Monday, May 14, 2012

It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.Confucius

So, in my mind, Mother's Day would go a bit like this: Wake up around seven or eight, saunter off to Cafe Luna for a vegan brioche and cappuccino, read the paper with my little darlings, and then troll about on the bike (not training, mind you, but playing).

Dennis's version went something like this: Wake wife at the crack of dawn, and pile her and the kids in to the car to go run the Title 9.9k race first thing on a cold, wet morning. Fight our way through scores of women and children to get back in the car and drive home, shower, and then fight our way through crowds at Petra for some homemade tabbouleh and hummus with extra tahini.

Dennis won.

It's not that I didn't want to's just that...well...I didn't want to race. I race every week, and I have traveled every other weekend for the last 90-some days. Add to that six days each week of training and, well, I was thinking I might be due for a little respite. My husband was quick to remind me that I could just run the race without trying to beat times or score some personal best...

But yeah, if you know me or read this blog, you know that's not really how I roll. Everything is a competition - from cleaning the house to making birthday cupcakes for the kids to, yes, getting out of bed and running a race I couldn't care less about doing. So, with that in mind, I was up at 5:00 on Mother's Day, trying to convince myself that I was about to have fun.

Truly, I run about 14-16 miles each week for the purposes of diversifying my training, so a 10k is really no big deal. I do that just about every Monday morning, in fact. It's a little less than an hour of my day...and generally, it's a pretty painless hour. But this particular race on this particular morning was a whole other ball of wax. For starters, it was cold. I mean, really, really cold. And damp. The forecast high for the day was 50, and it was in the lower 40s at the start of the race. Moreover, the course is pretty miserable. It's loose-packed dirt and gravel, with the first 7k all uphill, and then 2k of rollers until a final ascent, followed by about 100 meters of downhill. In the days prior, the rain had turned the whole of the course into mud, save a section of slick rock that was, as implied by the name, slick.

Normally, I take pains to prepare for any race or event....but, you know, this was supposed to be fun. I was not supposed to be taking it seriously. I literally just got up, grabbed a Clif Bar and a cup of coffee and threw on my running clothes. My kids were racing first, so I spent most of the morning readying Henry and Midori.

At 7:15, Midori's race commenced. Five minutes later, Henry was off and running, too. Both kids had good races. Henry had a solid lead through most of his, only to give it up at the end and cross the finish in fourth place. Midori kept a nice even pace, and had a great time. Mostly, she was pleased to receive her Clif Bar prize pack at the finish line, along with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

About ready to line up for my run, I did one last check of my blood sugar. I had given my meter, strips and lancing device to my husband (he is my race-day sherpa)...which might have been a mistake. Dennis was so busy crowding his pockets with free samples from vendors that he had dropped my poker. I borrowed a pin from Midori's jersey out of necessity.

I like to start a race with a blood glucose around 160-175. I prefer to begin a bit high so that I don't drop too low. Generally, I will reduce my long-acting insulin, and then cut the amount of short-acting insulin I deliver after I eat. In this case, though, I was doing a casual run. I gave myself the full amount of long-acting insulin the night prior, and only slightly reduced my short-acting to cover the Clif Bar. My starting blood glucose was 103. I saw the number, and was instantly worried. I grabbed a handful of Sport Bean packages, and stuffed them in my pockets.

For the first kilometers, I felt pretty good, and pretty competitive. That's right. "Casual run with no personal goal" had morphed into "run as fast and hard as possible because there is no way I am not doing well today." The runners were tightly bunched at the start, but there is a hill series about 2k into the race that separates out the different abilities. This was even more true on the soft, wet dirt. It was like running in sand at times, with mud sticking to my shoes. My calves were tight, but I had a nice, even pace and was settling into the run at a comfortable speed.

Around the fourth kilometer mark, I realized I was low. I have generally poor hypoglycemia awareness when I exercise because activity, in my case, masks the symptoms of low blood sugar. Usually, by the time I feel low, I am really, really low. I reached for my meter....and then realized I had left it with my husband. I sent him a text: "Low." Then I realized he would worry, so I quickly followed it up with, "But ok." In truth, however, I had no idea if I was ok.

There are few things more frightening than being in a situation where you know you are perhaps dangerously hypo, but you have no manner by which to confirm that fact, and no idea how much food you need to ingest to raise your blood sugar. With nothing to do but guess, I crammed two packages of Sport Beans down my gullet, and took advantage of some Gatorade along the route. I struggled through the next mile, trying to figure out how I felt and trying to decide what action I needed to take.
Really, there was this moment when I knew that my head was never in this...that I had not really wanted to be running this race at all in the first place...and that I was now teetering on the edge of calamity. I thought, seriously, about calling it. But my ego has been known to write checks that my body can't cash...and I decided to plod on, and finish this race.

The next few kilometers were spent alternately feeling good and running well, and then feeling awful and trying to regain my stride. I would grab some carbs, then wonder if I had over-corrected...if I was bonking because I was now high. Still, I refused to slow down excepting those moments when my body refused to comply, or where the terrain demanded a more cautious pace. Really, by the time I had a mile or so left, I was running just to be done. I found myself pushing harder because I wanted to cross the finish sooner rather than later.

By the end, I could see runners stretching both in front of me and behind....and I had no sense of where I was in the pack. I decided that, so long as I finished in the top half, I would make peace with it. I had not run well, and I certainly felt slow.

I crossed the finish line to see my husband and kids shouting and waving. My husband noted, clearly, that I was looking rather shabby. "Rough run, honey?" My children seemed not to notice...they just like to see mom run...and were quick to toss their tiny arms about my tired legs. I grabbed my meter, and finally tested. Sure enough, I had over compensated for the low, and ended with a blood sugar at 259. I walked to the finisher tent to check my results, bracing myself for the worst. To my surprise, it was not as bad as I had feared. My average pace was 8:48. I was 498th of 2176, and ended up 46th in my age group. All things considered, I was pleased with the result.

I went home and grabbed a quick shower, and headed out to lunch with friends. We met up with our old real estate agent and her family, and had a delightful meal among good company at a Turkish restaurant near our home. Later that afternoon, I took Midori out on her bike for her first real road ride. I was pleased to see how well she controls her bike. She's got a good wheel.

In all, it was not my idea of a fabulous Mother's Day nor was it a fantastic race. Still, it was a good reminder that, no matter the extent to which I swear diabetes will not impact the things I do, it has it's place at the table.

1 comment:

  1. The picture of you at the end makes this post all worthwhile! lol
    I'm not laughing AT you.. oh no. ;)
    I may not be a mother and I may not have a husband but I can still relate to running races I didn't care to run and dealing with the mayhem of forgotten meters and diabetes being an ass.
    You did WELL considering!!