It’s Almost Tri Time


This morning marks two weeks until the Black Diamond Multi-Sport Weekend here in the Seattle area.  I decided to participate in this sprint triathlon about two months ago, after attending the Sports and Diabetes Group Northwest summer workshop.  I was so inspired by the people I met that evening and so determined to overcome my own feelings of fear that I jumped on my computer and found the infamous Course Description page.  After reading and rereading the paragraphs of euphonious terminology describing the planned course, I was committed.

Encouraging words from fellow type 1s + “quiet country roads” = Emily is convinced she can do a sprint triathlon

It probably goes without saying, but I have never done a sprint triathlon before.  Or any other kind of triathlon.  I have run one 5k… about two years ago… after training for months with my brother… and finished somewhere around 44 minutes.   Running, you see, had not been a regular part of my life until pretty recently, and biking played an even smaller role.  Swimming, however, has been more of a staple.  Everyone told me, “If you can swim, you can train for a triathlon.”  So, here I am.

Editing an earlier draft of this post before heading out for a run

When I ran the 5k with my brother, we had three goals:  to run the entire time; to finish; and to have fun.  I have the exact same goals going into this race and I’m feeling more confident than ever that I can actually do this.  My times have gotten faster and faster and I’m feeling pretty secure with each separate segment of the triathlon.  I still feel nervous when I try to imagine doing the three full segments back to back, but triathlon veterans assure me that race-day adrenaline kicks in and you get it done.  Perhaps I’ll have to take long bathroom breaks during the transitions.

Here’s the breakdown:

1)      Swim .5 miles in a very cold lake

2)      Run down a trail to the “transition zone” (giant bike rack)

3)      Ride 11 miles’ worth of quiet country roads on my coworker’s bike

4)      Run the bike back into the “transition zone”

5)      Run 2.8 miles

Don’t worry; I still have two weeks left to train.  Everything will be fine.

You may have noticed that I’ve written plenty about the triathlon conditions and very little about my own diabetes conditions.  That’s because I just don’t know.  When I first started training two months ago, I printed off a training guide that I found online (and have grown to l-o-v-e).  I’ve followed it almost exactly with hopes of monitoring my blood sugar every step of the way until I arrived at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:  a perfect plan for how to treat my diabetes on the day of the race.  Well, it seems the diabetes leprechauns are just as crafty as their unaffected peers, because I come before you with no such plan.   I have read all of Michael Aviad’s blog, I have kept reasonably good data on my “before” and “after” work-out numbers, I have asked my few type 1 friends for their strategies, and yet I still find myself reaching frantically for glucose tablets or regretting the high-carb meal I had hours before a run.

My short list of conclusions:

–Swimming drops me low (drop of at least 60 points after 15-minute sprint)

–Biking does almost nothing (unless after swimming, when my body is still trying to recover)

–Running does nothing some days and drops me up to 30 points other days (with relatively similar conditions and no obvious explanation)

With all of my researching, though, this state of confusion appears to be par for the course.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that affects each person differently, and differently each day.  Or hour.  Or athletic activity.  I will use my short list to make some basic preparations, and then have tons of back-up.  I’ll be sporting my new Medical ID bracelet, I’ll be testing at all possible pauses, I’ll be popping glucose tablets, and I’ll be sprinting toward the finish line food tent.

By the way…  New running shoes two weeks before a race:  good idea or bad idea?

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Michelle S
Michelle S
12 years ago

Good luck!  I ran my first races this summer and at the finish line was shocked by how high my sugar was (compared to when I trained and would drop).  I believe it was the adrenaline and excitement.  So for my third race I didn’t boost my sugar before, like I would for a practice run.  I had dates in my little pocket in my running pants in case I needed a boost and I wore my continuous glucose monitor so I could keep an eye on my sugars.  I kept my sugar just a little above normal range for… Read more »

12 years ago

Emily – I am really proud of you for pursuing all of these activities with such passion.  New running shoes will be fine as long as they are good ones and you have a few days to break them in.  Thanks for us keeping us back here in Columbus up to date.

Aunt Karen
12 years ago

Hi sweetie! I found your journaling fascinating, I like the way you’re explaining to us how unpredictable all of this is, even though you’re tracking and keeping the numbers. I’m very glad that you’re taking on this challenge surrounded by others who enjoy the same contest and can help you. As to the running shoes, I’d say keep the ones you’re comfortable in – unless your old ones are worn out or you’ve had plenty of time to break in the new ones. Just saying! That’s been my experience. Thanks for updating us with your easy-reading style all the while… Read more »

Catherine Price
12 years ago

First, let me say that I think it’s very cool you’re going to do this sprint. I envy triathletes. I’m a very poor swimmer and find biking boring. one day though I hope to do a triathlon. If things don’t go as you plan don’t worry about it. I’ve read that nerves can make BS can go high (don’t load up on insulin if it does). Regarding shoes. my NB running shoes ripped a week before my first marathon and all I could get was a different model NB shoe (993). I only ran one 3 miles run a few… Read more »

Jessica Apple
12 years ago

Wow!  Go, Emily!!!  The running shoes will probably be okay…

Chris Tracy
Chris Tracy
12 years ago

Emily, this is way cool!!!  Best of luck to you and you are sorely missed at FNB in Austin :(.

Dr. Margaret A. Morris
12 years ago

Good luck! I can’t imagine swimming in a cold lake in Seattle– so thanks for writing about it and letting me live vicariously through you :)
I’m impressed with your analysis of blood sugars before and after each leg– I think it’s really smart to have at least a good starting point for what to expect, even if on race day itself things may be different.
Have tons of fun!

Laura Wilson
Laura Wilson
12 years ago

I love you!  You are such an inspiration.  I know…you’re not doing this to be an inspiration.  But that makes you even more of an inspiration.  (Okay, now I’m just trying to see how many times I can type inspiration).  I’m so proud of you!  Miss you much.

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