Monthly Archives: July 2012

Garden of the Gods

Yesterday, we left Casper and drove to Colorado Springs. This is part two of the Great Rectangular State Adventure of 2012—the part where we visit Lisa’s family and see if we can get run out of town just a head of Johnny Law.

Speaking of The Man, today was all about the Garden of the Gods Park, starting with an early morning bike ride there where I almost had a run in with a park ranger. Literally. There is perhaps no more beautiful place to do interval training than Garden of the Gods Park, and I was having a good time sprinting along the flats, grinding up the hills, and zooming down the other side. I might have been exceeding the posted 20 MPH speed. I might have been going 40 MPH. I might have come upon the back of the park ranger’s patrol car driving close to the speed limit. He might have slowed down to see if I was going to pass him so that he could pull me over to give me a ticket. But I didn’t pass him, and he eventually turned off, and I got back to my speeding ways.

After my ride and breakfast, Lisa and my in-laws and I drove back out to Garden of the Gods to see the sights. Here’s a bit of what we saw:

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Posted in Cycling, Photography, Travel, USA, Western Adventure | 2 Comments

Casper

Lisa and I are finishing up the first part of The Great Rectangular State Adventure of 2012. We arrived in Denver on Saturday and drove up I-25 to Casper, Wyoming, to visit my mom and her husband.

For those who don’t know, I was born in Iowa, but I grew up in Wyoming. The Equality State holds a special place in my heart (despite everything that’s “wrong” with it from the perspective of an urbane person who lives in a major Eastern metropolitan area with high-tech jobs and cultural attractions and diversity and laws). I made great friends here, did a lot of fun things, and heard so many fantastic stories about all of the crazy things that happen in a state with more cows than people. While hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and driving around the state alone and with friends, I built up my own trove of Wyoming lore, too. (Most of it’s even true.) High school cross-country and debate trips were almost always overnight affairs with lots of shenanigans and fun. I estimate that I met 10% of the people my age during the three years that I lived here full time.

But, like most of my friends, I went away for college and never moved back. We’re a band of expatriates, and—as with all people who move away—when we come back this place is strangely familiar and foreign at the same time. I walk a line between nostalgia for an idealized golden age and trying to appreciate the state for the way that it really is now, warts and all. I love thinking about this place and all of the things that we did at the same time that I wonder what I’m possibly going to do this time without just doing the same things that I’ve done in the past.

(One of my best high school friends keeps finding her way back to Wyoming. She’s the most improbable native daughter a state like Wyoming could ever have. We had hoped to meet up, but sadly, we’re just going to miss her on this trip and won’t be able to make the reading from her collection of short stories, “Cowboys and East Indians.”)

This trip is one of the rare times that we’re here in the summer, so we’re doing more outdoorsy things. Wyoming is a great place to be outside, even when it’s been hot like this week. (Although, it’s definitely nicer when you’re not in the direct sun.) Because I’m deep into triathlon training, I brought my bike, so this is also the first time that I’ve been cycling here in almost 20 years. Hiking and cycling in Wyoming is so much different than where Lisa and I live now. The mountains are higher; the roads and trails are less crowded; and views are much more impressive.

The elevation is much higher here, too—5000+ feet vs. 300 at our house—and I can definitely feel it. Actually, I feel it a lot! Tons of sparklies everywhere I look. (I think it’s also wreaking havoc with my blood sugar, making me low all the time.) Sunday’s 60-mile ride with Mom and Miles was a bit more challenging than I expected. And my plan to ride up Casper Mountain this morning was thwarted after the first six miles by a 25 MPH headwind and the sparklies. (Although the 50+ MPH ride back down was totally sweet and all too short!)

After my less-than-successful attempt to ride up the mountain, we all drove up in the car a little bit later. We took a short hike, saw a rattlesnake, and visited a fantastically beautiful (and new-to-me) part of the mountain. I loved being on the edge of one mountain, seeing the range extend far into the distance as the shadows from the clouds moved across the meadows between them, the air full of the smell of sagebrush. This particular park has a quirky, New-Agey mythology to it that is very much not normal for Casper, and it just made me very happy to be there.

I’m kinda sad that we’re starting the next phase of our adventure tomorrow when we drive to Colorado Springs.

Posted in Cycling, This is who we are, Travel, USA, Western Adventure | 3 Comments

“Are You Insane???”

A coworker wrote this to me earlier today:

“Are you insane??? :) Just last week my wife and I were talking about hot places and we were looking up crazy things people do in Death Valley. I hope by donating I can tell people I participated in this without leaving my air conditioning.”

Friends, I think I might actually be a little nutty. When I signed up for it last winter, I didn’t know it was going to be quite so warm—120+F—on the route in mid-October. I’ve been learning some valuable lessons about hydration over the last week (which I will discuss at another time) which I will undoubtedly apply during my hot, dry, and (hopefully) awesome ride.

Fortunately, I have some very generous friends, coworkers, and family members. They have already donated over $4,000 for my ride. Every bit helps! Why not throw in a few bucks?

Posted in Cycling, Diabetes | 1 Comment

NYC Triathlon – Dead Fish, The Henry Hudson Parkway, and Running Dehydrated

Sunday I finished the Olympic-distance 2012 Aquaphor NYC Triathlon in 2:40:55, 886th best of the 3485 finishers.

This race was my longest triathlon to date and was the one that got the whole “triathlon thing” started for me when Caroline asked in 2010 if I would do a tri with her and a friend. While I didn’t get picked in the lottery that year, she and I volunteered to cheer for all of the triathletes running up 72nd Street. After more than 20 months of thinking about it while swimming laps, I finally completed it.

The “NYC Triathlon” = “NYC” + “Triathlon.” Let’s break this up into two parts.

Logistics: This trip to New York City was stressing me out hardcore. Usually, I’m pretty mellow about these things, but I’ve learned that, when it comes to situations where I might look the part of a fool—or a tourist or newb or whatever—and I can’t think of the right way to handle the situation in advance, I get pretty stressed out. How was I going to handle the bike + check-in + Midtown valet parking + crowds issue? What about the late check-out on Sunday morning after the tri? How would I get my bike and stuff to transition, which was 2.5 miles from the hotel? Furthermore, Lisa isn’t a huge fan of New York; how was I going to avoid her murdering me at 4:00AM on Sunday morning when the alarm was set to go off?

Turns out, I am not the first person to come to New York City to do this event, so I needn’t have worried. The hotel wasn’t completely given over to triathletes—a pack of hundreds of young teenage girls from some exotic locale annoyed the ever-lovin’ humanity out of everyone—but our special circumstances weren’t that special. The race organizers—who really thought of everything—had a place to check my bike before hotel check-in while I attended my pre-race briefing. It was straightforward (but not convenient) to get my stuff to and from transition. (If we were true New Yorkers, we would have taken a cab to save some time on the way there with my bike. We did take the Subway back on Saturday because it was too damn hot out there for another long walk. So, good on us. Yeah, whatever.)

(With all that said, the event really is much more manageable—and much, much less expensive—for people who live in or near NYC. It’s a great race for locals and for people who want to travel to the Big Apple and don’t mind the expense and everything else that comes along with it. It’s a great race, and I enjoyed the race itself very much. I’m looking forward to doing another Oly again some day, just probably not NYC. It’s not you, New York; it’s me. I mean it. I had a great time on the course and interacting with the volunteers and staff. Plus, they say if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere. Now I just have to go and prove that Old Blue Eyes was telling the truth.)


Diabetes Logistics: The only really special circumstances that the race organizers didn’t plan for was my diabetes. The transition zone (where we switched from swimming to cycling to running) was a mile from the swim start. I needed to meet my insulin pump in transition, but I couldn’t be disconnected from it for too long. The time between when everyone had to leave transition to the start of my swim wave was unknown—due to the nature of the “time trial start”—and turned out to be close to three hours. I probably could have asked some of the race staff for help as a physically challenged athlete, maybe having someone shuttle my pump to the transition area after my swim start, like they did with other athletes’ wheelchairs, etc. But in comparison to people without the use of limbs or sight, diabetes ranks kind of low on the “challenged athlete” hierarchy, and I don’t like to make a big deal out of it. As a result, I treated diabetes like I normally do: a pain in the ass to be worked around and managed the best I can without special dispensation from event organizers.

Eventually I struck upon a plan involving my backup insulin pump that seemed like it would work. I would fill both of my pumps with insulin, leave the backup in transition on the morning of the event with all of the settings exactly the same as the other one, and wear my regular pump + CGM to the start. My plan was to eat the pre-race breakfast that had been working for me earlier in the week just 20 minutes before the start, deliver a small insulin bolus for the meal, give Lisa my newer pump just about 10-15 minutes my swim start, hook up my older pump after the swim, and rock the rest of the tri. Having Lisa there was a real help, since it meant that I could keep everything with me until the very last minute.

It was an excellent plan. Unfortunately, it was also the source of my undoing later in the race.


The Swim: — 1,500m (0.9 miles) in 22:31 = 1:21/100 yards.

Let’s talk about swimming in the Hudson River. Everyone joked about it. It’s dirty. It’s radioactive. I’ll get out with        (insert your favorite disease here). Blah blah blah. The only real advice I got came last year from someone who just finished (stay to the right where the current is faster) and from this year’s athlete’s packet (it’s saltier than you might expect).

We had to leave transition by 5:40AM for the swim start, which was not a problem. Our 4:45AM bus from the hotel was met with gridlock at 72nd street by Riverside Park. Ah, the city that never sleeps. . . . Except that we went to bed at 8:00PM the night before, which might technically be against the law. Someone next door woke us at midnight by taking a shower. A half hour later an enormous thunderstorm rolled right over us in Midtown. I knew my bike was getting drenched, but I was happy knowing that I hadn’t left anything else there.

After setting up my transition area—I’m a minimalist, and I keep as much stuff as I can in the shoes that I need to wear during the next event—Lisa and I walked the mile up to start. While we waited for my turn to get in the water, we watched the river flow by, carrying twigs and leaves and driftwood along with a dead fish here and there. I was promised a PR because of the current. The course record was 9:00 . . . for 1500m. Some people don’t run that fast. (My typical mile time is 32-35 minutes.)

We waited and waited. Along the way, we saw the pros and elites start . . . and almost everyone else. Not knowing when I was going to start made me nervous, and I ate my breakfast too soon. My plan was to do what I had tried earlier in the week a couple times: eat a Clif Bar 20 minutes before starting the swim, bolusing a small amount for it. Instead, I ate almost an hour before my swim wave. By the time I got in the water, my BG had risen from just under 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol) when I awoke to around 350 (19.5). For those of you without diabetes, that’s very high, which threw off my whole nutrition plan. More about that later.


I jumped in the water (literally) at 7:45AM. Every twenty seconds, fifteen of us hopped into the water, our times starting as soon as the timing chip strapped around our ankles left the timing mats at the edge of the starting barge. The whistle blew, I held my nose to keep the saltwater out, and I hoped that my goggles had a good seal.

Slightly more than 22 minutes later I was being helped out of the river by burly guys. That’s a PR by over ten minutes! I know the current helped me quite a lot, but I was really happy that I passed people all along the way. Lisa followed my progress down the river and took a lot of pictures of me. “And there’s the person you kinda swam over. . . . And there are people doing the backstroke. . . . And there’s the dead fish you probably grabbed and jokingly thought was a piece of driftwood that you could use as a paddle. . . .”

Looking at these photos afterward, here’s what I’ve learned. (1) I over-rotate when I breathe. (2) I need to keep my head pointed downward more. (3) When my hand enters the water, it’s not ready for a good catch. (4) Etc. Still, I’m really happy with my swim.



The Bike — 40K (24.8 miles) in 1:16:04 = 19.6 mph.

My ride was the strongest discipline of the day and the one I enjoyed the most. I had a plan to stay near lactate threshold—the place where muscles switch from aerobic to anaerobic energy—based on my heart rate monitor, and only go over for short periods of time when going up hills or passing. The idea is to put the maximum sustainable effort out there on the course and refuel along the way to keep the energy up.

Having driven along the eastern shore of the Hudson River several times on my way to and from the George Washington bridge, I knew that the course would be hilly. The route mainly used the northbound side of the Henry Hudson Parkway / West Side Highway from 79th Street north into the Bronx and onto the Mosholu Parkway before turning around at Gun Hill Road and returning all the way back to 57th Street, where we did a U-turn to reenter Riverside Park at 79th. (Look at me sounding like a local.) Being a highway, most of these grades were shallow and long. But having touched 40 mph on the downhill, I can tell you that some of the climbs, especially the Bronx were the real deal.

As in most races, I passed a bunch of people, partly because I started so far back in the swim and partly because I had a really good ride. About two or three dozen passed me, and many of them went past me like I was barely moving. They were mainly from the 30-35 age group and had some seriously aggressive aero going on. I was in my own aerodynamic tuck most of the time, too. I really only got out of it when climbing a few big hills and when I was drinking. It was also the first time I ate on the bike in the aero position; I actually think that might be easier. (I’m also kind of amazed at how many people I passed who were riding tri bikes like mine but who weren’t riding in aero. Maybe I just caught them at a bad moment.)

Speaking of eating and drinking, I didn’t drink enough water. Nor did I eat as I had planned because of my high blood sugar. These mistakes were to be my undoing during the run on this hot, humid day.


The Run — 10K (6.2 miles) in 52:21 = 8:26/mile.

Before I jumped in the water, the announcers reported the men’s winner. Lisa reminds me that it was humid and warm even before his wave started, but when he crossed the line at 7:20AM, it was still fairly cool. By the time I finished my swim around 8:00, the air was warming right up. By 9:30, as I was running up 72nd Street into Central Park, it was hot. I had dumped some of the water I didn’t drink on the run over my head before leaving transition for the last time, but I was still warm. I drank from my palm-held bottle until I ran out around 5K in the park, but by then I was already starting to realize I wasn’t going to be able to make up the debt I racked up on the bike.

I have a bad habit of not pacing myself well and heading out too fast when I run. So I tried to be mindful of that, running by perceived exertion and HR and giving the best effort I could without going into the red zone.

In case you didn’t know, Central Park is hilly. It’s hilly where I live, too, but these hills demoralized me a bit. Running a hilly course for the first time is never fun. I was feeling good through the first 5K, averaging about 7:30-7:40/mile, but then I hit the wall going up a hill. The combination of dehydration, too little food, and high blood glucose (over 380 mg/dL, or 21 mmol) was too much. I kept running, but I slowed. My leg muscles hurt like they were full of lactic acid because of the blood sugar, and the world was starting to look bleached because of the lack of water.

As I grabbed more water at the remaining aid stations, I hoped I didn’t look as bad as I felt, since I didn’t want to get pulled from the course so close to the end of my race. I thought about walking a couple of times, but I pushed on until just before mile 5. On a hill just uptown of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I let myself walk. I was tired and trying to figure out whether I was going to pass out. After about 3-4 minutes of walking, I felt better—not perfect, but well enough to run again. I was running when I heard Lisa cheering for me. I gave her a smile and a wave and picked up the pace and finished the last little bit really strong.


Recovery: I pumped my fist crossing the line, happy to have finished on my feet, already thinking about the lessons I could take from this race and use in Maine for my Ironman-70.3. A young woman handed me a cool, soothing, wet towel that I put over my head. It was so wonderful! I think I would have kissed her if I weren’t in that “if someone touches me I might pass out (or worse)” phase—well, that and I’m married, you know. Another woman smiled at me and put a finishers’ medal over my towel-covered head and around my neck. Then there were bottles of cold water and a chocolate milk-like recovery drink and a banana, all from happy volunteers.

By the time that Lisa caught up with me and we had walked back to transition to get my bike, all of the sparklies and worries about needing medical attention were gone, and I felt really great. We talked about the race and the weekend on the way back to the hotel. It was a great experience . . . logistics, dehydration, and diabetes notwithstanding. I’m super excited about Maine next month!


Posted in Cycling, Diabetes, Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete, Running, Swimming | 5 Comments

Despite Diabetes

Scott Strange wrote an excellent post about accomplishments and diabetes and the way that people talk about what we do with our challenged pancreases. You should go read it now. I’ll wait.

His observations touched on something I’ve been thinking about in the context of my triathlon training, accomplishments, and challenges. When I eventually post the recap of my NYC Triathlon experience from this weekend, you’ll see that I had a very good time (both literally and emotionally) despite some challenges, one was entirely diabetes-related, the other not at all.

No one in the race knew about my diabetes, and if anyone in the crowd (other than my loving wife) knew that I was wearing my TeamWILD kit to represent for my peeps with diabetes, they didn’t acknowledge it. To the casual observer and my fellow triathletes, I was just another athlete trying to perform as well as my talents and training and the day would let me. To me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

So, while I loved seeing all of the people who responded to my Facebook updates and photos from the event, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the few of them that mentioned my diabetes. Certainly, it shouldn’t take away from the congratulations at the core of the compliment, and yet there diabetes was. Scott’s post caused me to think about this some more and to write this comment:

I’m not as awesome athletically as the folks you mentioned—and that has nothing to do with diabetes—but I get the “Look at what you’re accomplishing despite/with/because of diabetes!” compliment all the time. I recognize that diabetes is a factor (and the one that’s least in my control right now) but it’s not the biggest part of either my results or my motivation. That would be the part that comes by putting in day after day of hard work, even when I don’t want to and when diabetes presents a challenge. (The pros and the elites feel the same way, too, of course.)

Sure, I think about diabetes sometimes when I’m training and racing, partly to make sure I’m doing the right thing to achieve my best performance, but often it’s with the mental image of beating this disease like a piñata when I need a little bit of extra motivation.

Perhaps people are reacting to the fact that I am out there day after day doing what I need to do to compete. People (including myself) can find so many reasons for not doing so many of the things that we know we should. I think it’s natural for people with and without diabetes to want to acknowledge our accomplishments as worthy of a little extra attention because we didn’t give in to whatever impediments or excuses might come our way.

So, as much as I dislike hearing this despite/because business as part of a compliment and wish that people would just focus on the accomplishment, I think I finally get where people are coming from. (Thanks for prompting me to think about this more!)

Dear readers, what do you think about the “with/despite/because of diabetes” comments?

. . . And, for what it’s worth, you can say anything you want when you give me praise or criticism. I won’t be offended or complain or wish you hadn’t. :^)

Posted in Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete, Whining | 13 Comments

NYC Triathlon in Pictures

I’ll tell you about the swim, bike, run shenanigans tomorrow Thursday. Here are some awesome photos from Lisa to hold you over until then.


Swim


Bike


Run


Shenanigans

Posted in Cycling, I am Rembrandt, Running, Swimming | 3 Comments

My Day

I brought my bike to work today for a fitting at the bike store just down the street. Then it will be time for a ride before hitting up the codez a little more.

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

Trials – Monday, 5:45AM

I. Monday morning swims are always the hardest. Technically, Monday is a rest day on my plan, but the pool is only open three days a week during the summer, so I find myself getting up at 5:00 on my rest day to get ready to go to the pool—which I admit has been a little harder to do recently than normal. I’m usually a bit worn out after the previous day’s long bike ride, and Monday reminds me that swimming, while mostly upper-body, really is an activity that uses each of the major muscle groups: arms, legs, and core.

The first swim of the week is often a speed workout, which involves lots of short, all-out sprints. Just like track workouts, the idea is to tax the body’s anaerobic system so that the fast-twitch muscle fibers strengthen, resulting in greater speed the rest of the time. The rest is just short enough to clear out the lactic acid and “reset” the anaerobic system. (“You get faster by going faster” is one of the basic rules of endurance training.) For example, today called for two sets of 5×100 yards with 30 seconds of rest between each 100. Those thirty seconds are just long enough to catch my breath before starting the next sprint. The two minutes of rest between each set is heaven. I lean back against the wall with the water up to my chin, letting it cool me down while I come back to myself. Eventually I resume noticing what’s going on at the pool around me, since I usually get very focused during these intense efforts. Then it’s time to start the intense effort all over again.

I’ve slowly been getting a bit stronger and faster during these speed sessions. Each 100 is a little bit faster than at the beginning of the season—maybe 5-10 seconds—and my 50s are much faster than before. It’s nice to see everything coming together. Now I just need a little more slipperiness and efficiency in the water, and I’ll be keeping up with the cool kids at the pool . . . or at least watching them lap me fewer times.

I don’t think a lot during these speed sessions. Unlike the endurance swims, where my body follows the line on the bottom of the pool while my mind drifts all over the place—trying to remember what lap I’m on, looking around at the people and noticing what they’re wearing and how well they’re swimming, thinking about Lisa and my friends, visualizing my next race, computing fractions and percentages of the swim that I’ve done, being mindful of my form and stroke efficiency, singing along to inappropriate lines from hip hop songs that stick in my head—when I’m doing strength and speed workouts, I’m mostly fixated on pushing as much water past me as I can and trying to remember how many times I’ve touched the wall in the deep end since I started this part of the set. It’s nice to be so single-minded.

This morning while I was warming up and then as I recovered between sets, I thought about the U.S. Olympic trials that Lisa and I have been watching nightly for the last week. I love watching the swimmers, runners, and field athletes doing what they do so well. (I’ve also watched a bit of the gymnastics trials, but I have to admit that it’s hard for me to get into it. I respect the difficulty of what they’re doing and how they make it look effortless, but with the exception of doing a plank or two in my day I don’t feel a lot of connection with the sport. I do like the drama of the events, although NBC could dial it back just a smidge.)

It occurred to me the other day that, while I’ve always had a good understanding of how hard it is for the track athletes to do what they do, this is the first Olympiad where I can really appreciate the swimmers’ technique and times and not just the drama of who is going to win. I’ve never run under 5:00 for a whole mile, but I ran 800m back in the day near 2:15 and some 2-mile track races around 11:00. It was never fast enough to win, but it was fast enough to know what it’s like to run really fast. I know what air moving past me at 4:30 pace feels like, and it’s great. I’ve only done a handful of bike races, but I know what it feels like to descend at 50 MPH and to make that face when riding. That look is the 5 MPH difference between what I do for part of a workout and what they do for hours.

As I was leaning against the wall having done five 100-yard sprints at between 1:40 and 1:45 for each, I was thinking of the women and men I watched at the Olympic trials on TV the night before who swam 200m of freestyle in the same amount of time that I took for my 90-ish meters. The fact is, I have no idea what it feels like to swim fast. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I’m so much faster and stronger than I was just a year ago.) While I do well versus my peers, there’s another group of swimmers out there that have more than just the skills and speed that I lack; they have also had swimming experiences that I’ve only dreamt of.

I’ll never swim as fast as Ryan Lochte or Missy Franklin—or run as fast as Galen Rupp or Allyson Felix or ride as fast Jens Voigt or Kristin Armstrong—but it’s fun to think about maybe getting halfway there. It certainly makes those 100 yard sprints feel better.


II. Each trip to the pool is also an opportunity to fine-tune my insulin for the swim. Based on a few weeks of data, I can definitively say that if I don’t eat, lower my basal rate, or bolus any insulin before speed or strength workouts, my blood glucose will go up. But if I go to the pool or lake and do an endurance swim of a half-mile or more, it will go down. How much insulin do I need on a speed day to prevent going up? How much food (and possibly insulin) do I need on an endurance day not to drop very much? These are questions I’m asking myself and trying to answer three times a week. With NYC coming up on Sunday, finding the answer is a bit more urgent, which is another good reason not to sleep in on Monday.

This morning was a perfect opportunity to search for answers and gain extra confidence.

My BG at 4:30 this morning was 120 mg/dL (6.7 mmol). An hour later before my swim it was 108 (6.0). Those are pretty close to perfect for me for fasting readings. That perfection made “doing the right thing” more critical. I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to gather good, usable data by changing too many things at once, and I didn’t want to act too aggressively and possibly go low in the pool. Choices, choices, choices.

I was hungry, I didn’t have a lot of headroom for going low, and I had an energetic swim ahead. What to do? I decided to simulate this weekend . . . minus the endurance aspect, which I hope to account for on Wednesday or Friday. I set a 0% temp basal rate 40-45 minutes before I knew that I would start swimming, I ate an energy gel (20g of carbs) 10 minutes before the swim, and I delivered an almost insignificant 0.3 units of insulin to “cover” the food and the swim. (This follows the same ratio of roughly 65:1 that I’ve been using when I bike in the morning. It hardly seems like it should matter, but it does. And no, I don’t divide by 65. I say, “ClifBar = 0.6u, and a gel is half a ClifBar, so 0.3u.”)

What happened? My post-swim was 112 (6.2), basically unchanged from before the swim. That sounds like something very promising to try again. Later this week, I’ll try a longer, aerobic swim with similar fueling and see what changes I need to make.

Things might finally be starting to come together.

Disclaimer: Obviously, this is something that worked for me . . . once. Take a big ole grain of salt, don’t consider this as personal advice or copy it outright, and talk to your diabetes peeps before making any changes. Yadda yadda yadda.

Posted in Data-betes, Diabetes, Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete, Swimming | 1 Comment

Bottle Rockets

Before I get started, I want to say that I hope my Canadian readers had a very happy Canada Day and are enjoying (or enjoyed) a Monday off!

It’s hard to believe that I finished the tenth week of my 18-week Ironman-70.3 training plan today. I haven’t raced since the NE Season Opener more than six weeks ago. The closest I’ve been was the solo 5K I ran yesterday to find out my training paces. (I got several funny looks as I ran 3.1 miles along the Upper Charles River trail in 21:31.) Next weekend I’m competing in my first Olympic distance race—the New York City Triathlon—and I’m somewhere between mellow and eager to see how I do on a bigger stage.

Today was the longest ride to date on the plan: 56 miles. That just so happens to be the length of the bike leg in my race in 8 weeks. “Longest on the plan” doesn’t mean the longest I’d actually done, since I was putting in some extra distance for the century ride a month ago. Since then, I’ve been trying my best to stay on plan, and it seems to be going well.

It was the longest ride I’d ever done on my tri bike, though. Unlike the awesome and “cocky” Scully, who rode in aero for the first time on the day before her 70.3 relay last week, it took me a while to feel good about it. Previously, I had been heading uphill toward Grafton before turning around to come home before tacking on a little bit extra each week.

The last thing holding me back from going on a long loop was the water situation. My tri bike only has an attachment for one bottle holder, which earlier wasn’t a big deal. My rides were shorter, the air was cooler, I refilled at home after an hour on the road, and I could always throw an extra bottle in my back pocket. But 56 miles is too far—and it’s now too warm—for all that. Enter the XLab Carbon Sonic wing and Gorilla bottle cages.


It’s kind of a sexy-looking piece of hardware. It bolts onto the saddle post and allegedly is the most aerodynamic way of carrying normal water bottles, since they’re completely sheltered by my body. The Gorilla cages are light but have a strong grip on the bottles. I was hopeful that this rig would get me through the ride on a day that started warm and was supposed to touch 90ºF.

It almost got off to a bad start. I was heading out of town when I hit a big pothole at a stoplight. The cyclist who was stopped at the intersection shouted something and a few moments later I heard a thud. I stopped and noticed that I had launched both of my bottles. I saw one near my feet and the other w-a-y back at the intersection. Clearly, even though they hold well, I’m going to have to be careful with the sharp bumps, which is good advice in general, of course.

Newly restocked with water, I had a great ride. In the end I could have used another 20+ ounces of water, since I had to ration a bit, despite bringing three full bottles with me.

Everything went very well despite some mistakes. I forgot to set a temporary basal rate, which I didn’t realize until I was two hours into the ride. My BGs were very good despite this. (Perhaps because of this?) It could explain why I ate more than 160 grams of carbs and only needed 0.6 units of insulin for it. It’s something to keep in mind for the future.

I still need to figure out blood glucose testing on the bike. My CGM was not at all accurate today, so I had to stop and test a couple times, which ate up about five minutes. That’s something I don’t want to do during the race. It will be great if I can rely on CGM, but I’m not sure I can count on that. That’s something to work on another day.

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Bike Porn

I did not want to bring this bike back to the store after my test ride Friday afternoon, so I took it home with me. I can’t wait to ride it like I stole it.

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