular, short walk breaks in between.

After those were done we swam 5x200m at pace. That added up to another 1,000m of swimming.

We finished off with 300m of scull/swim which is when we scull for 25m and then swim for 25m. Over and over again.

It was a very tiring and challenging workout and my body felt exhausted all day. In total, we swam 3,600m in 90 minutes.

In contrast, on Friday we had a leisurely 900m warm-up which consisted of swimming and pulling. After that, we swam 3x (200m pull followed by 4x50m swim) for a total of 1,200m.

The main workout was 800m (alternating 100m easy and 100m pace) and then we swam 400m doing the same thing. We finished it off with 8x25m sprints. These 8 sprints were the only hard part of the workout. The rest was a consistently fast but manageable pace.

It was a wonderful workout that left me feeling energized for the rest of the day. In 90 minutes, we swam 3,500m.

If you compare Wednesday to Friday, we swam the same distance (minus 100m) in the same amount of time. The first one was exhausting and the second was invigorating. The first one, I could not have done much more than we did. The second one I could easily have added another 1,000m at the end.

It's a pattern I have learned in running and one I am trying to remember on race day.

I run half marathons in (approximately) 2 hours and 20 minutes (give or take). I start off at a good clip which I can maintain for about 12k at which point I fall back to a pace that is a little slower than my long run pace and I struggle through the last 3-4 kilometres pretty much every time.

In comparison, just over a week ago, I ran a 22k long run. I ran it at a consistent, comfortable, easy pace. Even with two stops to drink some Nuun and blow my nose and one longer one to eat a GU, I finished the entire 22k in 2:25:08. If I subtract the 6 minutes I took to run the last 900m, I ran 21.1k in 2:19:00.

I ran one of my best half marathon times. I did not struggle, I felt strong until the end and my body recovered nicely afterwards.

Apparently slow and steady really can compete with fast and furious. It's a challenge to remember on race day though because I feel like I'm being lazy unless I'm pushing harder than I push on training runs. Maybe, just maybe, I can convince myself to pace pace pace all the way through and then I can cross the finish line feeling strong and capable rather than feeling overwhelmingly glad that it's over.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How I Train for a Half-Marathon

I love the part of half-marathon training when my body had adjusted to the distance, my mind has overcome the mental hurdles and I just settle in and enjoy longer and longer runs.

My half-marathon training is a three-month process. It's one that I've worked out for myself based on training plans given to me by the fabulous Runners' Edge running club. Each month is pretty similar in that there are three hard weeks and one easy week.

During the first month, my weekday runs are usually a 6-7k run on Tuesdays and hill or interval training on Thursdays. Saturday long runs are usually 12k, 14k and 16k. They are usually my hardest long runs. My body has been running 10ish kilometre long runs for the last month or so and working up to 16k is physically and psychologically difficult for me.

Then I have my first easy week which I look forward to and am grateful for. Two easy 30-minute runs during the week and a 10k run on the weekend.

Month two is a little different. I focus on increasing my mileage and I avoid hill training because it puts too much strain on my shins and increases my chance of injury. So I run 6-7k on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Saturday long runs are 18k, 20k and 22k. I'm always nervous for the 18k run because the 12-16k runs were so hard but, more often than not, the worry is for naught. Maybe it's because my body has toughened up, maybe it's the fact that I just finished an easy week but I usually sail through 18k feeling strong. I carry that confidence into the next two long runs and they too usually work out well.

Then it's easy week again. This time, the 10k run on Saturday feels ridiculous. My body wants to head out for 2+ hours of running and it rails at having to stick to 60 minutes. I love and hate that run. I love that I feel so strong that it seems too easy and I hate that I can't spend my morning running down country roads.

Month three is taper time. My weekday runs are still 6-7k runs and my Saturday runs are 16k, 12k and 10k. I love the 16k run, particularly after struggling with the shortness of the week before. The 12k is pretty easy and the 10k feels critical because the next weekend is race day.

After the race I take a week or so off and then go back to running three times a week with Saturday long runs hanging out around 10k.

Repeat every few months and every year I add a few more half-marathon medals to our medal wall.

I like the training plan and it works well for me. But I particularly love this part of it. Twenty-two kilometres are behind me and I am full of energy. Wish me luck tomorrow - I have an easy 10k to run.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hair Product Overload

Swimming three times per week, every week, for a year and a half, has forced me to figure out how to save my hair from the ravages of chlorine.

The first month or so of swimming, I washed my hair after each swim with my good ol' cheapie shampoo and conditioner. It took surprisingly little time for my hair to go from silky soft to feeling so dry it could crack. It faded, tangled constantly and felt awful.

I tried a different shampoo/conditioner brand. I even tried wetting my hair in the shower before going in the pool in the hopes that it would absorb the fresh water and be too waterlogged to absorb the chlorine.  In less than a month my hair was destroyed and I wore it tied back every day because it was too damaged to do otherwise.

At my sister's urging I went to a new salon and got my hair coloured (for the first time ever - gasp!) and cut. The colour coated and helped protect my hair and the cut removed a lot of the damage. They recommended a shampoo/conditioner combo for after my swim and then a different shampoo/conditioner for days that I didn't swim. The idea was to strip the chlorine from my hair after a swim and then condition it with a rich conditioner. On the non-swim days, I was to use a shampoo and conditioner that would repair my hair. It was a fairly expensive visit.

Their recommendations were better than what I was using but I didn't love them.

So I shopped around. I asked people at the pool what they use. I looked online. I looked for sales and tried things.

After a year and a lot of empty bottles, I found a chlorine shampoo that works well after swims and a deep conditioner that replenishes what the chlorine shampoo strips away. I also found a shampoo and conditioner that really help repair my hair on my non-swimming days. This four-product combo keeps my hair from being utterly destroyed from 4 1/2 hours a week in the pool.

Oh, and I found a third conditioner that I put on before my swim. I get in the shower, wet my hair, coat in conditioner and then put on my swim cap (which I no longer hate - just dislike intensely). I use this conditioner because it's less expensive than the other conditioners I have but does a good job at keeping my hair protected and tangle-free during swims.

Three different conditioners and two different shampoos. A total of four different brands.

It sounds ridiculous and probably is but it's my system and it seems to be working. Now when I go to get my hair cut they folks who wash my hair compliment me on how healthy it feels and don't believe me when I say I swim three times a week.

This week I was running low on pretty much everything at the same time. Perfect.

The problem is that no one store sells everything at a reasonable price. Winners has the cheapest price for my at-home shampoo and conditioner so I headed there for that. They don't carry any of the other stuff I need. Trade Secrets was having a sale on the brand I use for my at the pool conditioner so I headed there for that. They also have my chlorine-removing shampoo but it's much more expensive there than it is at a little hair salon I discovered quite by accident in the Welland Wal-Mart. So I popped in when I was in Welland and picked my shampoo up there.

Three stops and four bottles later, I'm stocked up and ready to rock and roll.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Travel Loaner Pump

So I contacted Medtronic the other day to ask about their Travel Loaner Pump program. I figured that it was probably a good idea to have a spare pump in my bag during my Israel trip. My pump has never failed me in the over four years that it's been hooked to my belt but I'd rather not risk a pump failure so far from home.

They asked me a few questions and then emailed me a form to fill out. The instructions were to complete the form and fax back to the main office. I would get the loaner within two days.


I filled out page one of the form and it was pretty easy stuff. Name, address, travel destination etc.

Page two - my heart sank.

Please provide your credit card information and sign the waiver. I read the waiver and it said that, if I do not return the pump or if is it lost, stolen or damaged, they will charge my credit card a total of $4,995 dollars.

Holy bananas!

I know that pumps are expensive but isn't there a way to get a used loaner pump or something?

The odds of someone stealing my bag in a tourist hot spot are higher than the odds of my perfectly functioning pump suddenly dying during the fourteen days that I am out of the country.

I've checked and there is a Medtronic office in Israel. I personally met an Israeli during my Global Heroes weekend last October who uses a Medtronic pump so I know that I can get supplies and help there if needed. I'll bring back-up needles.

And I'll cross my fingers.

Because this girl does NOT want a $5,000 dollar charge on her credit card because she accidentally dropped her bag off the side of Mount Masada and watched it bounce off a few camels before landing in the Dead Sea.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scotties = Sore Feet

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is on this week.

Translation: the women's national curling competition is on this week. The top team from each province are playing each other all week, culminating in a playdown and national champion this coming weekend.

We watched a lot of curling on Saturday and Sunday morning which inspired me to head to the curling club on Sunday to practice.

I wanted to practice my ability to hit the broom (ie. my aim) and my ability to maintain control and balance when throwing faster rocks. Doug came along as my personal coach.

Let me back up a bit and explain curling shoes. Curling shoes are pretty neat and very functional but they are not particularly sexy.

The right shoe has a rubber bottom and sticks fairly well to the ice. The left shoe has a smooth plastic bottom and is extremely slippery. When throwing a rock, I slide on my left foot. When I'm not throwing, I put a rubber gripper over the bottom of my shoe which allows me to walk on the ice without falling arse over teakettle. 

My sexy pink gripper

When we play a curling game, each player throws two rocks per end. So for every 8 rocks our team throws, I throw two. 

I have very weak arches. When I walk around, it's not a big deal. When I have my gripper off for long periods of time, and am sliding on the ice, it can become problematic and quite painful. The problem is that I have to keep my slippery foot on the ice at all time. Instead of walking, I use my right foot to propel myself forward on my slippery left foot. All my weight is on my left foot and it doesn't get a break. 

During my practice session I threw 40 rocks. In a regular game I throw 16 rocks with lots of waking breaks in between. 

My feet were aching in no time. I kept having to take breaks and walk around to let my exhausted arches bounce back to a semblance of their preferred position before stepping back on the ice and flattening them out again. 

I called it a day after 40 rocks. My aim had improved, my control was better and I was apparently looking better when I threw. When I pulled off my shoe and pressed my thumb into my aching arches, they released with a sigh of relief. 

Perhaps a marathon curling practice the day after running 22k was not the best idea. 

Those damn Scotties ladies - they look so good and they play so well - I just want to be like them! 

Rachel Homan - skip of the Ontario team - looking far more elegant than I do in her release. Bet her arches don't hurt either. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Taper time

Saturday morning, I headed out for a run at 8:50am. I didn't stop moving until 11:15am.

Two hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds later, I had clocked 22 kilometres, had seen two coyotes, four deer and a groundhog and had arrived home with the same blood sugar I left with (5.0).

It was a pretty spectacular morning and, after a good stretch and shower, didn't even feel like I had run 10k, never mind 22.

The longest run of my half marathon training behind me, I started looking ahead at the next few long runs. This is easy week so I'll be clocking a relatively short 10k run on Saturday. The following Saturday I'll be running 16k and then the next Saturday I'll be running 12k.

Oh, and then I'll be getting on a plane and flying to Israel for two weeks.


Three weeks today I'll be at the Buffalo airport, bright red suitcase and orange carry-on in tow. I'll be leaving my winter boots and coat behind and arriving in Tel Aviv to spend two weeks with my sister and her husband - exploring Israel, sampling all the food, and running the Tel Aviv half marathon.

This trip has been booked and planned for a while but there were too many variables in play for me to really get excited until I knew for sure I would be going. Well, I'm going and, now that the pre-race taper has begun, it is starting to feel really real.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Poolside Boot Camp

I'm not much of a fan of workout classes. Yes I've done my share of step classes and yoga classes but that was a long time ago and I much prefer solitary runs or group bike rides to parking myself between strangers and doing what the person at the front of the room tells me to do. It's only in the pool that I seem to enjoy a class-type setting with an instructor yelling at me to work harder. Perhaps it's because, with my head under water most of the time and everyone too busy trying to survive to pay much attention to me, it still feels rather solitary.

Wednesday at the pool was an entirely different experience for me and it felt suspiciously like boot camp.

Christine planned out one of her resistance classes. My favourite kind of class. She told us that we were going to break into two groups. Group one was being tethered to the wall with stretch cords. They had to swim out until they felt resistance and then hold their position for 20 strokes. Then they had to go harder and hold that for 20 more strokes. Increase a third time and hold that for 20 strokes. Head back to the wall for 30 seconds and do it again. Repeat ten times.

The other group (my group) were going to swim 200m twice. The hitch was that we were going to have a pull cord clipped to our waist with a bucket (the kind a kid would bring to the beach to make sand castles) attached at the end. We had to swim while dragging a very resistant bucket behind us.

Enter boot camp. "Oh, and between each 200m I want you to hop out of the pool and do ten pushups, three times" announced Christine.

"How about one pushup once?" I mumbled to George.

Pushups fall in that category of things my body just can't seem to do. I can lower myself down but, if I lower all the way down, I can't even push back up once. It's like I'm stuck and is embarrassing and frustrating at the same time. Now she wants 30?

I attached the belt around my waist and dropped the bright blue bucket with the pretty fish drawings into the water. We headed off. For the record, two hundred metres pulling a small bucket is surprisingly hard and ridiculously slow. Christine waited until we finished before she announced that she used to pull kayaks behind her when she was training in the canal for her Lake Ontario swim.

"Yes but I bet they weren't bright blue with fishies painted on them!"

We dragged ourselves out of the water and on to the pool deck - to the amusement of Doug and the other folks in the lane swim. Some of us were better pushuppers than others but, on the whole, we sucked. I did three sets of 7 half pushups which means I lowered myself about half way down and shakily hoisted myself back up again. I switched to the lady pushups halfway through that because I was shaking so much I thought I'd break my nose on the pool deck when I collapsed.

Back into the water for another 200m of bucket pulling. Back out for another pathetic push up frenzy. Then it was time to switch to the stretch cords - my favourite! I did ten of those and, while they are hard and exhausting, I love them. It was now 6:33am.

"Switch!" Christine yelled.

What?!? I have to do more pushups??

I headed back to my bucket and tied it on. I headed off to slog through another 200m, wondering if this was the moment I finally say no to something she wants me to do. My arms were so spent and I dreaded the thought of having to push myself up even one more time.

That, my friends, is when the whistles blew. See, we had been smelling faint whiffs of smoke during our workout but the lifeguards couldn't figure out what it was or where it was coming from.  It wasn't bad enough to really worry but, after a while, they apparently decided was important enough to evacuate the building so, at 6:40am they blew their whistles and sent us scurrying to the locker rooms for a 'fast shower'. By the time I walked out to the entrance there were three fire trucks with their lights flashing and a gaggle of firefighters in full gear walking around.

I'm still not sure what happened but the pool was open again the same day so obviously nothing too major.

Wednesday night, as I lowered myself down into bed, I felt a deep ache in my abs. Like I had done a few too many planks. Except that I don't do planks.

Oh wait, yes I do...when I'm doing pushups on the pool deck at 6am.

By Thursday morning I had to roll on my side to push myself out of bed because I could not sit up for the ache in my muscles. By Thursday afternoon it hurt to laugh and by Thursday night I was wondering if I'd be able to swim in the morning.

I will admit (grudgingly) that the occasional pool side boot camp is probably a good idea. But it doesn't mean that I have to like it.

The scene that greeted the 7am swimmers when they arrived at the pool for their morning swim. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fasting Blood Test

It's that time again.

Pre-diabetes appointment bloodwork time.

Only this time, it's also cholesterol-testing time which means...fasting.


Fasting and diabetes go as well together as...oysters and Cheerios.

On Sunday night I went to bed knowing that I had to get my bloodwork done by Friday at the latest to ensure that it made it to my doctor on time for my appointment. I went to bed knowing that whatever morning I woke up with a blood sugar above 4.5, without having had a low in the middle of the night, I was going to have to skip my run or my swim and go sit in a waiting room with a lot of other people, feeling more and more cranky as the minutes ticked by and my stomach growled with hunger.

I went to bed on Sunday night with well-behaved blood sugar. I woke up right around midnight with a BG of 5.0. I had four Dex4s to keep me in range.

I woke up in the morning with a BG of 7.0. My blood test requisition said that I had to fast for 8 hours and between my Dex4s at midnight a test at 8am, I figured I was good to go.

No swim for me, it was blood work day.

I got up, showered, packed my lunch and my breakfast shake that Doug made me and headed out just after 7:45am. I didn't take a coffee with me because I usually have to wait at least 30 minutes for bloodwork and I hate cold coffee. And reheated coffee.

That's when it hit me. Friday we got walloped by a huge snow storm. I'm sure anyone needing bloodwork would not have ventured out in that mess. Saturday the world was covered in snow and the roads were iffy - no one was going to the clinic unless absolutely necessary.

It was Monday morning after two days of snow. The lab was going to be insane.

Dammit! I had already missed my swim and my blood sugar was surprisingly well-behaved. I was going to have to brave the crowds and get'er done.

I took a deep breath and opened the lab door.


As in, not a soul.

I walked up to the counter in a bit of a daze. They took my paperwork, handed me a cup to pee in and were waiting outside the bathroom door when I emerged - ready to take my blood.

It was eerily quiet. I felt like I was in some weird zombie movie where there are hardly any humans left in the world.

I was back in my car in under 6 minutes and had enough time to drive home, grab a mug of coffee and still get to work at my regular time.

I'm going to hold on to that fabulous memory the next time I head to the clinic, see a lineup snaking down the hall and my stomach starts screaming for its breakfast.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carb Counting

The other day, Ali over at Insulin and Iron wrote a blog about carbs. Specifically, how many carbs she typically eats in a day.

It got me thinking...and then it made me laugh.

I write a blog called Running on Carbs. I write a lot about running. I don't write much at all about carbs other than the odd vague mention like "I counted my carbs" or "I was low so I had some carbs". Perhaps I should give the Carbs part of my name a little more attention eh?

How many carbs do I consume in a day?

No idea.

I count them by the meal so I can take the correct amount of insulin but I don't count them by the day.

Luckily, I just finished a month of writing down all of my food, exercise, blood sugars and insulin in an attempt to fix some of the patterns I was noticing (lows during the night, highs in the afternoon etc).

So I pulled out my dog-eared log book and did some ol'fashioned math.

Turns out there are some patterns to my eating ummm patterns.

Breakfast in my world doesn't change much. Every morning, after my workout, I enjoy my delicious breakfast shake (nicknamed Gorp) lovingly made by Doug. And half a grapefruit. It is always 40 carbs.

Lunch is typically leftovers from dinner the night before. If there are no leftovers, I normally make a sandwich, toss yogurt into a container and grab a piece or two of fruit.

Looking back over the last month, there seem to be two carb options for lunch. Low carb which is about 15 grams or higher carb which tend to hover between 40-50 grams. Low carb lunches are typically salads with chicken. The carbs tend to either be beans in the salad or a piece of fruit on the side. Higher carb lunches tend to be more casserole-type meals with veggies, pasta or rice and protein.

Dinners have a similar range to lunch. Low carbs meals would typically be salmon with grilled veggies and higher carb meals tend to be pasta-based. They too range from a low of 10-15 to a high of 40-50.

So far, I range from 70 grams on a low day to 140 grams on a high day.

Then there are the mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks which are often mostly protein (almonds etc) but can just as easily have 20-30 grams in them (trail mix with dried fruit, banana, a few mini chocolate bars etc).

Add in the pre-workout carb boost if my blood sugar isn't in range and that could easily be another 20 carbs.

Oh, and the lows I might get which automatically require a minimum of 15 carbs to address.

So if you have a day when I eat a low amount of carbs but I need to eat before running and I have a mid-morning snack and a low in the afternoon - I could easily eat 130 grams of carbs. On a higher day - I could top 200 grams.

The question is: how am I doing?

I don't count calories. I don't count carbs. I don't worry about fat intake although I do try to keep the sodium down. I don't even know how many calories or carbs I should eat in a day. I just eat what I think is a pretty healthy diet full of fruit, veggies, calcium, iron and other good things. My weight is stable and my blood sugars behave as well as anyone with type 1 diabetes can expect. I have the energy I need to live an active life, run or swim for long periods of time and still stay up on Sunday nights to watch Downton Abbey.

Methinks I'm doing just fine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Appeal

I read and reread the letter I received from Canada Revenue Agency. The one that said that I did not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

The problem seems to be that I included activities in my Summary of Life-Sustaining Activities that are not eligible. Specifically time spent following dietary restrictions (carb counting) and time spent following an exercise program.

I could have argued that the activities I included were not exactly what they were talking about but, instead, I decided to make a peace offering.

I removed any activity that might look like carbohydrate counting or following an exercise program. I eliminated time spent setting temporary basal rates on my pump because many, though not all, of these basal rates are required before or after exercise. I eliminated time spent preparing my pump for activities (such as waterproofing my pump before going outside in the rain) because many times I do this for exercise.

I cut 51 minutes of weekly activity from my list.

Guess what happened?

In order to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, I need to prove that I spend a minimum of 14 hours per week doing life-sustaining therapy. Doing things that someone without diabetes would not do such as checking my blood sugar, changing my infusion sites, logging my numbers, priming my pump, treating and recovering from hypoglycemia etc etc.

When I first applied, I submitted a chart outlining each activity and how long I spent each week doing it. I reported that I spent an average of 17.5 hours per week one life-sustaining therapy.

Then I removed 51 minutes of activities that might, if I look carefully enough, not qualify.

That brought my average weekly time spent to 16.67 hours.

Still way above the minimum 14 hours required.

That's why I decided not to argue with them and simply remove the offensive activities.

I wrote a lovely explanation. I reprinted my updated chart. I mailed everything off to the Chief of Appeals.

Here's hoping that they take a look at my peace offering and realize that I do indeed qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lower Standards

Friday in Ontario was a snow day. One big giant snow globe snow day. Our driveway and sidewalk got shovelled three times and it wasn't enough. The snow was light and fluffy and hardly seemed to be falling but fall it did. Over 30cm of snow fell in about 12 hours. The most snow we've had in one day in years.

It was beautiful and I loved watching it fall as I worked from home - my kitchen table acting as a makeshift office.

The timing of the storm was pretty good too. On Friday morning I got up to swim but was half-expecting having to shovel instead. We had been warned (by every radio station, newspaper and television station) that a storm was coming. The roads were clear at 5am so I headed to the pool. By the time I left at 7am, the roads were awful. I headed home and stayed there.

I shovelled a lot of snow. My legs, back and arms were aching after the first bout. They were downright sore after the last session. As I looked at my car, the snow coming up past the wheels, I was beginning to wonder if my Saturday morning 20k run was going to happen. The snow stopped around 5pm and I hoped it was enough time for the plows to work their magic.

We didn't set any alarms and enjoyed a luxurious sleep in until 7am. "I'm going to try a run" Doug announced.

I was worried because if I tried it but only managed, say, 10k, I wouldn't be in any shape to try 20k on Sunday. I also knew that if I prepared (carb-wise) for 20k but didn't get anywhere near that, I'd be fighting highs all day.

I decided to lower my standards. I would run for time, not distance. I would try to head down Pelham Road, which would most likely be relatively clear since it was a bus route, and aim for an hour of running. Turn around and head home again. Distance didn't matter. Just time spent running.

With the number 20 no longer hanging over my head, I headed out in my Yaktrax. Our road was pretty awful but it's mercifully short. Within minutes I was on the main streets which were wet and kinda slushy but surprisingly clear. It was still a bit of a slog but much better than I expected it to be.

I did 3k in exactly 20 minutes. Some quick math told me that, if things continued, I'd run 9k in an hour which means I'd run 18k if I ran for two hours. I was ok with that.

I trotted along, not caring about pace or distance. I spotted deer prints in the snow. I watched the odd hawk swoop down looking for breakfast. I was the only runner in a winter wonderland. At 9k, I reached a crossroads, literally. If I kept going, I would head home along a route that was exactly 7k - bringing me to a total of 16k. Then I'd have to loop around the block if I wanted to add distance. I hate adding distance when I'm a few feet from home. I always prefer to add it at the beginning or middle of a run so that the final five kilometres are familiar.

On a whim I turned left and ran two kilometres. I turned around and ran back to the 9k spot. Except now it was the 13k spot. Meaning that I had just committed myself to 20k. So much for running for time.

I didn't have my glucometer on me because it was too cold out and would have frozen. I felt fine but knew I wouldn't be fine for another 7k. I sucked on a frozen GU which tasted wonderfully like chocolate mint ice cream. I sipped some slushy Nuun. I felt surprisingly energetic and I carried on.

Hours after the run was over, I am still shocked at how easy the 20k felt. Twenty never feels easy - it's just too far for comfort for me. Anything over 16k is a slog. This time, despite the snowy roads, the cold, the North wind and the post-shovel aches, it felt like 10k. Not 20k. I didn't even hurt afterwards and had enough energy to help dig my car out and shovel the driveway a final time.

A good 20k time for me is 2 hours and 10 minutes. I ran this one in 2:15

Sometimes lowering standards works out quite well.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Navigating the Murky DTC Waters

In October 2012, I applied for the Disability Tax Credit.

Canadians who have an 'impairment that requires life-sustaining therapy' of more than 14 hours per week are eligible to apply. I know several people with type 1 diabetes who have successfully applied for this tax credit. The benefit is immediately evident on their yearly Income Tax forms but people have also been able to apply for a credit on previous years and I personally know people who have received rebates ranging from $7000 to $12,000. Not to mention that they are also eligible to put money into a Registered Disability Savings Plan which is a wonderful tool as the money put it is matched (up to three times over) by the government.

I applied in October 2012. The application form said that I should receive a response in 6 to 8 weeks. I patiently counted down and, at exactly 8 weeks, received a letter in the mail. The letter said that they had received my application but required more time to review it.

That was the beginning of December.

Yesterday, February 7 2013, I came home to find a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency.

The letter said that they had reviewed my application and determined that I was 'not eligible for the Disability Tax Credit at this time'.

They outlined the qualification requirements (which I already knew) and said that things like carb counting and time spend exercising were not eligible (which I already knew).

They then said that the following activities were included in my application but were not eligible were:
- time spent following dietary restrictions or regimes (carb counting)
- time spent following an exercise program

I did not include either of those things in my application as I had been aware when applying that they do not count.

Four and a half months of waiting to get a letter saying that I didn't quality for reasons that aren't even valid.


Lucky for me, they also included two options for appealing a decision.

Guess it's time to pull out my submission package and make a few phone calls.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shaving One Second at a Time

Apparently we're going to be doing 300m time trials every few weeks at the pool.

We did our first one of the year a few weeks ago. On that day, Christine had us swim 300m three times with a two minute break in between.

When I did them, I swam them in 5:12, 5:21 and 5:17 for an average of 5:16:7. Having no idea if that is good or not, I just nodded and panted when they told me my times.

Time trials are hard. Three hundred metres is six trips back and forth across the pool. As fast as you can at a pace you can sustain for the entire distance. And five minutes can feel like a really really long time when your arms are exhausted and you are gasping for air.

On Monday morning, we were at it again. Three time three hundred metres. I didn't know how I would do this time but at least I knew what to expect.

I knew I would be fastest on the first one. I knew that the thought of doing a second one as I held on to the side of the pool, red-faced and exhausted, would bring me close to tears. I knew that, during the second one I would already be psyching myself up to do it a third time. And I knew that, a few minutes after it was over, I would feel fine and wish I could have another go at it.

I asked to go with the first group this time. Last time I was a timer first and then I swam. That meant that I sat on the deck for almost 30 minutes as my blood sugar slowly climbed. By the time I got started, I was feeling like I was up around 10 which is not a good place to be for that kind of exercise.

So I went first and Christine was my timer. I pushed off, thinking I would try to keep pace (or at least keep her toes in my field of view) with Chantal who was swimming beside me. She's faster than I am but not ridiculously so.

She disappeared from sight in less than 25m. I chased but couldn't catch her. Damn! I hit the wall at 50m and Christine yell "go go go!!". Omigod, I must be so slow today if she's already yelling. I pushed harder and heard a "go go go!!" again at 100m. And at 200m. I was the last one to finish and was shaking from exertion.

"What's the damage?" I asked.



"and" Christine practically yelled "you did the first 100m in 1:37!!".

And here I thought she was yelling because I was too slow.

We had one minute and fifteen seconds to rest, gulp down a drink and catch our breath before we headed off again.

I did the second one in 5:12 and the final one in 5:15.

I had obviously pushed hard during the first one and could definitely feel it on the next two. But I went from 5:12, 5:21 and 5:17 two weeks ago to 5:09, 5:12 and 5:15.

Not much really, just a few seconds difference. But a few seconds per month means I might be swimming 100m in 1:30 by summer.

I'm not sure why exactly that matters in the great scheme of things. It's not like I'm trying to qualify for the Olympics or anything. But it sure is nice to know that all the hard work in the pool is paying off.

My goal for next time? Keep Chantal's feet within reach - at least for the first 100m.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Lid Fell Off My Box

I have a little box in which I store all of my diabetes fears and frustrations. The box and I have an agreement of sorts. Things about diabetes that scare me, that make me crazy or that make me just tired and overwhelmed go in that box. The box keeps its lid secured fastened and all the nasty things stay put and stay quiet...

...and I go about my business trying to take care of myself as well as I can so that none of the fears in that box come true.

Sometimes though, that lid slips a bit and I get a peak at what's inside.

Sometimes the lid falls right off and the fears and frustrations come flying out like a big scary cloud that surrounds me before I can draw my sword.

Monday evening the lid fell off.

It started with my annual physical. The one I go to with my family doctor that normally has less to do with diabetes and more to do with my overall health. I like that appointment because there are no blood sugar logs to explain and we talk about my family and my latest running adventures...after she does her exams, checks my height and weight and tests my blood pressure.

As usual (she writes with relief) things looked good. My weight is good, my waist to hip ratio that predicts heart problems was good, my blood pressure was good. I sat up on the bed and asked what I thought was a pretty simple question. One I had almost forgotten to ask because it seemed so trivial.

"What do you think these little red dots are on the tips of my toes?"

They had started a few days before. Or at least that's when I noticed them. They were kinda itchy but not really. Not sore either. They were just a few tiny little red dots on the tips of several of my toes...on both feet. I thought perhaps they were from my feet hitting the front of my running shoes - this had never happened before but still.

"Oh, that looks like small nerve damage. It can be caused by diabetes."

My heart dropped.

Diabetes? Damage from diabetes?!? I was panicked and furious at the same time.

How dare diabetes do a damn thing to my body after all I do for it. The ungrateful little bastard! That was quickly followed by omigod, I have complications? I'm not even forty yet and have only had it for ten years!

"Could it be from running in the cold? It's been cold the last few weeks and I've been doing long runs. From curling twice a week and having my toes rub the end of my shoes when I'm sliding across the ice?" I was reaching and I knew it but I was completely freaked out.

"Well, it could be from trauma or extreme cold and it might go away on its own. Keep a close eye on it and show you diabetes doctor when you see her in March. In the meantime, keep your feet warm and come back to see me immediately if they get any worse or turn into open sores. It might be a good time to start taking a low dose aspirin as well."

Holy god.

I promised to do what I was told and headed home. I walked in, took off my coat, told Doug what happened, changed into my curling clothes, came back downstairs, sat down at the dinner table, took three bites of my dinner...and the lid fell off my box.

I cried, I shook with fear and frustration and I tried to find the words to express how I felt. What more can I possibly do? If all the time and effort I put in to taking care of myself and keeping the diabetes monsters happy isn't enough...what else can I do?

It isn't even the actual problem that bothered me as much as the thought that, despite the best efforts and the best intentions, diabetes may still win. All those awful predictions that the doctors and the media tell us might still come true.

Bloody hell.

I had ten minutes until I had to leave for curling. I suppose I could have called and said that I wasn't going but, if I did that, I thought I'd end up curled up on the couch nursing several large glasses of wine and not feeling any less freaked out.

So I wiped my eyes, screwed up my courage and headed back out into the night.

No one at the curling rink knew any of the turmoil going on inside. They joked and they teased me as usual. We played, I focused on my shots, on sweeping my heart out and on holding up my end of the conversation. They had me laughing in no time and I felt better for it.

I got home a few hours later with the lid once again tightly on my diabetes box. I WILL keep an eye on my toes. I WILL go to the doctor immediately if there is a problem. I WILL do what I need to do.

But most important of all.

I. Will. Live. My. Life.

I read once that living with diabetes is like living in a cage with a tiger. You can feed it and take care of it but don't turn let down your guard for a minute or it will try to eat you alive.

I take great comfort in the fact that, according to the Chinese calendar, I was born a Tiger.

Dear diabetes - I will share my cage with you because I must. I will make sure you are looked after. I will obey your rules. I will allow you your childish tantrums. But I will only be pushed so far...and then I get pissed. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

From Apple Juice to Lemonade

Warning: I'm writing about pee today. More specifically, the colour of pee.

As anyone who frequents Running on Carbs will notice, I like patterns.

The one I've been paying attention to for a while now - the colour of my pee.

See, I have a fairly regular workout schedule. Unless something causes me to miss one, I wake up six mornings out of seven and workout before breakfast. Three of these mornings are runs, three are swims.

Being keenly aware of hydration and how it affects a workout and my blood sugar - I have a large bottle of water by the bed and try to take a few gulps every time I wake up during the night.

On Sunday, when I don't do any activity, it takes me about an hour after I wake up to go from apple juice-coloured pee to nice pale yellow lemonade pee. You know, the kind we're supposed to have.

is way better than...

When I run, I drink before my run and drink a lot after my run. I continue to drink a lot all day and, normally, by about 10am, I'm peeing lemonade rather than apple juice.

When I swim - it's a whole other story.

I drink about 500ml of water on the way to the pool. During my swim, I drink an entire 1L bottle of water with two Nuun tablets dissolved in it. On the drive home, I drink an entire 1L bottle of water. I continue to drink all morning but it takes me until noon before I am rehydrated again.

To recap:
1 hour to rehydrate in the morning when I don't exercise.
3 hours to rehydrate in the morning after a run (even a long 18k one)
5 hours to rehydrate after a swim - despite drinking more before, during and after than I do when I run.

Keeping in mind of course that, by rehydrate, I mean pale yellow pee. I am sure I could drink more during my runs but I don't think I can handle much more during my swims - not without having to leave the pool mid-swim to run to the ladies (apparently they frown upon peeing in the pool...).

Anyway, I don't know if this is normal or whether I should be concerned. Whatever it means - I have definitely found another pattern.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Different Sports = Different Perspectives

It's Sunday afternoon as I write this. Lemon dessert is chilling in the fridge, homemade meatloaf is ready to go into the oven and we are watching the final day of the Phoenix Open. We're hosting my family for Sunday night dinner but the next hour will be fairly quiet before the troops arrive. 

I'm sitting on the couch and waffling back and forth between all the different things I did this weekend - trying to decide which, if any, are blog-worthy. 

I started thinking about the endurance swim we did on Friday morning, our curling game on Friday evening and my long run on Saturday morning.  

I started comparing them, trying to remember if anything out of the ordinary happened. 

It got me thinking - about how I look at different activities differently. 

When I think about a curling game, I think about a particular shot (be it amazing or agonizingly bad). I think about how we swept a rock beautifully into position. I don't think about the final score because I care less about winning than I do about playing well. We're a fairly new team so I don't go in trying to win - I go in trying to be better than I was last week. So the game gets broken down shot by shot in my head as I try to figure out how to improve. 

Imagine if I broke a run up like that? If I talked about how well kilometre 6 went compared to kilometre 8. If I compared kilometre 6 from Saturday's 18k run to the same kilometre the weekend before.  That just seems so bizarre to me to break runs down that way. 

I look at a run as one activity. I look at my final time and my average pace. I look at my pre-run compared to my post-run blood sugar. I compare those things week to week but I don't compare the tiny details. Maybe I should??

I approach swimming somewhere between curling and running. I like to calculate how far I've swum during a workout but I don't keep track of it the way I do my running. Probably because I swim farther during even the easiest workout than I will ever swim during a triathlon so I'm not worried about building up my distance. 

I may have to rethink that if I ever lose my mind and sign up for an Ironman. 

I also break down my strokes, my 50m sprints and my stretch cord sessions trying to find out how to get better. The same way I do for curling. I'm getting better in the pool but there is still a pretty lengthly laundry list of things to work on. 

So basically, I'm just trying to get everything. 

I have mastered the art of Sunday afternoon couch sitting however. May even be a gold medal contender. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Goal Update

I set myself a few goals for 2013. Nothing too crazy as I'm not one for New Year's resolutions but a few things that I thought would be fun (or a good idea) to work toward. I also thought it might be a good idea to actually report on them. That always helps keep me accountable.

I had a few athletic goals. My first goal was to run 1000 kilometres by the end of the year. Last year I ran 974.6km and, if I had realized I'd get that close to a four digit number, I would have added a few kilometres here and there.

I'm not sure why 1000 is that much more impressive than 975 but it is.

Well, January is over and I've logged 87km.

I've run three long runs: 13km, 15km and 16km. They were supposed to be 12km, 14km and 16km but it's so hard to find a perfect route at the perfect distance and I hate to run less than I'm supposed to. So there you have it.

I've done three hill sessions. All in the early-morning dark and all in the freezing cold. Each hill session was between 4-5km long depending on how many times I ran up. The number of times I ran up the hill depended entirely on what time I had to get to work that morning as every hill climb gets a little longer and the sprint up and easy run down take longer and longer.

I've had five Tuesday morning runs that are typically between 5km and 7km. That distance doesn't change during easy weeks. Only the long runs and the hill sessions change during an easy week.

If I were to run exactly 87km every month, I'd run 1044km in a year.

That, of course, is not going to happen. Some months will be over 100km. Others will be more like 60km.

I'll most likely run close to 100km in February as I'll be in the highest part of my half marathon training and will be running 18km, 20km and 22km long runs before I start to taper. That's an extra 16km just in long runs. The hills and Tuesday morning runs won't change much, if at all, in terms of distance so I'll probably have a nice high number at the end of this month.

My other running goals were to run the Tel Aviv half marathon on March 15th. I've signed up and am working my way through my training plan. So far, so good.

I also wanted to stay injury-free in 2013. So far everything feels fine. I have my monthly massage this afternoon and am happy to report that I'm going for maintenance rather than to fix a problem.

Finally, I want to complete three triathlons, one of them being an Olympic distance. I have chosen the three I'm going to do and have been working hard in the pool to hone my swimming skills. My next step is to make time to get my bike on the trainer so that I'm not starting from scratch in April once we hit the streets again.

As for my non-running goal of paying down debt - there's good news and bad news. My overall debt is down (yay!) but my credit card debit hardly budged. I paid down a fair amount but also racked up a fair amount with booking my flight to Israel, registering for the Tel Aviv half and paying for a few other things I just couldn't pay in cash. So I'm inching my way along but not at the rate I had planned for the month of January.

February will be tight as I try to save a bit for Israel while not adding an extra penny on the credit card. I won't make much headway but I refuse to add to my debt so February's goal is to simply maintain. March means income tax returns which will more than make up for the lack of headway in February.

And that, folks, is the January goal report.