Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Race Report: NJ State Triathlon - Maybe I should have done a brick...

Well it's official, I'm back to being a triathlete!  On Sunday for the first time since July of 2010 I crossed the finish line in a triathlon; granted this time it wasn't an Ironman but the joy I felt when crossing the finish line almost rivaled that in Idaho a couple years ago.  The short report - I loved every freaking second of the race, I was excited to get started from the moment I woke up and even though my legs felt like I had spent the past year in a prison torture camp when I got across the finish line I finished with a smile on my face.  The long report - well keep reading...

It struck me the day before the race that I had never been more comfortable or more relaxed heading into a triathlon.  I woke up at 8am to go for a morning jog, picked up some last minute necessities from Jack Rabbit Sports and then hopped in the car with Katie to head down to Princeton.  Once there I picked up my packet and was so laisez-faire about the whole thing I didn't even have my race number memorized.  After check in Katie and I headed to the hotel which was having major room change issues which forced us to wait 2 hours to get into the room.  Historically that would have sent me off the deep end but this time around I simply said, whatever lets just grab lunch outside.

So either one of two things, or a combination of both happened.  I've realized that old man sports should just be fun and a day out racing is better than about 95% of other stuff I could be doing.  Or my girlfriend has finally rubbed off on me and I've started not to take every challenge so seriously - either way it's working.  We finally got into the hotel and I was off to bed at 10pm with a 1/4 ambien to help me sleep.

I slept fairly well for the night before the race and woke up with a blood sugar of 62; on the low side but I had an infusion set issue the evening before so I wasn't all that surprised.  I took in about 35 g of carbs with Ezekuiel cereal, strawberries and almond milk and left the hotel by 5:30 am.  The race site was fairly empty at 5:50 am so I set up my transition area in a breeze and was off for a quick warm up jog.  Post warm-up my blood sugar was a high 281, so I took in some extra insulin, finished listening to my warm up mix and was down to the water to swim - without a wet suit!

Although the race was just wet suit legal with the water topping out at 78 degrees I figured I'd over heat in my fat baby seal costume so I opted to do it in the tri kit.  (By the way Pete, when you design the tri kit next year lets try and avoid see through white on the legs) I warmed up and felt pretty smooth in the water so was excited for my wave to go off.  A complete 180 from the Napa disaster I was smiling with Katie before the race, posed for her camera shots and overall just felt really excited and happy to be racing again.  I ate my clif bar, peed on myself as soon as my body was in the water and when the gun went off I was off, no freak outs, no nerves just a nice easy pace.

As I had mentioned last week, I was pretty nervous about completing the swim; while I knew I had crossed more than 2x that distance before I still feared my lack of training would catch up to me.  Much to my surprise I excited the water in about 32 minutes, just about the median for the field and without a wet suit.  I without question have a ton of work left to do but getting through this swim painlessly was a huge bonus as I work my way back into triathlon.

However, once I exited the water it was my time to really have fun.  I've been working so hard on the bike the past couple years and wanted to finally perform in a race the way I do while I train.  I had always felt like my training rides were vastly superior to my results in a race and just wanted to hold it together for one day on the bike.  In transition I was happy to see a blood sugar right around 180 so I went out without hesitation (although my t1 took 2 minutes and 34 seconds!).

Once on the bike I knew I was in for a good day, I flew down the first stretch of the course blowing by a ton of people who had come out of the water before me.  The course was perfectly suited for my riding style, mostly flat, some technical turns and 2 very small inclines - "hills" I could just power over.  3/4 of the way through the first lap I realized I was on pace to ride the fastest 10 miles I ever had and finished the first 12.75 mile loop in 34 minutes - by far the best I had ever ridden in a race.

The second lap was a bit more crowded as people who went off in an earlier swim wave were now on their first lap of the bike course.  Thankfully the crits I've been racing prepared me to move in a pack as I nimbly weaved around people avoiding any drafting and maintaining my speed. Throughout the entire bike I believe I was only passed 3 times (all by discs) and ended up negative splitting the bike leg!  My second lap I did in just about 33 minutes for a 25.5 mile time of 1 hour 7 minutes and 35 seconds for an average pace of 22.6 mph or 102nd best in the race!  I could not be happier with how I performed on the bike; I've been working incredibly hard to have a solid race day performance and it finally happened now if only the transition after the bike didn't take me 3 minutes and 44 seconds (only about 30 people were slower than me!)

I'm thinking part of the reason transitions took me so long was the transition volunteer.  A 40ish year old guy was the most energetic volunteer I had ever encountered.  For each person who came into transition he had a personal message and hardly 10 seconds went by before he would shout some other words of encouragement.  At times he did come across as a bit over zealous but really his energy and enthusiasm was awesome; I thanked him as I left transition but honestly I should have given him a hug, the guy is pretty much volunteer of the year!

Then it was time for the run... the last time I had run after a bike ride was February or March of 2011 so it had been quite some time and the last time I had run more than 2 miles after a bike ride was July of 2010.  So lets just say I was anticipating some pain but thought I was in good enough shape to just power through it.  I'm pretty sure thinking was my problem because nothing could have preparred me for how my legs would feel - but first the good part.

For the first 3.2 miles with tired legs I was rocking my run, the first 3 miles ticked off in just under 26 minutes about 90 seconds slower than I had hoped for but well within range of having an incredibly solid run.  My plan was to run for the first 4 miles of the race and then walk as I drank water at the mile 4 aid station.  At the mile 3.3 aid station that plan fell apart as I could no longer hold out for water and my walk started .7 miles early.  Once I slowed the legs down they had no desire to speed back up and I was stuck for the next 2.7 miles of the race stuck somewhere between a fat man shuffle and a walk.  While the first 3.2 miles took me 26 minutes the next 2.9 miles took me  45 minutes!  My legs had never been so tired or mad at me before, but I finished.

With legs screaming and barely able to keep my head up anymore I finished the race with a smile on my face.  I was so incredibly happy to simply just race and have fun, not worry about a time and enjoy everything the day had to offer.  I gave Katie a quick thumbs up as I shuffled down the shoot knowing that all the work I've done in the past 4 - 5 months to get my blood sugars back under control, my weight back below 190 and a renewed focus on everything is paying off.  It was a hell of a race and a tremendously fun day but the moral of the story is do some bricks before you hop back into tris or your legs will still be killing you 3 days later!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Last Push

This Sunday I'll hop into the water to start a triathlon for the first time in nearly a year and 1/2.  My last tri, well that didn't go so well.  After the worst swim I've had in a half iron and a far too painful bike I decided to call it quits and go drink wine.  For that race I was under trained, not motivated and really had no desire to actually push myself; at that point I was burnt out.  But ever since moving back to NY I've been excited to race again, my schedule has more stability, I'm loving my new job and couldn't be happier back home.

I've been training incredibly consistently logging about 15 hours a week of work outs.  My weight is down to 189 and my basal rates while being wonky of late have slowly crept down from the 16+ units a day they were back in May to about 14.5 units per day now.  Although I still become incredibly frustrated with my pump from time to time (seriously I don't remember a love-hate relationship like this with OPP) my blood sugars have become much more stable.  So everything seems to be moving in the right direction.

But... I'm nearly as nervous for this triathlon as I was for my first way back in 2008!  After today I'll have swam a total of 6 times since March of 2011; so although I know I can cover a .9 mile swim I'm not sure my arms are going to agree with me.  My bike has been incredible of late, I'm not sure if I've crossed the 10,000 hour threshold Malcolm Gladwell has written about or if the weight loss has made me faster on the bike but in training I'm sustaining faster speeds for longer than I ever have before.  And my run is super solid my zone 3 pace has dropped from an 8:45 min mile to an 8:25 min mile and I've been able to ramp that pace up at the end of runs without bonking.  Most importantly, I have not hit one low that has cut a workout short in some 2 months.

But with that I haven't done a brick yet, I'm off for my last swim today and I don't know if I can string together a race.  Katie keeps telling me to treat this race as a practice race, to just let it come to me and have fun; that it's been so long since I've raced to take it one step at a time.  I'd love to say I can do that, I'd love to say that all this is just a step to getting back into great shape and having fun with the sport again.  I guess Sunday will really tell me how far I've come physically and mentally, stay tuned....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Those Whoops Moments

Over the past 10 days or so I've had a few "whoops" moments.  A whoop is a time when you think you know better than your cgm or glucose monitor, could swear you have a low coming on, or just totally miscalculate the amount of insulin you need.  My two most recent whoops moments were rice pudding and a cupcake.

Katie and I had made a pact to skip dessert for the foreseeable future but passing up rice pudding at one of our favorite shore restaurants proved to be too much of a temptation.  Before ordering I looked at my CGM and saw that I was still in the mid 140s after dinner; and that was after a 2 hour period where I was fighting off lows.  Thinking I "deserved" dessert after 4 hours of workouts that weekend we opted to go for it.  Mid-way through the drive home my CGM went off and I confirmed with a test my bs was rising and fast.  Apparently the rice pudding needed more than the 2 units I added to my dinner bolus as I was up to a bs of 300, whoops.

The other day at work I was 100% convinced I had a low coming on.  My legs felt wobbley, my mouth felt dry and I was speaking coherently but I'm not sure how the words were forming coherent sentences.  So when an email came through from the marketing team that simply stated "treats... come get em" I couldn't resist.  The sight of a moist, delicious looking cupcake was enough to make me certain I had a pending low so I devoured the treat and took on just a unit of insulin to prepare for the spike.  So I may have been heading slightly low but 20 minutes after the cupcake I began to develop a ragging head ache and had to take on a good bit of insulin to bring my blood sugar down from the sugar spike.  Next time I'll stick with a bit of OJ when I think I'm going low, whoops.

A few years ago I would have been majorly frustrated at those mistakes but now I know that every so often I will make a mistake with this disease.  It's alot easier to say whoops than to kick myself for a 30 minute mis-management of my blood sugars.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back IN the Game

I've run into alot of memories over the past few weeks.  A couple weekends ago it was my first bike ride on 9W in more than 3 years reminding me of how much I used to struggle on that road as I learned to ride.  Then it was seeing all the jerseys of the various tri teams out training for whatever summer races they have coming up.  After that it was returning to my old pool at Stuyvesant High School only to learn the pool was closed for a year.  That of course brought up the panic of a NY triathlete wondering where the heck a pool with a free lane could exist (the Cobble Hill Y...).  But this past weekend the biggest flood of memories came to me.

I decided to jump back into the world of triathlons this summer.  I'm a bit late to the party as I had to wait until I was employed to determine if I'd have any funds to race and also needed to have a schedule and a place to train from before I knew if I'd be in shape.  When both those things happened in May I decided to sign up for both the NJ State Triathlon and the Chicago Triathlon.  Rather than jump head first back into tris after my painful experience at the Napa Valley Half Iron more than a year ago I'm easing back in with Olympics this time around.  And I'm giving back to the organization that has met so much to me.

Saturday reconfirmed how much Triabetes has meant to my evolution as a diabetic.  I received my 2012 tri kit and when I put on the jersey I felt a rush of pride.  It's not the same feeling as when I would put on my football jersey back in college, it's more a feeling that I'm part of an organization that is promoting something that is so near and dear to my heart and my ability to live.  What Peter has accomplished is nothing short of amazing and I'm humbled to be able to help give back to him.

Wearing the new kit reminded me of all the growing pains I had learning to manage my disease and learning how to be a triathlete.  If it wasn't for the people in Triabetes like Anne or Pete or so many countless others I never would have been able to accomplish what I have.  So please help me support triabetes with a small donation as this organization truly touches and helps all those trying to tackle their goals while dealing with diabetes.  You can donate here.