Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Frostbite in San Francisco

After getting home from a surprisingly successful run this morning, I decided I would be pro-active and ice my hip. I am supposed to be doing this regularly to treat some hip pain that has arisen secondary to my bike accident. But, it is tough for me to ice it at work, since our fridge/freezer can't keep things cold enough, and I keep forgetting to do it at home. But today I would do it! I was wearing some tri shorts and thought, "Hey how convenient! I can just stick this ice pack right inside the shorts and it will stay nice & close!" I thought about putting something in between the pack and my skin, but only spotted thick towels. The other gel pack I use generally doesn't get very cold so a thick towel would be too much. I didn't really look too hard. "Hey! Ouch! It's stinging!" I thought, but remembered back many years to prior PT sessions with ice, where it stung until it was numb. I put some oatmeal in the microwave and was getting stuff ready for work and didn't notice that the stinging had stopped.

Getting up to get my oatmeal, I looked down and noticed frost on the outside of my shorts. Uh-oh. I pulled out the gel pack and to my horror, my skin was white, completely numb and completely frozen! I mean, it was stiff. It grosses me out just to think about it. "Oh no! This is bad!!" I grabbed a wash cloth and put some warm water on it and applied it to the skin. The cloth totally cooled and I repeated the process until the skin started to soften. It was still whitish but started to pinken up, pretty painfully I might add.

Frostbite in my mind is forever associated with people who climb Mt. Everest and lose toes, fingers, limbs... (In 9th grade a mountain climber came to talk with us and told us how she had lost some toes to frostbite. I think it was supposed to be an inspirational talk but I pretty much just remember the losing toes part of it.) Will I have to have my whole hip amputated?! Granted I could use a little reduction here and there but not this way. Seriously, I wasn't that worried but I wasn't sure how to treat it. Once it started warming up, the skin became really hot to the touch, and swollen. Fortunately there were no blisters and after some time, the swelling diminished, leaving red welts about the size of the gel pack. After a call to the advice nurse, who admitted to not getting many frostbite cases in San Francisco, I stopped by the injury clinic at my HMO and the awesome nurse practitioner there eased my worries. I should treat it as a bad sunburn, she said. Aloe vera, pain killers if necessary, and expect it to itch and then peel in a few days. Swimming is okay (phew) and I should even apply cool compresses. Oh and, please use a towel around the gel pack in the future. I felt like I was 16 again when I was in a bad car accident the one time in years that I hadn't been wearing a seat belt!

Sometimes I feel like I insist on learning things the hard way.

Vicious (and viscous) flesh-freezing gel pack,
more dangerous than a winter in Minneapolis

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Word of Thanks

Triabetes is lucky to have some fantastic sponsors for 2009; the full list can also be seen at the Triabetes website. Their steadfast support of Triabetes has allowed us to continue to grow upon last year's success with a new group of Ironman athletes(-in-training), and to expand the team to include all triathletes with diabetes. In fact, this year, Triabetes was recognized by USAT, the governing body of triathlon, as an official triathlon team. Membership has been opened to athletes of all levels--from beginners to the very experienced--and distances (i.e., you don't have to do an Ironman to join Triabetes!) Join here! I'm the team captain for Northern California and Tahoe regions and would particularly love to have some local teammates.

Some of the sponsors that I have the most experience with, and can whole-heartedly support, are Diabetes Training Camp, PureFit Nutrition Bars, Polar, RoadID, Vitalyte, Thorlo Socks, TriSports, SweetSpot and Spibelt, and I very much look forward to becoming more familiar with the others--Kestrel bikes, Giro, Fluid, and diaTribe. Another sponsor is the TriFest in Tucson, which I had to miss due to my bike accident. Individuals at these companies have really reached out to Triabetes, often on a personal level. Of course a huge thank-you is extended to LifeScan OneTouch for their title sponsorship in 2008, which made it possible to continue with the documentary.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wildflower v.6

Lake San Antonio, CA

Earlier this month marked the 6th year I have made the trek down to Lake San Antonio for the infamous Wildflower Triathlon. The first year, I was a spectator, and swore to myself, as I inched along my chair to stay out of the 100+ degree heat, that I would never do the Long Course (half-ironman distance). That was the first triathlon I had ever seen and I really had no intention of signing up for one myself at that point. I thought that there was no sport I could ever love besides running. And even though I did enjoy getting out on my mountain bike from time to time, the swimming was a deal-breaker. At the age of 7 or 8, when I was taking swimming lessons at the local high school pool, I was doing backstroke when my instructor called out, "That's terrible!" Assuming he was addressing me, I was so afraid that I hid out in the locker room for the next several lessons and never really got back into it.

So it was a huge step for me in many ways to arrive again at Wildflower in 2005 to race in the Olympic-distance event. I had taken swimming lessons, bought a bike, and gotten used to clip-in pedals. The swim was mayhem as usual, the bike felt insanely hilly, and the run up the last hill brought me to tears; but a day or so later, I couldn't wait to sign up for my next event. Four years since then, here is my race report of my 6th Wildflower race event.


Last-minute, I found a team that needed a cyclist for the annual Wildflower Long Course Triathlon. The course is a very hilly one, starting out with big rollers for the first 15-18 miles, then long mild grades for another 10-15 miles, then some easy stuff before the really big climbs begin. It is a beautiful place to ride, with little traffic, and lots of wildflowers out this year. Everyone camps, and as we pulled into camp, I saw a 4-foot snake slithering towards someone's tent. I made sure to keep mine zipped up!

The weather was very rainy on Friday, but cleared up by Saturday morning, which was a huge relief. My start was at 10:20 AM, after our relay team swimmer finished. There were a couple of relay cyclists out there on trainers--an unusual scene at a triathlon--getting ready for the big legs of their relays. These guys were out to win. For our team and others that I noticed, there was a jovial mood--we were pretty happy to just worry about one event for a change. Anyway, the course starts out with a couple of easy miles before the first big climb, which is significant. Since the relays start last, there were few people on the course by the time I started. My goal was to see people ahead of me and pick them off one by one. (Although I kept telling myself, "I am not racing!") At one point a gal tried to pass and it got my competitive juices flowing and I took off. (Triathlon does not allow drafting, for good reason, since it is a serious safety hazard unless you are trained. If you are passed completely, you have to drop back 4 bike lengths.) I was careful about drinking and keeping my nutrition going, and making sure my blood sugar was in a good zone. I descended in the drops and am feeling a lot more comfortable doing this. Actually, now I feel much more glued to the road in the drops vs. holding the hoods.

There was a nice tailwind on the flatter section of the ride, and I tried to take advantage of this bonus. (Usually there is a headwind in this section!) I felt strong and was so so so so happy to be out there. The worst hill of the day up Naciamento Lake Rd. ("Nasty Grade") was okay and I just plugged along, happy to have my compact gearing. The descent is a long sweeping curve and I felt solid but was shocked when a truck+trailer blew by me from the left about 2 feet away. But no harm done. It was another moment I was glad I was in my drops.

I was able to feel good through the finish & my stamina has improved somewhat. My collarbone felt good and my lower back held up. The next couple days I was achy in my lower back and arms, but felt more or less recovered after a few days. My time was about 30 minutes slower than last year, which I am trying to not worry about too much, all considered.

On the diabetes front, things went well. I took my full bolus, as well as full symlin dose, about 3 1/2 hours before I started. My BGs were in the upper 100's before the start, when I got hungry and munched on half of a granola bar. I ate it a bit too early and so had to correct with 0.5 U and I upped my basal a little for a half-hour. My BG's were a bit on the high side to begin with, but came down nicely. I had one reading in the 80's but nothing too serious. Basals were as follows
9:00 AM 0.5
10:00 AM 0.65
(10:15 AM race start)
10:30 AM 0.5
12:45 PM 0.35
1:00 PM 0.22
2:15 PM 0.32 (race over).
I didn't bolus during the ride and ate about 150 calories per hour, or one GU + some gatorade about every hour. I didn't have a swim before or a run afterward, so didn't feel the need to eat a ton.


It was great to be there with Triabetes team captain Sean McKendry, who successfully completed his first triathlon in the Long Course event. Just to add some perspective, many people consider this race to be one of the hardest triathlons out there and say that, in effort, it could be considered a 2/3-ironman distance event. It is tough. Way to go, Sean! And he ended it with a rock-star BG of 130.

Sean's out there swimming somewhere