Diabetic Afterthoughts on a Marathon

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It’s been almost two weeks since I ran the Rotterdam marathon. I took a week off of running to let my body rest and started running again on Sunday with an easy 5 mile run. I was so happy to be running again that I couldn’t slow down for the first couple miles, but then my body seemed to remember that it was still trying to get over the shock of the marathon. I’ve run a couple more times since and it seems my body is slowly recovering.

I’ve had enough time to think and rethink the marathon, trying to understand what I did wrong and what I could have done better. I made many mistakes the day before. I didn’t eat well and I kind of knew it at the time. I also know that my blood sugar must have been going low from early on in the race. There is no doubt I still have a lot of figuring out ahead of me because I’m far from on top of things. I know I need to fully understand what happens to my BS levels at different stages of the race.

I know I should feel disappointed in a way, since my goal was to run a sub 4 marathon, but the thing is that I don’t really care right now. I feel great.  I finished the race running strong and I felt good. It was probably the best running experience of my life and I have no regrets. After the Tiberias marathon I was pissed off at myself for the way I ran the race. This time I didn’t feel that way at all.  I don’t know if it’s because I ran a new personal best (shaving off 6 minutes) or because, just maybe, running is helping me come to terms with who I am — a 40- year-old type 1 diabetic.

Since my diagnoses I’ve tried my best to not let diabetes keep me down. One of the reasons I run is to prove to myself (and to others I guess) that I can still do anything.

But I think running may also be helping me (or forcing me) to come to terms with the fact that it’s not entirely true and, as Kris Freeman can tell you, things are a little more complicated when you have type 1 diabetes. Training is harder, eating correctly and running the race is harder. Even when you’re in the best shape of your life, things can go wrong and there will always be surprises.

My surprise came after 19 miles when my heart rate went crazy. (No, the monitor didn’t malfunction).

Now, after I’ve had time to go over the race in my head (and with the help of my Garmin on the computer), I understand what happened. It’s very simple, I went low. I know this because I checked my blood sugar when I got back to my hotel room, a half hour after the race, and my BS was 91. That may seem normal but it was 45 minutes after eating two dried apricots (during the 25th mile).

I haven’t given up on my sub 4 dreams. I’m planning on trying again next season, although I haven’t picked out the races yet. I’m sure I’ll succeed, but I’m also sure that the real success is in running the races. And I’ve learned that I should regard every race I run as a victory regardless of the final time.

***

Long distance running is a lonesome sport. But it takes a full support system to allow you to train and go to races. So here is a thank you to all the people who supported me during training (Jessica most of all).

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Carol

Congrats on your marathon PR!  What you said about first taking up running to prove that diabetes can’t hold you back, and then coming to terms with the fact that it is a factor, is so very true.  As a 43 year old T1, I can very much relate to that journey.   

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