The Highs And Lows Of Carb Loading With Diabetes The Day Before A Marathon


On Friday morning Jessica and I said goodbye to the kids and headed out for the airport on our way to Milan. I was on my way to run the Milan City Marathon and Jessica was on her way to make sure I was okay.

We arrived Friday night, checked in to our hotel and went out to eat. We enjoyed a good bottle of wine and a relatively low carb dinner (I ate a steak), went back to our hotel and went to sleep early. 

Saturday, the day before the marathon was supposed to be an easy day of relative rest. I had to go to the Marathon Expo to pick up my bib and chip and I planned on eating a carby lunch. Then I thought I would hang out in the hotel reading and resting my legs before the run.

We woke up at around 9:00 – very late for us – and headed to the expo at about 10:00, a mile walk from the hotel. The Expo was crowded but fun. There were stands for all kind of organizations and companies from Mizzuno running shoes to Rio tuna fish.

While at the Expo I got a call from some of my friends who were also in Milan for the marathon. I told them I would drop by their hotel on my way back. I thought their hotel was right on the way back to our hotel but we ended up walking a good 2 miles – much more than I’d intended on the day I was supposed to be taking it very easy.

For lunch we went to a nice trattoria and although I don’t usually eat pizza or pasta, I decided it was the right thing to do before the marathon, and ate both.

The food was fantastic; I had forgotten how good real Italian food was. I bolused way more than I’m used to, hoping my blood sugar wouldn’t go crazy high.

At first my blood sugar seemed to be fine.  It went up to 250, and I was happy it didn’t go much higher than that, thinking hey this pasta and pizza thing is totally doable.

But then my BG got stuck.  It didn’t come down from 250. I bolused a few more times correcting with the “wizard” on my pump. I went back to the room to rest, while Jess stayed out to walk around and look around the shops (we were in Milan, after all).

I spent an hour or so in the room nervous about the marathon and my blood sugar that seemed to not want to come down from the 220s. Then called Jess and told her I needed to go out for a walk.  We met outside and walked towards the Duomo, a very short distance from our hotel. On the way we saw the Ferrari store (not the car dealership), Jess wanted to go in and see if we could find a toy car for the kids, I was grumpy but agreed to go in.

We walked in and were assaulted by loud, annoying music. I instantly hated the place and insisted we leave.

When we got out I still felt terrible.

“Wait,” I said to Jess. “I better test my blood sugar.”

It was 60.

“Let’s go across the street and get you something to eat,” Jess suggested, pointing at a not very nice looking café.

“No,” I said.  “Let’s find something nicer,” I said.

“You need something now,” Jess said. She took my hand and started towards the café.

Understanding she was correct I let her lead me to café where I chose a raspberry tart. It tasted so sweet. I couldn’t believe it.


The tart did the trick and my blood sugar shot up. It also gave me heartburn. 

We walked to the Duomo but once we got a decent glimpse of it I asked Jess if we could go back to the hotel.  I felt like shit.  

We had an early dinner. I ate chicken. No carbs, no veggies and no sauces. Then I prepared my things for the marathon and went to bed early setting alarms to check my blood sugar.  Jess asked for wake up calls throughout the night as backup.  She answered them and then woke me to check my BG.  Between my alarms and the phone calls, we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.   But Jess did say that a cheerful call from an Italian in the middle of the night is much nicer than a blaring alarm.  In fact, she didn’t mind being awakened all that much. 


Coming soon: Marathon Morning.

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Scott K. Johnson
9 years ago

I agree with Scully – I’m glad Jessica was there and taking such good care of you. It’s sometimes so hard to know what to do before exercise. We have the added challenge of trying to figure out what our bodies need for fuel AND how to manage our BG’s around it. No easy task.

Can’t wait to hear how the race went! 

Catherine Price
9 years ago

Thanks Scully. I’ve learned my lesson with the carbs – from now on pizza and pasta are strictly a post race treat.

Chris Scully-Brown
9 years ago

Gosh it sure sounds like you have a loving and caring wife!
That’s SO sweet, she takes such good care of you.

Next time? maybe not the crazy carb load frenzy :P 

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