Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fifteen

On June 29th, 1997, I married Lisa Wheaton, my best friend and the sweetest woman in the world. We’ve had so much fun since then, and I love her so much more today than I had figured possible on that beautiful day fifteen years ago overlooking Mount Hood in Oregon.

For reasons that I still don’t fully understand, she decided that I was the one for her shortly after we met on the first day of our four years in Grinnell. I’m so, so, so glad that she did. It took her the whole first semester to win me over, since I was dating someone else at the time. But as her friend from high school predicted, that other girl didn’t have a chance. (Ladies, it turns out that “needing help with your calculus homework”—whether you actually need it or not—is still a pretty good way of getting yourself lodged in some guys’ minds.)

The day after the wedding we started a three-week honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies, which seemed to kickstart our habit of enjoying our travels together. Since then we’ve traveled so many places: India, Australia, London, Paris, Barcelona, the Rockies, various places in Canada, and different parts of the US during our multiple baseball tours, just to name some of our longer trips. She’s a great travel companion and navigator, and it feels wrong to go places and do fun things without her.

After returning from our honeymoon, we started the long trip eastward into the unknown. From Oregon to Wyoming to Iowa and then finally to Boston, we did the Oregon Trail in reverse, picking up things from the different parts of our lives at each stop before settling in. We hated the moving experience so much that we didn’t do it again for another seven years, when we moved to the house where we live now. The day that we moved into our tiny apartment, our new landlord gave us some good advice: “Don’t ever sleep apart if you’re angry with each other,” which is advice that we’ve managed to follow all of this time. (Notice he didn’t say not to go to bed angry. That’s going to happen, but avoiding the other person doesn’t make the problem go away or let you feel better when you wake up next to a person who still loves you.)

You can learn a lot about another person and yourself over fifteen years. I’m so happy with what I’ve discovered about Lisa, and she’s helped me become the man that I always had in mind when I thought about myself as a “grown up.” She had the chance to change her mind about me so many times, especially when I was diagnosed with diabetes just two short years after we married and moved to New England. She took the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows seriously, and it made us stronger and more in love to struggle through those early days together. Fortunately, we also managed to make it through the “for richer and poorer” part unscathed, too.

So, Sweetheart, these fifteen years have been great! Sorry about not helping you understand Riemann sums before our calculus final. And thank you so much for always talking to me about The Iliad. Je t’aime de tout mon cœur.

Posted in General, I am Rembrandt, Photography, This is who we are | 4 Comments

The True Meaning of Triathlon

All three sports means . . . lots of laundry every week.

Posted in Reluctant Triathlete | 1 Comment

Tri FAQs

Over the last couple years, my friends, family, and acquaintances have asked me lots of questions about triathlon. I love answering these questions; it shows that they care about what I’m into and that I might have something to offer. Here are some of the most commonly asked (and answered) questions.

Why triathlon? Because (as Lisa said) the first one I tried didn’t kill me, and I knew that I could do better! Well, that and it’s a lot of fun to combine a few different things that I like doing all at once. I like to run, but I love to race. Most of the time when I’m on the bike for a training ride, I’m thinking about my next event. And it’s challenging. I like a challenge.

Do you wear a wetsuit? Yes. Always. I have a history of freaking out in open-water without a wetsuit. Plus, I’m a faster swimmer when I wear one. (It’s the extra buoyancy in the hips and legs.)

What do you wear under your wetsuit? Nothing! Just kidding. (For some reason, people always assume that we’re naked under there.) I wear whatever I’m going to wear for the bike and the run (minus shoes, of course).

What do you wear when you race? I wear a tri-top and tri-shorts. The top is a rather tight fitting, sleeveless bike jersey with a couple of very small pockets in the back that are pretty much only big enough to hold my pump (in a zippy bag) in one and an energy gel and a tube of glucose tablets in the other. (I tried running in a bike jersey once and everything bounced around way too much.) Tri-shorts are similar to regular cycling shorts except that the padding is a little smaller and lined so that there’s less friction. Most of the time, I don’t even notice the padding when I’m running. They’re also a little shorter than my regular bike shorts, and my tan lines look super-stupid when I’m wearing them.

How do you prevent chafing with less padding? I use lots of Body Glide, which is basically a paraffin wax-like substance in a deodorant stick-like container that your slather wherever you think you might chafe, which isn’t just the obvious places. It’s important to put it on your ankles and neck to help with the wetsuit. (And yes, I know that the name sounds like something naughty you would buy in a store with lots of neon signs and boarded up windows. I see you smirking out there.)

Where do you practice your open water swimming? I swim in Ashland Reservoir with half-dozen or more people from my tri club. It’s on my way to work, which is very convenient.

Where do you change clothes before work? In the parking lot of the boat launch where we all meet to swim. Obviously. :^) I’ve gotten quite adept at changing out of my wet swimsuit and into my work clothes under a beach towel. Sometimes, it’s nice being a dude.

How do you see in the water since you’re so blind? I have a couple pairs of optically corrected swim goggles that you can buy from the Tyr website. One pair is clear, while the other is tinted to block out some of the morning sun. I can’t read with them on, but then again, I don’t need to. They’re good enough that I can see where I need to go.

Why do you wear a swim cap? A few reasons. It makes it easier for boaters and my fellow swimmers to see me in the water; it simulates what it’s like on race day; it keeps my hair out of my face and water from sloshing in my ears; and when it’s cooler out, it keeps my head warm.

How long is each race? So far I’ve done sprint triathlons, which don’t have a standard distance but tend to be 1/4-1/2 mile of swimming, 10-15 miles of cycling, and 3-5 miles of running. I am registered for an Olympic-distance race (1500m, 40km, 10km—or 1 mile, 24 miles, 6.2 miles) and a 70.3 “half-Ironman” (1.2 miles, 56 miles, 13.1 miles).

How long does a race take? The sprints take a bit more than an hour. (My last race was 1:08.) I expect the Olympic is going to take between two and three hours, if all goes well, and the 70.3 will be between six and seven hours.

What’s on the calendar for this year? On July 8th, I’m doing the NYC Triathlon, which is an Olympic-distance. And August 26th is the Rev3 70.3 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. That latter one involves an ocean swim, which kinda makes me nervous. And the NYC Tri just makes me nervous in general, since NYC just generally makes me nervous. It has a very early start that involves diving (literally) into the Hudson, and we’re only there overnight. I’m actually more worried about making the hotel check-out time than anything else.

What is your favorite part of triathlon? Passing people! That and knowing that I’m capable of doing this. It’s great seeing all of the training come together. And I confess that I have a warm spot in my heart for the bike. It’s my first love.

How does diabetes impact triathlon? It has a huge impact! Everything gets extra attention because of it. Managing diabetes during triathlon is as much a part of the sport as any of the three athletic activities or getting the proper nutrition before and during the race. I’ve been working for months on making lots of small, data-driven tweaks to my basal rates, bolus amounts, and food and insulin timing so that I can get the performance I want without high or low blood sugar. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer. Even though training ensures that there’s never a “normal day” to use for diabetes testing, triathlon has made my diabetes self-management so much better—even if my A1c doesn’t show it. It inspires me to try harder, and I’m in a better place because of it. It also makes my transition times longer than I would like them to be.

What do you do with your insulin pump during the swim? My Medtronic pump isn’t waterproof, so I take it off before I zip up my wetsuit. I put it in a zippy bag in my cycling shoe so that it’s ready for me after the swim, so that it’s out of sight and stays cool, and so that it’s impossible for me to forget to put back on.

Are you afraid of low blood sugar while you’re swimming? Yes, of course. Well, I’m not exactly afraid, but it’s always on my mind before I start. I keep an energy gel or two in the ankle of my wetsuit just in case hypoglycemia strikes. I’ve been working really, really hard in recent weeks to get more predictability in my BGs around swimming, so that I don’t feel like I have to start out way high in order to avoid lows.

How do you test your blood sugar? So far my races have been short, and I’ve been testing in the swim-bike and bike-run transitions, where I leave my meter. It’s impossible to test wet hands—it prevents the blood from forming a droplet and ruins my test strips—so I keep a thirsty chamois-type towel near my meter to dry off my hands before I start. (That was a hard-knocks lesson from my first triathlon.) Getting test strips out of the vial takes time and gets harder when you’re in a rush, so I leave one in the meter to quickly get going. I’ve also been experimenting with using one of Lisa’s hair rubber bands—thanks, sweetheart!—to attach a couple of extra strips to the One Touch Ultra Mini I use when I exercise.

What about testing during the 70.3? That’s a challenge! 3-4 hours is too long to go without testing on the bike, and I need my meter with me on the run, too. I’ve done one experiment while riding, and it wasn’t so successful. I managed to get the test strip into the meter and had thing between my teeth while I lanced my finger before I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get the blood from the finger on my left hand into the meter in my right one without having an extra for steering. (Homey don’t ride without hands.) I suppose I could try to do that with my meter still in my teeth, but I’m contemplating a way to attach my meter to my aerobars. That seems more promising. The run should be easier.

What about CGM? Shouldn’t that solve it? My CGM receiver (a.k.a., my pump) doesn’t like to be away from the CGM transmitter for more than half an hour. When it does, it gets “lost” and then needs recalibration. This annoys me, especially since I’ve been able to trust my CGM a lot more during exercise recently.

What do you eat and drink during an event? What about the 70.3? Energy gels (such as Gu, HammerGels, and ClifShots), energy chews (like Honey Stingers and ClifBloks), and water. Ideally I take in about 20-30 grams of carbohydrates every 30-40 minutes. I carry my own water with me. For shorter races, I keep two bottles in transition. One contains Gatorade and the other plain water. The one I pick to put on the bike depends on my blood sugar. My strategy for the 70.3 is going to be basically the same . . . just more of everything. And, yes, 6-7 hours of eating gels and chews sounds nasty and boring, but trust me, the thought of eating real food gets less and less appealing as the hours pass. (Although, if I could find some Pearson’s Salted Nut Bars, I would be so all over those.)

How much do you train every week? Usually nine to eleven hours of actual training time. It depends on the distance of my long run and ride and whether it’s a recovery week or not. Every week has nine workouts: three of each discipline, split among strength, speed, and endurance training. The purpose of strength workouts (which are basically tempo or long interval runs/rides/swims) is to build the ability to work at high intensity for long periods of time on race day, while the speed workouts are all about becoming faster by doing short, high-intensity sprints. I’m not used to this much structure, but it’s hard to get the training volume needed for each of the disciplines when you have to train for all of them at once, so quality counts and doing things in the right order to prevent overuse injuries and excessive fatigue is key. I definitely enjoy the mostly unstructured, “just go long” endurance workouts best.

How much do you have to eat not to waste away to practically nothing? I eat a lot! Upwards of 3000-3500 calories every day. It feels weird to eat so much, but I kinda like it.

What’s your goal with tri? That’s a tricky one. I’d like to see how good I can get at it while still having a really good time. I also want to inspire other people with diabetes (and without, too!) not to see our disease as a limitation. People who don’t have it don’t usually get how much hard work, self-doubt, and just plain-ole bullshit we have to put up with to do our thing, but for those of us with diabetes we know. It can be pretty discouraging and even paralyzing from time to time. I want to show other PWDs, their loved ones, and yes even myself what it’s possible to do. I want to be that success story you hear about.

Why do you say you’re not a good swimmer, when you’ve been top 1/3 in your last couple races? You caught me! I am trying to stop saying that I’m not a good swimmer, even though I could be better at it. It’s simultaneously refreshing and frustrating for me to see other people who are faster than me in the water. On one hand, it gives me the freedom to concentrate on what I’m doing and not get caught up in trying to chase someone down, but on the other hand, it’s a reminder that my technique and power are still not where I want them to be. It’s a very humbling and empowering place to be. (And I am getting a bit faster.)

Are you going to do an Ironman? Hahaha! You people are funny. That would involve running a marathon, and we know that I currently have no plans to do that. Seriously, I’m not keen on subjecting myself to 14+ hours of athletic exertion, much less asking Lisa to put up with me as I train for it.


Anything else you want to know?

Posted in Diabetes, Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete, Running, Swimming | 8 Comments

A Year Later, I Can Do This. You Can, Too!

A year ago, when Kim announced the “You Can Do This” project, I could just tell it was going to be an important addition to the online landscape of diabetes. A year later, it’s become bigger and more empowering than I had ever imagined.

Whether we’ve had diabetes for three days or thirty years, we all need a little reminder from time to time that we can have lots of good times in our lives with this disease and that the bad times don’t last as long as we think. It gets better and then it gets worse and then it gets better again . . . but you can do this.

After a huge reversal of my A1c back to where it was when I started trying to lower it, I’m at one of those points where the encouragement of all the people online whom Kim has harnessed with her project is so welcome. I was so heartened to see that the currently featured video on the YCDT site is by Kris Freeman, “elite U.S. cross-country skier, member of U.S. Ski Team and Olympic athlete.” Having someone like him tell me (and all the rest of us) that we can keep aiming for and achieving amazing things despite having diabetes is exactly the message that I needed to hear right now. My A1c got worse, but I’m figuring out how to make it better at the same time that I keep training and racing and enjoying my life (with diabetes). As I told y’all in my own video, “You can do this.” And I believe I can do it, too.

Thanks, Kim, for starting something so wonderfully motivating and empowering!

Posted in Diabetes, Life Lessons, This is who we are | 4 Comments

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon

I’ve always said that triathlon is more than three disciplines. Beyond swimming, cycling, and running, you have to be good at transitions, nutrition, and recovery. And for some of us, there’s also diabetes.

I have a training plan with very exact instructions of what to do for the three athletic events, and I’ve been practicing my nutrition and transition strategies. Recovery is a little harder to actively manage, but I take lower-intensity rest weeks, use a foam roller, stretch, and try to stick to my plan. Diabetes has been much more ad hoc for me, though.

I was thinking on my way back from Minnesota after the big ride about insulin and exercise. This was not the first time where I’ve needed to give myself insulin during the event, despite my best efforts to avoid doing so. It’s also about the millionth time that I have not eaten (much) before some serious exertion because I didn’t know how much insulin to give to prevent low or high blood sugar.

Basically, I’m a big baby, but I have grown tired of being afraid of insulin and not knowing how to harness its power to prevent lows. And I want to figure out how to use it so that I can eat enough beforehand to prevent hitting the wall during my races, training outings, and long rides.

In order to gain the mental toughness to use insulin effectively—to no longer be afraid of it—I explicitly need to work insulin into my training plan and make it just as rigorous as the swim, bike, or run parts. This involves setting myself some goals and giving myself some concrete tasks to do.

Over the last couple weeks, I have taken some premeditated steps to experiment actively with diabetes before my swim, testing whether it was still right to turn my basal rate off 45-60 minutes before swimming, which I had been doing for most of the last year. I had noticed my BGs going up during my intense “strength” and “speed” workouts—which happens to many people—so I wanted to see if it was my basal rate or the anaerobic nature of the training. I also wanted to see what would happen if I ate something and took some insulin before my long Sunday ride (scary). And I set out to look very carefully at (a) what I need to do to get my BGs down before my afternoon workouts and (b) what happens during those workouts. Each workout at the pool is a chance to make a small change in a safe environment (cloudiness notwithstanding) before I try it at the lake.

It’s been interesting. I’ve done one long ride, three swims, a ride and a run. And, of course, I’ve kept notes the whole time.

Swim #1 — The plan: Swim 1800 yards without reducing my basal rate beforehand (i.e., use my normal, pre-dawn 0.9 u/hr rate). Food: Nope. Insulin on board: A bit (I wrote it down somewhere). The result: Down from 221 to 81.

Swim #2 — The plan: Swim 2 sets of 4×50 sprints (plus 10:00 of warmup and cool-down) without using a temp basal rate. Food: Nope. Insulin on board: Nope. The result: 5:00=123. Before @ 5:45=124. After @ 6:20=115.

Swim #3 — The plan: Swim 1000 yards without using a temp basal rate. Food: Nope. Insulin on board: Nope. The result: 5:10=165. Before @ 5:45=157. After @ 6:20 = 111.

Next up on the plan: another high-intensity workout without a temp basal rate reduction. Let’s see if the endurance workouts need a reduction and the strength/speed workouts don’t. And then, work on finding the right basal reduction for the long, aerobic swims.

50-Mile Bike Ride + 20-Minute Run — The plan: Eat something before starting a ride and take a small fraction of the recommended insulin. See what happens. Temp basal: 70%. Insulin on board: 0.5u @ 4:30. Food before: Clif Bar (39g). Insulin: 0.6u (not very much). Other food during the ride: 3 gels (25g each), 1 pack of Clif Bloks (40g), 60 oz of water. The result: 4:30=215. Before @ 6:50=171. 7:50=159. 8:40=130. 9:10=146. 9:45=172. Start of run @ 10:15=158. After @ 10:45=146.

Well, that could work. Next time, we’ll see what happens when the insulin on board is different.

There’s more data, but I’ll stop there. I’m off to figure out what diabetes experiments to do during the next few workouts. Stay tuned!

Posted in Cycling, Data-betes, Diabetes, Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete, Swimming | 2 Comments

Cloudy – Monday, 5:45AM

“Was the pool too cloudy or are you just done?” Pool Guy asked me as I left the pool deck after a quick 20-minute set. [1]

The water was very cloudy today. Last Friday it was ridiculously clear and refreshingly cold, just the way that a pool should be. It was also insanely crowded, with people trying to figure out where they were going to swim. Pat, who showed up late, didn’t like Pool Lady’s suggestion: “I don’t wanna circle swim.” It was bad enough that Pink Suit Lady (Jennifer) asked if she could swim next to me and then proceeded to lap me a dozen times or so over the next 5-10 minutes before she gave up in frustration after being bumped into too many times on the other side.

Today was completely different. The pool was cloudy enough that I could barely make out the bottom of the deep end and had to pay more attention to the location of the wall. It was also quite warm; despite Pool Guy’s repeated attempts to convince the maintenance staff it was too warm, which had recently been working, someone had ratcheted up the temperature over the weekend. And there was no one there.

I was the first to arrive today and actually waited a couple minutes to start so that I could get the attention of Pool Guy, who was sitting in the pool office doing who knows what. Once he waved back, I slipped in the water and started my five-minute warm up. I had already started my first set of 4×50 sprints before the first of The Old Ladies arrived.

I like these early morning swims. They’re a nice bit of socialization, a transition from sleeping and trying not to make too much noise around the house to being at the office and working with people. I see people I kinda know, and I’m talking to a few of them more than in the past, but the water provides a buffer where I can do my own thing in the presence of other people. Despite being a bit (unconsciously) competitive when I’m around other athletes, a few things—my awareness of my relative slowness, the knowledge that I’m the doing the best that I can right now, and trying hard to keep to a training plan—all help me not to feel bad as I watch people swim along just a bit (or a lot) faster than me.

Swimming also gives me a nice opportunity to clear my mind. Most of the time when I’m swimming I get into a rhythm where I’m very much present in the moment. I think about the stroke, my breathing, my lap count, where I am in my training set, and what’s going on around me in the pool, instead of the voices of self-doubt and worry that I too often hear or the thoughts about everything else going on my life, which have recently clouded my mind a bit. And when I get done I feel refreshed and ready to take on whatever the day brings in a clear-headed fashion.

But I wasn’t thinking about any of this when I answered Pool Guy. “All done. After all, it’s an easy recovery week in my training plan.”

I love recovery weeks.


1 — The older high school swim coach started appearing shortly after Pool Lady had her “Being here at 5:45 three times a week isn’t worth $10/hour” flake-out in February, leaving us wondering whether we would still be able to get in our thrice-weekly morning swim. Pool Lady (Sue) still shows up every Friday morning and is interested in us. She’s kind of like an auntie. “Oh, you got rid of your beard; I didn’t recognize you. I was always seeing you running around town, and I would beep you.” Beeping is New England speak for honking politely. I always figured the random honking was just that: random. “But now I’m going to have to start looking for the new you.”

Posted in Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete, Swimming | 1 Comment

Snapshots from the Midwest

Here are some random photos from my trip last week. Enjoy!

Posted in I am Rembrandt, Photography, Travel, USA | Leave a comment

100 Easy Miles

Where do I even start? I have a dozen different directions that I could go and enough material for a few different posts. Let’s start at the end and work our way backward to the end again, à la “Memento.”


Home: On Sunday I was back home for the first time in nine days. While I enjoyed my trip very much, I was eager the whole time I was gone to see Lisa. I thought about her all the time and wished that she had been with me. Everyone was sad to learn that Brown’s commencement on Memorial Day Sunday kept her from being able to come along. Trips are just much more fun when she’s with me, and not just because the only conversation I had on most of the long drives were in the form of podcasts. She’s a great traveling companion, and we have a lot of fun as connoisseurs of human folly. (I did get a nice two-hour long gab session with Mom in the car on Wednesday, though.)

I was surprised how much of Sunday I was able to make it through in a lucid fashion. On Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 4:45AM so that I could make my 6:55 flight home. Even with that much lead time and no traffic, I still almost missed it. (Thanks for nothing, closed gas station and slowest TSA security screening line ever.) It was the second night of little sleep. Friday ended late, Saturday started earlier than Sunday, and when I know I’m not going to get much sleep I tend to get insomnia.

(I had thought that I might be able to catch up on some sleep during the trip, but that was not to be. This trip was basically me getting up early to do my normal tri training—except for swimming—driving to a place where I could meet friends and/or family, visiting with them until late, getting less sleep than I expected, and repeating the whole thing the next day.)

Saturday . . . ride day . . . the day that spawned this whole trip . . . started early. Fortunately I got my bike, kit, and all of my food prepped on Friday night before bed. (Man, that was a late night, too. After a kinda disappointing VIP event, Scott, Scully, Nikki, and I went on an extended Tour de Coffee in Saint Paul. Scully needed the caffeine, but everything was closed, except McDonalds. They dropped me off at the hotel late, but it was so much fun!)

Where was I? Oh right, the ride. :^)


The Ride: Heather talked me into doing this 100-mile ride months ago, and it was finally here. The weather was perfect for cycling: cool, clear, and calm. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an urban/suburban century ride, but after riding around Minneapolis’s urban bike paths the previous two days, I was hopeful that it would be a good route, and it didn’t disappoint.

There were so many “Red Riders” (cyclists with Type-1, LADA, or Type-2 diabetes) near us at the start. The whole Red Rider concept is great. (Thanks for coming up with it, Mari!) I admit that I felt awkward having people doing the same event cheer me on just because I have diabetes, especially since Scully in her Team Type 1 jersey wasn’t getting any special attention from the crowd. But when I looked around at all of the people with diabetes at the start, I admit that it was a bit moving. We really can do anything. And it was pretty badass powering along the route past all of the wonderful people who raised money for my disease, knowing that Scully and I are both dedicated athletes out for an easy ride.

We decided before we started to take it easy. It was 100 miles after all, and there was no special reason to keep a particular tempo. Plus, the trails were a bit packed with all of us. I’ve never used my brakes so much on a ride before. Scully said that when you’re in the pack in a race, you’re constantly on and off your brakes, and I got the sense that she was having a good time. (The day before, when I asked her how close they ride during her races, she pulled to within a foot of me. Then she said, “Sometimes we’re actually leaning on each other a little,” and proceeded to demonstrate by moving even closer until her arm rubbed against mine and then pushed a bit for a few seconds. We both kept going straight, and I thought, “Damn, it feels good to be a gangster!”) Eventually the pack thinned out a bit, and by the time we got to the second rest stop and headed out onto the country roads, it was pretty easy to roll along and have some good conversations.

At first, I talked to some of my fellow Pancremaniacs along the route. Eventually, on one of the first big hills, Scully and I just kinda rode away and began a six- or seven-hour, nearly nonstop conversation about anything and everything. In Wyzata, we rode up on the back of a small pack, where we stayed for a few minutes before Scully sprinted off, passing them all and leaving me flat-footed with a freshly opened package of Clif Bloks energy chews in my hand. “Bitch, no fair attacking in the feed zone!” I playfully scolded when I finally caught up with her after my own head-down sprint past people saying “Go, Red Rider!” As we rounded the next corner to go out of town, the hills started before we had a chance to recover from the sprint. Take that, Scully!

It was the best-feeling long ride I’ve ever done. It was long, but it didn’t hurt or cause me any pain or soreness or boredom. I could easily have gone another 20-30 miles. I think this is because of the camaraderie, the relative flatness of the course, the great weather, the slightly slower pace, my consistent nutrition, and being very well-hydrated.

My diabetes management wasn’t perfect. After an amazing overnight where my BGs were between 100-120 for six hours, it started slowly climbing as soon as I got out of bed—a trend I’ve been noticing lately—and then picked up the pace when I had “breakfast” just before the ride started. By the time Scully got coffee at the second rest stop, I was 311 mg/dL (17.3 mmol) and had taken about 2.0 units of insulin. If you know me, you know that exercising with insulin freaks me out, but in this case, I knew that I needed to take some. Eventually I came down to the 180s (10s) for many hours before rolling across the finish line at 102 (5.7). I basically stopped eating during the last hour, since I’d had it with snack foods and knew that my BG could hold out with what I’d already put into it.

And what did I take in over those eight hours and six minutes? In no particular order:

  • 2 salted nut bars
  • 3 or 4 gels
  • 2 glucose tablets
  • 1.5 Clif Bars
  • 2 packs of Clif Bloks
  • Some Star Wars gummy snacks that stuck in my teeth and spawned a funny conversation about my non-folding tongue
  • Maybe something else
  • about 150 oz of water, occasionally using a bit of Nuun for electrolytes

That’s roughly 200-250 grams of carbs with just 2.0 units of bolused insulin (plus about 3.5 units of basal insulin using a temporary reduction of 30%). It’s crazy!

Poor Skullz went low right before the end, though, and we kinda took it really easy on our way to crossing the line together. About an hour later, I had to pull the car over on the way to the hotel because I dropped like a rock. Evidently bolusing the full amount for my post-ride chocolate milk wasn’t necessary at all. I understand there are incriminating pictures floating around of me with my cheeks full of Gu Chomps that I stuffed in with my shaking hands.


Afterward: I was expecting for the ride to turn difficult at some point; for a pain to arrive in my knee, foot, or hip; for the inside of my quads to start complaining or my lower back to get sore; or for the pedaling just to become hard. It never did. Interestingly, the biggest hill on the route was in the last five or six miles, and we just kinda powered our way up it. When I got off the bike, I was expecting fatigue or soreness, but that didn’t happen either.

Later in the day, as the Pancremaniacs hung out at the Chatterbox Pub and then even later when Scully and Scott kept me entertained while I packed, I expected to get stiff and achy. Nothing. Ditto for the next morning, when I hopped out of bed and felt no pain at all. In fact, I almost started to wonder whether I had actually done a century the day before. The Tour de Cure was almost magical in this respect!

It was, simply, a great ride in the middle of a fantastic weekend at the end of a wonderful Midwestern trip. I hung out with some great people, had some fantastic conversations, rode a scenic route, and spent some quality time on a bike. I can’t really express how wonderful the whole experience was.

Posted in 101 in 1001, Cycling, Diabetes, I am Rembrandt, Photography, Travel, USA | 7 Comments