The Wind and the Blood Sugar


I had set out to break my half marathon personal record yesterday, but things didn’t go as planned.  

My (running) week started off well with an early Monday morning interval workout. I ran well enough, taking into account that I ran 23 miles on Friday at a 7:50 pace. But during Monday’s intervals I had stomach cramps. I didn’t think much of it but when I got home, I started feeling terrible. My stomach felt like someone was ripping it out and my head started to hurt, too.  For 24 hours I couldn’t do anything but sleep. My blood sugar did surprisingly well throughout the day, probably because I didn’t eat anything.  

On Wednesday I felt a little better, and decided to run. I ran 7.5 miles, running the last 2.5 at a 7:15 pace, a little quicker than my half marathon pace. I was happy I did it but it felt much harder than it should of.

Thursday, the day before the race, I tried to be very careful with my food and checked my blood sugar frequently. I was trying to make sure my blood sugar wouldn’t surprise me on race day. But it did.

I set an alarm for 5:00 a.m., a half hour before I planned to get up, to check my blood sugar, just in case there was a problem. When the alarm went off and I tested myself, I was very surprised, my blood sugar was 220. I had a long time before the race, so I decided not to panic. I took some insulin and went back to sleep for a half an hour, well at least I tried. 

I got out of bed at 5:30, made coffee and checked my blood sugar again. It was 240. I decided not to take any more insulin and wait it out. I got myself ready to go and checked my blood sugar again. It was down to 190. 

Okay, I thought to myself, everything is under control

I got to the race area early, picked up my bib and chip and went out for a mile and a half warm up. I checked my blood sugar expecting it to be down but it was 187.

The race itself was a catastrophe. I started a little too fast but got into a good 7:15 pace, which I thought I could hold through the race.  I was wrong. I couldn’t relax about my blood sugar and couldn’t make up my mind when I should take my first gel. I decided to take it after 3 miles, but when I got there I decided to wait, scared my blood sugar was still too high. When I reached the 5-mile water station I decided it was safe to take a gel, which my body seemed to need.

As we got closer to the end of the park, towards the beach, I started to feel the wind. It wasn’t too bad and, working hard, I kept my pace up.

After six miles in the park we reached the beach and turned north for a mile. There was a strong southern wind pushing me uncomfortably from behind, so that I felt I needed to stop myself from running too fast. I knew that this meant trouble since we had to run back in the other direction.

When we turned around the wind was so strong I felt I was wrestling my way back. My pace dropped to 8:35. When we got back into the park I tried to get back into my pace but I couldn’t. I tried to keep up a decent pace thinking that maybe by some miracle I would get over it and save the race. At around the 11th mile, I felt terrible. I had no energy. I thought it might just be my blood sugar. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to stop. I decided I needed to check my blood sugar. It was 187. It wasn’t my diabetes it was just me. I had wasted another minute of the race and I felt dehydrated and fatigued. I continued running at a much slower pace than I wanted but my body wouldn’t go any faster. I finished the race running after 1:40:02. 

Feeling depressed and exhausted I went to the refreshment area. They were giving out all kinds of things that I don’t eat – fruit, cookies, and sugary drinks. There was also a beer stand from a local brewery giving away beer. Although I don’t usually drink beer especially not at 10:00 a.m, I decided to give myself a break. I canceled my temporary basal rate, bolused, drank my beer and although the day had not gone as I had planned, I tried to enjoy myself. After all, I did just run another half marathon.

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Catherine Price
10 years ago

Thanks Scott. My next race, in a month, is the Tel Aviv Marathon. This is the one of been training for, the one that counts.
I sure hope it will be speedy, or at least speedier than my last marathon.

Scott K. Johnson
10 years ago

Sorry to hear things didn’t go as you hoped. I’m sure getting sick earlier in the week wiped you out a bit.

But you did finish, and that’s something!

Here’s to a super speedy next race. 

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