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:

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 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.

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 to speak.

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!