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.

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.