Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lucky Mice! Research News Flash

It is another good day for the NOD mouse. (The NOD mouse is used as an animal model of type 1 diabetes.) In a study reported in today's issue of New Scientist and re-quoted by the BBC, scientists Terry Strom and colleagues at Harvard Medical School in Boston have been able to not only halt the damaging immune attack on the beta cells, but by adding a 4th drug to their cocktail, have also seen a resulting increase in the number of insulin-producing beta cells. The article suggests that these mice were effectively "cured" of diabetes. In previous experiments, they were able to halt the immune attack but concluded that the restoration of euglycemia (i.e., normal blood sugar) was due to the ability of remaining beta cells to produce insulin. In this new study, which was presented by Strom last week in Berlin, Germany at the International Conference on New Trends in Immunosuppression and Immunotherapy, mice were administered the same cocktail of drugs as before, plus another enzyme, alpha 1 anti-trypsin, which has a role in reducing inflammation. Fifty days after treatment, an increase in the number of insulin-producing beta cells was seen. The article quotes Strom as saying that it is too early to know whether the increase was due to existing beta cells producing insulin again or due to generation of new beta cells. Clinical trials are planned. The previous research study was funded by the JDRF and NIH but it was not reported who supported this current study.

(By the way, I paid for a subscription so I could read the whole article, but it doesn't say a whole lot more than the BBC article. I guess we'll have to wait for Strom to get his paper on this published.)

Development in Non-invasive Blood Glucose Monitoring

Here's a story from the MIT Technology Review describing progress at Baylor in non-invasive glucose monitoring.

Quoting from the article, written by Jennifer Chu:

"The sensor itself is a small, spiral-shaped microwave circuit, which acts as a transmission line and emits electromagnetic waves. When a person places her thumb on the spiral, the electrical properties of her thumb change how energy passes through the circuit. Jean and his colleagues measure this change, and in early trials, they seem to have found patterns that correspond to variations in glucose levels."

I hope it works!

Why I pay to live here...

This was taken on Conzelman in the Marin Headlands during my morning ride with my crappy cell phone camera.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Alpine Dam Loop

I am happy to say that I successfully beat the big storm this morning on my ride around the Alpine Dam Loop. Starting from home, I rode north across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito and eventually to Fairfax. That is where the first big climb begins, lasting about 4-5 miles. There is a rolling descent down to the Alpine Dam, and then a steady and steep climb through the redwoods up to Ridgecrest. There, you think the climbing is over but the fun is just beginning as you climb all of the 7 Sisters (which are sometimes given less polite names). Finally at the top, I endured a freezing descent back down to Mill Valley and made my way home as quickly as possible. The BG's behaved better today and I actually had low blood sugar coming out of Sausalito, a little unexpected since I've been battling highs for the past few weeks. I felt a hunger pang 20 minutes before, which is sometimes a clue that my blood sugar is dropping or already low. After a warm shower and a big bowl of oatmeal, I am ready for a nap.

Looking back on Sister #6. Or is it #5? I always lose track after the first 3.

Stinson Beach? From Ridgecrest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vote for Triabetes & Michelle Alswager

Here's how to vote: email with "Michelle Alswager" in the subject line.

Last summer I was contacted by Michelle, who was, at the time, trying to find 10 type 1 diabetics interested in training for and racing Ironman Wisconsin 2008. This has evolved into the Triabetes project and the documentary and research are already underway. Evotri is holding a video contest on people who have given to the triathlon/endurance sport community--I can't think of a more deserving person than Michelle. See the video below on Triabetes and vote today! Voting ends Wednesday so vote now if you can. And spread the word.

From Michelle:
The quick and dirty first:
I'm asking all of you to vote for my video entry and passing this email on to EVERYONE you know by sending an email to with MICHELLE ALSWAGER in the subject line by Wednesday. [From evotri:] As we're expecting a deluge of voting, for efficiency purposes emails will not be opened. You may only vote once, multiple votes from the same email address will not be counted.

The long winded part: has a contest simply asking "why do you do triathlons and what do you bring back to the endurance community?" A friend of mine encouraged me to film a short video (thank you Andiamo Productions!) about my work on the Triabetes project - bringing together 12 type 1 athletes to complete Ironman Wisconsin and film a documentary. The project will also study the effect the process has on their bodies, giving much needed information to coaches, nurses, schools, and doctors about the diabetic athlete.

Also, if you have ANY way to promote it for me, please do! Thank you thank you!

You can watch my entry on (mine is the first one! Alphabetical counts today!). Yes, don't even comment: when I filmed it I had the flu and a temperature of 103 so don't tell me how terrible I look!!!!!

Please please please take a moment to vote for me and please please please take a moment to forward the email to friends, family colleagues. Triabetes and DIABETES will get some sweet exposure (and I could win a new bike to do my Ironman this year!!!!)

Thanks to all of you for supporting me!

:)Michelle-- "Triabetes will revolutionize the way people approach diabetes."Inspire. Educate. Explore.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And Now a Sunset View

After a rough day of stubbornly high BG's, I couldn't help but marvel in the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco coastline. I don't know how many times I reflect on how fortunate I feel to live here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Island in the Fog

The view of San Francisco this morning. About 5 minutes later, much of the fog had dissipated.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Can Your Pump Tell Time?

It seems like every pump I've owned--and I've owned pumps from 3 major brands--cannot keep accurate time. Every few months, it seems like the pump has lost a couple of minutes. I do not drain the batteries or take them out, except for to change them. Perhaps it loses time when the batteries are removed? It doesn't seem to necessarily correlate with that but it would be a good explanation, I suppose. Has anyone else noticed this, not in correlation with changing the batteries? I pretty much assume the time on my pump is always slow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Race Report: Kaiser Half

This morning's Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon was my inaugural race for the season. I went into the race with my coach's voice ringing in my ear, "Don't race." In the training plan right now, there isn't a lot of room for down time (i.e., recovery time), so pushing the pace too hard right now was not advised. I went in planning to keep my heart rate in zone 2 (156-167 beats per minute) with some zone 3 (168-176) on the hills.

We had some rain in the forecast but it was just cloudy, and not too cold (around 50 degrees) at the start. As soon as I dropped off my warm-up clothes, there was a brief cloud-burst, enough to get us all a little damp. The Kaiser Half is my favorite half marathon because it is a fast, scenic course on my home turf. In fact, it may be the only race in San Francisco with no significant uphills and a net negative change in elevation (but not by too much).

My blood sugars did their usual pre-race freak-out (high) which was compounded by my inadvertent under-bolusing of breakfast. You can see the gory details on my SugarStats page if you'd like--I've also included mile splits and average and max heart rate for each mile. I was happy with the pace and I felt fairly comfortable throughout the race. As much as I tried to hold back, I couldn't resist speeding up a bit on the downhill section through Golden Gate Park, and then letting go a little for the last 3-4 miles. I didn't go all out and feel fine now, so I'm hoping that I'll be okay. My average heart rate was barely in above zone 2, in zone 3 ("I think this counts as a hill" went through my mind more than once) but my average heart rate for about 6 miles was in zone 2 (I tried!). This is the race where I reached my half-marathon PR (1:42) and I'd still like to beat that someday. But this was not the year to attempt that.

I wore my Triabetes shirt, which generated a few comments, one with a nice guy from the San Francisco Road Runners. We met early on and then again as we were trying to find someone tall to draft off of on the very windy last stretch along the ocean. I also tried out the SPI belt (donated by the manufacturer for the Triabetes project), which held an amazing amount of gels, as well as my Ultra mini. Thanks!

Oh in case you are wondering, my time was 1:52:29. I think I was about 1:10 behind the official start time, so my official time will probably be 1:53:40. There was some debate as to whether the race was more than 13.1 miles. My watch showed 15.49 but, according to the mile splits, my foot pod (pedometer) was about 0.03 miles off per mile, which would add up to an error of 0.39 and a total distance of 13.1. So I think it was probably pretty accurate at 13.1 miles.