Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How Sensitive Are Basal Rates To Diet?

Since I've been home on break my basal rates have bounced around a bit. After a few days of experiencing lows I reduced my basal rates and then encountered some 200 plus days. Two weeks ago when I finally made it back to NY my basal total was 13.5 units of insulin per day. Today my daily total basal is 16.25 units per day, more than double my basal totals at the time of my Ironman.

My diet has not been as healthy or consistent as it was when I was down in Virginia. Staying at my parents house, seeing friends and spending time in Boston all has added to a bit higher carb, higher fat diet than normal. My workouts haven't been as consistent as I would like and my sleep patterns probably haven't been as regulated. However, a 3 unit jump in basal rates in just over a 2 week period seems high.

I suppose it is now time to buckle down, return to nothing but egg whites, turkey sandwiches and chicken sausage until I get this thing back under control. I'm going to try and get my weight back under 190 by the time I return to school to see if the 7 to 10 lbs I gained after the Ironman have increased my insulin requirements. I also really need to find my software for my quick link so I can load my blood sugar information to my computer for analysis - in other words I need to become a good diabetic again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is The Honeymoon Over?

My first semester at Darden is finally over so now I have a chance to focus on my internship search, marathon training and diabetes. Last week was hell with 5 consecutive days of 5 hour exams; not a good time by anyone's calculations but thankfully the stress didn't throw my blood sugars out of whack as they were kept pretty steady over those 5 days. However, in general I've been having a much harder time locking in my basal rates.

Over the past three months I've been playing with my basal rates on a near weekly basis; while getting my blood sugars to spike prior to a workout has been much easier. I'm pretty sure the honeymoon is over and the fight in my last islet cell has been won by diabetes. In a way that will make life easier in terms of knowing how my body will react to exercise, food and basal rates. But in another way that kind of sucks since there was a time period when I could eat pizza with just a moderate bolus.

I've been working out consistently for the past two and 1/2 weeks but have not had the reduction in basal rates that I expected. I have encountered more lows over that period than I had when exercise was less consistent due to class work but I still haven't had the blood sugar reactions I expected. Although it does seem like the overall trend in my basal rates is changing; at night I've had to increase my basal rate by a huge amount as I woke up a few nights it a row with blood sugars above 300 at 4 am; but then I would hit consistent lows around 11 am. To get all this corrected I'm going to have to keep detailed notes over the next few weeks to identify the trend and figure out exactly when my basal rate errors are occurring - consistency is the key and I just need to get back to that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You Know You're An MBA Dork When....

You are sitting there in your second quarter operations class learning how to use six-sigma models and realize you have been using that methodology nearly everyday since you've been diagnosed with diabetes!

We were learning that under six sigma models you set an upper error limit and a lower error limit. The data points on the graph are filled in by point in time quality spot checks - quality outside this range is deemed in error. There are then a host of equations that spit out some graphs that indicate if your system is out of control and if a change needs to be made to prevent errors.

This is the exact way I manage my blood sugars. When I upload my blood sugar readings to my computer I have an upper limit of 140 and a lower limit of 75. Anything outside that band is considered in error. Overtime I determine if there is a trend for the blood sugars in error and make a change accordingly.

Just like a firm doesn't want to chase their tail to fix errors, we don't want to constantly chase blood sugars. Making a basal rate change too soon will cause the blood sugars to be in error more often. It's essential for us to keep our blood sugars "in control" - who knew I was just using six sigma to do it!

Can you tell I'm a week away from finals!?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My First MBA A1c

For the first time since my diagnosis I was legitimately freaking out about my A1c. From August to October I had so many changes in my life that I just didn't know how my average blood sugar was going to react. After the Ironman I had blood sugars sky rocket into the 200 and 300 range. When I first arrived at Darden the schedule, free food and stress had my blood sugars close in on 350 from time to time. But thankfully my A1c was just 6.6 from August to October.

6.6 is higher than it has been over the past year - but I'll take it. With all the variables introduced over those 3 months I'm not going to complain about an A1c that slightly creeped up. In looking at my meter this morning my last 341 results over the past 30 days has slid back down to 125; hopefully that next A1c is under 6.4. Regardless I'm proud of my management over my first quarter at Darden.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Last week I signed up for the Charlottesville Marathon which will be held the same weekend as my 30th birthday in April. With Darden's first quarter under my belt I couldn't help but scratch that athletic itch again. Having gained about 9 lbs since Ironman Lake Placid it was time to lace up the sneakers, place an order with PBN and get my butt back into shape. To make it even better my amazing girlfriend and some of my Darden classmates will be running the race with me.

One of my biggest disappointments from the 2008 season was having to pull out of the Shamrock Marathon. I have yet to run a stand alone Marathon and really want to push myself to run my best in it. With my Abbott Freestyle Navigator in hand (if I ever get it), solid nutrition plan and dedication to training I think a sub 4 hour marathon is very possible. Plus with all my training buddies here at Darden - the training should be fun!

I unfortunately had to tell Triabetes I will not be able to compete at IMAZ with them in 2009. The Darden schedule is just too demanding to train for 20 hours a week and I did not want to race an IM unprepared. I hope that my schedule will allow for about 10 hours a week of marathon training - I'm energized and ready to go!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Abbot Is Incredible

The good news is, I'm still getting my constant glucose monitor; the bad news is, I have no idea when. At first Abbot had given my supplier the wrong insurance information which delayed the process a week. Today I received a call from my supplier letting me know that all orders to Abbot for the Freestyle Navigator are on back order!!! For a company that is trying to introduce a new and I'm assuming highly profitable technology they may have the worst sales and marketing force in history. If there is one thing that my marketing course at Darden has taught me it is - to know your customer! At each step of the way Abbot has failed on general customer service, I would receive calls from multiple people asking the same information, they would not meet self mandated deadlines to keep me in the loop, they had asked my doctor for the wrong information and they seemingly never wrote down anything I told them. It would be nice if the companies that make the products that allow us to better manage our disease actually knew how to manage their workforce.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Today I received a phone call that I've been awaiting for nearly a year. I checked my voice mail after class today and had a message from Angela of Abbott Pharmaceutical, normally the conversation with her would have me complaining about Abbott's lack of communication regarding the freestyle navigator with me - but today was different. Today when I called Abbot back I found out I've been APPROVED FOR A CONSTANT GLUCOSE MONITOR!!!!!!

I haven't had alot of diabetes related information to blog about recently, unless you would like to hear about bolusing during 9 case studies a day, there just isn't much to share. But now I have a new blood sugar management tool! Now, I don't have to worry about pouring rain during a workout! Now, I don't have to worry about it being too cold for my meter to work! Now I can feel like a normal person during exercise - I'll hopefully never fly blind again!!!!! Today was the best diabetic news I've ever received and I'm so freaking excited to figure out how to use a CGM and let you all know how it goes. Now I'll have real data to analyze, now I can compare my blood sugar movements with my heart rate, now I have the ability to see exactly how food affects my system!

Tomorrow I also meet my new endocrinologist, thanks to a classmate who was a doctor at UVA prior to coming to Darden - he pulled some string to get me in. In the coming weeks Ring The Bolus should be back and I invite you all along for the ride again. Q1 is over, I made it through the hardest part of my academic career at Darden and now it's time to return to my commitment of sharing my battle with diabetes with all of you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finals, Travel & Weddings

Wow - talk about getting triple teamed by bloods sugar demons! Last Friday began our finals for Q1 at Darden, right after I finished our hellish marketing exam I hoped on a plane to fly to Geneva, NY for one of my best friend's wedding. The lack of sleep, amount of travel and excess of wine has shot my blood sugars through the roof. Although the combination of those things had me looking like this:

So with that combination my blood sugar has hit 300 a couple times over the past few days, and all day Monday I was above 200. I'm playing with my basals and bolus rates to try and figure out what is going on. Each morning during my first class my blood sugar has spiked 100 to 150 points even though I'm only having 2 slices of whole wheat toast for breakfast - so I'm thinking it's more a basal issue than a bolus issue. Hopefully after a few workouts it will go back down - or after I'm done with finals hell.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just Because I'm Learning About Distributions.....

Doesn't mean my blood sugars need to give me a lesson in standard deviations and variability. Yesterday I felt awful, but as so many of us have realized just because our blood sugars are all over the place doesn't stop our life from continuing. High blood sugars that were resistant to insulin started Sunday evening. My basal rates continue to edge down from getting back into a workout routine so Sunday morning I encountered a series of lows. I took this as a green light to have a "fat day" and ate a big Harris Teeter Cheeseburger for lunch, with a tomato stuffed with orzo, pine nuts and feta cheese then an enormous bowl of ice cream (I went on a 40 mile bike ride Saturday, figured I deserved it!) By Sunday night I was in a war with my blood sugars at learning team as I was above 200 for 3 to 4 hours.

I woke Monday morning to a blood sugar of 140 but was greeted by 230, 2 hours after a breakfast of egg whites on a piece of whole wheat toast. Throughout all my morning classes my blood sugar was above 200 and did not get under 120 until after 2 pm.

Although I really didn't have that many carbohydrates on Sunday the high fat meal at lunch made it that much more difficult to correct my blood sguars. I'm continually surprised by how big of an impact the nutritional mix of food has on insulin needs. A low glycemic, low fat food requires less insulin to account for the same amount of carbohydrates in a high glycemic, high fat food. While Type 1 diabetes acts much differently than Type 2 diabetes most of the time, the nutritional mix of what we eat is the most direct comparison between the two diseases. I'm not going to give up the occasional burger but I know I'm not chasing that burger with pumpkin ice cream anymore, the 24 hour long headache, shaky eye sight and irritability just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slowly But Surely

My basal rates continue to creep down each week. The day before the Ironman my basal rate was 6.25 units of insulin/ 24 hour period. Two to three weeks after that my basal rate over a 24 hour period climbed to 13.5 units of insulin. While I know other Type 1s who have a much higher basal rate requirement the doubling of my basal rates led to blood sugars that were less stable and less reliable. Today, after slowly easing myself back into a regular workout routine my basal rates have dipped to 10.3 units/ 24 hour period.

The best news out of all this is that maintaining more stable blood sugars hasn't required training 18 to 23 hours a week. Each day I'm afforded about a half hour to get into the gym, or get out for a run. The Darden case load is simply too demanding to do any more than that. Over the past two weeks I've been on two half hour runs, lifted for 45 minutes 3 times, gone on a 42 mile bike ride and playing a rousing hour match of racquetball (with a former pro triathlete!). Not only has this helped stabilize some shaky blood sugars but it has also done wonders for my mental state.

Since March I've been dealing with an Internet stalker. Normally I don't get too personal on this blog as I try and keep it as professional as possible as I look to be an outlet to help people with a chronic illness. However, after yesterday's encounter, enough is enough. In the days leading up to IMLP this person had left me dozens of comments asking what my "excuse" would be for Placid, after I became an Ironman they consistently harassed me over a time I'm very proud of. This individual has consistently e-mailed me and began to sexually harass a person who is very special to me via the web. They have obviously compromised my e-mail account because they have made some comments that no one but me and one other person know about.

I confronted whom I had hoped this person to be last night, but was not shocked when that person convinced me it was not them. The person who has been leaving these comments and harassing people I know is someone from my past and totally inconceivable that after all this time they still spend this much time on me. I find it disgusting that someone who has set up a non-profit to help children try to derail the efforts of someone who has put himself in a public forum to help so many.

The anonymity of the Internet provides an outlet for cowards everywhere to have a voice. No matter what public service you are trying to provide immature individuals will try to detract from those efforts with insane comments that can best be described to acting like a 7 year old. I've stayed silent for too long about this and simply want to say I'm disgusted by this person's actions and believe it speaks volumes about their character and is truly pathetic.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Good Luck Triabetes!

This weekend Team Triabetes will take on IM MOO, aka Ironman Wisconsin. The group has done so much for diabetic research that their year long effort has already been a wild success. Tomorrow these 12 athletes will finish their year long quest to become Ironmen and complete what hopes to be a ground-breaking documentary on how blood sugars are affected by extreme exercise.

Good luck Team Triabetes! Can't wait to race with you all next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back In The Saddle

The early days at Darden certainly took a toll on me! From getting used to how to analyze a case study, understanding the dynamics of my learning team, sitting in class for 6 hours a day and trying to fit in all the meet & greet events Darden offered my time was limited. For two weeks it was next to impossible to get in a schedule; essentially 334 dynamic, bright individuals were ripped from their prior life and placed into a chaotic, demanding system; mind you we all asked for this! Blood sugar management, fitness and health all took a back seat to my acclimation of the high touch, high tone, high octane lifestyle.

It may be strange to hear me say that for just over two weeks the person who has tackled diabetes with abandon let his health take a back seat to othe priorities. However I've begun to understand there comes a time when priorities have to be reorganized even if just for the short term. By focusing on the acclimation to the Darden lifestyle I shortened the time horizon to getting back to my regular schedule. Had I tried to do everything at once as I had tried to do so many times in my past I would have become overwhelmed and potentially failed at all facets.

Yesterday after I hung up the phone with my Mom after my full on b*tch fest about the dynamics of the acclimation process everything seemed to slow down. I attacked my cases with an understanding that I hadn't demonstrated last week. I was able to draw parallels between past cases and the new ones and eloquently argued my points at learning team.

I knew if I could force myself out of bed at 6am to run that I was well on my way to getting "comfortable" again. By 6:18 I had my Sauconys on and ran for the first time since the Ironman! Part of the reason I waited so long to run was that I had a stress fracture in each tibia at Placid; but the bigger and more relevant reason was I simply didn't have the time. Today was the dawn to my return to triathlon training (even if it's just short-distance for now, I had aspirations to compete at the 2009 IM Cozumel but there's no way I can train to go long right now) and focusing on my blood sugars. For the first time since I arrived in C'Ville I'm feeling like me again - that's bad news for the blood sugar demons.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Routines

Last week I voluntarily left my comfort zone and the life I knew to come to a highly challenging and stressful environment. Life as a Darden student has begun. With that a host of adjustments have had to be made to my diet, basal, bolus and activity rates.

The new schedule has totally changed my eating patterns prior to school starting I was eating breakfast around 6:30 am, having a morning snack at about 10 am, lunch at about 12:30, afternoon snack around 2 or 3 and then dinner at about 7 - during that routine one or two workouts with additional nutrition would occur. Now that I'm in class from 8 until 1:30, and learning team from 7 to 10 or 10:30 my eating schedule has been defined for me. I'm eating breakfast at about 7 am, a snack at 10:30, lunch at 1:30, dinner at 6, then a light snack after learning team. My basal rates have remained fairly consistent but since I'm eating breakfast a bit later I'm starting to see an under bolusing change. So far I've only had one or two days of really bad blood sugars, one day of all highs and one day of all lows.

On Monday I'll hopefully upload my basal rate changes from the past month as they are significant and find the routine to get back to blogging.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Thank You Post

While the actual Ironman race is a solitary journey it takes a strong foundation of support to get to the starting line. My support family was phenomenal and made my voyage incredibly special. Without each of the people listed below I would not have been able to tread the water in Mirror Lake with the confidence that I'd finish my first Ironman prior to the starting gun.

Coach Eggers - Your guidance helped me realize that Ironman wasn't about finishing the race in a particular time. While many other coaches would have been eager to exploit my desire to kill myself in every workout you held me back, you made me go slow and you turned me into a triathlete. You were my shepard through all my dark hours of doubt and helped restore the faith I once had in myself. Without you this journey would not have been possible.

Lauren Antanucci - Your formulas, metabolic tests and unbelievable knowledge of physiology saved me from medical disaster. When I first came to you 70% of my workouts were cut short due to low blood sugars and nutrition SNAFUs. As a diabetic nutrition is the single most important part variable in my race plan. You gave me the knowledge needed to complete every work and cross that finish line alive. Sure, there were blood sugar issues along the way but without your help the Ironman would never have happened.

Brian Shea - You took the information and knowledge that Lauren provided me with to help me select the perfect products for my nutritional needs. We discussed the different glycemic indexes of various carbohydrate products, found flavors that worked together and the right blend of carbs to give my body the energy it needed. Your customer service combined with Lauren's nutrition knowledge was the perfect marriage for my nutrition needs. From Carbo-Pro, to Cytomax to EFS you always provided insight into how these products would affect my blood sugars - thank you for your dedication to helping supply athletes with the energy they need.

Cliff Scherb - You took time out of your coaching schedule to work with me on a one on one basis, to discuss my nutrition plan, to study my cycling stroke and to talk about my fears of doing an Ironman with Type 1. Seeing you in your always fashionable Tri Star bicycle cap as I walked from transition to the swim start brought my heart rate down about 50 bpm. Knowing what you have accomplished in the past and knowing that you once had a physiology similar to mine let me know what is possible for a type 1 diabetic. You helped give me the strength to hammer on when things went so terribly wrong on the 20th.

Anne Findlay - Like Cliff you have demonstrated what is possible for a type 1 to do. You answered so many of my noob questions from testing on the bike to carrying extra nutrition. Your improvements from last year's CDA to this year's CDA proved that a diabetic can work their butt off and demonstrated what a little knowledge about basals and boluses can do! Where as Cliff is a seasoned Ironman pro your career is relatively new so you knew all the things I was freaking out about. Essentially you became my first grade diabetic triathlete teacher letting me know all the things I should know so I could understand everyone else!

Terrier Tri - Coach Robert and Coach Megan you helped me get over my fear of open water swimming. You analyzed my swim stroke and helped me find the perfect bike (even if it breaks all the time). Coach Megan you checked in on me during my early days of training to make sure my blood sugars were ok and answered so many questions I had about swimming. Coach Robert you answered some of the more off-beat questions I had and allowed me to see how passionate people can be about this sport. Without the open water swim clinic at Coney Island I'd still be terrified of the OWS.

Train-This - When I first met most of you at the WAP I was shocked to find out how much you all knew about me and how much you seemed to care about me. Bill helped me with so much during this journey that I can't even put it into words. Bill, you took me under your wing and gave me all the "inside" knowledge I could handle. Sarah, you are an amazing triathlete and knowing what you think I'm capable of meant the world to me - seeing you at the swim start let me exhale and relax before the gun went off. Adam, having those beers with you at the brewery on the day of my blood sugar disaster took 1,000 pounds off my shoulders. K-Dub, Jeremy, Sharon, Natahlie, Kim and the rest of the team thank you all for your support you welcomed this insider with open arms and let me feel like I was part of a triathlon family.

My Readers - Thank you all for listening to my ramblings and leaving comments of support and questions. I started this blog to raise awareness and knowledge of the challenges a person with a chronic illness faces during training and athletic competition. Please keep asking your questions and I'll answer them to the best of my ability or refer you to someone else if I don't have the answer. As I saw my readership increase over the year I realized that my message was being heard, you all gave me the strength and courage I needed to do what I did.

KK - You have been in my life for just a couple months now but I know this journey wouldn't have been close to as special as it was without you. In my darkest hour you supported me and you had faith in me, you were my security blanket when I needed one most. You have stolen my heart, sharing this experience with you made it one of the most special of my life.

My Friends - Most of you hadn't a clue what the heck I signed up for last year but all of you said "well if someone can do it, it's you." You let me cancel plans because I had to train, you didn't laugh at me too much the first time you saw me in bike shorts, you came to bike shops with me, you asked questions to trick me into thinking you were interested in my nutrition mixes. You didn't hound me too hard for not drinking, for not being able to golf or for wearing a fuel belt during a bachelor party. Steve and Conor although you didn't get to see the finish of IMLP, having you there at the start meant the world to me; thanks guys for supporting me through this.

My Family - More than anyone else you made this journey possible. Mom and Dad you raised me to believe in myself, to tackle obstacles and to have faith in my ability to overcome adversity. Triathlon was completely foreign to both of you and while I'm not convinced you totally "get it" yet and while you still haven't figured out how to spot me when I come out of the water having you at my races means the world to me. You have put up with my mood swings during training and before races; while I keep my smile on for almost everyone else I meet you let me express my frustrations. Pug, there is no way words will do how much your support has meant to me justice. From taking pictures at my races to keeping the nervous energy of Mom and Dad before a race away from me you have been my biggest fan. Without your notes of encouragement, rabid cheering or excitement for what I was doing none of this could have been accomplished - thank you. Heidi & Bari, while you were my long distance fans, calling me after each of my races and tracking me on race day meant the world to me; thanks for supporting me and believing in me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Whoa - Basal Rate Jump

Anne had warned me of some crazy changes in my basal rates for the days following the Ironman. However, 4 days after Lake Placid my blood sugars were still pretty reasonable making me think my bs would be stable. Saturday as my blood sugar climbed into the 300s throughout the day I realized my blood sugars were anything but stable.

The human body requires two types of insulin regulation to maintain steady blood sugars. The basal rate is the hourly units of insulin a diabetic takes to keep their blood sugars flat with no food. The other type of insulin injection is a bolus; the bolus is a one-time spike of insulin taken to "cover" the amount of carbohydrates in the foods we eat. The bolus can be broken down into smaller sub-categories like high fat or high protein meals require a different allocation strategy than a whole-grain does but the two main categories of blood sugar maintenance are basal and bolus.

In the days following the Ironman I noticed that my blood sugars around 10pm were creeping past the 200 mark. I assumed that this was because of how unhealthy I was eating (the rewards of 13+ hours of exercise!) or the fact that I had been drinking a few beers each night. Then on Saturday I could barely get my blood sugars to drop below 200, on Sunday I hit the mid 300s a few times then Tuesday evening my blood sugars soared into the mid 400s! For a 4 day stretch my blood sugar tested below 200 only three times!!!

This morning I was thrilled to wake up to a blood sugar of 124 - the first time since Friday that I woke up to a stable bs. The day before the Ironman my basal rate was 6.8 units of insulin per day, today my basal rate is 11.4 units of insulin per day. The stress and recovery of the Ironman totally threw my system out of its normal metabolic rate forcing a heck of alot more maintenance than normal. The lessons for a diabetic athlete continue! The fun will really start as I begin to exercise again and am faced by low after low because of a basal rate that is too high for my new metabolic rate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Race Report: 2008 Ironman Lake Placid; I Can See Clearly Now That The Rain Is Gone

468 Days After I Was Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes I Became An Ironman!

On July 23rd, 2007 I made the decision to compete at Ironman Lake Placid. On July 23rd, 2007 I made the decision to bring my fight against diabetes to the battle field I'm most comfortable on - the one of sport. My 357 day journey to becoming an Ironman was filled with challenge after challenge. I learned to believe in myself again, I learned that a disease can not prevent me from reaching my goals and I learned that the strength I have always felt I had in my heart and my soul exists in reality and not just in my mind. The 357 day journey ended in the most incredible 5 miles I have ever run:


I arrived in Lake Placid the Wednesday night before the race; town was still quiet and the energy that engulfs this town for IM week was not yet at full force. My favorite triathlete and I were able to have dinner together in the center of town while we talked about everything but the race. Thursday morning I had a one loop practice swim in Mirror Lake and then it was time to register! The energy of the town was starting to build; when I wore my silver competitor bracelet for the first time the challenge I was about to face hit me smack in the face as the butterflies in my stomach started to flutter.

Friday was a fairly relaxed day with another practice swim, a quick jog and lots of rest. Saturday was when I really began to freak out, I think the most stressful part of the entire experience was packing my transition bags and checking my bike.

I think that look on my face is me holding back vomit.

Saturday night I took out my chemistry set (aka nutrition supplements) and laid out my entire race plan:

With my excel spreadsheet in hand I measured out the combinations needed to have success with my blood sugars on race day. Each zip lock bag had a specific purpose for the 20th. My hands shook as I knew if I lost one bag or made a mistake disaster would strike on race day. As a diabetic this was the most important portion of my race.


My alarm went off at 4am on Sunday July 20th, I woke relaxed, confident and excited for the endeavor I was about to face. Armed with my race strategy I ate 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with almond butter at 4:15 am, hopped in Steve's car and was driven to transition:


At 6:45 am I finished off my pre-race nutrition, loaded a power gel into my swim cap and hopped into Mirror Lake for a quick warm up. As I walked across the lake to find a good spot to start the race I heard someone scream out "Ed!" - Sarah a teammate of mine on Train-This was frantically looking for anyone she knew to start the swim with; our nerves were eased a bit by the huge hug we gave each other as I told her "I'm going to swim the entire first lap with you." She didn't think this was possible as the Mirror Lake swim is pretty much a huge cluster F but I came to find out after the race the hands that kept grabbing my feet were hers!

Mid-way through each swim lap I had to yank a power gel from my cap to ensure solid blood sugars. During the first lap if you stop in the water you risk getting swam over by about 1,000 people. After I rounded the turn I swam with my left arm, kicked as hard as I could and pulled my power gel from my cap and ripped it open with my teeth under water; instead of breathing for one stroke sequence I squeezed the chocolate goodness into my mouth and swallowed as hard as I could - success! As I exited the water after my first lap I ran to the medical table to test my blood sugars and was at a happy 170, I took some of my EFS drink and popped another power gel into my swim cap before returning to Mirror Lake.

My second lap was much more relaxed than my first, the crowds began to thin out and I was able to stay away from the fight for the line. Around the turn I treaded water as one of the awesome volunteers took my power gel wrapper from the comfort of his kayak. As I emerged from the water I couldn't have been happier with how my swim went.

Swim Results: 1 Hour 19 Minutes and 54 Seconds - 6 seconds under my goal time!!!!!!
Swim Grade: A+; by far the best swim I have had in any of the 3 triathlons in my triathlete career!


I jogged to T1, found my swim to bike transition bag, tossed on my bike gear and headed out for my first loop of the course. In the future I'm going to have to take these transitions at a less leisurely pace but my goal for the Ironman was to enjoy myself and just finish - to accomplish that goal of becoming an Ironman; I have plenty of years to worry about improving my time and focusing on the athletic aspects of Ironman - Sunday was all about my fight with diabetes. So my T1 time of 9:55 was god awful but doesn't bother me at all.

With my first pedal stroke I knew I was on my way to a great first loop on the bike - I however forgot to test before heading out, this would serve to be a huge mistake. I climbed the hill on route 76 with ease, as I passed Kim I shouted out "whose that sexy triathlete," and her smile made the day that much greater. While she yelled at me to "not hammer" I smiled and said "I'm not," - I simply couldn't believe how freaking good I felt on my bike at this point. Everything seemed to be going perfect - until after the descent into Keane. I still felt fantastic but the rain had really started to come down, huge rain drops fell into my vial of test strips when I pulled over to test rendering my meter useless. For the rest of the first loop I would ride blind not knowing if my blood sugar was spot on, high or low; for me this was my worst nightmare come true.

I stayed true to my race plan as I was incredibly anxious about my blood sugars. I was a bit faster than the race plan on route 9N but my cadence and effort were spot on. As I was surrounded by a ton of disc wheels and seriously awesome bikes I knew I was hanging with some big dawgs and just enjoyed the ride. After the turn on the out & back I began to hold back a bit to save my legs for the last 11 miles. I passed by my rental house with my Parents, Sister and Moose cheering me on - with a huge fist pump and a smile they knew what I knew, my day was going perfectly. I stayed in my little ring from the end of the out and back through Special Needs - kept an incredible pace and felt really fresh.

First Bike Loop Results: 3 Hours 13 Minutes - right on my goal pace! 17.39 MPH and I knew I had a ton left in the tank for my second loop.

At special needs I was finally able to test, my heart sunk when I saw 107 on my blood sugar meter - I tried to convince myself that my sample was diluted from the rain or that because of the last 11 miles I was artificially low, but I knew how I felt and I knew I was going low. The first aid station on the bike course was after a 5 mile climb out of Lake Placid. I knew if I could make it to that aid station I'd be able to test again and get an emergency Gatorade into my system. Shaking the cob webs of a low out of my head I climbed as conservatively as I could, too much effort and I was in serious danger of passing out. I finally reached the aid station, and was devastated to get an Error 2 on my meter - wet test strips AGAIN! I pounded the Gatorade as quickly as I could then willed myself to keep going - there was no way diabetes was going to stop me on this day.

After the descent I again pulled over on 9N to test and again received an Error 2, 5 consecutive times on 2 different meters - flying blind and feeling low was a disaster waiting to happen but the only way I was leaving this course without finishing was if someone physically removed me; I refused to be defeated by screwed up medical equipment and low blood sugars. Diabetes was trying to conquer me but it was time to show the world what "Ring The Bolus" means - fight tooth and nail to get the job done.

Kim caught up to me and shouted out "are you ok?" I finished my first bike loop 20 minutes before her but had given all that time back in less than 20 miles. In all honesty if she hadn't caught me on the bike I don't think I would have been able to finish the second loop. I don't remember much of that ride at all, I just remember thinking at least if I go down she'll be there to get me help. I kept pace with Kim, using her as my security blanket. Each time we'd pass each other I'd say something to her, not to talk but just to make sure words could come out of my mouth - in the face of a really low blood sugar I often can't structure sentences, I knew if I could at least crack a joke or say something I wasn't below a blood sugar of 50.

I saved as much of my nutrition as I could for the last 6 miles of the second bike loop where the 2 cherries and 3 bears live; this was the portion of the course that could lead to a disaster with my blood sugars. 2 miles before I hit Little Cheery my chain flew off my rear cog and wrapped around my wheel hub - one more pedal stroke and my chain would have snapped - to the girl who yelled to me to "DON'T PEDAL!!!!!!" thank you a 1,000 times over - you saved my race. Something happened to my rear derailleur and the only cogs that seemed to work smoothly were my 21, and 22 rings - most people will ride the bears in their easiest rear cog possible - I didn't have that option. After I pounded nearly half a bottle of nutrition prior to Little Cherry I was ready to climb. By the time I got to Papa Bear I was laser locked on my goal - some guy shouted out in a raspy voice "YOU'RE AN ANIMAL!!!!" as I grunted up Papa Bear just hoping my Coach wouldn't see me hammering my a** off to finish the second loop of the bike course.

First Bike Loop Results: 3 Hours 32 Minutes - 15.82 mph
FIRST BIKE LOOP GRADE: B, Fell Off My Goal Pace Considerably But Salvaged A Decent Time And Avoided Disaster

Final Bike Result: 6 Hours 45 Minutes - 16.57 mph; 1389 out of 2,340 and 94 out of 127 in my age group
BIKE GRADE: B+, Goal Was Sub 6:30 But Riding Blind I'll Take 6:45!


I tested in T2 and again had a blood sugar reading of 107; I had smartly put a vial of test strips in each of my transition and special needs bags for a worst case scenario - the weather on Sunday was THE WORST CASE SCENARIO. I pounded my emergency bottle of EFS prior to heading out for the run, loaded my fuel belt and left transition to face the 26.2 miles that stood between me becoming an Ironman.

I felt incredibly strong during the first portion of the run and had believed I was well on my way to a sub 4:30 marathon. I forced myself to slow my pace from the 7:30 minute/ mile pace I was at to the plan of 9:15 or 9:30. My stride felt strong, my mind felt tight, but after 6 miles I knew something was seriously wrong. As I ran past the Ausable River I looked out and said like a 5 year old "look at the pretty ducks," I was low, seriously low and I couldn't test to find out how low I was - my hands were too wet and I couldn't afford to lose another vial of test strips. I slowed to a walk; thankfully an aid station was less than 1/4 mile away. For the diabetics who read this blog this meter reading will tell you all you need to know:

For those not fully knowledgeable about type 1 diabetes, any blood sugar below 50 can lead to a seizure and diabetic coma. Due to my physiology my blood sugar can drop like a rock traveling at terminal velocity. An extra second of exercise at this point put my life in serious jeopardy (that is not an exaggeration). The amazing volunteer who helped me test gave me 2 cups of oranges and a ton of grapes - 2 very high glycemic fruits. After a minute or two she asked if I wanted to sit down - I told her I just needed to keep going; I grabbed 3 cups of soda from the aid station, drank them as quickly as I could and walked arms folded with the most p*ssed off face I've ever had for 40 minutes. Sarah who was running to a second place finish in her age group passed me and said "come on Ed you can do this," after the race she told me how focused my stare was. Bill, a teammate of mine on Train-This who has seriously become like an older brother to me saw me on the run during this stretch and shouted "Are you ok, Ed?" I shouted back - "No, I'm at 38!" - the look of despair on his face would tell you how incredible of a guy he is.

I passed two more aid stations during my walking stretch and had soda at each of them. Finally I reached "Inspiration Station," hopped under the DJ tent to get out of the rain and tested again 271! I was able to run again - the steps I took to get out of the low, to get back into a safe range worked - at this moment I knew diabetes would not defeat me, that I would become an Ironman!!!!! I left that DJ tent and ran back into town, my body felt awful from the blood sugar roller coaster I was on but on this day my mind was stronger than my body.

I had some major GI issues on the second loop of the run and hit the port-a-potty 7 times! I apologize for anyone who used the port-a-potty after me. The sodium intake in my nutrition plan is based on a running output. When the low blood sugar struck my body couldn't absorb the sodium due to the decreased effort while I walked. I had to abandon my nutrition plan and calculate carbohydrates on the fly - too much salt was in my system forcing me to use the bathroom WAY TOO MANY TIMES. After a run/ walk combo for miles 13 to 20 of the run my stomach and body finally felt good enough to turn it on.

Once I hit mile 21 I knew if I wanted to break 14 hours it was time to call on ghosts of my athletic past, forget about diabetes and just get the damn job done. I ran mile 21 to 22 at an 8:30 pace, mile 22 to 23 at an 8 minute pace and then turned on the jets to close the last 5k of the marathon at a 7 minute pace. Once I hit town I had the confidence to really run because if I happened to hit a low blood sugar there were enough people around to save me. I used the adrenaline from the cheering crowd to close my Ironman with the fury that I attacked the entire training process with. I ran past my fellow competitors with my chest heaving, and legs burning but I refused to slow down - I was going to do this my way, I was going to hammer it home. Past spectator after spectator I heard shouts of "way to go big guy," "looking strong," "holy s you're really running." But 2 moments prior to entering the Olympic oval will stand out in my mind forever, as I ran up "Rich Clark Hill" the Train-This crew was armed with a megaphone and went crazy as they saw me grind it out up the hill, Jeremy (the guy who I ran a large portion of Mooseman with) jogged with me for a 1/10 of a mile, patted me on the back and told me to get it done. Then Jesse Kropelnicki head of QT2 (an incredible triathlon team) and a high school friend of mine jumped out of his chair in front of High Peaks Cycelry and went absolutely crazy as he saw me running with all that I had. Each time I've seen Jesse at triathlons over the past couple of months he has been extremely zen - when he shouted out "YEAH!!! IT'S ALL MENTAL, IT'S ALL BETWEEN YOUR EARS!" he was anything but zen and came over to the dark side - I'll never forget the look on his face as we high fived.

When I entered the Olympic Oval my parents and sister were waiting for me around the first turn - they went absolutely bezerk as I ran past them. Around the final turn I had a huge smile on my face, flapped my arms up to get the crowd to cheer even louder than they already were and heard the words every triathlete wants to hear, Mike Riley saying "Ed Liebowitz You Are An Ironman!"

RUN RESULTS: Negative Split by 9 Minutes, total time 5 hours 31 minutes
RUN GRADE: A+, my time was an hour off my pace but the last 5 miles will always be one of my greatest memories

In my thank you card to Coach Egg I told her I couldn't have asked for a more perfect guide for this voyage. My path to becoming an Ironman wasn't about athletic accomplishments or a particular finishing time - she was the one who led me to that realization. Athletically I accomplished everything I ever wanted to while in college; athletically I'll never have the love for tirathlon that I did for football. Becoming an Ironman isn't about an athletic accomplishment though. This was a journey about diabetes, about redefining how a chronic illness can impact your life. 357 days prior to competing in my first Ironman I had never run more than 10 miles, never swam more than a few hundred times and went on just a few leisurely 50 mile bike rides to get a muffin in Nyack. I faced the worst diabetic demons I could have imaged on Sunday and slayed them with the confidence and dedication I attacked all 357 days with. Coach Egg, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this voyage possible and so incredibly special. I'll thank all those who made this possible in a separate post - but none of this would have been possible without your support. For 357 days I faced my fears with dedication and determination. I did not become an Ironman on July 20th, I became an Ironman by defeating diabetes for 357 consecutive days and nothing can ever take that away from me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Official Ring The Bolus T-Shirt!!!!

Tai of TaiGraphx.com took my stick figure concept to create one of the best t-shirts designs I've ever seen! The official Ring The Bolus logo is a sideways D since through this Ironman journey I'm looking to turn the preconceived notions of a chronic illness on their side. In the future I'm hoping to have some sort of fund raising effort with the T-shirts but Sunday comes first! The Ring The Bolus crew will be out on the course with the shirts on so if you see them be sure to send them a wave or stop by to say hello.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lake Placid Nutrition & Pacing Strategy

Coach Egg and I are finalizing the details of my race day strategy but what you see below is pretty much what I'll be following on the 20th:

Pre Race

4:30 AM
2 pieces of whole wheat toast with peanut butter


5:30 AM
Turn pump down to 40% basal rate

6:00 AM
Cliff Bar

6:15 AM
Pre-race nutrition mix

6:55 AM
Pre-Swim Mix


7:25 - 7:35 AM
Power Gel (chocolate) should be on the home turn when taken

Test blood sugar, if below 180 take nutrition mix

1.5 Miles Into Swim
Power Gel (chocolate)


Post Wet Suit

If Blood Sugar is below 160 take nutrition mix


Every 15 Minutes
Sip on nutrition

Water Stops
Change water bottle at each stop - should go through 3 Aero bottles per hour

After descent into Keane
Test & have 1/2 Clif Bar

After climb into Wilmington
Test & have 1/2 Clif Bar

After Wilderness Inn II
Ramp up nutrition intake, keep bike in small front ring

Special Needs Pick Up

Repeat Above for 2nd lap

Pacing & Cadence

Climb into Keane
Cadence should remain at or above 90, speed should be around 15 mph

Route 9N
Keep pace under 24 mph with a cadence of 100 - don't hammer!

Climb into Wilmington
Small gear and spin, don't get frustrated, speeds will top out at 11 mph

Out & Back
Keep pace under 24 mph with a cadence of 100 at the fast part - remember the hills and don't burn the legs

86 First Part
Mostly downhill, large front ring, cadence of 90 and speeds of 20ish

Last 11 Miles
If you're not in the small ring, you're wrong! After Whiteface and before the Cherries you can get speed - don't be tempted to shift to big ring; smooth pedal strokes, Papa Bear is waiting and you want your legs fresh, cadence better be above 90 to get the lactic acid out, remember to drink and take in nutrition mix

Special Needs Pick Up
Don't worry about your time and relax - still a long day to go; patience and don't be obsessed with the negative split, just follow the same strategy


After Bike Is Racked

If Blood Sugar is below 160 take nutrition mix


Each Aid Station
3 cups of water, if cups are less than 1/2 way filled have 4 cups

Between Each Aid Station
Sip on nutrition mix, if carbohydrate intake at aid station, skip nutrition mix

Every 5 miles (about every 45 minutes)

First 13
Head out at a 9:30 pace, increase to 9 minutes if feeling strong after 3 miles

Second 13
At mid-way point, increase to an 8:40 pace, hold for 7 miles, if legs are available increase pace by 10 to second increments each mile, with 3 miles left empty the tank


Friday, July 11, 2008

The Places We've been

As this chapter of my life rapidly comes to an end on my last day of work for about 2 years I've had alot of time to reflect on my past and my development. In thinking about the places I've been and who I've become I'm startled by some of the influences that have shaped my path.

My boss suggested I read Robert Pirsig's "Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values." A specific passage I read helped drive home who I've become over the 7 years of my professional life and make

"To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that's out of adjustment. he puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He's likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he's tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what's ahead even when he knows what's ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He's here but he's not there. He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because it will be "here." What he's looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn't want that because it is all around him. Every step's an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant."

In the past few years I learned that the goal isn't external or distant; that the goal is within your heart, within your soul. The work put in is about developing inner-strength and that the opponent is your mind, not someone else. The ego-climber treats the mountain as the opponent thinking he needs to defeat it, the selfless climber knows that his mind is the opponent, that the goal of the climb is not to get to the top the fastest but to enjoy every moment of the challenge. Of course you can also interpret Pirsig as saying to just enjoy the journey, flow with it and let it take you where it wishes but it's still the internal battle of your mind that allows you to get to that point.

It wasn't until this Ironman voyage started and I was faced with diabetes that I truly realized that the battle was between my ears. I think in too many things in life I had been that "ego-climber," but then it started to dawn on me that in the things I've been successful in have been things that I had to look deep into my soul to overcome or acting as the selfless climber.

Getting over Papa Bear on the Placid bike course isn't about screaming out it's name as your quads are burning, but rather remembering the path you took to be able to flow over that hill. Success in my life hasn't been determined by "defeating" something it has been determined by convincing myself to believe in who I am. The slogan on the back of my Ring The Bolus t-shirt may be "Defeating Diabetes One Tri At A Time" but to do that required me to embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey. The journey forced me to push myself to understand the disease, to be willing to try every avenue to define how diabetes would affect me; success is about trying again after a failure and learning from that experience. Perhaps I'm not just closing a chapter today, I may be starting an entirely new book.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bib # 286!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes!!!!! Yes!!!!! Yes!!!!! I can not begin to tell you how happy I was when a certain triathlete e-mailed me a comment about racer 286. When I went to Ironmanusa.com to find out my race number low and behold - 286 was me!!

Normally a sane person wouldn't be so excited about some digits. But in all honesty can someone who is relishing the opportunity to work their butt off for 140.6 miles be considered sane? Ever since I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid I have been praying that my race number would contain a 6 and a 2. 62 was my college football number, and represents so freaking much to me. Oh man this is awesome - every once in a while things all come together at just the right time; the 20th can't get here fast enough.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Quiet Before The Storm

On Thursday afternoon I anxiously packed my Pathfinder for the last weekend of training hell. I was unsure of what to expect, unsure of my level of preparation and nervous as to how my nutrition plan would hold up. To simulate race day as best as possible I brought all the food I would need for the weekend and cut myself off from the outside world to focus. When I arrived at the Placid Bay Inn, and came to find Rocky IV on TV, I started to think that my July 4th Weekend would be something special.

It's kind of embarrassing to admit but one of my heroes growing up was Rocky Balboa. The underdog who always fought to the finish, the size of his heart and will to win always overcame his shortcomings as an athlete. Oddly enough I think both Rocky Balboa and Hulk Hogan, 2 fictional characters helped develop who I am (a post for later this week). When Duke, Rocky's trainer told him "you're going to have to go hell and back to get ready for this fight and you're going to have to do it alone," I couldn't help but think he was talking directly to me.

I woke Friday morning to perfect blood sugars, with anticipation for what the day would hold. I got to Mirror Lake at 7:55 am but was distraught as the lake was filled with crew shells; after speaking with some of the crew Coaches I found out that there was a big race on July 5th, and while they had been training on the lake for weeks now a bunch of "new" teams were there and they didn't know how observant of swimmers in the water these teams would be so it probably wasn't safe to swim. No problem, I had a ton of other stuff to do so instead of getting into the water, I hopped on my bike and set out for the 112 mile ride.

I can't exactly explain the feeling I had during the first loop of the bike course. But something "clicked", for some reason I kept smiling. I kept thinking of my Mom's final words to me before I left the house on Thursday, "just remember to have fun." Instead of fearing the course I respected it. Under gorgeous blue skies I realized how lucky I was to be out riding, to be pushing myself and to be chasing a dream. I started to have a slight belief that I might actually be ready for the race.

The first loop was incredible, the 3 hours and 10 minutes were the best I had ever biked. During my 70 mile ride on Tuesday my quads were burning and my mind was tired; however for the first 56 of the Placid course I felt "perfect". My blood sugars were only 91 after the decent into Keene so I added a banana to the nutrition plan; at the end of the loop I was at 180 and was psyched to head out to enjoy the course again.

My second loop didn't go quite as well, but wasn't a disaster by any stretch. After the decent my blood sugar was 121; I should have just stuck to my nutrition plan but instead made a HUGE mistake and took in a hammer gel. About 15 miles later my blood sugar had spiked into the 220 range and sapped alot of my energy. The second I took the gel I knew it was a mistake but also learned a really valuable lesson. I need to adapt for my blood sugars but need to be smart about it. I shouldn't take products that Lauren and I haven't tested 100 times before and should use my training experience to know how I need to adapt. The stupid move slowed my pace down 1.5 mph compared to my first lap for a final time of 3 hours and 27 minutes; however I was able to finish strongly and did a 1/2 hour brick at a 8:30 pace - a pace I couldn't come close to holding after the 56 mile bike at Mooseman - tangible proof of improvement!

I was asleep by 10 pm on Friday for a 4:50 am wake up call. To get in some quality swimming at Mirror Lake I needed to be in the water by 6am. There was something incredibly serene about swimming during a sunrise; it was just a fisherman and me in the lake - vastly different than the experience I'll have with 2,000 other people on the 20th though. Most importantly I didn't have any blood sugar issues pre or post swim and my new wet suit felt incredible, my confidence was growing with only 1 hellish session left, a 2 and 1/2 hour run.

After biking more than 200 miles, running close to 40 miles and swimming about 5 miles in a 6 day period my legs shut down on me at mile 10 of my run (I was able to finish 13 miles in all). I didn't run the 20 miles I wanted to on Saturday but in all honesty that didn't matter. 6 or 7 miles into my run on the Lake Placid course, I smiled the biggest smile I've had in months and out loud said "I'm Ready." At that moment I knew I had prepared as best I could, I knew my nutrition plan was spot on, I knew all those people I had placed my faith in hadn't led me wrong. I finally believed in myself, I finally believed in my ability to complete Ironman Lake Placid. The biggest distance we race for an Ironman is the space between our ears - it took me nearly a year to cover that distance but 15 days before race day I finally crossed that finish line.

So much happened over the past 72 hours that I'm not 100% sure how to put it into words. This is the quiet before the storm, the calm confidence that lets me know I'm ready for race day. Before the butterflies come and before I'm holding back vomit in Mirror Lake, I know I'm ready. At this moment I'm not worried about my blood sugars, and I'm not worried about my preparation - I know I've done all I could to prepare for the race. I also had an incredible time sharing all this with a certain triathlete while swimming in Walden Pond on Sunday.

I think all the doctor visits, all the time spent researching about nutrition, the buckets of sweat, the hours of sacrifice and the pain endured are all to reach this confidence and the self-belief that one is ready for race day; I had to put myself through a week of hell after 50 weeks of training to achieve it but now I can't wait to be on that starting line.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Final Push!

Tonight I head up to Lake Placid for my final push towards becoming an Ironman. Some argue that the taper period should be 3 weeks, others argue for a 2 week taper period; however for diabetics the taper period is the most difficult time of training. Coach Egg and I are trying to avoid the pitfalls of Mooseman, where the taper period destroyed my basal rate profiles. So our plan is to work my a** off this weekend and then recover my legs through hour or two hour workouts up until the Ironman. It's a risky strategy but I'd rather have my legs somewhat sore than my blood sugars flying out of control.

The plan for this weekend:

1) Full Ironman Lake Placid Swim Course (2.4 Miles, 2 Loops Mirror Lake)
2) Full Ironman Lake Placid Bike Course (112 miles)
3) 3 - 4 Mile Run Around Mirror Lake (30 Minute Run)


1) 1/2 Ironman Lake Placid Swim Course (1.2 Miles, 1 Loop Mirror Lake)
2) 3 Hour Run On Ironman Lake Placid Run Course (Hopefully At Least 20 Miles)
Taking Cliff's advice I've mapped out my entire nutrition plan for the 2 days of hard core training. This plan should help me just focus on what needs to get done without worrying about anything else:

And yes, I am that big of a dork that I mapped out my entire nutrition plan in Excel. My future Darden classmates would be proud!

Then the highlight of the weekend will come as I get to spend Saturday night in Boston with my new favorite Triathlete, commiserating about our fears of IMLP. The final push to Placid is going to be a blast! And if you're out training in Placid this weekend I'll be the guy wearing at least 1 article of orange clothing, make sure to say hi!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Keep On Trucking

Momentum in training is a funny thing. One day you can feel like everything is going perfectly, your confidence will be at all time high only to be ruined during the next training session by a blood sugar low, bike breaking or otherwise feeling totally run down. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to experience all those things in a 48 hour period!

Friday evening I was tremendously excited for a huge training weekend. That evening I met with Cliff to discuss some IM nutrition strategy and go over some of my other fears about the race as a type 1 and as an athlete. The best advice he gave me was to write everything down in a schedule for the 72 hours prior to the race - leave nothing to chance. By following a schedule I essentially don't have to think about anything and can just focus on the race. I've noticed that in the workouts where I write down my nutrition and pace strategy I'm vastly more successful than in the workouts that I try and do all that via memory - so I think Cliff may be onto something!

Saturday morning I was up at my parent's house nervous as anything for an open water swim practice. After the disaster at White Pond I went searching for a new OWS venue and came across Putnam Lake at the suggestion of Jordan Rapp (a professional triathlete and part of the Slowtwitch.com family). Putnam Lake is a private lake near Patterson, NY; I contacted the community board president to ask her permission to swim in the lake. After explaining my story Barbara was tremendously supportive and simply asked that I sign a waiver and have someone follow me along in a row boat. So Saturday morning I entered Putnam Lake with my Mom & Dad rowing close behind.

Putnam Lake was beautiful! For an hour and 10 minutes I swam to my hearts content, was relaxed in the water and FINALLY felt comfortable in an open water environment. If only I could have added 2,000 people hitting me in the head while swimming I really would have gotten in a great practice. My parents were a bit less successful in their rowing as I had to re-enter the water to drag them into shore. Although a huge heart felt thank you goes out to my Mom & Dad for getting in a row boat (probably for only their first or second time ever) just so I could chase down this crazy dream. After the swim things took a horrible turn however.

I returned to my parents house, loaded up my bike with the day's nutrition and headed up Dahila Dr. ready to attack Bear Mountain. 2 minutes into the ride disaster struck:

Now if you look closely at the picture you can probably notice an essential piece of my bike is missing - I'll give you a hint; THE FING AEROBARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As I climbed the steep hill out of my parents drive way I snapped my deck right off the front fork and crashed to the ground. If my Mom wasn't arleady nervous about the Ironman, witnessing her only son crash to the pavement did nothing to alleviate her fears. Thankfully I was going up hill or I would have gotten pretty badly hurt. Strictly Bicycles replaced the fork for free but this ruined my Saturday workouts.

Stupidly, I tried to go out for a run Saturday afternoon after bringing my bike into the shop. However, my nutrition plan for the day was shot to hell. Starving I had a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch which has far too much fat (from mayo, bread and cheese) and protein in it to digest quickly enough for the carbs to be absorbed 2 hours before a long run. However, I arrogantly thought I could beat physiology and proceeded to follow my nutrition protocol. As I left my apartment for the last time for a run(I moved up to my parent's house Sunday for my final days before heading to UVA!) I was greeted by a monsoon.

For the first 45 minutes of the run I felt strong, but then could tell I wasn't digesting my nutrition properly. An hour into my run my blood sugar was 95 and I could barely maintain a 9:45 pace (my E pace is 8:50). So workout # 2 of the day had to be scrapped. The digestive and fatigue issues had me fighting off lows throughout the night on Saturday and all day on Sunday where I took a self prescribed much needed day off.

Ironman training is a grinding process, I knew I still needed to get in my long run and ride so I spoke with my boss letting him know I'd be in late on Monday and out on Tuesday to do my long run and ride respectively. Monday morning I woke up at 5:30, was out the door by 6am and completed my 2 hour run. Tuesday I hopped on my bike for a 70 mile ride followed by a 30 minute brick. Each workout went as well as they could have but my performance in those 2 workouts isn't really the point. Ironman training requires adaptation and life as a diabetic requires adaptation. Environmental factors, life events and stress all effect how my blood sugars will react to certain foods and my ability to complete workouts. Each day presents a new challenge and if I just keep on trucking I'll find success in both.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Each Of Us On An Island

On July 20th when I'm in Mirror Lake waiting for the starting gun to sound I'll be surrounded by 2,000 individuals each fighting their way off their own private island. Yesterday after a terrifying swim in White Pond in Kent, NY where I felt as if I was being attacked by 6 foot weeds I felt isolated from the world through Ironman training. All the struggles I've encountered in the past year were transformed into waves making me think I was standing alone on an island with 140.6 miles between me and the rest of the world.

I spoke with my Coach about this last night; she said that each athlete training for IMLP feels almost exactly the same way that I do. That each person will face an internal struggle during the race and each person will need to overcome those obstacles to call themselves an Ironman for the first time or the xth time. Each person will be on their own island and will be fighting the same waves. Their waves may be created from different fears and different struggles than mine but each person will need to navigate those waters, to shed the feeling of isolation and to fight through to the finish.

With IMLP looming like an enormous storm cloud 25 days away, bike issues that I've been struggling to fix and some 6 foot weeds that wanted to kill me my island felt like it was further off the shore than ever before. The last block of training is always the hardest according to Coach Egg. This is where mental toughness truly becomes a factor; the pressure of the race isn't there in January but it sure as hell is there in late June and especially July. I want each finger prick to give me a perfect result, I want each workout to be perfect, I want my muscles to feel the best they ever have and each time that doesn't happen I am frustrated. With my goal in sight this is the time where I must trust my training and not fear those waters but embrace them to break through to the other side. This is the time to leave that island and face those waves head on, to look fear and frustration in the face and work as hard as I possibly can to defeat them. This is what the journey to becoming an Ironman is all about.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." ~ Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lessons From Mooseman: Pass The Salt

Last Thursday I met with Lauren to discuss where my nutrition plan went wrong during the Mooseman Half Ironman; here's what we found out:

1 - Too much protein for dinner the night before the race; the red meat I had with my pasta was too hard to digest, causing my early morning blood sugars to be very unstable. For Placid I'll be having regular whole wheat pasta with turkey meat balls. The combination of Barilla Protein Plus Pasta and Ground Beef was a really bad idea.

2 - I need to have about 40 more grams of carbs in my Pre-race nutrition, and some additional protein (currently at 14 g she wants me at 20 to 25 g). Protein helps delay the absorption of carbohydrates, the additional grams of protein will help my body more naturally maintain a blood sugar of 150 to 160 rather than having the peaks and valleys I experienced at Mooseman.

3 - Add some protein to pre-swim nutrition for bs stabilization. I'm still working on my pre-swim nutrition as OWS is vastly different from pool swimming; currently my pre-swim bottle has 2 scoops carbo pro and 2 scoops cytomax, replacing one of the scoops of cytomax with pro-formance should help maintain a healthier sugar level.

4 - I lost three pounds during a 70 degree morning run on Wednesday. This tests out to my needing 75 oz of water/ hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's not going to happen - just too much fluid for someone my height and weight to take in but Lauren thinks I can handle 64 oz per hour. That means the 5 bottles of water I took in during the bike leg weren't even close to fulfilling my hydration needs.

*****5 - Salt, salt, salt and more salt - I tested out to need 2,500 to 3,000 mg of salt/ hour my sports mix only had about 1,500 mg of sodium on the bike and 1,100 on the run; after 3 hours on the bike I had only taken in 3,000 mg of salt when I needed 7,500 to 9,000 mg (probably closer to 9,000 in that heat), in total on the run I only took in 2,000 mg of salt when I needed 5,000 to 6,000 mg; so in total I had a salt deficit between 7,500 and 10,000 mg! Lauren hooked me up with a product only available to nutritionists that has 710 mg of salt per serving; the Succeed tablets I was using had only half that amount of salt per serving.

I was able to put the nutrition plan to test this past weekend. Friday called for a continuous swim of an hour, Saturday for a 100 mile bike ride and Sunday for a 13 mile run. The new plan led to no blood sugar issues, no cramping, quicker recovery and less fatigue during the workouts!!!! Additionally, I mapped out my nutrition needs for each workout rather than trying to do all the math in my head. By mapping out exactly what I needed to ingest per hour forced my nutrition to be a point of major concentration for all my workouts.