Friday, April 30, 2010

My Dynamic Nutrition Spreadsheet

Since I built my nutirtion protocol into an excel spreadsheet (god that makes me sound like an MBA) the number of lows I've encountered has dramitcally dropped and my performance during workouts has increased.  Although I always knew how many carbohydrated I would need for a given workout I would often loose track of the cumulative deficts I'd build up due to a missed meal or not being very hungry.

Coach Orton finally has me getting into the big mileage for the lead up to IMCDA.  This weekend my long ride jumps from 80 to 100 miles, and I'm suppoed to run 16 to 18 miles on Sunday.  In addition to a huge weekend of mileage the week included hill repeats, 18 miles of running and 4,000 yards of swimming.  According to my nutiriton formulas I would have had a 1,200 gram carbohydrate defecit if I only ate during workouts!

Trying to keep up with that amount of food isn't easy - especially when you're in the middle of some end of MBA celebrations.  Nutirition truly is the 4th discipline of triathlon.  But the spreadsheet has my blood sugars pretty stable (I did hit 48 yesterday but I think that was a bolus mistake) and I've had the energy to get through 9 hours of workouts through the first 5 days of this week.  So far, so good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Well Rounded View

A little over a year ago a classmate and I co-founded the Business & Public Policy Club at the Darden School of Business.  To our knowledge and according to the Darden faculty and administration we've spoken with our club was the first to partner with a Master's program from UVA main grounds; in this case we partnered with the Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy.  The mission of the Business & Public Policy Club is to connect students from both the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy & the Darden School of Business to engage in action-oriented discourse to cultivate a collaborative mindset and establish mutual responsibility for the societal effects of business and policy decisions, and to promote cross-curricular education of issues and professional opportunities among future policy and business leaders.

Yesterday, after 8 months of work we had our keystone event for the year; Preventative Healthcare in the U.S.: How Holistic Discourse Can Lead to Better Healthcare Solutions.   This was the most ambitious and most public event I had ever tried to put on.  My responsibility for the event included all the external networking, inviting attendees, and creating the forum questions; while my co-founder handled all the internal administration and dealing with school policies (it was a perfect partnership!)  The group of panelists we put together was phenomenal.  Brandon did an amazing job coordinate all our internal needs and dealing with the administrative burdens of putting together such a public event, Hayes, next year's president, really went above and beyond creating professional looking marketing materials and setting up classroom 50 to look like a first-class event.  Without them I would have just had some really impressive professionals sitting in a room talking with each other - with them the event became magical.

Our goal for the forum was to bring together individuals from diverse professional backgrounds to highlight how when a societal issue is examined from a multi-faceted view point you will uncover new challenges and ultimatley identify a better overall solution.  Our panelists included:

Dr. Dan Carey, President of the Virginia Medical Society,
Dr. Steve Danish, Professor of Psychology and Director Life Skills Center from VCU
Mr. Joel Salatin, Owner of Polyface Farms,
Professor Mary Margaret Frank, Associate Professor of Business at Darden,
Mr. Ridge Schulyer, District Director for Congressman Tom Perriello
Professor Gaare Bernehim, Director, Division of Public Health Policy & Practice at UVA and Associate Director, Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life.

The forum was moderated by Mary Ann Leeper, former President of the Female Health Company, an expert in public-private partnerships and a visiting professor at Darden.

All in we were covering preventative wellness from angles including tax policy, ethical concerns in public policy, medicine, behavioral health, procedural policy and farming.  This was a unique approach to a complex problem and the rich discussion that forum created was all that I had hoped for and more.  When Mary Ann asked me how I thought the forum went I replied, "my goal was never to try and solve anything with this forum it was to get individuals to start asking thought provoking questions that forced them to think outside the usual construct they would normal analyze a problem."  The panelists were all challenged to think outside of the professional world they are comfortable in and that was exactly what I hoped for.

One of the big reasons I chose Darden for my MBA was because I believed the small class size and intimacy we have with the faculty and administration would allow me to find outlets for true leadership.  I've always thought about things and wanted to do things the way I believe in; I believe in debate and I believe in looking at things from every conceivable angle.  Yesterday's forum once again reconfirmed that Darden was absolutely the best place for me to pursue my MBA.  It was an amazing opportunity to see the way my mind works come to life through a collection of panelists and to see how cross-functional thought can really push for better solutions.  It was an amazing experience and a highlight of my MBA career.  We hope to have the video of the event uploaded to the web at some point in the near future, I'll be sure to post a link when that happens.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beautifully Hard

On Saturday I went on the most grueling, challenging bike ride I had ever performed yet at the same time I was in awe of the scenery and the amazing feeling of accomplishment during and after the ride.  Over the course of 82 miles I climbed 7,801 feet, passed by waterfalls, saw horses grazing in wide open fields, was passed by a mini cooper club all with customized license plates and found a real deal old school country store - not bad in a day's ride!

My mission on Saturday according to Coach Orton was to:

"Ride a very hill course with long climbs: Zone 1-5a. Push hard on climbs/hills when you feel good, but always keep it under zone 5b. Do not force your effort"

My description of the ride after I uploaded my data to my TP account:

"ummm yeah.... that was hilly, well that's one word for it, another word would be insane and yet another description could be near death; hardest bike ride I have ever done but was awesome; was cool that I still had juice when i got to the flats to crush them in a steady high zone 2/ low zone 3 heart rate"

Over the first 20 miles my elevation changed more than 3,000 feet and my average speed was just about 13.5 mph - 13.5 mph!!! Seriously, that's how much I was climbing, little gears, legs churning, up and up I went.  My strengths and weaknesses were on full display for this ride.  But you know what, climbing is fun; climbing isn't like cycling through annoying rollers where you can't get into a rhythm or where you can jump out of the saddle to power over them.  Climbing requires patience, requires dedication and requires a strong mind, because as you continue to go higher, the hill continues to get steeper.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is like nothing I have ever ridden before, it provides breathtaking views with climbs that you could find in the Tour de France.  Saturday was my favorite bike ride of all time because of that.

Each new peak was rewarded with a view that was better than the last.  Some bikers passed by me headed in the other direction but I was alone in the direction I went.  A few cars passed by, including that cool Mini Cooper club, I passed a guy hiking the Blue Ridge accompanied by 2 dogs carrying his gear but mostly I was entertained by climb after climb after climb.  The Blue Ridge doesn't plateau, the Blue Ridge just gets steeper and I loved every increase in grade and every extra foot I climbed, by the end of the 20 mile ascent my legs were jello but I felt perhaps for the first time less like a hammer head and more like a cyclist.

Miles 30 to 40 presented some rollers, a bit of a rough road and not a ton of opportunities to find a rhythm; I was able to get my average speed back up but this was one of those mundane stretches that you just need to focus to get through; the reward for those 10 miles was perhaps the most incredible 25 mile stretch I have ever cycled.  Just past mile 40 I entered the town of Montibello, VA; a picturesque country town with horses in lush green fields, grazing on a hill side. Small ponds were on each property and I felt like I was transported back in time to a community out of the 1800s - it just had that feel for no particular reason at all.  I crossed into the town and saw one of the most quintessential country stores I have ever come across.  A large log cabin that sold pocket knifes, fishing bait and all the snickers bars a cyclist could lay their eyes upon.  The store served as the town's outlet for information with a gas station and post office in the same parking lot, advertisements were hung up for rental cabins, adventures in the woods and other activities.  It reminded me alot of my training days in Lake Placid and other amazing places in the Adirondacks.

I sat on their porch, filled up my water bottle, ate a Snickers bar, received some weird looks for being clad in all black spandex but then was off to continue my cycling adventure.  My stomach filled with nuget and caramel gave me the energy burst I needed as I descended into Crabtree Falls.  The descent was incredibly fast and had at least 5 hair pin turns; on my right side was a cliff with a rushing river below, on my left the side of a mountain.  Riding beneath the cool cover of trees I cruised down the hill at 35 mph just trying to soak in the scenery.  Before I knew it I was down my 5 mile descent and then it happened..... I reached the flats.

Just before mile 50 I was able to get back into my aero position, shift into my big gears and simply unleashed my quads.  Having climbed for such a long period I didn't think i would have any juice left in my legs at all - my heart rate and speed over this stretch convinced me otherwise.  At a cadence of 93, and a heart rate of 142 I saw my speed climb from 25 mph, to 28 mph to 31 mph - all on a flat.  Over this 10 to 12 mile stretch I hummed along at speed I had never felt for sustained periods before.  Over this stretch my speed never dipped below 21 mph and my position felt as steady as my effort.  Hills, descents and flats, this ride had it all.

After mile 60 I was greeted by my third 8% graded climb of the day; back to the little ring, I spun and spun with my heart rate getting into zone 4b.  At this point my legs were really starting to feel it but I knew that this 1,000 foot climb was the last huge challenge of the day.  Finally I crested the ridge, descended down the backside of the mountain and had just some rollers to get through to make it back to my car.

Miles 65 to 75 were perhaps the most mentally draining of any I faced that day.  I knew that I was close to finishing but knew that I still had about an hour to go.  I was tired, my allergies were bothering me and I was supposed to meet some friends out at the Vineyards.  But, I couldn't really get into a rhythm, this stretch was up and down, up and down; and I kind of knew the roads but not well enough to know exactly how far I had left to go.  After what seemed like an eternity I finally reached the intersection I was dying to see and was able to return to my aero position to fly back to my car; amazing I still had legs, I was able to churn out big gears at a high cadence, as Coach Orton would say, my strength endurance is outstanding right now.

Saturday's ride was indeed "beautifully hard," the scenery was incredible and the ride offered everything.  My weakness as a cyclist is climbing, my strength is the flats.  The challenge on Saturday was to climb as much as I could, to challenge the hills and challenge myself; the ride was tremendously hard and with perfect blood sugars all day and some of the most amazing views I have ever had the opportunity to witness it truly made it beautiful - what an amazing Saturday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ups & Downs - More Than Hill Repeats

At the beginning of last week Coach Orton warned me to "be ready, because you have your hardest training block yet coming up."  At the beginning of the week there wasn't alot of length or intensity work but my blood sugars were not cooperating.  I finally got the nutrition right for Thursday through Sunday morning, but after Sunday's long ride my blood sugars responded in a way they never had before - the ups and downs of training with JD were on full display last week.

Last week was just the tip of the iceberg for what's sure to be my most challenging stretch of triathlon training ever.  However, that challenge is what I crave and what makes me smile.  At the same time it also requires a much greater degree of planning for nutrition than I had originally thought.  I'm actually revamping how I analyze my nutrition needs which I'll describe in detail later in the post.

All the traveling I've been doing over the past several weeks had my basal rates all screwed up.  During the early part of last week I kept going low during workouts performed around 5pm; finally on Thursday I realized that it wasn't the workouts causing me to go low but my basal rate starting at 3:30 pm was way too high.  One of the dangers in performing exercise at the same time each day with a basal rate reduction is knowing what your body's underlying insulin needs are - altering the schedule let me see what was up.

Now that I had my afternoon basal rates cleared up I was able to get through some awesome workouts during the later part of the week.  Thursday had called for a 2.5 hour ride followed by a 45 minute run; during the run my heart rate was OUT OF CONTROL.  Summer was in full effect in VA last week with temperatures reaching into the 90s along with a good dose of humidity; ummm yeah zone 4b at a 9 minute pace - usually my heart rate doesn't hit 160 unless I'm cruising along at sub 7:15!  On tap for Friday was my hardest swim workout yet, a 3300 yard pyramid!  On top of that I was on a team for a case competition this weekend so I was feeling the time crunch.  But the real fun didn't start until Saturday......

2 hours and 45 minutes of hill repeats; it actually turned into a 2 hour ride, I was supposed to do a 45 minute warm up but drove out a bit too far and only did a 10 minute warm up which was followed by a 35 minute climb!!! 35 consecutive minutes of climbing - never in my cycling history had I ever done something like that before.  It actually felt incredible to climb an 8% grade for that long; legs burning with a smile on my face I climbed and climbed and climbed some more.  Finally I turned onto Skyline Drive found a great 1.5 mile stretch for some 5 minute hill repeats.  The stretch was between two overlook areas so I'm pretty sure the people parked in them during my training thought I was totally insane; they may partially be right but whatever.

For 40 minutes (5, 5 minute hill repeats with 3 min rest intervals) I climbed in aero position, out of my saddle and spinning.  I hammered as hard as I could charging the hill - hitting 18 mph on a 4% incline!  Once I got to the steep stuff I got out of my saddle and charged (as per Eric's instructions).  My heart rate was hitting the 170s but I was loving it.  I'll be a frequent visitor to Skyline drive as my training for IMCDA progresses.  Plus the reward for climbing is a view like this one:

Not too shabby! (my camera phone doesn't really do the view justice)

Exhausted I returned home and made my first big nutrition mistake in a while.  I was tired, had work to do for the case competition and wanted to be able to attend a friend's birthday party.  So I skimped on food - rather than hitting up the store to get the carbohydrates I needed, I had some toast with almond butter and a clif bar - totally not enough for the intensity of work I had done.  To top that off for dinner I grilled some chicken kabobs and just had potato salad - maybe a total of 100 grams of carbs when I should have refueled with closer to 300 grams of carbs after the rdie.

Sunday, I woke early to get out for my 60 mile ride, 15 of which was a warm up, 40 in zone 3 and 5 as a cool down.  By 8:15 am I was out the door and felt great to be on El Bastardo again.  My legs were still burning from the prior day's repeats but anytime spent in the country on my bike makes me feel fantastic.  Around mile 20 I started to feel just kind of "off".  My blood sugars were fine according to my meter but my body didn't feel like it normally does.  I finished the ride without a problem and was surprised to see a blood sugar of 127 on my meter (with the cool down normally I'd be closer to 180).  I changed into my running clothes for a 10 mile brick but was shocked when my blood sugar was at 107.

Never before has my blood sugar continue to drop after finishing exercise.  Normally as my heart rate returns to resting my blood sugar will spike 50 to 100 points, to see it drop 20 more points in a matter of 15 minutes after taking in a gel let me know something was up.  I texted Eric and he recommended not to force the workout - I was feeling pretty zapped of energy so headed over to Whole Foods for a super foods salad and a sandwich.  I continued to pop in Clif Bars and get in as many carbohydrates as I could.  I struggled to maintain my blood sugars and realized what a huge carbohydrate deficit I had let myself get into.

Additionally, I had experienced some weird morning highs (like in the 300s) earlier in the week so I jacked up my basal rate from 7am to 12pm.  At a 40% basal rate my insulin intake over that period was about what it was at 100% the prior week - so I think I had way too much IOB.  The combination of the carbohydrate defecit and too high basal rate messed up my blood sugars and forced me to miss the 10 mile run.

After a few years of experience with blood sugar management I thought I could put nutritional assessment and basal rate calculations on auto-pilot.  Much like Toyota I learned that this stuff takes constant vigilance.  Therefore, I'm creating a dynamic spread sheet to calculate my carbohydrate needs for me based on exercise duration and type.  As good as I am at keeping stuff straight in my head, sometimes it's better to just let a spreadsheet do the thinking for you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Triabetes Weekend & 3 Years In

After crossing the finish line I spent some time (like 30 minutes) trying to figure out where the parking lot was that I parked in at 5am.  Thankfully I ran into Julie, the other Triabetes athlete racing Cali, who happily offered to drive me around with her husband and dog so I could find my car without walking for miles.  Some 15 minutes later we finally figured out where the lot was (about 4 miles from where I was aimlessly walking around!  Still smelly from the race I hopped in my car to head over to the Triabetes BBQ in Carlsbad hosted by Jason.

The BBQ was awesome, nothing tastes better after a long race than burgers, grilled chicken and beer.  At the BBQ were a few other type 1s, some of whom had been diagnosed within the past year or so.  It was great to be able to share experiences with other JDs and spread the word about Ring The Bolus a bit.  Talking about my blog with other type 1s reminded me why I started writing all this stuff.  3 years ago when I was first diagnosed I was so frustrated at the lack of information about how to train and live a normal life as an adult diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that I forced myself to be part of the solution, not add to the problem.  To help others in my situation I wanted to be an outlet of information and just document my experiences managing blood sugars and life.  Was kind of cool to be reminded of that and recharged me to keep writing about finger pricks and insulin needs.

About an hour and 1/2 into the BBQ my bags were finally delivered!  Having clean under ware for the first time in 3 days was one of the greatest feelings of relief.  I showered, put on deoderant and clean clothing all for the first time in a while.  As the BBQ started to wind down I continued some great conversations, got to hang out with Ryan and the Maloneys a bit and continued to joke around with Nate, my host for the rest of the weekend.

From the BBQ I headed down to Pacific Beach, during the drive I had an awesome conversation with Steve Parker, a Triabetes captain from 2008 who I met at IMAZ.  During the conversation I was amazed at how great an organization Triabetes is, all of the athletes in Triabetes have one common bond and that bond lets us become quick and instant friends.  Whether talking to Julie about blood sugars during Cali 70.3, Steve about his up comming race schedule, or sharing stories about nighttime lows with people I hadn't met before we are all sharing intimate shared experiences.  Just knowing that there are other people out there who battle and struggle on a daily basis with the same things you do brings great comfort and solace to a lifetime journey.

Once at Nate's awesome house in Pacific Beach we quickly changed and headed down to PB Bar & Grill.  I still hadn't had my fill of post-race goodies and well wanted to check out the PB Bar scene a bit.  Unfortuneteley by 11pm both Nate and I were beat - a 4am wake up call and a long day out in the sun had wiped us out.  But over a couple beers Nate and I realized we are both born on 4/15/79!  That explains our similar taste in reading and constant obscure references.

The next morning Nate and I headed over to one of the beautiful San Diego beaches for an InuslinDependence Breakfast Blend.  Since ID (the umbrella non-profit which Triabetes is a part of) was founded in San Diego the support network and events are more established there than in other geographic locations.  Breakfast Blend is an opportunity for supporters of the organization to meet over coffee and pastries on the beach with the opportunity to surf.  It's a totally informal meet and great and a fantastic experience.  At the Breakfast Blend I met 5 or 10 fellow diabetics all of which had a story to share.  We spoke about new medical technologies, surfing with diabetes, and really just about life in general.  An outstanding time was had by all.  Having had a blast surfing when I was in Costa Rica I was dying to ride the waves, after a few times trying to pop up on my board I realized the half Iron from the day before had taken its toll on my legs - surfing was not in the cards.

The rest of the day was spent eating burritos, drinking some beer and returning the cornucopia of triathlon gear I had borrowed for the race.  All that was topped off by a great BBQ at Nate's place that evening and then an early morning flight the next day.  In all it was a tremendous weekend and I'm always struck by how amazing an organization Triabetes/ ID is.

Recently in an interview for a strategic consulting firm the President of the company asked me, "on your resume what are you most proud of?"  I thought about his question for a moment and rather than list one of my professional or academic accomplishments I told him the strategic advisement I have done for Triabetes is what I am most proud of in my career up to this point.  When I was diagnosed on April 2nd, 2007 I vowed to inspire as many people as possible; in all likelihood I will never win Kona so the chance that ESPN will feature me as the first type 1 diabetic to win the big show is pretty much 0.000001% (there's always a chance!)  I however have been blessed with some athletic gifts that brought me to the world of triathlon and an ability to set forth strategic visions that help others succeed.  The combination of those two attributes have let me help Peter and the rest of the ID crew set the table for some really exciting events in the coming year.  After 3 years my desire to help and inspire others through the things I'm good at are at an all time high - my diagnosis anniversary passed this year with a smile because I am truly excited for what the next year holds.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

California 70.3 Race Report: Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends

From my two blog posts on Friday the diverse emotions I experienced are pretty apparent. When I arrived in San Diego on Friday morning I had truly believed that my race was over before it started. Jerry mentioned in the comments one race does not define a season and my triathlon career is about something much bigger than how I perform in a given race but disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to test myself on the course was abound. However, adversity leads to life lessons and growth opportunities and after this weekend I can say I left San Diego as a better triathlete but more importantly as a happier person.

Friday started with several angry phone calls to Continental as I was trying to figure out why it was taking 36 hours to get my bags to cover a 13 hour drive. Operationally, it just didn’t make sense and for that lapse in operational efficiency I plan to never fly Continental ever again. I will also carry my triathlon gear onto any flight with me in the future – I may have to check my nutrition but I’ll be damned if my shoes, wet suit and sun glasses are out of my control ever again. The issue I had with Continental wasn’t that we had to make an emergency landing, I 100% agree with that decision; the bigger issue was why they had no protocol in place to get the checked bags from point A to point B in a more efficient way.

After I found out that my bags would not get to San Diego until at least 10am on Saturday (race day). My Mom suggested that I carry on as usual just in case I was able to race on Saturday. Downtrodden, I headed over to Rudy’s dinner for some huevos rancheros, a cup of coffee and some delicious multi-grain pancakes. Thankfully I filled up on about as much food as I could because the rest of my day would have me traveling all over Southern California on a scavenger hunt for triathlon gear. Some quick text messages from Mary Eggers improved my spirits and I returned back to my hotel room for what I thought would be a relaxing day of doing school work. Coach Egg – thank you for all the support, through it all you really have been a guardian angel for me in the triathlon world.

Upon getting back to my hotel room I received a text message from Nate, the type 3 diabetic of the year, saying “dude are you in sunny socal yet?” My response “dude I’m not fing racing my gear didn’t make it.” The following day I found out that Nate called Peter, Triabetes commander in chief, and said like hell Ed isn’t racing let’s put the wheels of Triabetes in motion and figure this out. After a quick phone call with Peter the army that is Triabetes was in action. Peter contacted Jason, a supporter of Triabetes and Ironman himself to inquire about gear. A 10 minute drive had me at Jason’s gorgeous home where he handed me a wet suit, goggles and a Desoto tri suit to race in and some sweet Oakley sun glasses. Unfortunately, his feet are 2 sizes too big for me so I was still on a quest to find running shoes, cycling pedals and cycling shoes.

Peter had also sent out an e-mail to the Tri Club of San Diego telling them of my predicament. Within 30 minutes of Peter’s e-mail I had received about 70 phone calls and e-mails from TCSD offering me gear and whatever else I needed! Seriously, people who had no clue who I was were willing to offer me their triathlon stuff so I could race, people I had no connection to, people who simply shared my passion for triathlon were willing to go out of their way to help out a stranger – how amazing is that. A special thanks goes to Jerry, John and Darrel. Jerry let me borrow his shimano pedals and sidi cycling shoes, John called Nytro bike shop so I could purchase nutrition and a hydrotail at a discount and Darrel let me borrow his Garmin 305 so I would have access to my heart rate during the race. Individuals who went above and beyond to help out a guy in need – that is flat out Awesome. Although I will never race as a member of that tri club, I became a member when I returned to Charlottesville; I simply couldn’t resist becoming a member of such a great organization.

Jason’s friend Craig, also a member of TCSD, offered up his old Saucony Sinisters for me to run in – we both wear a size 10 running shoe, so there I had it, everything I needed for race day was in my possession. I also purchased a visor at the expo to shade my face during the run and picked up some water bottles at Nytro – if nothing else this race was going to be an adventure. I returned to my hotel room at 7:45 the night before the race with some food from Trader Joes, and a ton of prep to do before a 4:45 am wake up.

I finally finished eating, drinking and prepping my bike (thank god for Tri Bike Transport) by 10:30 pm and got into bed. Since I drank so much water to hydrate between 7:45 and 10:30 I woke up about 5 times during the night to pee and not just a little bit- more like a gallon at a time (should have hydrated more frequently during the day but the scavenger hunt took up my focus and time.) At 4:45am my alarm went off and I thought – holy cow what a crazy past 48 hours, now it’s time to just go out and have some fun – today it really doesn’t matter what happens I’m just thrilled to death I’m having the opportunity to race.

I got to Oceanside and was so nervous accidently drove onto the military base, thank god I didn’t get shot – that would have added some fun to the weekend festivities. I collected myself, turned around and finally found the parking lot where athletes were supposed to park. I picked up my makeshift transition bag and hopped on my bike to ride to transition. For the first time all week I felt confident, the second I got on my bike I smiled and was happy to feel El Bastardo between my legs. The comfort of something I knew brought great solace to my mind - the one thing that would be “mine” on the race course was my bike frame, the thing I spend the most time on during training, the thing that has become a part of me – at that moment it struck me the only thing that mattered on this day was to have as much fun as possible and smile as often as I could, because the ability to race on this day was truly a gift.

I got to transition and started to unload my over stuffed bag. I was cracking up as I tried to figure out where to put everything, I had no towel, no sun screen, I was in a one piece tri suit, and didn’t recognize anything that was coming out of my bag. Bad News Bears style I was ready to race! I spoke more with the people around me than I had ever before, I felt no pressure on this race, I was just having a blast being out there. Still in my warm ups (all of which I bought the day before except my jacket) I put on the running shoes for the first time and set out for a jog – hmm my pace seemed to be ok, but the shoes felt a little off, oh well I’ll get used to them during the half marathon I thought; a ¾ mile warm up and then I stopped by the Triabetes tent to say hello to Nate, then was off to stretch and eat.

As I tested my blood sugars before I put on my wet suit, the guy next to me asked “are you diabetic?” Yes I am, I replied and it turned out so was he! Are you kidding me, 2,000 people in the race and the guy right next to me on the transition rack is a good ol’ type 1 – pure awesome! Ryan from Dallas if you find this blog – hello! And please shoot me an e-mail would love to hear how your race went.

Sans body glide (yeah I forgot that too) I put on the wet suit, grabbed my goggles and was off to race. I got in the water and thought, well my arms and legs still work, the only thing that is different is I’m wearing someone else’s gear, I’m just lucky to race today, keep remembering that. I got into the water a bit late so had to motor a bit to get through the pack and find some open space to swim. The goggles I borrowed didn’t fit my face too well so I kept having to stop to dump water out of the goggles – I tried to swim through it but my eyes were burning from the salt water. Also, because the goggles fit differently my swim cap kept falling off so I had to adjust that constantly – I think you get disqualified if you lose your swim cap but I’m not sure.

The first of many hilarious incidents happened during the swim as I was full into my stroke on the home stretch of the swim, I swam head first into one of the support surf boards! I’m swimming along and then bam goggles hit the side of the surf board that was supporting some guy who was struggling to get through the 1.2 miles. The girl laughed at me and said the finish line is over there – she was in the middle of the swim course but I was laughing as I swam away, at that moment I knew this was going to be an interesting race.

I exited the water in 37 minutes, a bit slow for me but not a bad time at all. Given all the constraints I was operating under I was totally happy with my swim. As I got to transition I began to laugh again realizing I didn’t recognize any of the gear and had no clue how to fully strap on the bike shoes! At least my blood sugar was 204 when I left the water so I knew I was perfectly set up for a strong bike.

My transition was a disaster. Since I was in a one piece tri suit I had to wrap my insulin pump into the right leg of the tri suit instead of just clipping it onto the waist of my shorts. I also didn’t have the usual set up on the back of my bike because I removed that for transit so I stuffed tubes, co2s, tire irons, gels and other goodies into the pockets of my tri suit in transition. Nate, Jason and the Maloneys watched me in transition and I looked at them and said “well it’s off to an interesting day, I don’t even know whose stuff I’m using!”

I hoped on my bike and off I went. Man it felt good to be on my bike, I stayed out of the aero position for the first 5 miles of the bike – I wanted to warm up my legs and make sure that my shoes weren’t going to fall off. I had to stop 3 times to get my water bottles filled with nutrition as they kept getting ejected from my hydrotail (I bought the cheapest water bottle holders Nytro had). Finally we got to a flat, open stretch of road and I decided it was time to get to work. I dropped into the aero position and just let it go, smile on my face I hammered away in zone 3 at about 24 mph and was having as much fun as a little kid on his birthday. All that training paid off, I was rocking the bike like an all star.

The bike course at Oceanside had everything a cyclist could want. The course presented flats, hills, downhills, cross winds and gorgeous scenery – I freaking loved this course. Finally we reached the first of 3 major hills on the course and I was psyched to see how I would handle it. Eric warned me to just get in a rhythm early, not to force it too much and just scrape away at the hill. As I climbed I passed about 20 or 30 athletes who were walking their bike up the hill. I simply got into a small gear and spun up between 6 and 8 mph – no big deal, easy climb, pretty long but I got it done.

Around the same time my stomach really started to kill me. Usually I have some protein in my sports nutrition mix but couldn’t find any to buy in the scavenger hunt leading up to the race. I added a little extra carbo-pro and EFS to make up for the difference. I add the protein to assist in the absorption of the carbohydrates in the mix and without them a ton of sugar was just sitting in my stomach. Given that I tried to take in extra water but it was pretty clear that was doing the trick – this was just going to have to be an area that I had to roll with.
I continued fighting the hills on the bike course and by the middle of the third hill my hip totally acted up. Instead of getting off the bike I slowed my pace a bit and tried to loosen it up. By the third hill my cadence had dropped way down and I was starting to struggle – little did I know there would be a 7 mile stretch of downhills and flats after the third climb. Salvation!

 During the downhills I was able to stretch out my right hip to ease the pain and by the time I reached the flats I was ready to go. Over the last 10 miles of the course I averaged close to 27 mph and felt like a mad man. If I can identify how to maintain that focus and intensity throughout the entire bike I can really improve my times; I have a tendency to zone out during certain periods on the bike and need to figure out why. Over those last 10 to 12 miles I biked more confidently, more smoothly and faster than at any point I had before and it felt incredible.

With about a mile left to go on the bike I heard a buzzing between my legs and a bee hand landed on an area that a guy totally doesn’t want a bee to land! I shooed it away and it came back full force to sting me in the thigh – honestly I got stung by a freaking bee, what else could happen during this race!

My final bike time was 2:56, an average of 19mph and a PR for me in a half Ironman; not bad on borrowed cycling shoes that were a half size too big! I pulled into transition laced up the sneakers, tossed on my visor and headed out to the run. Within a half mile I knew that the shoes I was running in were just “wrong.”

I have run exclusively in Nike Frees for the past 9 months, in those shoes my foot is allowed to act naturally and I can totally get on my forefoot as I stride. The Sauconys I borrowed were forcing me to mid-foot or heel strike which didn’t allow me to rotate my hips like I normally do. I headed out at a 7:45 to 8 minute pace but a mile and ½ into the race my legs and feet were in a tremendous amount of pain. At the 3 mile mark my back had spasmed so much I could barely breathe. I pulled off to the side of the course to stretch for about 5 minutes and then trotted off at a 9:30 pace. Anytime I tried to stride like I normally would I simply couldn’t – it would feel like someone was shoving a knife into my lower back.

At the 5.5 mile mark I felt a ton of pain in my heel. I looked back and noticed my ankle was covered in blood. I took off my shoe and saw that my sock was covered in blood. The shoes beat up my feet so badly that I had 3 cuts across the top of my foot and a huge cut on my heel – I sat for a moment on the curb and contemplated what to do. I decided to take off the sneakers and walk for a bit to figure out a strategy. Should I stop? Am I going to really injure my feet? Is running a 2 hour plus half marathon worth it? Those were the thoughts that went through my head. Then it dawned on me, so many people helped get me to the starting line of this race, so many people who I will probably never see again. Finishing this race is the best way I can thank them for being incredible individuals, finishing this race was the only way I knew how to show my appreciation for all they did for me. With that I laced the sneakers back up and trotted off, never able to crest a 9:15 pace for the rest of the race.

I struggled throughout the rest of the run, my feet were destroyed but I was just thankful I could race. I was racing in red a color I can’t stand for athletics because it was the color of our big rival in college. I was racing in shoes that were killing me, I was getting burnt to no end because I forgot sun screen and I was hungry. To be honest none of that mattered though because being able to race California 70.3 was a gift from some really giving people.

My final race time was 6:03, I grabbed a Triabetes t-shirt from Nate as I came down the chute and tossed it on, I race for such a bigger cause than myself and wanted to make sure that cause was apparent when I crossed the finish line. 6:03 means nothing in the grand scheme of things, I had more fun during this race than any race I had done in the past – this race was an adventure, it was about not freaking out and just being thankful that I had the opportunity to compete, this race taught me to stop freaking out and to just have fun.

On Friday Coach Orton text messaged me and asked me what the “one thing,” I wanted to learn or accomplish during the race was. I replied, “That there is no such thing as a perfect race and my only goal for any race should be the same as any training day – to smile knowing that pushing myself athletically is what I love and what makes me feel alive and the only difference between a training day and a race is a few more people and a couple beats per minute of heart rate.” Saturday’s race and preparation was anything but perfect, I didn’t follow an exact nutrition protocol leading up to the race, I wasn’t neurotic about my gear and I didn’t care if something threw off my plan – I just had fun. I hope I finally learned that the people in this sport and the cause I race for is what makes all this worth it and that in the end nothing will ever be perfect and the only thing that matters is enjoying every second. I guess bloody feet and borrowed gear can make you think about stuff differently. Plus I got to share the experience with some really great people – more to come on the Triabetes festivities of the weekend…..