Monday, August 17, 2015

Tired but Happy

What a weekend that was!

Last Friday I said that, if all goes well, I will get 63.5k worth of exercise done before the weekend was over.

Well, I got'er done.

I cycled 28k on Friday morning. It went well and I was grateful for the chance to move and get my heart rate up before a long day at the office that involved much more sitting than I would ever want.

After work, Doug and I enjoyed a wonderful evening on the golf course with friends we haven't seen in over a month.

Things have been going well on the golf course lately and every game I have played in the last two weeks has been better than the last.

I logged a 105 which, for someone who has been struggling to break 120 for months, felt pretty wicked.

Saturday morning, we got up early and I headed out for 14k. I was not sure what to expect because a) my shoes are probably 200km too old for long runs but the new ones I ordered weeks ago are in running shoe neverland so I had no other option but to try it b) the humidity was pretty oppressive and c) when I tried 12k the weekend before, I had to quit after 11k due to a pesky plugged ear low blood pressure drop like the ones that plagued me last spring.

All that being said, I headed out with a water belt full of Nuun, back up salt tablets and a goal to run at a pace that kept my heart rate down. I did, my shoes didn't cause too much discomfort, my ears didn't start plugging until 12k and I ran 14k without much of a problem.

A quick shower, coffee and lunch later we were back on the golf course for the afternoon.

The golf gods much have been feeling generous because I had an even better game than the day before. At the end of the game, the golf pro drove by and said "I heard you played a 105 yesterday". "That's nothing" I replied. "I just shot a 102 today".

That got me a big grin and a fist bump.

Sunday morning, we were up before the sun and en route to Toronto. I met up with my sister and we headed to Toronto Island for the Lake Swim event.

The lake looked as flat as a pane of glass and was 20C. I pulled on my wetsuit expecting a fun, easy, fast race. Which it was for the first 100m or so. Until I ran into the rolling waves that were not noticeable from shore but were surprisingly high and rolling when you were face down swimming in them. As someone who trains in very flat and calm open water, this was when things got a little hairy.

I quickly developed some swimming skills I didn't have before. After a few mouthfuls of water, I learned to breath only on one side so that I never turned into the wave to breathe. The were a few times when I turned to breathe and a wave rolled over my open mouth but, for the most part, my trick worked. I also discovered that I get rather nauseated in that kind of environment. Who knew seasickness was a concern in open water swims? I sure didn't. I learned that every time I raised my head to sight, the dizziness got much worse so I cut down on my sighting. I usually sight every six strokes. I was doing it every 9-12 instead, trying to space out the stomach lurching.

At one point I debated turning around to see how my sister was holding up and make sure that she was ok. I figured that, if I was struggling, she certainly was too. In the end, I couldn't stomach the thought and just kept moving with the goal to finish as quickly as possible. I just hoped she was doing ok.

All that being said, I finished 1,500m in 31:25 and, after stumbling over to a log and sitting with my head down for a few minutes, I felt much better. My sister finished a few minutes later and announced with a smile that it was the easiest open water race that she had ever done.

Guess there was no need for me to go back for her eh?

The weekend was over in a flash and roared by at a pace that I couldn't sustain for too long. But it sure was fun!

Monday, in case anyone was wondering, is most definitely a rest day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sixty Three Point Five

By the time this blog post is posted I will have gone for a Friday morning 28k bike ride.

After work tonight I am playing 18 holes of golf which means I'm walking 10k.

Saturday morning, I'm running 14k as part of my half marathon training plan.

Saturday afternoon, we are golfing another 18 holes of golf which means another 10k of walking.

Sunday I am heading to Toronto for a 1500m open water swim race in Lake Ontario.

If all goes well and there are no rogue thunder storms to ruin my plans, I will have clocked 63.5k of exercise between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon.

Some people look forward to weekends so they can relax.

I look forward to weekends so I can move.

Moving, as we all know, does a body good.

It's also rather addictive. The more you do it, the more your body wants it. As an added bonus, the more I do it, the more my blood sugars are happy.

By Sunday evening, I will be pleasantly worn out and more than happy to flop on the couch. But it will be that good kinda worn out where the body feels powerful and strong and proud of all the things it can do. And my blood sugar will be hovering in a range where I can enjoy a few pieces of chocolate and probably not even need to bolus for them.

How wonderful is that?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Weekly Pile of Food

It's only Thursday today and I've already eaten 4 avocados this week. Entirely by myself.

I've also eaten 1 1/3 cups of All Bran buds.

4 cups of kefir and 3 cups of Greek yogurt.

5 bananas.

3 peaches.

At least 1 cup of Frank's Hot Sauce.

4 cups of steal cut oats.

6 shrimp. 2 whitefish.

Most of one container of almond milk.

At least a cup of pumpkin seeds. Probably more.

Probably two cups of cashews and the same amount again of almonds and walnuts.

One extra-large Dairy Milk bar (6 wee squares every night as a treat. Sometimes 9...)

1 red pepper. 1 English cucumber. 3 carrots. An entire container of grape tomatoes.

The juice of three lemons.

3 Larabars.

3 frozen yogurt bars (fudge-flavoured)

I was thinking about this as I mashed up avocado with our dinner last night. And I started picturing the volume of food that I consume in a week. And how much space it would take up if I had to pile it all on the table on a Sunday night. And whether I would eat differently if I saw all the food and knew I had to make it last one week.

Thank heavens we don't have to do that eh? Look at a pile of food at the beginning of the week and be told that this is how much we are going to put into our bodies in 7 days.

I don't know about you but my pile would look pretty daunting. Lots of fruits, veggies and grains mind you but still pretty daunting.

And yet, slowly but surely, I would make my way through that pile of avocados and bananas and steel cut oats and, at the end, probably look around wondering if there was anything else to eat.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lights! Bright Lights!

People who don't get up super early in the morning won't know this yet but, those of you who do, you know it's already started.

The sun has turned into a lazy ass and is taking its sweet ol' time waking up the morning. Every day it's a little more noticeable and every day it seems a little more dramatic. The lingering darkness is creeping into my morning routine. I wouldn't normally mind that very much. I love heading out for runs in the early morning sunshine but I also love heading out for runs in the dark and watching the sky brighten and the sun rise. I'm happy heading out for runs in any kind of light because, well, I just like running.

This summer though, I'm looking at the diminishing morning light with a certain amount of horror and growing sadness.

Because this is the first summer where I have discovered the joys of early-morning cycling.

I discovered those joys several weeks back. When the sun was already up at 5am and I headed out without a care in the world. And then the sun would be asleep when I woke up but was up by the time I got my clothes on and my bike out. Then the sun would be creeping over the horizon within a few minutes of the start of my ride.

Now it takes the first twenty minutes of my 70-minute ride before I even see the sky change colours. I leave in darkness and it stays that way for an uncomfortably long time. Yet I still come home squinting into the sun that is bursting over the treetops.

Last week, I decided enough was enough and I headed to the local cycling store. If I was going to keep riding in the early mornings, I was going to have to purchase some safety equipment. Namely, a front and a rear light.

I explained my issue and the lady brought me over to the light section. She showed me a few options and then landed on the one that 'all the staff in the store use'. It has a USB charger (no batteries!) and is so bright that I saw spots for several minutes after she showed me. The front light is every brighter.

So this morning, before you even read this post, I will have gone out for my first fully lit, super safe, rule-abiding, early morning bike ride.

I know that these lights will only buy me a few more weeks because it's one thing to need to be seen. It's another thing entirely not to be able to see. And unless I want to start wearing a headlamp or cycling with a flashlight between my teeth, I don't have much time left before it gets too dark to safety navigate the streets.

But I'm going to enjoy the time I do have and spend the winter dreaming about getting back out there as early as possible next spring.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time in the Saddle

Last Sunday, we had a pretty tight schedule. We needed to be at the golf course before 1pm in order to make our tee time. I wanted to visit my grandmother which meant leaving before 10:30am in order to be back on time. And we both wanted to squeeze in a bike ride.

So we were up and at'em before 7am in order to be on the bikes before 8am in order to be home before 9:30am so I could eat and shower and be out the door by 10:30am.

We did one of our familiar routes which is hilly but not too hilly. It's exactly 28km in distance and takes us through so many orchards and vineyards that we can keep tabs on what fruits are over for the season (cherries), which ones are in full swing (peaches) and which ones are on their way (apples and pears!).

The first half of this route has no turns. We just hunker down and pedal for all we're worth. About halfway down that road, I took the lead for a while and we were going at a nice clip of about 28km/hour. As we approached an intersection, another cyclist was coming up the side street. He saw us and decided to turn before we got there so he was now ahead of us. At first I thought nothing of it. He had a sweet-looking bike and all the right gear so I figured he'd leave us in his dust.

He didn't.

He was going about 30km/hour. Completely respectable of course but I soon found myself on his back tire and needing to brake.

So I passed him.

I passed a cyclist going 30km/hour and had absolutely no problems doing it. I just rode right by, wished him a hello and a good day, with Doug right behind me. We never saw him again.

As a cyclist who can cycle a 40k triathlon ride and get passed by rider after rider without ever passing anyone, I had to say that felt pretty freaking good.

Those early morning bike rides really are paying off. The fact that I felt the need to go fast in order to get home on time for the next phase in our busy day probably helped too.

I guess mon ami Jeff was right. The best way to get better on the bike is to spend more time in the saddle.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What's a Girl to do?

It's decision time.

As much as I'd love the idea of having all sorts of free time so that I could run, bike, swim and golf to my heart's content - I don't.

There are these things called 'work' and 'sleep' that take up a whole bunch of hours and then there's the fact that I kinda like spending time with Doug, that I kinda like to cook and eat and do the odd load of laundry.

So there really just isn't enough time in the week to do everything I want to do.

Which means that there are times when I need to make decisions. When doing one thing clearly means not doing another.

On Saturday, I ran 11k. Why?

Because a) there was no triathlon club brick workout and b) there is a half marathon in October that I kinda want to do.

So I ran 11k because, when I count backwards, Saturday is the first official long run of the training plan if I want to get all my runs and distance in.

So I ran 11k.

Problem is that next Saturday, there is a triathlon club brick workout. And next Sunday, I have a 1500m open water race that I'm doing with my sister. And there is no way that I will have the time or the energy to do both of those things AND run 14k.

The following weekend gets worse. A brick workout and a 16k run? Now we're bordering on unwise and overtraining.

It comes down to this. If I want to do the triathlon club for the rest of this season, I don't think I can safely and sensibly train for a fall half marathon. And if I want to train for a fall half-marathon, I don't think I can do the triathlon club. At least not this year.

What is a girl to do?

I've been going back and forth about this for a week now and I'm still not 100% in one camp or another but I think I've made a decision.

I will train for a fall half marathon. If the training goes well, I'll run it. If it doesn't. If I spend every long run battling low blood pressure, plugged ears and other annoyances like I did last spring, I'll pull the plug and perhaps get in a few brick workouts in September.

And next spring, I will be more focused in how and when I race so that a Saturday morning brick workout enhances my workout schedule instead of overdoing it.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Transmitter Timelines

I wrote a few days ago about the fact that my Dexcom transmitter battery was on its last legs. Rose had alarmed early on Saturday morning and screeched 'low battery, replace transmitter soon' to which I muttered 'great timing' as I headed off for my morning brick workout.

Rose's alarm went off at the beginning of a long weekend which means that I could not order a new transmitter until Tuesday. Which meant that the earliest it would arrive would be Wednesday - five days after Rose's alarm.

I've only had to replace my transmitter once and, that time, I had already ordered a new one because I was worried that mine would die and didn't want to be without. These things are supposed to last about six months but when you consider that I've been using the Dexcom system now for 20 months and, until Saturday, had only replaced the transmitter once, I'd say I was doing quite well.

So my problem was that I had no idea how long I had once Rose alarmed. Hours? Days? Weeks?

I called Animas first thing on Tuesday to order a new transmitter. My old one, up to that point, was still working fine.

While I was on the phone I asked them how long I had once the alarm went off.

The person on the other end hemmed and hawed for a few moments before saying 'we really just don't know so you should order it as soon as you get the warning'.

"As long as it's not the Saturday of a long weekend' I replied.

On Wednesday morning, Doug and I went out for an early morning bike ride. It was rather cool out which is notorious for draining batteries. When we returned home I saw that two alarms had gone off. Basically I was told that my transmitter had completely died but, not to worry, my pump was still delivering insulin (whew!).

I removed the transmitter and, with a rather large feeling of guilt, tossed it into the garbage. It had lived a relatively long and productive life but the thought of tossing something that costs $700 into the trash is rather nauseating. Thankfully I have coverage but I am still very aware of the cost of these things and do my best to drag them out as long as possible.

I headed off to work with my glucometer in my purse. After almost two years on a continuous glucose monitor, I was flying blind and might be for a few days depending on how long the new transmitter took to arrive. Instead of being able to see my blood sugar every five minutes (if I want to) by looking at Rose's screen, I was back to relying on feel and hourly finger pricks. Not nearly as reliable.

Around 11am, Doug texted to say that my new transmitter was sitting on the kitchen counter. Thank heavens! I can of course survive with only a glucometer but I've come to rely on the reassuring presence of a continuous glucose monitor and I felt vulnerable without it.

I'm all connected again and ever so grateful for all my cyborg parts. Hard to believe that I once refused to consider an insulin pump or a CGM. Now I can't imagine life without them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July Report Card

It's a few days late but I blame it on the long weekend and a brick workout that seemed more interesting to write about. Here's July's workout report:

Cycling
I have been making more time for cycling and am loving the quite early-morning rides. I cycled 8 times in July and covered 251km

Running
Running has been going well. It's taking a bit of a back seat to cycling at the moment which is fine since I'm not training for any long-distance races at the moment. I ran 9 times in July and covered 68km.

Swimming 
I did not set foot in a chlorinated pool in July which was fine by me. I did manage to get five open-water swims in and covered 7k. I'm much happier when I'm swimming with the fishes...so to speak.

Golf
Golf has been wonderful lately. I'm getting several games in each week and it's so nice to be outside and moving so much. I played 10 games in July and walked 77.5km.

I think this month may be the month where I covered the most distance...ever.

Four hundred and three kilometres!

That's crazy.

By the end of June I had covered 1382km in 2015. Add this month to it and I am now at 1785.5km.

So how far am I in my journey to Regina? Well I blew past Thunder Bay and have left it in my dust. I am now about 25km outside of Dryden and am closing in fast on the Manitoba border. Getting there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My First Official Brick Workout

Saturday morning I woke up before my alarm. I immediately turned my basal insulin down to 50% for 4 hours. I got dressed, had a bowl of Dorset cereal with kefir and a banana sliced on top for which I took 1.5 units of insulin instead of 5.

I was heading to my first Saturday morning brick training workout and had no idea what to do with my insulin or my blood sugar. I was playing it very conservatively because I did not want to find myself having to pull over in the middle of a workout due to a low.

I tossed my running shoes and my glucometer into a bag, along with six emergency packages of fruit chews (in addition to the four that were already shoved into my the bag on my bike) and headed off. I was the first one to arrive. Followed soon after by three very young, lean, fit-looking people with bikes that could eat mine for breakfast.

I forced myself not to bolt and ignored the voice in my head that said to run away now while no one knew me so they'd never know who the crazy girl was who showed up and then left.

Two friends showed up, thank heavens, and assured me that I would indeed be fine. Perhaps a little tired at the end but fine.

The plan for the day was the following. Cycle about 5k to one of the athlete's houses. Our coach would bring his car loaded with our shoes and meet us there. Then head off for a hilly 12k (or so) ride (at tempo pace) to a meeting point. From there, we would do a 5 1/2k loop at race pace. Most people would do it three times. A few of us, including me, would do it twice. Cycle back to our shoes. Go for a run. My run was to be a 2k run (run out 1k, turn around, run back), rest two minutes, then run out 1k again, rest 1 minute, and run back 1k. Cycle about 6k home.

Grand total: 42k of riding. 4k of running. Time spent moving: a little over 2 hours.

That's how it worked out on paper. Here's how it worked out in real life.

Five minutes before leaving, my pump alarmed to tell me that battery in my continuous glucose monitor transmitter was low and instructed me to order a new one. Bloody hell! I've worn this transmitter for about 8 months now. I knew that would happen eventually but not on the Saturday of a long weekend. I couldn't order a new one until Tuesday now and I have no idea how long a low battery will survive. Hours? Days? Weeks? I tossed my glucometer in my bag just in case and headed out, grateful for and yet cursing technology.

I kept up fairly well during the warm-up ride. Everyone did a 'leisurely' 25km/hour pace and I pedalled madly to keep up. It worked. I was quite warm quite quickly.

The tempo ride up and down the hills outside of town was faster than my race pace. It was crazy. Everyone else was just gone. One friend, who was on an easy week to recover from her Olympic triathlon the week before, held back with me but the rest of the group was just gone. I would have despaired if I wasn't so freaking proud of myself for keeping up such an aggressive pace (for me anyway).

Then came the 5 1/2k loops. "I want you to race this" were the instructions. And I want your times at the end of the loop because we'll do this again in a few weeks.

"I've been going faster than race pace already" I mumbled. "This should be interesting".

It was. The loop had some pretty tough sections with some pretty steep hills. I pedalled hard up the hills and hard on the flats. We finished the loop in about 14 minutes. Rest two minutes and do it again.

The instructions on the way back were 'go at tempo pace. Don't race it but it shouldn't be easy.'

I was dropped, and I mean dropped, within a minute. I lost sight of everyone despite forcing my tired legs to dig deep and hold a 30+ km/hour pace on anything that looked remotely flat. By the time I made it back to the meeting point, everyone else was in the running shoes and ready to run.

I changed quickly, received my instructions and headed off...for what turned out to be a really good run.

I ran the kilometres in 6:12, 6:18, 5:49 and 5:54 min/k. Anyone who knows my running speed knows that this is crazy fast. And yet it felt pretty comfortable.

I cycled home, guzzled my chocolate milk, stretched, showered and spent the day not doing too much. It was fun and I'll definitely do it again.

Blood sugar report: I hung out around 10.0 for most of the bike ride. I had dropped to 7.9 by the time we were ready to cycle back so I had a package of fruit chews. I finished the run at 8.9 and was 6.9 by the time I got home. That, my friends, is success!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Just Like a Fingerprint

When I first started running, I noticed pretty quickly that every runner seems to have their own particular stride. In fact, most are so distinctive that I can usually spot the runner I'm looking for when they are still a pretty small spot on the horizon. Perhaps it's the way they bounce when they run. Or the fact that they don't bounce at all. Or the way their arms swing, or don't swing. It's most likely a combination of a bunch of tiny things that each runner does but the end result is a running stride as unique as a fingerprint and it has helped me scout for runners in all sorts of races.

Swimming is apparently like that too. I have spent a lot of time swimming but I haven't spent a lot of time watching swimmers. Especially swimmers I know. I've never watched Doug compete in a triathlon from a position where I could see the swim portion. So I have no idea if I could spot his arms among all the other wetsuit-clad arms out there. He has assured me that I was pretty noticeable in races that he has watched so I guess it must be true.

Cycling, well, I haven't noticed too many different kinds of cycling techniques. At least not to the point where I can recognize someone from afar by their spinning legs. Usually I am watching for helmet, bike and shirt colour combinations. White helmet, grey bike and red shirt typically means I've spotted Doug. Long lanky legs usually help confirm this but are the last thing I notice, not the first.

I'm saying all this because yesterday after work I squeezed in a 15-minute golf lesson. During the lesson, I had to hit balls at a Trackman which is basically a large screen with all sorts of funky sensors. When my ball hits the screen, it analyses the angle, the speed, etc etc and it spits out all kinds of data that can help explain why I do things like hit beautiful long drives that always fly way off to the right.

Turns out I have a 'weak grip'. My initial reaction when I heard that was 'what!?! I have a strong grip! You should see when I shake hands'' but I quickly realized that weak had nothing to do with grip strength and everything to do with the angle with which I held the club. A weak grip = balls flying off to the right. A too strong grip, I quickly discovered, sends them careening off to the left. I finally found a sweet spot and the balls starting going where they should.

The trick now will be to remember that feeling and be able to repeat it. Over and over again.

On the way home afterwards, I mentioned to Doug that it must be hard for golf instructors not to burst out laughing sometimes when they see the way some people swing the golf club.

"Go to a driving range and watch people" he replied. "It's crazy how different everyone swings. It's pretty darn funny to watch too."

Sounds like golf is a lot like running. You can spot your favourite golfer a mile away once you figure out how they move.

PS. during my Trackman session, the following two things happened as soon as we switched my grip:

1. I swung the club, whacked the tee cleanly out from under it and the ball plopped down to where the tee had been and just sat there.

2. On the second try, I swung the club and the ball shot straight up in the air, hit the ceiling, dropped back down onto one of the narrow metal beams holding up the Trackman system and had to be pushed back down to earth with a golf club.

Neither feats had ever been seen in that room and, odds are, neither will again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's in a Name?

The other night there was a show on television about the Mont Tremblant Ironman 70.3.

First of all, I was a little confused by the name as I had never seen Ironman 70.3 before. I had seen Ironman and I had seen Half-Ironman. I had seen 70.3 and 140.6 and I knew that the first represented the distance covered (in miles) for a Half-Ironman and the second represented the Ironman.

An Ironman is an Ironman just like a marathon is a marathon. It's a set distance, a predetermined race and when someone says they ran a marathon or did an Ironman, there should be no question about what they actually did.

So when I read Ironman 70.3 I wasn't sure what exactly the distance was. I soon discovered that it was a Half-Ironman, no small feat in itself mind you, not an Ironman.

I did do some online checking and an "Ironman 70.3" is apparently the same as saying a Half-Ironman but it feels a little different. Perhaps because not everyone knows what the 70.3 is. They will just see "Ironman". It's kinda like saying that I completed a marathon 21.1 isn't it?

Anyway, that's not actually the point of the story. The point of the story was the story itself. The show talked about the elite athletes and it followed them along the course as they competed at mind-boggling speeds. But it also followed some other folks. The regular folks. The ones who take hours and hours and hours to finish. Folks who, three years prior, weighed over 300 pounds and freely admit that they didn't do any exercise. Folks who had decided to get in shape, learn to run and progressed from there.

I saw these people training and I saw them competing and I saw them cross the Half-Ironman finish line.  And I thought to myself - bloody hell, good for them.

Olympic distance triathlons are just about half the distance of a Half-Ironman. Not quite but close enough for me to know that doing twice what I just did is not for the faint of heart. It's also not something that the average person can just wing. It takes a huge amount of training, commitment and guts to get to the start line of a Half-Ironman, let alone cross the finish line.

So yes indeed. Bloody hell, good for them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Temporary Kindred Spirit

Every once in a while I get to talk to someone who shares something in common with me. Perhaps it's a love of running. Or of open water swimming. Or perhaps it's a faulty pancreas.

Last weekend I met up with a few high school friends for lunch. One of my friends brought his partner along. His partner, a great guy as it turns out, alluded to some health issues he had recently had, I asked a few questions and the next thing I knew we were talking about faulty pancreases (pancrei?).

He doesn't have type 1 but he did go through a period where he was on insulin (up to five injections a day). He's now down to a few pills per day and will hopefully be right as rain in a few more months. But for now, he was browsing the brunch menu with a certain look in his eye.

"Once your pancreas starts sputtering, everything becomes all about carbs doesn't it?" I asked.

His eyes widened "yes, exactly!" he said.

"Food is no longer just food. Now you have to think before you put anything into your mouth" I said.

"It changes everything" he responded.

Someday soon, I hope, he will be completely over the health issues he suffered and will no longer have to think about every food choice he makes.

It was nice to have a kindred spirit at the table who understood how different a menu looks when everything you eat really does matter.

But I'll be happy for him when he gets to be like my other three friends. Laughing and chatting and deciding at the last second what to order based on what sounded good and what the person before them had asked for.

Over the years I have recruited a lot of people to my running, cycling and swimming ways. The world probably has a few more curlers and golfers too thanks to the fact that I decided to join up.

And over the years I have learned to thrive in spite of (or more likely because of) the fact that my body does not produce insulin. It has given me the secret handshake to a few other clubs full of wonderful people that I will be forever grateful to have met.

But I would never wish a faulty pancreas on anyone. And I don't begrudge in the least the fact that the next time all we friends get together, he most likely won't be thinking about carbs and blood sugar.

Good for him.

If only we could all be so lucky.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Reunion, lots of Doug time and a golf lesson = a great weekend

The weekend is over and, as usual, it went by much too quickly.

But it sure was fun!

Doug and I enjoyed a Friday evening golf game together followed by a Saturday morning run and a Sunday morning bike ride.

I also managed to squeeze in a brunch with three of my dearest high school friends, one who I see regularly, one who I see every few years and one who I haven't seen in almost a decade. Other than one receding hairline, we pretty much look exactly the same and it was great fun to reconnect as a 'gang' again.

I also had my first golf lesson of the season. I know, it's the end of July, but we figured it was time for me to get a few of the kinks worked out. So one hour later and two key tips (don't bend your left arm and fix your alignment) later, I was ready for a Sunday afternoon game. It took a few holes to get things feeling right but, once I did, look out!

I managed to get my best ever golf score (110), drop my handicap and get two pars, all thanks to a few tips. Here's a video of me looking like I know what I'm doing. And yes I realize that I'm not actually hitting a ball. We were just working on my swing.

video

Friday, July 24, 2015

Brick Training...With a Coach!

On Wednesday I wrote a blog about the fact that it might be time for me to seek some professional help.

Professional triathlon training help that is.

Within a few hours of posting the blog, several local friends had replied and all of them had recommended the same person. After work that day, I ran into a great friend that I haven't seen in months and we had a great catch-up chat in a grocery store parking lot. Having read my blog that morning, he recommended the same person.

So I figured I had better contact said person and figure out what all the hullabaloo was about.

Turns out that he runs a triathlon club out of my favourite running store. He explained how it works and I can either pay a weekly fee for three group workouts (one swim workout, one running workout and one brick training workout) + a personalized weekly training plan + feedback and support or I can pay a la carte for as many of the workouts as I want, a training plan if I want or just some support if I need it.

I'm not sure I'm quite willing to jump into the deep end and sign up for everything but I was pretty intrigued by the Saturday morning brick workouts that are offered.

The plan is that we meet at 7:50am on our bikes. We bring our running gear (shoes etc) that he then drives to a set location. We do a tough bike workout that apparently involves some distance, some hill training or other fun things. The rides tend to be between 40-50k based on each person's individual goals. We then meet as set spot, put on our running shoes and head out for a 5k (or so) run while he watches our bikes. Return to bike, switch shoes again, and bike back to the beginning spot where he will arrive with our shoes. Head home and probably have a nap.

Sounds like a tough, long, tiring workout.

Which is probably exactly what I need and is certainly a challenge I will enjoy.

There is no workout this Saturday as most people in the group are heading off to do triathlons. But on August 1st - watch out! This lassie is doing her first official brick training workout.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And That Makes Us the Lucky Ones

I'm a sucker for a rich-sounding radio voice and I'm also a sucker for eloquent writing and people who speak with a certain poetic flair. 

The other day I was driving and listening to the radio. The show, which I missed the beginning of, was talking about the power of the written word. They were talking about the author and scientist Richard Dawkins. 

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed several of his books but not the one they were talking about. It's called Unweaving the Rainbow and they read his opening paragraph to illustrate the power of great writing. 

By the time they had finished the paragraph, I was on Amazon downloading the book and I have been savouring it ever since. 

His opening paragraph went like this: 

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

Read it. 

Read it again. 

Read it out loud. 

Savour the words and how they roll off your tongue. 

Savour the message. 

And take an extra second or two to think about just how right he is. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Coaching May Be Needed

So here's the thing.

When I first started running, I joined a running clinic where I learned how to run properly, how to pace myself, how and when to use gels and body glide, how to run hills and how to do interval training on my own. They took me from newbie to half marathoner and I will be forever grateful for that.

Once I got the hang of things though, I stopped going to the running clinics. The clinic times didn't really work for me since I preferred pre-work runs rather that post-work ones and I didn't need the motivation factor since I'm pretty good at kicking my own ass into gear. Also, there was pretty much nothing they were able to teach me about how to run with diabetes so I got used to figuring things out on my own and just kept doing that.

A lot of things have changed thought since I stopped going to the running clinics. I have taken up cycling. And swimming. And duathlons and triathlons. And I've gradually pieced together my own training routine based on trying to fit all three sports into a week and making sure I was able to do the distances required. Sometimes I even tossed in a few brick workouts although I must admit that I haven't done one of those all summer.

Anyway, I'm starting to feel that I've gone as far as I'm going to go on my own. I seem to have plateau in terms of running speed and I don't think I've come close to unlocking my potential on the bike. If I want to get better at triathlons, if I want to be able to finish strong, do the distance, cross the finish line in a decent time etc etc, I'm going to have to get some training advice.

Whether that comes from a real life coach, an online coach, a really good training plan, a decent triathlon book, I don't yet know. But I think it might be time to see if I can get a little stronger and a little faster by tweaking a few things.

So I'm on the hunt for either a coach, an online coach, a great and helpful website or a useful book. And hey, if they know a few things about doing all of that with Type 1 diabetes, all the better.

If anyone out there has any advice on where to go next, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon Report Card

The Gravenhurst tri is in the books and what a fun day that was! 

Race wise, it went fairly well. 

I decided to wear my new wetsuit for the swim and I'm sure it helped. I finished the 1500m swim in 30:44 and came out 9/29 in my age group. That put me at 87/327 overall. Swimming is definitely my best sport. 

The bike went quite well. I had hoped to keep an average pace of 25km/hour but didn't know if I could on a hilly course. I finished the 40k ride in 1:33:08 and my average pace was 25.77km/hour. So I was thrilled with that. I was 18/29 in my age group and 250/327 overall. So I obviously have some work to do on the bike. 

The run, on the other hand, was just brutal. The temperature was hot and humid - in the 30s, with beating sun and no shade to speak of. The course is tough and very hilly. And I just fell apart. I ran some, I walked some. I ran a bit. I walked some more. By the end I had given up even trying to run up the hills but I did force myself to run the flats and the downs. It took me 1:20:11 to run 10k. At least 15 minutes longer than I had hoped. 

But, if you add my two transitions times (2:39 and 3:01), my overall time was 3:29:43 which was pretty much the 3 1/2 hours I had figured it would take me. 

Diabetes-wise, it went ok but not great. 

I had my race-day basal profile programmed into my pump and, as planned, I had two dates (with salt) right before the swim. When I got out of the water it take a while for Rose to find the signal again so I was riding blind when I hopped on the bike. I did not know what my blood sugar was. 

A few minutes into the bike, she started vibrating which meant that she found the signal and I was either over 10 or under 4. I figured I was over 10. Every few minutes she would vibrate again and I was trying to figure out the best way to dig her out from inside my outfit and check while riding as fast as I could on a hilly course. I waited for a flat section, pulled her out and glanced down. 

I couldn't see anything. 

I was so bright that I couldn't read the screen and my dark sunglasses made it even harder. I pulled those up and looked under them. Nothing. I tried a few more angles. Nothing. 

Bloody hell. 

The only option was to a) keep riding and go by feel or b) pull over, stop, unclip and check. 

I kept riding. 

At 30k, I ate two more dates. Rose had stopped vibrating which meant that I was between 4.0 and 10.0 but I had no idea where or whether I was climbing or dropping. 

In transition, I checked Rose again and this time I could read the screen. It was 6.3 which was great but not high enough for a 10k run. So I ate a package of fruit chews and headed out. Before the first kilometre, Rose was vibrating and I had a headache. I was climbing fast and, by kilometre 2 I was 16.4. What the hell?!?

I drank water at every stop but just kept climbing. So I did what I never do in a race and I took insulin. Two and a half units of it, at the 4k mark. I figured I had to finish the remaining 6k before I dropped too low. 

I did and was back down to 8.0 by the finish line. My headache was gone and I stayed within range for the rest of the afternoon, even after chocolate milk, orange slices and a piece of pizza. 

So not bad overall but there is certainly room for improvement. Including figuring out how to keep tabs on my blood sugar on the bike. 

Some photos for those of you who like the visuals. 

Squeezing my caboose into a wetsuit is never easy or pretty. Doug often helps by giving it a good yank.

All aboard the steamship and ready to head to the start line. 

All I kept thinking as I approached the dock was "Oh don't end yet, this swim is awesome!"

Sucking back some Nuun before hopping on the bike. 

Roar!

Heading out for the run. I feel great. Let me wave to the camera. (That feeling changed about 2 minutes later but it was nice while it lasted). 

I'm back, I'm alive. Sorry it took so long! 

Couldn't resist a wetsuit-free swim in the early morning hours before we headed home. 

So very peaceful and a wonderful way to end another Gravenhurst adventure. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Off to the Races

It's been a rather action-packed week and I have had to let a few things slip. Blogging regularly being one of them.

In the last seven days I did manage to photograph a wedding, celebrate my father's birthday, attend a baby shower, plan a baby shower, and pack for our triathlon weekend that starts in a handful of hours.

I'm fine. Doug's fine. We're off to the races and will be back next Tuesday with lots of pictures and stories to share.

Ta!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Swimming and Cycling Adventures with an Errant Golf Ball Thrown in for Fun.

We are down to a handful of days before the Gravenhurst Olympic distance triathlon.

Which means that:
  • it's taper time,
  •  there is nothing I can do at this point to improve in any of the three activities I'll be doing. I am as prepared as I can b, physically anyway, and
  • there is a lot I can do to screw things up before race day like not getting enough sleep, not eating well, not keeping an eye on my sodium intake, twisting my ankle, catching a cold, dislocating my shoulder or getting arrested.  
Most of the above are very likely in case you were worried I was trying to tell you that I've been arrested but there is always a chance that life will make it difficult for me to sleep or eat as well as I would like.

In the past few weeks, I've made an effort to cycle more and to get more open water swimming in. I'm happy to report that I did both of those things and had a few adventures in the process.

While open water swimming:  
  • I have had aquatic plants wrapped around my goggles as I swam through what felt like a kelp forest but what was probably just a few aquatic plants growing madly in the warm, sunny, shallow waters.
  • I have had a complete stranger ask if I was wearing a heart rate monitor to which I replied 'that's an insulin pump' to which she replied "that's a heart rate monitor" and pointed to my heart rate monitor that she could see through my bathing suit. Yep, you're right, it is a heart rate monitor. 
  • I have had aquatic plants wrap around my arms and even whip across my face as I swam through another kelp forest (and yes I know it's not really kelp but I like that word better than 'aquatic plant')
  • I have finished a swim, removed my wetsuit and goggles, and then walked around for the next two hours with goggle marks on my face and fruit chew package outlines on my ankles where they were tucked in my wetsuit. 
While cycling, I discovered a great way to pass the time and keep me motivated to go faster.
  •  My goal (which I can't yet do) is to maintain an average cycling speed of 25 km/hour. I can do about 23 km/hour at the moment. 
  • Twenty-five kilometres per hour = a pace of 2 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometre. 
  • My Garmin watch beeps every kilometre and tells me how long it took me to cycle said kilometre.
  • So, at 5:30am, I am cycling up and down the back roads racing against my watch.  
  • If my first kilometre is 2:33, I am now at +3 seconds. Next kilometre is 2:25, well I am now at -2 seconds. When I have a few kilometres of tailwind, I can usually bank 45-60 seconds that quickly evaporate when I get to the rolling hills or turn into a headwind. 
  • It's surprising how quickly the kilometres go by as well as how much harder I'll push in a headwind knowing that I'm gaining or losing seconds. 
I also managed to squeeze in a few golf games. My favourite moment of late was this: 
  • I stood at the tee of a par three hole, hit the ball far right of the green, watched it hit a tree, bounce left and land 5 feet from the hole. And no, I didn't sink the putt for a birdie. Nor did I sink the second putt for a par. But it still pretty entertaining!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

3am Math

The room temperature was perfect.

The sheets were cool and comfortable.

It was 3am, the room was quiet and we were both sound asleep.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!!!!!!

Bloody Hell!

We were both jolted awake as if by a gunshot.

Rose was yelling at me that my blood sugar was below 3.1.

I took a look at her graph and saw that I had held steady in the low 4s for a few hours and then, in the space of five minutes, I dove from 4 to 3.1. Which means that I skipped right past the slightly less jarring vibration warning that I was below 4.0 and went straight into the extremely effective, heart-stopping BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!! that only happens when I drop below 3.1.

As I lay in bed, I quickly weighted my options.

I had Dex 4s by the bed, also known as glucose tablets.

Dex 4 pros: The pure sugar in those tablets causes my sugar to climb rapidly meaning that I would probably be back above 4.0 before the next blood sugar check that Rose was going to do. Meaning that we could fall right back to sleep without having to be jarred awake again by another one of her very helpful yet annoying warnings that I was still below 4.0.

Dex 4 cons: Dex 4s help me climb quickly into the safe zone but they don't keep me there. If I don't eat something of substance, I typically drop back down below 4.0 again within an hour or so. No thanks.

I also had a package of fig newtons by the bed. I mean doesn't everyone?

Pros: fig newtons help keep my blood sugar up. The combination of more complex carbs (versus pure sugar) and protein get me up and keep me there.

Cons: it can take a while to digest them and I usually have to wait out a good 30 minutes of Rose vibrating me awake before I climb back above 4.0.

I also had the option of lowering my basal rate.

Pros: with less insulin in my system, I would be at less risk of a second low.

Cons: lowering my basal rate is not an option for treating an immediate low. I can only help prevent a future one.

Did I mention that it was 3am and, not thirty-seconds earlier I had been having a lovely sleep?

I decided on the following combination:

I had two Dex 4s (a total of 8 carbs). The goal: get my sugar above 4.0 so Rose wouldn't vibrate and we could go back to sleep.

I had one fig newton (another 10 carbs). The goal: prevent my blood sugar from dropping back down again.

I also lowered my basal rate by 30% for 2 hours. The goal: make doubly sure I didn't drop back down.

I was conservative in the number of carbs I ate and the basal rate reduction I made so I wouldn't go from low to high, causing Rose to vibrate for an entirely different reason.

I ate my snack, changed my basal rate and, within a minute, I was floating back to sleep again.

When I woke up again at 6am, I saw that I had climbed from 3.1 to 7.0 and stayed there for the rest of the night.

Sometimes my 3am math works. Sometimes it doesn't.

This time it was bang on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Swim Buoys

Doug and I have been hanging out at our favourite open water swimming spot quite a lot lately. We have less than two weeks until the Gravenhurst triathlon and we both are feeling the need to get a little more comfortable swimming in water where you can't see the bottom, where aquatic plants sometimes wrap themselves around our wrists or our goggles and where we can't put our feet down and touch bottom every time we might want to.

So we keep heading back there and swimming our respective race distances. I've been doing 1.5k every time I go. The first time was tough. I felt my wetsuit constricting my neck. I had to stop several times and focus on controlling my panicky breathing. My arms felt incredibly heavy and everything just felt harder.

Until it started getting easier.

In fact, last night, I was about 500m into my swim when I realized that I was wearing a wetsuit. I mean of course I knew I was wearing it because I had struggled to get the damn thing on but I had forgotten that I was wearing it once I started swimming. No feelings of constriction around my neck, no panicked breathing, nothing. Just swimming.

Nice!

Oh, and can you spot my latest swimming purchase in the photo below?


Being a stickler for safety, I got pretty excited when I heard about this gadget. It's a swim buoy that a) you can store things like car keys in, b) is inflatable, c) makes me much more visible in the water and d) I could technically hang on to in a moment of open-water panic. 

It straps around your waist and floats behind while you swim. I thought I might notice it during a swim but I've actually stopped a few times to make sure it's still attached. And when I head out to swim the last 600m on my own, Doug can watch my orange buoy bobbing along and know exactly were I am. 

Safety first! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Heart Rate Monitor Meltdown

Diabetes has taught me a lot of things. Some good, some bad, some really kinda gross and some really quite useful.

One of the more useful things I have learned is this: technology that helps me analyze what is happening in my body is wonderful but, when the technology is telling me one thing and my body is telling me another, listen to my body. Always.

On Sunday morning, Doug and I went cycling. We picked a route that had some flat stretches with some hills thrown in every few kilometres. I had my Garmin watch on my bike and it was set to show me my speed, the distance covered and my heart rate.

For the first few kilometres, my heart rate was fine. It was doing what it typically does which is climb a bit and then hang out between 120-130 beats per minute.

Then we climbed the first hill...and my heart rate spiked up to 240 beats per minute.

Two-hundred and forty beats per minute!?!

That, my friends, is a surefire sign that I was about to keel over and die.

Or it's a surefire sign that my heart rate monitor was screwed up.

Seeing 240 beats per minute on a heart rate monitor that, until Sunday, had never shown my heart rate above 180, is pretty horrifying. For one brief moment, I did think that I was about to keel over and I actually wondered if I should have updated the will I did a few years ago. Then I took stock and recognized that I felt no different that I do whenever I climb a hill. I was out of breath but nothing out of the ordinary.

To be sure I wasn't seconds from the end, I took one hand off my handbar and took my pulse for ten seconds. Twenty-two beats in ten seconds. That means 132 beats per minute if my math is correct. Nowhere near 240.

I relaxed and crested the top of the hill.

I figured my heart rate would drop again once we were back on the flats. It didn't.

I readjusted the heart rate monitor but my heart rate refused to budge. Only when we stopped for a quick drink did it drop back down to normal. It stayed there until we climbed the next hill and I spiked right back up to 240 again where it stayed until we got home again.

"I have no idea what is happening" said Doug "but it's sure going to make for a crazy heart rate graph".

No kidding.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Daydreaming Diabetes

Two example of what diabetes does to my brain...and my stress level.

Example one: Several of my colleagues were talking about the number of places that are opening up where people can go to buy medicinal marijuana. And how interesting it was that people could go into these little shops to purchase their medication. I popped my head out of my office and asked if anyone was interested in joining me on a new business venture:

Insulin caf├ęs

Think about it! A community place where you can go to purchase your insulin. Where you can hang out with people at the back table who are putting in their infusion sites. Maybe give a word of encouragement to someone who is still getting the hang of it. A place where you can chat with people about the best place to put your CGM or the best tape to use to keep it on. Where you can trade supplies you no longer use for supplies that you now need. Diabetes humour posters hanging on the walls. Jars of candy lying around...just in case.

I'm telling you this could be great.

Example two: Doug and I were cycling on Canada Day. As we sped along my mind kept wandering to my upcoming triathlon. I was imagining what would happen if the weather was bad on race day. I've never done a triathlon in nasty weather so I have no idea what happens. Do they still do a swim if it's a downpour? Do they do the bike? I guessed that they would cancel the swim in a downpour just in case there might be lightening while we are all out in the lake. And I guessed we would have the opportunity to switch to the duathlon which was what?  I think the Olympic duathlon is a 10k run, then a 40k bike, then a 5k run. I guess I could manage that although I would not like it nearly as much as a triathlon.

And then I almost fell off my bike in horror. OMIGOD! If they cancel the swim on the morning of and give us a chance to run twice instead, I'm in huge trouble.

Why?

Because I will already be two hours into my race day basal profile. A basal profile that is very specific and tailored to the fact that I swim, then bike, then do a 10k run. If I had to switch at the last minute, I couldn't undo the basal insulin I had already taken and I would have to eat a huge amount of food or I would have an almighty low partway through the first run. And then I would have no idea what to expect for the rest of the race and wouldn't know what was best - keep using the basal profile that was designed for a different event or switch back to my regular basal and just dial it back and cross my fingers.

Then I wrenched that train of thought from my mind and ran over it several times with my bike to ensure it didn't find its way back into my head.

The rest of the ride was lovely.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mid-Term Report

June is behind us, Canada has celebrated its 148th birthday and we are now closer to the end of 2015 than we are to the beginning. 

The end of another month means it's time for another fitness report as well as a mid-term report on how my goal to virtually swim, walk, run and bike my way from our front door to Regina, Saskatchewan is going. 

Race Report
It feels like months ago already but I managed to cross the finish line of the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon as well as the Welland Triathlon. Woot! 

Running
Running went well this month. My mileage is down but that's because I'm no longer training for a half marathon. Now I'm training for triathlons so weekend runs are 12k or so rather than the high teens and low twenties. In June I ran 11 times, covering 86.7km in a little over 10 hours. 

Cycling
In the past two weeks I've really increased my cycling in an effort to build some endurance on the bike. I've been getting up early and squeezing in 2 to 3 weekday bike rides in preparation for my Olympic triathlon in July. In June, I cycled 174km in 7 hours. 

Swimming
Swimming was hit and miss in June. The pool was closed for three weeks so most of my swimming was in open water which was also hit and miss. I only swam four times and covered 5450m in 2 hours. Gotta get those numbers up in July! 

Golf
Golf was also a little lacklustre in June. That I blame entirely on rainy days. I only managed to golf four times, walking a total of 30k in 12 hours.  

Total number of workouts: 26 
Distance covered: 296km

Wow! Adding some extra cycling to my routine has gotten me a lot closer to Regina. By the end of May I had covered 1086km. Add June to it and I am now 1,382km into my 2356km journey. 

1,382km brings me smack dab in the middle of Northern Ontario. There is nothing on the map near that location so the best I can say is that I am exactly 100km from Thunder Bay. 

Getting there! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Long Course Triathlon

Triathlons come in a whole range of distances. I guess the same can be said for other races but there is something interesting about looking at triathlon options. They all have a swim, bike and run component but, depending on the distance, the percentage of time spent doing each sport changes.

I've done one super sprint (aka try a tri) and the distances were 400m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run.

I've done a sprint which is 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.

I've done a bunch of triathlons that don't technically fall under a specific category. They tend to be something like this: 750m swim, 30k bike, 7.5k run, or 750m swim, 25k bike, 7k run.

I've done one olympic triathlon which is exactly twice the sprint triathlon distance: 1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run. My favourite triathlon distance so far.

And then there are the more famous half-ironman races which are 1.9k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run.

And finally, the ironman which is 3.8k swim, 180k bike and 42.2k run.

The jump from olympic to half-ironman is just big enough that I have tucked the half-ironman distance away in my 'maybe one day if I'm feeling crazy' drawer. But it's not a goal right now - not even a tiny spec on the horizon.

On Sunday I was browsing for another triathlon or two do to this summer. I found one in Kingston, Ontario and they have something called a 'long course triathlon'.

What?!

It's a 2k swim, 56.2k bike and 15k run.

The swim is actually longer than the half-ironman swim but 2k is not a big deal for me so that's fine. The bike and the run are the perfect distance. They are longer than the olympic and long enough to give a taste of a half-ironman without actually doing one.

The race is August 2nd which makes me thing it would be a great goal...for NEXT summer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rained Out

Yesterday was supposed to be a pretty crazy day. 

Up before 4am. 

Pick up my sister and arrive at Turkey Point before 7am. 

Swim 1500m in Lake Erie. 

Home before 11:30am for a shower and a quick lunch. 

On the golf course by 1pm for a golf tournament. 

Dinner around 6:30pm and collapse into bed by 8pm. 

And then it rained...

Rained the way I'm guessing it rained when Noah was putting the finishing touches on the ark. 

It started on Saturday morning about 30 minutes after I came in from my run and it ended on Sunday morning around 11am. 

My sister, whose job gives her some extra insight into such things, insisted that we could not swim. After that much rain, the water quality would be very very poor. It's not worth our health to swim this race she said. I had no problem agreeing with her. 

I'm ok with swimming in cold water. I'm ok with currents and waves. I'm not ok with swimming in water that had a 'red alert' on its water quality status. 

So the race was off. 

Twenty-four hours of steady rain on a clay-based golf course meant that the bunkers and the fairways had turned into water hazards so the golf tournament was cancelled as well. 

I got up early anyway and headed to the pool, figuring I could at least get a good swim workout in. And since the pool had just re-opened after three weeks of closure, I was really looking forward to a good swim. 

I drove through the rain and made my way to the main doors hidden under my rain coat. A sign on the front door made my heart drop. 

"Lane pool closed."

Apparently all the rain had caused a power outage which had messed up the electrical system which meant that we couldn't swim until the electrician showed up and fixed the problem. I was home again by 8:15am and switched my swim workout to a weight/core workout in my living room.  

So Sunday became a quiet day. We watched Sunday Morning. We completed some of the final touches in our 'paint the entire house' project. We put on a pot of homemade bolognese sauce to simmer. We watched golf. 

Not the day I had planned but quite nice nonetheless. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Deer Friends

Last week I managed to squeeze in one early-morning bike ride.

This week, I've already managed to squeeze in two. Monday and Wednesday morning I was up before my alarm rang at 5am, ready to ride. I was dressed, fed and on my bike by 5:30am and I enjoyed a brisk 28km ride through the quiet country roads.

The first time I did this, I spotted two deer in field, half hidden in the morning mist.

The second time I rode the route, I saw two deer in the same spot.

The first time, I pointed them out to Doug and said "deer!".

The second time, I looked them in the eye and nodded. The way one nods to another early riser who is also out on the streets before the sunrise.

Yesterday, I rode the route for a third time and, as expected there they were. Heads up, watching me as I rode past, turned the corner and disappeared behind the trees.

I am one of those creatures of habit who loves adventure. I'll happily try pretty much anything but it doesn't take me long to find the patterns in it and turn something new into a new habit.

My two deer friends, not to be mistaken with dear friends which are very different, are a wonderful addition to my morning and an already familiar part of my new morning bike ride routine

And, to make early mornings even more wonderful, I saw a doe and her two fawns the other morning on a run. All three ran out from the woods. I stopped when I saw them and they stopped when they saw me and we all stared at each other for a few moments. Then mom broke the spell and the three of them scampered across the road and disappeared into the seemingly impenetrable bush on the other side.

I wonder if deers are just as awe-struck when they spot humans in the wild as we are when we spot them?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sunday Madness

I'm all signed up for the 1500m (1.5k) open water swim this coming Sunday.

I checked and the race starts at 8am.

Which means that we need to be parked and unloading our stuff from the car by 7am at the latest.

I'll be picking up my sister at my parent's house.

The drive from my house to theirs is 20 minutes. The drive from their house to the start line is predicted to be 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Which means that I will be leaving my house before 4:30am on Sunday morning.

So that I can swim 1.5k in freezing cold lake water that may or may not have really big waves.

There are no medals at the end of this event, although I will have a new brightly coloured swim cap to add to my collection.

There are no t-shirts. There may or may not be food.

There will only be that addictive, compelling sense of accomplishment of having done something that most people would never do. For whatever that's worth.

And we have to be back in the car before 10am so that I can be home by noon in order to play in a golf tournament that Doug and I have signed up for.

Anyone want to guess what time I will be in bed on Sunday evening?


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wetsuit Adventures

This coming weekend I will be swimming a 1.5K race with my sister. It’s along the north shore of Lake Erie and, based on the current water temps, I’m guessing I’ll be pulling on my new wetsuit for a second time in two weeks.

This past Saturday, Doug and I decided to head to our local open water swimming hole. I wanted to make sure that I could a) swim 1.5k in open water and b) do it in a wetsuit. A wetsuit, I discovered adds buoyancy but also adds a considerable amount of weight on the arms. I was surprised how quickly my arms got tired during the 750m triathlon swim. So I wanted to see if I actually had the strength to do 1500m.

Getting the damn thing on, I am happy to report, is much less of an ordeal than it was in the change room the day that I bought it. In no time were suited up and doing the wetsuit walk to the canal bank. He jumped and I slipped into the water without even a gasp as the water temperature.

We swam about 300m and then stopped to see how far we had swum.

Stopping mid swim was a bit of a mistake. Something shifted when I went from a swimming position to a bobbing upright in the water position and the neck of the wetsuit was suddenly very tight around my throat. Not tight enough to cut off my airway but tight enough to make me feel like it did which, of course, leads to an immediate feeling of panic.

I flipped onto my back and said “you’re FINE!” to myself. It worked like a charm because a) I tend to listen to the stern voice in my head and b) flipping onto my back took the pressure off my throat. I resumed the upright bobbing in the water position and my throat felt constricted again. I flipped onto my back a second time and made a plan. “You will flip directly over to your stomach and start swimming, that way you won’t feel constricted. Oh, and you’re FINE!!”

I was perfectly fine but I quickly realized that, just because swimming in a wetsuit went well during the triathlon doesn’t mean that I was given a free pass. Apparently the race gods were kind to me but I will still need to have a few panicky moments in the open water in a wetsuit before the adjustment period is over.

Bleh.

We swam some more and I managed to get 1500m in. But, instead of my usual post-swim desire to go just a few more hundred metres, I was more than happy to heave myself on to the dock and yank that wetsuit zipper down. In fact, I wanted nothing more than to pull the thing off, hop back in and swim the distance again in my bathing suit.

As you might imagine, I am now feeling a pretty major desire to get a few more wetsuit swims in before this Sunday’s race.

I’ll let you picture the look on my face when my sister said “I heard that they are going to cancel the race if the waves are more than 1 metre high”.

Waves?!?!? Who said anything about waves?!?!

Friday, June 19, 2015

100% Compassion

I went to a training yesterday that was designed to help teach employees in my position how to be more effective coaches in the workplace.

We had a lot of discussion, most of it pretty frank and some of it pretty difficult. The facilitator, who never pulls punches, forced us to look at the expectations we put on ourselves as well as the expectations we force upon others and how destructive that can be. 

"100% compassion" she said.

"I have no doubt that you all have 100% compassion for the adults with disabilities that you support every day and yet most of you seem to have much less for the people you work with." 

"If you can find a way to have that same level of compassion for the people you work with, if you treat them with the same respect and the same understanding, it would make a world of difference."

I could see from the looks on people's faces that some of them agreed and some of them...not so much. 

The other message? 

You are 100% responsible for your actions and your reactions. You have no responsibility whatsoever  for the actions and reactions of others. 

I think that's one of those things that, once someone figures it out, their life immediately becomes less stressful, people become less annoying and most of the problems that arise in workplaces go away. 

100% compassion...for 100% of people. 

Choose how you react to situations. No one 'makes you angry'. You choose to respond to a situation with anger. 

Try it. 

It's a simple concept but it's not an easy one. 

I've been working at it for years now and I can tell you with all honestly that it's worth the effort. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Early Morning Ride

Some things seem pretty simple once you've actually taken a few minutes to think about them.

On Tuesday I wrote about my tentative triathlon training plan for the next five weeks.

Jeff, my triathlon guru, kindly suggested that I try to fit in three bike rides per week. He argued that I needed more time in the saddle since I am the one who clearly identified that cycling is my weakest sport.

Three rides a week? When the heck am I supposed to fit that in?

So I thought about it for about five seconds and decided that before work was a perfectly reasonable answer to that question. Especially these next two weeks when the local pool is still closed for maintenance.

So yesterday morning Doug and I got up at 5am. We pulled on our cycling clothes, dragged the bikes out of the basement, strapped on our helmets and headed off into the early morning light. We were on the road by 5:30am.

Twenty-two kilometres of cycling later, we were back home. It was 6:20am.

During the ride we saw the sun rise in the sky and burn away the early morning mist.

We saw two deer emerge from the mist and watch us as we cycled by and pointed in wonder.

We enjoyed the quiet of normally busy roads and hardly spoke a word as we sped along.

It was absolutely lovely and I have no idea why, in all these years of cycling, it has never occurred to me to go for early morning rides in the summer months when the sun rises before 5am.

Jeff, mon ami, you are a very wise man.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Planning My Next Race

I have 5 weeks until my next triathlon.

I want to get comfortable swimming 1.5k and do several open water practice swims between now and race day.

I want to get a bunch of longer bike rides under my belt so that I'm ready for the 40k distance. I also want to get a bunch of hilly bike rides under my belt because that route is a lot hillier than the Welland one.

I want to keep my running fitness up since I've fought so hard to get it here. I want to do some hill training to prepare for the hills and I want to do some speed work to see if I can run a little faster than I ran last weekend.

I have 5 weeks until my next triathlon.

Not enough time to transform myself but enough time that I can probably make some gains in terms of running and cycling fitness.

Any tips for how to get the most out of the next 5 weeks my triathlon friends?

My thinking?

Run three times per week. Stick to 10-15k long runs, do one speed or hill workout per week and one regular run per week (7k or so).

Cycle twice a week. One long ride on weekends and a shorter one during the week. Perhaps ride up and down the escarpment a few times?

Swim twice a week, at least once in open water. Working on endurance so that 1.5k doesn't feel like a big deal.

Taper in the last week. Watch my salt intake. Sleep well. Eat well.

Any other suggestions?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Welland Triathlon Report

The first triathlon of 2015 is officially in the books.

The short version of the story goes something like this

Start swimming. Think "Omigod I forgot how much I loved open water swimming!!". Enjoy a strong swim where I am passed by two people but I pass at least 15 others. Turn at the last buoy and head for shore. Think "The swim is almost over. That's sad. Now I have to hop on the bike for 30k. Bloody hell". Cycle the first 15k thinking "wow, I'm faster than I thought I was. All the half marathon training and winter cycling on the trainer must have paid off". Turn around at 15k and think "nope, that was just a nice tailwind". Cycle 15k into a pretty strong headwind and think "my shoulders and my a$$ are killing me". Finish the bike ride, pull on my running shoes and think "it's only 7.5k. That's like 1/3 of a half marathon and you rocked a half marathon last weekend. You got this!". Run 7.5k without stopping at a strong and steady pace and think "this is the easiest triathlon run I've ever had. I feel great. I love triathlons!" Cross the finish line with a smile on my face and think "when's the next one!"

The longer version is, well, a little bit longer.

We got there super early because this crazy girl decided a 1pm the afternoon before the race that she needed to buy her very first wetsuit. Why?!? Because at 12:30pm she read the race report online and learned that the water temperature in the canal was 15C/59F. The wetsuit mandatory cutoff is 14C and there was no way I was getting there in the morning and finding out that I couldn't swim. So I sucked it up, drove to our local triathlon store, said "do you have any wetsuits in my size?", spent 15 minutes trying to get the damn thing on, felt ridiculous in it and yet walked out with it anyway, a few hundred dollars poorer.

So we got to the race 90 minutes early so I could a) pee a bunch of times before putting on the wetsuit, b) put on the wetsuit and c) swim in it for as long as it took to feel comfortable. Doug, the smart man that he is, set up his transition zone and headed back to the car for 45 minutes where it was warm.

I racked my bike as several other triathletes were arriving. They were all new to the sport and asked me a bunch of newbie questions that made me smile as I remembered wondering all of the same things not that long ago. One of the newbies noticed my pump and proudly showed me his Animas pump. Spotting another T1 in the wild means instant bonding and we kept cheering each other on every time we saw each other during the race.

The donning of the wetsuit went much better the second time. It helped that I knew what to expect, I came prepared with a plastic bag to wrap around my feet (to help them slide more easily) and I was in and zipped (by myself) in less than five minutes. I made my way down to the water where a bunch of folks were milling around trying to decide whether or not to go into the now 16C water. I greeted them all and walked right in. I forced myself to simply tread water for a few minutes while the cold water seeped into the wetsuit (what a strange feeling that is) and I made sure that I wasn't going to start panic-breathing. The water felt cold but manageable and I had no issues getting used to the tighter feel of a wetsuit. I swam a few hundred metres, made sure I wasn't going to freak out and then happily floated around chatting to all the others who were brave enough to get in.

I had a few diabetes issues to figure out at the last minute. First of all, tucking emergency carbs into the pockets of my triathlon suit was not going to work because there was no way to get to them once the wetsuit was on. I ended up stuffing two packages of fruit chews and a ziplock bag with two dates into the arms of my suit. It felt weird but worked fine.

I had also planned to be able to stalk my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in the time leading up to the race but, once I put the suit on, I could no longer see Rose. And, even if I could, it would not have mattered anyway as she lost the CGM signal, not to be found again until I was finished the swim and took off the wetsuit. So I went on feel and had one date (with salt) 30 minutes before the start and one  (again with salt) a minute or two before going in.

When the race started, I swam hard. I felt like I was swimming really fast and I had been told that I would feel that way but I wasn't sure if I just felt fast or if I really was fast. I passed a bunch of swimmers but that's typical for me. Swimming is definitely my forte in a triathlon.

Getting out of the wetsuit was tricky and awkward but I'm sure, with experience, it will be easier. It added a minute to my transition time but I wasn't too worried about that.

The bike ride was easy and fun for the first half and tough on the way back when I hit the headwind. I obviously have not had enough training on the bike and my body could feel it during the last 10k. I'll have to make a point of riding more and riding farther in the next month so that the 40k olympic distance ride doesn't feel quite so never-ending. I did have two dates (with salt) on the bike ride and drank a lot of NUUN in an effort to keep my electrolytes up and prevent a blood pressure crash on the run.

The run felt great. I approached it the same way I approached the half marathon last weekend. Run at a strong and steady pace, watch my heart rate and don't stop running. It worked well and, as I picked off the kilometres one by one, I enjoyed the moment rather than waiting for it to end.

I crossed the finish line with a blood sugar of 12. Not bad considering that I hadn't checked it before or during the race and had just done it all by feel. I had set a race day basal profile that was supposed to allow me to eat before the swim and during the ride which is exactly what I did. A glance at my CGM when I got home showed me that I had climbed pretty high (16+) during the bike ride but had dropped back down again by the end. So lows were not a problem but I hate being that high during a race. I'll have to tweak those basal numbers before the next race.

Here are the results for this year's race:
Swim 14:38.9 1:57min/100m (Overall 89/240 Gender 27/90 Category 4/18)
Bike 1:13:05 24:62km/hour (Overall 210/240 Gender 74/90 Category 13/18)
Run 51:43.7 6:53min/km (Overall 221/241 Gender 79/90 Category 15/18)
T1 3:23
T2 2:31
Total 2:27:50 (Overall 220/240 Gender 79/90 Category 15/18)

Compare it to the one I did two years ago:
Swim 14:30.00 1:55/100m (Overall 120/296 Gender 43/128 Category 7/20)
Bike  1:03:17 28.44km/hr (overall 224/296 Gender 81/128 Category 14/20)
Run 55:33:00 7:24min/km (Overall 262/296 Gender 105/128 Category 17/20)
T1 2:30
T2 2:39
Total 2:20:45 (Overall 243/296 Gender 99/120 Category 16/20)

The swim times are almost identical. Two years ago I was at my swimming peak, doing master's three times a week and super hardcore. This time I was nowhere near that level of swimming fitness but I did have a wetsuit. So perhaps it did make me faster.

The bike was a lot slower this year - no surprise there considering my lack of practice.

My run was 4 minutes faster which is great. It felt much better too. I remember really struggling in 2013 during that run.

No personal best and I obviously have some work to do if I want to place high on the bike and in the run but it sure was fun.

After a few days of trepidation last week I'm happy to announce that triathlon girl is back!!

Here are a few photos taken from Multisports' Facebook page, the fine folks who organize these great races.






Friday, June 12, 2015

Triathlon Trepidations

The summer of 2013 was a big summer in terms of triathlons. We did four of them. And I learned all sorts of things about triathlons and blood sugar management. So much so that I hardly thought about it by the end of the season. Kinda like how I handle long runs. After having done so many of them, I just know what I need to do.

Well after a summer off, I'm feeling decidedly out of practice in the triathlon department.

Thank heaven's I have a little book where I write things down. Like basal rate settings for every triathlon I did in 2013. I have a schedule that is broken up into 30 minute segments from 5am until 2pm, that includes timing for breakfast and snacks and bolus percentages for each, basal rates (by percentage and actual amounts), and a summary of how well it worked in case I forgot (which I did).

It's kinda like trying to read Spanish. I know enough to make out the message but wonder if I'm missing any of the subtleties.

So I guess I'll be programming my pump tonight with a race day basal profile. I'll be trusting my report from two years ago because I have nothing better to go on. I must admit that I'm feeling decidedly out of practice. I've only been back in the pool for a few weeks, I have only had one long bike ride and I just ran a half-marathon 5 days ago and my body is tired.

The good news is that I have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Two years ago, I had nothing of the sort so I had to rely on blood sugar checks in the transition zone. Now, other than during the swim where the CGM doesn't work, I'll be able to see what is happening before, during and after and Rose will warn me if I'm high or low. There is a comfort in that.

Come back on Monday and you can hear how it went. I don't expect to have many, if any, photos because Doug won't be out there supporting me this time. He'll be out there swimming, cycling and running with me. But I'm sure I'll have some stories to share and some lessons that we can all learn from.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blog Stats

Time for another blog stat report.

In the past month, Running on Carbs had 7,109 visits. That's probably not very much for some bloggers but that sure seems like a lot to me. I think many of them even came on purpose which is super nice of them.

Most visitors, by far, come from the United States which rang in at 3367 visits. France was second at 1833. Canada, a distant third, at 865 and Ireland (!) was fourth at 183. As a 50% French-Canadian, 50% Irish lassie who lives right next to the US border, this seems pretty perfect to me.

The best part of blog stats? The searches people did that brought them to my blog.

Here's the latest roundup of searches topics that resulted in another random blog hit.

- how tough my feet got
- strawberry down the rabbit hole 1
- running on spoons and lupus
- watermine tattoo
- eat carrots get hiccups
- carrots hiccups
- carrots give hiccups
- raw carrots and hiccups
- poutine

There appears to be a rash of eat raw carrots get the hiccups going around.

Who knew that a post about how carrots give me hiccups would end up being one of my most popular blogs?

And did you notice? Not one search about running, triathlons...or diabetes.

Bizarre.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Last-Minute Triathlon Training...and a Hobbit

The half-marathon is over and my Monday of rest is also, sadly, behind me.

Back on the saddle I climb.

We are down to a handful of days until this Saturday's triathlon. My first of the season and my first since 2013.

Last summer, for a variety of reasons that are not worth revisiting here, I did not do one single triathlon. I did continue to train in all three sports but not once did I slap down my credit card, clip on my race bib and do all three together in front of a loud and supportive audience.

All that changes on Saturday.

Including today, I have four mornings left before race day. Not enough time to get better or stronger at any particular sport but long enough that I need to keep my body moving so that it doesn't go into rest and recovery mode after last weekend's race.

I was supposed to swim this morning but it turns out that the pool will be closed for the next 2 1/2 weeks. So that plan quickly got changed to a leisurely bike ride to get the legs moving.

I'm going for an easy run on Wednesday morning. Nothing hard and nothing long. Under 30 minutes for sure. Just enough to get my legs turning over and to let them know that it isn't rest time quite yet.

Thursday morning I'm not sure if I'm going to hop on my bike for another easy ride but I know I'll do something.

Friday? I don't know. Does it make sense to run again the day before the race or should I take a rest day? I guess I'll decide that based on how Tuesday to Thursday go.

And then, before I can say "Omigod the canal water is freezing. Maybe I should have listened to Jeff and bought a wetsuit" I will be lined up along the canal bank on Saturday morning thinking "only 2 1/2 more hours until I get chocolate milk and some pretzels".

Game on!

Oh, and for something completely different, guess who ran the Niagara Falls Women's Half on Sunday?

Samwise Gamgee! 
Also known as Sean Astin.

I had no idea that he was running but apparently he was in town for Comic Con and decided to run. And, of course, I had to check his finishing time. 

I finished the race in 2:33:52 and crossed with the clock reading 2:36:55. 

Samwise finished the race in 2:34:07 and crossed with the clock reading 2:35:19. 

So we basically hung out together for 2 1/2 hours and I had no idea. I'm hoping that, once the official race photos are sorted, there is one with me running beside a hobbit.