Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tri the Du Race Report

Back when September started, I wanted to race or do a long bike ride every weekend.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, doing one of the things I love the most every single weekend.  However, when my alarm clock woke me up at 5:55 this morning, all I wanted to do was go back to bed.  It also didn't help that my blood sugar was 350, for no apparent reason.  But, I had already pre-registered for the event and I refuse to waste money, so I got up, hoped I would feel better, and started the 1 or so drive south to the Kankakee area.

I had been to Kankakee once before for a school inservice day, but as I was driving it reminded me of Iowa.  All farms and only small towns lined the highways.  After finally getting off the interstate, I got lost.  This did not surprise me because I have no sense of direction.  I finally spotted a car with a racing bike on the back and just decided to follow him to the start.  However, he also was lost.  Luckily, he stopped a group of runners to ask for directions and we finally made it to the start at 8:20.

After going to registration, getting all of my stuff ready for transition, and the stickers on my bike and helmet, I tested again and was 78.  By this time, I was hungry because I did not eat breakfast.  I decided to eat a CLIF bar because it was easy to eat, I knew I would have no stomach issues, and I like them.  I got on my way, and listened to the talk at 8:45, where they discussed basic rules.  It was common sense and pretty boring.

The race started in 3 waves: 1st, men 39 and under and relays, 2nd men 40 and over, then all women.  After scoping out the competition, I decided to start in the 2nd row for the 3-mile run.  I think it was the right choice.  As usual in duathlons, I got killed on the bike.  However, for me, I biked really well.  The roads weren't the best and there were some hills, so I am really quite proud of that bike time.  The final run was brutal and I felt awful.   I was so excited to finally see the finish line and crossed it, and wanted water immediately.  This was fitting because my ending blood sugar was 350.  I've learned that not all days will be successful with diabetes.  However, I will learn something everyday.

My stats were:

Run (3 miles) #1: 21:07 (7:02 pace)
Transition #1: 1:28
Bike (14 miles): 47:31 (17.7 MPH speed)
Transition #2: 34 seconds
Run (3 miles) #2: 22:30 (7:30 pace)
Overall time: 1:33:12

Overall Place: 43/179
Gender Place: 7/65
Age Group Place: 1/11

I was 14th overall female and 70 total overall if you look at just my bike time, but would have been the 3rd female overall and 26th overall out of everyone if you look at just my run times.

It was a good race and would recommend it, especially in you live in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Friday, September 28, 2012

North Shore Century Thoughts and Conversations

Last weekend me and 2 friends did part of the North Shore Century bike ride.  We rode 71 miles on a chilly, windy morning.  That ride was most likely my last organized ride of the year, as it is just get too cold for me to bike.  Proof:  I wore the following items on my ride:

  • My warmest running tights
  • bike shorts
  • running gloves
  • biking gloves
  • long sleeve running turtleneck
  • arm warmers
  • cycling jersey
  • warmest running pullover 
And I was still cold for much of the ride.  

However, it was fun.  I bike for leisure, not for speed.  It relaxes me and I have really learned to enjoy it this summer.  I've spent more time on my bike than I would have ever dreamt of before.  One of my goals was to ride 100 miles, but I am not disappointed at all that it did not happen.  I know it will next year, or maybe if we have a drastic warm-up in Chicagoland that will give me the opportunity.  The god thing about sporting events it that there is always next year.

I will say that runners and bikers are very different, not only in appearance but also personality.  Bikers make me laugh.  

Conversation #1 from NSC ride:

Man: I like your pink biking gloves.
Me: Thanks, I like them, too.
Man: They remind me of something Barbie would wear.
Me: Hm, I never thought about that before, but maybe.
Man: I think my wife would like a pair.
*Light turns green and we ride off at different speeds.  I think this is the first time in my life that something I've had on has been compared to something Barbie would wear.

Conversation #2 from NSC ride:

USA Cycling Jersey Man: (after riding up next to me):  You are a good cycler.
Me: Thanks.
USA Cycling Jersey Man: You'll be so much faster when you get clips on your shoes.
(It is true, I don't have cycling shoes.  I just wear running shoes because I'm too cheap to buy them)
Me: I hope so.  
USA Cycling Jersey Man: Yeah, you're pretty long, lean and gorgeous.
Me: Smile and ride off - it was awkward.  

I'll be missing cycling in the winter, but met the head race volunteer for the Tour de Cure ride in Chicagoland at NSC and will be helping with that.  I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet, but I'll be there.  It is a small thing I can do to give back to both the diabetic community and cycling community.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

6 miles of happiness

Today I went on a nice 6-mile run on my favorite path.  By the time I got to the path it was already 6:15  and I knew I'd be ending my run at dusk.  I had no goals for this run but to run, enjoy the cooler weather, and relax.  On the run, the following things occurred:

  • I got waved at 4 times by other friendly runners on the path.  I waved back to each of them.
  • I saw 2 people I knew while running, both members of my running club.
  • I received one high-five about 1 mile into my run from one of guys from the running club.
  • Another runner, who I do not know but saw twice today, gave me a thumbs-up both times.  I'd like to thank him.
  • One man told me to have a good night.
  • Another man told me that my shirt was the brightest shirt he had ever seen.  I was wearing a neon orange Saucony shirt that was incredibly bright.  However, it is not my brightest shirt.
I like it when random things like those mentioned above happen on my run.  It adds some more happiness to my day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Look what finally arrived in my email inbox today:

I registered last Friday, and my type-A personality was getting worried that something happened.  Needless to say, I was overjoyed when this email finally arrived.

I'm treating this race as a reward for all of the miles I've put in the past few years.  Let the fun begin!

Is anyone else running Boston?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cheering at the Fox Valley Marathon Races

After coming off a PR on Saturday, I went out to Saint Charles, IL on Sunday to support all of my friends and running club teammates that were running the marathon.  Me and another friend decided to bring our bikes so we could cover more distance and see people more often.  It turns out that there were 4 of us spectating together - me, my friend, a friend of hers, and my track coach whose wife was running the marathon.

My running club had our own tent set up so I went there beforehand to wish them all good luck.  The weather was perfect - in the 50s.  The 4 of us went to the start, and watched all of the groups get sent out individually.  After the last group had gone through the starting area, we got on our bikes and biked along the street at miles 2 and 3.  I didn't spot anyone from my running club, but Bobbi was easy to spot.  She was practically glowing in her orange shirt.  I yelled good job to her, but I don't know if she heard.

We got to mile 6, got off our bikes, and cheered some more.  At this point, we saw everyone in the club go by.  They were all looking good, lots of smiling faces.  We stayed at this spot for a long time to wait for the runners through the 4:30 group.  When they passed, we continued biking and reach the trail at mile 10.5 and 17.5.  We got there just as the 3:40 pacer was going past, which meant we missed many of our friends.  However, we stated there and saw them on their return loop.  Most of them continued to look good and strong.  I ran alongside my friend D, wife of the track coach, for a few minutes, offering her gatorade and shot bloks.  She took some, but needed me to get open a ziplock that had salt tablets in them.  It was hard to get open, but I did.  She was good then, and I ran back to our spot on the path to watch for one more teammate.

We got back on our bikes and returned to the finish area to see all of our friends finish.  After locking up our bikes, we went to the finish and were just in time to see the 3:05 pacer finish.  Next came a few other friends, all looking strong as they went into the finish.  It was neat to see everyone finish.  A part of me wished I was out there, too.  After watching, and watching, and cheering for everyone while taking pictures, my training partner who ran the race came over.  She was so happy, and I was just as thrilled for her.  All of my friends did so well, which made me incredibly happy.  As we were talking, I spotted Bobbi across the finishing area, and went over to tell her good job.

Bobbie was not there by herself, but with Britt, too.  It was fun to meet them in person.  Surprisingly, Britt lives in the same suburb as I do.  It is always nice to meet other runners.

Spectating at Fox Valley got in me excited for the Chicago Marathon.  I'll be working aid station #2 (at mile 3), and then cheering at other places on the course.  I'm so excited to experience the excitement of a marathon again in a few weeks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Heritage Haul Half Marathon Race Report

For the past 18 months, I have been trying to break 1:40 in the half marathon.  I put pressure on myself, but it never happened.  I was sad about it, but realized that it was not the end of the world.  Then I signed up for a small half marathon on Saturday.  Going into it, I had no formal goal.  I hoped to break 1:45, but if not, I wouldn't care.  I was happy to be racing again.  Enjoying 13.1 miles was more important than time for this race.

Saturday came, and I don't think it could have gone any better.  The result:

Overall time: 1:34:05
Pace: 7:11
Gender place: 2/21
Age Group Place: 1/5
Overall Place: 8/52 

Some times things in running don't make sense.  When I look at the race on paper, I should not have PR'd, especially by 6 minutes.  The weather was in the 50s to start and by the time I ended it was only in the 60s. My slowest mile was mile 12, a 7:35 pace.  My fastest mile was mile 4, a 7:01 pace.  At mile 7, I stopped to stretch my leg.  It was getting some cramps and my stride was impacted by it.  I shook it out for a few seconds and continued on.

I also think the following helped me get my PR:

  • Pitbull Power Hour at 4:30 AM while getting ready.  
  • Wearing my purple sunglasses and not my running sunglasses.  I forgot to pack my running sunglasses so the purple ones were what I had to wear if I wanted to wear any.  I decided I didn't really care, and put them on.
  • Convincing a friend to run the half yesterday so we could ride together.  
  • Eating GU at the slowest pace ever.  I opened by GU packet at mile 4 and still had not finished it by mile 10 when I tossed it aside.  I took a little every so often, but I am out of "GU eating shape".  
  • Registering for the Boston Marathon on Friday.  It made me so excited.
  • Not having any expectations.  
  • Believing in myself, knowing that I could do it.  
I am so happy to finally make it into the 1:30s.  Now, I need a new goal to aim for.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Diabetes diagnosis: Age and Athletes

A lady in my running group who cycles a lot with me has a daughter with type 1 diabetes that was diagnosed when she was 15.  She often talks to me about her daughter in high school and the highs and lows of living with diabetes.  I find her comments quite interesting most of the time.  Case in point:

"I think that the majority of serious diabetic athletes were diagnosed with diabetes later in life.  You are the exception to the rule, the only one I know that was diagnosed at a young age and are a serious athlete."

I've never really thought about this before.  The percent of the population that has type 1 diabetes is low, and then if you analyze only those that are athletes out of the group the numbers drop even more.

I started to think more and more about her comment, and think about the athletes I knew that have diabetes, which is not many.  Out of the few I know, one was diagnosed in her 20s, and two others in their late teens.  I began to wonder if I knew anyone that was diagnosed at a young age, like me, at 4?  It turns out that I know no one that was diagnosed young and is an athlete.

What makes me different than the rest?  Why am I an athlete and so few others that were diagnosed early in life not?  When a person is diagnosed later in life, they have already established interests.  They now have the challenge of making diabetes fit into their already-established lifestyle.  I can only speculate, but I don't think they would stop doing something they enjoy because of diabetes.

My earliest memories are that of the day I was diagnosed.  I don't remember life without the disease, which is both a good and bad thing in my opinion.  Although my parents were warned that they should be careful of what activities I participated in, they let me do whatever I wanted.  This included playing soccer, softball, basketball, running, volleyball, and stints in tennis and golf.  If they had concerns, never was it shown.  I believe their desire to let me do whatever I wanted helped me in countless ways.  I grew up not viewing diabetes as a limiting factor when it came to sports.  Rather, it was something extra to deal with.  It couldn't stop me from doing anything.

That attitude has stuck with me.  I believe that I can do anything I want.  Run a marathon?  Sure.  Ultras?  Why not?  Complete an Ironman or half?  Of course it is on the bucket list.  Sports have always been part of my life, and I can guarantee they always will be.  I'll be that 88 year old woman who is still running marathons.

Were you diagnosed young in life or older?  What do you think - are diabetic athletes primarily people diagnosed later in life?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hilly Riding

My alarm was set for 3:45 AM, a time that no human should ever get up, especially one that is not a morning person.  I used to go to bed at this time, but today it was my wake up time all in the quest to ride 100 miles on my bike.

Since beginning running again, I forgot how much I enjoy biking.  Today, with the cool weather and windy conditions felt perfect for a run.  Instead, I drove over an hour with 2 friends to ride my bike.  The organized ride didn't have much information about the route online.  We didn't know what to expect, so when we got to the registration I inquired.  "Is it hilly?"  This is the first and most critical question for any person who lives in the pancake-flat state of Illinois.  "The last 25 of the 100 mile route are quite challenging" responded a guy dressed in matching bike gear from Trek from head to toe.  That answer, right there, sealed our fate.  We were not going to attempt 100.  50?  Sure. 75?  We'll see.

I am not an experienced rider.  I don't know how to change the tire on my bike, or put air in them.  I rely 100% on my friends to take care of my bike.  Luckily, they enjoy helping me out.  After I wheeled my bike over to the guy who was checking bikes before the ride to put air in my tires and check it out, we set out 25 miles until the first rest stop.  Those were the toughest 25 miles I have ever biked in my life.  It was one hill after the next.  And then another one for good measure.  However, all of the hills were worth it because the scenery was absolutely spectacular.  And, the aid station was just as nice.

There were many people at the aid station because the 50, 75 and 100 mile routes all stopped there.  On of my friends wanted to get his biked checked out by the bike people working, so I went to eat.  I was hungry, and trail mix is always served at these events.  I've never met a cup of trail mix that I did not like.  Now, this was no ordinary aid station.  Many things happened here:

  1. We had our picture taken by the guy from the host bike club.  Apparently, he is uploading all of the pictures on their Facebook page, something he was rather nervous about.  
  2. The bike repair guys asked my guy friend and the other girl we were with if he was my dad.  
  3. I met another type 1 diabetic because of his cycling jersey.  As I was eating trail mix and looking at the lake we were by, I saw his jersey, which said something about diabetes Research Foundation on it.  My other friend and I talked with him for a bit.  I learned about an organization for diabetic rides and his experience with riding with them.  His coach was also riding with him, who also was a type 1 diabetic.  
I ended biking 56 miles today.  Was I disappointed that I didn't bike 100?  Not really.  I am more proud that I made it 56 on a hilly course in tough conditions.  The riding season is far from over, and I know I'll get that coveted 100 mile ride before fall ends.  

Have you ever failed at something, but viewed it as a success?  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor of Love 5k Race Report

As per tradition, I woke up Labor Day read to race.  Let me preface this by stating that the thought of completing a half marathon crossed my mind multiple times this weekend, but the sane "that is not a good idea" voice of reason won out...thankfully.

I woke up, looked at the weather, decided on what to wear, looked at the directions, and got to the race site at 7:20 or an 8:00 start.  I'm glad I did, because they didn't have my registration.  I registered online on Saturday.  However, the people in charge were more than nice about it.  They just gave me a new number. I wish all of my problems were solved so easily.

I decided to run this race without music, so the warm-up though the park was quiet.  It let me reflect on how happy, and nervous, I was to be racing again.  It was the longest period of time I had gone between races in over a year.  I had done some stalking of race results from the previous year and thought I could get a medal, which stated that they gave to the top 3 finishers on their website.  This is important, because I am in a medal competition with a fellow runner.  He, a self-proclaimed medal whore, is currently winning, and was running a half marathon today.

I did not help myself at all by tapering for this race.  In fact, I did the opposite of a taper.  On Saturday, I ran a tempo, with my last mile being 7:20.  On Sunday, I ran an 11 mile run, my longest run since May.  Then, topped it off by biking for 30 minutes, walking on the treadmill at a 15 incline and doing 2+ miles on the stair master.  Sounds like the perfect way to feel exhausted for a race, right?

At 7:45, I checked my blood sugar to see a 93 staring back at me.  Normally, I would rejoice when seeing this number.  However, it looked too low so I promptly ate 5 glucose tablets.  Nothing says "I'm ready to race!" more than the taste of raspberry glucose tablets, right?

After a shot gun start (both literally and figuratively), I ran and settled into what seemed like a nice pace.  I noticed that I was probably too far in the front of the race than what I should be, but kept repeating my mantra for this race, over and over and over: "you are strong..strong...strong."  If you've read any of my race reports from this year, you know that positive mantras have carried me to a few PRs.

By the time I got to mile 1, my goal was to pass a guy sweating through a white cotton shirt.  I did exactly at the 1 mile sign, and then realized the front pack was out of sight.  We made quite a few turns and there were some sneaky hills...or, inclines to the rest of the world.  I distracted myself by focusing on the pavement looking for the neon orange arrows for the next mile and a half.  By this time in the race, I was hurting.  I was exhausted and the fact that I took 1 month off caught up with me, and the workout from the previous day.  At  2.8 miles, a dude cruised by me.  I could hear another one huffing and puffing behind me but was determined not to be passed again.

The finish line could not have come soon enough and I ended up holding off the guy behind me.  When I crossed the line, I was happy:

Overall: 6/220
Female: 2/119
Age Group: 1/11
Time: 21:35
Pace: 6:58

One of the neatest things about this race is that there was 1 lady who was a paraolympian and raced in a bike contraption where you turned the handlebars.  I got the chance to speak to her after the race.  She races as much as she can, but many surfaces do not work for her bike.  She ended up racing it in 18:35, and  passed along some inspiration to me in the process.

I ended up getting a medal, too.  In case you are curious, I now have 13 for 2012, while my friend has 17.  I am not giving up yet....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reviewing August

I cannot  believe that it is already September.  This year is going by too fast.  In August I made my return to running, and it was glorious.  Every time I laced up my sneakers I was incredibly happy.  I realized how much joy running brings to my life.  I ended the month with:

114 running miles
98 biking miles
37 elliptical miles
32 walking miles
27 stair master miles
and 3 weight sessions

The stair master and myself are becoming pretty good friends these days.  I can feel it making my legs stronger, which is what I need right now.  Although I really do not enjoy any gym machines, I feel the stair master gives me the best workout.

This month I also realized how much fitness I lost in July.  However, I am surprisingly ok with the fact that I am out of shape.  I'm hoping to get back into shape by October.  I've signed up for some races in September to do just for fun, including a 5k on Labor Day.  I've raced every year on Labor Day for the past 3 years and felt like I needed to continue the tradition.  I also plan on running a half marathon for fun, biking a 100 mile ride, and cheering on 3 of my running friends at their goal marathon.  I might be most excited to cheer.  It will be good preparation for the Chicago Marathon.

How was your August?  Any big plans for September?