Monday, April 20, 2009

Charlottesville Marathon - Oh Technology!

I can now add Marathon finisher to the list of endurance races I've completed! On Saturday I completed the Charlottesville Marathon in 4 hours and 26 minutes; 26 minutes off my goal time but over an hour faster than my Ironman Run time and at a faster pace than during Mooseman last year. So the good news, I'm showing progress in my training and ability, the bad news - a ton of stuff still went wrong and I failed to reach my goal. As I continue my evolution to becoming an endurance athlete I await the day that everything comes together and I perform the way I know I can perform.

Two major issues occurred during the marathon, both of which I should have been able to correct on the fly. In each case I continued to trust technology which ultimately cost me a good bit of performance on race day. The first major issue that occurred and will be of greater relevance to readers of this blog was the unbelievable inaccuracy of my Abbot Freestyle Navigator.


This was the first competition I was utilizing my Freestyle Navigator for, during training runs the accuracy of the CGM wasn't spot on but was close enough for me to have confidence in my nutrition plan. I started the race with a blood sugar of about 220 - right where I wanted to be; through mile 5 my blood sugar was in the mid 180s according to the CGM and I felt as if I was going to have a great day.


My blood sugar dropped about 10 points per mile over the next 3 miles on the Navigator. Instead of testing manually I trusted technology and took in about 1/2 a fuel belt bottle of nutrition (that equates to 55 to 60 grams of carbohydrates). My blood sugar continued to drop on the Navigator and like an idiot I didn't manually test and took Gatorade from a water station. My blood sugar stagnated in the mid 130s but I began to feel very sick during the run. At mile 14 I finally decided to slow down to test - my blood sugar was above 400!!!!!!!!!!


How can a CGM be considered even marginally useful if there is a discrepancy of over 250 points of glucose!? This is dangerous and points to a huge quality issue which makes the device nearly useless. Should I have tested manually at some point earlier in the race? Absolutely! But there is also no excuse for the device to have performed this poorly.


At this point in the race I took in .3 units of insulin and knew I would no longer be able to take in nutrition for the rest of the race. For the next 12 miles I only had water as I tried to fight off the effects of my very high blood sugar.


The other technological snafu I had was my Polar RS800 was off by .06 miles per mile. At the end of the race my running computer indicated I ran 28.4 miles at a 9:38 pace - when in actuality I had run 26.2 miles at a 10:11 pace. This means that all my training runs were off pace and that when I started the race at my goal pace I was actually running slower than indicated. I should have calibrated my foot pod prior to the race but neglected to and that cost me dearly.


So in the end I'm happy to have finished a very hard marathon (see profile below) in a pretty decent time. Only 4 runners broker the 3 hour mark, and I finished right in the middle of the pack. I continue to show improvement and continue to learn how to manage my blood sugar on the fly during these events. I just hope everything comes together someday soon!


7 comments:

Kim said...

hey, did you steal that elevation chart from my blog?!!! i trademarked that!

for your first solo marathon, you proved success. your hard work and training paid off on one of the most difficult courses around. your polar sucks - get rid of it, and you should call freestyle and complain about the SNAFU - there is no excuse for that discrepancy.

you kicked butt! im proud of you.

LG said...

congratulations marathon man! that looks like one heck of a hilly course!! i used to run (no pun intended) into the same issues with my polar footpod too which is why i switched to a garmin. and as for all the other stuff....with every race it is coming more and more together and you're continuing to learn and race/train smarter...soon the trifecta will happen and you will be a force on the course!

Christine-Megan said...

"How can a CGM be considered even marginally useful if there is a discrepancy of over 250 points of glucose!? This is dangerous and points to a huge quality issue which makes the device nearly useless. Should I have tested manually at some point earlier in the race? Absolutely! But there is also no excuse for the device to have performed this poorly."

And that, is why I gave up on CGMS.

Train-This said...

I'M SO DAMN PROUD OF YOU!

Alison said...

Congrats, Ed!

PJ said...

As someone who is fighting with her insurance company to be approved for a Navigator, that news is disappointing to hear.

Running with a blood sugar that high is really, really tough. And then when you have to take insulin and the sugar comes down, it feels like low blood sugar even if you don't go low. You had a great result given the diabetes related challenges. Congrats.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Way to go Ed! Sorry to hear that your gadgets were not living up to their gadgety potential.