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.

2013 Year in review fitness goals. Did I meet them? Plus my promise for 2014.

I had three fitness goals for 2013: complete two mini triathlons and my first half-marathon.

It was pretty ugly at times, and there were moments where I wanted to throw in the towel (and toss my meter into the lake and never look back), but I pushed through and got it done.

Being able to do these events during my first year and some after diagnosis mean more to me than my university degree or any promotion I’ve gotten too.

 

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Why? Because the past few years have been the toughest of my life thus far.

I found out about multiple health challenges and with that came the stress, the worry and the realization of how precious life is. It also meant coming to terms with how I lived my life up to this point. It was and is really, really tough.

It was a smack in the face about every aspect of my life.

A quarter life crisis on steroids.

After all the hospital visits and endless doctors appointments, it seemed as though the universe was saying that my body was simply faulty.

As things got worse, I started to look at training differently. A gym session wasn’t just a time to get sweaty and have fun, it was a part of my day where I felt in control and in charge. Getting stronger and faster showed me how powerful I was. And instead of my body being ugly and riddled with defects, I saw how beautiful I could make it. I could turn myself into a well oiled machine and the things I did this year, blew me away.

I completed all my goals by the fall, so I decided to tackle Runner’s World magazine’s Run Streak Challenge. Run 1 mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Years. I haven’t missed a day, and this morning, I silenced my doubts about hitting my 9 minute/mile goal with this:

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So 2014, I will start with the Inches Challenge at my gym. It’s time to devote myself even more. I’m ready.

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And with Nike’s #WeRun2014 challenge. 100 miles in the first month of the year.

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The distance seems scary, but so are a lot of other things. I can do it. And YOU can do whatever you set your mind to. If there’s anything I learned this year, it’s that fear can rob you of your dreams and the life you want to live. So proclaim your fitness goals for next year.

2014: 

  • #WeRun2014
  • Complete my gym’s inches challenge
  • Complete the Ottawa half-marathon
  • Complete 150km MS Bike ride (my first long distance ride)
  • Get over fear of lake swimming (so I can do more triathlons)
  • Volunteer more at events/programs that promote physical activity

I’ll be here, writing next year around this time, about how I accomplished the above. And you will too with your goals.

In the spirit of hashtags…

#letsdothis

J

 

 

 

Count me in: My first Nike Training Club class at the Academy of Lions

 
Count Me In

 

I was surfing around last week and discovered that there are FREE Nike Training Club classes in Toronto.

Switching up the old routine is never a bad thing in my option. Your body gets a little out-of-the-ordinary shock. New environment. Different people. Right price. Count me in.

RSVP’ed on Facebook If you want to give these classes a try, RSVP early, they fill up fast. 

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The classes available in Toronto are held at the Academy of Lions, a fitness facility that houses some pretty mean crossfitters.

(FYI: I have never done a crossfit workout.)

I’ll have to admit I was a bit intimidated by the setting. And I knew no one.

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Enter our NTC trainer Paluna Santamaria. She’s been leading NTC classes for 6 months and has been a personal trainer for 10 years. Her directions were clear, enthusiasm was way up and she demonstrated a lot. Modifications were given often (and I took some of them as my butt was getting kicked).

After a nice warmup, all of us lined up into rows and did all kinds of sweat-filled moves. Line by line we tackled burpees, sprints, high-knee jumps and all sorts of fun stuff. At one point we split into two groups, half of the class would stay in a low squat while the other would be football shuffling. Ab burn? Check. There was a lot of that too.

I chit chatted with a few girls and overall, the atmosphere was quite friendly. What was most rewarding for me though was the applause my classmates would give to each other without direction.  It was a nice booster that kept me going when I really felt like hitting the floor for a good nap.

Taking a class like this was pretty hard for me on a mental level. Since being diagnosed I’ve been very careful as to what type of training I do. My blood glucose levels have gone wacky for different kinds of workouts (leaving me feeling very ill) so I was apprehensive.

After class I was able to open up to Paluna, who, by the way, was lifting herself up effortlessly (that’s how it looked anyway) at this bar contraption. I kind of stood and watched in awe. Asked if I could take her photo and she held herself up there for a crazy amount of time. 

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“I want people to move more. We are designed to move more than we think we are,” she told me after class.

I didn’t go into great detail but told her about how I was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease aka. type 1 diabetes and how I really made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let one of my organs dying deter me from reaching my fitness goals.

She hit the nail right on the head for me when she said this:

“Some people feel ashamed when they are ill. They don’t feel confident in approaching instructors. They (instructors) are happy to help you.”

My eyes kind of lit up because I knew exactly what she was talking about and I think a lot of others do too. At first I found the act of having to “confess my condition” very difficult. I knew in order to exercise I had to let people know for safety reasons, but in the beginning, the whole process was mentally draining.

I personally think it’s very important that those around you know your condition. For me having a medical ID bracelet just doesn’t cut it. The more people that know, the better off you are. People can see the symptoms sometimes before you can.

For me, some of my greatest support has come from the people I “had” to tell like members of my run club or trainers at the gym.

“More movement is good for your body and good for your health. You just have to understand your condition.”

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It was then that she explained the story of one of her clients. He’s 82 years old. He’s blind. He suffered a heart attack. And you know what? Even after his ticker episode, he made the effort and was present for his training session with her. He couldn’t do everything fully, but he showed up, and he gave whatever he got.

Paluna says it’s that kind of attitude and outlook that can make your body and mind so strong.

For me, making through the session feeling good and with great bg’s gave me a lot of confidence.

So, I will declare this now: Every day I will push myself to get stronger and faster.

Blood, sweat and tears (quite literally!)

Jessie

*I wrote this review to document my first NTC class. I was not compensated in any way by Nike, the Academy of Lions or Paluna Santamaria.

 

 

 

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

My ScotiaBank Waterfront Toronto Half-Marathon Race Report

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You: This entry looks long. What is it really about?

Me: This is a race report, summarizing my training, but more importantly focusing on actual race day. It explains what I learned, what went wrong, and what I should certainly do again. It’s meant to be a personal guide so my next race will be even better. This was my first half-marathon, done a year and three months after being diagnosed with t1d.

I hope this will help other newly diagnosed type 1’s on their fitness journey. You can do any distance you want, any race you want. It’ll take a lot of prep, but anything is possible. Don’t let your broken pancreas stop you from anything.

Goal: Complete the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon feeling good!

Goal completed? YES! Finished in 2:39:10, no medic tents and great bg’s *happy dance*

Lessons learned: 

  • Cross training is essential for running or any other sport you decide to do
  • Be patient. Really patient. What works one day won’t work another day. Enjoy the little victories and don’t dwell on the bad numbers or yucky runs. If you have a type A personality like me, this will really drive you up the wall. Stay strong!
  • Don’t listen to anyone else. Only you know your body. Everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing and many times those people don’t have your disease and don’t know even know what type 1 diabetes really is anyways. So smile, say thank you (because they mean well), and in one ear…out the other.
  • Plan for sick days/weeks and allow enough wiggle room in your training to rest and recover if need be
  • Don’t eat/drink ANYTHING new on race day, stick to what you know
  • Warm up. I preach this all the time and yet on race day, I did not do this. I could have saved myself 3km’s of grief.
  • Bring clothes you can throw away after you get warmed up
  • Be prepared for your bg’s to do anything they want to. I was so surprised at how many carbs I consumed. My body was just burning up everything. In future I need to carry a lot more with me
  • Bring your support team. At the end when you are really drained, your support team cheering will carry you home.
  • Write race report RIGHT after the race or you’ll forget the details

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How I got to the start line (aka. training): 

Before I started training for the half-marathon, I was coming off of my first two try-a-tri’s (that’s a mini triathlon 400m swim-10km bike ride-2.5km run) that took place at the end of July/early August. Prior to that, I took part in an triathlon training clinic that had me exercising about 5 times a week (on top of my usual weights at the gym, roughly 3 times a week).

Since I had never done a triathlon before, my body was definitely feeling strong and getting solid from all the cross training. I believe this provided a great base for me. By working other parts of my body aside from running muscles, it made me a better runner.

Key Lesson: Everything is Connected. 

After the two triathlons I felt like I needed to play catchup. The half marathon clinic my friends were part of was in full swing and I had missed a significant portion of it. I ran on my own and tried to follow a general schedule. I was frequently going low and remedied the situation by taking no insulin prior to runs and 50 per cent less post runs. I got to this after many long meetings with my team at the hospital and LOTS of trial and error. LOTS.

I eliminated hill training and speedwork as after many attempts, it just made me feel sick. My numbers would spike and since I have a really tight range of bg’s at the moment, it made me go high and I would feel like vomiting. One scary run took place when I tried to attempt a faster-than-a-jog 3k. I upped my speed just a tad (I miss running at a faster speed since being diagnosed) but by the time I made it home I fell to the floor and was dry heaving in a dizzy mess. That was my tipping point where I said enough is enough and to just not push too hard. I have a hard time giving myself a break with these things so that was a huge breakthrough that my goal should be to have fun and enjoy the process.

Capital F for Frustration

I found it extremely frustrating and at times, I just wanted to take off my running shoes and hurl them into the air (but I didn’t. Because I love my running shoes. And they are expensive). Sometimes I felt like all I was doing was going in circles. Test, eat what I thought was a lot of carbs pre-run, run, test, felt dizzy, thinking “am I low or just tired?”, stop, test…

I’m tired from just writing it out. Let’s just get it out there. When I ran on my own I broke down. A lot. All I wanted was my body to just co-operate. But no. My pancreas was like Newman from Seinfeld, coming in and disturbing me at the most inopportune times.

As I was and still am in a type of honeymoon phase (that’s when your pancreas is still working somewhat, and it’s never consistent), it made it even more difficult to calculate my insulin and how many carbs I needed for each workout.

What’s worse is that I was dealing with the post frustrations of guessing three different kinds of exercise for the triathlon. I think my patience was running out.

Correction, I KNEW my patience was running out.

Go away flu. No time for you. 

Then came the flu.

It was my first time getting the flu since being diagnosed. It seemed to have lasted three weeks.

Realizations include: not all medicine is carb free, it takes much longer to recover from the flu, my blood glucose levels were significantly higher and dehydration can creep up on you, so drink lots of water.

It was a huge interruption to my training. I tried a few times to run and push my body but it wasn’t having any of it.

Finally I came out of it but by then there were only a few weeks left before the half.

I did some long runs running a lot slower than I would have but I managed to get them in so hurrah!

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Race Day: 

Woke up around 5:15 a.m. as I had to be on the bus by 6:30 a.m. I ate my usual breakfast (coffee with two stevia packets and almonst milk, one slice of gluten-free toast with almond butter, with chia seeds sprinkled on top).

Disclaimer: if you don’t want to hear about digestion issues, please skip to Start Line. 

Before I left the house I went to the washroom as usual. I was happy! Typically for races I get nervous and can’t go. However by the time I got down to the race site I had to again. And again. It was not fun. I was happy that my system was empty however I was worried that this pattern would continue well into the race. Luckily it didn’t.

Start Line. 

Stayed near the 2:45 pace bunny as I thought that would be a realistic time to follow. I was estimating I would finish around 3  hours if all went well (so my final time was a surprise!). Bonus: it wasn’t too cold.

The first 3k were so painful. Because I didn’t warm up and it was slightly cold, my calves just seized up. I could barely keep up with the 2:45 pace bunny and I just kept thinking to myself, “I don’t know how I’m suppose to run a half marathon. This hurts too much.” Luckily my legs got warmed up and I was able to keep going.

Never try new things on race day

Was feeling fine, testing and downing Gatorade at each stop including water, which worked out wonderfully. Again, I didn’t take any Gatorade during training runs. I also downed a PowerGel having never tried it before. I now realize this could have caused some major gut rot.

13k my right knee started to feel very painful. It got to the point where I was hobbling on it. It was hurting with every step. I don’t know if I eventually became numb to the pain or it went away, but either way, I worked my way through it.

The last km was such a rush. I got a bolt of energy. I saw my Connected in Motion friends first! I gave them both sweaty hugs. Then I saw my cousin, then some run club friends. I was on a high! I sprinted the last stretch and was so happy.

Post race I had a banana, and half a can of Coke and my numbers were still good. I was afraid of going low before bed so I ate a lot and was subsequently high but I think it’s worth it going to bed at 13 after your first half when you don’t know what on earth will happen as you sleep. I’d take that over having a low.

I’m not sure if I’ve covered everything but this is what I’ve got so far. If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck on your fitness journey and let me know how you exercise with t1d 🙂

Race Day bg summary (mmo/L)

*food/water times are mostly guessed for actual race time

5:24 a.m. 6.4 wakeup/before breakfast

-1 coffee w/ two Stevia packets, almond milk

one slice gluten-free toast with almond butter and chia seeds sprinkled on top

7:00a.m.

-one granola bar

8:28 a.m. 5.4 (last check before race)

-ate another mini Lara Bar

gatorade and water

chocolate PowerGel

10:12 a.m. 5.2

-gatorade and water

-ate mini Lara Bar

11:20 a.m. 5.7

-Lara Bar

-gatorade and water

12:13 p.m. 6.6

-banana

-1/2 bottle of Coke (tasted so good)

1:22 p.m. 6.8 (before lunch)

-gyros wrap, french fries

-50 per cent less insulin

4:03 p.m. 5.8 (after lunch)

6:09 p.m. 4.7 (before dinner)

9:26 p.m. 6.7

-I can’t remember but must have ate up a storm

11:56 p.m. 13.6

Next day 5.6 morning bg

Please share with me your race experiences. Thanks for reading