Diabetes Doesn’t Slow Me Down

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I did it!  I did it! I did it!  Yesterday I ran the Tel Aviv marathon faster than I ever thought I could.  The night before the marathon, however, I was certain I was going to have the worst run of my life.  To start off, I got very nervous although I’d done everything I’d planned to do. I ate two sweet potatoes for lunch and had an early dinner of chicken, quinoa and a small salad. I loaded up on carbs (relatively speaking). But unlike the previous time I’d done this, I had a very hard time covering it with insulin.  I spent most of the day high in the 200s. I’d eaten dinner early to avoid nighttime surprises, but when I checked my blood sugar before going to bed it was 205. I took an extra unit of Apidra and went to bed.

I didn’t sleep well; I never do the night before a marathon. I woke up at 3:00am and checked my blood sugar.   It was 264, and I was not happy. I decided to take another unit of insulin to try to get my blood sugar down to the 160-180 range.  I fell asleep for a short while but got up again a little before  4:00am (before my alarm). My blood sugar was 283. This was not good. I started to get ready for the race: got dressed, had coffee and at 4:45 checked my blood sugar again. It was 302. Panic!  I knew I couldn’t start a marathon at that level, so very nervous and unsure of my decision, I took another two units of insulin.  With the needle still in my thigh, I was cursing myself, sure I was making a mistake and that I would drop during the race.  But I didn’t know what else to do. By 5:05 my blood sugar was 264. It was going down, but was it dropping fast?  Was I going to be dripping in sweat before the race even began?  I didn’t know so I packed up my glucometer and took some halva (14grams of carb per snack) with me just in case.

I arrived at the starting area at 5:50 and met up with the rest of the members of my running group. I got there feeling disaster written all me. After all of my planning and training and I ended up injecting insulin right before the marathon.  Anticipating a hypo, I checked my blood sugar again. It was 280. I didn’t understand what was going on and I felt helpless to do anything but wait to see what would happen.

with Guy and Tom

Only three of the members of my group were running the full marathon.  Most were competing in one of the other events – half marathon or 10K. At 6:00am we started to warm up. It was the first time I’d warmed up before a marathon. I always felt it was a waste of energy. But as part of the group, I did what our coach said to do and ran a mile and a half before the marathon began. At 6:20 I went to the starting line and checked my blood sugar again.  It was 274.

The race started at 6:30 am. It was cool and cloudy and I started off much faster than I had planned.  The warm up had done the job and I felt good from the start. As I started to run, I totally forgot about my blood sugar issues.  It rained on and off a few times, which was invigorating. I tried to slow down but found myself running at a pace I’d planned to reach much later in the race. This continued throughout the race. I tried to pace myself worried I would crash into a wall at 20 miles, but I didn’t. I felt great. After around 21 miles I reached the 3:45 pacer (never thought I’d see him).  I asked him if he was really at the 3:45 marathon pace and he said he was. I couldn’t believe it, but I passed him and kept on running. I had taken my gels and my salt and I was feeling strong. The wall was nowhere in sight and I ran the last few miles at an increased pace. I crossed the finish line at 3:42:58.  I couldn’t believe it.  I still can’t.  Before the race, I felt like diabetes was going to get the better of me.  I felt handicapped.  But I proved to myself that I’m not.  Diabetes may frustrate me, and I may lose sleep because of it, but it isn’t going to slow me down.




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Comments (14)

  1. Michelle S at

    that is awesome!  I am so happy for you!  what a great time regardless, but I know how diabetes is the hardest part of running for me, so it is especially impressive to achieve such a time while trying to manage your sugars.  what were you at the end of the race?

  2. Michael Aviad at

    My blood sugar was 164 after the race – probably from the gels, and a few hours later (before eating) it was 113. I couldn’t bring myself to eat foe a few hours after the race I only had water and black coffee.

  3. Karmel Allison
    Karmel Allison at

    Congratulations! That’s amazing, and as a diabetic, I take personal pride in your accomplishment!  So is the next step making quals for the Boston Marathon? 😉

  4. Michael Aviad
    Michael Aviad at

    Thank you. Qualifying time for the Boston Marathon for my age (men) is 3:20 so I’m a long way away. But maybe if I can keep this pace up for 20 years I’ll qualify.
    But I am starting to think of what to run next.
    I’ll keep you (all) posted

  5. CAROLE at

    ur story came up on my google alert for diabetes.  congradulation!   a great role model for ur sons.

  6. Dee Ann at

    Congratulations on your great time?  I am fortunate enough to be running Boston next week(there is something good about getting older, qualifying times aren’t too tough to reach) and hope to have my blood sugar under control, the first time I ran Boston I finished with a BS of 340, second time 60 (over planning) so I am now on the Omnipod (which I love). On my long runs I always set a temp basal of -50% and take 2units with my grapenuts one hour prior. Boston you have to load bus at 7am and race doesn’t start till 10:30, so I take grapenuts with me (forgot milk first year, used water 🙂 ). Setting my temp basal at 6:30am for 9 hours, taking a syringe and small amount of insulin with me (since control for omnipod is so big, I will leave that at hotel) and a glucometer that I can throw away–we’ll see what happens.  Your marathon time is inspiring–especially if I am high at the start I won’t worry after hearing how well you did. We have to plan a lot for our runs, but that is what has kept me healthy–Running!!!!

  7. Michael Aviad at

    Hi Dee Ann,

    Amazing. I am a little jealous of you running the Boston Marathon. It is a dream. But it is also inspiring to know that others with diabetes can do so well.

    This marathon has left me wanting more. More marathons and better times.

    Best of luck to you.


  8. Kurt Bauman at

    Excellent job Mike!  I am extremely impressed with your running time.  I hope to get my time down one day but not sure it is in my genes.  🙂  Someitmes I wonder what it would be like to run without diabetes… I am humbled by all the older people I see, children, amputees, etc.  It is just another responsibility we have to take care of as runners and may be the fuel in our engine that keeps us going and inspires others with hurdles and chronic illness’ to keep going.  Never give up!  Keep running and inspiring and spreading your message.  Fantastic job!  I hope to see you at a marathon one day.

    All the best,


  9. Carolyn Ketchum
    Carolyn at

    Congratulations, that’s a wonderful time!  I wonder if anxiety was helping keep those sugars up?  I am not on insulin so I know it’s very different, but I’ve found that having slightly higher blood sugars on or before the day of a race helps my performance.  But I can understand your concern, it’s a whole different ball of wax when you go into the 300s. 

  10. Ilene Raymond Rush
    Ilene at

    Congratulations, Mike! A double victory — a great time with diabetes! Great work!

  11. Michael Aviad at

    Thank you all for your support – It makes it even better.

  12. Ariela M at

    Way to go Mikey!  Just read this now.  Tom and Guy are starting to look like runners themselves!  Maybe if they want to run with you that will raise your interest in a 5K?  -Ar

  13. Mandy at

    Hi Mike,
    What an inspirational story!  Congratulations on such an accomplishment!
    I found your blog through the Tudiabetes board while I was looking for tips on running my first half marathon this October, without my OmniPod falling off.
    Such a great story!

  14. Anton Kravchenko at

    I ask for your permission to post the link on this story,together with its Russian translation,on our marathon site.

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