Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mark does a triathalon

First and foremost... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK! Today is going to be a good day!

Saturday morning my house mate and I (that sounds weird, but room mate doesn't cut it and neither does "girl I live with") made the long trek from Hamilton to Wasaga Beach. We both had some friends participating in the sprint and olympic triathalons that morning. The weather man was predicting some pretty volatile and torrential downpours. And that's precisely what we got. We left the house at the ungodly hour of 4am and drove almost all the way up there in a dark and stormy night. The swim was to take place in the open waters of Georgian Bay which is part of Lake Huron. The lake was a mess of fury so they cancelled the swim and turned it into a duathalon (run bike run). We had heard rumours that they were almost going to close the bike portion of it also due to heavy rain and wind. It was pretty hectic. What do you do when a triathalon turns into a duathalon and then the bike portion gets cut out? run, run, run? That's no fun. With some delays they got the races off as a sprint duathalon. Run 5k, Bike 20k, Run 2.5k.

I was there to watch Mark and 3 other people. I also really like watching races, especially triathalons. There's just so much going on with people transitioning from the three sports. 

Mark is with Connected in Motion. He has type 1 diabetes and this is his first season as a triathalete. Now that the season is done for him I asked him some questions. Here you go!

1. What are your tools? insulin pump, CGM, injections?

So I'm an insulin pumper. Injections only when I'm high and cannot bring it back! 

2. What was your BG plan going into the sprint triathalon?

Sugar plans worked well I feel! 7.1mmol/l (128mg/dl) 10 minutes before planned start time... Temp basal of 50% 1-1/2 hr before a 7:00am adjustment. I had a Clif bar at 8:20am. 44g of carbs bolused for 20g. These are still in the "see what happens" as I only have a few races under my belt and don't really known patterns yet.

3. What did you do when the swim got cancelled and replaced by a run and THEN the start was delayed by more than 30 minutes? Did it effect your diabetes management?

The cancelled swim didn't change my plan but mentally may have made my day easier... Less stress. I can do the swim, I just don't love it. Yet! About 2 km into my run I had the diabetic race nerves set in.. Sh*t did I eat enough? Have I stacked up insulin? Am I going low or is that just the beginning of lactic acid? I am starting to feel more confident in my plan so I said eff it and ran on. Maybe not the "safest" approach but it was a shorter course so I was confident I could manage along the way.

I like Mark because he thinks like I do.

4. How did you handle the torrential downpour? you knew it was going to be a rainy day, did you do anything with your pump to "attempt" to keep it safe from water? (I know Mark wears a Medtronic pump which are not waterproof)

No I didn't do anything special. I have never submerged my pump but working outdoors for as long as I have I've been in some sh*tty weather and not yet had an issue... Yet being the key word!

5.  Did you take anything with you on your runs or the bike?

Run went really well. On the bike I usually have G2. Low carb electrolyte drink. Two bottles is about 10g of carbs. I am not good at fueling on the bike so in 20km I didn't finish one of them. Probably took in about 4g. No insulin for obvious reasons! My riding can improve a lot still. I am never really faded in terms of breathing on the bike. I get the burn in my legs but feel like I could push a lot harder. Coming off the bike I thought about testing in transition then thought about just drinking a Dex instead of testing. In the end I just ran. Legs were tight, especially calves. I drank water at the station on the way out and back. This slows me as I don't run and drink, that just leads to burping the rest of the run. Finish was good, hurting but not gassed! Maybe could have gone harder but hey that turn will come next year! I had 2 Dex gels in my shirt throughout.

For those of you who don't know what the Dex gel is, it's a fast-acting 15g carb glucose gel. Go HERE for more info.

6.  How did you finish BG wise?

Finished with an 8.6mmol/l (155mg/dl) then it went up. It always seems to go up for me after. It was 17mmol/l (306mg/dl) by the time the Olympic distance tri was ending and I started to feel keytonish. Correction bolus of 1 unit and back to 10mmol/l (180mg/dl) by the time I got home. Rest of the day was stable between 6-10mmol/l (108-180mg/dl). Then I went low around 11:00pm that night. Again, fairly normal. 

No CGM for this race. I have not used one on a race yet. I tried on my second triathalon but it got pulled out when I took off my wetsuit. I want to take my old "back-up" pump and link it to my CGM. Then put it in a sealed bag and have it stay connected during my swim. I mentally struggle to accept the idea of stopping on the bike to sync with a BG test or put all my faith into this number from my CGM and have it be off. I find the trends are great but my actual BG is often off especially when I'm on the move.

7.  So do you think you were successful managing your diabetes? How does this year make  you feel?

I felt good about my management throughout. This year has been a big learning curve in terms of my understanding of how my body responds to physical stresses.  Even more learning about my relationship with the disease. It's been almost 30 years of internal shame, frustration and down right anger with myself when things go to crap. I am learning to accept that sometimes, despite your best efforts, it's not going to be the best day. But on those days you can learn a lot about your willingness.

8. What would you improve (if anything)?

Improvements for next season: I want to feel better about my swim, which means swimming! And then the bike: Aero bars will help as I am told riding behind me is like riding behind a bus! Power, I want to reach a point where when I ride I feel like I do when I run. Threshold cycling! I want to get off the bike knowing I pushed and left just enough for my run. But I still want it to be fun!

Best gear I have: That Team Wild tri top I had on! 4 pockets on the back and then 2 on the sides that are smaller and hold my insulin pump or gels. And they don't bounce! Best shirt ever! We need CIM ones!

Thanks Mark. It was fun to cheer you on and be there to watch you do your thing in some nasty weather. You really rolled with the punches and did a great job. GO WILD!

I wasn't able to get any other pictures unfortunately. I couldn't be everywhere at once!


  1. Way to go, Mark! I've never had a tri changed due to weather . . . yet. Go WILD! (And you're right: those tri tops are great.)

    Thanks for interviewing Mark, Scully. It's great to see what athletic experiences other people with diabetes have.

  2. Yeah Mark! Way to go man! Go WILD!!

    What a yucky looking day. But you totally rocked it!

    Thanks for sharing, Scully!

  3. Nice kit! ;)
    Thanks for sharing this story, Scully.


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