*** Please note, this is just my own personal experiences of how #t1drunswithme YOUR diabetes may vary. Trial and error is the only way you will know what works for you***
Marathon, what marathon? Just thought I should get down on here about how the day went now it has sunk in a little that I actually ran a marathon! It still sounds odd to me to say that, ➡ less than a year ago a marathon was an 80’s chocolate bar and I couldn’t run for a bus.
After 5 months of cold, wet and dark training, April 22nd 2018 had finally rolled around. As is always the way with British weather, it was a Summer heat wave in April! At least I get the honour of saying I ran the hottest London Marathon ever I guess.
The Tapering Thing
Three weeks before the big day and everyone was on about tapering. This seemed counter intuitive to me, how can running less make me a better runner?? Well I can now safely say, it does! Never under-estimate how vital rest and recovery is. It took a huge amount of resistance to not go out running, and to be honest I was still putting in over 30 miles a week for the first 2 weeks. Admittedly they were slow steady miles, but mentally I needed to do them. The final week before the marathon I only ran 6 miles, and it felt……. horrible!! I never thought in a million years running could become such a key part of my well-being.
The Big Day
This was it, a year in the making and the day had arrived. After 4 months of pretty intense training I was in the best physical shape of my life. I had learnt all I could about how my body deals with long distance running. I had experimented with different fueling strategies in my training, looked at how my diabetes was behaving and had a game plan for the big day.
All of that was perfect, in 8 degree winter temperatures, 24 degrees on race day was never in my training plan. This left me one option on the day…… wing it!
I would love to say I had a good solid 8 hours sleep, but with T1D that never happens on any night to be fair! So after about 5 hours sleep it was 5.30am and my alarm was going off.
How It Panned Out
5.30am – Blood sugars 11.7, not an ideal number to be waking up on, but I can work with that. Put TBR on of just 10%, even on this high fasting number I knew my bloods would drop with the nerves and adrenaline of race-day.
6am – Sure enough, with no active insulin on board, my bloods had dropped down to 6.7, the science behind this…. well I don’t know lol. All I could do was look at the numbers in front of me and make decisions that seemed logical.
Coffee was my first priority at this point. Then getting ready to leave, everything was prepared, checked and double checked the night before (who am I kidding, that had been prepared all week).
7.06am – On the train to Greenwich, this was all starting to seem very real all of a sudden. Nerves at fever pitch, blood sugars at 5.3 far from ideal. I knew I needed to fuel ready for the race ahead. Training had taught me to run as a runner would, not as a T1D, I needed to make T1D run with me, not the other way around. I had my peanut butter and banana bagel, tried and tested in long training runs many times over. 60g carbs, no bolus insulin. Seems crazy writing it down, but I’d seen this work time and time again in the previous 3 months, why would today be any different?
8.00am – Greenwich Park and a massive hill to walk up, just what I needed with 26.2 miles to run. The walk to the start area was amazing, such a buzz around the place.
Lots of nervous looking runners, but the sense of camaraderie was awesome. Blood sugars were now sitting at a nice 9.0 but with double arrows upwards. No need to worry about that though, they will come down…… won’t they???
8.30am – Meeting up with some of my team mates from #teamRNIB.
At this point I had already used the loo twice, and with no queues!! Bags dropped off at the baggage lorry and another wee was needed.
Checked bloods, 13.8 and still double arrows up, this wasn’t in the game plan. I was now in a dilemma, should I correct this high or wait it out. I waited it out, lets see what happens seemed the best approach at this point.
8.45am – In the queue for yet another wee, and the buzz around Greenwich Park was reaching fever pitch. Blood sugars now 15.4 and only a diagonal upwards trend on my CGM.
At this stage I was starting to wonder if all these toilet needs were the result of nerves or high blood sugars, I decided it was the nerves, after all there was about 2,000 people in this queue, they can’t all have high blood sugars.
9.40am – After having soaked up all the atmosphere and chatted with so many fellow runners I was finally in the starting pen.
This is what all those months of training had led me too, and it is an experience I will never ever forget. Looking around I found a few members of #teamRNIB as well as Gary (Silver Fox). I had run many many miles with Gary in training so it was great to meet up with him in the starting pen by chance.
Blood sugars now 15.9 and flat on the CGM, higher than I’d ever ran with before but that’s the number I was dealt on the day.
10am – This is it…… the start at last. Nope, nothing the horn sounded a huge cheer went up, then we just stood there, for what seemed a lifetime. I guess getting 40,000 runners across a start line takes a while.
10.13am – Now was my moment, crossed the line and the race was on.
All week we were being told to review our target finish times, take it easy in the unseasonably high temperatures. Well I went out with a sub 4 hour finish in mind, get to halfway point at that pace and then re-assess if required. Blood sugars already showing a downward trend within the first kilometer. That is exactly what I was expecting to see, I just needed to not get cramp for the first 10k and things would be good. I’d found in training that if my bloods are above 10 I get cramp, every time.
10.40am – First 5k under my belt, feeling strong and bang on the pace I wanted. The heat was already intense, I had planned drinking at every other drink station all the way through my training. At this point I had already decided that I needed to take on fluid at every mile with the heat. Blood sugars now at 10.3 and a diagonal downward trend, that’s all good still for now, no action needed there. At this point people shouting out ”Go on Silver Fox” to Gary was starting to wear a little thin lol.
11.07am – 10k done, happy with pace and bang on target for a sub 4 hour finish. Saw the first of many people collapse at this point, not nice to see and something I needed to put out of my mind from a mental point of view. Fuel needed at this point, irrelevant of blood sugars I had a fueling strategy for the first 20 miles that I knew would work from all the training. 23g carbs taken on board. Blood sugars 8.3 and still diagonal downwards trend, need to keep an eye on the numbers from here on. The next 10k was going to be tough, the heat was getting pretty insane now and the crowds were at fever pitch in Greenwich. Creek Bridge road and I saw Mrs Type1Bri squashed up against the barrier cheering me on, quick high-five on the way past was the best I could manage, I was still looking at sub 4 hours at this point LoL. Lucozade Sport fuel stop, couple of swigs to keep the numbers up.
11.50am – Next planned fuel at this point, 23g carbs taken on board. Blood sugars 6.5 and flat, that was exactly what wanted to see, that’s my sweet spot for running. I will add I had eaten a few jelly babies since 10k mark, each time the arrow went straight down on watch I was taken on 2 jelly babies.
12.11pm – Halfway point already, still on a massive high from Tower Bridge.
I’m sure I got something in my eye running over that bridge #emotional. Blood sugars 6.5 and trending downwards. Diabetes was definitely running with me today, at this point I knew that I had diabetes where I wanted it. Seeing 3 runners all collapsed in the space of 60 meters, then seeing a 4th collapse in front of me made the decision for me. It was time to ease off the pedal a little, forget the 4 hours finish time. After all just finishing the London Marathon is the real goal for me. Refocused and a new goal in mind of 4 hours 15 minutes I pushed on, to what was going to be the hardest 7 miles of the race. More Lucozade swigging and another 23g carbs taken on board.
12.37pm – Blood sugars 4.7 and double arrow downwards. This was not what I wanted to see, there was no way on Earth diabetes was going to take over this race. Just outside of Docklands there was an underpass, perfect timing for me to stop away from the crowds and put diabetes back in its box. I treated a 4.7 as if it where a 2.7, I shovelled in two-thirds of a pack of glucotabs, still in their wrapper as it had got a little wet lol. Quick drink of water and a comfort break against the underpass pillar and I was on my way again. I knew the next 2km were crucial to keeping diabetes where I wanted it.
12.57pm – Blood sugars back up to 6.2 and flat on my CGM, back in the game 🙂 Time for some more fuel, another 23g carbs taken on board.
1.18pm – I think this is that wall everybody was on about. The 20 mile marker was in sight, and this is where I went wrong. I started to think that 20 miles was my longest ever run. As I crossed the 20 mile mark I thought ” Every step now is the furthest I’ve ever been”, big mistake. The mental gremlins then started to play games, made me doubt my fueling strategy and how my diabetes was going to respond to the next 6 miles. I pushed through and by mile 21 I had my head straight again, but that mile was the toughest of my life. Blood sugars were 6.8 and slowly rising, perfect position to push on.
2.17pm – 25 mile marker, quick look at my watch and I see I might, just might, do this in under 4 hours 15 minutes, on the hottest London Marathon ever. This somehow gave me the burst of energy I needed for this last mile and a bit. That bit is pretty important, 0.2 miles doesn’t seem far until you’ve run 26 miles first. Blood sugars 4.7 and dropping, I shovelled in glucotabs whilst on the move, at this point not caring how many or how high it would send me. I just knew I had to get to that finish without having a hypo.
2.26pm – Blood sugars 5.1 and rising, but right now I couldn’t care less. This was it, the finish line in sight, and out of nowhere, I managed to find the energy to run along The Mall. 30 seconds previously I was struggling to move, and all of a sudden I was running at the same pace I started the race at.
4 hours 13 minutes and 1 second, I’ll take that as a job well done. I experienced every emotion possible in that run along The Mall, and it is a feeling I will keep with me forever more.
Well a couple of weeks later, I’m still on a high from the day. It has sunk in that I’ve run a marathon, but the feeling of achievement is going to last a long while yet.
The messages of support on the day were amazing, people following me on the app and texting each 5k really inspired me to keep pushing. The whole #gbdoc were right behind me and I am pleased to have done you all proud.
So far I have raised over £3,100 for RNIB, a feat I am immensely proud of. This money will do so much good to the lives of so many people.
If you would like to donate all support will be greatly appreciated.
I guess I need to find a new challenge now, but I’ve got a little unfinished business in London to sort too, I will get that sub 4 hour finish….. Watch this space