Friday, October 15, 2010

A Warm Weekend in the Windy City

You’d think training in the heat and humidity all summer would have prepared me well for the October heat in Chicago as I completed the marathon last weekend. Maybe it was the lack of humidity during the race, but unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. Good news – I finished, not as good news – about a half hour slower than I had hoped.

The weather in Chicago was beautiful for entire weekend – although unseasonably warm. After arriving with a plane full of runners on Friday I took a 3-4 mile run along Lake Shore Drive. The thought occurred to me that I had trained in the heat and humidity, but somehow missed the wind (really a minor breeze that day) which seemed to be in my face constantly, and wondered if that would have any impact on Sunday (it didn’t – there was no breeze on Sunday). Friday night we had a nice dinner at CafĂ© Grand Lux – lots of variety on the menu, but Martin was pretty tired so we had to rush things along and get him to bed. Fortunately he slept pretty well that night (meaning mom and dad did too). Saturday we had a great breakfast (EggSperience was the name of the place I think) and walked around downtown a bit. In the afternoon we hit the Race Expo and then headed to dinner with the Diabetes Action Team where we met some friends from the Marine Corps Marathon a couple years ago, as well as several new folks who were running Chicago. Martin slept through dinner that night – and when he woke up he found a large serving spoon on the table that he enjoyed so much that it left the restaurant with him (I’m not fighting a one-year old for a spoon if it makes him happy – and I’m not naming the restaurant either – never know how those people might take this news).

Sunday arrived after another decent night of sleep (must have been the borrowed spoon). Fortunately we were staying downtown; unfortunately it seemed like a 2 mile walk to get to the Charity Village and the team tent. I left about 5:30 to find a nice warm morning and made the trek with Brad from Charlotte who was running for hospice. Fortunately the team tent was easy to spot in the Village and I had some water, laced up the shoes and got in on the team photo. From there we headed to the starting line – again walking what seemed like another mile, this time through Grant Park. The starting area reminded me a lot of the Peachtree Road Race starts – lots of people packed together inside of a fenced area – some stretching, talking, resting, wondering, and wandering. I met Sarah from the Cleveland area who has a daughter with Type 1. She was interested in the organization, how I handle things as a Type 1 and running marathons, and I shared the Insulindependence story with her (Tiffany – she may contact you). [I got a Facebook message from Sarah today after I had finished the initial draft of this message – thanks again Sarah!] One difference from the Peachtree start was that there seemed to be an open area to the left and the starting area marshals weren’t holding people behind the designated time ropes with much efficiency – so many people were moving toward the front before the race started. I followed them – perhaps not a good choice because that actually put me in front of several of the pace groups that would have been logical for me to follow (I saw them later in the race when they passed me).

Shortly after 7:30 the race started. With over 38,000 starting the race it’s probably easiest to picture a professional sporting event and everyone leaving the stadium at the same time after a game - crowds moving in unison for several city blocks, but with some space between bodies. About 10 minutes the “official” start I crossed the start line. My favorite comment at that point was from a fan on the side of the street who shouted “you’re almost there”. Wonder how many people responded by not laughing – wonder what the response would have been in Philly?

The first several miles twisted through the downtown area – the streets were filled with runners, the sidewalks with spectators. As Bill Carlson told me when I first met him in Toronto a couple years ago – it’s a great way to see a city. How true. After a mile I was at about nine minutes – too fast, but that’s what I got for moving up in the start area. Felt fine (at that point) – but was aware of the speed (maybe pace is a better term). Good news for the first half of the course – it was shady, primarily due to the buildings, and the time of morning as well I guess. The crowds were great – cheering loudly, calling people by name, offering encouragement, giving high fives - and this was the case the entire way. We ran through the financial district and headed north, through some residential areas, past a park, made a turnaround near the lake (never got to see Wrigley Field), and headed south back toward downtown.

I hit the halfway point near the Sears Tower in a little over 2 hours – still felt great, but also aware that my last half marathon took longer than the pace I was on at that point. Hoped that it was just a matter of the training I had done. I saw the Diabetes Action Team crew taking pictures (gave them a face like Nicole would make – not sure that will be one they want to put on the website).

At that point we were heading west, the sun was getting higher in the sky, and the shade of the downtown buildings had disappeared, and the heat was on. Things continued to go well through about mile 17. At that point I had some minor cramping in the legs. I was checking BGs about every 4 miles – had started about 180, hit 265 at 4 miles (adrenaline?), and was in the 90-120 range after that, which meant a yummy gel every 4 miles. At 17.5 I went for the race sponsor’s gel rather than the Hammer product I had. I was hoping their chocolate version might spur me along and pick me up a bit, but it didn’t work. Within another mile or two the cramps were severe enough that the marathon turned into a walkathon for me. I also realized that I wasn’t sweating much and felt parched. Maybe dehydrated? At that point all I wanted was some ice – the hat was on by then, but I felt fried. From that point things got a bit fuzzy. At one point along the route a woman held out a popsicle and encouraged me to take it – I don’t think she spoke English, but it was the best popsicle I had ever eaten.

  • The med stations seemed not to have ice – the water stations seemed to be missing that important component as well. As I proceeded I stayed close to the side of the course and asked several families with coolers for ice – they all willingly provided some, along with some encouraging words – and I kept moving, sometimes running, at other times walking or hobbling – depending on the severity of the cramps. At the water stations I tried putting water on my legs – sometimes it seemed to help alleviate the cramps. The last six miles seemed to take forever – the time groups were passing, the photographers were taking pictures (surely I could run at that point right ?) Nike had a big motivational area at about 25 miles – for me the motivation was just to get to the finish at that point. In the last mile I saw at least 3 runners on the street with medical staff hovering over them. Each runner had an IV – I was glad it wasn’t me. The last stretch showed the number of meters to go – at about 400m there is a hill that takes you into Grant Park for the finish. I staggered up the hill in a bit of a fog – one of the other runners yelled “come on diabetic guy – you’re almost there – finish”. I got to the top and ran (I don’t think it really qualified as running, but it wasn’t walking, though the pace was probably slower than a walk) the last 100m.

    After crossing the finish line I bent over to massage my legs – the cramps were pretty heavy again. One of the volunteers asked if I was OK. I told her I had cramps and wanted ice. She gave me some water and asked if I thought I could eat something. Sure. Bananas? I don’t like them. But they help with cramps. I don’t like them. I felt a bit like the green eggs and ham character, (I will not eat them in a race, I will not eat them anyplace) but she gave up before I tried them. I had a bagel instead. And then got my free beer, and some more water, and started the trek back to the Charity Village. When I arrived Jolanta and Martin were there. A few other runners were there too – and after I arrived a few more started to trickle in. The team had 3 massage tables set up. Fortunately there wasn’t a long wait. More water, more food, and a slow walk back to the hotel with some stops for pictures, and avoiding stairs wherever possible, along the way. Throughout the rest of the afternoon we heard sirens and saw ambulances heading up and down Michigan Ave. We passed some spectators who had passed out and gave the family some of our water as the ambulance was approaching. We had a nice dinner (steak) early that evening at a place just a short (slow) walk from the hotel. We got up Monday and took a long, slow walk to the Navy Pier. Saw lots of red 10/10/10 shirts on the streets. From there we took the train back to Midway Airport and back to Atlanta with a plane full of runners – they all seemed to be walking a little differently. It must have been the finisher medal that many of them were wearing that slowed them down.

    Lessons Learned
    Follow your own race pace (remember the tortoise and the hare story)
    Race what you practice (2 minute BG checks in practice do not equate to 30 second checks in a race, and a 9:30 – 10:00 pace is just fine)
    Drink early and drink often (this applies to exercising, not otherwise, though I probably heard this in college originally - for a different reason)

    Favorite Shirt Sayings
    13.1 is half of nothing
    If you can read this it means I’m not last

    Best Feature - the crowds, people on the course the entire 26.2 miles
    Worst Feature - no ice

    Would I do it again – absolutely! but I may try another venue next year (11/11/11 is on a Friday though?!).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back on Track

I know I haven't posted anything here for a few weeks - I have some notes and will put something in regarding mid August to mid September, but in the meantime I'll pick things up with the Tri2Remember sprint tri held at Laurel Park in Gainesville, GA on 9//18/10.

Tri2Remember - Laurel Park
This was the first anniversary of the first tri I ever did – and it’s the first race I’ve ever done twice. The Tri2 Remember group (which benefits Alzheimer’s) has been a good one to train with and I’ve had an opportunity to do lake swims, weekend bike rides, race in Chattanooga, and attend a couple group dinners with them over the past year. For this event they pull out all the stops including having an open water swim training a couple weeks before and an open ride on the bike course a week prior to the race. It’s a great race for a first timer – I think at least half of this year’s field indicated this was their first tri. Hats off to Denise Novicki and the rest of the Tri2 group for doing such a great job and turning a single event into a series of events this year.

My goal for this race was simply to beat last year’s time. The weather was great – especially considering the rain that we had last year. The swim was a time trial start, two at a time from opposite sides of a dock. Unfortunately, I ended up swallowing a couple gallons of lake water at the start and never really recovered from that. And again this week I was all over the place and probably ended up going an extra hundred meters or so on the swim (I guess that’s good for training). As a result after making the last turn I ended up looking at the sky, trying to catch my breath, and mentally preparing for the transition and the upcoming ride. (Yes, that means I was floating on my back – "sculling" being the appropriate swimming term I think, although at that point several other terms were coming to mind). In my post race note to myself I stated "swim was horrible" - I meant it. Fortunately, it's the shortest leg of the race.

First transition wasn’t too bad – BG was a bit high – likely due to being off the pump longer than I would have liked. And although the bike course was only a little over 12 miles, the first several miles were heavy on the hills. I felt slow, but I was passing some people as well. There was one area where traffic caused some problems (what does USAT say to do when a car that is blocking faster riders won’t pass a slower bike)? At any rate – without being specific we’ll just say that both of them were passed in some way/shape/form by several riders. Since I’ve been on this course a few times it felt good to have an idea of where I was at all times – and where that put me in relation to the next transition.

BG was over 270 getting off the bike and my second transition was extremely slow. Though I had the Dexcom with me, I knew that I better check on the glucometer too - and that slowed things down a bit. In this race I had no cramps and I felt faster on the run, in fact I didn’t really feel the sluggishness one usually feels when transitioning from bike to run (maybe because of the extra transition time - it's a thought anyway). In this race I was actually passing people on the run (a relatively new experience for me in the triathlon world), and even though the BG started out of whack – it was in the 150s when I was done with the run. I patted myself on the back because I was under a nine minute mile pace (stop laughing - this is a good pace for me - especially considering the swimming and biking already completed).

The end result – 8 minutes faster than last year, due in part to faster transitions (believe it or not), and finished in the middle of my age group. When I looked at half a dozen others in my age group - only one other person had improved his time - and his was by 2 minutes. So I was fairly happy overall. At this point this is the last tri I plan to do this fall. The Chicago Marathon is up in 3 weeks. My body is tired, my brain is tired, and I know I have one more hard week of training before the taper begins for Chicago. At this point I’m feeling good about the Chicago event.

After the "hard week" and in starting the taper - I'm still feeling good (amazing). Even a bit "rested" after last weeks 20 mile run (before work). Hopefully 1 more update on this topic before 10/10/10.

The big announcement for all the Triabetes athletes has finally been made - our Triabuddies are on board! Peter Reis, an 11 year old lacrosse player, will be my triabuddy this year. Peter lives in Birmingham, AL – not too far from Atlanta. I had an opportunity to meet him in Orlando at the Friends for Life Conference this past summer. In talking to Peter and his mom, I know he’s pumped for the Kidz Tri event in Florida in early November. Having worked with lacrosse players and learned something about the game over the past 2 years myself – I know he’ll be up for the challenge. I’m looking forward to working with Peter and his family to help spread the word about Insulindependence and the Triabetes/Triabuddies program in particular.

Atlanta Dawn Phenom
This past weekend we had our 2nd Atlanta Dawn Phenom Event. To liven this post up a bit I've included a shot of some of the folks who attended the first event: Nicole, Jolanta, Martin, Amber and Dan. The first 3 being primary support team members for me (and familiar faces if you've read other posts) - and the latter two being great supporters of what we're doing in the Atlanta area.

The second photo shows Amber and Dan with Aimee Minton and her family. The big question here is where is Amelia hiding? Seems she is a bit camera shy - but she's been a great trooper, attending both events and walking several miles with her mom both times. Thanks all (and to Sue from CHOA who attended our most recent event at the Silver Comet Trail last weekend) - and if you're reading this and know diabetics (T1 or T2) or their supporters in the Atlanta area - have them contact me - we're planning our monthly events for October, November and December now!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Recovery Week

The past week was one of the easier weeks I’ve had in quite some time from a workout perspective. Two off days (yes, I cheated and swam on one of them – trying to work on form and relaxation) plus a number of shorter distance runs (except for the 9 miles last Tuesday, which included runs up a “short hill”). Note to Coach Andrew – if a workout takes place in whole, or in part, on a “hill” and I am running 100-200 meter sprints up this “hill”, the “hill” cannot be called a “short hill”!

If you’ve ever been to Alexandria, VA and know where the George Washington Masonic Temple is located (near King Street Metro) – you have an idea of where this so-called “short hill” can be found (on King Street going away from Old Town). Note also there is no mention of “steepness”. Note to self – next time find a short, less steep hill to run on. If you’ve been there you know what I mean. At any rate – since the “hill work” phase of my marathon training is now done it seemed like a good time to complain.

Next up is the “speed work” and that continues on Tuesday’s through the end of September. I’ll try to keep comments to myself on that until it’s done. Second note to self – visualize that this part of your training is taking place in Jimmy Smith Park – you will feel like you are running much faster (a 3 rock 3 bench run) than you actually are, and you’ll be laughing. Note to teammates - iD leadership (JM) can explain and maybe he’ll even show us “the movie” at camp in November.

The “distance work” will continue to lengthen over the next few weeks as well. I’ve got a nice route from Alexandria to Arlington (which goes right by where I used to live and overlooks the Pentagon) with a couple hills incorporated (I will not be sprinting during that portion of the workout and the word “short” is not associated with the word “hill” in this case). This will help me remember and prepare for the fact that although Chicago is flat, St. George is definitely not…like I need a visual on that one…I’m not laughing either. Since some readers may not have been to St. George the chart below shows the "hills" on the marathon portion of the IMSG. Note that the bike portion is pretty much the same.

This morning’s 14-miler was not easy – I experienced some cramping in the calves (probably dehydrated given the amount of water I’ve put into my body today) and found out that I have a bruise on the bottom of my right foot (no clue how that got there), so the last 3 miles were exceptionally slow (not that I typically qualify my running as fast either).

This weekend is my second Olympic distance tri – this one taking place at one of Georgia’s State Parks. It has a two lap swim (with a run on the beach in the middle I think), a shorter bike ride than Chattanooga, and a two lap run (part on trails). As a result I’m hoping the time is a little faster and the fan club will get to see me a couple times. I’m also looking forward to getting the new Triabetes Tri Kit (my uniform) for this race as well. Rumor has it that the artwork is great! After that I have one 5k (and maybe one 10k due to the need for that distance and a race pace on one of the upcoming workouts) and 3 more weekend tri races that will take me through the middle of September. From there I’ll have a week to get a 20 mile run completed and then taper (looking forward to that part) before the Chicago race.

To sum it up, I have a several busy weeks between now and Chicago 10/10/10 – but the workout program seems to be working well based on my 5k time from a couple weeks ago and the progress I’m seeing in the tri events (which are still not where I’d like them to be). Tune in next week to see how things go this weekend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Christmas in July

Overall a busy week with some good training, and presents!! Early in the week I attended a Braves game in DC with some friends (Jay and Kathy Willson and their sons Nolan and Liam) from St. Edwards in Lawrenceville. It was one of the few times the Nationals sold out (Strasburg was scheduled to pitch) – standing room only, which worked well because they had a table in the restaurant and we managed to stay there for the entire game. The Braves lost – however, we had a nice time catching up.

Blair Ryan and her sister Alison arrived Tuesday night. I met with them briefly that night and they did a 6 mile run with me Wed. morning (Alison ran, Blair rode and took video). I admire the effort both of them put forth on this trip across the US to cover the Triabetes atheletes. If you haven’t seen the site, check out There are some pictures of my favorite athlete and part of his story posted there now - as well as some great shots and articles on his team.

Thursday morning we were up pretty early (out the door by 5) – so was the humidity and I think her camera lenses fogged up. Blair stopped to take some video as we were heading out – we managed to lose her in the first mile – circled back and found her – then continued on a 14 mile run (with hills just for fun). Alison ran most of the way with me, she and Blair switched about half way, but there is a slight height differential between the two of them (those who have met them both can attest) – and Blair’s bike doesn’t quite work with Alison’s slightly shorter stature (it is important to be able to put feet on the peddles and use the brakes at the same time, especially when going downhill). By the time we were done with 12 miles I was completely drenched (and the sun was just coming up) – might as well have been a torrential downpour. Got some water and slogged through the last 2 or so miles of Old Town Alexandria with Blair who was nice enough to keep a “moderate” pace so I could keep up. Headed back to Atlanta Thursday night – a wonderful light show outside on the eastern seaboard as we headed south (on yet another delayed flight).

Santa Claus (in the form of the UPS driver) arrived Friday with my XTerra wetsuit (like I’ll need that in the 86 degree lake water). I also got some swimming videos (courtesy of the US mailman) and to top it all off I got my loaner Dexcom CGM for a week!! I’ve had fun playing with it since then – seeing what happens when I eat certain things – for example: cereal and pizza. Don’t think I’ll do Chinese or Mexican at this point. It’s a plus to able to see what’s going on – even if there is a bit of a time lag – and even if it didn’t work when I did my 5k race Sunday (the rep says it can have a hard time registering rapid changes in BG – I’m thinking it was the blazing speed I had Sunday morning…or maybe the blazing sun – who knows).

Had a short (one-hour) ride at Stone Mountain Saturday and support team members Jolanta, Nicole and Martin made use of the playground area. I also took Victor and his friend Jake to Camp Kudzu to help unload the truck carrying the camp supplies. Fortunately the rain we ran into on the way up didn’t last too long so the only one that got soaked was me in humid air in the back of the 53’ trailer. Sunday was a 5k race which Andrew included as part of this week’s training regime. Did a 10 minute warm up lap (and the heat and humidity made it very warm) then had a good run from Centennial Olympic Park up toward Ga. Tech and back. There were about four hundred runners and I ended up placing in the top 80 (ego boost after the other races I’ve been doing recently – maybe it was the warm up?). Went to the pool with Martin and Nicole in the afternoon – he enjoys splashing the water with his hands (something he tries to practice with the dog’s water dish at home when he can – which isn’t frequently, even though he tries). Maybe that would help my swimming?

Looking forward to the coming week which should be one of rest/recovery (no double digit miles except for the bike ride Saturday) as well as using the CGM.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tri the Mountains

Pictures to be added at some point soon - check back!

This past weekend included a “family trip” to the Georgia mountains and the town of Blue Ridge – about 15 minutes from the Tennessee border – and yet another sprint tri. Since the trip involved a drive through national forest areas – the same area where Jolanta, Midnight, and I saw the bear a couple years ago – I thought it best to head up the day before rather than driving through that area in the middle of the night. Got there late in the afternoon – picked up the race packet, drove the bike course (yes, there is a reason these are called mountains) and the run course (a run that starts with a downhill will eventually turn into a run that goes back uphill), and checked into the hotel only to find that the pool was not yet finished (so much for swimming with the family on Saturday). We had dinner – Martin fell asleep so we walked through the downtown area where they were setting up the finish line, checked out some of the shops, and headed back so we could all get a good night’s sleep since the race started at 7am on Sunday. Discovered that there were some things I forgot while trying to hurry everyone out the door earlier in the day (towel for transition, meter #2) – but had the basics and borrowed a towel from the hotel.

Up before the sun on Sunday – drove to the start got in the water – watched the sun rise over the mountains – very scenic. Lake water was calm, not as warm as some of the others I’ve been in this summer – but still comfortable. About 380 people for this first time event. Saw an 89 year old who was part of a relay team (biking) – they had a special VIP parking spot for him and his motor home. Heart rate monitor decided it was taking the day off too so I eliminated that “extra weight” and got ready to go. Went off in the 2nd wave – clockwise swim so I headed to the outside for the start to see if not seeing so many people would help with the swim panic issue. Felt pretty good in the water (though still slow) and was out in about 14 minutes (good for me – still slow). Decided to try something different for transition to try to speed things up a bit (or basically transfer the time from transition to bike so I didn’t feel so slow). I put the meter and pump in a bag on the bike. Out in under 2 minutes (faster than average – a first for the season!) and off for an 18 mile out and back ride. Had a little problem getting stuck and tested – but was able to do so before getting too far down the road on the bike. Had a decent ride – passed some folks, got passed a few times, made up time on the downhill and lost it going uphill, but ended up in a good group that bounced back and forth during the return trip – a little competition never hurt anyone.

Transition 2 was a disaster. Got the shoes switched, helmet to hat, race belt and ready to go. As a last step tried to test and the meter decided it didn’t want to work on the first try. Wiped it off – tried again – no problem…other than a BG of 240. Wasn’t sure how that happened since I had no fuel on the bike and was connected to the pump the whole time – and had a reading in the mid 100s after the swim. Realized the pump tubing was a bit twisted – so started walking and unraveling the twisted mess on my way out of transition. Finally got that fixed – headed up the hill to the main road – downhill for about a mile (in record time) – the uphill – and finally flat! As we headed into town toward the finish I saw Jolanta and Martin on the side of the road. Shortly after saw Victor and Nicole as well. Nicole ran along the sidewalk for about 3 blocks – talking (for those that know her I’m sure this is a surprise), cheering me on, asking questions (and not getting any answers on this particular run), and I think finally gave up due to the flip flops she was wearing, the blazing pace I was setting (or not), and the decision to wait for others to catch up.

HR was up at the finish – struggled to catch a relay runner and did so as we hit the chute before the finish. Felt pretty good when done – all in all probably one of my better races – but still a way to go before I get to where I want to be. The race was well done for a first time event – one I’d like to do again next year. A few more lessons learned – another racing experience – and some time with the family…good weekend overall.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Catching Up

I think Martin's look when I explained all of this week's happenings to him says it all...

The calendar this past week was packed with workouts and another sprint tri race – and as icing on the cake my pump failed on Wednesday after my morning run. Wasn’t too sore after the Chattanooga race, but it was nice to have a rest day Monday. Still felt decent on Tuesday though the weather in DC was pretty humid. Not sure what we did before the moisture wicking shirts – but I know I’m able to wring quite a bit of water out of mine after my morning runs this summer. Wednesday was scheduled to be a 8 mile run, which I completed, though wishing for most of the run that I had remembered to pack my hydration belt. When I got back the pump alarm started beeping – and a “button error” message was flashing on the screen. Called the 800 number for an explanation of the error – response was “have you been holding one of the buttons down for more than 3 minutes?” Didn’t take long for the “no, I’ve been running for the past hour and a half” response to be blurted out on my end. But the bad news was that the pump needed to be replaced (2nd time in 2 years).

So that caused a little shuffling in the morning, but having been through Cub Scouts many years ago I was prepared (thanks to the valuable lessons learned from my den mother – thanks mom!!) I was able to break out the syringes, cover breakfast and the short term with Humalog, call the doctor for a long-acting prescription and a few more syringes, have the pharmacy not check their messages so I could enjoy the interior of a downtown drug store for “just a few more minutes”, and play blood sugar pinball trying to get things adjusted for the next 36 hours. Fortunately the pump company was able to overnight a pump – however, it went to my house in Georgia, not the hotel in Virginia so it took an extra 12 hours to actually get hooked back up. Probably another hour to get all the settings configured they way they had been previously (all important temp basal to the % being one of the last). All in all not too bad – that is to say it could have been worse (like it was when I was in Canada and the pump quit working on a weekend – and they couldn’t ship anything there because I was coming back to the States).

Anyway, the new pump seems to be working fine. Did a group ride with some good cyclists (in my book anyway) on Saturday morning. Rode from the Fit2Tri ( store in Gainesville for about 32 miles. Others took the 50 mile or 80 mile options. Some are training for IMFL in November. Several are tied into the Tri2Remember group ( - supporting finding a cure of Alzheimer’s) that I had dinner with in Chattanooga the previous weekend, however, most of those folks were about 15 miles away handing out bags for the sprint race the following day.

The sprint was in a “lake” – short, crowded swim in muddy water (water temp in the 80s) and again I found that I don’t like swimming in large crowds, but that’s why I keep doing these. Bike was a fairly level route on a 4 lane – very well handled by the local law enforcement community and I felt pretty good on the bike (passing many of those who managed to get through the swim more quickly than I did). And the run was around the “lake” – on a muddy trail with a never-ending hill. Not used to that type of course – but got through it. Overall time wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, but the race was better than the previous sprint. Another one coming up this weekend – this one in the N. Georgia mountains, with a little longer swim, a little hillier bike, and I’m sure a little hillier run. Hopefully the end result will not be a lot more time.

Also found out that I will get to try the Dexcom for a week to prove to the insurance company that I’m a worthy candidate. That starts next Friday – no race that weekend so it may be a little easier in some respects. Finally, looking forward to the visit from Blair and Alison next week as they continue their journey around the country documenting this year’s Triabetes team. For those who haven’t seen it – check a couple weeks to see my update.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chattanooga Follow Up

Nicole decided that day number two of the Triathon trip would not be as exciting to report on - so I will finish, especially since she wasn't able to see parts of the race. But to thank her for being a good sport, a great helper (usually), and a good big sister, her picture post registration (without frozen lemonade) is included "posing" in front of the finish line - the other 2 people with her obviously enjoying the act.

The day started with about a 14 block ride from my hotel to the transition area. As I departed in the darkness about 5:30am with my bag over my shoulder, I saw several others coming from different hotels along the way, and we formed a nice little parade heading to the waterfront. Some with headlights, some with blinky red lights, some with no lights, some with a friend (or two), some clipped in - but all with a goal once the sun was up. As far as I know - I was the only one with an insulin pump.

Chattanooga was my first Olympic distance tri, and also the first where my pump would be removed and left a mile downstream in the transition area while a school bus carted me upstream to the swim start. Anyone who reads the Peanuts comic strip can probably relate to Linus without his blanket. Not a comfortable feeling but something I need to practice if I'll be swimming 2.4 miles. Swimmers were supposed to board the bus by number - I was #165 out of about 1400, and boarded the 3rd or fourth bus. Lesson learned - the by numbers thing is a myth - stay on the pump longer.

However, getting to transition early did give me a chance to set up the bike and place my gear appropriately, walk the area where we'd run in from the swim and the area where we'd head out to mount the bike, and do it all in reverse when finishing the bike and transitioning to the run. Several mental notes made (stay off the sand, who else is nearby and what color towels do they have, how many racks down). Bike helmet and glasses set on the socks, which were on top of the shoes, running shoes with race belt in between and hat on top. Towel down - gels out, water bottle with Hammer Heed in place - and one meter (the waterproof one) tucked safely away for T1 testing.

Boarded the bus and headed to the start as noted above. Got there too early and sat with meter #2 and a bottle of Humalog and a syringe waiting and testing as the start drew nearer. Saw several friends from the Tri2Remember team from Gainesville that I train with on occasion. Off the pump for an hour - saw the BGs rising into the 170s - did a 2nd low dose to cover that and the adreneline rush that I knew was coming and headed to the swim start area.

People line up on a huge practice field in numerical order. Groups of about 15-20 at a time were led to the river, sat on a dock and went into the water one at a time, feet first, had about 10 yards till the clock officially started, and then headed down river for a swim that was just shy of a mile. "River" usually makes me think current. And while it was rumored that there was one - I certainly couldn't seem to find it. Tried to stay away from the edge where the markers were (and the current supposedly was), and to avoid the panic attacks which have caused me some frustration in the past. Sure enough they did start - but I managed to get my mind focused on other things - kicking, longer strokes and pulling through. Not much of a crowd in the water due to the way the start was handled. Started to see some yellow caps (women) moving by at a fairly rapid pace after a while. Focus was on just getting to the end - and as the bridges approached I knew that was about to happen. For the last part of the swim I stayed fairly close to the dock overlooking the river - lots of people there watching, filming, taking pictures, and cheering. As I passed I wondered how slow I was really going (race results prove that it was slow) - and had lots of time to look at them because I was only breathing on the left side. Finally got to the end of the swim - a bit of a hard turn to the left (easier for me because I was already on that side) and a group of people in blue shirts helping swimmers get to the bottom step to get out of the water. From there up a long flight of steps surrounded by cheering spectators - and into transition. Water on the way in (not that I didn't drink enough in the river - but thought it might taste a bit better from a cup).

Pretty good T1 - meter on, helmet, socks, shoes on, test - in the 100s, gel, sunglasses and out. Of course I was on the far side of transition so I had a bit of running to do in the ever comfortable bike shoes - but I had walked it earlier so had it in mind as I was heading out. Off for a 26 mile ride - most of it on the interstate. As I was leaving I heard an announcement that the pros had hit the turnaround on the bike and were heading back - at least I'd get to see them in this race! And about 5 miles in I did see them, first one, then a few more, very smooth in aero position, peddling down hill - which of course meant I was peddling up hill on the opposite side. Passed a few people - was passed by a few people (mostly younger and looking more fit). But overall felt pretty good. Didn't push too hard and kept the heart rate down around 140 or lower. A few bumps in the road (imagine what you hear in your car when it thumps across the cracks in the road) which had me worried about popping a tire on several occasions. Lots of bike support vehicles and race officials scouring the course, and a few riders needing a new tube - but no serious injuries. It was also nice to be toward the front of the pack, knowing that others had a long way to go to catch up - though many of them had started well after I did.

Dismount - into T2 - bike gear off, running shoes on (need those Yankz laces in these shoes), where's the meter, number on, hat on, glasses back on - where's the meter? Oh, one of my rack mates appears to have been in a hurry (this is a qualifier for nationals afterall) and it's a couple yards down, out in the sun. So no gel, that goes in the waistband.

Let's see - I've had a frozen meter during a marathon which I was able to warm up in my hand - would reverse logic apply here - could I take the overheated meter with me and have it cool off? I put it into the pocket in the back of my race shirt so I won't have to carry it in my hand (or so I think). Jog out of transition onto the street, make the first turn, hear the meter hitting the street behind me, say a few things to myself that won't be repeated here, hoping it isn't damaged and head onward for my last hour of fun in the sun. Decide to try the meter again after about a mile. It works (but it's a pain to carry - think of it as running with a double thick cell phone in hand for 6 miles). BG is in the low 100s - gel is in my stomach - water is available every mile - ice cold towel is available at miles 2 and 5. Sun and heat are starting to slow people down - including me. I find a group to follow (yes we walked a bit). One of them is a deaf triathlete according to what is says on her lower back. Finally back to the last 1/2 mile or so. Pick up the pace - just not much left in the tank. I try to sprint to the finish - a 20 year old catches me and easily passes - maybe he can try again when he's my age - see how he feels then!

Post race goodies are great - BBQ, pizza, beer, diet coke - all good things for a diabetic to have (OK, maybe not - but I try them anyway!!) Back out into the heat to find the family - which ends up being easier than I thought it would. On my way I see an older gentleman who I passed during the run - the number 81 on the back of his left calf. An 81 year old finishing this race - amazing!! I thought I had seen it all last year when I saw the guy who I'd read about at a race. He had never done a tri until he retired in his 60s and was still going strong 15 years later. Someone shouted "good job" to which he replied - "job, haven't had one of those in 15 years!"

All in all a decent race for me - time is a bit higher than I had hoped, but practice is what I really wanted from this race and I got what I needed. BGs stayed in the 100s till the end when they dipped into the 70s post race. Ready to do this one again next year. Any other Triabetes folks want to make this a regional event?

And as for Nicole - she got another frozen lemonade - went for a swim with me in the hotel pool and took a nap on the ride back to Atlanta. Pics will be posted at some point so the rest of the support team (Jolanta and Martin) are visible too. Yes, the life of a 10 year old...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nicole's View of Triathlon - Registration Day

IThis weekend's update is provided by my 10 year old daughter Nicole, who is attending her first triathlon at the Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic distance tri). As a viewer and novice blogger I would think in the title you would have to twist the words a little bit.

So my view of the triathlon is that there are a whole bunch of tents and booths set up right by a river, with a fountain a ways away, that has a whole bunch of people by it, watching some other guys going around trying to get the stuff they need (swim caps, numbers, etc.) They've got food too! My favorite is the frozen lemonade (but there are other flavors as well).

I like the hotel a lot and it has a nice outdoor pool that we didn't get to go in (yet). I also like the elevator that has a view of the outside and is made of glass - so we can see "stuff". I'm looking forward to getting up tomorrow morning to have breakfast and watch dad's race (more of the first than the second - and they have a Cold Stone near transition - MMMMM).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday USA

Made the annual run down Peachtree Road this morning along with 54,999 other people. Was fortunate (fast??) enough to have a group C corral start, so I didn't have to wait for an hour after the start to actually cross the starting line (only 11 minutes). Finished in under an hour - which I was happy with due to being a bit under the weather for the past few days.

Had a chance to connect with Will Cross - a fellow Allegheny College alum - earlier this week ( Completing an Ironman seems to be a small task when compared to the "events" he has completed (7 Peaks and both Poles). Amazing stories and an inspiration to many (old and young), whether they have diabetes or not. If you ever have the opportunity to hear his story - take advantage of it!

Finally, just a note to those who may read this and don't already know, but we have some great folks leading the way at iD - Peter, Nate, and John. Can't say enough about how these 3 "unique personalities" (sorry I couldn't come up with a more "Nate-like" phrasing here John) work so well together to keep things moving behind the scenes with their outreach and recruiting efforts. Looking forward to more great things for iD in the future.

Happy Birthday USA!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Day at the Races

Was hoping this would be a good one to start the season (first sprint tri of the year) - however, that's not the case. In thinking about what needs to change next time (pretty much everything) - I've determined I can cut at least half, if not all, of the time off that would have enabled me to reach my goal for this race.

Things to work on, set up, another couple minutes to rethink transition instead of rushing through it and I would have already had the pump on 50% for the duration of the event rather than remembering that about a mile into the bike leg and having to balance the bike and reduce basal (heard a lot of on your left for some reason during that time). And since I'm setting records for transition speed (or slowness) - item #2 on the list would be having the monitor ready to go - and practicing more with it. Since sprint event #1 a year ago, where I went through about half a bottle of test strips because it was raining, my hands were wet, and as a result the strips were wet (the meter doesn't like that) I did get a self contained unit (strips inside so you don't have to touch them) - but haven't practiced with it enough (note to self - perfect practice makes perfect).

Warm up - what warm up? The water was 86 degrees - isn't that warm enough? Again pressed for time - need to get in the water and swim a bit (even though it was a bit "murky"). Final thought - the nice people in the boats are there for the racers safety - however, I don't wish to stop and see them again. At the start HR was about 35 BPM higher than normal. Also decided to start in the middle of the pack as most people had spread out single file down the shore line. Did alright on the first 200 (of 600 yards) - rounded the bouy, and then I don't know what happened. Lost my rhythm, lost my mojo, had a panic attack seeing the pink swim caps catching up, whatever, but couldn't seem to relax. Headed to the boat at 400 and waited till the HR was below 160 - then finished it out - but by that time there was no catching up to the rest of the green caps. In practice HR is usually in the 140s at tops. Speaking of caps - need to practice with one of those on too.

As noted - transition needs to change - one more question in a sprint tri for a diabetic is to sock, or not to sock? I prefer to avoid potential blisters - but maybe trying it without socks (after practicing this way of course) would help - I can't afford to have double the transition time (twice) in a short race? And for the run - got a pair of Yankz Saturday afternoon. Actually was happy with the bike time, not overly satisfied with the run, but (final lesson of the day) - didn't know what I was getting into before I did it. At least I wasn't last in my age group.

And for icing on the cake - BGs were in the 200s (not where I like them) for both the bike and the run. Morals of the story - practice the way you're going to play (how many times have I said that as a coach?) Learn from your mistakes. Remember there is a bigger goal in mind next May.
And as a PS - congrats to Coach Ed Leibowitz (Triabetes coach) on completing IM CDA Saturday. Lots to learn from the resources we have available - hope this helps someone along the way as well. Next up is a 10k on the 4th of July (with 50,000 friends in the Peachtree Road Race) - then an Oly in Chattenooga on July 11th. In the meantime working on the things that can be improved...May is still a long way off.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

End of a Long Week

Had a decent week of workouts (until today - maybe Sunday's don't like me for some reason). Wednesday I spent over 2 hours on a stationary bike - not a pleasant experience - probably lost 5 lbs. of water weight on that one - but stable blood sugars (I've been experimenting with various types of breakfast bar and following some other guidance from Coach Ed L.)

Thursday was a good 7 miler on the streets of Alexandria, VA - not too hot, not too humid. A bit of knee pain toward the end - but overall a good workout. Friday as a swimming day (Sunday should have been) and I continued to slowly progress in terms of stroke strength and breathing technique/capability. Hopefully I'll be good to go this coming weekend when I have to do 600 in a lake at one of the state parks (sprint tri #1 for the season).

Saturday was the Jackson County Brevet - a ride to benefit those with Aplastic Anemia. For a first time event they had pretty good attendance - about 500 from what I was told. I opted for the short (35 mile) course - though many others did the 65 and 100 mile routes. Everyone was together for the first 14 miles - after that the groups thinned out and I was able to use my brakes less. Was chased by 2 stray dogs (wondered how that was going to work out if they actually caught me and I was still "clipped in") - saw a llama (or something similar) in someone's front yard (we're talking rural Georgia here - and no, I didn't spike the water bottle). Overall a nice ride - roads were in better shape than some of other areas I've ridden - no traffic - and they were less hilly.

Sunday I learned yet another lesson (I see Bart Simpson writing this on the blackboard for me primarily because that's something he does, and I'm too tired to do it) "I will not do my long distance runs in the middle of the afternoon". It was 94 - humidity not too bad - decided a nice 3 mile loop - somewhat shady - would be in order for the day. Mistake. Felt like I was carrying a ton of bricks the entire time (adding another ton each time around). And this was supposed to be a day to keep the HR in Zone 1 - it was there about the time I walked to the back of the car - should have stopped at that point.

Early mornings from now on if at all possible. Looking forward to the day off (from training) tomorrow, and of course my "later" flight to DC (leaving at 7:25 instead of an hour earlier - get to sleep in!!).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Enjoyable trip home

So much for the wish for low humidity - 88% on Sunday, but at least the temps were in the 70s. Actually had a very nice run early Saturday on the Montour Trail - fairly close to the Pittsburgh Airport (for anyone ever travelling in that area) It's a railroad bed that's been converted to a multi-use trail - nice flat run along a creek, below the hills that surround the area. Did an out and back loop - saw a few people on bikes, a running group moving at a decent clip, some walkers and even someone out reading.

Sunday was sort of a trip down memory lane - I ran in my hometown of Titusville, PA. Most of the run was on the streets (some that need repaving work done in a few places) of the town where I grew up. Many of the Facebook friends I have grew up in homes along the route - was thinking about that along the way. Ran most of the old Charity Classic route (a 10k that was held while I was growing up) and through Drake Well Park (world's first oil well over 150 years ago now) and ended up still being able to run up Spruce Street Hill (it seemed much easier when I was in my teens) to finish up. A quick weekend visit but some quality running time - and with good blood sugars this weekend!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nice to be in the Pool

After 3 consecutive days on the bike this week it was nice to have a dip in the pool this morning. Certain body parts were a little sore! Not that I'm biking anywhere too fast (blaming that on the little hills that seem to be everywhere), or swimming too fast for that matter either (blaming that on the fact that I like to breathe frequently), but good for a change of pace. Running both days this weekend - hope the humidity in PA (going for my nephew's graduation party) is less than it is here (hot and humid in ATL this weekend - summer has finally arrived!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

11 months to go

Pushing to get to 5/7/11 and hopefully be at or near the finish line at this time of the evening (including the time zone shift so we're not cutting things too close). Watched baby Martin today as he worked on crawling forward. Seems that at times he would like to skip the whole crawling thing altogether and push himself onto his feet and walk - just not there yet and it will take some time. Realize the same is true with training for an Ironman - doesn't come quickly, requires lots of work and practice, but the finish line is out there...waiting...just like the toys Martin is trying to retrieve.

No workout (off day) after yesterday's blood sugar adventure (prefer to see 34 preceeded by a 1 when looking at my BG monitor). Got some input and insight from Ed L. today what may have contributed (someone else needs to cut the grass and/or I don't need to be exercising 4 hrs. afterward. As noted above...lots to learn. Looking forward to a bike ride tomorrow - and then getting a bike tune up done.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Met with Pratt Rather - Insulindependence Board Member, RAAM finisher, Phrendo member - on Friday afternoon. He had flown in from Oregon with his family for his dad's 75th birthday celebration this weekend. Pratt is involved in several breweries, most notably one that seems to fill my fridge, Sweetwater Brewing, based here in Atlanta. Good stuff!!

Not only do they make beer (the newest Sch-Wheat, not yet on the local supermarket shelves, but highly recommended by yours truly when it does hit), but they also actively support diabetes fundraising efforts...(for anyone in the area on June 19 please check out

Hopefully others on the Triabetes team will have a chance to meet Pratt at some point during the year (I think he's running the Ragnar event). We had a good conversation with the folks at Sweetwater about hosting a documentary screening this fall/winter. I also learned a bit about his newest venture in Bend, OR and was promised some names locally that may be able to help me with the biking aspect of the journey to St. George. Overall great guy and a big supporter of the Triabetes team...I'm fortunate to have his assistance!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back Stateside

We finally made it to southern Poland, however, the "bug" caught up with me as well so sightseeing was limited. Had an overnight layover in Amsterdam on the way home. Checked out the downtown. Warning - if you should ever visit - watch for bikes. I've never seen so many - and the little bell dinging right before you're about to be run over doesn't quite cut it. Maybe I could get one for my tri-bike?

Overall it was a long trip due to the virus Martin and I both ended up having. We spent today visiting doctors. At this point he only has an ear infection and a little bit of a cough left. I can't hear anything out of my right ear, plus a sore throat. To top it off #1 son also is sick with strep. Good news is we're all on meds now, bad news is I have done no training in the past week due to the cough, head and chest congestion, headaches, fever, travel, etc.

Hoping this is all out of my system in the next couple of days so I can get back on track. Looking forward to using Training Peaks as a guide (provided Andrew realizes there is currently an extra "0" in my 2000 yard swim (yes, 200 seems a bit more like it to me).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Highway to Hel

Yes, I've been on it - and I was actually was in Hel for a couple hours, walked around a bit, rather enjoyed it (obviously this has nothing to do with Ironman training, or the course at St. George). Hel is a town on the tip of a peninsula in Poland that reaches out into the Baltic Sea. During WWII there was a considerable amount of fighting that took place there as the Germans attempted to take the area. There are still some remnants of bunkers and artillery fortifications that were there during and after the war. As it relates to St. George, the Baltic water was 7 degrees C. according to the sign on the beach (roughly 46 degrees if my math is correct). Didn't feel that bad, but the air was a bit chilly too. A nice fog was rolling in at the time as well.

As for training, I've been a bit relaxed since arriving in Poland. Due to weather, a sick baby, and plans that changed due to the flooding in the south where we were headed, and honestly not having the foggiest idea where I am, I've managed to do very little running (and I don't have a wetsuit so swimming in the Baltic is out). Carrying a 20 lb. "little" guy over my left shoulder has been about the extent for me - so glad we have a stroller to push without him in it.

Today was really the first day I've been able to run. Went for about 20 minutes and ran into a group of stray dogs. Decided heading back would be in my best interest. On the way back I had the opportunity to run by a double semi with three levels of pigs on it. I won't forget the sounds, or the smells any time soon (and Tiffany complains about the Port O Potties). Tomorrow is another day - hopefully the weather will be decent and the baby will feel better.

Hopefully some pics to go along with my stories at some point later this week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Foggy Day in Warsaw

Up early this (Friday) morning so we can head further north for the wedding, but wanted to get some exercise first. Looking out the window I don’t think I’ve ever seen thicker fog (and I’ve been in San Francisco, Seattle and a few other prime locations in buildings at about the same height). So at the moment I can’t see the building across the street, and barely can see the street itself. Got an hour on the stationary bike – felt terrible, and tried to remember the conversions from km to miles oh so many years ago.

Five hour ride to get to Gdansk today – glad I wasn’t driving. Don’t quite understand the rules on passing here (don’t know that anyone else does either). Looking forward to a run in the “sea air” tomorrow befrore we go to the wedding.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Palm Trees in Poland

Got out of Atlanta with a late start, which put us into Minneapolis (44 degrees in May – way too cold) late as well. Total chaos getting boarded on the next flight headed for Amsterdam. The nice people at Delta had upgraded me to Business Class, however, probably not a good idea to take that since Jolanta and Martin weren’t upgraded. Long flight to Amsterdam which arrived a bit late – but saw a couple good movies on the way (Invictus and Hurt Locker). Even better, Martin slept pretty well during the flight. Was wearing the Triabetes shirt – which caught the attention of another T1 from Omaha named Nicole. Chatted with her about exercise, pumps, CGMs, our mission, and the “big event” next May. She was on her way to Germany with her son.

Stopped at the “Crown room comparable” in Amsterdam – 7am and free French champagne! Reasons why we (or at least I) train. Managed to get on the wrong elevator going back to the gates and ended up at the employee entrance – needless to say that caught the attention of a few folks. Had a shorter flight to Warsaw. KLM flight attendants were great. They moved a couple people so the infants in arms could have their own seats alongside their parents Very pleasant and helpful. Energy was running low by the time we got luggage. Met Jolanta’s cousins at the airport and they took us to the hotel. Tried to take a nap – with limited success. Figured maybe a run would help me acclimate – which leads me to the title above.

I asked the concierge if there is a good place to run (if there is I’m not seeing it from my hotel window – just lots of traffic). Looking out the 38th floor window of the hotel she points and says “see the palm tree”? I’m thinking – I’m in Poland, not Florida, and that champagne was only 1 glass – 12 hours ago. But I did spot it took her suggestion – ran past it (without the camera, but I will get a picture), then past many of the embassies, through a nice little park with lots of trees, people sitting on benches, etc. Didn’t see any other runners during my 45 minute adventure – and just a single palm tree, a few bikes, lots of people. Beautiful spring day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hills and a HRM

Got a good 8 mile run in this afternoon - took my usual route up Collins Hill, but made a loop which added some distance for the day. The usual route was great - the loop on the back end was a bit of a challenge due to the extra hill work, plus the after school traffic forced me to the sidewalks (glad tomorrow is an off day). Last mile is always good because it's downhill (where were they hiding those in Utah?) Picture just a reminder that I stood in line to sign up for this event - hoping to be smiling the day after the race in May 2011.

Also got the replacement watch and HRM from Timex! Will have fun with that as the Chicago Marathon training starts (soon).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Keeping the ball rolling (or getting it started)

Registration confirmed for 5/7/11! Looking forward to that with my Triabetes teammates (the team at left - I'm in the front row - right side).

Race schedule for the summer is being filled in with an eye on 26.2 in Chicago on 10/10/10 as the first step in preparing for next May.

Blog set up, now just a few more things to do as part of the venture into social media. Slowly but surely getting there.