Tel Aviv is normally a very hot place. The summer sun is brutal, and it’s humid, however, winters are relatively warm and comfortable with very few rainy days. But this year has been totally different. It is the worst winter we’ve had since 1992 (which was the coldest recorded winter ever). It‘s been cold and rainy for the most part since December.
The last week has been consistently stormy, and as Friday’s half marathon approached, what seemed like a great idea a month ago seemed not so great anymore.
But the weather is only part of the story. Since running the Tiberias Marathon I’ve felt like I just can’t get back in shape. I gave myself a couple of weeks rest and then gradually increase my mileage back to 45-50 miles a week. And for the last 2-3 weeks have been working on speed trying to get back to where I was before the marathon. But I just seemed to be slower than I was before. Well, at least that’s how I felt.
My coach, on the other hand, felt that I could do much better and when I signed up for half marathon at our local park (500 runners) he told me I should break 1:40. My pre-Tiberias marathon personal record was 1:45:12, and although I did set that record after running 7 miles before the race began, I didn’t think breaking 1:40 was realistic. I told my coach how I felt and that I thought he was totally off. So he told me to add a few seconds to each mile and run a 1:42 race, a pace I believed was much more realistic.
When I woke up Friday morning at 5:15 a.m. it was raining hard and from my window (on the fourth floor) I could see the tree tops blowing. I checked my blood sugar – 93 – and had some coffee. When I left home at 6:15 it was still cold and raining. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to run a race in that kind of weather.
I met up with a few people from my running group before the race for a warm up. I felt so cold that a “warm up” didn’t really seem possible. We ran 2 miles in the rain and went to prepare for the race. I checked my blood sugar (I had reduced my basal insulin an hour before the warm up) and it was 117, a little lower than I would have liked, but okay.
I headed to the starting line feeling much better than I had before, but with my head full of the usual “running with diabetes” worries: Is my blood sugar was high enough? Am I going up or down? When should I take my first gel?
When the race started I took off at a much faster pace than I had planned. The crowd seemed to force me ahead. I ran the first mile at a 7:30 pace. I kept going thinking that I should slow down but I didn’t. I suddenly felt better than I had since the marathon. I waited with the gel until the first water station at the 3 mile mark. I didn’t believe I could keep up the pace but decided to try and see what happens. At around the 4th or 5th mile I found myself running along a guy in a red shirt. I decided to keep his pace as long as possible. I figured he would probably take off at some point towards the end, but it was the other way around.
The only thing that could have gone wrong at that point was my blood sugar. I didn’t know if I was high low. High I could deal with but low…
So I took another gel out of my pack and squeezed it into my mouth. At the last minute I decided to spit half out. 12g of carb should be enough, I thought to myself.
With only 2 miles left I felt I could give it a little more. I increased my pace a little toward a 7:15 mile. I knew I was going to break 1:40 but as I approached the track where the finish line was I realized I was going to do much better than that. I pushed myself a little more and went around the track at what felt like a sprint. I crossed the finish line at 1:38:26 and my final time was even better 1:37:58.
I guess my coach was right.
My post run blood glucose was a little high – 239 – but I’m not complaining