The things I never thought. My Nike 15k recap, running with type 1 diabetes + other autoimmune fun

 

 

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

The Nike Toronto 15k took place a few weeks ago and I need to share with you some surprises that happened along the way. This was a great experience from my own personal health perspective in dealing with multiple autoimmune disease fun.

1. At the water stations, they provided Nuun. I have never used this before at a race but realized quickly that I needed it. According to the packet, each Nuun tablet has 13 grams of carbs, but was each tablet used per drink? I have no idea.

Lesson: Check to see what is offered at the race stations and try it out beforehand. My stomach doesn’t welcome everything with open arms so I lucked out that taking it in went smoothly.

Also, check if they water the carb drinks down (common practice). That can also mess up your calculations while you are pounding the pavement. Be assertive. Sometimes companies don’t like to admit how much they water down drinks but usually when you say your medical well being heavily depends on knowing this information (and it does), you can usually get a truthful answer.

2. Since I was on an island (Centre Island), it meant cooler temps with the water surrounding me. Add some nasty rain and chilly wind and it equalled out to be quite the bg dip before the race started. I downed a ton of carbs but nothing seemed to bring my levels up so I started a lot lower than I would have liked.

Lesson: Think of ALL weather factors and basically be a came and pack all your food, super extra food, if possible.

3. Take lows in stride. It’s easy to get frustrated quickly when you look down and see your CGM says….

Lesson: Enjoy the experience and think of it this way: You are running a race. Some people would never get the chance to do this, yet here you are, feeling the buzz of thousands around you getting active and building a sense of community. STOP AND TAKE IT IN.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Running where the planes take off! How cool is that!? Source: Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

4. Okay, if I can help it, I rather pee in the bush than wait in line for the few port-a-potty’s that are out there on the course. I did not look as carefully as I had thought and when I crouched down a thorny needle-like plant went right into my inner thigh. Once I was done I quickly pulled up my pants and kept running but it hurt. A lot. Eventually it either fell out or I became numb to the pain. Either way…

Lesson: Pee carefully.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Overall, the race went well. I had to take some of my other neuro medication the night before (which makes me feel super lazy and feeling ‘hungover’ the next day) so I was thrilled with my efforts. And once I got into the groove… I took the time to stop and smell the roses.

XO,

Jess

 

Animas Canada has kindly chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM as I continue to train for triathlons, cycling and running events. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. Please read the full disclosure here

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Running on empty. Meter reliability in the cold.

My doctor: “Ditch the meter when you run.”

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My Contour USB meter has shown below 2 mmol/L (36 mg/dl) over a half dozen times mid-run these past few months. Once it said below 1 mmol/L (18 mg/dl), blog on that here.

I’m fully aware that meters are not 100 per cent accurate. 

The question: Am I really that low or is my meter being extra wonky in the cold?

  • I’ve tried pretty much everything to warm up my meter while running. Still reading bad lows.
  • Seems like no matter how many carbs I eat, I still can go really low when running. I don’t take any insulin with my meals before running (I’m on humalog-short acting insulin ONLY with meals, hello honeymoon!).
  • Often don’t feel my lows during runs (hard to tell with being numb/sweaty already). This equals danger.

Nurse says those dangerously low numbers could POSSIBLY be right and not the meter being off in the cold.

Times I’ve seen numbers below the 2’s (around 36 mg/dl) I usually pop 4-8 Dex 4 tabs. After 15 minutes my blood sugar is typically 4-5 mmol/L (72-90 mg/dl).

Tests afterwards/done running altogether don’t run high (over 10 mmol/L or 180 mg/dl).

My nurse said that means I just MIGHT be burning all those carbs and really that low. She said she’s seen people who have high functionality with such low numbers. At the end of the day, we don’t really know.

Narrowing down the problem

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My doctor and I tried testing my bg’s when I wasn’t running, at a time I knew my numbers would be stable. Test indoors, then put the meter outside, wait, and test again. It produced error messages.

New plan: Create a loop so every half hour I’m passing my house. Run inside. Test. Continue on.

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I’ve learned through this process that just ditching the blood prick accessories really messes with my head.

The plan was to run a slow, steady pace which I usually do, but I just couldn’t. Not feeling the weight of my diabetes stuff made me nervous. I ran faster, which meant higher bg’s. Pain crept up on my left side, which it usually does, and I ignored the pain and just kept trying to push. My foot was exploding with agony. I ended up limping and then walking parts of it. I was scared and just wanted to get home! I had glucose tabs on me but I hated that feeling of not having my stuff on me. I’ll have to get an extra meter to carry around with me when running even if I won’t use it.

Just changing the route and testing inside? Not as easy as it seems.

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Test 1: Run one loop. 

Pre-run 5.7 mmol/L (102 mg/dl). Lower than I’d like pre-run. I usually take carbs if I’m at this level but now I can’t remember if I did this instance. Pretty sure I did.

Post-run 7.2 mmol/L (129 mg/dl)

Test 2: Run two loops instead of one.

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Pre-run 10.2 mmol/L (183 mg/dl)

First loop: 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dl)

Second loop/run end: 6.4 mmol/L (115 mg/dl)

So does that prove the meter is wrong? Don’t know if there’s a concrete answer to that.

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There’s lots to learn, adjustments to be made and miles to run. Running is one of my huge passions and I refuse to give it up. It’s still early in the game.

So I come to you, more experienced #t1d athletes, what has been your experiences with winter running? I’d love to know your story and any tips. 

Every day I’m learning more about being active with type 1 diabetes. This journey has taught me to become more dedicated to my athletic goals and at the same time, to let go. No matter what I do, sometimes my bg’s are just not going to co-operate.  I’ve got to be okay with that. I’m pushing harder to reach certain achievements, but also learning to enjoy the process.

I have the ability to lace up my runners and go out on the road whenever I want. There are people who don’t have that luxury. That’s a perspective I’ve gained more and more after being diagnosed.

Yes working out can be difficult, but I can so I will.

See you out on the road,

J

Tips on winter running: 

  • Put your meter inside your glove. Keeps it much warmer.
  • Use the empty case of Listerine Pocketpaks to carry your test strips
  • ALWAYS carry some kind of fast-acting carbs with you
  • Wear some kind of medical identification
  • If you are running solo, leave your estimated time of arrival and route for a loved one. Also write down what you are wearing in case of emergency (saw this on Instagram, what a great idea!)
  • Let the people you train with know you have type 1 diabetes and the signs and symptoms of low/high bg’s

Scully gave me the first two great tips in a previous post. Thank you Scully! Check out her blog here.

Toronto ice storm diabetes photo art

Taken this morning around my neighbourhood.

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This post was inspired by fellow type 1 diabetic Scully. Her December 12 of 12-tiny things photo entry featured one unit of insulin as the focus, and it was amazing to see visually just how tiny a drop of insulin is.

Hope everyone is staying safe. Happy holidays,

Jessie

Testing your blood glucose while running

I assume those reading my blog have no issue with blood. But just in case it freaks you out…

1. Don’t hang out with diabetics

2. Ignore the photo below.

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I’ve been keeping up with my Runner’s World Run Streak (running a minimum of 1 mile every day from American Thanksgiving to New Years).

Today’s run proved bloody. 

It was a “feels like -11 degrees celsius” morning. When I hit the road at about 8:30 a.m. all was well. I got enough sleep, ate the exact same breakfast and was ready to go. Nothing out of the ordinary.

On Thursday I had a bad hypo at 2.7 mmoL (48 mg/dl) in all likelihood to overestimating my dinner carb count. However on Friday morning I was at 16 mmoL (288 mg/dl) before my morning gym session after breakfast. I usually float between 4-8 mmoL, so this 16 out of no where was very surprising and since my control is super tight, it made me feel very very ill. Don’t think I’ve been 16 since I was diagnosed. I also start to get anxious when I see anything above 9 mmoL (which is rare). I hope that puts into perspective as to what the 16 was like for me. My pancreas seems to be on the fritz. Maybe the honeymoon is coming to an end?

So fast forward to this morning’s run. Before I started I was at 7 mmoL (126 mg/dl). Perfect, exactly where I typically need to be.

I checked about 40 minutes into my 12km run (7.46 miles) and my Bayer Contour USB meter said it was too cold to test. I get frustrated with this because my OneTouch Ultra Mini had no problem in the same temperature. With my gloves on I held my USB meter for about 2 minutes and tried to test again. Finally it worked and I lucked out with solid blood.

2.2 mmoL (39 mg/dl).

Problem is I felt fine. Luckily I was carrying a nice full roll of Lifesavers so I started scarfing down about 8 of them. When it came time to test 15 minutes later, I just couldn’t get the meter to read my blood. As you can see, I tried as many fingertips I could muster. The blood came out watery. I tried letting my fingers dry outside my glove (which made my hands cold but that doesn’t matter really unless it’s extremely cold to the point of danger). It still did little and the blood came out “watery”. Testing on the palm? Tried it, still watery. The gloves came off for 5 minutes before testing and the blood was still coming out “watery” and my meter said it wasn’t able to read it.

I find it a bit difficult to get a good system going when testing. I’ve been trying for months now to test smoothly while running and although I’ve gone out well over a hundred times, it’s still awkward. This is what I use:

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  • SpiBelt to carry all my glucose stuff
  • 1 container of test strips
  • Blood glucose tester
  • Finger pricker
  • 4 Dex4’s
  • Insulin pen
  • Granola bar

I’ve tried many belts and this one sits the best on me while I run. I find no difference in how I can handle testing while running with this belt compared to others so I opt for the comfort of the SpiBelt when I’m out on the road.

My routine: 

1. Turn belt so the pouch faces forward, unzip.

2. Take out strip container, grab one strip, hold in teeth, put container back.

3. Take out meter and place strip in appropriate slot.

4. Hold meter in left hand and take out pricker and use with right hand and stab self (usually left index finger).

5. Switch meter from left to right hand and try to gather blood.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped strips, had my meter go flying and just overall got so flustered by the process. When I’m running for time or with a group I don’t want testing to be such a chore, and so awkward. I practice testing on treadmills and out on the road but I’m still not getting it. It doesn’t feel right.

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Here’s what I need your expertise on: 

What is YOUR method for testing while running? What has made it easier for you? Faster?

How do you make sure your blood isn’t watery? Today left me frustrated and when the blood wouldn’t stop pouring out I just left it to air dry (which made a few people look twice as they ran past me). I really want to make testing while running a lot easier but seem to be stumped as to what to do.

Happy winter running and your help is much appreciated,

Jessie

Recap: WDD & my first overseas trip with type 1 diabetes

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The night before my trip I was very nervous about flying. I didn’t want any complications going through customs and the thought of potentially ruining my vacation with delays just lingered around me.

This was my first vacation with type 1 diabetes and drumroll….I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Airport security: I took everything out of my backpack and had all my goodies in clear bags. I had my letter in tow and as suspected, my basket of needles was halted, reversed and brought through the conveyer belt. I carried a juice box with me and the security guard said, “You’re diabetic?”

“Yes, here’s my letter.”

She didn’t look at my medical note. She took my juice box, scanned it on that fancy machine which has a name I’m not sure of, and off I went. I was thrilled. I hugged my friend and said, “I did it!”. It was a huge sigh of relief.

I knew I was spending World Diabetes Day away from home. I didn’t know how to celebrate, all I knew is that I wanted to be peaceful and happy, and to reflect on this past year with lots of pride of what I accomplished.

Right before my trip I got this wonderful surprise from insulindependence. I had a big smile on my face when I read the handwritten note from Desirae.

World Diabetes Day

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My new t-shirt went right into my suitcase, as did my Connected in Motion race shirt.

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On WDD I donned both tops, wore my pin and celebrated with quiet thoughts about what transpired over the past year.

It has been definitely a rough and often dark time since I was diagnosed. However during WDD and for the rest of my trip, I felt rejuvenated and inspired. I’ve got big goals for my fitness and health this coming year.

I’m going to dedicate more time to weight training, train hard for my second half-marathon and try to find more ways to help other type 1 diabetics here and around the world.

As for my blood sugar levels on my trip, I had one low. That’s it. I floated around my 4-8 range as usual and felt great! I took next to no insulin because of all of the activity. I checked less (I’m usually pricking 15+ times a day), and it was wonderful! I think because of the setting I was able to relax about my diabetes more.

So after a week of relaxation, swimming with sharks and eating amazing tropical fruits, I’m back ready to push it at the gym. I’m ready to crush my health goals!

Suntanned and happy,

Jessica 🙂