On Tuesday I ran the Tel Aviv Nike Night Run for the 6th time. I knew I wasn’t going to set a personal record like I did the previous year and the year before, but being my first race since my surgery and my first race of the season (my last one was the Tel Aviv Half Marathon in March 2012), I felt like this was an important race. It felt like a test, to predict what my next year of running will be like. I signed up for this race the night before my surgery to give myself something that would motivate me to get back to running as quickly as possible.
I was anxious most of the day before the race. I checked my blood sugar obsessively and tried to drink enough and eat enough early in the afternoon so I would be energized and prepared for the race scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m.
I had arranged to meet some friends at 7:00 for a warm up, but by 6:00 I was ready to go, already wearing my Nike Night Run shirt (everyone is supposed to wear the race shirt). I checked my blood sugar again, and it was a little high – 172. I decided to take a small bolus, half the amount the pump recommended. I don’t usually bolus before I run but I was scared to start too high.
At 6:30, too nervous to stay at home, I decided to head out to the meeting place. On my way I was thinking about my hope to run the race in under 50 minutes. I didn’t think it was possible. But my running has been improving week by week and last week as part of a my first post-surgery 10 mile run, I ran 10k in under 49 minutes. So despite my doubts, there was a chance I could break 50 minutes.
Moshe, my coach, told me he thought I could run it in 47:30. That sounded reasonable, but secretly I hoped to run under 46.
When I got to the start area crowds were starting to arrive. 22,000 registered runners were participating in this years Nike Night Run (7,000 more than last year). I looked around me and thought how carefree they all looked. Not one of them seemed worried about their blood sugar. That’s when I remembered how difficult managing blood sugar is during a race. I checked mine again, 165.
My friends showed up around 7:00 and after a few minutes of talking we headed out for a mile and a half warm up. When we were done I stopped to check my blood sugar again. The 15 minutes of exercise had done their thing – my blood sugar dropped to 143 (that was my first Big Blue Test of the evening).
A few minutes later the race began. The first mile was incredibly crowded and I found myself running much faster than I had planed (6:58 minute/mile), trying to get away from the crowd.We headed toward the starting line trying to get as close to the front as possible. It was very crowded and I was getting increasingly nervous. I checked my blood sugar again, only 12 minutes after my last test. This time it was 183. The pressure was affecting my blood sugar. We waited for 20 minutes in the starting area, which had become jam-packed. I wanted to check my blood sugar again but felt like there was no room. At the last minute, scared of a drop during the race I took out a pack of GU chomps, ate two and gave the rest to my friends.
I slowed down a bit at the 2K mark but was still running at a faster pace than I had planned. At the half point mark (5K) I heard someone shout out 23 minutes. I looked at my Garmin – twenty-two fifty something. I kept going, trying to hold the pace but finding it harder to do. For a short time I thought I may be able to break 45 minutes but by the 6K mark realized it wasn’t happening.
I kept going, pushing myself. By the 8th kilometer I was running at my planned pace, a little under 7:30 minute/mile. I tried to run faster but couldn’t.
I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. My unofficial time was 45:51. I was exhausted but felt great. I was very happy with my time. I got my medal and some water and went to check my blood sugar again – 129 (another Big Blue Test).
I walked home quickly and when I arrived Tom, who was still awake, asked me how I did. I smiled and told him I did well.
“Did you set a new record?” he asked
“No” I said “”But I had a good race, better than I expected.”
I took a shower, ate a quick dinner and went to sleep, and totally forgot to check my blood sugar. In morning I woke up tired but in a great mood. My blood sugar was good, too – 77. My official time was good too – 45:42.