Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yoga Geriatric Style

A few weeks ago, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to yoga with her.  I was surprised at this question because although my mom exercises, never has she had any interest in doing it with me.  I planned on visiting my parents and grandparents for part of my spring break, so she knew I would be home around that time anyway.  I do believe she was even more surprised when I said yes, I would join her.

Keep in mind that my yoga experience is incredibly limited.  Back in 2011 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon I went to yoga a few times the day of my long run to help with stretching.  Since then, I have been to one class.  Yoga and me just aren't compatible...I am not flexible, have a hard time being still, and like to move fast.  I could care less about how I breathe, while that is a main component of yoga.  Can you see why I haven't been back in over a year?

When my mom and I got to class, it was pretty much how my mom described it, with the average age of the person in then class being about 65.  My mom also told me that I could not sit by her for fear of laughing.  I am proud to report that I made it the entire session without laughing out loud.

When I went to other yoga classes, I always felt (more or less) like the outsider with being so inflexible.  However, today, I fit right in.  Granted, we didn't do a whole lot of movements/exercises/poses (whatever they're called), but what we did do, I was able to do, which made me feel good.

The moral of this story is that if I plan on going to yoga again, I think it would be best to find a geriatric class, which is obviously better suited to my ability level.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting Coached

As I figure out what it is that I want to get out of the year in terms of my running, it has become that I think I possess super-human powers.  Unfortunately, that is not the case - I am human.  And as much as the "no goal for this race" approach is working for me, I do have goals, which are all a bit ambitious.

I've greatly enjoyed my winter/spring training session for Boston, especially since I am not racing Boston.  As I have said before, all of the hard work was done last year in order to qualify for the race.  The race itself will be the ultimate celebration.  I'll be running it with my running BFF/training partner for the past 15 or so months.  And I can't wait.  I feel no pressure, expect the pressure to have fun and enjoy every single moment of the expo, race and weekend.

I have a few things that I'd like to do after the Boston Marathon this spring, but have not yet signed up for any because I don't know how my body will respond to the marathon.  I anticipate that I'll be fine since I'm not going all out and trying to PR, but you just never know.

The summer and fall tell a much different story for me, though.  Back in December, I signed up for the Fox Valley Half Marathon as my goal race for the fall.  My goal is to run a sub-1:30 at this race.  I feel that it is doable, and have gotten the same response from my track coach.

Then I decided I wanted to run the Chicago Marathon again....but really run it.  Race it.  PR it.  Spring through the streets of Chicago with a smile on my face and enjoy every step.  All this after theoretically PRing the half 3 weeks prior to it.  Smart?  Doesn't appear to be.

To add another twist to the story, I'll be in Texas for 8 days in July this summer, learning how to be an astronaut (more or less).  I'm not sure the quantity of training I'll be able to do while there because of the heat, and the demands of the program that I am doing.  I know we are in class/sessions from 8 until 5 or 6.  But, I get to fly in an aircraft at zero gravity at the end of the week which will be completely and totally awesome.

Therefore, I've been thinking about how I want to handle the fall.  Another running coach in my running club suggested that I sign up for a November or December half and PR the hell out of that race.  But, that would require traveling, and I don't do that well.

My running BFF/training partner has a running coach that she has been working with the past 5 years.  I do a lot of her workouts with her because we run together 3 times a week.  And although he does not technically coach me, in a round-about way he does.  He's our cheerleader, supporter, challenger and commander all wrapped up in one.

Last week I was telling my running bestie about my predicament.  I've thought about getting a running coach before, but decided to forego it because I thought I could come up with a decent enough training schedule on my own (which I did).  But I've never attempted anything like the fall I'm going to have.  I think I need a coach to help me achieve my goals, tell me what to run and how fast, and keep me injury-free.

Deciding I need a coach isn't the hard part, it is deciding who I want as my coach.  There are a few options:

  • My bestie's coach.  He already knows me, has seen me run, knows how I like to approach long runs, and is experienced.  I'm sure he would come to Fox Valley and help pace me if need be.  
  • My track coach.  Also an experience runner (he was actually on Team USA last year for the duathlon), he knows his stuff.  However, he likes long runs to be faster than I like to run them at. Given the fact that I'll be marathon training, this might be a problem.  But he is a phenomenal track coach and could help me PR the half I'm sure, and the 5k, which is also on my bucket-list for this year.  Another plus is that he already knows me as a runner.

Then there are some coaches that I only know via the internet.  One guy is an endocrinologist in addition to being a runner, which could be beneficial as far as training is concerned.  I also know Missy Foy, a diabetic runner, is a running coach that other diabetics have used and had success with her.  I haven't looked too much into her - to see if she is even taking on new athletes or is willing to work with me.  


1.  Did you/do you have a running coach?  How did you pick them?

2.  Thoughts on who I should pick?  Or, is there someone else I should consider?  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Boston Week #9

I've started tapering for the Boston Marathon and couldn't be more excited to do so.  Unlike last year, when Chicago didn't have a winter, this year it has been cold and relatively snowy.  It snowed last night.  I prefer to run in the heat any day over the cold.  My current view of warm consists of "30* and sunny"....a far cry from last year, when I was loving the 85*+ heat.

This week was more about recovery than anything else.  My race at the hilly March Madness Half Marathon wrecked my legs for the first half of the week.  If I have learned nothing else in this training cycle, it has been to listen to my body.  My body tells me what it wants, or doesn't want to do.  Sometimes we agree on things, and other times not.  This week looked like....

Bike 6 miles
Walk 1 mile
Elliptical 2 miles

I decided to not run today because I was tired from the race on Sunday.

5 miles on treadmill
Bike 7 miles
Walk 2 miles
Stairs - 4 miles
Elliptical - 2 miles

I was tired by the end of the day.  The 5 miles felt good, though, which was encouraging.

Run 5 miles at indoor track

I attempted to do a track workout this day and failed.  My blood sugar was low, and wouldn't come up. I ended up running a 1 mile warm-up with 2 sets of 800/600/200 thrown in and some recovery laps.  It pretty much sucked.

Run 8 miles
Walk 1 mile
Stairs 1 mile

For the first time in 3 years, I played basketball with some people at the gym after my run.  I played AAU growing up, but got burned out on the sport by the end of high school.  It was nice to shoot around again, and make shots.

Run 5 miles on hills
Bike 7 miles
Walk 1 mile
Stairs 1 mile

Attempted a tempo run on the hills, but only averaged 7:42 pace.  Oh well...the legs were still recovering.

20 miles

Last long run on Boston Marathon training!  Originally, I wanted to go 22, but considering that I battled low blood sugar issues the entire run, especially from miles 12 - 16 we decided to cut it short.  You know you're having a problem when you consume 2 GU's in three miles and test in at 53.  #diabeticfailure

Stairs - 2 miles
Walk 1 mile
Bike 1 mile

I was so tired from the 20 miler and from being so low during it that I slept in Sunday morning and did not run.  I listened to my body, which was screaming "DO NOT RUN!" I've never been happier to taper.

Weekly Totals
Running - 43 miles
Biking - 21 miles
Elliptical - 4 miles
Stairs - 8 miles
Walking - 6 miles
Weights - 2 times

Boston is three weeks from today...and I've never been more excited to running a marathon.  Qualifying was the hard part, which I did last year, so this year is all about enjoyment.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Diabetes Questions...Answered

I occasionally get questions emailed to me or put in the comment section of posts from my blog, which I often fail to answer.

How do you prep for long runs with having diabetes?

This answer has changed a lot in the past year.  I do 90% of my long runs in the early morning, which I find to be the easiest time.  In the past, I have eaten yogurt, fruit, and instant oatmeal (uncooked) on top of it before my run and taken Gu every 6 or so miles.  During my Boston Marathon training cycle, I eat a piece of peanut butter toast 45 minutes before the run.  Right before I start, I take a Gu.  I take a Gu every 5-7 miles on long runs.  I found the the hills I've been training on really wear me out, and I need the extra calories to make it through my run feeling strong.

My current favorite Gu flavor 

How do you handle insulin on your long runs?

I do not set temporary basals ever.  My pump is always on 100%, no matter what.  Before my long runs, I deliberately take less insulin than what my pump tells me.  I also do not bolus for the first Gu.  I take between 0.2 and 0.3 units of insulin per Gu for the rest of them.  I have found this balance to work well for me.

This picture made me laugh.  I do love insulin, mostly because I like to eat.

What color is your pump?

Someone emailed me this question, which I thought was really random.  My pump is clear.  I decided to get the clear one in college, when I first got my pump, because if it was visible it would match everything I was wearing.  I could get another one, as I've had my current one for 5 years, but haven't decided if I want to stay with a  clear one or go for a color one.  Or, if I want to get a skin.

My pump looks similar to this, but is an older version.

What type of holder do you use for your insulin pump while running?

I had a Medtronic Pump and use the belt clip.  I have a black one, unlike the picture below.  It is the only pump holder I have found that doesn't move around when I run.  It is secure, which is why I like it.

When you line up at a race, do you think of yourself differently compared to the other able-bodied athletes around you?

No, I consider myself just as capable of achieving my goals as the runner standing next to me.  I believe the proper term for seeing myself different is called "self pity."  Yes, diabetes presents challenges that others do not have to deal with.  I have had races where I couldn't run the way I wanted to because of my diabetes.  But, I consider those races learning experiences, although I am generally pissed off after they happen.  In all honesty, I think of myself of being a pretty good runner that has achieved some success in the short time I have been competitively running.  I have big goals that I would like to achieve this year, and know that believing in myself and not having any self-pity is the only way they can have a chance at being accomplished.

Is anyone else diabetic in your family?

My paternal grandmother, who is still alive, has had diabetes for 75 years.  It has been interesting to learn more about her life as I have gotten older.  When she was younger, doctors told her that she should not have kids because it would be a risk to her health.  She went on to have four.  Doctors told her to not do a lot of things, and she didn't listen to any of them.  Although it is hard for her to move around now, she still has all of her limbs and hasn't lost any of her brain power.    

About 15 years ago, doctors told my dad that he was on the verge of getting type 2 diabetes.  He took matters into his own hands, lost weight and started exercising.  He is now pretty thin and works out 6 days/week, with not a sign of insulin resistance.  

This was chosen only because my grandma loves Jeopardy.

Do you think you are a "diabetic elite" athlete?

This question was raised after I wrote about my experience with Team Novo Nordisk.  I think it is important to mention that they never did change their website, and still claim that they are an elite diabetic racing team.  To truly answer this question, I think you need to define "elite."  Compare to many of the athletes on their team, yes, I am elite.  If we were to race, I am confident in saying that I would be the 1st female across the finish line, regardless of the distance, and quite possibly some of the men.  I know I am not the fastest diabetic runner around (I'm definitely slower than Missy Foy), but I don't know of one other female diabetic runner that is faster than me.  

I was talking with a guy from my running club last month about TT1 and how they portray themselves on their website.  "D" is a pretty good runner - a sub 3 hour marathoner - who is brutally honest.  He told me I was "diabetic elite," which shows you that to one person you may be and another you may not.  It all depends on your definition.  I still stand by the fact that anything over a 25 minute 5k PR time is nothing close to elite, but rather closer to "middle of the pack on a good day" runner.  

Do you wear a CGM?

No, I don't.  I did not find it to be accurate and therefore stopped wearing it.  It is an expensive toy to have if it doesn't work.  I don't miss it, either.  

This machine is used 8 - 10 times a day by me.  I also have it in green, but purple is my favorite color so I always use that one.

You mentioned that you changed your pump site.  How's that going?

For 7 straight years, I only had my pump infusion sites in my stomach.  A few weeks ago, I finally go the courage to try a new spot after deciding it was time for the stomach abuse to stop.  I started using my sides, which is working out really well.  I like having my site on my right side far more than my left, only because it feels more natural to put my pump on the right side of my body when I run.  Overall, the transition has been great.  I don't think putting an infusion site in my boobs would work, as a few people recommended, because I don't have much in that department to begin with.  

Have other questions?  Email me ( or put them the response section.  Feel free to answer one of the questions, too.  I'm interested in hearing other answers.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March O'Madness Half Marathon Race Report

Last week was full of excitement, and to top it off I raced on Sunday.

I had to wake up at 6 AM on December 30 to register for this race, but wanted to because so many people from my running club do it and I could use it as my Boston half marathon race.  It's a tad bit hilly:

However, I could have cared less.  I've fully realized that the more pressure I put on myself, the wore I do.  If I expect nothing, and just go out and have fun, the results are much more favorable.  Therefore, I got 3 hours of sleep the night before the race.  Saturday night was full of this:

On the ride up to the race, my friend was talking about her goal (sub 1:40).  Since I had no goal, I thought i would just run with her.  I didn't know what shape my body was in, but it sounded good.  So, we started the race together....

Mile 1- 7:21
Mile 2- 7:15
Mile 3-7:19
Mile 4-7:33

At this point, I was feeling pretty good, but my friend said she wasn't feeling it, so I went ahead.  

Mile 5 - 7:11
Mile 6 - 7:23 *hills
Mile 7- 7:27 *hills
Mile 8 - 7:16
Mile 9 - 7:01
Mile 10 - 7:34 *major hills

I passed a group of runners around this point.  When I went by them, they said hi and said that we had met a few weeks ago.  We met after I did my first 20 mile run on the hills.  They drove from Chicago to the Arboretum to do their run.  It was fun to see them out on the course, as they are really nice.

Mile 11 - 7:41*major hills

A man said to me that he never thought he was going to have to worry about chocking on ice in a water cup at this aid station.  It made me laugh, because last year it was 80* at this race.  

Mile 12 - 7:21

Mile 13 - 7:03

Last 0.11 - 43 sec  (6:29 pace)

Overall time: 1:36:14 (not chip timed, Garmin time was 1:36:08)
Sex Place: 26
Age Group Place: 10/27
Overall: 100-something (can't remember) out of 1400 or something

Happiness level: high 

My friend ended up running a 1:39:01, so she was happy.  I didn't think I was in this kind of shape.  I would've probably guessed that I was in 1:43 shape, as that is my default half marathon time in the past few years.  After looking at my splits, it seems as if I could've run faster.  I shouldn't be able to have a 6:29 spring in me at the finish if I really tried hard.  I do know that my legs were so sore the next day from the hills.  I have nothing but great things to say about this race and  I would recommend it if you live in the Chicagoland area.  It brings out some really good competition and the swag (medal, sweatshirt) is pretty sweet for how cheap the race is ($40).  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What a Week

Last week was an incredible week...

I was lucky enough to get into the Chicago Marathon via the lottery.  This made me so happy.  I cannot wait to run it again and really race it.  I won't be racing Boston, so this will be my only marathon race of the year.  I have some goals I'd like to accomplish on October 13...

I found out my Boston Corral start.  I'm in wave 2/corral 4.....but I am actually not going to start there.  I'm running Boston for fun, with my running best friend/training partner.  She is seeded in 2/7, so I am going to start back there with her.  This race is all about the experience, and having a good time, and nothing about running a PR.  

I ran a half marathon on Sunday.  It is so hilly that they have nicely named the hill, which they post on a sign about half way up it.  The elevation profile looks awful, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I was expecting to be running up mountains, and the hills weren't too big.  The only other hilly half marathon that I've done in the Flying Pig 4 years ago.  However, this made the Flying Pig seem like a flat race.

I took this race real seriously....I got 3 hours of sleep the night before, had no idea what my goal was, didn't really taper, and wore some outrageously gaudy sunglasses.  The result?  Not a PR, but a great time and a time that surprised me, especially on such a challenging course.  I'll have the race report ready tomorrow hopefully.

There were some other great parts of the week, but they deal with things that I don't blog about, but brought many smiles and much laughter to my days.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boston Training - Week #7

Boston is 5 weeks away.  Where has the time gone?  I feel good about what I did this week...

Run = 5 miles  on treadmill with 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile at 7:30, 1 at 7:23 and 1 at 7:18, cool down
Bike - 5 miles
Walk - 1 mile
Felt like I might be in shape

Run - 7 miles on treadmill with a few at 8:00 and a few at 7:30
Bike - 6 miles
Walk - 1 mile
Stairs - 1 mile
Elliptical - 2 miles
Felt pretty good

Run - 5 miles with 5 x 800s on the track between 5:54 and 6:12
Walk - 1 mile
Elliptical - 1 mile
Felt that track was much harder than it should be.  I did it solo again this week due to the snow and miss my teammates.  I ended up trying to chase a fast guy around the track for all of my 800s.  I am sure he was annoyed by me by the end.

Run - 6 miles outside with 10 x 30 seconds fast (6:00 pace) and 90 seconds slow (9:30-10:00 pace)
Felt - like I love this workout and want to do it every week

Run - 0 = rest day
Bike - 5 miles
Walk - 1 mile
Stairs - 2 miles
Felt - that I was happy it was a rest day

Run - 6 miles with middle 3 at 7:30, 7:24 and 7:13 on treadmill
Bike - 4 miles
Walk - 1 mile
Stairs - 2 miles
Elliptical - 1 mile
Felt good

14 miles at 8:50 pace on the hills in shorts(!!!! - made me so happy)
Walk - 1 mile
Felt - like the hills were going to swallow me up

Weekly Totals:
Running miles = 43
Biking miles = 20 miles
Walking miles = 6 miles
Elliptical miles = 4 miles
Stair master miles = 5 miles
Weights = 3 days
Abs = 1 day

I have a half marathon (March Madness) next Sunday, so I will be not running as much this upcoming week.  The week after I'll most likely log a lot of miles before the Boston taper begins.

Here's to another great week of running and cross-training!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Diabetes x3

If you live with diabetes, you know that it never takes a break, even if you want it to.  Even when it is on its best behavior, I'm still thinking about it.  Due to Saturn, the snow storm, I was at my gym at a time I usually don't go because school was cancelled.  The following conversation happened in the locker room:

Lady: Are the roads bad outside?

Me: No, not really.  They are a little slushy but completely drivable.

Lady: Are you diabetic?  I see you have an insulin pump on.  

Me: Yes, I am.  I have diabetes.

Lady: I work at a hospital and a man was trying to tell me he isn't diabetic, when clearly, he is.  His A1C was 7.2, and he said it was because of the steroids he was on.  And that is not true.

Me: I know steroids make blood sugars go higher (side note: only because of reading Marcus's blog do I know this).  However, I have type 1 diabetes.  

Lady: Oh, my niece has that kind, too.  But she is in high school now and refuses to wear her insulin pump because she doesn't want anyone to see it.  

Me:  I completely understand.  I didn't get my insulin pump until I was in college for that reason.  

I was ready to go run by that time and said bye to the random lady.  But, that conversation really made me think.  Before I went to the gym, two diabetes-related things happened to me today.  First, I watched a video put out by the Diabetes Research Institute that more or less said they are close to coming up with a cure by translating islet cells in an artificial pancreas.  When I watched the video, a few questions came to mind.

  • I don't know if it will actually work.  I've had diabetes for 23+ years, and have always heard "you'll be cured of diabetes in your lifetime."  However, I feel like very little progress has been made to coming up with a cure that works and doesn't involve my entire body going through a massive surgery.  Yes, I want a cure, but isn't there just some kind of pill that they can create instead?  It would work a lot better for me, as I am terrified of needles and surgery.  
  • I'm really leery of them putting an artificial pancreas in my body.  Plus, from the diagram in the movie, it looked incredibly high.  I do have ribs that I use quite frequently.  
  • What if it malfunctions?  And, what is the cost?  

On to happier things.  Today was the FIRST time in 7 (SEVEN!!!) years that I did not insert my insulin pump site in my stomach.  I've abused my stomach for 7 years, never giving it a break from a pump site.  I have wanted to move my site for a few years, but never had the courage to do so because:
  • My legs would not work.  Even when I gave myself shots, I never used my legs.  They are too muscular and all of the shots would hurt a ton.  Plus, a leg site doesn't work with running.  
  • My arms are also out of the question.  Although I didn't mind giving myself shots in my arms, it is not realistic to put a site there.  I buy the short tubing and there just isn't enough of it to make it work.  Plus, I move my arms a lot because I run and workout.  
  • I refuse to do it in my butt.  I have never given myself a hot in the butt, and refuse to pump there as well.  I have plenty of fat so that is not an issue.  It is more of a psychological issue.  I don't want a site in my butt.  It just seems incredibly awkward.
Therefore, the only option was my side.  This morning, I put my site in my side.  And it feels so strange to have a free stomach.  I think I have almost pulled the site out only about 10 times today, so I am not sure if it will last through tomorrow, but so far I am loving it.  More importantly, my stomach is enjoying its first taste of freedom in 7 years.  I'm not sure what will happen in the future, but I hope this spot continues to work, but I'm sure my stomach would like a 7 year vacation.    

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boston Training Week #6

I realized a few days ago that I neglected to post about training week #5 for Boston, mainly because I was racing last weekend.  Week 5 was a major cut-back week, and I only ended up running 30-some odd miles.  Going into this week, I knew it was going to be big.  The first 20-miler was slated for Saturday morning and I was nervous about it.  I've never been nervous for a 20+ mile training run before, mainly because for Chicago in 2011, everything was new and exciting.  For the Illinois Marathon, I was in such great shape and had such determination while training that 20 miles didn't phase me.  This training cycle has been a roller coaster of emotions, with many peaks and even more valleys.  Here's how this week went down:

6 miles on the hills at 8:43 pace

5 miles on the treadmill at 9:20 pace
1 mile walk
3 miles elliptical

Wednesday - track
ladder workout at indoor track - 6 miles total
It was hard to do this workout because normally I do track with my club mates on Tuesday, but we canceled due to the snow storm.  I did it solo, and ended up chasing another guy around the track for the majority of the workout.  He was a little faster so it was good motivation.

7 miles at 9:02 pace
1 mile walk
3 miles stairs
2 miles elliptical

Running rest day
3 miles stairs
1 mile elliptical

20 miles of hills at 9:09 pace
1 mile walk
3 miles stairs
1 mile elliptical

6 miles at 9:22 pace

Weekly Totals

  • Running: 50 miles
  • Stairs: 9 miles
  • Elliptical: 7 miles
  • Walking: 3 miles
  • Weights: 1 time
Mindset: I feel slow and out of shape :(  I realize this is exactly how you are not supposed to feel 40-some days before a marathon, and 2 weeks before a half, but it is the honest truth.