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!