Friday, June 29, 2007

I did it! (Part 2)

Warning--long, verbose story to follow. Read at your own risk of wasting time!

Addendum (7/5/2007)
I was irresponsible in using terminology with no explanation, especially after pointing some people here who would not be expected to know the diabetes lingo! So here's a brief glossary, in no particular order:
BG: blood glucose, or blood sugar. The alternate acronym, "BS," is nice to use on occasion, especially when one is frustrated. BG in the US is measured in mg glucose per deciliter blood (mg/dL);
Dexcom: glucose meter that displays subcutaneous glucose concentration, updated every 5 minutes. It works well a lot of the time, but is not reliable enough to replace a BG meter (yet!);
Animas pump/insulin pump: an infusion pump that delivers insulin continuously. I use an Animas brand pump because it is waterproof and delivers insulin in really tiny amounts;
Basal rate: the rate of background insulin delivery. Insulin is needed 24/7;
Bolus: like an insulin injection, but from a pump. Boluses are generally used for meals and to correct (lower) blood sugar. Insulin is measured in units, "U"; 1 mL = 100 U;
Humalog insulin: the type of insulin that I use. Its activity peaks within an hour but it starts working in 5-10 minutes; it also stops working after around 2.5-3.5 hours for me (usually). Insulin causes the blood sugar to leave the blood and go into fat and muscle cells.

Race day arrives!
The sun rises early in Coeur d'Alene this time of year, but I beat the sun this Sunday when I got up a few minutes before 4 AM. I had slept well but was not amused by a reading of 419 on my BG meter. I took an 8-unit correction plus breakfast bolus, more than I was comfortable with, but necessary, I thought, since I was technically still in taper mode with elevated insulin needs. I switched to my race day basal insulin profile and finished some last-minute preparations before eating my breakfast of oatmeal, peanut butter, a banana and soy milk. I had practiced this breakfast and bolus the day before (and a few other times) and noticed that mixing the peanut butter in the hot oatmeal, as advised by my nutritionist, really does slow the absorption down significantly. About 20 minutes later, my BG was down to 333 and it continued to fall slowly but steadily until about 6 AM, when it started rising slowly.

Swim Start
Meanwhile, we headed down to the race start, where over 2200 anxious athletes and their fans were milling about. I waited to have my bike tires pumped up to their "race psi" of 120--pretty measly given the options out there--and stocked my bike with fluids and my new velcro-coated BG meter. We found a spot in the crowd for me to get my wetsuit on when I realized I had forgotten to put Bodyglide in my bag. There was absolutely no way I would swim 2.4 miles without it, so, with about 30 minutes to go, I ran back to my T1 bag and quickly covered my neck, arms, and calves. Before we knew it, it was time to go to the race start. I checked my BG one last time and it was on a slow rise and very high at 295. I took 0.2 units of Humalog and ate a Hammergel and a GU for a total of 47 g carb's. Looking back, I both underbolused plus overate given my rising BG's. I guess I was afraid that the choppier conditions would cause a larger drop in BG; the dose would have been appropriate during training when I wasn't in taper mode, and didn't eat anything before swimming. One of my biggest fears is dropping low on the swim because I have such a hard time recognizing it, plus it would put me out of commission for at least 15 minutes.

With minutes to go before the start of the swim, the announcer said that race officials had determined the conditions to be severe enough that they would make the swim portion of the race optional, and that any competitor would have the option of doing a duathlon instead. Well, this was not a good thing to hear. Of course we would all try the swim but it was unnerving to hear that they considered the conditions to be so bad. Looking at the water, I decided that it wasn't much worse than the previous few days, and that I would definitely at least try to get through it. I wasn't really sure what was going to happen though.

I lined up to the very left of the crowd with a few minutes to go. As soon as the canon went off, the front masses dove into the water; I waited about 10 seconds to let most of them go, and then calmly entered. The water was, indeed, choppy and my breathing was agitated and uneven. After getting into deeper water, I was able to get into a better breathing pattern and to get a feel for the waves. I tried to focus on my swimming and on feeling myself move through the water, as opposed to being annoyed that I was getting tossed around. The sighting techniques we practiced were helpful, and I found that the swimmers around me were friendlier than in previous races. With the mass start, the really fast and/or aggressive swimmers start towards the front and stay in front, unlike in races with multiple starts, where I tend to get clobbered as each wave passes by me.

I rounded the first corner and made the left turn towards the third point of the rectangular course. Instead of swimming straight into the chop and moderate swells, I was now swimming tangential to them and found this to be somewhat more comfortable. After rounding the 3rd corner, I checked my watch: 32 minutes. Phew! I knew it would be a quicker swim back and felt relieved that I would make the swim cutoff. I finished my first lap in 54 minutes and hopped out of the water. My friend was supposed to be there but was nowhere to be seen. I looked frantically for several minutes and asked everyone if they had any spare GU, but was told no. How could this be?? We had everything arranged. I ate both gels in somewhat of a panic and waited for about 4 minutes, looking around constantly. A volunteer asked me if I wanted to pull out of the swim but I said "No!" and got back into the water. I was mad! Did someone not let him in? I was also scared. Was my blood sugar low? What would happen if I needed a gel? (I had eaten both of those stuffed in my sleeves.) Would my blood sugar fall too low? As I was thinking these thoughts, I passed over a scuba-diver sitting on the lake bottom. Why was he there? To take video? No camera... To look for drowning swimmers?? I needed to chill out. I tried to concentrate on my swim and reasoned that I did feel okay and that my BG was very likely not low. After a few minutes, I got back into a rhythm, and felt that the second lap was much smoother than the first. After rounding the 3rd corner again, I saw that I would make it back in plenty of time. Very relieved, I exited the water in 1:55 and ran past my hysterically happy family & friends, who knew that I had been concerned. It was an amazing sight to see them there, cheering me on.

To the bike!
After running up from the swim I was met by the "peeler" volunteers who strip off the wetsuits. This is perhaps one of the finest features of an Ironman race--no need to akwardly yank the wetsuit off of my feet. The peelers sat me down on my back, pulled the westuit off, pulled me up, and handed me my wetsuit and T1 bag and I was on my way to the women's change tent. Here I quickly slipped on my bike shorts and tested my BG--380! Ugh! Over the next 15 minutes, I took 1.5 U to correct and avoided eating anything. I was really hoping to avoid this situation. At least I wasn't as upset about it since I had encountered the same thing at Wildflower in May. Still, I was not happy. I started the bike, feeling pretty fresh, although concerned about my BG. Thirty minutes into the ride, I took another 1.0 unit of insulin. About an hour after the swim my BG was at 377 and I took a very small sip of Perpetuem. I also started my extended bolus of 2 units over 5 hours (which I ended up canceling after 3.5 hours). Thirty minutes later my BG was up to 393; I took another 0.5 units and checked almost 20 minutes later to see that my BG had continued to rise to a shocking 418. I was getting mad and a little worried. I had some backup insulin + a syringe in my pocket, but really didn't want to stop to pull it out. I switched to a backup infusion site that I had placed the day before, just in case something was wrong. I was getting hungry but waited to eat until I saw that I was clearly falling with a BG of 321 two hours after starting the bike. In another 30 minutes, my BG fell to 224, where it hovered for at least another 75 minutes before making a soft landing around 145. With about 2 hours to go on the bike, I started using the Dexcom exclusively since it was working very accurately.

The course itself is beautiful, and I enjoyed the portions next to Lake Coeur d'Alene and through the area of Hayden. Not too difficult, it reminded me of riding through Marin County, with lots of rolling hills. There are a few substantial climbs but none over 1/2 mile long, I would guess. Also, there are enough flat or moderate downhill stretches to use aerobars; although some others complained that they would have liked more. We had temperatures in the 60's and some slight headwinds--it was a perfect day for a Bay Area triathlete.

I felt happy and strong during the first lap, and tried to think of the whole day as a celebration of all of the hard work we had done. I tried to keep my heart rate in zone 2 (aerobic) and it was hovering pretty close to the top. For the second lap, I backed off and kept it closer to lower- to mid-zone 2. I tried to avoid thinking about it too much, but running a marathon was still in the back of my mind.

The special needs bags were available at mile 64, and I swapped out my Perpetuem for a new bottle, which I had frozen the night before in a styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice (which I was surprised to find at the local Safeway). I ate maybe 2 pretzels but grabbed the Fig Newtons and enjoyed those over the next hour. I asked the volunteer to save my bag, since I had a spare infusion set and partially full vial of test strips in it; sadly, though, I never was able to retrieve it after the race.

Finishing up the ride, I saw my family madly cheering me on, little kids raised in the air. The end of the ride is mostly downhill, with a short out and back before finishing up. How could I not smile with these three cheering me on? (Note the excellent T-shirts.)And now a marathon...
I quickly changed back into tri shorts and got ready for the run. I was happy to start running at 4:19 PM, and was hopeful that I could finish the race by 9 or 9:30. My BG was 115 and the Dexcom was working well. My insulin was as follows: 3:08 PM (still on bike) pump off; 4:08 PM basal rate 0.05 U/hr; 4:38 PM pump off. Between 3:30 PM and 5:23 PM my BG was slowly declining, even though I continued to eat every half hour or so. My biggest concern for the race was keeping my blood sugar up during the run; I had encountered rapid onset of hypoglycemia at the beginning of training runs after long rides (bricks), and during long runs after a heavy day of training. I felt strong and comfortable for the first 7 miles with splits of 9:45, 9:49 (picture taken after this split I think), 9:55, 11:11 (bathroom break), 9:41, 9:51, 10:35. Running along the lake around mile 6, I felt hot and started to wonder if I was drinking enough. My 16 ounces of Heed had only lasted me 4 miles instead of half of the run. I was drinking water but trying to avoid Gatorade Endurance, which had given me some GI discomfort in training. I also supplemented with 2 Enduralyte caps during the first hour or so of the race. I had eaten about 2 gels by the 7th mile of the race. Approaching the only substantial hill of the run, I felt a little spaced out, reminiscent of low blood sugar; however, my BG was still around 110 and holding steady. My coach's chart on dehydration flashed across my mind and I remembered that disorientation was somewhere along the path to coma and death. My legs seemed somehow disconnected from my brain and I was starting to envision being scooped up off the side of the road. I passed the aid station at mile 9 and ran another 50 feet before turning around. I felt like I could continue but wasn't sure I would make it to the next aid station. My best shot at finishing was to stop and assess what was going on.

I spoke with the medic who asked me when I stopped sweating. My skin was dry, and I assumed at that point that I was dehydrated, but wasn't sure. From my frequent stops at the portapotties, I seemed to be overhydrated, and the dry air in Idaho would probably cause my sweat to evaporate quickly. Still, I had felt quite warm running around the lake's edge, and figured I could have also gotten dehydrated by high BGs in the morning. I wasn't sure if it was possible to make up for that during the course of the bike, or while continuing to run. My BG was 160 when I stopped, high but not alarmingly so; I took a 0.05 U correction. For some reason, the Dexcom also died at this point. When I noticed that it took me over 15 seconds to respond to the medic's questions, I figured I had done the right thing by stopping. Watching runners pass me by, and my sub-5 hour marathon time slip away, I was disappointed. Ten minutes passed, and I got up to try and start running again. Nope. I sat on a large boulder for a few minutes before trying again. Nope. I thought that my race was over at this point and saw my finish slipping away. My muscles still felt strong but I did not have the energy to make my brain and body work together. My good friend James ran by, looking strong and fresh, and gave me some encouragement. Another doctor stopped by and asked me if my urine smelled sweet, and whether I could be ketotic. Well, hardly anything smells sweet in a portapotty, so I wasn't sure. But he was onto something. I realized my pump was still off and that my BG had started to rise pretty quickly before I stopped. In 11 minutes since stopping, it had risen to 176. Looking back, it was rising at a rate of approximately 100 mg/dL/hour. I turned my pump on to the preset basal rate of 0.05 U/hr (and took a 0.1 U bolus 30 minutes later).

Thirty minutes or so after stopping, I started running again, and was surprised to feel that the miles were passing by quickly. The slower pace of this marathon compared to others I have run was more comfortable for my legs, but I felt bloated and could hardly choke down the cola I felt I needed to drink. (Eating solid food was out of the question after mile 15 or so, which is when I started drinking cola.) I turned back from the lake-front through the neighborhood streets and was given my glow-in-the-dark necklace; I had neglected to put reflectors on my clothes since I somehow convinced myself I would finish before sunset. I had only 2-3 or so miles to go and I could hear the roar of the finish line in the distance. Finally I rounded the last turn before the finish and was greeted by my aunt, no doubt happy to see me alive and feeling much better than after the first lap. My mom was waiting by the finish, she said, and I picked up the pace to finish off the race. I was happy to see that there were still people cheering at the end, and I made my way to the finish chute. I felt strong and gave it all I had, hoping to give the crowds something to cheer about. There was the finish tape and I ran through it, into the arms of several "catchers." I had done it!! Excited, but exhausted, and apparently a little spaced out, I saw the medal being placed around my neck and was happy to receive a congratulatory hug; "How nice," I thought. Only a week later did I find out my coach (who had, incidentally, also raced that day) had been the one to do that.

The Aftermath
I felt pretty good immediately after the race, and wondered why my "catcher" was so concerned about keeping me warm with my foil blanket. I had my finisher picture taken and moved out of the area. A good friend and coach (who had also raced!) met me there, and guided me to the massage area and medical area. I was starting to feel really bad, and wasn't sure whether I would be able to make it back to the hotel. I couldn't stomach any food but did start to feel better when I finally nibbled on a slice of pizza an hour later. The BG's were actually quite high and I only had one low BG the morning following the race. Actually, I have had to more than double my daily dose of insulin since the race ended. I am eager to get back to exercising and will do so more fully as soon as my energy levels seem closer to normal.

What I realized after the race is that the Ironman was a one-day event, and that any number of things could have gone wrong. I feel like the day was more of a celebration of all of the training and hard work that it took me to make it to the start. And whether I finished or not--and this was a possibility at any point--the improvements in health and in lessons learned would not be lost.

Still, I was very happy to have finished! (See below.) Thanks everyone for your support--most especially my coaches and diabetes team, unbelievably patient coworkers, and neglected family and friends.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I did it! (Part 1)

It is now four days after the race and I am finally awake enough to write up my race report. The quick summary is that I survived and finished in 14:42:19, with a swim time of 1:55, bike time of 7:04 and run time of 5:22. My blood sugar never got low and I confirmed once again that I am in fact diabetic even after 10 hours of continuous exercise. The pump worked like a star and the Dexcom even hung on for a good portion of the race.

Now for the rest of the story... This first part is just about the days leading up to the race. The report on the race will follow soon.

Checking in to Coeur d'Alene
We arrived Wednesday morning, checked into the hotel and headed down to the expo at Coeur d'Alene City Park. I bought some new bike clothes and other schwag while the selection was still good. If I wasn't committed to finishing yet, that $80 bike jacket might give me a little extra push along the way. That and the bike shorts, bike jersey, etc. I decided to go for a quick swim in the lake and relax for the evening.

Swim melt-down
Thursday, Gatorade sponsored a morning swim on the actual course. I swam out to the first point of the rectangular course in about 29 minutes. I had only planned on a 30-minute swim to begin with and so cut my way back to the return buoy line. The chop on the way out really bothered me and I found it difficult to find a good swim rhythm. My mind was mostly on how bad the conditions were. Furthermore, as I was swimming back, I had that feeling of doom that my BG was falling. I started to breaststroke and wonder how I was going to make it through the swim on Sunday. I tried to eat a gel while treading water but kept getting submerged. A woman in a kayak came up to me and I held on while downing a GU. I chatted with her and she mentioned that conditions would probably be similar on Sunday, since cooler weather was moving in. Fantastic. She asked me if I wanted to get taken in by a jetski but there was no way I would completely shatter my confidence by doing that. She did pull me along for a bit while I waited for the GU to kick in, and then I swam the rest of the way. Seeing a time of 59 minutes on my watch caused me great concern, since I hadn't even swum the whole course. I began to really wonder whether I would make it through. I did gain some reassurance after calling my fabulously enthusiastic and helpful swim coach Laura, who gave me some strategies for choppy conditions and reasoned with me that I should be able to make the cutoff, given my past swim times.

Friday, we met for a team swim, shorter this time. Here I am, ready to get into the water, hoping for a smoother swim. During this swim, I focused on using good technique and on practicing sighting. I rehearsed my mantra of "smooth, strike, relax" and thought about my body rotation and arm position throughout the stroke. I thought about pulling with strength through the water and feeling the water in my hands. Having some objects to sight on above the chop, instead of buoys often hidden by the waves, helped me to swim much straighter. By relaxing and getting a feel for the waves, I was able to swim more efficiently and to be less disturbed by getting tossed around a bit.

After a final 8-minute swim on Saturday, I was feeling much better about how I felt during the swim, but still had some concern about how long it would take me. From practice, I know that a significantly higher effort on my part leads to a very modest reduction in my time, and that I would need to maintain a moderate effort during the race that would not drain me for the bike and run. I was not as concerned with the bike and run, and felt that I could face those if I made it past the swim.

Final Preparations
Thursday, we rode the first leg of the bike/run course, which is pictured here. The bike went out and back along this road, and the run along the trail on the right. Just around the corner is the biggest hill on the run course, which was actually pretty short--about 1/4 mile at most. I was happy to see that the run course was otherwise nearly flat with only modest grades.

We drove the rest of the bike course on Friday and all met up for the welcome banquet that night. I was a little dismayed to hear that the swim cutoff time was actually 2:20, not 2:30, but tried to maintain my confidence. Also, it was a little freaky to see the videos of people staggering across the finish line. Umm, I didn't want to finish that way. I have been eating a gel about midway through my long swims, and was planning to do this for the race. Also, I wanted to check my BG after the first lap, since it had been running so high and I usually have a problem with high BG after the swim anyway. I had fixed this problem during training but since I had entered taper mode, I was needing a lot more insulin. I wasn't sure how quickly my insulin sensitivity would increase once I started the race. I met with one of the race officials at the banquet who arranged for me to have a friend meet me after the first lap of the swim; he even met up with us on Saturday to deliver a restricted swim area wrist band. I was greatly relieved to know I would be able to test my BG mid-race and to take on extra gels if needed.

Saturday I packed up my T1 (swim-to-bike) and T2 (bike-to-run) bags and finished preparing my bike. I had purchased a couple of the new One Touch Ultra Mini's and covered one of them with red velcro. I also smothered the lancet and one vial of test strips with velcro and attached some of the fuzzy velcro side to my bike stem and along the side of my right aerobar. The other Mini I would use for the run. Plus I still have my older One Touch Ultra that I need for the Dexcom, and another backup Ultra, just in case. I wasn't going to take any chances this time around.

While putting my race number on my bike, I slipped and banged my knee hard against the front chain ring. Ouch! I had drawn some blood and my knee began to throb. Ugh! This was now about 18 hours before the race. I iced and elevated and rested but it continued to throb. I tried to convince myself that at worst I would be in some pain during the race, but it was probably just a bruise and would not interfere with my performance. At least it took my mind off of the swim. I just couldn't believe that, after being overly careful about not getting injured for months and especially the last week, I was so clumsy!

Saturday night came. My drinks were mixed and hopefully freezing in the styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice that I had bought from Safeway. I was surprised to see dry ice for sale at a grocery store, since the past few places I've lived (Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco), sure didn't sell it to the general public. My special needs bags were packed and I was ready for bed. Now I just had to fall asleep...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Quick Update from Coeur d'Alene

Since my laptop seems to have died, I am sitting here at the hotel computer, bike helmet on, ready to go for one last 10-15 minute ride before I turn in the bike tomorrow. The race begins 7 AM Sunday at the beach pictured here at Lake Coeur d'Alene. Conditions look great except for the swim. The water has been very choppy and is expected to remain so through the race. After two swim sessions, I am feeling more confident, and will be happy to get out in anything less than the swim time cutoff (which is 2:30).

Today, we drove the bike course and it seems reasonable--nothing harder than riding in Marin County. There are long flat stretches and also stretches with rolling hills and moderate, albeit short, climbs. The run course wraps around the lake, with beautiful views, and has very moderate grades at most. I think there are a couple of short hills, but nothing too serious!

We have a banquet tonight and a mandatory athlete meeting, for last-minute rules & instructions. We're getting down the wire! I am nervous and excited and have had a lot of difficulty falling asleep. My BG's have been through the roof but I am finally getting a grip--the taper period is always hard for me. I just continue to underestimate how much my insulin requirements jump when I'm exercising less.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

8 More Days

My bike is now en route to Coeur d'Alene, thanks to TriBike Transport, a company that drives bikes to various Ironman events around the country. I dropped it off at a local sports shop here after my last long ride before the race next Sunday. Today was a relatively easy day--about 3000 yards in the pool followed by a quick 42-mile ride through Marin County. Fortunately, we had some warm sunshine to help prepare us for conditions in Coeur d'Alene. As of just a moment ago, AccuWeather is forecasting sunny skies with some clouds, and a high of 78 degrees F, with light winds. Weather.com's forecast is even better, with a high of 73 but slightly stronger winds.

I tested out getting up at 4 AM again this week, to see how my BG's fared 3 hours later. When I woke up around 5:45, my BG was smack-dab at 90! How about that? Unfortunately, it was taking a dive and I was surprised when my Dexcom was beeping at me that I was below 55. My first reaction was that the Dexcom was wrong; but I tested in at 40. If I didn't have the Dex going, I probably wouldn't have noticed for some time longer.

My swim strategy is working well--I turn my basal rate down to 0.3 (a 30-40% reduction) for the first hour and then set it back to 100% once I've swum over an hour. I eat a gel or two before the swim, and one about mid-way through, if I am swimming over 80 minutes. Today, my BG ended up somewhere around 130-140, which I'd be comfortable with during the Ironman. It was falling, though, so I didn't take any insulin for my post-swim banana. I probably should have taken a little, though, because my blood sugar was a little high (between 160-220) for the rest of the bike ride. I think I may adjust my basal rate a little higher for the first hour or so of the bike, since I often don't take a bolus right away until I can assess how my BG is behaving. Or I should just remember to take my initial long bolus; my problem is that I tend to forget to do it until I actually start riding and drinking my Perpetuem on the bike. I think a to-do list may be in order for T1 and T2 at the race. ("T1" and "T2" refer to transitions between the swim and bike, and the bike and run, respectively.)

I haven't been able to post Dexcom data here because I have a Mac and the software runs on Windows, so I have to do it at work, and I never have time there. But, I should report that it has been very useful to me in the past few weeks, and the sensors seem to have improved since I first started using them in October 2006.

Despite being tired from getting up at ridiculously early today, my body is feeling pretty strong and relatively un-injured and I am excited for the race next Sunday. I am also looking forward to spending time with my family and friends who will be there. Cross your fingers for good BG's and cool weather!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

4200 Yards

Friday morning I finally completed the approximate distance for the Ironman swim--2.4 miles, or about 4200 yards. It took me about 1 hour and 39 minutes, which the swimmers out there will recognize as a pretty slow time. But, I was happy that I could finish it comfortably and with decent BG's. My swim strategy is to turn my basal rate down 30-40%, which at the time of my swim, meant a basal of approximately 0.33 units/hour. I ate one gel and started swimming. About an hour into the swim, I felt hungry and ate another gel, after which I felt more invigorated. When I got into the water, my BG was 149, and when I got out, it was 139. The interesting thing was that my BG started climbing after I stopped swimming, and was above 200 in less than 30 minutes. I decided to wait it out and see what would happen; it rose a little and stabilized to about 240 an hour post-swim. I'm not sure exactly why this happens, but I've noted it on many occasions. Originally, I thought it was because I disconnected my pump during swimming, but it still seems to happen since I've started swimming with my pump. My new strategy is to set the basal rate reduction until about 30-60 minutes before the end of the swim, depending on the length of the swim, and my initial state (falling BG's, high BG's, etc.). Then my normal basal rate will be in effect by the time I get out of the water.

I tried this new technique today and it worked great! It was one of those shocking times when I test twice, separated by at least 15 minutes, and read the exact same number on the meter. Hooray for small victories!

Today I swam 3200 yards, then rode 80 miles, and finally ran for 42 minutes. More on that later... Right now it's time for sleep. (Here's a teaser, though! The Dexcom was the star of the day and I think I'm sorta maybe getting some better strategies for managing BG's through these insane workouts. Coeur d'Alene is only 2 weeks away now!)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

116 miles

This was our last monster weekend, with a 3500 yard swim yesterday morning, followed by a 120-mile bike ride. We started in San Francisco and rode up north into Marin County to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, seen down the stairs in this cell phone camera shot. After riding 58 very hilly miles to get there, I thought I might as well gather some proof that I made it.

I am happy to report that I felt great throughout the whole ride, with the exception of about 10-15 minutes. It has surprised me how quickly the body adapts to riding this longer distance. Our first 100-miler was not really that long ago, and I have felt stronger with each passing week.

During my swim yesterday, I was worried about falling low, which happened earlier this week while swimming (37--yikes!). Mid-swim I ate an extra gel, which, in the end proved to be unnecessary. My BG was >250 when I got out of the water. Why didn't I just test my BG before eating the gel, you may ask? Simply, it is inconvenient, especially during swimming, and I usually don't fall low while in the pool. I hate to miss part of the set because I have to get out of the pool to test! (It's not as bad as getting passed by people I just passed while testing my blood sugar on the bike!) I ate one banana (and bolused) after the swim and started riding about an hour later. At this point my BG was around 300 but I thought it would come down with the bolus for the banana as soon as I started moving. Not so! It was still on the rise. I had to take a bigger correction about an hour later, which finally got things to more reasonable levels. I was a little concerned that my infusion set was bad, but had some syringes and insulin on hand, which I used. (I really hate low BG while exercising and will do a lot to avoid it, including erring on the side of high BG's. I hate being high, too, because I know that it also impairs my performance and messes with my hydration/nutrition in a big way.)

The correction boluses had added up to about 2 units, which is about the total amount of bolusing I normally use for an entire ride's worth of food, so I held off on taking any additional insulin. I have decided that conditions are usually too variable for me to be able to plan ahead much. My general guiding principle is now to take make small adjustments and wait and see what happens, and to keep in mind the total insulin on board (see Amy T's recent post on that subject). Then balance the need for food, trying to avoid depriving myself of food for BG's sake, with insulin boluses of 0.5 U at most. And when things are falling quickly and I'm below 110 or so, suspend the pump completely (as in zero basal rate) and eat until things are more stable. Also, I'm really liking my exercise basal rate profile, which is as follows:
  • 12:00 AM 0.525 U/hr (normal rate)
  • 1:30 AM 0.55 U/hr (normal rate)
  • 7:00 AM 0.4 U/hr (reduced from 0.55; I change this back to its normal value depending on when I start exercising. Currently, I leave it at its normal rate until I start exercising, but depending on how my BG's are acting, I could reduce it early.)
  • 9:00 AM 0.3 U/hr (reduced from 0.35)
  • 1:00 PM 0.175 U/hr (reduced from 0.25; start tapering basal rate assuming I started exercising sometime around 7 or 8 AM)
  • 1:30 PM 0.15 U/hr (reduced from 0.25)
  • 2:30 PM 0.1 U/hr (reduced from 0.25)
  • 3:00 PM 0.05 U/hr (reduced from 0.25; by this point in my exercise, I want very minimal insulin floating around and will fine-tune levels with boluses without worrying too much about accumulating basal insulin)
  • 9:30 PM 0.2 U/hr (reduced from 0.3)
As soon as the exercise is over, I just switch it back to my normal basal rates. In case I am totally spaced out, though, it does go back up to 0.2 U/hr at 9:30 PM. I chose this time because I am planning to use this basal rate profile for the Ironman race, which I am hoping to finish by around 9 PM. (It starts at 7 AM...)