Insights into my personal life.

This blog includes the personal details of my experiences as a recently diagnosed Type I diabetic and the impact of that diagnosis on my endurance athletic pursuits.

Please understand that I consider myself to be a work in progress. I am willing to share both my successes and failures, so please do not take my words to be professional dietary or medical advice. This is a blog, this is only a blog. I research my choices carefully, and take my health very seriously. The choices I make are my own, I am doing the best with the resources and support that I have. If you have questions or concerns feel free to comment, but please be constructive and understand that this is my life. I value it dearly.

My goal is to live a happy, healthy and active life where I can balance my internal drive to push my physical limits and the challenge of safely maintaining stability despite the challenges of Type I diabetes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

6 weeks out.

Just returned from a restorative trip out to B.C. - Alberta border. We believe that the actual border is defined by the continental divide; so as one could expect there was some elevation. The Honda (ultra) Fit handled the trip with Kim's Daphne and my Betty upon the rear Saris rack. Camping in bear country so the dogs were at home with our apartment sitting friend Brittany.

The previous few weeks have seen a steady dose of volume. Last weekend was our course recon of Pentincton. My legs were ready for a slight decrease in intensity this week. Our trip was inspired to join up with our friend Sara and a few others; as they were traveling to the western mountains. Her friends were inexperienced bikers - providing a wonderful excuse to have to hold back on the ride we had planned.

On Friday we braved the sporadic mountain weather. Neglecting to factor in the base elevation at which our route began - I found myself a bit underdressed for the occasion. Going slow was nice and easy, but did little to warm my bare legs and hands in the wet 50 degree weather.

After a slow start featuring some highway riding to the steadily climbing "Icefields Parkway". (In retrospect - it should have been more obvious to pack warmer clothes). Nice easy spinning for the first 20k, up until the two slower friends turned around - eventually we picked up the pace in hopes of warming up. The increase in tempo left us with the realization that we must be at a decent elevation. After about 40k and a few spectacular views of the cloudy aquamarine glacier fed lakes, at a potty break for a hiking trailhead, I learned that our elevation was 1900 meters. That's a far bit over a mile high.

Eventually our elevation topped out at about 2100m. Kim's garmin data should be interesting. At 45km point, the road descended 400 meters at a 4-6% grade. On an out/back route planned - what went down, must go up to get home. Finally at 55km I was able to convince the group that instead of the arbitrary (Ironman) distance of 112 miles, we could instead do a metric conversion of the distance and turn around at 56km's instead. The heavy rain in the distance we were traveling supported by logic.

On the climb back up I stayed back with Sara to get her up her first official mountain climb. She managed quite well. A quick banana bread break at the top and then we were back to a mostly downhill return trip. Descending may be faster - but when your doing it for more than an hour with bare wet hands, it is cold. The sun peaked out for short moments just to tease us. Kim tried to take a few shifts out front to return the favor of the warm draft I had been providing her. To be fair, I didn't get much of a draft off of her, but I do see why the boys seem to enjoy the view so much. Yeah, that's my babe.

With 10 km to go and the Icefields Parkway about to end - we suddenly found ourselves next to a line of stopped traffic. A few ambulances ahead at a curve in the road. The road was blocked off by a police cruiser. 45 minutes of sitting in the rain while medivac came to rush what we guessed to be an injured female motorcyclist to the hospital in Calgary. Not exactly a scene I'd care to have front row seats to again. Eventually we returned to camp, stoked a fire, ate bratwurst, cookie dough and a couple of beers.

This morning we arose to sunnier weather. Our friends had left early to white-water raft. Kim and I enjoyed a leisure breakfast of camp-style bacon, eggs, and coffee from the perc. We checked out an hour late upon deciding to hike instead of run. We found a nice 5k climb where we gained a good 500 meters. Map estimation round-trip 3 hour hike, done in crocs in half the time. Rather cool hike, but we had to hurry to hit the road for 10 hours of driving. We made it home by 11pm - but I'm still awake when I should be in bed.

My goals need to be revisited to include more sleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Half-way there.

So here I am with tired legs, a full belly and an under-exercised dog. (Bella is staring me down and tossing a bouncy ball on my feet in hopes that I will stuff it with treats). She gives me a look of jealously and accusation - all weekend around bikes, runners and beeping garmins. But due to a rather standard NO DOGS on a race course policy - she has not been running all weekend. Double bummer, her people are too tired to run today.

In the meanwhile, my legs are up and my butt is planted. Kim and I have discussed our results from the weekend. I had a hard time and am more tired than usual. I also had to wake up early and work on my feet all day. I've always preferred Saturday races.

This weekend's race was the Victoria 1/2 Iron - technically the bike and run distances were shorter than the standard. No respect for 70.3 miles in the land of metres. What the course lacked in distance it make up for in terrain. I misinterpreted the words 'rolling hills' to mean 'no hills'. But I counted at least 3 hills on each of the two laps of the bike. Enough hills to negate my power advantage and tip the scales in favor of the higher watts/kg crowd. Besides hills the bike course featured ocean views, distant snow-capped mountains, islands, bald eagles and even a pair of 6 point deer - one of which can run approximately the same speed as I can bike and just about as high as I am tall on my bike (lucky me). Next year I will be adding an automotive deer whistle to Mr. Brownstone (my bike) - the stupid thing came within 6 feet of me traveling 40 kph. (25 mph).

Enough about the bike course itself, onto my race report.

I don't care for events that force bikes to be checked in the day before. Huge hassle. Just a scam to get people to visit the race sponsor tents. I was more in the mood to relax away from the stressed out people. Speaking of stressed out people - I was abandoned at the race site for a couple hours while Kim raced around trying to resolve a leak in her rear tubular race wheel. As a note, 25mL of a product called Doc Blue got her through the race.

Once the transition area stress was resolved it was off to eat and relax at Victoria's house with our friend Christine and fellow racer Kellen. Kellen possesses what I would consider a rather common trait among triathletes. He is neurotic - not over the top by any means, but he had a 40L tuperware container of triathlon specific goodies to lug around and still managed to need to visit a bike shop to get inner tubes for his bike (his logic was sound - it's much better to use long stemmed race tubes than short stemmed tubes with valve extenders). We all enjoyed a wonderful spaghetti dinner made by Victoria's mother and then unwound watching Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy (a wonderfully metaphorical movie for any race weekend). I slept great despite being awakened a few times by Kellen and his wiggling upon his costco thermarest. (I think it's made of the same material as the new Sun Chip bags - if you don't get this reference check google). I was rather low stress about sleeping or not sleeping just so long as I wasn't comfortable and laying still. Yes Kellen, I could hear that clock ticking but my brain analyzed it to be a non-threat and allowed me to tune it out.

Race morning was sun shine and roses. I left my dad a message to wish him a happy father's day back home while we were driving to the race site. Weather was good. Cool (not cold) and overcast - perfect race weather for a man my size. I tend to overheat running in the heat. As I readied my transition area my phone range. Seeing as the front screen on my crap phone is busted I can ID the caller but answer assuming to hear my dad's voice - sadly it was about the furthest thing from what I wanted to hear. My sister called me and in worried tones to explain that my father had checked himself into a hospital due to not feeling well. A continuation of a 20 year battle with heart disease and now a few more confounding issues. He has since been released and news is positive. My entire focus for the day had changed. I took a walk away from the race, sat and looked at the lake and mountains. We have been through this issue often in my family - this is reality that I've been forced to accept since the 5th grade. I worked to clear my head and remain calm - my heart was with him the entire day (and remains there with him). I sat back, took in the atmosphere and used my fear and concern to be motivation. He'd want me to do well - some day I'll grow old and unable to do such things, I'll enjoy it while I can. Bad news is no reason to half-ass the task at hand. If anything, the race was a perfect thing to occupy my focus while I digested and put life into perspective.

Often when I swim I'm grateful for having learned while young. My form is not great and I'm above average at best, but the years of competitive swimming as a kid are all thanks to the man that drove me to the bulk of my practices. Swimming will always relax me and bring thoughts of my happy childhood. Our family has always enjoyed the water. Boats and L&R Sport Marine dominate my childhood memories. Swimming with a pack of 400 people into flat water is exhilarating. A rustle of action at the start, I didn't hear a countdown and still hadn't put my goggles on. I was positioned in about the 2 or 3 rows back and had to fight through white-water for the first 100 meters in order to find enough space. My goggles fogged so I blindly followed feet and bubbles for the next 300 yards until the race spaced out enough for me to rinse my lenses clear - no big deal. I latched onto a pair of feet the the next 1500 meters. Swimming isn't a huge priority over the longer distances. To get out of the water in 30 minutes was exactly where I'd hope to be the the training that I had done.

Transition went smoothly, I moved up from 44th to 33rd. I heard Andrew Powell's name called out next to mine while in transition. We met up briefly on the bike course. After I misjudged the sharp right-hander coming out of the park he passed me and remained 100 meters ahead for the remainder of the first loop. He looked steady (although I noticed a slight wag in his spine with each pedal stroke). There is more speed to gained by him if he can lock down his core a bit better - just my opinion. On the second loop I completely detached from the small group with Andrew. I was alone for long stretched of time with nothing but a clock (no speed devices) to remind me when to take in calories. I struggled with the climbs more than anticipated - a good reminder for me to do more high intensity work before Ironman Canada. I had to pee soooo bad during the second lap. Some people pee themselves (intentionally) while biking - I would have if I had the ability - I don't. Hard to bike fast on bumpy roads with an overfilled bladder. Other bike course notes - yes I almost hit a deer. I also had a lid fly off my exchange bottle and dumped it all over my bars - again no big deal, just note worthy at the time. I got cut off by a car in a round about. Driver got nervous and pulled over to the right, right in my way. That's when I lost contact with Andrew and never saw him again.

Came off the bike in 15th and left transition in 13th. I ran into the beautiful trails, found a private tree and peed for well over a minute. Worlds longest pee. Great White North worthy.

The run course was flat, shaded and consisted of two 10km loops around a lack. The path was mostly organic and soft - roots were well marked. Little ups and downs, but nothing to really slow my momentum. Very entertaining trail. Little zigs and zags, fun lines to choose. I passed a few families out to walk the trail or exercise their dog on father's day. Wished a few older gentlemen a good one. Lap one felt rather good, no pacing devices , just RPE (relative perceived exertion). A clock could only have told me bad news - I was running as fast as possible, knowing just how fast I am running doesn't necessarily help. I took a look at the overall race clock at the finish line after my first lap, it read 3:45. I briefly calculated that I ran about 45 minutes for my first lap, which was dead on my goal pace - in reality I ran a 47 (but don't forget that time wasted peeing). I had only been passed by two men. The second lap started well but I started to get beginnings of a side-stick which laid me up during last month's American Triple-T. I tried tighten my race belt around my waist in hopes of preventing it from getting worse. I couldn't get it very tight but I think it helped. Eventually at about 16km fatigue started to set into my legs - nothing overwhelming, just fatigue. On the penultimate aid station if made the poor decision of water over sports-drink and forgot to grab a gel. My brain was starting to get a bit foggy, focusing became more difficult, holding my form became more difficult. I was beginning to run out of calories. 15 minutes from the finish line I new I would be able to make there however I suffered more than I should have. On the final aid station I begged for gatorade and was handed a great cup with a gatorade emblem, but it again only contained water. Why didn't I grab a gel? I just needed some sugar to clear my mind and carry me home. Oh well - deal with it. I took a page out of my buddy Carl's book and started to count to 20 over and over again with each strike of my right foot. The racers behind me continued to close in as they usually do to me (not as many as races past). It's difficult to accept being passed and still keep focusing on moving faster. It's difficult to be on that racer's edge and have a positive mid-set. Passing people is much more fun. My head began to drift forward and my eyes focused more on the foreground than they had been before. No scenery for me during this bit of suffering. Suffering is a part of racing. Gut through it, get there and then it's all over. My second lap must have been faster than the first at about 45 minutes. Considering my recent 10k PR is 43:30, I'm rather happy with the result.

At the finish line the clock read 4:31 and in respect to my father, I patted my right hand across my heart at I crossed the line. The finish-line volunteers were quick to realize that I had pushed hard to the end - I believe 3 or more stood by on the ready to stabilize me for fear that I may topple. I felt fine physically, but my still racing heart combined with a much greater than usual emotional swing (which I credit to low blood-sugar) and a totally unexpected sound of a 70 year old man with a soothing voice, I started to break down. I'm never really lost control of my emotions in that way before, but I couldn't hold it together, not that day. I settled down, laid down in the lake and watched the rest of my friends finish.

It was good to relax for the rest of the afternoon. I heard an update from my family than my dad would be release that evening and that they were able to visit him. I wish I could have been there - because truly he has been there for me every time I've needed him. He always will be.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Begin 2nd week of dedication

Improvement in diet, attitude, productivity and physical health - of the knees and forefeet specifically. I got every workout in last week. Celebrated with dinner out at The Red Onion. Burgers with fresh fixin's plus cheese and avocado - Chilli fries as an app; could have done without. Some of this overlaps with previous itinerary; but a refresher is welcome while the pattern has not yet become habit.

Biked a speed workout last night (Friday evening) 7x 20 second high intensity intervals with 40 sec recovery. Knees a bit tight on the ride home in the cold & wet. Saturday biked the very flat Iona 10km TT with a strong headwind on the return leg - 15:23 result and no knee pain. Rode Richmond loop- this evening I feel some right forefoot clicking & sensitivity. Cold feet seems to be a contributing factor - as do stiff shoes (ski boots, carbon soled cycling shoes).

Following today's post long ride nap, I had 2 cups of coffee. I think it gave me the sweats - and I definitely felt the caffeine. Did an evening recovery run to Southland's soccer field. Logged 25 minutes of mushy running in my neoprene surf booties. Feet felt great - surface was very soft.

Now begins another week. Tomorrow entails a 5:45am wake-up (losing an hour due to Daylights Saving Time). Run 50 minutes. Work. Kim's performance at church. Ride 1:15.

Monday: Morning Swim 8 x 100 main set. Aim to keep 100's under 1:30. Work. Bike 1:15

Tuesday: 6:15am wake-up. Run 30 minutes (6x 20sec strides). Work. Evening swim 11 x 100 main set. Goal 1:40 to 1:20 descending.

Wednesday: [no work] Morning long run 55 minutes. Nap. Swim 1500 base. (goal 23:45 - 1:35/100m). Shop for produce.

Thursday: First REST. Long day of working.

Friday [no work] Morning swim 6x 150 [50 build/25 descend] + kick set. Leave for Bellingham to XC Ski with Christi, Jon & Sarah.

Saturday [no work] Plan was ride 1:15 and run 20. Skiing should suffice.

Monday, March 7, 2011


My life is flexible. I like to do a lot of stuff. You'd be surprised what variety of stuff my wife, Kim and I can get into in a week. But I need to instill a certain amount of structure into my week. And I can't structure a week without first structuring my days.

So here I am; a flexible guy in need of structure. Here is my plan for the next 9 days.

Tomorrow: Wake up early to swim and make it bake in time for bacon with Kim. Wake up at 6, back from the pool by 7:15, out the door 7:50. Ride to work. Work. Ride home. Run 45 minutes. Eat. Feet up.

Wednesday: Swim in the morning. Run 80 minutes in the evening.

Thursday: Normally a rest day due to working a long shift, but Monday's snowboarding caused me to miss a swim and a bike. Make-up the swim only.

Friday: No work today. Swim in the morning. 4th consecutive swim - congrats, spring for breakfast. (will work for food) Friday night fights; cycling power workout 7x 20s sprints.

Saturday: Ride 3 hours. Run easy 30 minutes.

Sunday: Run 50 minutes in the morning. Work. Bike 75 minutes in the evening - it's DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, enjoy the extra evening sun.

Monday: Morning swim - welcome back. Work. Evening 75 minute ride.

Tuesday: Morning swim. Work. Evening 50 minute run.

Wednesday: Morning swim. Work. Run 55 minutes.

Thursday: REST finally after 9 days on.