14 Years, 14 Miles, and No More Diet Coke

Today is a big day. Fourteen years ago today I was diagnosed with diabetes. And this is my 1,000th post here.

I. A D-Day Run — Last year, I went trail running on the 13th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis. It was fun . . . and difficult. This year, I’m marathon training, and I did another long run. (Next year, it’s my diabetes’s quinceañera, so who knows what will happen.) I started training a couple weeks ago, and my race is six weeks away. It’s a bit of an accelerated schedule, but I think I can manage.

Today I went for a 14-mile run, my longest run since Around the Bay a year and a half ago. It felt pretty easy. Actually, it was the best long run I’ve ever had! My pace was a very consistent 8:35-8:40/mile for the whole outing (including hills), my legs felt pretty good, and I was trying to practice a few things that I’ve read about recently.

It seems that one of our key limiters for athletic performance is the brain. It performs a vital function in keeping us athletes from doing serious damage to our bodies by throttling down our effort when we’re working too hard. That also means that we often give in when things seem tough, even if we have plenty of energy left over. Basically, we give up even when we don’t want to. (That doesn’t mean we’re weak or that we can all be Olympians, but it does mean that maybe we have extra greatness in us.) Today I worked on some of the mental things I read about: believing in my abilities, feeling relaxed, and (yes) even smiling. It seemed to work. It’s nice to be past my runner’s block.

On this D-Day, my diabetes plan worked very well. I started running at 135 mg/dL (7.5 mmol/L) and finished at 123 (6.8). That’s about as close to perfect as I can imagine! I was a little high overnight, and I had boluses some insulin about five hours before running, so I had some insulin on board. I ate a banana along with a couple of glucose tablets about five minutes before starting, and then I ate a gel (20g of carbs) every 25 minutes. That worked very well today . . . and last week, too. Next week is a recovery week, and my long run is only seven miles long. I wonder if I can reproduce this again. We shall see.

II. Marathon Training — I’m intrigued and perplexed by marathon training. I’ve never done it before, but it doesn’t seem that different from preparing for a half marathon. There’s a weekly long run (currently 14 miles and building to 20 a month from now), a 6-ish mile tempo run, and another “regular” run. The long run makes sense. While I’m 90% sure that I could run 26.2 miles next week if I had to, I see value in building up distance to make it easier. And the tempo/speed work is all about becoming faster.

But I just don’t get the regular run. From triathlon training, I’m used to every workout having some purpose. It builds endurance or strength or speed. So what does a low intensity, 40-60 minute run do? What’s it for? Why do it? Is it just because you have to run at least three times a week? But what if I’m already cycling and running a couple of other times?

We shall see.

III. Real People Sick — On my previous long run (12 miles on Tuesday) I thought a bit about having been sick recently. Last Thursday I had what I thought was food poisoning. Maybe it was. But I’m starting to suspect that it actually is a different, more long-standing issue. Here’s my thinking on the matter.

Exhibit 1: I’ve been anemic for several years. I used to have a very high hematocrit (red blood cell volume) after years of living at altitude and being athletic, but about 7-8 years ago it dropped into the anemic range.

Exhibit 2: There are three broad categories of anemia. Some forms are essentially due to blood loss. Another kind is because of slow production of RBCs. And the last kind is because of ineffective RBCs. (Think sickle cell anemia or low iron-binding.) My doctor thought that I had the second kind due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Exhibit 3: Taking extra vitamin B12 didn’t do much for my hematocrit, and I’m still more out of breath than I think I should be.

Exhibit 4: For a while I’ve had feelings of nausea in the afternoons, especially around the time that I go home for the day. I haven’t eaten in three or four hours, although I’ve been drinking Diet Coke. At first I thought that it could be the beginning of a gluten allergy, and I thought that changing my bread helped a bit. But I didn’t have any other celiac-like symptoms, and I could eat the same thing on two days and feel symptoms some days but not others. A couple weeks ago, I had a lot of nausea after getting home. I took a nap, and it went away.

Exhibit 5: Last week I was actually sick, and (let’s just say) I’m pretty sure it involved some blood loss. On the day I was sick, I had persistent low BGs, and my first thought was gastroparesis, a diabetic complication. But after bit more reflection I doubt that. I just don’t have enough other symptoms.

Exhibit 6: I had heartburn for days after being sick. It’s never been bad before, but a mild version does seem to accompany my nausea.

When I add it all up—the persistent low-grade anemia, indigestion, and blood—I think I might have an ulcer. Obviously, I’m going to get this checked by my doctor, but I’m making some changes in the meantime. I started taking a course of Omeprazole, and I gave up Diet Coke. I miss it, but it was the one thing I noticed that really made a difference in how I feel. If I finished the bottle on the way home, I felt bad. If I didn’t, I didn’t. So I’m giving it up and drinking more water and feeling better. But I do miss it.

Time will tell if any of this is true and (if it is) whether it will actually improve my anemia. But if it does, I really wonder where I can be athletically at this time next year. We shall see.

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2 Responses to 14 Years, 14 Miles, and No More Diet Coke

  1. scully says:

    This fills me with all sorts of senses of confusion and other stuffs.
    I’m proud of you for getting over your runners block and reaching those beauty BG 14mile run goals. You’re going to be great!

    I am worried about your sickness.
    I can relate to your back and forth with what it might be. I’ve learned the past few years that we have to be more of a doctor than our doctors are. It’s like we have to go in there with what we think is the diagnosis and then convince them it was their idea.

    I really REALLY hope you find some answers and more importantly, relief.

  2. Marcus says:

    Without knowing which marathon plan you’re doing, I would say that the third run is there to promote running economy, which does improve up to approx. 40 miles per week. The popular FIRST plan would turn that third run into an interval workout. However, interval workouts bring with them the greater possibility of injury. In addition, the interval workout serves to improve VOMax. Chances are, you’re well trained enough so that your VOMax won’t go much higher. In addition, it’s the system least called upon at the marathon distance. All of which goes to say, the third run’s main purpose for you is to build running economy, which I think is important in the marathon. :)

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