Last week I ran my last race of the season, the Tel Aviv Half Marathon. And as I did in all of races I ran this year (4 half marathons, 1 marathon, 1 10k race and my first 15K race), I set a new personal record: 1:36:06.
The race was great and it was a great way to finish a fantastic period of running.
My progress has a lot to do with hard work and self-discipline, waking up early most days, eating correctly and living more of an athlete’s lifestyle than I ever have. It also has a lot to do with my coach who made me believe that I could do better and helped me get there. He also ran the last race with me, which helped me keep up the pace and break the PR I had set just a month earlier. (Thanks, Moshe.)
I have become a much better runner. But running with diabetes has not become easier. I still check my blood sugar throughout my training runs. And I still spend much of my races wondering if my blood sugar is high or low.
During the Tel Aviv half marathon I planned the run so I would take two gels. The first (my breakfast) after 3 miles and then another at around he 9 mile mark.
I started the race in the 120’s, a little lower than I like to be but not low enough to do anything about it. During the fist few miles I kept wondering if I should just take my gel. I decided to stick to the plan. I was running faster than I had planned and figured that as long as I felt good I shouldn’t do anything that I hadn’t planned (last time I did that it was a disaster).
So I waited and took the gel after 3 miles. I kept running, feeling strong. I took my second gel as planed but as always with much doubt and worry.
Jessica and the boys said they would be waiting around the 10-mile mark, near our home, but when I got there they hadn’t come. Jokingly, I said to Moshe “they don’t get up for anything less than a marathon.” (They actually had come out and waited, but when I didn’t show at the expected time, after ten minutes Jess thought they had missed me. They hurried to see me at the 12 mile mark.)
At this point the race started getting hard and I started wondering if I needed another gel or maybe I was high or maybe I was just fatigued from running a fast 10 miles. I kept on going.
Moshe urged me to pick up the pace and run the last miles faster giving it my all. I tried to tell him I was giving it my all even at the pace we were going.
I ran the last few miles totally by my self (although Moshe was still there). With my pain and my thoughts not very aware of the external world. I wondered what it was like running without a diabetic’s concerns. What would I think about if I weren’t so focused on whether or not to take another gel? I think that no matter how well, much and long I run, I will always worry about running with diabetes. Even if I were cured I’d probably still worry, that’s how much the fear is a part of me.
When I got home from the race very pleased with myself Jessica asked why I had ignored her and the kids when they cheered for me at the 12 mile mark. “You know we made a big effort to get there, couldn’t you have at least nodded, a slight wave, a bit of a smile? Some kind of acknowledgment?” she said.
“You were there? I totally didn’t see you.”
“Of course I was there, with three kids, a big blue stroller, all of us shouting your name and waving. We were practically standing on the course!”
Obviously, I was really lost in thought about that gel.