Friday, May 30, 2008

Lake Placid Ironman Course: First Impressions

The WAP training camp allowed ample time to explore the Lake Placid bike and run course. I wanted to share my first impressions of the course with you and of course ask for any stories of your own experiences at LP. This afternoon I'll be riding with Cliff Scherb of Tri-Star Coaching for some pointers on how to ride the course more efficiently. Cliff posted a smoking bike split of 5:31, good for 8th place in the M 25-29 division in 2007! So I'm sure my ideas about how to tackle the course will change after working with him this afternoon.

Bike - Prior to riding Coach Egg told us the key to riding the bike course was to spin, spin, spin and spin. She warned that anyone who tried to mash the hills in a big gear would see "the Wizard" and be in a world of pain by the end of the first loop. After riding portions of the loop 5 times over the weekend I couldn't agree with this advice more! Lake Placid rewards patience and a smart attack plan - leave your machismo at home.

Unlike most other rollers where a hard climb is rewarding by a refreshing descent most of the LP course's climbs are followed by false flats or flats. The big reward for all the climbing comes in 1 long descent into Keene. The 9+ mile descent is terrifying for those who aren't used to handling a bike going 35+ mph (and really what tirathlete is good at handling a bike anyway!); but the more comfortable you are with a high speed descent the bigger the reward for all the climbing.

With that, the bike course can be broken into 5 portions:

1 - Route 73
2 - Route 9N
3 - First Part of 86
4 - Out & Back
5 - Second Part of 86

Route 73 starts innocently enough with mild climbs and a nice quick down hill. Just after the Iron Bridge is where the real fun begins! For 5 to 10 miles you have a slow steady climb; if you pound this out good luck on the rest of the course. After the long steady climb you're greeted by the very fast downhill section - the road is much smoother than the shoulder, especially by the 2 lakes on the descent.

Route 9N was the fastest part of the course for me. There are 2 hills, neither of which are that steep, and the rest of the route is fast. You're probably going to want to go faster than you should during this section, grinding away will burn your legs for the rest of the loop as there isn't any recovery to be had until you return to the route 73 descent.

First Part of 86 is a long fairly steep climb out of Jay into Wilmington. There is one quick descent but the rest of this leg is either a false flat or a climb; for me this was the toughest part of the course as it is really mentally draining, the scenery isn't as beautiful as the rest of the course and the climb just wears on you.

Out & Back - 7 miles out, 7 miles back, 2 steep hills, lots of flats and one of the most serene stretches I've ever ridden my bike on. While 9N allowed me to ride my back the way I like to, the out & back refreshed my spirit and my mind. For a good stretch you ride right next to the beautiful Ausable River, see several fly fisherman and are essentially alone with your thoughts. However, this gorgeous stretch is sandwiched between 2 climbs so be careful not to let it all out.

Second Part of 86 - Hello last 11 miles! This stretch of the course contains the famous 3 bears and 2 cherries. It also contains 2 unnamed hills and a headwind that will try anything to make you give up. Whiteface Mountain is known as "Iceface" during the winter months, the winds on the mountain blow away the loose snow exposing the ice underneath. Just because the temperatures are warmer doesn't mean that wind disappears. Just past the waterfall you'll begin to feel a breeze in your face. That breeze can reach hurricane like force (at least that's what it felt like) as you pass by the Whiteface parking lot. At this point you need enough left in your legs to battle with Mother Nature. One more unnamed climb after the headwind allows you to relax on a cool, comfortable flat until you face Little Cherry, Big Cherry, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear; on Monday Papa Bear was greeted with a loud FU as I ran over his words; this section is draining, steep and hard. There isn't alot of time to gain too much speed and the smart rider will use a high cadence in the small ring for most of this section.

Run Course - I loved the 13 mile loop! This run course has everything you could ask for, steep hills, fast flats, good downhills and gorgeous scenery. I love running up hill (hate biking up hill, but love running them); perhaps this comes from Pop Warner football when our coach used to make us bear crawl up a steep hill if we were having a bad practice. But the burn in my quads during a good run up hill brings a sadistic smile to my face - this course gave me plenty of time to smile! The course starts off with a steep 1/4 mile run downhill followed by the same stretch to the Iron Bridge as the bike course; you then make a left onto River Rd and are surrounded by farm land, a lazy river and gorgeous trees. If at some point you don't inhale deeply and smile just to have the opportunity to challenge yourself in such a pristine setting you're in the wrong sport.

The outward stretch of the run course is much easier than the return stretch as the 2 steep downhills are turned into monstrous uphill fights. The run course is challenging, those who saved their quads on the bike will be rewarded. With my ass dropped, shoulders high and quads grinding I had a great time running the 2 steep hills, especially the one in the shadow of the ski jumps.

All in all this course is phenomenal and a true test of endurance and the time you spent training. Like a good final exam Lake Placid tests all facets of triathlon training - hills, flats, and descents. The gorgeous scenery kept me smiling and reminded me how lucky I was to be challenging myself in such an amazing environment. That scenery combined with 2,400 competitors and the electricity of amazing spectators is going make July 20th an incredibly special day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bloodied, Battered & Bruised - But A Whole Lot Wiser

The Weekend At Placid training "vacation," was in a word PHENOMENAL. I went into the weekend anxious and nervous; anxious to meet my teammates for the first time but nervous that I was either under prepared for the challenges of Lake Placid or that my blood sugars would get the best of me. At the end of close to 15 hours of exercise over 3 and 1/2 days so many questions were answered, so may doubts were left behind and I can honestly say quoting the immortal words of Coach Egg that I dropped my bag of sh*t on that Lake Placid Bike Course.

I arrived to the Alpine Inn on Friday night after fighting through some blood sugar lows on my drive up to Lake Placid. Coach Egg had told the team about me before I arrived so most knew who I was before I introduced myself. The plan was to ride the last 11 miles of the bike course (toughest part) on Friday evening before dinner; however my blood sugars were totally uncooperative so I had to wait an extra hour before starting my ride, in the pouring rain (a recurring theme for the weekend). Friday night I continued to fight off lows but was ready to tackle the full 112 miles of the bike course Saturday morning.

Saturday was my greatest test as a triathlete yet. I'm tremendously hard on myself, I'm constantly worried I'm not doing enough to accomplish my goal and am driven by the thought that someone out there is out working me, but more importantly that I have to constantly prove to myself that I can accomplish anything. On Saturday I had a complete blood sugar debacle and seriously contemplated throwing in the towel. When I had to cut off 14 miles of the course, stop for an hour to wait for my blood sugars to rebound and completely failed that days test I wasn't sure if all of this was worth it anymore. I had, had what seemed like my 200th low in the past 3 days, was cranky, tired, hungry and frustrated and wasn't sure what I had left in my heart. At one point I sat down on a guard rail and watched the entire Tri-Life team pass by me I had so much doubt enter my mind and truly wondered if this disease was defeating me. But when I pulled into that parking lot where we started our ride and had several teammates ask me if I was ok meant the world to me. I had never met any of these people prior to Friday but I felt like they really cared, as someone who has now logged probably 1,000 hours of training alone, having that support network of people going through the same thing, with the same issues, with the same frustrations without diabetes let me know I'm not alone in this and that the disease isn't what gives me the doubts, it's the sport that provides all the doubt anyone needs.

Sunday began to provide the mental break through Coach Egg was praying I'd have. After eating over 600g of carbs on Saturday my blood sugars still weren't fully stabilized, but my glycogen reserves were filled. My athletic confidence slowly returned while I tackled the hills of the LP run course. 11 miles into a 15 mile run I slapped my hands together which may have scared small children, old women and my Coach started to shed the previous weeks' weight off my shoulders. My desire to dominate returned, for me that is the single most important aspect of my athletic personality. Not necessarily dominate my competition (although crushing anyone wearing orange & red would be nice) but more the ability to dominate any doubt in my mind that I can finish a competition to the best of my ability. When the smile returned to my face, that desire returned to my soul.

Since I didn't get to ride the full bike course on Saturday I decided to stay at Lake Placid an extra day. This allowed me to get in a 20 yard swim in Mirror Lake Sunday afternoon. Breathing in freezing cold water was still freaking me out so I wanted to hop in the coldest water I could find. Mirror Lake was maybe 50 degrees and all I wanted to do was swim to the first buoy and back (about 10 yards in each direction). With a whimper on each exhale in the water I swam the 20 yards as quickly as I could, but I swam, not gracefully but WAY better than what I showed at Bassman.

My decision to stay the extra night to attempt the 112 miles on my bike was perhaps the best thing I've done throughout this entire training process. When I decided to do that, I knew there was no way diabetes or triathlon was going to defeat my desire to conquer this course. If I didn't admit that I thought I was bat shit crazy during the first climb headed out of Lake Placid, I'd be lying. I wondered, aloud, why the hell I was going to subject myself to a 6 or 7 hour bike ride and was scared to death of any blood sugar issues. But as I climbed out of LP and into Keene my legs felt lighter, my body felt looser and my mind felt tighter; the inner athlete was returning. (as a side note my rear wheel wasn't filled up all the way on Saturday - yeah that didn't help either!) My heart rate probably spiked to 500 during the decent into Keene (god I hate that part of the course), but entered 9N into Jay I found the speed I'm so used to achieving on my bike - for the entire stretch of 9N I was over 20 mph and felt like I was in my comfort zone back on 9W (my weekly long ride). Each 1/2 hour I had my watch set to go off to remind me to eat; on each loop I had 2 bottles of my nutrition mix and 1 cilf bar (1st loop builder bar, 2nd loop regular clif bar) so I took in about 250 grams of carbs per loop; will probably pop that to 300 grams on the second loop so I go into the run with extra carbs.

At the start of my second loop it started to pour and for a good 10 minutes I thought about turning around, but of course being the stubborn, determined idiot that I am I kept pushing and willing myself to go further. My blood sugar had spiked to above 300 at one point which led to some nasty feelings but I was able to correct and continue. The decent on this loop was terrifying, in driving rain, howling wind and heavy traffic I gripped my rear break for dear life and didn't allow myself to go over 20.5 mph - even with this I still negative split the bike!!!!!!! I think when I determined to push forward was when whatever was holding me back went away. I don't think I've ever ridden harder or better than the last 40 miles of that course. On 9N my speeds on the flats were upwards of 25 mph and I felt fantastic, I was keeping my mph around 10 mph on the climbs and I freaking flew on the out and back. My first lap was done in 3:33 and my second lap in 3:27.

Perhaps that terrifying decent was exactly what I needed to get over my demons. It was during that decent that I realized in Ironman the goal shouldn't be becoming the next Macca or Craig Alexander, that this sport isn't like football where the only thing that matters is winning the game. This sport is all about the journey, it is all about the reasons why we are testing ourselves for 10 to 17 hours, it's not about who gets the 140.6 done the quickest, it's about conquering whatever it is that made us sign up for the 140.6 in the first place. During that decent I realized for the first time that I signed up for this to destroy diabetes for one day, to prove to myself that the 285 lbs individual I became after my college football career was over is long behind me, to show that this disease does not define me and to finally have the belief in myself that all my dreams are within reach. In the past I had always said my goals were to "provide inspiration for others," while that is still very much true the driving force behind that goal is the inner struggle that I've faced ever since my team lost to Widener 41 - 14 in the 2nd round of the NCAA playoffs in 2000. Getting into Darden was the first step in the return to believing in myself, crossing that finish line will be the final step. This weekend let me realize why this journey is so important to me. Nothing can describe how I feel better than this view I had driving out of Lake Placid:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weekend At Placid!

I'm off to Lake Placid for the weekend and totally can't wait! Coach Eggers is having her annual training camp so I'll be meeting my Train-This teammates for the first time. The work performed this weekend will lay the foundation for my level of success at Mooseman but more importantly Lake Placid. I'm 8 weeks out from my first Ironman and it's time for the first 112 mile training ride - nutrition and fitness better be spot on! Full report with pictures on Tuesday.

Have a great Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Running, Riding & The Rain

From a pure training perspective last weekend did more for my mental psyche than any other training period in the past. On Friday night I was able to hammer out a fantastic 3,000 yard swim; this was the first time in weeks that I didn't experience massive calf cramps during my swim and finally was able to get through the mental barrier of what happened at Bassman. Saturday I ran 14.92 miles in 2 hours and 8 minutes while "laying it down" for the last 18 minutes of the run - my best long distance run, EVER.

Saturday afternoon I took a quick pit stop at my parent's house on my way to a pre-Memorial Day BBQ to take a few laps in their pool. I knew I needed to get into some really cold water and force myself to swim "normally" to get over what happened in the water during my early season triathlon. Like a little kid entering the pool for the first time, I held onto the wall, put my face in the water and forced myself to breath out, I did this drill for a good 5 minutes. After I proved to myself I could breath in 50 degree water I started to do some laps; for the first time I felt the true beauty of a wet suit as my stroke came back to me! What I realized was in really cold water you need to really focus on breathing, the stroke will take care of itself if you've trained hard enough but since your body wants to maintain as much heat as it can it doesn't want to exhale. It's a real mind over matter battle in frigid water, I have alot of open water swimming practice left to go but this was a GREAT start.

The real fun of the weekend came Sunday. I once had a friend who used to joke that, "if it ain't raining, you ain't training." As much as I love a challenge, as much as I want every obstacle possible thrown in my way to make the journey that much more fun - riding a bike in the pouring rain at 20 to 25 mph in 55 degree temperatures while stopping every 30 minutes to test blood sugars SUCKS!!!!!!!!!! The weather man is in store for a huge smack down if I run into him anytime in the near future.

Prior to heading out for my Sunday ride I checked which stated rain was supposed to hold off until 3:30 pm. Perfect, Coach wanted me to do a 5 to 6 hour ride, if I started at 10:30 I'd be able to make it to Bear Mountain and just about all the way back before the rain started. However, after a lap in Rockland Lake State Park and just getting through Congers around 1:30 pm the sky turned Armageddon black! Sh*t, I thought, I better not tempt fate and try to make it all the way to Bear Mountain, as is I was going to have an 89 mile round trip; the 100 miler could wait for my Lake Placid training weekend. I made it just through Piermont when the sky decided to open up and drench me; some 10 to 15 miles away from the George Washing Bridge. Thankfully I had purchased the Gore Xenon Jacket earlier that week:

The jacket did a great job of keeping me mostly dry and somewhat warm - a perfect addition to the biking wardrobe! As great as the jacket was I could have been in a freaking Gortex body suit and still gotten soaked in that freaking rain. As the rain continued to come down my bike began to feel alot heavier, my average speeds dropped from 23 mph to 20 mph to 17 mph, although my cadence remained about the same. Later that night as I was cleaning the crud off my bike, Niagra falls erupted and a good 1/2 gallon of water poured out of my bike frame - hence the slowing speeds at the same cadence. This in part is why the Lemon (which I now call my old bike frame) is being replaced by a shiny new Orbea Ordu bike frame.

A couple weeks ago the bolt that holds the clamp for the seat post in place cracked in half; every ride I've been on since then has required a quick stop every 45 minutes or so to readjust the height of the seat post. The clamp for the seat post sits on top of the head tube, instead of sitting flushly on the head tube the clamp began to pull away from the frame due to the cracked bolt. Orbea was "looking into" the problem and originally was just going to send Strictly Bicycles, my LBS a new bolt and a better tool to strengthen the tightness of the bolt. After 2 weeks of debate, Orbea decided they wanted to work with the bike directly and if necessary give me a new frame. Nelson, the owner of Strictly, knows I'm in the heart of Ironman training and a lost week at this point would be a huge problem. Displaying the amazing customer service he has always shown me, Nelson fought with Orbea to forego the examination process and give me a new frame now - I can't recommend this bike shop enough; it's a class act all the way! If you're in the market for a new ride and near Ft. Lee, NJ please put Strictly at the top of your list. Hopefully the next time I get stuck in the rain my carbon beauty won't go from a sub 15 lbs. stealth machine to a freaking Blue Whale.

Monday, May 19, 2008

JDRF Article About..... ME!!!!!!!!!!

A few months ago Rachel Bennett, a journalism student at Rutgers and intern at the JDRF contacted me for an interview. The JDRF became aware of my attempt to become an Ironman 16 months after my T1 diagnosis through some work information sessions I had attended with their marketing department. When Rachel asked permission to write the article I couldn't refuse (watch out for my smile & overgrown head right now!)

So while I was going to tell you all about my 90 mile ride in the rain yesterday I'll hold that off for later this week and simply provide the link to the article. Some of the things, like my nutrition plan and hours of training have changed but the overall message remains the same: No matter what obstacles you face in life, if you believe in yourself, if your desire is strong enough, you will be able to accomplish what you set forth to do.

Here's the link to the article. Thanks again Rachel!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unwinding After Training - Top Chef Season 4

It isn't often that I feel compelled to talk about reality television or the media but in my over trained sleep deprived state Top Chef really struck a nerve with me last night. Last night's elimination challenge was to create a healthy boxed lunch using a protein, a grain, and a vegetable for the Chicago Police Department.

Padma, the host, brought out a trey of chilli dogs, burgers and steak sandwiches to show the cheftestants what a normal lunch order of the Chicago PD was. She then commented something to the effect of, due to the obesity epidemic facing America, diabetes is on the rise. Sam Talbot, a cheftestant from season 2, was the guest judge; Sam also has type 1 diabetes. Sam went onto say that as a diabetic he is always looking for healthy eating options, which SHOCKED me. Anyone affected with T1 knows that healthy eating allows for easier management of blood sugars, but the fact that Sam made no distinction between type 1 and type 2 really frustrated me.

In light of a recent conversation I had with someone who said their father's diabetes was "cured" after gastric by-pass surgery it is getting really upsetting that people do not make the distinction between the causes and symptoms of the two diseases. It is almost to the point where I want to call type 1 something totally different so I don't get quizzical looks and questions of "but you're so fit," when I mention that I have type 1 diabetes. It isn't the media's responsibility to educate the general population on the two types of diabetes, but it is negligent to lump them into one category. Last night I kind of felt like I was being put into a box that I really didn't belong in. Maybe I'll start saying I have Islet cellisis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cumulative Carbohydrates

Lauren has really been stressing the effect of cumulative carbohydrates to me during our nutritional meetings. For a "normal" athlete running at a cumulative carbohydrate deficit will cause them to feel lethargic or just crappy overall, this will eventually lead to bonking during a workout or not having the energy to perform. For a T1 diabetic a carbohydrate deficit will eventually manifest itself in a low.

For every 2 hours of exercise I'm supposed to have about 500 grams of carbohydrates. Pre-exercise I ingest 60 grams of carbs and during my workouts I have about 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. From Sunday morning until Tuesday night I had exercised for 10 hours; therefore I should have consumed 2500 grams of carbs over those 3 days. Sunday I had around 700 grams of carbohydrates, about 300 less than I nutritionally needed; Monday I had about 500 grams of carbs and Tuesday I added 600 grams of carbohydrates. All together that led to a 500 to 800 gram carbohydrate deficit.

Several factors led to this:

1 - It's really hard to eat that many grams of carbs! Sure I could go to McDonald's and gobble up a few Big Macs but that wouldn't really be the best option.

2 - I should have consumed at least 1 more during exercise drink on my Sunday ride.

3 - On my Tuesday ride since it was an easy spin and I was running a bit high that morning I didn't drink any of my workout mix.

All of this manifested itself in a low that was really hard to fight through last night. For dinner I had a full cup of pasta mixed with ground beef, eggplant and red sauce - should have been at least 70 grams of carbs. Less than an hour after dinner my blood sugar had dropped to 69 so I had a snickers ice cream bar; an hour after that my blood sugar was still in the 50s! Two glasses of orange juice later I was able to stabilize my blood sugars in the low 100s.

Given all this, I had to skip my morning bike ride today. If I had worked out for an hour and 1/2 the rest of my week would have been ruined, I simply wouldn't have been able to "catch up" on my carbohydrate intake. As is, I'm going to have to eat like a hungry hungry hippo today to make sure I balance out my needed carbs. The hardest part of this is finding carbohydrate rich foods that aren't processed and don't come in powder form. For breakfast I had a glass of OJ and egg whites on toast - only 600 more grams of carbs to go!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Now We're Training!

Ironman lore is filled with stories of training day in and day out for hours on end, of the ability to consume an entire pizza without putting on a pound and of body aches that would make Earl Campbell wince in pain. After months of building a base I began to beg Coach Eggers to push me, to make me scream in pain and to scratch tooth and nail to the end of each training week. For me the journey is alot more special if it's hard as hell, by giving something your all you truly know what you have accomplished. To drive home my desire for her to bring the pain I sent Coach Egg this simple e-mail:

This morning as I sit here with my quads on fire, knees swollen, back screaming and eyes dreary, I know Coach Egg brought it, but each moment I push myself, each drop of sweat is a step closer to the finish line at Placid. My training week was in a word, ridiculous, and it's only going to get harder from here.

My 16+ hours of training last week included waking up at 5am a few days to ride in Central Park or go for a run. The nice weather finally arrived in NYC which definitely gave me some extra incentive to wake up early. My 14 mile run on Saturday and 85 mile ride on Sunday were awesome. I met my target pace and blood sugar goals for each activity and felt strong at the end of both.

Best of all, the EFS and Carbo-Pro electrolyte mix I'm currently using helped me avoid ANY blood sugar lows during training throughout the week. The highlight of the week was eating an entire pizza (small) from Two Boots last night and bolusing for it perfectly!!!! Insane training weeks have their perks.

However, with all the positives from last week there are some things that without question need work:

1 - Improve my climbing ability on my bike. I'm a strong cyclist especially on the flats but my speed suffers (in comparison to others) on hills. I'm working with Cliff this week on cycling technique so that should help.

2 - Stop being discouraged in the pool. Since my debacle in the water at Bassman I've been frustrated by lap swimming. I just don't see how I'm preparing myself for open water swimming by training in a controlled environment. I'm going to look for places near my parents house in Putnam County this week to practice open water swimming on the weekends. I know I just need to prove to myself that I won't drown when the water is cold; but that is easier said than done.

3 - Hydrate more, especially on the bike. I saw Lauren last week and she is still worried that I'm not taking in enough water. Both Lauren and Brian have stressed to me that electrolyte/ carb drinks are not hydration sources; endurance athletes need to take in pure water to hydrate properly. I may buy one of those damn aero-bottles/ jet streams this week and try it out on my 100 miler this weekend, hopefully that will keep my legs fresher towards the end of the ride.

And a huge congratulations to Coach Eggers for her strong performance at the Gulf Coast Half Last Weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pre-Workout Basal Rates

Over the past month and a half a smaller percentage of my workouts have been cut short by exercise induced lows than the percentage of workouts cut short in my previous 10 months of training. In addition to using PBN's Ironman Cocktail and EFS I've experimented with my basal rates. This experimentation has led to much more stable blood sugars during exercise.

Under the advice of my previous endocrinologist I was reducing my basal rate to 5% or 10% of the hourly delivery 90 to 120 minutes prior to exercise. This effectively reduced the novolog in my body to zero, meaning I was exercising with no insulin in my system. After reading a few articles on sports medicine and nutrition it occurred to me that insulin was necessary to help move carbohydrates from your stomach and blood stream to your muscles. Without insulin the carbs I was ingesting sat in my digestive track and were not transferred to the body parts that required energy. I think this is why when I'd return my pump to normal settings after an exercise low my blood sugar would sky rocket.

After 6 weeks of experimentation I have settled on turning my pump down to 30% of an hour's full basal rate and maintain that delivery rate of insulin for the duration of exercise (except swimming when my pump is detached). This change has allowed me to maintain a blood sugar of 150 to 190 during exercise while more importantly transferring energy to my muscles. Granted my fitness improves weekly but over the past 6 weeks I have not had the fatigue, cramping or bonking issues I ran into over the winter. From both a diabetic and nutritional standpoint I'm in a much better place now.

All this experimentation does not solve the most annoying issue about insulin pump therapy however. Why doesn't the pump allow us to set an advanced rate reduction?!? If I plan on working out in the morning I need to change my basal rate pattern from pattern A to pattern B. Pattern B is a carbon copy of Pattern A except I manually calculate 30% of whatever basal rate I would have an hour before exercise (or in this case before I wake up). I'm constantly changing Pattern B's time intervals or basal rate. This extra step probably takes more calculation than any other I've had to make as a diabetic. It would be alot easier to program my pump in advance 5am rather than having to calculate the correct basal rate and time interval.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Psychology of Diabetes - When Do You Tell

A striking thought came to me at Darden Days this past weekend. Darden Days is the University of Virginia's admitted MBA student "sell weekend," so I was around about 300 of my future classmates for the first time. Several of the future students know me as the guy who is training for an Ironman (we have an on-line triathlon group) but few know the reasons behind why I signed up for Lake Placid. As I held my hands under a desk to test before our mock case and hurriedly gobbled up 1/2 a clif bar to treat a low I realized; I'm not always forthcoming about my disease.

It isn't that I hide my disease (obviously; I blog about it and let the JDRF write an article about me) but when I introduce myself to others I don't let Type 1 diabetes define me. Two future classmates are quickly becoming close friends of mine, I've hung out with each twice in NYC and spent the majority of the weekend with them at UVA. Neither knew that I had Type 1 and as fate would have it, Rob's older brother has juvenile diabetes (a future classmate who knows how to recognize lows is a god send). Jacki had originally thought that my pump was a cell phone and Rob hadn't a clue until he saw me test in our hotel room late Friday night.

Those that know me as a Triathlete asked if I "win my age groups," or "if this will be my first Ironman." To those that don't know the motivation behind my triathlon training I'm simply a guy chasing glory or athletic challenges. When I expose the reasons behind this crazy dream the attitude of the conversation changes to one of inspiration from pure athletic pursuits. It was a great feeling to have 3 people whom I let know my motivation for the Ironman pause and say something to the effect of "that's really cool." I guess more than anything this past weekend let me realize that diabetes will never define who I am but will push me to make sure it never does.