Training this season with Lumiere, my continuous glucose monitor

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WHYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?

My mind screams it in anger. On good days, I yell it half-laughing.

It is the question I ask myself when I ate enough carbs to feed a small army before my workout and yet, here I go, tanking into low blood sugar abyss.

falling

This happens for mostly cycling and running these days. It seems like sometimes no matter what I consume, my body sticks its tongue out at me and says “Oh yeah? Watch this”.

I have purposely set my low alarm alert a bit higher so that I can be notified even earlier to try and adjust and avoid the lows.

Bonus? Drinking Coke. Mmmm I love regular Coke.

Minus? Frustration. The quick reaction to blame myself. I need to catch these sooner and just trust that hey, I’m doing what I can, and that’s all I can ask of myself.

These lows have changed how I train in that I carry more fuel (I am a human camel).

This season I realized how much I miss running with nothing. Just carrying absolutely nothing. No snacks, no belt, fanny pack, hydration pack. NOTHING.

To combat this, I found a loop near my house where I can set supplies down in a safe area and run free! The loops don’t bother me as I zone out when I run so this works for me. As for Lumiere, I do put him inside my running arm band (which I’m fine with). I feel seeing the same thing over and over is worth it to run without carrying as much and feeling that lightness.

I know they have golf carts that follow people around. Wonder if I can get some kind of contraption that does the same? I could carry my water, glucose tabs, bars, tester, CGM, insulin.

Am I dreaming? Maybe. But it’s fun to think about it.

XO,

J

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

Let’s get physical: working out with a CGM

IMG_8456-1I’m off the market.

Officially attached… at the abdomen?

2015 is going to be filled with lots of races but with the added bonus of a continuous glucose monitor.

I did a summary of the Dexcom after a week trial last year in April. Read it here. Now I’ve got one- and am ready to train this season.

Any workout tips for a newbie to the CGM world?

 

New year. New season. New CGM. Let’s get started.

Xo,

J

Animas Canada has decided to support me in my athletic journey with a CGM. 

I believe in full transparency so I’ve made a disclosures page on my site which clearly states this sponsorship.

 

 

 

The Ottawa half-marathon countdown is on! Plus a 38-second video for Connected in Motion

 

This time next week I’ll be getting ready to head to Ottawa! The time has really flown by.

 

 

My left calf is hit and miss so we will just see! Some days, ultra pain, others, nothing at all. I’ll leave it up to the running gods. Either way I will cross the finish line. I’ll crawl if I have to!

Click below to read previous posts on my half-marathon:

My first Ottawa half-marathon training starts tomorrow

Double decker workouts. Half-marathon training update + Toronto’s Nike Training Club

 

I know I’ve put in the time and trained hard, so I’m hoping to improve my time from my first half-marathon. Out of everything though, what I’m looking forward to most is hanging out with some great people. Even if the run doesn’t turn out well, I will remember this…

My Ottawa half-marathon is to raise funds for an organization close to my heart. A big thank you to everyone who has donated! So many people have been so generous.

There are many of you whom I have never met and know me through social media. I cannot tell you how honoured I am that you have chosen to take your hard-earned money and give it to Connected in Motion through my fundraising campaign. Donations have come from the UK, USA, and all over Canada. A more detailed post on all who donated after the race!

Aside from Shawn Shepheard, I have never met any of these people in person. I hope that will change one day.

 

I hope to provide you with timely updates from Ottawa. In fact, I am planning to tweet throughout my run! We will be tweeting with the hashtag #TeamCIM so look out for it!

Again, so much gratitude to those who have donated. Every bit helps and I know the money will go a long way to provide vital programming. I have found confidence, education, friendship and peace because I belong to Connected in Motion.

If you’re interested in donating, please click here.

 

© t1dactiveliving.com All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Double-decker workouts. Half-marathon training update + Toronto’s Nike Training Club

How do you know when you’ve really reached your pain threshold?

With type 1 diabetes, that guessing game gets extra tricky for me. Is this shaking related to my blood glucose levels or is it because I’m trying really hard?

My left calf pain is alive and well. Sometimes I choose to run through it, other times I pull back and walk. The pain often subsides (or I go numb to it, not sure which one) but that’s now sitting at 4km-5km in. That’s one long warm-up. Epsom salt baths, tape, foam roller, stretching, I’m doing it all.

I had one long run (an 18km long slow distance run aka. LSD) where I had no calf pain and it felt SO GOOD. Then yesterday it was really ugly where I had trouble putting one foot in front of the other. Pain threshold-what are you trying to tell me? Really I throw my hands up to the running gods.

Aside from that, I’ve been trying to balance my other activities: cycling, swimming, weights, NTC app workouts, yoga. They’ve definitely decreased as the mileage has increased but overall, I think the variety has kept me strong and happy!

Blood glucose levels have been MUCH better. Long runs are always with a hydration pack. I slowly sip eLoad and that seems to be just the trick. I still get lows, but it’s not nearly as bad as this past winter. Although I haven’t gotten faster, I find dealing with less lows a big success. Less lows=less pain threshold guessing.

Tag team back again

This past week I also managed to get back into my free Nike Training Club classes at the Academy of Lions. Spots go quickly, so I was lucky to reserve 3 for the month.

 

That meant double-decker workouts. NTC class followed by my half marathon scheduled training runs.

 

 

As someone who works out solo, joining a class again made me see all the benefits of group workouts. It’s amazing how much longer I can hold a plank when my fellow classmates are counting on me.

Double-decker workouts definitely challenged me. It also gave me an indication of my pain threshold. I realize now I’m nowhere near hitting it when I’m exercising alone. I can push further. Now that I know that, I’ve got to test the limits and work harder.

NTC trainer Paluna Santamaria had me in such a state, drinking my post-workout coffee hurt. Turning the wheel of the car hurt. Thank you Paluna!

L-R: Fellow classmate Nerissa, NTC Trainer Paluna Santamaria & I

I never thought I could pull off back to back workouts like this. It takes me back to that Nelson Mandela quote I saw at hot yoga.

Thrilled with the progress, appreciative of the process, and so lucky to be able to move in whatever way I choose.

Beyond blessed.

 

Up this week:

What strangers don’t know they do-how two women I’ve spent less than 2 hours with have helped me in my d-journey

My first outdoor NTC workout & getting more comfortable talking about t1d publicly

 

 

 

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.

I’m going for Olympic gold with type 1 diabetes

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Who’s got Sochi fever? I certainly do.

When I hop on the bike or treadmill at the gym, I’m always watching to see who’s competing. In between stretches or while testing I’ll sneak a peak at who is up, giving it their all.

My gym has a great program going on, using the spirit of the Olympics to encourage people to reach for new heights.

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A series of exercises acts as an Olympic sport. For example, alpine skiing will consist of 5 exercises that work the muscles of athletes who do that sport. Complete the workout and you get points depending on how much you were able to do. Reach a certain level of points and you win a gold, silver or bronze prize.

I’ve learned lots of new exercises and have been sweating up a storm taking part. This challenge has thrown my regular routine out of whack, so I’m testing more at the gym and being more diligent in having post-workout snacks at hand (carrying more than one, I’m a hungry bear!).

This feels like I get to be part of the magic in Sochi, even if it’s for fun.

Are you doing anything active to commemorate the Olympics? Wearing your country’s colours or maybe taking part in something like this?

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Have a look at US skiier Kris Freeman’s Thank You blog post.

You can read my post “10 fun facts about Kris Freeman” here. 

Whatever you are doing to stay active, give it your all and go for gold. Don’t give up. Keep pushing and believe in yourself.

Testing between sets,

J

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

I’m a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic who loves to exercise. Welcome to my unpredictable world.

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When I found out I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the first thing I said to myself was, “I’m not going to give up my exercise regime!”

It was a shock to find out after 29 beautiful years together, my pancreas function wanted out.

First off, way to be a quitter. I’ve invested a lot in keeping you and the rest of my body healthy. What gives? Maybe I took you for granted. I took a lot of things for granted actually. I just assumed you and the rest of my body would just “work”. But I guess not. And secondly, stop coming back for short bits of time and then leaving again. Either you are in or out. I don’t like this wishy-washy fling we’re having. I don’t know why it’s called honeymooning. This is no honeymoon.

Okay, back to exercising and being a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic.

The biggest problem I face with any type of training is going low (the technical term is hypoglycemia). It has been a very long process and I am by no means at a point where I’ve found the answer on how to work out without going low. I do accept that no matter how much I prepare or try to prevent lows, they will inevitably happen.

In the year and some since I’ve been diagnosed I have been to hospital once over  hypogylcemia  involving exercise. I swam, biked and run much earlier in the day in training for my first triathlon and although I ate when I should have, I still crashed, and crashed bad. I was completely out of it and my run buddies drove me to the hospital. I didn’t know where I was, and apparently was saying on the ride there, “We are going to do swim drills now right?” I eventually came to, and was released the same night.

If you’re competitive and have a type A personality like myself, this whole process may drive you mad.

It’s important to remember the following:

  • This learning curve will teach you the great life lesson of patience
  • It will also teach you about acceptance and lastly…
  • Unless your livelihood depends on being an athlete, you’re going to need to calm down about PB’s

That is, just for the time being. This is absolutely NOT to say that you shouldn’t have goals for fitness. I have lots of them. And a quick Google search will prove that there are plenty of accomplished athletes who have type 1 diabetes.

It’s just that because you are newly diagnosed, your body is needing to adjust to everything. And it’s a process, a long one, and one that will try your patience and may have you in tears at times. But things will get better, I promise. It’s important to stay positive.

The basics to avoiding lows for me have been (after much trial and error)

  • Eating a substantial amount of carbs before working out (what is substantial, now enters the fun part, will again, be a game of trial and error)
  • Hydrating properly (I found I need to keep hydrated throughout, whereas before I could pound out 15km without a sip of water)
  • Taking in a steady stream of carbs via eLoad Endurance Formula in my hydration pack

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I usually mix the formula and water in a water bottle, then pour it into my hydration pack. eLoad Endurance Formula is light in taste so it’s not super sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the senses. 

  • Testing often (for me it’s every 1/2 hour)
  • Eating immediately after a run to replenish
  • Documenting what works and what doesn’t

What works for one diabetic may not work for you. I always like to try different things because you never know what might end up being something that gives you exactly what you need. And also, what works ONE DAY may not work the next. And that can be extremely annoying. If your pancreas is honeymooning that will cause a whole other host of fun surprises in terms of how much insulin you need/carbs to intake before/during/after exercise. What has worked for me is throwing my hands in the air and surrendering to the fact that things are probably not going to go my way.

It took a lot of work from my nurses, dietitians, endocrinologist and GP to help decipher the world of diabetes and exercise, but let me tell you, it’s all worth the blood, sweat and tears (literally!). I completely two triathlons and my first half marathon recently. It can all be done, I assure you.

I realize now there are many frustrations that I just had to accept:

  • Carrying all your supplies including your meter, lancet device, test strips, glucose tabs, food
  • Constantly calculating what you should eat, how many carbohydrates are in your fuel foods
  • Stopping for hypoglycemia or when you are feeling ill
  • Having your friends and family worry about you when you train
  • Listening to people tell you “take it easy”

Those were the major annoyances that I have (for the most part) come to accept. It’s completely normal to be annoyed by the way. I thought my feelings of being fed up was a sign of weakness but it is absolutely not. This disease is exhausting.

If you are afraid of exercising because of lows, remember this: consistent exercise is prescribed a lot to manage stress and to alleviate a host of illnesses. It makes you feel good. It helps you become strong. Always talk to you doctor before starting any kind of new routine. But remember, the benefits of working out, in my opinion, heavily outweigh staying stagnant.

Keep moving,

Jessica

Every runner needs to spend time at the side of the road

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Every time I cross the finish line I get a rush. A buzz. A natural high.

I’ve attended one race prior to today’s events as a spectator. But this morning I took it up a notch with my first experience “running people in”.

“Running people in” means being the personal cheerleader for your teammates as they complete the final stretch of their race. You can run someone in at any distance really. When they are drained with achy legs, it is your job to provide support in any way they need it.

After run club one morning I got into a conversation with two of my favourite fellow runners Margaret and Hazel. They spoke about the struggle towards the end of their last 10k race, and I offered to help “run them in” for this one.

As the gun went off, I stood at a visible spot cheering for everyone I did know but also those who I didn’t. I held up my neon pink sign which on one side read, “I’m a stranger but I’m so proud of you”.

When I saw Margaret and Hazel make the corner, I flipped my sign and yelled as loud as I could. “Margaret and Hazel’s #1 Fan!”

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They passed me in high spirits, and I then walked to the 7km mark of their 10k race. I eagerly awaited their arrival, and when we met, I felt a little nervous.

How many times should I say encouraging things and when do I stay quiet? Do I really push them or is my job to just accompany them?

In my own head during races it’s a delicate balance of self encouragement but also tough love. And since I’ve been diagnosed  with type 1 diabetes, it’s been hard to understand when my body needs to push or if pulling back is what I need to stay strong till the end.

So I stayed as quiet as I could, but every once and a while would try to encourage them both in whatever way I could.

Way to go! Keep going! We’re almost there!

Then I would sometimes try to distract them. “Hey look at that sign” “Isn’t the fall leaves pretty?”

For part of the run I carried the sign I made for them on my back. I ran in front of them, instructing them to look at the sign or my feet.

I remembered that during a nasty run in the dead of winter, my cousin was pushing me to keep up with him. It was blizzarding and we were the only ones out on the road. He ran in front of me and said, “Just look at my feet. Match my steps, and just focus.” It carried me all the way home, so I opted to give the same advice.

Hazel was looking strong towards the end and I was running with Margaret who was not far behind. Towards the end of the race, another runner from our club named Jack came and grabbed Margaret’s hand. She grabbed mine and together we crossed the finish line.

I had never felt that kind of joy after a race. I got no medal, and I ran 3km in total for the whole day. However when I saw how happy they both were to have made such a strong finish, I was elated. They both made PB’s too!

It was that, coupled with all the thank you’s from strangers this morning, that makes me confident that I’ll be out there again…not gearing for a PB or to complete a certain distance, but to be a cheerleader.

Thank you to all those who have ever come to cheer during a race. It’s time to pay it forward and do the same. Hazel and Margaret continually thanked me after the race but really, I should be thanking them. They gave me such a positive experience and I’m grateful to have had the honour of running in two wonderful friends. I’ll never forget it!