Running with Diabetes is Complicated


After Tuesday’s race success I was excited to run my first serious distance since my surgery, 13.1 miles – a half marathon, this weekend. I know there isn’t much difference between 11 and 13 miles, but there is something symbolic about it.

Jessica was out of town and so I had the kids sleep at my mother’s (something they always seem to want to do) so I could wake up early and run.

Normally, any distance under 20 miles wouldn’t make me want to prepare in any way. But, this time was different I was excited and nervous and wanted to continue the good running I’ve been experiencing.  I knew I may be a little fatigued since I was just after a race, but two days rest (no running at all) and what seemed like a not over ambitious running plan, made me feel confident I would run well.

So on Thursday night, I ate a good dinner and went to bed relatively early. I felt a little wired and had a hard time falling asleep. I thought maybe my blood sugar was off so I tested my self, but it was fine (mid 90’s). I finally fell asleep a little after 11:00 p.m.

My alarm woke me at 4:15 a.m. I had a very hard time getting out of bed.  I felt like I couldn’t move. I attributed it to the early hour. It took me a few minutes but I did get up. I went directly to the coffee machine and made my morning cup. I checked my blood sugar and was shocked to see the results, 238. I realized why I felt so bad; I had gone low during the night.

Had I not arranged to meet some friends and had my run been shorter I probably would have postponed the run by a day. But the idea of doing this all again and running for close to two hours by myself made me stick to my plan.

I got ready to go and checked my blood sugar again, a half hour after I woke up, it was 232, I waited another 15 minutes and checked again right before leaving – 201.

I ran a mile to the meeting point and checked again, as expected my blood sugar dropped, it was 169. While testing and thinking about my blood sugar I realized I had forgotten to set a temporary basal rate, so I set it quickly to the usual 30%.

I apologized to my friends about the delay and explained that I had had a hard night and that I would have to test my blood sugar often during the run. The guys I run with don’t know much about diabetes but are cool about it (some have actually learned a lot about running with diabetes because of me).

I was supposed to run the first 7 miles at a comfortable pace of 8:30-8:35 pace and then take it up a notch every 3 miles, to an 8:00 minute/mile and then a 7:45 pace.

I realized early on in the run that this plan was a little unrealistic but decided to try and stick to it anyway. The first 7 miles went according to plan but I did not feel all that comfortable with the pace. I stopped after the 3rd mile to test again. The dropping ad continued and I was at 106, only 16 minutes after the previous test. I ate 4 GU chomps (half a bag) and continued my run. I stopped a few more times to check my blood sugar and the Chops seemed to have done the trick, keeping my blood sugar in the 130’s. 

When it was time to speed up I did but it wasn’t easy. Usually I need to hold myself back running a little faster than the assigned pace. This time I was struggling to keep it up, but succeeded in running 3 miles at a 8:00 minute/mile.

My legs felt heavy and tired, as if I were at the end of a not very successful 23-mile run. But I decided to try and stick to my plan but after a mile and a half realized I just couldn’t and that trying would probably do more damage than good.

I ran the rest of the distance at a slow pace, suffering, but determined to clock the miles. I got home happy I had finished the run. Surprisingly, I wasn’t upset or annoyed it hadn’t gone as planned. It was just another reminder that running with diabetes is complicated.

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