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
8 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
8 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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