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'.


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.


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.


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.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon - Third Time's a Charm!

Yesterday was the fourth annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. It was my third go at this race since I missed the second year due to injury. It's a great race that gets better every year and it's organized by a friend of ours so I am more than happy to support it.

Having run it twice before, there is a comfort in knowing what to expect and when to expect it. I know where the hills are, where the orange slices and jelly beans will be handed out and where those "will they ever get here' turnaround points are.

This year, I went in with more apprehension than I usually do. My training had been so fraught with tough long runs, blood pressure plummets and ear plugging fiascos that I was not sure what to expect. All I knew is that if the blood pressure stuff started too early, there was a chance that I'd have to walk a good portion of the race or, heaven forbid, not finish. Doug was out there to make sure that my blood sugar was taken care of but there wasn't much he could do for the blood pressure issues other than be there and, if necessary, drive me home. 

My plan? 

Forget any goal times and run to finish. Keep my heart rate under 165 at all costs, take salt tablets and electrolytes at every water station, and don't stop running if at all possible. 

Oh, and wear my type 1 diabadass shirt for a little extra boost of confidence. 

And that, my friends, is exactly what I did. 

I ran easy. I kept a steady pace between 6:50-7:10 min/km, even when I felt like I could pick it up. If my watch alarm beeped to let me know my heart rate had climbed above 165, I slowed down until it came back down. 

I stopped at every water station, had a salt tablet and either two edisks with water or some Powerade. 

Guess what happened? 

My ears did not plug. 

My heart rate did not spike. 

My blood pressure did not plummet. 

My blood sugar held steady between 4.5-6.5 the entire time. 

My energy held and I never once took a walk break (other than when gulping a cup of water or powerade of course).  But my typical 18k crash never happened. 

I ran the same pace at 19k that I ran at 2k and I felt fine from start to finish. 

I finished in 2:33:52. Not my fastest time ever but certainly in the 2:30:00 give or take ten minutes range that I typically finish in. 

I stood at the start line not quite sure if I would finish. 

And I finished what turned out to be the easiest half marathon I have ever run. 

Those pre-race jitters never do get any less jittery do they? 

This might be my favourite running photo ever. Living life well with diabetes indeed! 

All done! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coffee Time Spanish

After work tonight I'm going to hang out with about ten other people. I know one of them. The others, well, I have no idea what to expect. All I know is that we all have at least one thing in common.

Estamos aprendiendo espaƱol.

We are all learning Spanish.

And that, my friends, is enough to convince me to go have dinner with a bunch of strangers.

It's very interesting how that works sometimes. Like when I hang out with a bunch of people who all have type 1 diabetes. It's the common denominator that brings us together but there is no guarantee that we will have any connection beyond a faulty pancreas. In fact, as obvious as it seems, it's important to point out that it's quite possible that two people with something in common won't actually get along when put in the same room together.

Just like how running groups bring people together who love running. It doesn't mean they won't drive us completely batty in other ways but we at least have running in common.

So I'm hoping that a common love of language and an interest in improving our Spanish is enough to overcome the fact that I have no idea who these people are and they could all be crazy town.

Worst case, I eat a quick dinner with a bunch of strangers, learn a few new words and expressions and increase my salt intake at the same time. Because hey, it's pretty hard not to order the fries when the dinner is in a local ale house complete with pub food.

I've mentioned a few times that I do a lot of driving for my job. Not a ton but I usually have a 20-30 minute drive to an from a meeting most days of the week. Sometimes I listen to the radio. Sometimes I use the quiet time to rehearse an upcoming diabetes presentation. Well, for the past week, I've been listening to Spanish podcasts in an effort to brush up on my rusty skills. I discovered a podcast called Coffee Time Spanish (I guess these things exist for different languages as well) and each podcast is a 15-20 minute lesson. The instructor (Mark) and the student (Cara) are both from Scotland so I enjoy listening to them speak Spanish and enjoy them just as much when they speak English with their lovely Scottish accents.

Why is the French-Canadian girl suddenly interested in Spanish you ask? Well, it's not suddenly. It's something I've loved for over a decade now. I took several years' worth of Spanish as a second language classes...several years ago. There was a time in my life when I did some travelling in Mexico and Cuba and it was wonderful to be able to speak the language. Problem is that it's been more than five years since my last visit to a Spanish-speaking country so I'm horribly out of practice. The Coffee Time podcasts have been really helpful and my vocabulary and pronunciation are slowly waking up again.

I expect that tonight will involve a lot of fumbling and grade one level vocabulary but a whole bunch of giggles too. And, if it turns out that I actually like these people, they do this once a month.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A1C and Salt Licks

Last Friday I went to see my endocrinologist.

Out of all of my doctors and diabetes support team folks, she is by far my favourite.

She doesn't waste time going through things we don't need to go through and she spends lots of time talking about the things I want to talk about.

So, in my 20-minute appointment, we talked diabetes for about two of those minutes. And we talked running and blood pressure and other things for the rest of the time. Because that is what I needed.

Diabetes? Well that's going just fine thank you very much.

I printed off the latest report from Diasend and we reviewed the last month worth of data from Rose, my trusty insulin pump/continuous glucose monitor.

Having the ability to prevent lows before they arrive and catch sneaky highs before they get too high has made such a difference in my overall diabetes management. For example, in the last month, I spent 81% of the time with a blood sugar between 4-10. I spent 4% of the time with a blood sugar below 4.0 and 15% of the time with a blood sugar above 10.0. That, my friends, is pretty freakin' fabulous.

And it all payed off.

My A1C result clocked in at 6.3. I believe that is my lowest one ever and it was reached with fewer lows that I have ever had. So yay!

(Anyone out there considering a Dexcom CGM, take it from me. It's absolutely worth the cost and having to wear extra cyborg parts.)

We spent a lot of time talking about the strange blood pressure drops I've been having on long runs and the alarming increase in them this year. I used to have them every handful of long runs. Now I'm having them on almost every run, sometimes as early as 7k in.

Turns out that this little girl is not getting nearly enough sodium in her diet. Doug and I eat very little in terms of processed food so my typical diet is naturally low in sodium. In fact, when I input my food into My Fitness Pal, I was only getting 1300mg(ish) of sodium on any given day. Significantly lower than the 2300mg that most people struggle to stick to.

Add to that the fact that Doug and I have been making a concerted effort to remove almost all processed foods from our cupboards and I was getting even less sodium, other than the naturally occurring sodium found in veggies etc which, as it turns out, is not very much.

Add to that the fact that, for the past few years, Doug and I often ate out on Friday evenings, the night before long runs, and I would often choose more salty choices (like a side of fries) because I was burning plenty of calories the next morning. We still eat out most Fridays but I was opting for salads and other naturally low-salt foods instead meaning that the pre-long run sodium intake my body was counting on wasn't happening either.

Add to that the fact that I am a very active person who is also a heavy sweater who also happens to be a very salty sweater and it turns out that my diet is dangerously low in sodium.

"You need to start salting your food" she told me.

"That sounds crazy to me" I said "even though I know you're right".

So I went home and had a saltier than usual dinner on Friday night. Saturday's 10k run was a hot and humid one. It started off ok but, by 5k, I knew in my heart that one salty dinner wasn't enough to make up for months of not enough sodium. I had two pickles with my lunch and added a bit to my dinner as well.

I have a handful of days left until race day. I have salt tablets for the race if I need them and I'm trying to make sure I get a little more sodium in my day - without going crazy and ending up with the opposite problem.

I must say, it would be very nice if the solution to my long-run woes turns out to be as simple as having a plate of french fries on Friday evenings.

Monday, June 1, 2015

May Report Card

I started off my April report talking about April showers bringing May flowers. Well it certainly did and the month of May in southern Ontario was sunny and glorious and heavy with the scent of lilacs and magnolias.

In fact, the only rainy day I can remember in May happens to be yesterday, the last day of the month. The temperature dropped from 30 degrees and humid on Saturday to non-stop rain and 8 windy degrees on Sunday. Bit of a shocker and a surefire way to ruin our cycling and golf plans.

You won't hear any complaints from me though. It was a wonderful month and one day out of 31 of miserable weather simply means a lazy Sunday and lots of time for colouring and watching golf.

So May. Thanks for the golf games, the bike rides (outdoors finally!), the return to the pool and the long runs.

I was able to play 12 games of golf in May. Most were 9 holes. A few were 18. In fact Doug and I played in a golf tournament as well as a mixed match play. We had fun and make a pretty good team. I walked, carrying my clubs, a total of 79.5km and it took about 34.5 hours to do it.

Twelve seems to be a favourite number because, not only did I golf 12 times but I also ran 12 times. I covered a total of 119km in 14 hours - all thanks to half marathon/triathlon training.

Doug and I have resumed outdoor bike rides again. Sunday mornings are our time to ride and we got four of them in last month. Would have been five had it not poured rain all day yesterday. Anyway, we covered 74.5k in 3 1/2 hours.

I'm back in the pool again!! I went back two weeks ago and my tendonitis survived just fine. I am now swimming twice a week, 2k per visit. The goal is not to regain my strength and speed I had when I was in full Masters training, I just want to be able to confidently hold my own during triathlon swims. And after two weeks back in the pool, I already feel so much stronger. Four swims in = 8000m in 3.25 hours.

So the grand total for May?

20 workouts plus 12 golf games (are they an official workout?)

281km covered in 82.25 hours.

And my goal to run, walk, cycle and swim my way from my front door to Regina, Saskatchewan.

By the end of last month I had covered 805km of my 2356km 'journey. Add another 281km and I'm now 1086km away from home. I'd love to say that I have now made it to some sexy destination but no such luck. It's been two months since I made it past Sault Ste Marie and I'm still another two months away from Thunder Bay. So I'm somewhere in beautiful northern Ontario but there are no Starbucks in sight. The closest thing on a map is White Lake Provincial Park, less than 100km away where I am.

June will be a busy month. A half marathon and my first tri of the season. A whole bunch of golf games as well as an increase in swimming and cycling to prepare for my Olympic distance tri in July.

See you next month!