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.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crazylegs Race Report

I used to love writing race reports.  Some of them are hopefully still archived on the UW Triathlon Team forum.  I've fallen out of the habit over the last few seasons and have only written reports on a handful of races.  However, they are a useful tool for tracking progress.  Great insight for what went right, and where to improve.

Crazylegs is a big event.  It's an 8k and pretty early in the season, but it's a huge fundraising event for the UW athletic department.  Hey, those obelisks aren't going to build themselves.

It seems like all the run events in Madison follow a very similar course due to limitation of traffic flow on the isthmus.  The variation to Crazylegs is that you get to run up a little hill about 1/4 mile in.  Then at mile 1 you get to do the switchbacks up Bascom Hill by Helen C.  Despite the early uphill, the first mile overall is net descent.  I'm always amazed at how fast people take out the start of this race.

These couple of early hills aren't something that I'd normally be concerned about - but they sure are now.  Technically this was actually my first race.  Sure I jogged the Burbee Derby, but I wanted to try to race this one.  But for me to perform I need to try to stay as aerobic as possible.  Part of this is related to the limitation due diabetes, and part of it is due to the fact that I haven't been training the anaerobic component of my running and biking.

I'm currently tweaking a few things that should allow me to raise the aerobic component of my fitness.  I'll get into those details in the future, but for the time being I'm pretty much locked into training the low aerobic component of my fitness.  Doing a race with early hills doesn't really fit into this goal.  But it's Crazylegs!  It's an institution of its own.  I'll get to why I love it so much at the end of this post.

The race itself.

Fighting weight: 214.  Halfway between where I've been bouncing between.  The trend has been on the way down over the last few days so that along with the way in which my wedding band and gummy bracelet fits indicates that the inflammation I'd encountered has been on the way down.

Strategy:  I needed to get a good aerobic warmup.  Travel logistics are tricky in a 20,000+ person race.  I don't know the official count, but it's on the huge side.  To get around this I planned to ride my bike in.  Seeing as it's a point-to-point run I planned to park near Camp Randall.  I rolled up to the Police station across the street (complete with patrolling officer - safest bike rack in the city).  But I forgot my lock which I was going to use to lock my bike and backpack together.

Backpacks.  Whoa.  Now every backpack is a security threat.  I'm gaining frustration with the little things in life that have become non-sense.  But that's the world I live in (unless I defect).  For the race's website I knew I couldn't bring my bag into the stadium.  I didn't think it would be a problem to leave it by the police station, but go figure - it's a problem.  I eventually figured out to leave it in the SHELL locker room.

The trick here is that timing is everything.  For any athletic activity - even the bike commute I have to reduce my pumps flow of insulin.  It takes about 90 minutes for the reduction to have effect.  I've been getting better at balancing that - but it's tricky.

I need all my pump supplies with me.  No way in hell was I going to put that in a dry-clothes bag to trust others to transport to the finish line.  I also had my backup carbs if needed post race.  Maybe I need a purse - luckily no one has done a purse bomb.  The ladies would be livid.

With the warm weather I did't want to run in my jacket so no pockets.  And no fanny pack in the race swag this year... bummer.  But I got it figured out.  I'd run with my backup meter tucked in my tights, carry a couple kiwis with my as I run to the start line to get a good running warm-up.  That all went pretty well, except the kiwis were rock hard, under-ripe and inedible.  I also had tucked two hammer gels in my tights... which were getting a little too tight with the mobile science lab.  So I ate the gel.

I hate that.

Sure it works as fuel, but it's not in line with what I'm trying to do.  Maltodextrin isn't the worst thing for me, but it's on my watch list of items that have been causing my inflammation issues.  Not the maltodextrin per say, but there are other things in there that I'd prefer to avoid:  fruit juice, natural grain dextrins, natural flavors, they might be as benign as they sound but I've lost confidence in most 'nutritional products'.  Which they'd say which fruit, wtf is a natural grain dextrin, and natural flavor leaves me wondering which flavor.  I don't need flavor or color - I need clean fuel.

But I ate it.

A hammer gel usually takes about 40 minutes to peak in my system.  20 minutes before the start I consumed 1/2 a gel.  Not wanting to carry a gooey half a gel around I decided to err on the side of going high and finishing it off before the start.  

Side note: I can't wait until my continuous blood glucose monitor arrives.  I'd love to know what my glucose trends are rather than trying to guess.  In everyday life I'm very in tune with the sensations of different levels, but its tough while running.

Race starts:
Everyone goes so damn fast on the first mile - partly because the next downhill.  But mostly due to excitement at such a big event.  I started at the end of my starting group with the plan of taking it out as easy as possible.  I'm feeling that once I figure things out fuel wise I should be able to run a 32 here which is about 6:20 pace.  Back in 2008 I ran a 35 while sick and I'm a much better runner since then.

I wanted to take it easy for a 7 minute first mile - which I was close.  Even taking it easy and walking at the top of the first hill I managed a 6:48.  But my heartrate was higher than I want it to be still and had that damn switchback coming.  I crested the second hill with a 171 heartrate - not horrible, but I was only able to get it down to the low 160's during my sort walk break.

It was this point in the race that I had premeditated the decision to actually race or just have a hard workout.  It sort of became a hard workout at that point.  I didn't totally pull up since I wanted to find out if I could pull things together, but my expectations and pressure for a time were no longer a priority.

I held my HR at just about 170 for the rest of the run.  Took a few walking breaks when it reached 173.  Man I feel great when running when my HR is just a few beats lower, but I haven't trained to a point to hold that level of aerobic fitness.  I pretty much averaged 7:15's for the rest of the race - that's including the walk breaks.

Mile 4 was the hard part.  That section is usually hard for me.  It's a bit of no mans land going under University Avenue and back up a little hill that always feels bigger than it is.  This part of the course makes me reminisce about IMWI, but I started to feel rather awful.  And quiet honestly - strangely emotional.  Tough to tell what kind of awful.  And the emotional thing could be a blood sugar crashing cue as well. Not knowing whether I was feeling 'normal running fast awful' or 'low BG awful' or 'high'  and not wanting to take 2 minutes to stop and test I decided to err on the safe side again and take my last emergency gel

Mile 5 is my favorite.  I can always pass people on this part.  I've always had the ability to finish a race hard.  I good at burying myself.  Unfortunately, that's much easier to do when burying is metaphorical and not a realistic possibility.  It's hard to run with doubt in your mind.

I shook off the doubt knowing I was only a few minutes from the finish.  A little rocky music and some fun people drinking beer and tossing footballs brought me back to the state of mind I normally race this section with.  I picked up the pace and the legs felt good... for about a minute.  But then the reality started to kick in.  Yes I'm strong, but my muscles couldn't fuel to keep up.  Normally I'm the other way around.  This is the limit I have to deal with right now.  Shitty.

Still a great day and a great event.  I still finished in 36 something, but I sure didn't race.  I ran.  It's a step up from my jog at Burbee Derby and it lets me know where I'm at - but unfortunately it lets me know that I'm not where I was hoping to be yet. I always preach patience - it's time for me to do just that.
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