Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Halloween Howl & The Alberta Diabetes Foundation

About a month ago I was contacted by a friend and previous colleague to see if I would be interested in helping to organize a fundraising run for the Alberta Diabetes Foundation (ADF).  The event is to be held on Saturday October 25, 2014 in Edmonton and is in the spirit of Halloween (it is also held in Calgary on Sunday October 26).  It is called the Halloween Howl.  2014 marks the 4th year for this particular fundraising event.  They had been following my blog and asked if I would be willing to do a short five minute talk prior to the run.  The topic to discuss is "Debunking the Myths of Type 1 Diabetes".  They want me to talk a bit about the fact that I was diagnosed later in life, and despite this, have continued with my athletic goals.  Of course I said yes!

Firstly, what is the Alberta Diabetes Foundation? ADF exists because they are not afraid to take risks in the diabetes research they fund.  Canadians have always been very innovative in diabetes research, starting with the discovery of insulin.  A big breakthrough happened in Alberta when ADF funded the first successful islet transplant after other fundraising organizations refused to do so.  ADF continues to fund research here in Alberta with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for diabetes. 

The ADF works together with the world renowned Alberta Diabetes Institute to allocate funding where and when it is needed most.  This helps to ensure that important diabetes research and projects are not stalled.  The ADF is able to fund research projects in their early stages, therefore filling the gaps left by traditional granting organizations.  2014 marks two monumental milestones for ADF.  It is the 25th anniversary of the foundation funding the first islet transplant and the 10th anniversary of the Alberta Diabetes Institute.

The ADF have many fundraisers throughout the year and I am excited to be part of this one.  Participants can either enter the 3km/5km fun run or walk, or register for the 10km competitive timed run.  There will be prizes in the 10km run for the top three finishes in the categories of adult male, adult female, youth male and youth female, as well as prizes for the best costumes.

I plan on running the 10km race and have a costume in mind (cannot tell).  I am excited to speak in front of the participants a bit about my journey so far.  I also get giddy at the thought of being around a bunch of people with diabetes :). 


If you are interested in participating in this event, please check out the website at www.albertadiabetesfoundation.com

Another very cool thing that happened, which I shall detail in my next post, is that CTV news contacted me and asked to interview and film me for a piece they are doing on primetime!  How exciting is that?






Monday, 18 August 2014

St. Albert Triathlon 2014

Just over a week ago I participated in my third sprint triathlon of the year, the St. Albert Triathlon.  I do love this race, not only because it starts about six blocks from my house, but because it is so well organized!  My training up to this race has been pretty consistent, been spending a lot of time on the bike and in the water.  My main goal was to finish in under an hour and a half, and I did that!  My official time was 1:25:05, a personal best for me! Lets break it down.

Woke up at the crack of dawn and was pleased to see a blood sugar of 6.2.  Ate my usual breakfast and was off.  Got to transition around 6:15am to set my stuff up.  There were mosquitoes everywhere!  My swim heat was not due to take off until 9:10am so I had lots of time to relax.  I watched my friends start their race, had a small snack and stretched out.  My blood sugar starting the race was 8.4 with a 50% basal decrease for 1.5 hours.  I was ready to roll.

The Swim - 750m - 14:58

I had decided to seed myself into the 15 minute heat wave, faster than the other heats I have done.  In my last couple of races I have had to pass people which takes up energy so my thinking was I would rather be passed than do the passing.  I ended up in a lane with only two other people and it worked out well.  Swimming with faster people than me gave me the push I needed and I came in under the 15 minute mark.  I felt relaxed and controlled the entire time. I know I had a huge grin on my face coming out of the pool!  I ran out of the pool area and to my bike.  Quick blood sugar checked showed a 6.1.  Wolfed back some Nuun and a shot bloc and got ready to ride.

The Bike - 20km - 43:07

I really did enjoy the bike, it is a 10km out and back.  You start off on a flat and then about 2.5km's in there is a huge hill you get to fly down.  I loved it!  From the bottom of the hill there are some rolling climbs and small downhills.  Very scenic as well.  I passed a few people and was passed by some of the crazy fast people.  The hardest part was climbing back up the hill, I know I lost time there.  I have made a mental note to do more hill repeats on my bike.  The bike felt like it was done before I knew it.  I dismounted, ran a ways to transition and got ready for the run.  Blood sugar was at 9.3, climbing a bit which is not unusual due to my adrenaline.  Swallowed my Nuun and some water and was off.

The Run - 5km - 27:01

This run is hilly.  It is a 2.5km out and back and there are hills the entire time.  The climbs are steep and the downhills are steep.  I did enjoy the run, but again I need to incorporate more hills into my training.  The final 1km was my fastest and I felt great sprinting over the finish line!

I am very happy with my race.  I came in 5th out of 30 in my age group which makes me very happy indeed!  I know that with more training I can shave more time off for sure.  The weather was great and the event was just fantastic!  This is definitely one that I will do each and every year.  I finished with a blood sugar of 10.8 which climbed up to 15.4 within the hour.  It did come back down nicely however.  I was overall happy with my diabetes management throughout.

Next up is the Banff triathlon in September which is an open water swim.  I cannot wait for that!  Oh....and on September 1 I shall be registering for a half ironman taking place next summer.  It may be a bit ambitious, but hell, what do I have to lose?




Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Leduc Triathlon 2014

This past Saturday I participated in the Leduc Triathlon, sprint event.  I had been registered in the Olympic event however two weeks prior to the race I came down with bronchitis and it put me on my back for over a week.  I made the decision to cut my distance back to the sprint and in the end I was happy with this decision.  The race went very well and I am quite pleased with the result

When I got out of bed Saturday morning at 5:00pm it was raining.  I was not due to start my race until about 9:20 so was not too worried.  Transition was closing at 7:30 so I wanted to get to Leduc in plenty of time to set everything up and watch the Olympic participants start.  My blood sugars were 6.2 which I was very happy about.  This is the first race where they have been in range first thing in the morning.  I ate my breakfast and only bolused for 3/4 of the meal.  I packed up my stuff, put the bike in the car and slithered into my brand new tri-suit.  By 6:00pm I was on the road and off to the races.

When I got to the race site it was drizzling but not too badly.  I set up my transition area and made sure I covered everything with a towel in case it rained.  In hindsight I should have covered it in plastic.  I made my way inside to the pool area and waited, and waited.  They were running an hour behind.  Luckily my blood sugars were behaving nicely and at 9:30 I set my basal rate back by 50% for 2 hours.  Here is how it all went down.

The Swim - 750m - 15:21

I felt pretty good during the swim and my breathing was in sync.  The only issue I did encounter was that the two other people in my lane had clearly not calculated their times correctly.  I ended up lapping each of them twice and had to slow down a lot in order to pass them at the end of the lanes.  This is the frustrating part of doing these races in the pool.  All in all I did enjoy the swim and felt excited getting out of the pool.  I know I can swim this distance faster and for my next race I am going to seed myself in a faster wave.

Transition 1 - 2:23

Once I got out of the pool, I had to run out the back doors, up a slight hill, down the hill and then over the parking lot (which had some gravel) to my bike.  It was just over 350m running barefoot.  Interesting to say the least.  Oh, and it was pouring rain.  I managed a quick blood sugar check, was at 7.2, ate a shot bloc, changed into my bike shoes and helmet and was off.  

The Bike - 20km - 42:90

The bike course was a two looped course, 10km per loop.  It was raining pretty hard at this point but on the way out the wind was at my back.  I pushed hard and really had to slow down around the corners. I witnessed a few people bail on their bikes due to not slowing down enough.  I certainly did not want to do that!  I enjoyed the ride and smiled and sang the whole way.  Was a great feeling.  I was happy because I knew that if I had not had to slow down due to the rain on corners I would have easily gotten a better time.  I pushed hard when I could and it felt great.  I ended up passing 23 people on the bike which gave me a great ego boost.  I dismounted successfully (saw a few people bail while stopping) and started the awkward run in bike shoes to transition.

Transition 2 - 1:47

This transition was pretty uneventful.  Ryan and his mom were there cheering me on which made me excited.  By then everything was soaking wet and I hopped around a bit to get my running shoes on.  Quick blood sugar check showed 9.4.  Drank some Nuun and was off and running.

The Run - 25:04

I have to say that I really enjoyed the run.  It was a 2.5km out and back through a pretty treed reserve area.  I kept a steady pace the whole way and could not believe how quick it seemed to go.  I sprinted the last 200m or so to the finish.  Seeing Ryan and his mom cheering me on made me go faster :)  They took my chip off, gave me some water and I was done.  I finished with a blood sugar of 8.2 (which later spiked up to 13.0) and was happy with that!

The race took me 1:27:24 which I am happy with.  I know that if it had not been raining this could have easily been a sub 1:25 for me.  I ended up finishing 8th out of the 31 women in my age group.  I loved doing the event in my tri-suit, it was so comfortable and stayed in place.  I am happy that I made the decision to do the sprint and am looking forward to my next race in two weeks.






Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Coronation Triathlon 2014

This past Sunday I took part in my first triathlon of the year.  This race has been around for 30 years and something I have always wanted to do.  The distances were longer than the other triathlons I have done - 1km swim (in a 50m pool), 26km bike and 8km run.  Over the winter months I worked hard on gaining strength and muscle as well as regularly biking and running, with a bit of swimming thrown in. 

I did not sleep great the night before the race and was up at 4:45am to get ready.  I felt quite lethargic and a blood sugar check showed a high of 13.7.  Figures! As I would not actually be starting the race for some time, I took a full correction and was out of the house by 5:30am.  Grabbed a coffee on the way and got to the race start by 6:00am.  By 6:30 my sugars were at 12.0.  I had no choice but to eat my breakfast and bolus for it, fingers crossed.  Checked in, set up my transition area and then wandered around with my friend Linda before go time.  Checked my blood sugars every half hour and the numbers were not impressing me at all.  A half hour before my swim I was hovering at 14.2.  Made the decision to bolus half a unit and hoped they would come down during the swim.  No temporary basal set which made me a bit nervous.  Silly diabetes!!

I had no real time goal going into the race and thought I would be happy with a 2 hr 15 min finish. You can imagine my excitement with my 2:02:43 min finish!  Lets break this down.

The Swim

I will be the first to put my hand up and say that my swim training has kind of sucked. I have been concentrating fully on running, biking and strength training.  I swam about three times per month. Not enough!  However I was still pretty happy with the swim.  I felt like I seeded myself well and overall I felt strong.  I had to pass a few people which slowed me down as I passed them at the end of the lane.  I finished the swim in 21:15.  My results show 23:15, this includes my way too long transition time of 2 minutes.  After hopping out of the pool you had to run outside, up a small hill (with thistles!), back down and to the bike.  I managed to get my bike helmet and shoes on pretty quick, however testing my darn blood sugars was a task.  The first test I did not have enough blood, the second one worked.  8.1, perfect! Threw back a shot block and ran to where I could mount my bike.

The Bike

The bike course was  four loops up and down Groat Road.  It was pretty cool to be out on the bike on a road I would otherwise never ride on with traffic.  The way out was all downhill and then a climb back up.  I am definitely much stronger on going uphill than I am downhill.  I have to work on getting over my fear of crashing, lol.  My top speed going downhill was 43km/hr and I think I screamed a bit, ha ha.  I powered up the hills and passed quite a few. Looking back, I could have pushed even harder however I was trying to save some energy for the run. I finished the bike in 56 minutes, results show 58:05 to include transition.  I dismounted at the line and then you had to run a ways with your bike to get back to transition. I did not like that part as it added to my transition time.  I changed shoes, put a hat on and tested my sugars.  10.0.  I was happy with that and took off for the run.

The Run

Just like anytime I run off the bike I felt like I was barely moving, my legs felt heavy!  The run went down Groat Road into McKinnon Ravine and then back up.  4km out and back.  The run was pretty uneventful and I really enjoyed it.  I felt strong and did not have to walk.  My favorite part was the end, as you were about 150 meters from the finish there were a lot of people cheering and the announcer calls your name. I felt on top of the world!  I was shocked to see that I had finished the run in 41:24.  A pace of 5:11/km.  It felt like I was going much slower than that.  Again there were parts of the run I could have pushed harder, but I was enjoying it so much! 

After I finished Ryan was there to give me a big hug.  I was so excited about how well I had felt the entire time and was super happy with my blood sugars! I finished with a blood sugar of 8.4, a bit on the high side but much better than being low.  I bolused a correction as I always do after intense exercise and went to find Linda.  Big hugs and high fives all around.  There was not much I could eat after (all gluten stuff) so I packed up my stuff, grabbed a huge coffee and headed home to eat.

This was a very positive race experience for me.  I felt strong and have definitely become fitter over the last 6 months.  I had a great time and felt very happy with my result. I know I can push a bit harder and that makes me feel good.  I felt pretty good about my diabetic management, except for the high blood sugars beforehand. This prevented me from taking in as much fuel a I would have liked.  I am already excited for my next one (which will be an Olympic distance).  Here is a picture of me after the race :)



Friday, 16 May 2014

D-Blog Week Day 5: Diabetes Life Hacks



Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  

This is an interesting topic.  Every single diabetic I have spoken to has little tips and tricks on making living with diabetes a little bit easier.  Here is a random list of my own:

* A good place to store your waterproof pump when swimming is clipped to the front of your bathing suit with the screen of the pump facing inward.  Keeps it nice and snug, no worries about it dropping to the bottom of the pool.
 
* Keep a quarter in your meter case for pump battery changes, makes unscrewing that little cap so much easier.

* After a site change, leave your old site in for a couple of hours.  This seems to have helped me in the highs I was experiencing after changing my site.

* If making soups, stews or chili's in big batches, freeze them in freezer bags instead of containers and write the carb count on the front of the freezer bag.  A good way to portion things out correctly, get the exact amount of carbs to bolus for and save space in your freezer.

* When you go running and want to bring along some glucose tabs just in case of a low, put them in a snack size Ziploc bag and then store them in the side of your sports bra.  Not only does this keep them dry, but it keeps them warmer so if you need to use them they dissolve faster in your mouth.

* Store your emergency glucagon in a toothbrush holder and write the expiry date with a sharpie on the outside.  They are the perfect size to hold everything you need, including the instructions.

I am heading off camping for the long weekend so will post my remaining two D-Blog week entries on Monday.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

D-Blog Week Day 4: Mantras and More






Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we've done that and we can help others do it too?

I would not necessarily say that I have a diabetes specific mantra.  I do have two sayings that come to mind when I am facing anything difficult or challenging.

My favorite one is "Suck it Up Princess".  I have a road ID tag for my running shoe and this is the saying I have on it. I find that saying this to myself or having someone say it to me gives me the push I need to overcome a hurdle. It reminds me that I can get through tough things and that I am strong.  During each marathon and triathlon when I have wanted to stop and lay on the sidewalk I tell myself this over and over.  It works a charm :)  I have also been known to say this to others when I know they need it.  It also applies to dealing with being a Type 1 diabetic. I use this to remind myself that there are others that have much harder things to deal with.

Another thing I often say to myself, and this is in tune with a diabetes inspired project of the same name, is "You Can Do This".  I have been saying this to myself for as long as I can remember.  Before standing in front of my grade 4 class to read my short story for the oratorical contest, before performing on stage in a play for the first time, before every basketball, baseball, badminton or track event for the school teams, before getting on an airplane alone and traveling across the world to live and travel, before my first job interview, before and many times during each road race, trail race or triathlon I have participated in.  I said it to myself over and over again after being diagnosed Type 1 diabetic.  Before injecting myself for the first time, before checking my blood sugar for the first time, while suffering my first low and high blood sugars, before my cataract surgeries, before my first insulin pump site insertion, while suffering so badly with the pain in my nerves, when going for my first run post-diagnosis and I was terrified, before undergoing a gastroscopy for my celiac diagnosis.  I think you get the picture.

I think my new combined mantra is going to be "Suck it Up Princess, You Can Do This"!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

D-Blog Week Day 3: What Brings Me Down


Our topic for today is What Brings Me Down.  May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

If I were to have written this post during the first 12 months after my diagnosis it would be written very differently than the one I am about to write.  Being diagnosed at the age of 32 sent me for a complete 360.  That first year was a complete whirlwind of emotion for me.  Fear, devastation, denial, anger, frustration, confusion and a lot of sadness.

Fast forward to today.  I have been a Type 1 diabetic for over 2.5 years and definitely struggle with it on a mental level, just in a different way.  My emotions are not as raw as they once were, but they are deeper.  I no longer feel angry at the world and I no longer pity myself.  I do however have a lot of anger towards the disease, anger and frustration.  I get angry when I am ready for a run/bike/swim and my blood sugars are too low or to high to go.  I get angry when I cannot get a high blood sugar to come down and my head swims in a fog and I cannot focus. I get angry when I have a low blood sugar completely out of the blue and have to stop everything and wait for my insides to stop shaking and for my brain to start working.  I get angry when I have to eat when I am full just to get my blood sugars up and I get angry when I am hungry but have to wait for my sugars to come down in order to eat.  I get angry when I have to argue with my benefits company about how many test strips I should use in a day.  I get angry that I have to practically carry a suitcase with me everywhere I go to lug all my diabetes stuff around in.  I get angry that there are many people in this world with Type 1 diabetes that do not have access to the type of care I have, that some go without up to date insulin, can only test once or twice a day, have never seen a specialist.

I also feel frustrated for many of the same reasons.  In fact I get frustrated when I get angry and angry when I get frustrated!

Fear is something that has worked itself inside my brain.  When I go to bed every night I am scared that I might not wake up.  It is usually a quick thought, but it is there.  I fear what the disease is doing to me inside.  I look, feel and act well, but I know that each and every day with Type 1 diabetes takes a toll on my body.  I wonder what it is doing to my organs, eyes and nerves.  I get scared that one of my beloved nieces or nephews may end up being Type 1 diabetic.  I know there is nothing I could do to stop that from happening, but I worry about it.  I worry about being a burden on my loved ones.

I also often feel exhausted  Not exhaustion in the sleepy way (although the 3:30am blood sugar checks do contribute to that feeling), more of being exhausted of keeping the disease in check 24 hours a day.  Not an hour goes by in my day where I don't think of diabetes.  There is the many blood sugar checks a day, the 3:30am checks every day, calculating of carbs, dosing of insulin, predicting what will happen during exercise, treating highs and lows...and the list goes on.  It can be very daunting.

I know this all makes it sound like doom and gloom, but it's not.  These are feelings that do surface a lot, sometimes I dwell on them, most of the time I don't.  They come, they pass and I move on.