Thursday, October 25, 2012


This post has nothing to do with diabetes, running, or anything exercise-related.  Instead, it is about a few things that I am loving right now.  Top on the list:

Pumpkin Spice Coffee
I love pumpkin flavored things.  If I could, I would drink a pumpkin spice latte every single day.  Although this coffee isn't as good as a latte, it is a close second.

The Colors of Fall
I went to an apple orchard a few weeks ago with some friends.  This car was parked outside of the orchard and I thought it was pretty creative.  

Iced Gingerbread Clif Bars
I first bought these last Christmas, and have been looking for them because they are so good.  I eat a lot of Clif bars, but these are possibly my favorite.  So, so good.  

Calico Bean Honey Roasted Peanut Peanut Butter
I love all peanut butter, but this is my absolute favorite.  It comes from a store in Iowa and is pretty much the best thing around.  

My Lunchbox
My sister gave me this last year for my birthday, but I didn't realize its awesomeness until this year.  It has three stackable containers and is perfect for me because I need exactly three containers for my lunch/snack.  I'm incredibly boring and eat the same thing everyday.  Therefore, each day the containers contain the same items: a sliced apple, a bin of crackers, and one with another type of fruit, most likely grapes, sometimes a peach or occasionally carrots.  

Sending and Receiving Real Mail

I, shockingly, baked this past weekend and sent my sister some of the pumpkin muffins and cookies that I made.  She gave me the idea on Twitter this weekend.  I doubt that she thought I would send her something, but I hope she enjoys it.

What are you loving lately?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Des Plaines Trail Race Half Marathon Report

Back in August, a friend of mine recommended this race to me after hearing me say I wanted to run a trail race this fall.  He ran the 50-mile race last year, and had nothing but positive things to say about it.  A few days and arrangements later, I was signed up.

I wish I could say this past week was delightful and my diabetes was wonderful.  However, it was incredibly stressful on multiple accounts, which drastically impacts my diabetes.  I woke up between 270 and 390 everyday this past week.  Not only is this hard on my body and not good for me, but it makes me feel sick.  Saturday morning was no exception - I woke up at 3 AM and was 269.  After taking the bolus my insulin pump recommended and then some extra, I hoped to wake up around 80.

When my alarm went off at 6, I was 139 and feeling like crap.  However, I tried to be positive and think about how awesome of a race I was going to run.  This, unfortunately, did not happen.

After getting to the place later than I had hoped, I missed the "pre race" talk.  I don't know what they said, but I don't think it really made that much of a difference.  My goal for this race was to run 7:15 for the first 5 miles, 7:10 for the second 5, and then 7:00 for the last 3.1.

For the sake of this post not getting too long, lets just say that I was on pace through mile 3, my stomach hurt and mile 5, mentally checked out at mile 6, cramped at mile 7, saw my friend who came to cheer and 7.5 and 8.5 and begged her to get our friend (P) who was running the trails for training that day to come run with me the last few miles, started to go low at mile 9, dropped my GU at mile 9.25 so I had to eat my back-up GU, in a flavor that sounded anything but appetizing (Island Tropics is not a good flavor hen you feel like shit), and ran with P from mile 11.5 to the finish.  I was never happier to cross a finish line in my life.  

I walked 4 times during this race, stopped to stretch 3, and talk once.  I thought about quitting 100+ times.  I thought about what a DNF would feel like, and decided although I was struggling, I'd rather finish than have that label.  I've walked before, and I'm sure I'll have to walk again sometime in the future.  I got passed by so many people.  However, the beauty of the trees made up for it.  Knowing that I am running another race made up for it.  Knowing that I could run made up for it.  Knowing that my friend came up to cheer made up for it.  Knowing that P ran an extra 2 miles after running 23 that he wasn't supposed to, but because I needed someone, made up for it.

Sometimes, I need to remind myself why I run when I have races like these.  It was a struggle to finish in 1:41:24, but I'm glad I finished.  Is it my fastest?  No.  Was it my hardest?  Maybe.  Did I have a lot of obstacles to overcome?  Yes.  But I'm glad I did.  It'll make tomorrow's run that much better.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Diabetes Doesn't Stop Me

I love to run.  Not a day goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am that I can run.  I am not the fastest runner or the strongest, but I am incredibly grateful that I can do something that brings me such joy.  

In the past, I would have been discouraged to run because I have diabetes.  When I was first diagnosed 23 years ago, the doctors and nurses told my parents that they should be careful about how much exercise I got.  I'm glad my parents didn't listen much to them and let me do what I wanted to do.  After all, the doctors told my type 1 diabetic grandma (for over 74 years!) that she should never have kids.   My parents always instilled in me that I can do whatever I want, no matter what anyone says, starting when I was young.  

Because of that, I never perceived myself as being all that different from everyone else playing sports.  When I think back on my childhood, rarely do I remember testing my blood sugar at games or during practices or having to sit out because I was low.  Back then, I didn't wear an insulin pump so no one could tell I had diabetes.  I looked like any other athlete playing the sport - soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball,  track - whatever sport it was.  The only difference was that I carried Gatorade with me whoever I went and played sports - to both practices and games.    

Through the years, I have had a few people and doctors tell me I shouldn't or can't do things, or will not be able to do them.  Whenever anyone tells me I can't do something, that motivates me 1,000 times more to succeed.  "You won't run Boston" is what a doctor told me this summer.  "You should not exercise that much because you have diabetes" is something I heard from another doctor.  "Runners never qualify for Boston after only running 1 marathon" another runner said to me last year in the spring.  "You'll need surgery on your foot because your arch is too high and will be painful by the time you are 20" another doctor said.  To all of them, I said no, that will not happen.  I will qualify for Boston on my second marathon.  I will run Boston in the spring.  I won't have surgery.  I'll exercise however much I desire.    

Diabetes doesn't stop me from what I want to do.  Sure, it might be inconvenient and be problematic at times, such as when I "ran" the ChiTown half marathon in the spring (I walked 3-4 miles of it because I had a low blood sugar during the race).  When I go to track and complete workouts with my running club, or do any other runs with the club, I'm the only diabetic.  Do I think I have a disadvantage when we line up and start running?  No, not at all.  As a matter of fact, I'm the first girl to finish most weeks.  When I line up for a race, I don't know if there are other diabetics, but I assume not many, if there are any at all.  Do I think I should start in the back because I have a health condition?  No.  

Diabetes doesn't stop me or prevent me from doing what I want.  It motivates me to be better than the rest, knowing that a small part of me is incomplete.  I am the living proof that anyone can succeed if they truly want and desire to do so.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Curse

Every runner has clothes that they run in more often than others because they simply like them.  I have a lot of clothes that I like, but only one article of clothing that I really do not like: my pale pink Nike sports bra.  Sure, it fits just fine, but we have some unpleasant history:

  • I purchased it in Ohio, about five years ago.  I thought I would really like it.  I don't.
  • It is pale pink and I don't like the color of it anymore.  
  • It was what I was wearing on my last run before I was diagnosed with a  stress fracture.
  • I wore it for the Flying Pig Half Marathon, where I had a terribly high blood sugar and had to walk in the middle of the race because it was so high.
Most days, it just sits in my sports bra drawer in my dresser.  I see it, and never select it to wear because I swear it has bad karma.  I only wear it when I absolutely have to.  Unfortunately, Sunday was one of those days.  

As I got ready to run in the morning, I thought that maybe I would have a great 12 mile run and the curse would be broken.  I also thought a pair of hot pink shorts that I had also brought bad karma until I wore them for the Heritage Haul Half Marathon and decided they were lucky.  After I finally got up out of bed, and drove to the gazebo where my running club meets, I realized that the weather was perfect.  It was a glorious day to run, or so I thought.  

The run ended up sucking for a variety of reasons:
  • My friend/training partner was running a different race so she wasn't there.  I ran with some other people and ended up running the first 6 miles faster than I wanted.  
  • By mile 9, I was exhausted for no apparent reason.  
  • By mile 10, my legs felt like they were getting cramps.
  • By mile 11, I could feel my blood sugar starting to go low.  
  • By mile 11.5, my knee started to hurt.
  • By mile 11.75, an 8:57 pace seemed like  dead-out sprint.
  • At mile 12, I stopped and didn't want to go 1 step farther.  I was 0.1 from our meeting spot and decided I would rather walk there than run there.
The pale pink sports bra once again brought a crappy run.  Since I really don't like wearing it, it would make sense to donate to Goodwill or some other organization.  However, I can't bring myself to get rid of it for some reason.  Maybe because it was expensive or because it fits.  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that it will go back into the drawer and hopefully not be worn in the near future.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The 5 World Major Marathons

The majority of people in the running community know the 5 major marathons:

Boston, Chicago, New York City, Berlin and London

I ran Chicago last year (2011), and will run Boston in 2013.  That leaves New York, London, and Berlin for majors that I am not running.  I want to run New York, but Berlin and London...I have no desire.  As in 0.  Even if I had all of the money in the world I don't know if I would want to run those two races.

I've heard a lot of people talk about running vacations, or turning a vacation into one focused around a race.  The only races I've ever traveled for were the Sam Costa half marathon (March, 2011), Ragnar Northwest Passage (July, 2011), and the Illinois Marathon (April, 2012).  All of my other races have been within driving distance.

Out of the races I've traveled for, Ragnar was through the Insulindependence group, so all I had to do was get my plane ticket and pay the fee and they pretty much took care of everything else.  For Sam Costa, I stayed with one of my friends.  For Illinois, I got a hotel and a friend went with me.  It was only a few hours from where i live and didn't require a whole lot of traveling hassles.

However, I'm learning a lot with Boston.  Plane tickets, hotel reservations, and logistical information need to be figured out ahead of time.  Lucky for me, my parents have offered to go with me so I have less work to do.  My dad bought our plane tickets when I told him which flights I wanted to be on.  They are also booking the hotels.  I've been busy lately with a variety of things, so having them take care of it for me has been a true blessing.

I can't imagine doing an international marathon.  I think I would get multiple headaches trying to figure everything out.  You know some people are "easy travelers" and others are difficult travels, or don't travel well, I definitely fit into the second category.  Not only am I unable to pack and will attempt to fit my entire closet in my suitcase, I don't do well with time change because I'm a very routine-oriented person.  Therefore, I'll leave Berlin and London off my bucket list.  However, Fox Valley?  That one is on it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Chicago Marathon: Volunteer and Spectator Edition

Last year I had the great experience of running through the streets of Chicago during the Chicago Marathon.  It was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and was so happy and proud when I crossed that finish line.  Back in February, when registration for Chicago opens, I decided not to run it. At that time, I was training for the Illinois Marathon and hoped to BQ there.  I've wanted to volunteer at a big race for the past year, so I decided it would make the most sense to do it at Chicago.

My alarm clock went off at the ungodly hour of 2:35 AM so my friend and I could leave at 3:00 and make it into the city by 3:30, when the key volunteers (us) had to be there.  Surprisingly, I actually felt awake at that hour...without coffee.  We made the quick, easy drive and got to work unpacking the truck, and manning the volunteer check-in station, handing out the jackets and hats and giving people their official volunteer tag.  I can't tell you how many times I said, "Would you like to hand out water or Gatorade?" before 7 AM.  We had 300 people at our aid station (#2), which was located at the 5k.

After a brief discussion, the race started and all the wheelchair racers went by.  I never realized how many different types of wheel chairs there are for racing until today.  Some of the guys were flying.  I also noticed that there were quite a few people on road bikes riding along the route.  I'm not exactly sure what their job is, but I want it next year.  It would be awesome to ride my bike through the marathon course, next to the wheel chair participants and ahead of the other runners.  Do you know how people get that job?

Before I knew it, the elites came sprinting through the water stop.  It was interesting to see who was in the lead pack, which people were trying to keep up with the elites but just couldn't, and then look at their faces.  A face speaks more than anything.  Some were calm and relaxed, while others looked like they were in great distress already at mile 3.

After the elites passed, the elite development wave came by, followed by tons and tons and tons of runners.  It was neat to hand out water to a variety of runners - some thankful, others upset about the quantity of water in the cup (too much or too little), some disgruntled that they missed the Gatorade and we only had water, but a lot purely happy at that point in the race.  I passed out water for a long time and shouted encouragement to the runners while doing so.  I saw a few of my running club teammates, one of whom stopped to talk for a brief moment and we took a picture together.  The energy and excitement of the runners made me wish I was running.  The weather was absolutely perfect - cool and cloudy, not a drop of rain or a sign of wind.

When the last runner finally passed, we hopped on the red line and made our way to mile 21 to cheer.  We were standing on the street, just as the runners were going up a slight incline.  The first person we saw was actually a guy I run track with, who was doing great.  After copious amounts of cheering for him, we crossed the street and were there for the next few hours.  We saw more teammates, and cheered as much as we could.  I don't think I've ever said the words "Good job" or "Keep going" more in my life.  At this point in the race, some runners looked great while others were hurting a great deal.  It broke my heart to see the look of pain across one of my friend's faces.  He had such high hopes to BQ, but it just wasn't his day.

After a few hours of cheering, I was exhausted.  I am so happy I got to experience a different side of the Chicago Marathon this year.  Will I run Chicago again?  I am not sure.  I could see myself doing it in a few years, but not in the near future.  For now, I'll just be a volunteer and cheerleader.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Looking Back on the Past Year

One year ago, I was preparing to run my first marathon.  It amazes me how much things have changed. In the past year, I have:

  • Run two marathons (Chicago in 2011 and Illinois in 2012)
  • Run three half marathons (ChiTown, Rockford, and Heritage Haul all in 2012)
  • Run one 15k (Hot Chocolate in 2011)
  • Run one 10k (Spring Sprint in 2012)
  • Run three 5ks (St. Paddy's Day, Sweetness Run, and Labor of Love)
  • Ran an ultra marathon relay (Ragnar in June of 2012)
  • Participated in one duathlon (Tri the Du)
  • Volunteered at one race (some local race that I can't remember what it was called)
  • Cheered at the Fox Valley Marathon
  • Got injured
  • Learned to love biking
  • PR'd in the marathon, half marathon, 15k, and 10k distances
  • Learned to appreciate every single run
The list above are things that have only happened in my "athletic" life.  Personally, I also feel like I've changed a great deal.  I've become less of a type A personality, and learned to enjoy life more.  There have been many ups and down,s but I can honestly say that I am the happiest I've ever been.  It has been quite a year, and I hope the upcoming year is just as successful as this past year.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Track Tuesday: Surprising 400s

Official track workouts last from April 1 - September 30 for my running club, held every Tuesday night at 6:30 at a local high school.  In the "off season,"  a small group of dedicated runners (read: obsessed) meet to continue to do speed work, but the time changes to 6 PM.  Tonight was the first 6 PM practice and it felt so much earlier than 6:30.  It also took me twice as long to drive there so I was late.  However, I am late a lot of the time, so it didn't bother me too much.

I was surprised to see my track coach there, as usually the man that coaches the other runners runs the off-season workouts.  Tonights workout: 400s with 200 recovery.  I don't know the last time I ran a decent speed workout.  May maybe?  April?  It had been a long time.

Due to not having much light, we were only running 8 400s, which sounded good to me.  The less, the better.  400s are painful, a dead-out spring for a 1/4 of a  mile.  Usually we do a group of guys and a group of girls/slow guys, but tonight there were only 8 or so of us there to do the workout, so we all went together.  The group was the majority of the speedy guys, me, a slower guy, and one other lady, P, who I've done multiple workouts with over the past 2 years.

The repeats started ok, and then I surprised myself and was able to get faster with each one.  I kept thinking, "who is this new person, running a sub-6 pace like its nothing?  I'm sure I'll burn-out soon."  But the burn-out never came.  Instead, the opposite thing happened: I gained more speed.  My splits were:

#1 - 1:29
#2 - 1:27
#3 - 1:26
#4 - 1:26
#5 - 1:25
#6 - 1:24
#7 - 1:22
#8 - 1:20

I left the track with far more confidence than I started with.  I still am amazed at how well all of my runs are going.  It is like I've been fixed....or so I can at least hope.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Family of Runners

In the past few years, I have heard this story over and over from my parents: "We ran the first Benefit Classic together.  Dad ran the whole thing, but mom walked up the infamous Eagle Point Hill at mile 9."  They trained tougher, running 4 miles after they got done working most nights and up the numerous large hills in the city where they currently reside.  My dad is convinced his time is faster than my half time, but we cannot find out since the results cannot be found.  I have my doubts...

Growing up there was always a family that was friends with my parents.  Both of the parents were runners, and still are to this day.  All 4 of their children ran in high school and 2 ran in college.  I know the parents still enter a few races every year.  Secretly, I've always hoped my parents would run again.  However, whenever I bring it up, they both have the same response: "my knees can't take it."  

Then, my mom joined "boot camp."  She told me a few weeks ago that she was joining.  The program seems rather intense - a mixture of kickboxing and resistance training 6 days a week for an hour a day.  Plus, they want you to eat a certain way, with more protein and less carbohydrates.  I was surprised she signed up for it.  She's been a religious treadmill walker for the past 10 or so years, but wanted a change and to shed some weight in the process. 

Bootcamp started the past weekend and they did an initial fitness test, which involved sit-ups, push-ups, and a timed mile in the neighborhood the studio is located in.  None of the females in my family have any type of upper body muscle, and my mom was telling me how hard the push-ups were for her.  I know they would have been difficult for me, but then again I haven't attempted a push-up since senior year gym in high school.  But, I really wanted to know about her mile.  

In addition to running a half marathon, my mom also ran cross-country when she was in high school.  I have no idea how long her races were, but she does have a rather strong running background.  She told me she walked up the hills and ran everything else.  When I asked her time, she seemed rather proud of that 12:04 mile.  

I was proud of her, too.  It takes a lot of courage to do something that you haven't ever done for haven't done for many years.  After a few comments about how she could do the Galloway run 4/walk 1 minute method during  5k, or run every flat surface and walk inclines, just like today, I got a response I was more than surprised to hear: "I'll think about it."  

I've always wanted to be in a family of runners.  I once had a dream that I was part of a family that did a marathon relay, and won.  Now, of course, that has never happened.  My brother and I run, but that is it.  I vaguely remember my sister running sporadically while in college, but I am not 100% sure.  I doubt her legs are running right now, but more her brain all of the time.  But, my mom's timed mile gives me hope that I may be able to convince her to start running.  Maybe we'll be a family where 60% run.  I can always hope.