I had a long conversation with someone today about health and wellness and how my life, as a woman with Type 1, has been impacted by both. I found myself talking a lot about the 2013 Broad Street Race and how it was my first significant accomplishment. I’m not running it this year because I am running the OCMD 1/2 a few weeks before. But in the spirit of motivation, I thought I would “re-share” my Broad Street Story. After re-reading it a year later, I found that it’s not written extraordinarily well, but I think that was on purpose. It was a very emotional story for me to share and I didn’t want any of that to be cut out or re-written. I also remembered that the feeling of accomplishing something that I thought could never happen is so empowering. Especially when it gives you the sense that you’ve beaten something that you always thought was going to beat you.
So here’s how it all started…kind of…
“I Did It” originally posted on 5/6/13
It’s the day after and I’m still convincing myself that the race is over. My sore hips are definitely doing their fair share of convincing for sure, but otherwise, I feel pretty good.
The day started with a wake up at 5:30am and a blood sugar of 148. That is exactly where I wanted to stay for the remainder of the day, so I lowered my basal rate and ate some protein in the morning and little bit of carbs and did not take a full bolus. Mistake. When we got to the race, my blood sugar was 250 so I took another small bolus and patiently waited for my blood sugar to stabilize. We had a couple hours until the race started so I wasn’t too worried. Then it went to 280, then 300, then 325. My patience wore thin and before I knew it, I had bolused more than I probably should have. At the start of the run it was 318 but stable. All of this information was coming from my Continuous Glucose Monitor since I could not carry a tester with me for the race. It tells you if your blood sugar is trending up or down or stabilized but since it’s in tissue and not your actual blood stream, it is slightly delayed and can be slightly inaccurate.
So the race starts after A LOT of waiting and despite the fact that my blood sugar was still in the 300′s, I felt pretty good for the first two miles. I checked my monitor (which was in an Iphone sleeve so I could see it the whole time) and it said was down to 202 but dropping fast. My hope was that it would drop into the 150′s and stay there. No such luck…every half mile, I watched it drop with two arrows pointing down indicating that it was continuing to fall QUICKLY. Thank you, insulin, for taking your sweet old time…ugh.
I had 4 packs of running gel (it’s called GU and tastes like flavored snot but works really well). I also had two tubes of glucose gel which is like GU’s snotty cousin for diabetics. By mile 5 they were all gone with the exception of one which I wanted to hang onto for the rest of the race. I was running with my best friend Jenn who asked what I wanted to do and I really didn’t know. All I know is that I had to finish so I had to quickly figure out what was going to happen and how I was going to deal with it.
We came around the corner at City Hall and there was an ambulance and Jenn asked if I wanted to stop. My immediate response was no. I didn’t want extra attention, I certainly didn’t want to be taken away from the race in an ambulance and I HAD TO FINISH. She asked again and I realized that if I didn’t stop, I would have a ton of extra attention, I would be taken away in an ambulance, and I wouldn’t finish. So we stopped, I walked up to the ambulance and told the paramedic that I am a type 1 diabetic and my blood sugar wasn’t coming up. I almost started to cry when I told her that I had to finish, since I assumed that she wasn’t going to let me keep running. To my surprise, she told me I would be fine and gave me two more glucose packs and tested my blood sugar with her meter (it was 45).
Then my best friend did the most awesome thing ever. Not only did she agree to run with me, encourage me to stop when I needed to, but she ran to Dunkin Donuts and bought a bagel and orange juice and ran back to the ambulance so I could have a dose of complex carbs to keep my blood sugar stable for the rest of the race. She compared herself to Kramer from Seinfeld when she busted through the door and placed her order (thank God she put a credit card in her armband) and said the looks she got from other runners as she was running back to me with an OJ and a DD bag were priceless…I love that girl.
So, after a half of a bagel and two glucose packs, my blood sugar was 74 and I knew I was good. We took the giant orange juice with us and Jenn carried it all the way to the finish line for me.
I’m welling up while I write this because I keep thinking of what could have happened and how lucky I am to have an amazing running partner and best friend. This diabetes thing is part of every day so it’s usually not a big deal. But on days like this one, it can become a really big deal really fast, and she understands that. Jenn, my husband and my sister are the three people that know me on that level the best. They know what I do, how I react and what not to do when my blood sugar is not doing what it’s supposed to and I don’t know that I will ever be able to make them understand how grateful I am to have them.
So after this 15 minute pit stop, I was a little frustrated that we had to stop but determined to run the rest of the race (even with the rock, I mean, bagel in my stomach!). And off we went for 5 more miles of running. 1/4 mile before the finish, there was my husband cheering us on. I stopped to give him a kiss and Jenn tossed the OJ to him. I also went out of my way to high-five and thank the uniformed military men and women that were cheering us on. Biggest motivator ever. I grabbed Jenn’s hand and we crossed the finish line together just like we started and I held back tears because I did it. Maybe not exactly the way I planned and certainly not in the amount of time that I expected, but who cares…I did it.
So after it’s done, I have a few tips for my fellow diabetics who have any interest in my tips :)
1. Don’t do any strenuous fitness competition without a continuous glucose monitor. If I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t have known that my blood sugar was falling. I would have just thought I was tired from running and kept going. This probably would have resulted in my collapsing somewhere on the course and I wouldn’t have remembered anything from there. Which would make this blog post pretty bad and boring.
2. If you have someone that can run/bike/swim or whatever with you, take advantage of it. Aside from the diabetes thing, it was so fun to have someone with me. We danced and sang while we were running, laughed and kept each other going. She was also someone I could tell that I was worried about my blood sugar. That made it more real and made me able to deal with it instead of just ignoring it. Not to mention the DD run. That would not have happened without her!
3. Stop if you need to stop. It sucks to stop. It sucks to have low blood sugar. It sucks to have high blood sugar. But it can literally kill you, so you can’t ignore it. I’m not like everyone else running that race, but if I accept that, I can be almost like everyone else running the race and that feels good. I didn’t want to be the person who was being scraped off the pavement and rushed to the hospital. That would have been a bigger failure to me than any other outcome.
4. I also learned that I need to train by doing specifically what I would do on race day. I need to get up, adjust my insulin, eat and test just like I would do on race day and try to mimic the race as much as I can. This way any surprises on race day will be a slight difference can be more easily corrected. I didn’t do that this time, but I will make it a priority next time to minimize unexpected situations. Doing this will make it possible for me to run without someone with me in the future. Because as much as I would love for Jenn to run with me for every race, it might not always be a possibility!
5. As sucky as diabetes is, there are people that are running with obstacles that are far more challenging. When I saw a blind runner tethered to her running guide, I slapped diabetes in the face and said “suck it.” If you do it right and you are responsible with any condition that you have, I really believe you can do anything.
So, while this whole experience was emotional and enlightening, I don’t mean to make diabetes sound like it’s the worst thing in the world and that every day is a struggle for me, because it’s quite the opposite. I just wanted to have something to look back on and while this is a lot of personal information to share with everyone, it makes me realize how lucky I am in so many ways.
And just in case you are disappointed that this adventure is over, round two is already in the works…
Disney half marathon is on the books for November 9th! My mom is running her first 5k that weekend so I’m going to run that with her at 7am and then the half is at 10pm and my step-brother and his wife are running it! I’m already looking forward to it which proves that I’ve completely lost my mind.
It’s not pretty, but here we are crossing the finish line (Im in the blue shirt)! Our chip time was 2 hours and 7 minutes which includes our ambulance visit, so while we finished with about a 12 minute mile, we paced about 10.5 most of the run.