Monday, June 30, 2014

June Workout Summary

I like to consider myself an optimist. Today is the last day of June. Does the optimist say that the year is half over already. Or only half over? 

Either way, it's the last day of the month so it's time to report in with how the month went in terms of activity. 

Let's start with swimming. Why? Because it's easy to report. It didn't happen. The pool was closed 3 weeks out of four and the first week was the week leading up to my sister's wedding. The only swim I did all month is actually this morning. As this post goes up, I'll be getting out of the pool for the first time in four weeks. Hopefully my arms have enough strength left to lift me out of the water! I wrote this blog before the swim in case I didn't have the arm strength to write it after...

Cycling wasn't much better. I was only able to join our Sunday morning cycling group twice in June thanks for a wedding, Father's day and a half marathon. So I cycled a grand total of 3 hours and covered 63km. 

Running on the other hand went quite well. I ran a half marathon on the first day of June. I took 8 days off running and then eased back into it. I'm now back up to 3 days per week and have started adding interval workouts to my routine. I ran 10 times in June. I covered a total of 88.8 kilometres and ran for 10 hours. 

I've started adding golf to my monthly workout reports because a 9-hole game is about 5km of walking and an 18-hole game is therefore 10-11km of walking. In June I played 4 9-hole games. I also played 4 18-hole games. I walked a total of 22 hours and covered 60km. That's a lot of walking! Zip was really happy about that. 

Out of 30 days, I ran, cycled or golfed on 19 of them. A few days had more than one thing (run in the morning, golf after lunch). Eleven days had nothing. 

Not my most active month but not awful. I got a lot of fresh air and my body is enjoying all the walking that golf has given me. 

The pool re-opened this morning so July will see a lot more swimming - once I get back from Friends For Life 2014. Speaking of which, I leave tomorrow so I had better get packed! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

6x800m and an Irish setter

In the fall of 2011 I developed a stress fracture. I was a few weeks away from my first marathon and the increased running had finally caught up to me, causing me to take 8 weeks off, miss the marathon entirely, discover swimming and eventually become a triathlete. 

During that marathon training, I was doing regular interval training in an effort to increase my speed a bit. 

Once I returned to running in the early cold days of 2012, I avoided doing anything other than regular running for fear of reinjuring myself. After a while that just became the norm and I no longer did interval training at all. I just ran. Short distances. Long ones. Always at the same pace. 

Yesterday, a full 2 1/2 years after my post-stress fracture return to running, I did interval training. Why? Because I feel like it's time to kick it up a notch and I am sick of running the same pace. 

Guess what happened? 

I remembered!

I remembered how much I used to love intervals. The easy warm up. The tough push to keep running right to the end of the interval even though your lungs are heaving and your legs are screaming. The wonderful, blessed two minutes of recovery and then the challenge of doing it all over again and trying to beat the time before. 

I remembered how much fun that used to be. How I never thought I would get through however many we had to do but I always did and always felt great afterwards. The kind of great when your body feels tight and strong and yet your bones feel soft with fatigue. 

As I prepared for this return to intervals I was happy to discover that once around my block is exactly 800m. Since 800m is my favourite interval distance I decided to start with my favourite workout: 6x800m. 

I circled the block twice to warm up, stopped for a minute to stretch my calves and sip some Nuun, and then I headed off for my first one. 

I started off at a gallop and had no idea how long it would take me to get all the way around. I also didn't know if the pace I started off at was sustainable for the entire distance. I was expecting to work hard. I was expecting to be tired. It was not expecting to have to stop 30 seconds into that first interval. But I did. Why? Because a rather large Irish setter I had never seen before was running straight for me. I stopped and calmly extended my hand for him (her?) to sniff me hoping he (she?) was as friendly as they looked. I was sniffed and then, feeling safe enough, I took off again for the last 750m. Followed by an eager red dog galloping along beside me. 

I stopped back at the start and was pleased to discover that I could make it all the way around going as fast as I could without collapsing in a heap. 

The dog got bored about 30 seconds into my rest and decided to explore my backyard. One minute in, it came back and then took off down the street. 

I did my second loop feeling strong and much more confident. I made it all the way around without mishap. Another rest. Another few gulps of Nuun. Blood sugar holding steady at 5.9. 

My third time around I found a man whistling and hollering in the middle of the street. I sighed and stopped again. "Are you looking for a red dog?" I asked. "Yes" he replied looking frazzled in his pyjamas. If he had hair I would guess it would have been sticking straight up. "He went that way" I pointed and took off again. "Thanks!" he yelled and hopped into his car. 

Once I had finished 3 out of 6 intervals, I was already counting down instead of counting up. I knew I should stop at 6 even though I was having so much fun. I did 4 and 5 feeling pretty good I was tiring. Number 6 was pretty tough. I willed my legs to keep going and willed my lungs to keep pumping. They did but I knew it was time to quit. Intervals are about quality as much as quantity. 

I had no idea what to expect for time since it had been over 2 years since I had last done this. Here is how long each 800m sprint took to run:

1. 4:14
2. 4:18
3. 4:15
4. 4:20
5. 4:14
6. 4:20

Good? Bad? I have no idea anymore but at least I have a baseline to work with for next time. 

Even more exciting. I did a total of 6.68km in 37 minutes. I realize I had breaks in there that allowed me to run that pace but it's still pretty cool to be able to run that fast. Even for a little while. 

Next Thursday should have been hill training (another favourite) but I will be in Orlando for the Friends for Life conference. Not sure how many hills there are in central Florida but I'm guessing the hills will have to wait until I get back. 

I am, however, not dismissing the idea of finding an 800m stretch of road, parking lot or whatever to squeeze in an early morning interval session. I'm definitely bringing my running clothes but I think I'll toss in some NUUN and a water bottle too. 

Any readers out there going to FFL? Let me know if you want me to meet up for some 800m repeats on Thursday before breakfast.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

(Driving Range + Weeding) x d'oh = Double Down

I don't usually have the chance to run the insulin in my pump down to fumes. Usually, due to timing, work or the desire to sleep through the night, I will change my pump when there are still 10-15 units left.

I won't go to work with less than 20 units and I won't go to bed with less then 15.

I don't always need all that but I do if I'm high and I'll be damned if I'm getting up at 4am to refill my insulin pump because I was high in the night and drained it.

I'm sure one day I will find myself in the kitchen at 2am, refilling my pump with one eye open, hoping that the neighbours don't look in and get a bit more of a view than they bargained for. I just have no interest in adding that to my ridiculous diabetes moments list so I always change my pump before bed if I'm down to 15 units or less.

Yesterday morning I had 20 units left after breakfast. Enough to get through an 8-hour work day if nothing went wrong.

I risked it.

My blood sugar was fine after breakfast so no extra boluses needed. I had a good lunch that happened to be a bit lower in carbs than usual so that worked out well too. No post-lunch highs so, again, no extra insulin needed.

After work I had a 4:15pm rendezvous at the driving range and still had a few units left. I knew I would be home around 5pm so I figured I was still good to go.

I got home after the driving range and noticed that the weeds in the front garden were more noticeable than they should have been so I dumped my stuff in the kitchen and headed back out with the yard waste bag. I was happily puttering away when my Rose buzzed to tell me that I was 10.5 and climbing.

Odd. I don't usually climb in the afternoon without eating and I had just hit a big bucket of balls which has to count as some form of exercise non?

Oh well, I bolused 2 units (without doing a blood test to verify the pump's number first. I know I know I'm going to hell) and bent over to continue weeding. Rose immediately alarmed again to say that I was out of insulin. Oh right! I forgot about that.

I quickly finished weeding the section I was working on and headed in. I refilled Rose and then bolused the 2 units again.

Yep. I actually did it. Just like that.

Didn't even think to check how much of the first two units were injected before the pump was empty.

Turns out I got the entire first dose. Plus the entire second dose. So now I have four units in my body and my dinner plans are a big huge salad with some carbs (black beans) but not enough to cover all the insulin I had just taken. I had two small pieces of baklava I was saving for dessert and there was no way I was eating those to deal with the low I knew would happen. I wanted to savour them, not use them as medicine.

I ate a banana (20 carbs) and started making dinner. I checked Rose every few minutes to see what was happening. I dropped slowly from 10 to 8 and then the nice green arrow changed from one arrow pointing at 135 degrees to two green arrows pointing straight down. I had a date and continued chopping. At 4.8 I was still showing the double down arrows so I caved and had an oatmeal cookie. I was now up to about 50 carbs. Enough to deal with the four units of insulin I took.

I ate my dinner (which was absolutely delicious by the way) and Rose informed me that I dropped to 3.9 before heading back up to 7 and settling there. Not bad considering.

Lesson for today: if you go to work with only 20 units of insulin in your pump do not decide to weed the garden after a trip to the driving range. Even if you hit a couple of pretty good balls. It will cause you to get so annoyed at the weeds that you double bolus for a mild high and end up eating cookies so that you don't eat baklava. Or something like that.

Anyway, I have to go. I have some baklava to savour.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Site Patterns

I'm beginning to notice a pattern.

Every Tuesday. Or Thursday. Never both but always one. My infusion site leaks insulin.

Only when it's hot out.

And only when I've gone for a run before work.

This was not a problem last fall. Nor was it an issue over the winter. And, trust me, I do sweat when I run in February. A lot.

It is a problem in the summer. Ever since I've switched from long pants and jackets to shorts and a t-shirt, my site leaks.

Here's how things go.

I go for a run. I come back dripping wet. I check my blood sugar and I bolus for breakfast. I keep one finger lightly on the infusion site and, once the insulin is bolused, I do the finger sniff test. If it's wet and smells of insulin - we have a problem. If it isn't, we might still have a problem but I don't know for sure.

No insulin smell means the breakfast bolus most likely worked but it increases the odds that the lunch bolus won't.

Yesterday, Tuesday, breakfast went well. My site passed the sniff test and my blood sugars did what they normally do after a run and breakfast. Lunch time came around and I bolused. The insulin was still going in when I felt wetness on my site. Damn!!

How much got in? Will I have to go home to change it? Does my entire office have that dreaded insulin smell now? I hope not.

I waited a while to eat to see if my sugar would drop. It did. I ate and ended up around 11 two hours later. Not bad but it never came back down again. I hovered at 11 until 4pm. Not high enough to warrant going home but high enough to be mildly annoyed. I did a test bolus around 3pm and could smell insulin. So after work, before heading to my parents' for dinner, I rushed home, changed the site and then hopped on the highway. Problem solved.

This only happens on Tuesday or Thursday. Not Tuesday and Thursday. I think it's because one of those days is usually a pretty new site and one of them is usually a site that is almost due for a change. I also think that wearing a loose t-shirt instead of a tight base layer top is a problem. The loose shirt, combined with sweat and humidity, rubs back and forth against the site while I run, causing problems. And a wee bit of chaffing.

The problem is that the site looks fine even when it's not. It's not like the tiny tube is sticking out or the adhesive came off. It's still securely attached and everything seems good. It's only when I bolus a large amount (5-6 units) that it seems to pool on my skin rather than go in. I have thought about doing 5 one unit boluses over a few minutes. It might solve the immediate problem but it does sort of take away from the 'convenience factor' of a pump. I've also thought about tossing my needle in my purse after runs and bolusing with that instead. Because I think the basal insulin is getting in just fine. It's the bolus that's a problem. 

I'm going to try wearing my tight tank top on Thursday to see if that reduces the movement and helps the site survive the run.

Oh, and I'm putting this out there so that I actually do it. On Thursday I will also be doing 800m interval repeats in my neighbourhood. For the first time in about three years. I'm excited and more than a little nauseated at the thought.

I'll keep you posted on how both experiments go.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Friends for Life 2014

Yesterday I wrote about green bracelets. They are apparently a pretty big thing in the Type 1 world.

The first time I heard about them was when I read about people attending the Friends for Life Children With Diabetes conference in Orlando. They wrote about how emotional it was to be there and spot all the people wearing green bracelets.

People just like them who, while they might look different on the outside, shared the same faulty pancreas. People just like them who, no matter what their job, their background or their favourite tv show, all need to inject insulin just to stay alive.

People who wear that green bracelet understand like no one else what it feels like to be high. Or low. What it feels like to have to eat when you don't want to. They know all too well that sharp pain when the insulin needle hits a nerve. That burning sensation that we feel sometimes when the insulin is going in. The frustration we feel when we are judged by the word 'diabetes'.

For the past few years I have read about people's experiences at the Friends for Life conference.

This year, for the first time, I won't just be reading about it.

I'll be writing about it.

One week today, on Canada Day no less, I'll be en route to Orlando for the four-day conference. When I get there I'll be one of the people wearing that green bracelet. I'll be making conversation with complete strangers simply because they are wearing one too.

I will see, and maybe even meet, some of the Diabetes Online Community powerhouses whose blogs I read every day. I will see a few friends I have already met, on-line or in person.

And who knows, maybe someone there actually reads Running on Carbs and might think it's kinda cool that they get to met the Canadian girl who paints her nails before races, wears a Fitbit who writes blogs and who plays golf with a handicap of 47.

I'll bring my fountain pen to sign autographs just in case.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Finding Our Tribes

Last week I was in Windsor for a few days volunteering at an Outrun Diabetes event. Sébastien Sasseville, a type 1 hero, left Newfoundland in February and has run all the way to Windsor.

His message is clear. It's not about the run. It's about what it symbolizes. It's about bringing everyone together and it's about the hope it gives people who have diabetes.

I drove to Windsor on Wednesday after work and arrived too late to meet up with anyone. So my first chance to meet anyone involved in the event was the Thursday morning breakfast meeting. We were instructed to be there at 8am. Everyone arrived within minutes of each other and, once all present and accounted for, we did round table introductions.

By the time we were halfway around the table I knew I was in for a great day.

Every once in a while, you find your tribe. A group of people who share something fundamental to your identity. I have a running tribe. I'm slowly developing a golf tribe.

As we went around the table, I discovered that I was about to spend the day with a group of people with whom I share not one but two fundamental links.

The first was diabetes. Probably half of the people at the table had type 1 diabetes. Everyone was proudly sporting their insulin pumps and were blood sugar testing, carb counting and bolusing with ease.

The second thing I shared with the team was a little more surprising because I hadn't expected it. Although in hindsight, I guess I should have.


More people at the table spoke French as their first language than spoke English!


Sébastien Sasseville is from Québec. He speaks English wonderfully and eloquently but he does so with a very obvious French accent. His sidekick (driver, detail guy) on the cross-Canada trek is a good friend of his who is also Canadien-français. The sidekick's father was also there as he had spent the last five weeks travelling with them. He was definitely français. Oh, and the videographer as well as the photographer were also Québéquois. Finally, one of the Animas reps spoke French like a champ. Add me to the list and there were 7 French-speakers there.

By the time the event started, I was able to appreciate how important events like this are. Those in attendance who had type 1 diabetes were given a green bracelet to wear. It seemed a little silly to me at first until I saw little kids wearing green bracelets spot adults, like me, wearing them. Until I saw them spot Sébastien wearing one. And George Canyon, Canadian country singer wearing one. And Lindsay, Guelph university student and pilot wearing one.

Those kids, many of them for the first time, found their tribe. They saw other people like them which, considering how invisible diabetes can feel sometimes, is huge. Parents saw other parents with kids who have T1. Siblings without type 1 saw other siblings without type 1.

For me, I felt immediate kinship when I heard the French accents. And again when I spotted the insulin pumps. For the kids, they felt it when they saw the green bracelets. It doesn't matter how it happens. It just matters that it does happen.

When you find your tribe, you realize how much you missed it, even if you had never found it before.

I think that's what Sébastien Sasseville's Outrun Diabetes project is all about. To bring people together through a common bond. One that, as negative as it can be sometimes, is also a pretty powerful motivation.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Outrun Diabetes

I mentioned yesterday that I was volunteering at an Animas event in Windsor, Ontario.

I've been looking forward to this for a while and am happy that it's finally here.

Here's the scoop:

Sébastien Sasseville is a kickass Canadian type 1. He has done all sorts of things since his diagnosis. He has climbed Mount Everest. He has done one of those crazy 250km runs through the desert where you have to carry all your own stuff (my emergency carb stash alone would weigh a ton). He has completed more than a handful of Ironman races.

He's a tough athlete, a smart diabetic and a super nice guy. I met him last year when he spoke at an event in my area and, in five minutes, he completely transformed how I adjust my insulin during triathlons.

Sébastien is almost exactly in the middle of his latest adventure. He is running across Canada.

7500 kilometres. The equivalent of 180 marathons. He started on Canada's east coast in February and plans to arrive on the west coast in November.

He is currently in Ontario and event have been planned all along the route. There were a few events closer to home but they fell right around my sister's wedding so I couldn't go. So I signed on for Windsor. A few hours' drive away but totally worth it to be able to hear the stories, hang out with a room full of amazing people and do my part to help out a bit. I'm happy to drive five hours considering he ran 3300km to get there.

I probably won't have time to write anything for Friday but I'll make sure to take some photos and will share a few stories on Monday.

If you're interested in finding out more about Sebastien's cross Canada run, check him out here. It's a pretty inspiring undertaking. Made even more so as I follow him online and watched him slowly but surely make his way across this vast, beautiful country.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week Two

It's week two of my 'recover from my half marathon and get back to feeling good and strong when I run rather than tired and sluggish' phase.

Week one went as predicted. The first 5k run was slow and sluggish. The second 5k run was a little less slow and a little less sluggish. The 10k Saturday run was slow and sluggish to start, got better about midway through but then felt pretty tough the last few minutes.

Week two started yesterday. I got up early and went for a 7k run. It was a huge improvement from the week before. I ran the entire thing without stopping at all. Even the street lights cooperated so I was able to warm up, settle into a groove and run smooth from start to finish.

Every kilometre was a few seconds faster than the one before.

I finished feeling good, knowing I was capable of adding a few extra kilometres if I needed to.

It's pretty rewarding to have that kind of run and it makes me look forward to the next one.

Thursday I will do another 7k. Bright and early. In Windsor.

I'll be there volunteering for Animas at a pretty wicked event and the pre-event breakfast meeting starts at 8am. So I'll be up early enough to get a 45 minute run and a shower in on time to be ready to roll. Apparently there is a lovely riverside trail right near the hotel so I'm looking forward to run through uncharted territory.

Saturday, I'll be home again and I am planning to run 12k instead of 10k. If, after all that, I'm still feeling frisky, next week I start interval training.

I am committed to increasing my strength and speed this summer so I'll be alternating hill work and speed work on Thursday mornings. Now that I know I'm almost back to my pre-race fitness, I'm excited to add this new variable to my training.

The best thing about having run more than ten half marathons is that I have learned the patterns of what happens before, during and after a race and I know what I need to do to get through the tough patches.

Like the first week back after a race.

In my opinion, one of the toughest weeks of the race training cycle.

I'm sure glad it's over...for now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Do We or Don't We? Will We or Won't We?

I'm sitting at my desk listening to the storm roll in. Thunder in the distance. Dark clouds gathering. Wind picking up and temperature dropping.

It's 4:30pm. I'm supposed to be golfing in 75 minutes. With my Monday night ladies' group.

Too soon to call it since the storm could be over and done with by 5pm. Or it could last just long enough for us to cancel and then clear up. Or it could last well past our tee time.

No way to know.

I'm sitting at my desk listening to the storm roll in.

If I had a bike ride planned, I would cancel. I won't cycle in a storm and I hate cycling right after a rain. The roads are slippery and, for me at least, very scary. Plus the spray makes a huge mess of things.

If I had a swim planned, I would cancel. Lightening and water is a bad combination and, at the slightest hint of danger, I'm out of the water, away from trees and, if possible, safely indoors.

Golf is hit and miss. I'll happily golf in the rain and find it refreshing and fun. I will also gladly golf right after a storm when the grass is wet, the course is empty and the sky is a gorgeous combination of sun and clouds. I usually golf until the lightning siren goes and then head in for shelter.

If I had a run planned, I'd be right out there dancing in the storm. I love running in the rain. I don't mind running in a storm. It's one of those things that I don't get to do often and I always love.

The storm has started. The rain is pouring down. It's 4:45pm.

I need to leave a little after 5pm. Should I change? Eat something?

If I were cycling or swimming, I would have already put on comfy clothes and settled in for the evening with a glass of wine. If I were running I'd be out there already.

But I'm golfing. With friends. Who may or may not be fair-weather golfers. Who may or may not like to get their feet wet.

So I hover near my computer waiting for an email saying yay or nay.

5pm - sounds like we're going! Change, grab my stuff and hop in the car.

The weather delayed the groups before us so we enjoyed a glass on wine while we waited. By 6pm we were ready to go.

The first drops fell as we took turns hitting our first balls. The sky opened before we hit our second. We were soaked through and back in the clubhouse before we finished the first hole, laughing hysterically.

Guess we'll try again next Monday.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Kick in the Ba!!s

It's been a frustrating few days in the diabetes department. 

Highs. Lots and lots of highs. Stubborn sticky highs that come out of nowhere and refuse to come down. 

Stubborn sticky highs that happen the same time day after day. 

I had pretty much mastered my breakfast routine. Shower, hook up pump, bolus, wait 15-20 minutes while I get ready and make my lunch, eat and enjoy a pretty stable graph on my continuous glucose monitor until lunch. 

For the past 5 days, I've done that exact routine and yet every day for five days my blood sugar has spiked up to at least 16 and taken a few boluses to get it down. 

Dinner has been doing the same. Bolus, wait patiently for 15-20 minutes and then watch my blood sugar spike to the heavens and take a few hours to come down. 

I've changed my pump and put in new insulin twice. I've started waiting until my blood sugar is dropping rapidly from pre-meal insulin before I eat. I've started taking more insulin with my breakfast in an effort to avoid the spike. 

Nothing has worked so far. 

Here is my dinner spike last night. I have already taken my dinner insulin and I have bolused three more times (an extra five units in total) in an effort to stop the climb. No luck yet.

It's frustrating because it feels like I have lost all sense of what works and doesn't work. Lost all sense of what to do to to fix things. 

I don't want to say 'loss of control' because that would imply that I had control. Any sense of control when it comes to diabetes is an illusion. There is no control, there is only a lot of work, the ability to recognize patterns and a good deal of luck and intuition. 

The last five days has involved a lot of work, a lot of insulin, no predictable patters (other than a lot of highs) and very little luck. My intuition isn't working particularly effectively either. 

I've been here before. It lasts a few days. Maybe a week. And then, as quickly as it comes on, it disappears again. And my illusion of control returns. 

Sometimes I discover that I was getting sick. Other times I recognize that I was stressed. Most times, there is no obvious reason for the problem. 

I'm really hoping that my illusion of control returns soon. I'm feeling decidedly yucky from all the highs. My patience with the diabetes process is wearing thin and my willingness to 'go with the flow' is turning into something a little less lady-like and a lot more angry. 

It takes a lot of me to get to this point but I could give diabetes a good swift kick in the balls, I would. 


With steel-toed boots. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Makes a Triathlete?

The license plate on my car has one of those license plate covers on it. It has a little stick figure swimmer, a cyclist and a runner. It says 'triathlon'.

Doug gave it to me for my birthday.

I love my license plate cover. I don't see it often because it's rare that I approach my car from the angle where I would see it but, every time I spot it, I smile.

I spotted it yesterday while pushing my grocery cart to my car.

And for the first time I wondered. What makes someone a triathlete?

Is it the fact that they have competed in triathlons?

The fact that they are able to swim? Ride a bike? And run? In succession?

I wondered because, for the first time in two years, I'm not exactly sure I can call myself a triathlete. I'm not exactly sure I am allowed to be in that group of athletes.

How long does the secret password last?

I have been running a lot and running well. But I have not been in the pool once in the past three weeks and now it's closed for two more.

Cycling, which I do every Sunday, hasn't happened once in five Sundays. Why? Because I had two weddings, one bachelorette, one half marathon and one wedding shower all either on Sundays or out of town.

So am I a triathlete if I'm not currently swimming or cycling but I really want to? Am I a triathlete because I guess, if I tried, I could do a triathlon tomorrow and get myself across the finish line? Am I a triathlete because I have done triathlons?

How long does the crown last before it starts to rust?

I don't think it's too rusty yet. I mean it's been less than 10 months since I did a triathlon and there was a Canadian winter in there so I'm not the only one who wasn't competing.

I am a runner. I am a half marathoner. I don't think anyone would argue with that.

As long as I get back in the water and back on my bike and, if I do at least one triathlon before the snow flies, I think I can keep the triathlete title.

For another year at least.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sandal Season

I went for a massage yesterday.

I go for massages every 3-4 weeks. There is not much that is relaxing about these massages. I go to keep my legs in running shape, to keep my muscles from getting too tight and to prevent any small problems from turning into big ones.

My massages have saved me more times than I can count.

There are at least three half marathons I would not have been able to run without them. In fact there are a few where I booked weekly massages leading up to the race and I would not have been able to run otherwise.

My calves are notoriously tight. My shins are always one run away from flaring up. My feet are always on the edge of plantar fasciitis. Regular maintenance does wonders and helps prevent the injuries that creep up when I least expect them.

I went for a massages yesterday.

When asked how I was feeling I was able to say, in all honesty, that nothing hurt. Nothing felt on the edge of injury. Nothing had me worried.

But my calves were super tight. The kind of tight that stretching on my own won't help. The kind of tight that ice, rolling, yoga or any of my other tricks can't loosen. I needed a massage to get me back to the point where I could stretch on my own.

I figured the calf tightness was from the half marathon. And perhaps from a week of not exercising after the half marathon. Muscle atrophy as it were.

Turns out that I was only half right.

Turns out that a lot of people have been coming in with the exact same complaint. Super tight calves that no amount of stretching seems to relieve.

Apparently it's called Sandal Season and it's alive and well in Southern Ontario.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Unplanned Experimentation

So it went down like this:

Monday afternoon I changed my insulin pump site and stocked the pump with fresh insulin.

I should have been good to go for 4-5 days.

Monday night was fine. I was high but that was easily explained so I didn't think anything of it. Tuesday morning I was 8.0 before my 5k run and 8.6 afterwards. That seemed a bit weird since I usually drop a few numbers when I run but I shrugged and carried on with my regular routine. I took breakfast insulin, made my lunch and puttered for 15 minutes, then ate my breakfast.

I headed up for my shower. When I got out of the shower, my pump was buzzing to say that I was over 10.0. That was really odd since I had taken insulin and waited before eating. Add the fact that I ran first and I should be low if anything, not high. I double checked that I actually took the insulin and Rose confirmed that I had.

By the time I dried my hair and got dressed I was 13.4. By the time I was ready to leave I was 15.0.

I should have changed my pump before heading out but my blood sugar was levelling out so I thought I might drop back down again. I grabbed my needle and the remaining half cartridge of insulin from the fridge and headed to work.

My drive is 1.5 minutes. I was 16 by the time I got there, 17 by the time I turned on my laptop and 18 by the time I had unpacked and sat down.

I took out my needle and injected 4 units of insulin. Within 15 minutes I was dropping.

In the meantime, I tried to figure out the problem. There were a few options:

1. the insulin was bad. That didn't seem likely since injecting it by needle seemed to be working.
2. there was a kink in my canula. Maybe but it had been working fine earlier.
3. the site was bad and insulin was leaking out rather than going in. I've learned to always put my finger against the site when I take insulin after a run since it sometimes moves during exercise. If I don't smell insulin, that usually means everything is fine. I didn't smell insulin when I took my breakfast insulin.

I had a full day of meetings ahead of me. The kind that you can't be late for or leave early from. So I headed out with my trusty needle in tow and stalked Rose to see what was happening.

This is what happened. 

The far left was a post dinner high I was fighting on Monday night. I went down to 4.0 by 3am and had a pack of fruit chews. I went up to 8.0 which is where I was when I woke up a 5:15am for my run. I ran, bolused, waited and then had breakfast.

The first spike is from breakfast. I dropped down to 9.0 after taking insulin for the high. But then I spiked back up to 20.5. I took insulin, by needle, for that crazy spike and came right back down again. When I reached 10.0 I took more insulin for my lunch and waited until I hit 7.0 before eating. 

I hung out at 6.0 for a little while but then started climbing back up again. I continued to climb even though, by then, I should no longer be climbing because of my lunch. I think I was climbing because I hadn't received any insulin from my pump all day so the slow basal rate I usually get wasn't there to keep me stable between meals. 

I took insulin and came back down to 8.5. 

When I got home I sucked it up and completely changed my one-day old infusion site and filled the pump with fresh insulin. 


Well, I never did find a leak or any kind of huge air bubble in the tubing. The insulin was fine because every time I took a needle I came back down. The fact that I would climb back up again, even when I hadn't eaten anything for a few hours made me think that I wasn't getting any insulin from the pump at all. Yet the pump wasn't sending 'no delivery' alarms. Where had a day's worth of insulin gone if I wasn't going into me and wasn't backing up in the pump? 

When I removed the infusion site there was no sign of kinking or damage of any kind. So I have no idea what the problem was. I just knew that I didn't want to spend any more time hanging out at 20 so   I changed everything at once and crossed my fingers. 

It worked. 

I had dinner and purposely had pasta. I took insulin from Rose rather than the needle and I am happy to report that I never went above 9 despite the carbs. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One Step at a Time

By the time you read this, I will have finished my first run since my June 1st half marathon. 

By some people's standards, I gave myself a long recovery of 8 days off. By other people's standards, I'm going back much too early. 

I feel rested, much more rested than I was feeling this time last week. My legs feel good. Muscles are a little tight but no pain. My feet seem happy and they survived a golf game last night (nine holes) without so much as a whimper. 

I ran 20 and 22k during my training and yet was right back at it two days later. This time, because it was a race, I forced myself to recover a little more thoroughly. 

I'm going for a run before work. I'm setting the alarm for 5am. I'm going to try for an easy 5k. If that goes well, I'll do it again on Thursday. If that goes well, I might try an easy 10k on Saturday. 

My goal for the next two months is to run 7-9k on Tuesday mornings. To do a hill or a speed workout on Thursday mornings. And to run between 10-14k on Saturday mornings. That should keep me in pretty good running shape to train for a fall half without exhausting me to the point where I'm not ready to add distance come August. 

I'm also chomping at the bit to get back into the pool after two weeks off but the pool is now closed for two weeks so I'll have to find other things to do with my energy. The open water swim course is slowly warming up but has only recently hit 63 degrees. I'd be a little happier to hear 68 degrees before I start jumping in. Soon...

As for triathlons, I really have no idea what I'm doing yet. There is one this weekend in Welland but I don't think a) the water is warm enough and b) my body is ready to compete for 2 1/2 hours. We'll see though. I may, in a moment of madness, sign up later this week. 

There are a few triathlons in July and August within easy driving distance. I just need to sit down with a calendar and book them in. It feels strange after last summer's strict triathlon schedule that I haven't committed to even one tri yet. The Type A part of me is getting a little twitchy. The go with the flow part is pretty happy. She knows I'll end up doing at least one this season so she's not too worried about it. 

Let's see how Tuesday morning's run goes first and then I'll start thinking about the summer's triathlon possibilities. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Zip's Relaxing Reggae Retreat

Hi folks, it's me Zip. The fitbit.

I haven't written in a little while because I've been on vacation. Lying around. Feet up. Enjoying a few days of peace and quiet. Rereading a series of books about this crazy Scot named Jamie.

It's completely out of character for me but it's been nice.

Normally I'd be a little annoyed from all the sitting around but I understand that it's important to recover after a race so I'm ok with it. Going with the flow. Sipping my mojitos and listening to reggae music by the pool kinda relaxing.

In fact, after Sunday's race in the heat, I went from being resigned to a week off to be relieved to have a week off. It's hard to count steps on any run but even harder when you're distracted by the temperatures, the sights and smells of the race, the music, the excitement of it all.

I may have missed a few steps here and there in my excitement. Don't tell Céline ok? Please??

So anyway, I was pretty pooped and glad for a break. I am, however, turning into a veritable couch potato.

I was a little worried that I'd get used to the new lifestyle and would not want to go back to a regular fitness routine next week. Even though I'm a pedometer at heart doesn't mean that the sedentary lifestyle isn't appealing.

Céline assures me that I'll be excited to get back at it. She also assures me that she has already decided on a fall race so, ready or not, we're back into training again. Plus, she is promising me some new workouts during the summer.

Something she calls hill workouts and interval training.

Should I be worried?

She is also threatening to do at least one triathlon this summer. She isn't sure how we're going to manage it since I'm not waterproof and can't go swimming with her and Rose. But she's promising that I'll be able to join then at least on the run, if not the bike ride. She seems to think I'll feel left out if I don't come.

It sounds like a rather crazy idea this whole triathlon thing. Hopefully they won't be relying on my counting skills that day because I'm guessing I'll be too excited watching all the cool bikes, laughing at the funny bike helmets, and too frazzled in the transition zone to do much other than sit there with my mouth hanging open.

Thankfully Rose is much more single minded and can focus on the task at hand. I count steps. She keeps Céline alive. Very different.

By the way, you'll be happy to know that Rose seems to have toned down her flirtatious behaviour around Doug. I guess my little talk worked. I didn't want to come across as insensitive but she has a job to do and can't go around getting all distracted by every cute man she meets. Even if he is really really cute. And nice. And funny...


I don't understand something though. Rose no longer flirts with Doug but now, every time she sees me, she vibrates. Is she angry? Is she trying to make Doug jealous because she isn't doing it to him anymore? I don't understand girls very much and it's hard sometimes spending so much time with two of them.

Dexter says Rose likes me. I don't think so but I guess it's possible. I never really thought of her as anything other than a friend and I am a firm believer in keeping work and romance separate. that I think about it, she is pretty cute...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Twitchy Feet

I haven't run since Sunday. 

It's already getting a little twitchy about it. 

I really want to get back out there and go gallop down the country roads. 

The sun has been shining, the temperatures have dropped back down to comfortable levels and every time I lift my head and look out my office window, someone is running by. 

I miss the feel of being outside and having the early-morning streets to myself. I miss the post-run glow that lasts all day. 

It's like the gods are laughing at me. Tempting me to put my shoes on and get out there. Just a short one. Nothing big. Who's gonna know??

And then I go to the mall after work to pick something up and, as I walk to the store I need, I feel my calves tighten up just a bit. I feel my feet complain just a bit. 

Not enough to stop me from running during a regular running week but enough to make me think twice only a few days after running a half marathon. I pushed my body hard and the heat and humidity pushed it harder. I need to give it time to recover before I start putting new pressures on it. 

So I will be good. I will rest my legs for a week. I won't cheat and go for a short 30 minute run. 

But next week, watch out! Tuesday morning can't come fast enough for my twitchy feet. 

And I already have my sights set on the Niagara Falls International half in the fall. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rose the Swimmer

Yesterday I wrote about Rose's heroic feat during her first half marathon. How she kept accurate track of my blood sugars despite the activity, the heat, the humidity, the dehydration and the sweat.

And yesterday, in response to my post, my friend Jeff asked me how Rose performs when I swim. Does she still achieve such stellar results in the pool?

I was going to respond to him directly but then decided that other people might be interested in what I had to say. So that is the topic of today's post.

Rose is a wonderful sidekick on runs but how does she do in the pool?

Well, not very well as it turns out.

The way Rose works is like this. I have a continuous glucose monitor sensor attached to my abdomen somewhere. I move it every 7-14 days. My pump, Rose, is usually attached to my belt or, when I swim, to my bathing suit.

The sensor takes a read of my blood sugar. Rose and the sensor communicate every five minutes and my blood sugar numbers show up on a graph on my pump.

If I left Rose on the kitchen counter and sat on the living room couch, she would still register my blood sugar numbers.

She does well over reasonable distances...unless there is water involved.

I've only worn her a few times in the pool so far but, every time I did, she lost the sensor signal almost immediately and didn't find it again until I got out of the pool.

As soon as I was in the water, Rose and the sensor could no long communicate. She would vibrate every 30 minutes to let me know she had not found a signal in half an hour. And then as soon as I got out of the pool, she would find it again. I didn't have to dry off, I just had to get out of water.

So my dream of being able to see my blood sugar in the middle of an open water swim are not going to materialize. But I'm happy to know that, as soon as I'm out of the water, she's good to go. That will make a big difference during triathlons and help me keep on top of my blood sugar on races days.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rose's First Half Marathon

Yesterday I wrote about the half marathon. I wrote about the support I received from friends and partners. I wrote about the heat, the port-a-potties and the finish line chocolate milk.

What I didn't write about was Rose. My two-week old Animas Vibe insulin pump. The one with the fancypants continuous glucose monitor built right in. I didn't mention her yesterday because I figured she deserved an entire blog all to herself.

Rose was not in my life during most of the training for this race. As a result, we didn't have time to practice together and I did not know how she would react to blood sugar changes during long bouts of running. I did not know how she would react to running in the heat and sweat-drenched sensor sites. Or less than ideal hydration levels.

Here is what my race-day diabetes adventures looked like.

I woke up at 5am for an 8am race. I immediately tested my blood sugar and the glucometer reading was bang-on with Rose's number. I took a full bolus for my breakfast. I wanted the breakfast insulin to be out (or mostly out) of my system before the start of the race and I wanted to take a full bolus so that I wasn't  starting off with high blood sugars. I figured it would help combat the pre-race adrenaline spike too.

I waited 25 minutes before eating and I watched my number slowly drop from 8.5 to 5.5 during that wait. I ate breakfast and then stalked Rose to see what was happening. I climbed up to 9 and then settled back down at 7.8 by 7:45am. I had a gel and headed for the start line. At that point, I figured Rose's responsibilities were over. I could not trust her readings during the race and had asked Doug to meet me on the course for some good ol'fashioned finger prick blood sugar testing.

He agreed to meet me at 7k and again at 14k which broke the race up nicely into thirds.

At 7k my glucometre said I was 7.2. Rose also said I was 7.2. I was impressed. I had a pack of fruit chews and carried on.

At 14k I was 6.3. Rose said I was 6.5. I was more than impressed. She was keeping up despite the heat, humidity, sweat and activity. I had a second gel and ran the last 7k to the finish line.

At the finish, I tested again and was 6.2. Rose said I was 6.7.

Seriously folks, for anyone who hasn't struggled with a continuous glucose monitor that doesn't handle exercise well, you have no idea how wonderful this was. Wonderful because I could rely on Rose's numbers but also wonderful because I knew I could trust the graph she provided that showed what my blood sugar was doing between finger pricks.

Rose kept up her stellar work all day. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off so I did regular (hourly) finger pricks all afternoon. She was bang on every time. Which meant that, by the time I went to bed, I had every confidence that she would wake me if I had a post-race 3am low.

She didn't wake me.

Because I didn't have one!

I slept like a rock all night and woke up to a lovely 4.6.

Thanks Rose!

Monday, June 2, 2014

3rd Annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon

Yesterday was the Women's Half Marathon in Niagara Falls. A hot, humid and altogether wonderful day.

Why wonderful? 

Oh, I don't know. 

Because they had pink port-a-potties with potted plants, lemon-scented hand sanitizer and fur-covered seats. 

Because I ran into Linda, a fellow 2012 Medtronic Global Hero. 

Because there were marching bands, harpists, and string players along the course. 

Because the first year there were 1000 women. In the second year there were 2000 women. And in this third year, there were 3000 women. A wonderful success story and a testament to the vision and skills of my friend Ross who organized the event. 

Because Doug, my superman, was there at the start and along the course to carry my diabetes stuff and make sure I was ok. And ok I was. My blood sugar was 7.8 at the start, 7.2 at 7k, 6.3 at 14k and 6.2 at the end. It was my best blood sugar race ever. 

Because the last few k were really tough and I was increasingly overheated and nauseated...

...but I pushed through and then felt immediately better once I stopped, drank chocolate milk, and put a soaking wet and freezing cold washcloth on my head. 

Because I had friends cheering me on along the course, friends running their own races who waved every time we passed each other on the out and back route and friends who waited at the end to say hi and ask how my race went. 

Because Kathrin Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, was on hand all weekend to chat and was at the finish line to high five or hug all the finishers. 

Because I completed my 11th half marathon. 

Because things got tough, my pace slowed and, when I saw that I needed to push for the last three kilometres in order to make it in under 2:30 I pushed for the last 3k and made it under 2:30. In fact I made it in 2:29:57 to be precise. 

Because it felt wonderful to be part of such an important event that celebrates the women who took 4 hours to finish as much as it celebrated the winner. 

Because I did it!