A couple weeks ago I did the Vineman 70.3 race up in Sonoma County. This course is nearly identical to Barb's Race, which was my first half-IM distance event in 2005. I did Vineman 70.3 in 2006 on a hot, difficult day, and came in much slower than my Barb's Race time of 6:01. So, this year, I was wondering, would I beat that time? Could I come in under 6 hours? The race was exactly 4 weeks after IMCDA and I thought it would also be a good test to see if I'd recovered.
I've had to keep my basal rates lower after IMCDA even though I am about 5 pounds heavier right now. I don't get it but that's how it is sometimes. So planning out insulin for the race was a bit of a guessing game. I decided to really amp up my swim/early bike basal rate, from 0.9 to 1.3 U/hr. I was going to take care of that bike spike once and for all! A couple hours before the run, I would lower it to a level I though would keep me steady. After reviewing my IMCDA basal levels, I settled on a rate of 0.2 U/hr.
We were staying close to the start, so, on race morning, I meandered to the transition area about an hour before my wave went off. Soon enough I was swimming, not sighting too well, but happy to come out of the water with a few minutes' improvement over most of my 2007 swims. I hopped on the bike and, after about 15 minutes, checked my blood: 155. Great! I felt good and was happy to have some overcast skies. I noticed that neither my cadence or speed were getting picked up. That meant I would not have mileage either. I decided to just go by heart rate, targeting heart rate zone 3 for the bike and run.
I tested a bit later and was surprised to see my BG climbing fast, again. Hmmm. I thought my 1.3 basal would have taken care of this. I checked again a bit later and it was still rising merrily into the 300's so I took a small bolus to knock it down a bit. I backed off on the calories but still did drink a little Perpetuum because I was getting hungry. Around mile 25 or so, I pulled out my meter to test and somehow dropped my velcro-laden lancet. I kept riding. There was no way I was going to stop to get it. Bah! I kept riding some more and then my reasonable mind reminded me that I still had a long way to go, and that my BG's were not stabilized yet. I grudgingly peeled off to the left to turn and look for it. I had a nice comment from one of the riders, who called out, "Once isn't good enough for you?" I had words for him but muttered something and rode past the spot where I had dropped it. I slowly rode back up the road, eying the ground for a gray lancet with red velcro. I couldn't find it. Well that was time well spent! Oh well. I figured I could test by just squeezing my fingers hard enough to make them bleed. I usually bleed from a couple spots when I test, anyway! (The problem is, I don't seem to bleed from multiple spots unless I prick a new one!) I was able to test one more time and then just went by feel and past experience. I figured I would start to come down, and assumed this was the case when I started to feel better.
I had no idea of my mileage or average speed, but was familiar enough with the course to think that I might be able to break 3 hours. For most of the ride, I felt good and was enjoying riding on familiar ground. My heart rate was on target and the weather was pleasant. After the one big climb at Chalk Hill, I knew the end was in sight. I kept pushing through the end and was happy to see 2:59 on my watch. Fun! I was glad my little lost lancet incident hadn't pushed me over the edge.
Once on the run, I discovered my BGs were not only high but rising from my end-of-ride food fest. I had finished off the Perpetuum and eaten another 25 g of carbs in anticipation of my usual drop at the beginning of the run. I had also lowered my basal rate a bit earlier and a bit lower than I did in Coeur d'Alene. All of these factors, as well as not being able to test, contributed to another spike over 300. I waited a bit to see if it would fall; it didn't and I took another small bolus. After several additional miles, it seemed to be settling around 250 and I decided to leave it there. I felt so much better not being on the brink of a bad low all the time and it gave me energy and confidence to push the pace a bit. My heart rate was theoretically in zone 2 so I guess I could have pushed even harder; still, it felt like the right effort-level for the distance and conditions. I guess it would have been good to nudge the BG to somewhere below 200 but I was stable, felt good and, with an hour to go, just left it alone.
Although it got a bit warmer when the sun broke through, I tried to hold my pace; I didn't have to do 2 loops, after all! (That was the theme of the day: only one loop for each leg! yay!) I was pretty excited to see that I would likely be able to finish in under 6 hours, and pushed the pace through the finish, for a finishing half-marathon time of 1:57 and a total time of 5:56. And the cool part was that my average heart rate was 165 compared to 178 three years ago with a time that was 5 minutes slower. Yay for progress! And it was a great relief to realize that, unlike last year, my recovery was going well, and that I would be able to continue to train well for IM Wisconsin. And speaking of IM Wisconsin, I can't wait for that race, where I will not only have spare lancets but spare meters out on the course. Fantastic! In the meantime, I think I'll try some string as a back-up to velcro.