I broke two personal records yesterday – my half marathon record and my blood sugar record (since diagnosis) and both are big disappointments to me.
The day started at 4:00 a.m. when I got up to get ready for the race. I checked my blood sugar (it was 117), got dressed, had two cups of coffee and two glasses of water and at 4:30, an hour before I planned to start my warm up, I reduced my basal rate to 30%.
I took a cab to the starting area (10 minutes away) and met up with some friends. At around 5:30 we went out for a mile and a half warm up run, I checked my blood sugar before and after and it was where it needed to be (141,148).
I felt confident and strong and thought I was going to shave at least 3 minutes off my record (I wanted to break 1:45). I had it all planned out – my pace for each part of the race and where and when to take my gels, but wanting to save some time during the race and still thinking of my relatively low morning blood sugar, I decided to take my first gel right before the race began instead of at the 2-3 mile water stop.
The race started at 6:00 a.m. as planned. The 800 runners took off and I found myself running much faster than the 8:00 minute/mile pace I had planned for the first 3 miles. I was a bit worried I would pay a price for it later and tried to slow down a bit. At around 3 miles, when one of my friends took out a gel I decided to have another, too. I should have realized it was too early in the race for me to have another gel, but I didn’t.
At the half way point I could feel I was going to pay a price for my fast start but decided to try to keep my pace up at around the 8:00 minute/mile. I kept it up for another 1-2 miles but felt my body giving in. I took another gel. As I squeezed it into my mouth I felt nauseated. Was this a good idea? I swallowed the gel without water and kept running.
By the 10 mile mark I felt horrible; I knew I had screwed up. I pulled out my glucometer and slowed down to a walking pace. I checked my blood sugar, trying to dry my sweaty hand on my very wet shirt. My blood sugar was 235. I put my glucometer back in my belt and continued to walk for a half a mile or so until I felt like I could run again.
I started running again slowly, but then found myself running faster and faster, passing many of the people who had run by me a few minutes earlier. I looked at my watch and knew my plan to break 1:45:00 was gone, but I thought that I may be able to at least finish under 1:50:00. I don’t know how but I found the energy to run the last 2 miles at a 7:50 pace.
I finished the race setting a new personal record – 1:48:31 – 10 seconds better than my previous record set last November. I was happy I finished the race, but felt disappointed with my time and myself. I also felt terrible. Not just regular terrible. It was a kind of terrible I don’t ever recall feeling during a run.
I drank some water and pulled out my glucometer. I took out a test strip – error. My hands, like the rest of me, were very sweaty. I pulled out another test strip, trying to not get it wet. I wiped my hands on my wet shirt pricked my finger and checked my blood sugar. I could see the blood on my finger getting diluted by the sweat. So when I got the result 313, I decided I should try again.
As I was trying to get another test strip into the glucometer a man walked up to me, stood in my space – uncomfortably close – and stared. I looked down at my glucometer then up again. He was still there. I made a face, expecting someone to start asking me what I was doing, and I was in no mood to explain. Then the man said nicely, “I’m a medic. Are you okay?”
“I’m a diabetic,” I said. “I’m a little high, but fine.”
I’m not sure he believed me, but he smiled and walked away.
I wasn’t fine.
I felt even worse than I had a few minutes earlier. I checked my blood sugar again. This time wiping my finger well on my dry backpack, the drop of blood stayed firm, but the glucometer didn’t come back with a number. It just read “HI.”
“How friendly!” I thought to myself knowing this really wasn’t a joking matter. I bolused and waited around for my ride home. By the time I got home my blood sugar was 201. I took a shower and crawled into bed feeling defeated and fell asleep.
When I woke up an hour later I decided to check out how high “HI” really is. According to the online FreeStyle manual “if your test is above 500mg/dL, HI will appear…. This indicates severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)…..If you feel symptoms such as fatigue, thirst, excess urination, or blurry vision then follow your doctor’s recommendation to treat hyperglycemia.”
I had some of those symptoms, but I imagine anyone who had just run a half-mararthon would. I don’t know how high I really was, but according to my glucometer I broke another record.