A Rollercoaster of a Race


A few weeks ago, before running the Nike Night Run, I decided to sign up for a 15K race, the same one I ran last year. I didn’t think I would be running very well but after the good time I had last year, I decided it would be fun to do it again and that it would keep me motivated. I also really liked the race jerseys they were giving out.

For the last few weeks I’ve been running well and regaining my speed. What I haven’t regained is my stamina. I’ve been running 40-45 miles a week but have felt very depleted during my few longer runs (13 miles).

On Thursday I talked to my coach and told him I didn’t know if I should try to set a new personal record or just run for fun. He told me I should go for it.

I had it all planned out. Most of the race is flat but the first two miles, which are also the last two, are hilly with the second mile being a long down hill run on the way out and a (much longer) mile-long climb on the way back. So unlike most races where you start slow and speed up at the end (negative split) here most runners have a positive split, running the first half faster than the second.

But on Friday evening when I should have been getting ready to eat dinner, I received a call to report to my army reserve unit. It has been a while since I’ve been called up and I didn’t think it would happen again. Jessica cried as I packed my things. I decided to disconnect from my pump and go back to shots until I returned.  I left for my base an hour after receiving the call.

Many of the guys on my base were surprised to see me, thinking I had been discharged for good (Jessica had thought this, too). I went to work loading equipment onto Armed Personnel Carriers (APC). I checked my blood sugar a few times while there. It was high. I wasn’t surprised because I had no basal insulin. I took a unit or two and went back to work. At around 10:00 p.m. I finally decided to take 10 units of Lantus. We finished loading the APCs and most of the guys started to organize their personal gear. I waited around wondering what I should do.

At around 1:00 a.m. I caught my company commander and asked him why I’d been called up. He told me it was my decision whether to stay or go. I decided to go home.

I arrived at home at 2:00 a.m. and hooked myself back up to my pump. I hadn’t had any food all day so I decided to eat an apple before going to sleep. I was aware of the extra insulin in my body so when I checked my blood sugar (121), I took less than half the required bolus for the apple.

I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. planning to make it to the race.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with a cold sweat, feeling numb and dazed. I checked my blood sugar. I was low – 44. I got up and raided the refrigerator. I’m not sure what I ate exactly but I know I ate a lot of fruit. Then I went back to sleep.

My alarm failed to wake me and I woke up at 6:45 panicked because I had overslept. I was also totally exhausted.  My blood sugar was 212. I got up to go to the bathroom thinking I would return to bed. I actually set a 9:00 a.m. alarm.

But once I was out of bed I felt I would regret not running the race, even if I wasn’t in shape to run well. I had coffee got dressed and rushed out to meet my friends (those who had not been called up by the army). 

I arrived at the race area at 7:45 a.m. and checked my blood sugar it was 205. I met up with my friends and went for a mile and a half warm up. I checked my blood sugar again thinking it would be down to the 150’s, but it wasn’t it was 198. We headed for the starting line. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t reduced my basal rate. I did and then checked my blood sugar again.  It was back up to 209.

I quickly decided I would take some GU Chomps at the 5K water stop which I hoped was enough time to get my blood sugar down to run well, but not too far to plummet. 

I started the race much faster than I planned but, as always, had a hard time slowing down, especially when going down hill. After 5K I started feeling a little tired but decided to try and keep myself at 7:15 minute/mile. I had a hard time but did so up to around the 10th kilometer. Then I started to slow down.

When I reached the mile-long hill I really slowed down. I tried to speed up but I had nothing to give. At one point I looked at my watch and saw my pace was around 8:15. Sh*t I thought to myself, just give it a little more. I made it up the hill and started to run downhill, gaining speed. I tried to make up for lost time but couldn’t run as fast as I would have liked.  

Making a T1 at the Finish line

I crossed the finish line at 1:08:17. My blood sugar was 238.

I was happy to finish but was unhappy with the way I ran the race. I tried to tell myself that the after the events of the night before, it was lucky I finished at all. But that didn’t work (it never does).

When I got home I saw that my official time was 1:08:08, 46 seconds better than my previous time.  This made me feel a little better, but not for long.  The race seemed to have had a delayed effect on my blood sugar. After my blood sugar refused to come down all morning, I spent the rest the rest of the day chasing lows.

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10 years ago

I understand your frustration. I just ran my first half marathon since being diagnosed four years ago, and it was difficult to say the least. What I miss most about running without diabetes, is that “in the zone” feeling whereyou just run and feel it. This long run with the day a bit warmer than I hoped for had me chasing my blood sugar as much as the finish line, but you know what. I finished. and you finished and that really is what counts in running! great job!

Catherine Price
10 years ago

@Rob. I was diagnosed at 32, continued to serve for a few years until it became too hard. I never reported it officially although everyone in my unit knew about it. 
My diagnosis story is up here.

Rob Woolfson
10 years ago

Congrats on the new PB.  I was under the impression that Type1 diabetics were exempt from the army.  I presume that is why I never got called after making Aliya.  A friend of mine turned up at miluim after getting diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes aged 33, told his commander and got sent home immediately never to be called up again.

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