Friday, May 28, 2010

Mental Toughness

I must confess: This morning I had cereal. I am ashamed. Cereal is my kryptonite. If I eat it, I feel like pig feces (and for what it's worth, pig feces is the worst of all mammal feces, bar none! Trust me, THIS I KNOW!). My sugars spike, I feel like crap (pig crap) and it's a miserable experience. So, one might ask, if I feel so friggin awful, why, WHY do I eat it?? It's like I get this alzheimers moment and think, hmmmm, maybe a bowl - or 6 - would be tasty. Yes, it's tasty (all cereals - just... YUM), but, listen Tiffany, you MORON, it doesn't work for you!!! Why can't you get that through you thick skull??

I am, from this moment on, swearing off cereal forever. I'm putting it out there, for accountability. I will never eat cereal again. And if you ever see me eating cereal, you have my full blessing to smack me upside the head and chastise me. I will not become a closet cereal eater. I will own my decisions. I will confess ... but it's not going to happen, because I am finally so absolutely disgusted with my poor choice to indulge in such a self-destructive way, that I feel like I am finally ready to declare and own cereal abstinence FOREVER! ROAR!

Today I headed out for an 11 mile run. I felt crappy for the first 3 miles and thought to myself: these are "junk miles" ... I'm going to need to do this again. BUT, there was a reason. After the cereal festival, I took 5 units of insulin to try to ward off the BG spike. I waited 1.5 hours to run, and felt okay when I started, but, unaware, I was low and dropping. I now know what it feels like to have hypoglycemia while running. Here's how I describe it: If I looked straight ahead, I felt like I was in a movie and it was 3D and I was a spectator to everything. My muscles kept up the running form, but my MIND was screwed up! If I looked down, to any degree, the sensation changed - I was confused, disoriented, and the phrase that keeps cycling through my mind is "I can't think". It feels like a dream. I thought, is this a real experience or am I dreaming this? (Add to this the fact that the last 2 nights I've dreamt that I was in the Rev3 Quassy Half IM and I couldn't finish. UGH!)

I stopped, took a goo, ran to the next gas station, and got a gatorade. Within 5 min I felt like a NEW PERSON. Those "junk miles" were behind me and ahead of me was a great run. Overall I had a slightly higher than 8 min mile pace going, after recovering from low BG. I was happy with that.

My focus for this run was to work on my mental toughness. They say that completing an Ironman distance triathlon is 50% Physical and 50% Mental. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Only 50% physical??? I'd think 80-90% would be more like it, but that's what they say. While I was a bit skeptical about that, I think it set in as fact for me when I saw the athletes at IM St. George. I am now a believer. 50% Mental toughness. I'm PRETTY mentally tough, but I have my limits. I definitely have room for improvement here. I can be pretty hard on myself. As I experienced a disappointing second half of my marathon 3 weeks ago, I watched my mental toughness fade and become extinguished ... I can see how that would happen with IM. The last 2 miles of the marathon were brutal. I wanted nothing more than to be able to run them and cross the finish, but my body had no RUN left in it! Steve was right there, running (WALKING) beside me to support me, but I just couldn't run because my cramping was so bad. It's soooo frustrating, disappointing. To not be able to do what you WANT to do. Then comes the mental self-abuse, as you are harder on yourself than you would ever be to anyone. With others, you support them and try to point out that physically, today wasn't your day. But do we do that to ourselves?? NO! We beat ourselves up. Not good!

So, today I envisioned the challenges I will face - physical and mental. And how I can prepare to be supportive of myself, mentally, so that I can inspire myself to dig deep and press on. I can live with some walk on the run leg - no problem. But I want to feel good about the journey I'm taking when I'm doing my IM. I've wanted to do an IM since I was a little girl and watched it the first time on TV. So, I want to enjoy the journey!!

Many of you know that I'm going through a very personal crisis at this time, and that challenge has posed some difficult obstacles to my training, focus, and motivation. I am working to use those emotions and channel that negative energy into something positive. You've heard it said "that which doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger"... well, I believe that! I feel like now I need to learn to be stronger, mentally, emotionally, so that I can become a focused, dedicated, motivated and consistent athlete. I will never be on the podium. And that is just fine for me. I just want to identify a goal, work hard to achieve it, and succeed at that goal. I need to keep the goal in mind, and enjoy the journey along the way. I can do this!! I know that I can do this. Despite adversity, despite challenges physically, emotionally, and mentally, I can be strong and I can complete 140.6 miles of swim, bike, and run. I have a FANTASTIC support network. I have people that love me, believe in me, and have been critical in helping me survive this difficult time. I am grateful. I am blessed. I can do this!! And my mental toughness ... well, I'm training that too!

Peace out, peeps!
Tough Tiff

REPOST: Spring Fever & The Bonk, aka, Cereal Is My Kryptonite

The following is a re-post of a bad day I had earlier this spring ... There's a reason for the re-post, watch for it!

==> Living in Cleveland provides many seasonal challenges! So when we get lucky with Indian Summer or a few sunny days in Feb. and March, my triathlon peeps and I all get very excited and look to make the most out of an outdoor workout. This weekend looks promising. Yesterday was in the 60's and I knew that so I took the day off so that I could do a LONG run. I was shooting for an 18 mile loop and had an 11 mile loop as my second option. In the morning I got a lot of errands done, as I waited for the prime warm time in the afternoon. Unfortunately poor planning, and honestly a bit of gluttony and some bad decisions surfaced to throw a wrench in my plans. I had cereal for breakfast. :( (BIG frowny face!) I had 2 bowls. Now, cereal is my kryptonite. I love all cereal - all, sweetened and healthy. But, I just can't have it. It makes me feel super sick as my BG skyrockets. I KNOW this. I am usually really good about avoiding it. It's ALWAYS a negative experience. I eat it and love it, then comes the sugar high and sleep. So, to cover the meal, as I'd be running in 4 hrs, I doubled my Glimepiride. Needless to say, I regretted the decision. When it was time to go, I felt "okay" and decided to check my BG ... 75. Now I know it was on it's way down, and I really needed a gel to give me some glucose for the insulin to work on. But I didn't take it. Mistake number 2. I started out and promptly began to bonk. I knew it was now in the 60s and heading south. DAMN! I had to turn back - I ruined this run :( Ugh. Now I'm ashamed, angry, depressed, and beating myself up, which is not a good mix of emotions to get back to the workout. Technically I could have gone home and had a gel or two and headed back out, but no, now I'm in a mood and there's no turning it around at this point. So, I get home and decide: Pancakes. I was getting shaky by now and that "NEED CARBS NOW" urgent feeling began to creep in. So, I make and eat pancakes. Sugar free syrup at least. Now, with pancakes in my gullet, the run is off the table. I'm in a self-created, miserable state and I need to find a way to turn it around.

My new plan is to get some recipes from Diabetic Living and buy some better choices - get back up on the horse again tomorrow. "I'll run tomorrow. I'll make up for today" is the best I can do.

There are many challenges with this disease ... half of them are out of my control. But, I do have control over many things, too. Yesterday, I lost my will power. Any time I choose to eat cereal, I'm making a BAD choice. I used to not have it in the house. But, I have 3 kids: 11 yrs, 8 yrs, 6 yrs. and they want cereal. It's unfair to deny them access to some of the healthier cereals (Yesterday's failure was with Rice Chex) so I often have Cherrios, shredded wheat, Chex, Total, etc. For a LONG time I was very good and the cereal didn't tempt me. But yesterday I was weak. I have hormonal fluctuation monthly (you get my drift!!) and for about 3 days I am an EATING MACHINE! I make bad choices and it's a dangerous time. Once that craving period has passed, I'm much better. So, now I'm focusing on TODAY and getting back on track with my diet and my exercise. These frustrating - FAILURE - days really can knock the steam out of your training. But unless you pick yourself up and walk - er, RUN - the straight and narrow, everything can fall to pieces. So, today is a new day.

Incidentally, finding out that I got the Triabetes Captain position for 2010 was JUST the kick I needed to boost my will power and focus. I'm very excited about it, and it will help me remain accountable! I've worked SO hard over the past 3 yrs to change my lifestyle ... I've really had a good deal of success! Another obstacle I had was losing my health insurance in January. I became depressed. I missed my quarterly exam, A1c, I gained about 7 lbs., and I had FAIL days more often. Fortunately I found insurance mid Feb. and I see my Endo next week. And, I'm consulting with another, because I'm worried I'm stuck with my current Endo - the consult is with a 2002 graduate so I'm looking forward to seeing a new set of ideas to help me with my "unique" status as a type 2 diabetic ... I fear I'm slipping toward insulin dependence, and the challenges with racing f or 4-16 hrs has it's own issues. I'm creeping toward the use of a CGM and pump. I'd been resisting that for many years, but now am seeing it may be in my best interest. My incidence of hypoglycemia is increasing and I'm often testing 10 or more times daily. My body and my chemistry changes as I age, and throwing triathlon into the mix add a whole nother level of challenge.

We shall see! In the mean time, I'm hoping for a great run today, and will probably throw in a spin for good measure!!

Peace out, peeps!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Since the marathon, I’ve been having trouble keeping my BG in check. I’m not sure if it’s BECAUSE of the marathon, but the timing seems suspicious. I’ve been running a bit high – higher than I’m comfortable with (and I’m sure my endo would agree!). In trying to adjust insulin dosing to compensate, I’ve found myself hypoglycemic a number of times. UGH. Hypoglycemia is THE WORST! For me, it comes on suddenly: I begin to shake, sweat, feel hot. I can’t think straight and I feel confused. I am irritable and cranky – a lot of fun to be around. Typically I start to feel bad in the low 70’s, but recently I’ve missed that range and found myself in the 50’s or even 40’s. It’s so frustrating! I really hope that this stablizes soon because it’s creating some additional challenges for me right now. I’m hopeful that this week will be better.

Saturday my triathlon club had a group training session then a picnic. We all meet at Mentor Headlands Beach, the location for the Greater Cleveland Triathlon in August. There were three loops of the Olympic distance loop (~24 mi.) planned, and people could work their training into however many loops they wanted to do, throw in a run and/or a swim if they wanted, then have a great picnic to follow. Many braved the water of Lake Erie … I was not so bold. My plan was to do two laps of the Oly course then throw on a 10 K run. Little did I know …

It was raining – raining a lot! We forged ahead. I’m a bit nervous riding on the roads, but that’s getting better as I do it more, and is much better in a group setting than alone. To think I did ALL of my training alone last year is kind of a bummer. Anyway, throw in a healthy downpour and wet roads, and I was a bit on edge. I couldn’t hang with the lead group for more than a few miles and settled into my own pace. I missed the turn. I got lost. WAY lost. I went back and caught the turn after a few miles, but lost the course a second time. I figured I knew enough of the area to forge ahead and get back to Headlands Beach without backtracking, so I did. I ended up on a “near-highway-like” road. I found myself at 30 mph along side cars traveling the posted speed limit of 60 mph. NOT IN MY COMFORT ZONE! Couldn’t wait to get off of 44 North and cut back through Mentor back roads to get to our start.

Two episodes of fishtailing ☹. I have a bad habit of using only the right gears and breaks. I was warned of the dangers, and I am working to break this habit and use both brakes to slow and stop.

All in all I rode 30 miles – less than I wanted, but I was fine with that considering the circumstances. Much to my chagrin, on this day, I forgot my phone. Very unlike me. I’ll be sure not to let that happen again. When I arrived back at the park, I found my running clothes – SHOES – to be locked in a friend’s car … said friend was still cycling, and would be for another … oh, hour? Dang! No running in LOOK cleated cycle shoes, and I’m not brave enough for barefoot running. So, I was left with … socializing! ☺

We had a great turnout for the CTC picnic and it was nice to finally “meet” some of my Facebook friends! Funny how many times I heard “yes, we are FB friends”. Also was able to put names and faces together, and catch up on what’s going on with other team members. A fun time, for sure!

The only other significant event was that about 2 hrs after lunch, my BG was 330. UGH. I took 8 units of insulin – an amount I thought would cover safely, however, within an hour, my BG was 34. I missed the drop zones and found myself shaking as I drank a can of coke (29 carbs) and TWO gels (27 each). I figured that would help me pretty quickly, and I felt better in about 10 minutes. However, about an hour later, I was in a grocery store and felt just as badly as I did at 34. What is going on??? I was disoriented and shaking as I found my items, paid, and then downed a glucerna shake and an EAS protein bar. The fog began to clear and I felt better. Dinner was right around the corner. I was having venison burgers, corn on the cob and quinoa. That meal left me feeling much better and postprandial BG a lot more normal.

My take-home lesson? Err on the side of “less is more”. In hindsight, I would take HALF the insulin I took and re-test in an hour, redosing if necessary. The challenges of knowing what is the right amount to bolus, is an inexact science! A friend of mine refers to the extra units you give when you see that TOO HIGH BG number as a “rage bolus” – I think that is SO appropriately termed! I’ve taken 8 units before, and haven’t had any problem, yet on THIS day, it caused a pretty significant problem.
Getting a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is a very likely possibility, and I think that will help me a lot. Clearly, these wide swings aren’t ideal, and they will be even “less ideal” in a race situation. This, my friends, is one of the biggest challenges I have in training for endurance races. I felt like I got it right in both the recent marathon and the Knoxville, Oly triathlon, yet, on this, a simple training day, I got it oh, so wrong!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back at it!

So, after the disappointing marathon, I took Monday off (boy was I SORE!) then back to the grindstone with at spin class. Although I was still somewhat sore, the spin actually flushed out some of the lactic acid and I felt less sore afterward, but more tired!! The spin class was run well and I felt I got a great hour workout - not the same as cycling, but a good compromise on rainy Tuesday. Then, into the pool for an easy 1000. That felt real good!

My BG has been off all week :( Like, mid-200's. I'm not sure if it's correlated with the marathon, but I sure hope so, because I have no other explanation. Oh, wait, I do! I HAVE been craving carbs! It's that hormonal 2 days I get right around my period where I'm RAVENOUS. I'm sure that's a variable too. I'm 4 days out from the marathon, and 2 days out from the carb festival and I'm still running high.

Wednesday was a rest day. Today - Thursday - was a fantastic day weather-wise! I have chicklets today, and my oldest daughter had a trumpet concert tonight, so I knew I would have to get creative to get in a workout - especially a LONG workout, which I really DO need. So, after work, I arrived home and changed into my running gear, waited for chicklets to arrive home then negotiated a TWO HOUR WINDOW to run, where they would essentially be on their own. I begged. I pleaded. I threatened. Packed my phone in case of an emergency, shared my course with my oldest (I always worry that I'll drop dead and then a cop will have to tell them!). I crossed the street and asked the neighbor if he could be their emergency contact in the event of a true emergency and was assured they'd be fine - go do my run! I am grateful for the help of neighbors, and the cooperation of my kids. This is a sacrifice and a commitment from the entire family - this training for an Ironman!

I had a good run! I felt strong, not too fatigued. I took salt tabs every half hour. No cramping! I run a nice loop around Mentor that is 11 miles. I was happy with this run. Now if only I can get these BG numbers a little more in line.

Off for some quinoa for dinner! YUM!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I've referred to it before ... the PRP. Any runner, swimmer, biker, triathlete, ... I would even go so far to say ANY athlete that is preparing for a race, or probably even a game ... will know just exactly what I mean when I say something like "The PRP is crucial to having an outstanding performance". It just is! It's critical. Essential. Vital. It's oh so important!!

The pre-race poop. Yes folks, that's the nebulous PRP I refer to. It can be elusive. It can be brash and bold. You hope for the latter. Every athlete has a certain routine that they do before a race. I would be so bold as to say that every athlete hopes for, and is thankful for, the PRP. To NOT have the PRP is a bad sign - at least for me! For me, it's as if the destiny of the race is determined in the 2-3 hours before the race. Yes, seriously!! :)

So, there you have it. The PRP. Without it, I face slushy gut - when I'm trying to take in the fluid and nutrition need, and things just aren't moving south. It's NOT FUN to run with slushy gut! Worse yet, the possible scenario where you may have the UNDESIRABLE PRP - the PERI-race poop. Not good. Not good at all. Those porta-potties are yuck, and to have to use them DURING a race, for anything other than peeing ... is just ... just ... a horrible experience!!!

It's not a topic for conversation for the dinner table. It's not a topic everyone can handle, but, ask any athlete, he or she will admit that the PRP is a crucial component of the PRE-race routine.

We shall not speak of this again ... we shall only refer to it as the PRP.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cleveland Marathon Race Report

Greetings! Well, whew, THAT was an experience!! Glad it was not my FIRST marathon experience, because it wasn't my best, but here goes!

Packet pick up is always Fri and Sat before the Sunday race, and there is always a sports and fitness expo there. It's fun! It's exciting. I drool over things I'd love to have!! Maybe someday ... But the energy and excitement that come with this huge event in Cleveland is amazing!

Sunday morning I got up at 4:30 and checked BG (101) had my coffee and my EAS protein bar as usual. This morning I had to include getting 3 kids together, as I had to drop them off at my sister's very early to be at the race start: 7 am! The early start is fine by me, but it sure does come pretty quickly when you need to do a few things before arriving. My kids got up at 5 and we were out the door at 5:15 am. I have to say, there was no PRP this morning, and that made me VERY nervous!! (The PRP will be addressed in my next post, I promise!!) I'm always a bit of a freak before a race; Nervous, excited, and I try to be as prepared as possible, laying out everything the night before. I had no huge issues this morning, besides the lack of PRP. I drove to my sister's with a bit of a lead foot :( Fortunately, no ticket for me. Can you imagine?

Dropped off chicklets at my sister's then was faced with how to get back to I90, where I'm familiar with. We had mapquest directions, but I was nervous it would be stop light after stop light. I finally recognized familiar territory and grabbed it. Once on I90 I felt more relaxed that we had plenty of time.

Parking can get touchy down there. Once we parked within the race perimeter and were trapped for like an hour when we wanted to leave. I chose the first lot I saw. Usually I arrive 2 hrs early and park far enough away that it's free, but with the kids factored in, that wasn't possible so we had to pay :(

A friend, Steve, accompanied me to this race, and that was a whole new experience for me! I warned him about my pre-race freak tendencies, and promised to be as laid back as I could. I WISH I was more laid back, mellow, and go-with-the-flow, but the reality is that I'm a type A personality and, well, just NOT laid back! Once we arrived we had PLENTY of time to get into the massive line for the port-potties. There must have been 50 of them, and the lines moved quickly. Then, back to the street where the race started. I had layers and was feeling good about the weather and not too worried I'd be cold. Last year, I froze! This year, I felt brave enough to remove my top layers, hand them off to my friend, and race in my singlet. What a beautiful day. SOOOOO many people! The energy is fantastic and refreshing. I was ready to go!

Race started off crowded, but with the advent of timing chips, no worries about that. The first 10 miles kind of flew by! I felt good!! My pace was maybe a little fast, for a marathon, but, I felt GOOD. At mile 10 I stopped to check my BG. I pulled along side a road divider and squatted to get out the glucometer and do my stick. I felt a person approach, thinking it was a volunteer seeing if I was okay, but it was my friend Steve! How cool :) My BG was 214 - a bit high. I opted for 4 units of Apidra. I should back up here and tell you what happened last night! I had Quinoa for dinner. I counted carbs and took Apidra accordingly - 6 units for a high-carb meal. Seemed reasonable, and I can swear I'd dosed that way before. Within the hour, I felt very lightheaded, shaky and I knew I was in trouble! BG=31 :( CRAP! Out came the Coke and a Gel, and I felt better within 15 minutes. It just goes to show you that this disease can be unpredictable! I'm one that sticks with a few different meals and eats them routinely because I know how they make me feel and I can keep my BG in a good range with THOSE meals. Quinoa is one of them. In hindsight, I should have done 3 units, not 6.

So, back to the race. Along with the 4 units, I took a gel. I was worried about cramping, needed the caffeine (yes, my gels have caffeine!) and the electrolytes, as well as wanted to be sure I didn't become hypoglycemic from the Apidra. Back to the race and feeling okay for the next 2.5-3 miles ... when the half mary turned right to finish, and I went straight, I started to feel like I was under-prepared for the full distance. It was mental at this point. I briefly considered just doing the half and calling it a day, but then I realized, I NEED this long run, even if it's bad, it's time to amp up the mileage. I'm good for 13, it's after 13 I start having physical issues.

Around mile 14 I had gotten my mental part back on track, but my right calf started to cramp. Uh oh. I'm getting flashbacks to Columbus Marathon, my first. I stretched it out and started up again. Then, after a few minutes they both started to cramp. :( If I try to run through the cramping, my foot/feet join in and next thing you know I have a "fist" in my shoe. It happened. Next aid station I spent 2 minutes trying to get the left foot to uncurl. The poor volunteer! He SO BADLY wanted me to sit in the chair he had for me! I just needed to stop the cramping. Finally it did and I took both Poweraide AND Water, thinking I needed electolytes and fluids. I took a gel. My BG was 136 - great! I used the porto-potty ... Uh oh. Blood. Hematuria. I get that sometimes. I have 7 or 8 stones in my left kidney and it flares up during periods of dehydration and extreme events. I wasn't in any pain, except for the cramping - no stone pain. Now I had a sloshy gut. It's no fun to run with a sloshy gut!!

By this time we are running along the lake. Guess what? That lake is COLD and the wind coming off it is cold, making my comfortable run now chilly, as the sweat on my skin chilled. I couldn't wait to turn the corner and head toward Severence Hall! By this time I'm a runner/walker - running as much as I could until the cramping started again and I'd have to walk to settle it down. However, by this time, I'm MENTALLY feeling better. I felt that, while I wouldn't meet my goal time, I would definitely stick with it and use it for base building. You can learn a lot about yourself when you change your goals - sometimes that needs to be done! Either I could be all negative about my cramping issues, or, I could start to focus on what I need to do to avoid this next time, and how to better prepare. There will always be another race, and THIS was NOT my key race. Maybe next year! This experience is telling me I need to do more mileage more regularly. YES, I"M GETTING THE MESSAGE!!! I will implement more long distance runs into my weekly training.

BG check at mile 20 was 126 - fab!

I came across Steve again at mile 22 approximately. By this time I'm hanging on for dear life. 4 miles? I can do 4 miles in my sleep!! But, it just wasn't the case. These 4 miles were BRUTAL!!! I continued, more walking than running now :( And my inner thighs are starting to cramp because when I walk, I WALK FAST - like power walk! I want to keep moving forward as quickly as I can, and those long strides, not typical for me, resulted in muscle fatigue and cramping. The only way to stop that was to make my gait shorter, like it is normally. By now, I'm hurtin' badly!

Mile 24, Steve joins me. He's hoping to help run me in. I want that with everything I have, and I try! I get maybe 30-60 seconds and bam, a calf, or both, start cramping. If I keep running, the foot will become involved and that is the worst - I'm virtually crippled by that. So I had to walk. We walk ... run ... walk in the last 2 miles - I think the longest 2 miles I've ever done! I wanted to sustain a run into the chute, but I know I can only hold like 30 seconds, so I can't start too soon! UGH! Finally I see the shoot, quickly calculate if I can sustain a last hoorah run through to finish and chose my point to begin the run. I held it. It hurt, but I held it!

Wow, that was the hardest marathon experience I've had. I know why, and I am going to work on some things. It was a learning experience, that's for sure! And there's always another race. A friend once said to me, not every race can be a PR race. I have A LOT of PR races. This was not one of them. I will learn from it and move on to tackle the next race!

Post run BG was 132, but then I indulged in post race nutrition and chocolate milk! Thirty minutes later it was 230 and heading north so 3 units Apidra and that did the job.

Overall, I had a fun day! I really love that race. I really loved the first half of my race, too! :) And the second half - I didn't hate it. It was a learning experience and a wake up call - I can use both! Today, I am SORE, SORE, SORE! Not only my legs, but I'm sore EVERYWHERE! My core and my arms too! Ah, comes with the territory, I'm not "complaining" just "reporting"!!

Peace out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cleveland Marathon

This Sunday I will be running the Cleveland Marathon! This will be my first attempt at this distance in this event. However, I've run this venue - the 10K - since I was 16 years old! Two years ago I decided to tackle the full marathon, and forked over the race fee in the fall preceding the race. Unfortunately a large kidney stone sidelined those plans :( Last year, a good friend and I decided to both take on the Half Marathon event. It would be a first for both of us. We were excited, I enjoyed having a friend that I could talk training with, and we did a great job preparing for the race. Race day came and we both had a super day, accomplishing our respective goals. I was so happy with it, true to form - as you will see I am an impulsive individual - I signed up for another half mary 2 weeks later and dropped 14 minutes from my previous time! Giddy up! I tackled my first full marathon in Columbus, Ohio in October, 2009. My time wasn't brilliant, but my goal was to go the distance, and I did. It was a beautiful fall day, a nice flat course, and plenty of supportive spectators to recharge me as I ran by.

True to form, yes, 2 weeks later, I did another marathon! And, I dropped my time by 17 minutes.

My goals this year are different, as I prepare for an Ironman distance triathlon. Well, three, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. This week's marathon is to have a consistent and strong race. I'm BUILDING. Time is secondary. Building endurance and the mental toughness is what I'm working on right now. Oh, and managing my sugar.

On the BG (blood glucose) front, my endo gave me a new insulin a month ago. Apidra. It's a quick-acting, short acting insulin. I was having trouble late in endurance races with BG >300. That's NOT GOOD. I was taking in plenty of carbs, but without insulin, my muscles were STARVING for energy, and then turns to breaking down whatever is available to get the energy it needs. That's called CATABOLISM, and in this situation, it's NOT GOOD. So, the Apidra is given and it allows all that circulating glucose in the bloodstream to get into the peripheral tissues, specifically my muscles. So far, so good! I love it. It's really working for me. The only drawback is that I need to stop and TEST with my glucometer (finger stick then drop of blood on test strip so the meter can read it). It's not as easy to know what BG is doing until extremes are reached - too high, too low. Basically I want BG to be between 80 - 140 during a race. Those numbers work for me, and are different than the range I aim for during everyday life (60-120 ... although at 60 I'm feeling pretty cruddy). So, I have 2 SPI belts, that are awesome! My orange one holds the glucometer, and my purple one holds 2 Powerbar gels and my Apidra pen. I'll never look slim and sexy when I run an endurance race because I've got to have these strapped around my waist. So much for my modeling career.

So, am I READY for the marathon? Well, probably not. But that doesn't stop me. I think I will be able to complete it, however, I fear I will fall apart around mile 18 and then just dig deep and hang on for dear life! Of course I'll do a race report - many of us that do these things just love to share our experiences on a blog.

I am a single mom of 3 kids. They are ages 11, 9 (in June) and 6. I have shared custody of them so it's a challenge to get in the training I need when I have them with me. But we seem to make it work. I remember sitting everyone down and telling them that this year was going to be a challenge and told them that I NEEDED their support in this effort. From training to competing, they needed to be on board with the commitment that is required. They all readily agreed to do their best to help me out. I use that trump card every now and again. So far, so good! Sometimes I go for a long run and the two youngest will jump on their bikes, while the oldest chooses to roller blade lately. So, we all are getting exercise and I am able to train. Sometimes the distance is too much for my youngest. We've been 4 or 5 miles from home, on a cold, windy day, and he'll just stop and cry. He's tired. He's cold. He wants to be done. It breaks my heart, but I can usually bring him back around to finish the journey. So, each and every endurance race I do, including these Ironman triathlons, will be a result of sacrifice from everyone in my family! This weekend, my wonderful sister, Jodi, has agreed to take on my 3 chicklets - goblins? - along with her own 2 kids. Five kids for 4-5 hours? Sounds terrifying to me! More scary than the marathon!!!
But I am deeply grateful for the help of friends and family. I need you now, more than ever. The sacrifices and help I've had from Katie, Jodi, Ted, and the kids' father, Steve and his wife, has been ... just amazing. I am honored and blessed for the help I get during this journey I've undertaken.

So, ready or not, Cleveland Marathon, here I come!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Knoxville Part Deux, aka Race Report

Wow, what a weekend! That is the first I've ever driven that far alone, and while I enjoyed the trip down, the return trip was somewhat brutal! Fatigue, exhaustion, and anxious to be "done" all makes for a difficult trip. I will definitely need to re-strategize for my next 3 races away from Cleveland.

I went to bed early Saturday night - 9 pm I believe. Yes, I'm a good time! I slept well and awoke at 4:30 am ... Ready to roll!

Pre-race routine went smoothly. (Look for another post soon on the crucial PRP!) I loaded most of my luggage into my car because I didn't want to worry about being back in time for check out. Then me and my two triathlon bags headed out for the 1 mile walk down to transition. First stop: body marking. Then into the transition zone to lay out my gear and prep my bike. A trip to bike support for air in the tires. A little note on that: I was totally ignorant about tire pressure. My friend Steve inflated my tires for the first time for one of our rides together and I believe they were around 40 psi. Felt fine to me! Well, apparently not!! Minimum pressure should be 100, max 120 for my particular tires. I don't think I'll ever live that down. Yes, I have to admit, I have no pump. I HAD a kid's bike pump, without a manometer, but that broke so I am at the mercy of my colleagues, friends, and team mates. Maybe I'll ask Santa for a pump??

Re-racked the bike and than took a 2 mile jog just to loosen up. That was a first for me and I'm DEFINITELY incorporating it into my routine! I didn't have that sudden HR surge I usually have. Maybe it was the jog? Then I returned to my rack real estate to chat with neighbors and stretch, check my pre-race BG. BG=148 two hours post-prandial. I was good with that - no insulin for me!

Next the donning of the wetsuit. This is not pretty ... ladies, think of putting on pantyhose - which I refuse to wear! Once on, I'm a bit warmer. It was chilly and I was wishing I had another layer on top. I had no flip-flops (in the same bag as the goggles, wouldn't you know!) so I wore old shoes and socks, fully prepared to lose them forever if I wasn't up to trucking down to the swim start, another mile away!

It was finally time to head down to the river. I secured a nice seat in the sun and warmed up a bit. The stretching continued, but the adrenals were in overdrive. I hate that. There were even times when I said "why the hell am I CHOOSING to put myself through all of this?" Those moments are rare, but always part of my pre-race jitters.

I saw an older couple there watching their adult child race. I approached and asked if they wouldn't mind dropping my shoes near transition. They were happy to help! Bless them!

Now it's time for my wave! Big prayers that my goggles don't leak! PLEASE GOD, DON'T LET THEM LEAK! I wear contacts to race. I entered the water and really wasn't cold at all! Tested goggles ... YES!! Winner!!! Off goes the horn and I'm off! I chanted: I have an attitude of gratitude throughout most of the swim as my swim was probably my most perfect open water swim to date! I felt strong, no panic, as has happened in the past, and I was passing swimmers along the way, which gave me additional confidence. I felt like the swim went by in a breeze. I started my watch at the horn and ended it when I was pulled out at the dock. 25 minutes. I had swam in 34-35 in my past races, so I was very happy. Apparently the timing chip was at the top of the dock climb b/c their split for me was different, but not significantly. I know that my SWIM was, horn to water exit, 25:03. Very pleased!

Feeling good allowed me to do a fun little run into transition where pulling off the wetsuit went as good as it can. Socks, bike shoes on. Helmet on. Sunglasses on. Insulin in a SPI belt and snapped on. Grab the bike and out to the mount line. No problem clipping in the shoes ... how is this going so smoothly for me??? Early on is a little steep climb and I struggled with it, but then I picked up steam and was holding a good pace. The first big hill was rough on me. "I presently struggle with hills" (Coach Andrew won't let me use words like "I suck at hills" or "I'm a hill wimp") I did the best I could, lost a little ground with the folks I was pacing with, but made it up on the descent. I was even passing a few people!! This is unheard of for me. I usually bike ALONE. Like NOONE. For miles. In this race there were other athletes and I was even passing them. Boy I've made some good progress on the bike! Next I hear an ambulance ... Oh no. (I end up meeting the "victim" - more on that later). A race vehicle (golf cart!) was in the car lane going MY EXACT SPEED. I tried passing, but they'd pull up. I even slowed and let them go. Nope, it's taking away from my best effort. They kept flagging me to pass, but I was at maximum intensity. We just had to share the road. I got a bit annoyed ... but then came back my mantra: An attitude of gratitude. I finally lost them when they turned to the route for the Half distance and I proceeded onward with the Oly distance. Played a bit of cat an mouse with a girl in PINK. Like ALL PINK! She was in my age group too. I'd pass her on the straights and descents, but she'd pass on the climbs. This held true to the bitter end! I entered T2 before her and we were right there for most of the rest of the race.

T2 went okay, but this was a ground rack with our names on our real estate. My "neighbor" decided her race was more important than mine. She racked in my spot, and her wet suit was in hers. I had no where to rack :( I moved her bike and put my bike in my spot. That was a frustrating waste of my time. On with the running shoes, the do-rag and the number belt and off I went. That first mile is always tough, as your legs are changing from spin to impact. I held a respectable pace and felt strong. I was resolved to NOT WALK at any point. I took small amounts of water at aid stations. By mile 3 I had to pee. UGH! There was a porto-potty and I opted to sacrifice the time because I was sure after I was done I'd be more prepared to push a little harder to make up any lost time. Well, porto-potty had "occupied" in it. I wait 30 sec. 60 seconds, 90 seconds. UGH - this was the wrong decision!! By 3 minutes I'm calling into the thing - hello, gonna be a while?? No answer. No one could tell me how long it had been occupied. Hell, now I have 3+ minutes invested - damn it, I've gotta pee!! Finally a guy knocks - no answer, pulls the door open to reveal an EMPTY porto-potty!!!! OMG that SUCKS!!!! Grrrrrrrrr. I'm in and out in a flash and now am energized by that frustrating experience. I pick up the pace because of it, and because I feel so much better after peeing. Almost to the turn around and there's the girl in pink. Man, she's made some progress, dang it. Can I get her? I try to get her in my sights and she's way up there. I decided to focus on the people around me - chunk them off one by one. I think I passed 8 people, but don't get me wrong, I wasn't setting any land-speed records at this point. I was hurting. My tank was nearly empty. I knew if I could hold strong until the last mile, the energy of the crowd would energize me ... and I was right. It was an amazing feeling to have such a personally strong race. I crossed the finish line and my final time was 3:09. I was proud of that!! I had hoped to go under 3, but on THIS course, that was too lofty for me. At least for this year! I'd love to do that race again!! I think I can still aim for under 3 hrs in some of the local olys I have planned. No regrets, though. Well, maybe the porto-potty incident. I'd knock right away if I could do it over. And girl in pink beat me. By 2 minutes. She found me after the race and said "Great race Tiffany" - what a nice feeling that was. Next year, girl in pink, I will be beating YOU!

Medic tent had no glucometer. :( They really should have a glucometer. So, I headed back to transition (~ 1 mile away) to check my BG. 151. NOT BAD!

On the way back I ran across a guy in his 50s with blood all over himself. I asked if he was okay ... he said yes. What happened?? He was behind a vehicle that stopped suddenly and he was thrown over his bike. The brunt of it? His chin. Tons of steri-stips holding together skin that no doubt needs further care and likely sutures. He was in good spirits. AND, he finished the damned race!!!! WOW. He was the recipient of the ambulance I heard.

What an amazing feeling that race was!! I can't believe that I questioned my decision to put myself through that ... it's always just a fleeting thought entwined with nerves. But the reward is AMAZING!!! I feel proud. I feel happy. I love the fact that I'm able to do these things! I definitely have an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE!!

The drive home was difficult. GI distress surfaces from the adrenaline. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Couple that with the fact that down south the speed limit is 70, which has traffic going at 90! Whoa. Scary fast. In my state, I don't feel like my reaction time is on spot and that could be a fatal mistake. So, I try to balance a speed I can handle while focusing. I will definitely re-think that for future races. Boy was I happy to get home!!!

What an amazing experience. And, while at times I wish I had someone there with me to enjoy it, it didn't diminish the experience for me. It's one of those personal experiences that when you look back on, you realize was really good even though I was alone. I had friends from Facebook "there" with me most of the weekend! The support I get from those friendships, both IRL and cyber friendships, makes me feel truly blessed!

Thank you!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Knoxville, TN - Part 1

I drove ~ 9 hours yesterday. I was on track for a 7 hr drive but got hung up in Cincinnati during rush hour, then again in Lexington when I exited to use the bathroom. I had a 50/50 chance of turning in the right direction ... not surprised I chose wrong and found myself in gridlock at a terrible intersection - Man-O-War Drive. The congestion there makes Mentor seem like a farm town. I waited 40 min. to get through a light! UGH!

I had company on my trip! My girl KT called as I was leaving Cinci and we had a nice long talk. Loved the company! Later, my high school buddy, Tom, called to talk and he got me through much of Tennessee, before the mountains dropped our Skype call. Again, great company. Finally, Steve checked in and brought me almost right to my hotel. Had to eject to navigate the street turns but I was happy for the company. The drive was good! Pretty therapeutic, and allowed me to contemplate life, triathlon, and visualize my race.

So I'm here. I slept GREAT last night!!! I awoke at 8:30 to pee and said, WTH, back to bed for another 2 hrs. I'm presently caffeinating and ready to head over to the World Fair Center for bike check in and packet pick up. I'm excited to see the energy that will be there! Look for another post later ...

Peace out!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Triabetes Team Captain Orientation Weekend

Last year, while facing the challenges that come with triathlon, I was also facing challenges managing my BG. I had some successful races, but also a few that resulted in a BONK due to crappy sugars - both high and low. I reached out to my local triathlon club, Cleveland Triathlon Club, or CTC for short, and found no diabetics! How is that possible?? Our club is huge! So then I went searching online and found Team Triabetes.

I was excited! I quickly read about them and decided it was a great fit for me. It was a no-brainer to join and I was happy to buy a "kit" - what we refer to our racing uniform as - and sport it at my remaining triathlons for the season. I got a lot of questions about it, and was eager to share!

I am certainly not the best triathlete around. I have modest goals and my performance is what I would call "average" for my age, background and training limitations. I'll probably never be a podium holder for my age group, unless there are only 2 others :) I'm fine with this and feel motivated to continue this personal journey to see what I can do with it. After tackling the 70.3 successfully, and reaching my goal of going under 7 hrs, I began to consider the BIG ONE: a full Ironman distance triathlon. Can I do it? I sure as hell want to try. I remember watching my first IM on TV with my dad. It was amazing and I thought to myself, someday I want to try to do that! It's been a dream of mine since I was maybe 7 yrs old.

I have decided to tackle the Rev3 IM distance race at Cedar Point Amusement park in Sandusky, OH on September 12, 2010. I signed up and felt like I was on cloud nine! Now keep in mind, these races are expensive! I was fortunate to have a spouse offer to loan me the race fee, and I am grateful for that. It truly was a generous gift - offering the loan - and I don't take that lightly. Shortly after registering for that race, over a year away, a friend from high school approached me about joining him for IM Florida in November 2010. Well, if you have not figured this out by now, I will just state the obvious: I impulsively joined him. Yes, TWO IM within a 3 month period. So exciting!

Back at the ranch ... I noticed that Team Triabetes was taking applications for Team Captains. The country is divided into 10 regions and they were looking for one individual to spearhead fundraising, education, inspiration within that region. That's just part of the job. Basically, we will fundraise for a year, train for, and compete in Ironman St. George, UT in May, 2011, attend a diabetes training camp to learn more about how to manage ultradistance training, nutrition, etc.; Spread the word about Triabetes, and our parent charity, Insulindependence, a non-profit organization. We will also each mentor a child with type 1 diabetes, somewhere in the 8-12age range, as our "Triabuddy" learns how to be an athlete and manage this disease. He/she will also meet other kids in the same position, and build relationships, enjoy experiences, and learn how fitness and diabetes work together to keep people healthy while having an active lifestyle and fitness goals that have no boundaries.

I applied. I wasn't optimistic, but I was hopeful. I WANTED this challenge. And when I say challenge, it IS a challenge!! I was (am!) more fearful of the fundraising goals than the Ironman race. But I signed up to tackle that and move outside of my comfort zone, to choose a selfless cause and to work hard to make an impact in my region - make a REAL impact! Spread the word. Be visible. Mentor. Educate. Inspire. Learn. And experience a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

I was honored to be chosen. When I say honored, I mean SO honored, SO grateful! I had a small period where I felt unworthy ... did they make a mistake? But, I got over that and embraced the challenge whole-heartedly.

Our team Captain orientation was to be held the weekend of May 1, 2010, at the first annual Ironman St. George triathlon. We all met each other, learned about our duties as Captains, and then we volunteered at a water station during the race. I cannot fully convey what an amazing, inspirational, fulfilling weekend that was for me! I met people that I instantly felt bonded to. I admired them! I felt inspired by them! Plus, it was REALLY cool to just be able to talk about "the betes" with others - specifically athletes, triathletes. It felt good to be able to test and manage insulin dosing without trying to be discrete. You always worry that you will offend someone, or that they may be grossed out at what has to happen when you test and dose. I've never experienced that before and it felt GREAT!

Watching those 1900 athletes tackle IMSG was also a life-changing event. I just cannot fully express how the flood of emotion, inspiration, awe and pride surface when watching these regular people try to achieve their goal of becoming an Ironman!

The weekend was busy, I got little sleep, and I spent nearly 13 hours at an airport, on an airplane home, but it was truly a fantastic experience! One year from TODAY I will be facing IMSG!!!! Wow. Just, WOW!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Some background

How "the betes" arrived in my life ...

I grew up being a "jock" - I ran track, cross country, and swim team. I would probably consider myself a sprinter, as I always did the shorter distances. In college I continued to run track, then later, in my mid-twenties while I was in veterinary school, I joined Masters Swimming and really loved getting back into a regular exercise program, meeting others with the same goals, and entering competitions again. I met some great people and was introduced to triathlon during that time. I did a few sprint tris and one or two olympic distance tris.

Next up came kids ... three to be exact. I began my veterinary career and children entered my life as I turned 30. I developed gestational diabetes (GD) and pre-eclampsia with my first child. I wasn't too alarmed, I had a family history of type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, so I knew I was at risk. The gestational diabetes resolved when the pregnancy ended. Unfortunately, I gained nearly 30 lb since being healthy and fit in my mid-20s. The second pregnancy, unsurprisingly resulted in GD as well. I gained another 20 lbs. I led a sedentary lifestyle, was under a great deal of stress, and turned to food for comfort. I was in denial about my physical condition. During this period I started a veterinary practice and took on even more obligations and stress. I had 2 girls and thought I'd like to try for a son, however, I wasn't conceiving, which had never been an issue for me.

I remember feeling pretty awful around that time. I was always SO tired - I actually called it "Rip Van Winkle Disease" as I just hand no energy and wanted to nap constantly. One morning, I arrived at work, having only had a cup of coffee. As I sat awaiting the arrival of my first client of the day, I had a lightbulb moment: PU/PD (medical jargon for drinking a lot, peeing alot), polyphagia (eating a lot!) and some recent weight loss - like 5 lbs, but for no explicable reason. These are hallmark signs of diabetes (DM) and I'm not unfamiliar with the disease and educating clients about it, as many cats and dogs develop the condition. I walked to our lab and got out the glucometer ... blood glucose (BG)= 511. OMG. OMG. I had moved to a new town so I had no GP, no endocrinologist. It was a Saturday. I did, however, have some humalog in the fridge, for our diabetic patients. I used this over the weekend to bring down the BG. I scurried to get a GP, then got into an endo within the week. Yes indeed, I had full-blown diabetes. This likely explained my trouble conceiving. He put me on some oral hypoglycemic medications and asked me to hold off on trying to have a baby for 3 months to see how I responded to the medication. He also sent me to a nutritionist. I had to face the reality of the damage I'd done to myself ... unlike type 1 diabetics, I had real culpability here. I seriously ate tons and tons of crap. Sugar, sugar, sugar. It resulted in insulin resistance. This is one of the particularly difficult issues I face - my culpability in the development of this disease. Oh, btw, my a1c was = 11.6. That's TERRIBLE. They want you below 6.5.

Over the next 3 months my numbers improved. I began to feel better. I got the go ahead to try for child number 3 and lo and behold, there he was. Now I needed to go back to insulin to manage it. This baby was big! Born 6 weeks early, he was 6 lbs 8 oz - the biggest preemie in the NICU by far! He was delivered via C-section.

The next few years were a struggle as well. The economy tanked, my business was struggling, my marriage was struggling, I was unhappy and unable to stick to the nutrition and exercise I needed to manage my disease in the best possible way. I made some difficult life decisions during this time.

Around 2006 I finally got that motivation I needed to begin a fitness program. It actually started when I was watching Biggest Loser! I had topped off at my biggest non-pregnant weight at a little over 200 lbs. I'm 5' 2". I had been 120-125 at my healthiest. I began working out with the motivation I got from watching Biggest Loser. I committed myself to exercising any time I was in front of the TV. The weight started to come off. People were noticing! I was creeping back down toward a healthier weight.

In 2009 I started to train for a half marathon with a friend. In the spring I began running 5K races - one or two every weekend. At first I was slow, but my goal was to improve my time with each race. It was happening!! Then came race day and I DID IT - I ran a half-marathon! Two weeks later I did another, and dropped 17 minutes on my previous time. I was getting pretty excited about re-entering the competitive arena. It was more of a personal journey now, as opposed to the competitive days of my youth. I was setting personal goals ... and achieving them!! Now to set my sights on the big one, a marathon! I had signed up the year before, but was sidelined with kidney stones, so it was a no-go. This year, 2009, I was going to enter and run the Columbus Marathon in October!

In June, I volunteered at a small local triathlon to help out a race director I know. That day, I got bit by the tri bug once again! I raced home to look for the first sprint triathlon in the area and it was 2 weeks away. I signed up and dove head first back into triathlon! Next up, olympic distance - check! Impulsively I set my next sights on a half-iron distance triathlon, also known as a 70.3 triathlon. In September I was thrilled, and proud, to tackle and accomplish my goal of finishing a 70.3. In October I did complete my first, and second, marathon. Go big or go home, right? I felt good, healthy, and was injury-free. My body was adapting and feeling good after these events. I needed some tweaking in the BG department, so that was on my list, but otherwise, feeling fit and mentally good about my fitness goals.

This journey was complicated by the challenges of managing my diabetes. I am learning how to deal with carbohydrate metabolism, insulin dosing, and ultra-distance races. It's in inexact science. When things go badly in a race, due to my BG level, that is called a "bonk" - well technically you can bonk due to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or high or low BG, but the end result is: TROUBLE! I was lucky to have an endo doc that put me in contact with his Medtronics rep, Molly. Molly offered to let me wear a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) for 5 days surrounding a challenging triathlon. Valuable data was collected during that time and it allowed me to make changes that would be more beneficial for race day. I was doing things opposite of what was needed - stopping the oral meds and just relying on Lantus insulin (long acting) to maintain BG, but what was needed was the oral meds just before my races. I'll tackle insurance issues in a future post, but to clarify, this opportunity was of no charge to me or my insurance co., but a free opportunity to use the device and collect valuable data. I am grateful.

Enough for now ... next up: Triabetes and what 2010-2011 means to me.


Greetings my peeps! As many of you know - because I just cannot keep my yap shut - I am honored to be chosen as a team Triabetes Captain for the Great Lakes Region! :) I am excited, honored, and grateful for this fantastic opportunity. I will be blogging regularly as I tackle this undertaking and my challenging triathlon schedule that begins this weekend and will culminate on May 7th, 2011, as I do Ironman St. George with my teammates.

More to come, just wanted to establish myself here!
Take care,