Friday, April 27, 2007

Random Training Observations

Well, I have less than 2 months now before the big race (Ironman Coeur d'Alene)! In the past couple of weeks, I have felt things starting to come together. Mind you, if you were to ask me (as some people do), "Are you ready," I would give you a quizzical look and say, "Noooo." But I do feel like I am on target to be ready. I have the next 5 weeks or so to build up distances for all 3 sports. I feel like my biking is ahead of my swimming and running; although, I am more confident that the running will be in place. I'm still pretty scared, though! Yikes!

Last weekend, I swam (in a pool) for 3000 yards, then biked 80 miles and then ran for about 30 minutes, and felt pretty good. Tomorrow will be a bit lighter, since we have our second big race of the season on May 5. Anyway, here are some random tips & observations from my training thus far.

I have started to use my pump during my swims, with much improved results. It really helps me to avoid the post-swim highs I was experiencing before. I am still fine-tuning how much to eat and how much to adjust my basal rate. These depend on what time of day I am swimming, where my BG is at the start, and how much I have exercised in the past 24 hours. For example, I swam Wednesday morning, starting with a BG of 111. I ate one gel before getting in the pool and took a 0.3 U bolus (50% immediate and the rest delivered over the next half hour). When I tested afterward, my BG was 111! When does that happen? In contrast, this morning I started at 142, ate a gel and took a 0.2 U bolus spread out the same way. I had to eat another gel during the swim (didn't test BG but knew the signs--my splits get slower for no obvious reason). I finished with a BG of 115. I was swimming at the same time of day. The difference, I believe, is that on Tuesday evening, I had a relatively light workout (weight training in the gym) as opposed to a very strenuous 80-minute bike class + 15 minute run last night. I don't think my body had enough time to fully recover from the bike class, and so my muscle glycogen was probably a bit low. So, I need to remember to think about these things...

I tend to have few problems with low BGs on the bike. It is easier to eat than during a swim, and easier to digest food than on a run. I have been using Perpetuem from Hammer for the past few long rides. For rides 5+ hours, I mix up 6 scoops of the stuff, for a total carb count of 162g. I mentioned this previously, but anyway, the stuff is great. I drink a few sips now and then and estimate how much of the bottle should be gone every hour. Maybe I will label a bottle, or buy one that has ounce markings. It all sort of reminds me of baby formula... I keep my second water bottle filled with water, and refill it when necessary.

I am still playing with my carb:insulin ratio for the rides. The first time I tried 1U:55g and that was too high; last weekend, I tried 1U:80g carbs and that was too low (my BG's were running too high and I had to correct). So this weekend, I will try 1U:70g and see how that goes. I may also try using the 1:80 ratio but take the insulin over a shorter time, since I usually don't need any additional insulin after about the 3rd or 4th hour of riding. I like to keep some basal rate going, though.

Also, I usually supplement now and then with a Hammer gel or some snack, like Sharkies (my new favorite energy food, aka fruit snacks for athletes). The only problem with Sharkies is that they don't always make it to my Saturday rides... I don't know how they keep disappearing!

I have been running since I was diagnosed with diabetes, and feel most comfortable managing this sport. Still, running after swimming and biking for hours is relatively new for me. At least, running after biking >100 miles will be completely new. I have a tendency to drop low on the run for half-Ironman distance triathlons, and for brick runs after a long bike ride. I'm not sure yet what the best approach to prevent this is. I may need to be more aggressive about reducing my basal rate, perhaps up to an hour before I get off the bike, and perhaps eating a bit more food 30 minutes or so before I expect to finish riding. So far, I have been able to recover on my runs, as long as I am not taking Symlin (which I never do for my long workout days). I'm not sure yet how I'm going to manage my BGs for the marathon after the Ironman swim + bike. I would love some tips from anybody out there on this...

Normally when I run first thing in the morning, I don't have to eat or reduce my basal rate, and my BGs will remain practically flat. If I'm running a bit longer, this is not ideal because I get hungry and don't run as well. I've been trying to eat more and at the same time trying to figure out how much to bolus without causing a crash but preventing a high BG. Usually, my approach is to just eat within 10-15 minutes of beginning exercise.

Next weekend I will get to test some of my new diabetes approaches, as well as my physical fitness in my first attempt at the Wildflower Triathlons infamous Long Course! I swore to myself for the past 3 years that I would never do it! What happened?

Here's a picture of the transition area and swim course from last year's race.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

100 miles

Life's been busy and I never finished my race report. I guess I'll sum it up here--it went great (mostly)! My swim was slow as usual but I didn't feel too tired afterward. The bike and run were both comfortable, and I was happy to keep my BG's in a decent range. My finishing time was 6hours20min.

Now for more recent news. Last weekend, I did my first 100-mile ride in preparation for my Ironman race. I started in Santa Cruz, rode up Route 1 along the Pacific to Moss Beach (a small town just north of Half Moon Bay) and back. The ride up took 4hr40min. The ride back took 2hr30min. Yes, there was a headwind! (My actual ride time was 6:29 but I took some BG testing breaks!) I was lucky to have a good friend who volunteered to sag me the whole way--what a champ! I tried Hammer's drink, Perpetuem, for the first time. My approach was to eat sort of steadily, instead of ingesting huge carb-bombs every now and then. I figured out the total grams of carb in the whole bottle (162 g) and used a carb ratio of about 50g:1U insulin and spread it out over about 4 1/2 hours. I didn't think of this idea until about an hour into the ride, when my BG was climbing. But, it seemed to work pretty well. I also supplemented with gels and bananas as needed. Perpetuem has protein and a little fat in it, and is more like food than sports drinks. I liked the flavor (orange creamsicle) and it is actually pretty filling. I didn't have any GI discomfort from it, either. Yay.

After the ride, I decided to calculate the total amount of insulin used and the total amount of carbs eaten; I then calculated a "biking basal rate" that assumes I will be eating 47 g carbs per hour. This turned out to be 0.7-0.8 U/hr. I'm thinking of just setting my basal rate to that level and not bolusing at all for any food. Actually, that rate probably will need to go down the longer I ride.

If I can do enough testing, and I can estimate my times reasonably well for the race, maybe I can set up a race day basal rate profile based on what I plan to eat throughout the day, and just avoid bolusing all together. (My biggest fears are dropping low during the race and being unable to absorb carbs.)

I also did some calculations to figure out my carb:insulin ratio during the ride and, depending whether I take into account pre-ride insulin and food (and BG corrections), and whether I lump the basal rate into everything, the rate varies from about 55g:1U to 85-90g:1U. More testing is definitely needed.

Currently, I am predicting about 1:30 for the swim, 7:00-7:30 for the bike and 4:40 for the marathon. Well, we'll see about that last one. My best marathon time is 3:39 but that was not with a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile ride beforehand!

Friday, April 06, 2007

new template

Well, I got bored with the old one. I'd really like to customize my own but I don't know how and it hasn't made it to my top ten priority list. We'll try this one out for now. Maybe it's a little too loud.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Race Report: Ralph's (California 70.3) 2007

Before the race
After a 2-day journey from San Francisco, I arrived in Oceanside last Friday, excited to race in the 2007 Ralph's Triathlon. Okay, well, it's actually now called the Ironman 70.3 California since Ironman took charge a couple years ago. Anyway, I checked into my hotel and made my way to the registration near the Oceanside pier, seen in the picture here. Most of the race volunteers were U.S. Marines from the nearby base, Camp Pendleton. They were young, friendly, but strict! When I tried to exit the wrong door, my request was politely but firmly denied! Anyway, I wondered, as they were helping us get ready for this race, what they thought about all of these athletes, so serious about a race when many of their friends' lives were in daily peril in Iraq. Would they be leaving for Iraq soon also?

I checked out the orientation movie, which was actually pretty funny as it poked fun of some of the more uptight behaviors seen at these events. Regarding a dangerous descent with a no-pass zone and a speed limit of 25 MPH, they imitated an athlete saying, "But if I have to slow down, that will totally ruin my chances for Konaaa..."

We grabbed dinner at a restaurant along the harbor called Dominic's Pizza. The pasta I ordered--eggplant with mushrooms and chicken--and the caprese salad we shared were both delicious, albeit a little pricey. Our server was fantastic, though, and accommodated our larger group with ease. I would definitely return again.

After dinner, we walked over to the transition area, still being set up, and scoped out the swim buoys. They always seem to stretch out way too far! The water was calm, and I didn't see any evidence of the truck and boat that had sunk in the harbor earlier that day!

Race day
I woke up by about 5:00 AM, ate a banana and half of a Clif bar, and took about 2/3 of a regular insulin bolus. I double-checked to make sure I had everything, and loaded up my very huge triathlon backpack. It was still dark when I left around 5:40, but I made it safely to the transition area, about a mile away. My rack was already about 1/2 full so I found a spot midway down. I laid out my towel and various shoes and food. I was determined that I would have fast transitions this time around by really planning out my food and having everything ready, as opposed to deciding how much food to bring based on my blood sugar at T1 or T2. For the bike, I stocked the seat pack with enough carbs to rescue me from a serious blood glucose (BG) crash, and taped about 5 gels to my top tube. I also had, in ziploc baggies, 2 packages of Sharkies, a broken-up Clif bar, and a few salt tablets & some Advil. For the run, I had my visor, and my Fuel Belt loaded with gels and some sharkies, as well as another bag of salt tablets & Advil. I can also stick my Ultra BG meter on the side of the Fuel Belt, in one of the spots normally used for a small water bottle. The plan was to, after the swim, test my BG and then throw that meter, in a ziploc baggie, into the side pocket of my tri top; I would grab the other baggies and put them in the other pocket, throw on my race belt, helmet, sunglasses and shoes, and be on my way. Oh yeah, I would also need to put my pump back on at some point. I looked over everything and, satisfied, left for the Long Line, meaning the endless line for a portapotty.

Okay, I have to stop for now. I'll post Part 2: the race! soon.