I decided back at the start of 2017 that I was going to ➡ get myself back into fitness. Not for a second did I dream of the achievement of running a half marathon back in January when I first stepped foot in the gym! I really hope that if you have diabetes and are thinking of getting a bit more active that in some small way this inspires you to have a go and do it. Diabetes won’t stop you, it will chuck up a ton of obstacles, but you can deal with those right?
My approach to the weekend event was honed by 4 months of trial and error. How I managed my diabetes worked really well for me, it won’t work for everybody. The key thing is to get out there and try. There have been so many high blood sugars and hypos to get to the approach I took this weekend. I know if I ran it again next weekend it would probably be totally different, even if I replicated exactly what I did this weekend, hey that’s just the way diabetes is I guess!
In the 4 months leading up to this, I have covered over 500 miles in training runs. Every mile taught me something new about how my diabetes responds to exercise. We all know that your diabetes may vary, this is why you will never learn how to approach exercise from a textbook. Sure you will get an idea of how things should be, but your diabetes is YOURS, and it will vary. Trial and error is your best friend in this situation.
I went for the week alcohol-free leading up to the weekend, as advised by a certain ➡ Mr Futsal, top tip buddy!
From the Thursday on I started to increase my carb intake. Someone said to me a couple of months ago, ”You can’t take out what you haven’t put in” or words to that effect. Pretty sound advice in my eyes. I know many people do thrive on the low carb approach to their diabetes but in this case, carbs were my friend. I can’t think of any top-level athlete who chows down on a nice bowl of cauliflower rice the night before an event!
The Day Before
The weekend had finally arrived. For the first time in my life, I was about to be a part of a sporting event and nerves were creeping in a little. With all the effort I put in leading up to this weekend it was to be expected I guess.
Since it was the day formally known as Saturday (has now been renamed as Parkrun Day). Off I went to ➡ Parkrun, I kept the mindset to not even attempt a fast time, a steady pace being very careful on the muddy off road section was the order of the day. I teamed up with a couple of other local T1’s, one of which had never done Parkrun before, and happily ran it at their pace.
More carbs were on the menu for today, and Mrs Type1Bri served up a tasty pasta treat:) Making some extra for me to scoff on Sunday morning was a great idea it turns out.
As getting into London early on a Sunday morning is pretty much a non-event from deepest darkest South East London I booked into a hotel in town for the Saturday night. The last thing I wanted on race day was the panic and rushing about of an hour and a half commute, relying on South Eastern trains is never a good idea!
All checked in to my hotel and settled down for a restful evening it was time for one final carb load of the day. Mrs Type1Bri looks after me well and had packed me off with a couple of fish finger rolls. Might not sound like the food of an athlete (who am I trying to kid) but I was making the most of getting to eat so many carbs 😆
Finally, the big day had arrived and excitement levels were at fever pitch. Having been awoken at 3 am for a hypo I was surprisingly spritely. How I ended up with a hypo with the amount of carbs I had eaten the previous day is beyond me. My ratios are pretty nailed down, and I even took a little less insulin than I need to make sure my bloods stayed in the range I wanted to start the race with. Guess this is just diabetes being diabetes and trying to show who is the boss (yeah right, dream on D, only one boss in our relationship mate!)
6 am and my blood sugars were 4.3, this was not where I wanted them at all. My bloods will drop by around 6mmol over a 10-mile run, tried and tested this several times and always gives this kind of drop.
I put a temporary basal rate on of 0%, that’s right, no background insulin for the 3 hours prior to the start of the race and for the first hour of the run too. This is what weeks of training runs had taught me. If I have basal insulin on a long run I will hypo, every time! *Your Diabetes May Vary*
Breakfast of the pasta pot Mrs Type1Bri had packed me off with and a reduced insulin dose of 50%, in the vain hope it will mean my bloods land at around 10mmol by race start.
7 am I left the hotel to walk to Hyde Park and meet up with the guys from #TeamDUK. Ten minutes into my brisk walk my Dexcom alarmed and I’m hypo! Really, today of all days, diabetes was being a dick! Treated hypo with 25g carbs in the form of an energy gel and ate a banana. I really needed to get my numbers up prior to the start of the race.
Once at the festival zone it all seemed a whole lot more real. This is what all the training had been for, and I couldn’t wait to get going. I met up at the Diabetes UK charity area with Dom, was nice to finally meet after weeks of emailing back and forth! My running buddy, Teresa, arrived just after, and shock horror her bloods were low as well. It is almost like diabetes knew we needed it to behave and was doing it’s best to throw a spanner in the works. My bloods were still sitting at a flat level of 5mmol, normally I would be happy with that, not today though, I knew it needed to be double that for what lay ahead. So not one to be beaten I had another banana and an apple, all with no insulin. This under any circumstances will see my blood sugars rocket. Sure enough, my bloods rose, to the dizzy heights of 6.5 and flat. All I can say is this must be how adrenaline affects my diabetes, in effect meaning I can eat everything and see very little change.
In The Funnel
Lined up in the start funnel and my bloods were still sitting at 6.7 and showing no signs of going up. This is where having a CGM was worth its weight in gold. To be able to see my blood sugars on my watch whilst running gives a real level of comfort and safety to my running.
I knew that if my bloods stayed flat then all would be good. The very moment I saw they were dropping I would need to treat it before it became a hypo. I had a game plan of getting to mile 5 where there was a Lucozade stop. Then to mile 9 where there was another one. It went perfectly. At mile 5 my bloods were dropping but Lucozade held me steady. Then the same at mile 9, more Lucozade. I was good till the finish after this. I will add I did have enough energy gel to keep Tate and Lyle in business until 2020, always better to be safe than sorry where hypos are concerned.
The final KM was run on pure adrenaline I think. I had ran harder and further than before. Yet out of somewhere, I seemed to manage a 500M sprint finish! I shocked myself, I can’t even sprint finish a Parkrun usually. To have gone from not running at all back in March to completing my first ever half marathon has been amazing this year. Diabetes has tried it’s best to hamper the efforts but failed. I finished in 1 hour 52 minutes and 18 seconds. A feat which I could only have dreamed of 6 months ago.
My running buddy, and fellow T1, Teresa, smashed the course as well. Coming home in the awesome time of 2 hours 14 minutes, I was so pleased for her. T has shown that D isn’t a barrier to achieving her goals. I was so proud of her when I saw her crossing that finish line, you rock T.
Huge thanks to Diabetes UK for the chance to run in #TeamDUK.
The support offered leading up to the race and from the team on race day was amazing. It was an honour to run with the team. Whoever had the idea of a massage for the team members at the end is a legend! Really was a welcome treat.
Big gratitude to every single person who sponsored me and helped me smash my target of £1,000, really appreciate your support. So many people who I have never even met in person have been so generous. My diabuddies really are an awesome bunch on Twitter. The help and advice from other people with diabetes is key to doing well with diabetes and has been a massive help in my training.
Special thanks to Mrs Type1Bri for putting up with the number of hours I have spent the past few months out training, and for the pasta. The support all around she gives helps me so much.
Everybody involved in staging the Royal Parks Half, you all made the day run so smoothly, kudos to you all.
Lastly, I would like to thank diabetes. Without that, I would never have the drive, ambition or determination to do all of this.
Weekend To Remember
The weekend of 7th and 8th of October has been amazing. I have completed my first ever running event and have now got the running bug, big time!! The Royal Parks Half Marathon and Diabetes UK have offered me the opportunity to prove to myself that I can do this. For that, I am hugely grateful. I am now on the lookout for my next challenge. London, Brighton or Paris marathons could be on the cards for 2018!
If you have made it this far through the blog then well done! As you can see I could talk all day about my journey back to fitness. If this inspires just 1 person with diabetes to be more active, to have a go at exercise, then it has been so worthwhile for me.
If you want to sponsor me and help the great cause that is Diabetes UK then the link is below.
Take care, and run everywhere