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.