Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Miles, Traveling, and Tapering

This week I promised myself two things:

1.  I would not go to speed work. (accomplished)

2.  I would not run any runs faster than an 8:00 mile pace. (fail - ran a 6 mile run at 7:55 average today.  If it counts, it was only a 5 second fail, which is better than a 10 second fail)

After running 19 miles on Sunday, and logging 52 miles for the week, my legs needed a break.  Some people would say, "52  miles....that's nothing.  I run 70+ miles per week."  However, I am not one of those people.  My legs run best when I run between 35-45 miles per week.  I am not a "more miles = better race times" runner.  So the fact that I ran 52 miles is an accomplishment to me.  This week is another high mileage week for me, and then I get to taper for one week. 

My taper week comes at a great time, too.  On Friday, I am flying to Los Angeles for five days.  I am excited...for their weather.  They are having weather in the 60s, and I cannot wait.  The Chicago area has been experiencing summer-like temperatures in the upper 80s for the past week.  It has been so warm that they turned on the water fountains on the path I typically run...a few months early.  Last spring was cold, wet, and dreary, so I guess the weather would like to make up for that this year. 

After coming back from LA, I will continue to taper because I am running a half marathon that Sunday (April 1).  My best friend, T, is also running it.  I'm hoping that there are PRs in our future. 

In LA, I hope to complete a 20 mile training run.  This will be a new experience, running somewhere totally foreign to me for so many miles.  I think it will be a good challenge.  After this 20-miler, only one more before the race. 

Are you traveling this spring to warmer or cooler places?  When we booked our flight to LA in January, I was thinking about how wonderful it was going to be to experience warm weather in March.  Now, I am looking forward to the cooler LA weather.  I am worried...what will it be like in June and July? 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Paddy's Day 5k Race Report

Last year at the St. Paddy's Day 5k race, it was cold and windy.  This year, sunny and incredibly hot for March.  When I checked the weather at 7 AM, it was already 60*. 

Last year, I wore:

Running tights, shorts, long sleeve shirt and a running zip-up

This year...

Shorts and a tank top
I really don't like these running shorts, but they are the only green pair of shorts that I own.  Since it is St. Patrick's Day and I am Irish, I thought I should wear them despite my dislike for them.  They fit very awkwardly, which is weird because all of my other Nike shorts fit okay.

Have you ever woken up on race day and just not wanted to get out of bed and race?  That was my feeling.  My did not taper at all for this race.  As a matter of fact, this week I will most likely be logging my most mileage of the year - over 50 miles this week.  It probably doesn't help that I ran 10 miles on Thursday, and major diabetes issues this week, and something major happen in my personal life.  So, I decided to sleep.  I knew I could wake up at 7 AM and still make it to the 8 o'clock start on time. 

I always eat breakfast, but decided  to just eat a granola bar today.  I wasn't hungry.  Before I realized it, I had to go.  I live about 1.5 miles from the start of the race, so it is the perfect warm-up distance.  I got running, and arrived at the start line 15 minutes early.

This year the race sold out, and I could tell.  It was a lot more crowded than last year, which was the inaugural year for the race.  One thing I love about this race is that they have mile pace times held up before the race so people know where to stand.  Of course this does not work for everyone. 

Case in point: The first time they had was "elite."  The next was 7:00/mile.  I am not elite by any means, but am faster than 7:00/mile in a 5k race.  I positioned myself at the back of the elite crowd.  Next to me were three girls texting their friends.  One said, "I don't know if I'll be able to run the entire race.  I've never run this far before."  Girl two says, "It is just like in gym class."  (really?  I never ran more than 1 mile in gym.  I think, girl 2, you are sadly mistaken.). 

The race started on time.  I knew my legs were going to have a hard time, but I tried to muster up all of the positive reinforcement i could give them.  One of the lines I often repeat in 5k races is "you only have to run hard for 20 minutes."  True to the quote, that is what I did.  But I finished a little after 20 minutes.  Overall, I was happy with how I did given the circumstances.  Not all races can be PRs.

My official stats were:

Official Time: 21:03
Pace: 6:47/mile
Overall Place: 96/2,010
Female Place: 12/1,220
Age Group Place: 2/181*

*The first place female in my age group was 3rd overall, so she wasn't counted in the age group awards.

How was your St. Patrick's Day?  Did you race?  Do you celebrate?  I am 12% Irish, and very proud.  My Grandma is 100% Irish and celebrates this holiday more than Christmas.  May the luck of the Irish be with you this year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lessons from an Unplanned Pump Vacation

After writing my "It could be worse" post, things, actually, did get worse.

On Sunday I called the one person I knew whose daughter is diabetic to see if she uses the Quick Serter.  She doesn't.  By this point, I took my pump out of my body because it was doing no good.  Since I am a wimp and cannot insert it on my own, I decided MDI was the only way to go because it was that or the ER, which would really interfere  with my life. 

Since I was having problems ordering a Quick Serter from the Medtronic website, which I have had problems with in the past, I decided my plan of action would be to call them on Monday morning, have them overnight me a Quick Serter, and be good on Tuesday morning. 

I called Monday and was told I would have my Quick Serters by Tuesday at 3 PM.  I thought this was awesome news because I would be re-connected to my pump by track on Tuesday night, where I need that insulin to stay in a happy blood sugar place and not go high. 

But then Tuesday at 3 PM came and went, with my device nowhere to be found.  I called Medtronic and tried to be nice to the customer service person because it is not their fault.  They entered the shipping wrong the first time (3 day instead of overnight), so my supplies were not going to get to me by Thursday.  After pleading my case of their error and my need for the device, they happily agreed to send me my order overnight, so it would arrive by Wednesday at 10 AM.

Sure enough, Wednesday at 10 AM the secretary at my school brought me a nice package from Medtronic.  I was overjoyed to be reconnected to my pump at noon on Wednesday.  Three days was a long vacation.  

I don't keep an extra bottle of Lantus on hand for situations like these because they rarely occur (this is the first time this has happened to me since going on my pump over 7 years ago).  As (I would hope) all diabetics know, you need long-acting insulin to maintain blood sugars.  Since I didn't have any, I decided that I would give myself extra insulin at meals.  But only 2 extra units.  I figured that since I typically get around 0.5 units per hour, and insulin lasts about 4 hours, this mathematically makes sense.  Surprisingly, this did work out....for the most part.

My meals are not 4 hours apart.  I eat breakfast at 6:45 and lunch at 11:45...most days.  On both Monday and Tuesday, I did not get the chance to eat  until 3 PM due to a variety of things going on at school.  Although I had to take a correction shot Monday, and not on Tuesday, I noticed some very odd trends.

On both days, I had a normal blood sugar at lunch (about 11:45 AM).  For example, on Tuesday it  was 129.  I did not eat or take insulin.  By this time, all insulin from breakfast has worn off because that was 5 hours ago.  My blood sugar actually dropped by 3 PM.  It was 119 when I tested on Tuesday.  Yes, I realize this drop is very, very small, but it should have increased...and didn't.

Also, overnight I noticed similar trends.  I went to bed with a lower, but normal number of 77 on Monday night and 82 on Tuesday night.  I woke up at 199 on Tuesday morning and 187 on Wednesday morning.  I assumed I would be much higher due to not having active insulin in me for so long.

Here are some other things I noticed and learned:

  • I really liked not being connected to anything, especially while running. 
  • Adrenaline raises blood sugar sooo much.  At track on Tuesday my blood sugar skyrocketed, and I ended up just stopping.  It was not worth it.
  • I realize just how much easier my pump makes my life.
  • Shots hurt.  I don't know how I did them for 17 years.
After looking at my blood sugar movement, or rather, lack thereof, in the afternoon, a part of me was like "Hey, maybe I'm not diabetic anymore! :)  "  Just kidding.  I'm not crazy....and I know it is not true. 

To nicely conclude my story, Medtronic told me that they cancelled the "mess up" shipment to me.  Guess what arrived today at 2 PM?  Yep...more Quick Serters.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Sprint 10k Race Report

This race, in my mind, marks the start of my racing season (although I ran a race in January).  I could not have asked for a better day.  It was in the low 40s to start the race, but it did warm up a lot by the end.  After trying to read the course map on Saturday, I gave up and just decided to run.  I had one simple goal: 43:xx.

Going into this race, my diabetes management was less than stellar.  Contrary to what doctors want, I don't test prior to the start of a race.  My nerves make me run high and I get more uneasy by seeing a high blood sugar reading on the screen.  I go 100% based on feel.  After doing a warm-up, I felt OK, but not the best.  I thought it might be from running the day before, or just nerves.  But, I believed I would PR.  Here is what actually happened...

Time: 43:41
Average Pace: 7:02/mile
Overall Place: 26/199
Female Place: 7/95
Age Group: 2/10

This race was not chipped-timed, so I promptly positioned myself near the front of the start.  The 10k and 5k were starting at the same time, and I didn't want to get stuck behind any walkers or slower runners.  The gun went off and I went out too quick.  The first mile was way too fast, but I felt good - 6:35.  By mile 2, I decided to slow it down some, and successfully did.

Mile 4 is when my blood sugar nightmares happened.  At that point, my blood sugar was so high all I wanted to do was puke.  I am not sure about you (if you have diabetes), but when I am in the 300s I just feel like absolute crap.  But, I knew I still had a 43-minute finish in me if I kept on matter how slowly.  Mile 5 ended up being my slowest mile, yet I had a good kick.  I think I was just so happy to see the finish line.  Also, I was ready to be done.  I don't enjoy courses where you have to do the same loop twice.  It is just not fun. 

Overall, I am happy with my time.  I rarely race 10ks, but I am starting to like that distance.  However, this race left me tired - not only my legs from running, but all from the blood sugar fiasco.  I ran an additional 5 miles later in the day, but that is nowhere near the 13 I wanted to get in.  However, I am not too concerned.  With some rearranging of my schedule, the problem was easily solved. 

What is your favorite race distance?  I can't decide...I love them all!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It Could Be Worse...

On Friday night I discovered my QuickSet inserter for my insulin pump was missing.  I used to have a few, but they've disappeared and I couldn't find one.  Not worrying too much about it because everything was fine, I continued on with my normal life.

Then came Saturday.  I woke up incredibly high, where it feels like your mouth is stuffed with cotton.  Normal activities just are not fun.  Knowing I wanted to get in a short run, I went to the gym in the afternoon to run an easy 3 miles (I took Friday off).  Before I ran, my blood sugar was 115.  After, 274.  I immediately bolused and continued on living my life.  Not really feeling a whole lot better an hour later, I tested again - 263.  I once again bolused, and tested again about 30 minutes later - 265.  Really?!!?  That is the kind of stuff that makes me frustrated. 

When I went to bed on Saturday night I was 227.  I bolused a correction.  I woke up 240, only to retest and find myself at a lovely 298 30 minutes later.  Knowing I had to eat and feeling like absolute crap, I bolused.  I had a race Sunday morning and feeling like crap is not desirable for a 10k.  At this point I knew my set was bad, but there was nothing I could do about it except use needles to take insulin shots - something I had not done for over 7 years. 

I'll be writing up my race report when the official results are posted, but when I finished the race my blood sugar was 350.  It now makes sense why I wanted to stop at mile 4.5 and throw up.  I was supposed to run 13 more miles today, but that did not happen.  It could not have happened.  I have switched to taking all of my shots via MDI now until I can get a Quick Serter mailed to me.  It is times like these that diabetes just sucks.  But, it could be worse.  This could have happened to me the night before my marathon. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Let the Racing Season Begin

Does the racing season ever truly end or begin?  You can run races outside in the middle of winter now, or even compete in triathlons indoors in the winter.  But in my mind, racing season begins in March and ends at the start of November.  It correlates with nice weather. 

Even though I have already completed one race this year, I feel that tomorrow will mark the beginning of my racing season.  Winter races are great for a variety of reasons.  They often motivate people to train in the winter when their motivation is lacking.  Many times, they are just fun.  Winter races typically do not bring PRs.  But spring races....that is where you get to see all that hard work from the winter pay off. 

What will this new season of racing bring?  To be honest, I am  not sure.  I hope it will bring lots of PRs.  I do know this: I have put in many winter miles.  I have done long runs, tempo runs, speed work, short recovery runs.  I have had great runs and crappy runs.  One member of my running club always says, "Winter miles bring spring and summer smiles."  I sure hope so.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not Happening

Although I greatly enjoyed making my marathon training schedule, the reality is that I thought it would be much easier to follow than it is turning out to be.  I have been consistent in running my long runs every weekend, and track every Tuesday, but Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are rather unpredictable.  Take yesterday and today, for example.

Yesterday I was scheduled to complete my track workout for the week.  Typically I run 2 miles at the gym, bike, and then go run 5 or so miles on the track - whatever workout I feel like doing on that day.  Some days are definitely better than others.  Yesterday, I ran my normal 2 miles on the treadmill at the gym (7:22 pace), walked a mile for stress-relief, biked a little, then headed to the high school track to meet the fast guys.

I actually got to the track 10 minutes early.  This is practically a miracle, because i am always late.  Always.  I ran a warm-up mile with one of the guys as we talked about workouts.  He told me he was going to do a ladder.  Not having decided what I would be doing, when we completed our warm-up I decided a ladder sounded good to me, too. 

Because I am one of the slowest that run track in the off-season, I typically do the workouts on my own.  No one is really close to my pace, so it is my only choice.  I started a ran a 400, then did a 400 recovery.  Next, 800 with 400 recovery followed by 1200 with 400 recovery, mile with 400 recovery, 800 with 400 recovery and a 400 with 400 recovery and then a cool-down.  I skipped the second 1200 because I didn't really want to run that distance - it is just a weird distance to run.  Since I am my own coach, I decided that I could skip it if I ran a 5+ second faster 400 (which I did - 1:24). 

All in all, Tuesday I ran just shy of 10 miles.  Then today rolled around.  I was supposed to run 5 miles.  I started running and realized that I would rather die than run 5 miles.  I was exhausted from Sunday's 19 miles and 10 or so yesterday.  The result?  I ran 3.5 miles and stopped.  I am sure my legs will thank me tomorrow when they have to run 9 miles. 

Sometimes it is not about following a plan, but listening to my body instead.  Sure, I could have ran an extra 1.5 miles, but would it be worth it?  No, not at all.  I am hoping this (smart) training will keep me injury-free in the upcoming months.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Exactly What I Needed to Hear

Nineteen miles gives you a lot of time to spend with people - over 2.5 hours worth of time.  I ran the last 7 with a guy I know fairly well.  Just me, him and the path. 

It is always interesting what you end up talking about - food, water, dehydration, vacation, health, cross training, races, PRs, and diabetes.  It was a rather enlightening conversation.

The question was simple enough, "is it hard to prep for a run having diabetes?"  That led to talking about insulin, food, check blood sugars, and the past.  He commented that he thought it was great that I excel (I think that is the wrong word, but the one he used) at running despite having diabetes.  That comment led to another discussion about how diabetes can get in the way of my running.  Case in point: speeedwork last Tuesday.  Letting my mind wander and mouth going, I was telling him about how I felt like sometimes I was judged during running if I had to sit out because of diabetes.  I hate it when that happens.  I hate it when my diabetes gets in the way of my life.  But, it has to be dealt with or much worse things happen.

He offered me a good perspective, and one I think I needed to hear.

"I think the guys that run track with you on Tuesday admire you for being out there.  Although they don't run your pace and don't do your workout (true statement), they are there to support you.  They cheer for you by offering words of encouragement when you run.  Think about the Polar Dash and that picture of you online.  (True - there was a picture of me on the Polar Dash wall running on Facebook).  Almost all of the guys - and many others - from the club commented on it.  Not only did you look like you were running effortlessly in that photo, you had a smile on your face.  Not many people could take a picture like that (he might need to read my What Race Pictures Teach You post).  They want you to excel even more because you have something extra that no one else in the club has to deal with.  Sure, we all have burdens to deal with.  But most of the time, our burdens go away after a while.  Yours, however, doesn't (i wish it did, though).  They don't judge you for taking a break to get your blood sugar up - they admire you even more that you had the courage to start." 

And then we ran the next 1/2 mile in silence, both lost in our own thoughts before my Garmin beeped 19 miles. 

I never thought about having diabetes and running like that before.  I think it was what I needed to hear after a hard week, diabetes-wise.  Sometimes diabetes wears me down.  I get tired and frustrated and cry about it.  Then I pick up the pieces and move on in a better direction. 

What is the wisest thing someone ever said to you on a run?  Or, did someone share an insight you found particularly helpful?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

19 Miles of Wonderfullness

Having a positive attitude going into a run makes all the difference in the world.  This morning I told myself this was going to the best 19 miles I've ever run, and it happened.  The thought that I've never gone on a 19-mile training run made the success that much better.

After not completing long runs the past 2 weeks to attempt to let my knee heal (12 and 11 miles each week), and the marathon now less than 2 months away, I knew today had to go well.  After experiencing a horrific diabetes-wise week where my blood sugars decided they liked all numbers in the 40s and nothing else, I was ready for a good run.  Deliberately bolusing less and taking in carbs during the run helped combat lows, even though I still ended on the low side.

What was special about this run was the fact that it was a negative split run.  I felt great the last 5 miles.  The sun was out and the wind was at our backs for those last miles, which definitely helped.  When I finished I felt good...ready to conquer the Illinois Marathon. 

As a matter of fact, despite having lows all week, my training went really well.  I ended up running 49 miles for this week - the most I've run since I began marathon training.  I wore my new Newton shoes on a few runs and am liking them more and more. 

Below is what I actually accomplished this week:

Running Miles = 49 miles
Biking Miles = 39 miles
Walking Miles = 9 miles
Weights = 2 times
Laps in the Pool = 8 (I think I might be the most proud of this number)

The weather this upcoming week is supposed to be practically perfect.  I can't wait for another good week of training.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good Bye February, Hello March

Miles in February

Running: 166
Biking: 168
Walking: 30
Elliptical: 1
Weights: 5
Laps in the Pool: 7

* * * * *

Year Totals (thus far)

Running - 339
Biking - 320

* * * * *

February's Goals were:

1.  Run a long, slow run every weekend.  - Success

2.  Run true tempo runs - did a couple, but not consistently. 

3.  Continue speed work - Success

4.  Swim.  -  Success - I got in the pool one time.

* *  * * *

February Thoughts...

I am tired of Winter.  I want warm weather and bright, sunny days.  I feel like I should not even be complaining since our winter was so mild, though.  I sick of my winter running wardrobe.

I never thought I would wear shorts outside when it is in the 30s, but I have started to run in them in the "cold" weather.  Many guys in my running group wear shorts year-round, and one day I didn't pack my running tights (I was at the gym beforehand, and don't go home until after running outside).  Therefore, I had to wear my shorts.  It wasn't too bad.  Since that day, I have worn shorts outside every day, but it has been really nice outside. 

I am three-fifths of the way done with marathon training.  March will be a big month for me.  I am looking forward to it because I signed up for two races - a 10k and a 5k.  It will be interesting to see what my 5k time will be - i am quite curious.  Then, on April 1, I have a half marathon. 

I am going to LA in less than a month.  I am soo excited. 

But, I am just as, if not more, excited for the Illinois Marathon because my friend is coming in for it.  She is going to run a PR at it...I just know, even if she is unaware of it. 

I am so excited for my Newton running shoes.  I ran in them last night and they felt great.  They are so bright  that some of my friend's at the gym were giving me a hard time.  They noticed my new shoes right away. 

* * * * *

How was your February?

Answer the question....If the weather is below ________F, I will not wear shorts.
Prior to this winter I would have said 55 degrees, but now it is much more like 35.  I am getting tougher!