Monday, April 11, 2011

Reality Check

Sooooo ... it's been a long time since I've blogged :(  SORRY!!  I'll try to bring you up to date and share my latest escapades with you.

First, in BIG NEWS: I reached my fund-raising goal!!!  WOOT! WOOT!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of you who have supported me. I am so grateful and touched, it's hard to put into words how much all your support has meant to me. Friends from childhood, HS, vet school, former co-workers, colleagues, cyber-friends, my "peeps", my family and even support from people I didn't know very well at all, just very peripherally through triathlon. The love ... I'm definitely feeling it!! I get very verklempt when I think of all the amazing support I've received over this past year.  And I've truly come to understand the challenges that come with fund-raising for a charity. I feel very strongly that my charity - Insulindependence, and Triabetes, just one of their outreach programs, is changing lives for children and adults with diabetes. You can see all the amazing people who've supported me, several with two or more donations, HERE.

In other news, many things are happening, some good, some bad.  Where to start ... PUMP! I have been thinking about getting an insulin pump. My doc said, when I brought it up, "It's about time!" I had no idea he'd thought it was an option for me! He sees mostly senior patients, so I'm a bit of an outlier for him. I've definitely brought challenges to him that he's not had to deal with before! But to his credit, he's been supportive, ponders my issues, and comes up with a plan. We try it. Sometimes it works, sometimes, not so much. He has zero experience with endurance athlete diabetics, so I give him credit for respecting what *I* bring to the table, as both a veterinarian with a strong medical background and being pretty knowledgeable in the disease, and in my experiences and challenges as I encounter them.

After researching, I chose Animas Ping as the pump for me.  I had just gotten done discussing costs with Animas, who worked with my insurance to figure out my cost. To paint the picture, I have "terrible" insurance - basically, catastrophic insurance. It's a high-deductible HSA - $10,000 high.  So, basically I pay for everything.  I had just recovered from buying my new carbon Felt bike, and my next venture was to tackle the purchase of a pump.  My Dexcom was purchased in the summer and it's supplies are an ongoing ebb and flow of cash-flow drain. I've gone weeks and a few months without it, just to pay other bills. Girl's got a mortgage, needs groceries, and has 3 kids! Let alone paying for my races!! Let's get our priorities straight here! :)  So, the plan was to pull the trigger with a 10% down payment in April on my Animas.  Late March, my father, who lives in Florida, and is NOT on Facebook, hears from his wife that I'm about to get this pump. He sends me this email: I've got one, not using it, not gonna use it, they won't take it back ... do you want it?" (paraphrasing!)  Um, YEAH!!!! SEND IT NOW! I'll pay for shipping!!!  He sends it promptly and I'm totally stoked at 1) GETTING A PUMP and 2) Getting it for FREE! (plus 3 months supplies ... which, with aseptic technique, I can stretch out to 6 months, I bet!).  Now for the insulin. I'll need to change ... Apidra is FAR too pricey for my pump. So after researching and consulting, I chose to start on Humalog, as it's cheapest. My doc calls it in and I call the pharmacy for the price of 2 x 10 ml bottles: $252. Um no!
How about ONE? $114.  Okay.   I then turn to a Canadian pharmacy where I can get 5 bottles for $145.  Or 10 bottles for about $250. Free shipping.  I don't want to get into expiration of insulin, so I got 5 bottles, which takes about 2 weeks to process. This will be fine for me.   I then consult with my peeps, including my friend Veronica Diaz, a nutritionist and CDE, as well as my local Animas rep, and we calculate my basal, overnight and carb/insulin ration, as well as my insulin sensitivity number. There were formerly all unknown to me! I had a crash course in pump training. I self-trained! The video was clear and helpful. I did 1 day on sterile saline then I pulled the trigger and loaded up the pump with Humalog.  The first week was good! The second week was GREAT! Unbeknownst to me, I had my quarterly Endo appt. on Friday. Brought in my Dexcom and they could see a HUGE improvement in just the 2 weeks. Before my graph bounced from 30 to 450 and looked ugly and bad ... now it's tight! I'm in range almost the entire time! Boo yah!

Next up: Weight gain.  This time last year I weight 120 lbs.  I was happy there. It was a fine number for me and I work clothes with a cute little number.  Last Sunday I stepped on the scale: 147.  Yes. I'VE GAINED 27 lbs since starting insulin!!!  Are there SOME other variables, sure. But not too much. It's the insulin. It puts that glucose into your body - and if you aren't burning it, it turns to fat.  Clearly I'm not burning enough calories.  I knew my clothes were getting tighter. It's a slippery slope and I was scared to head back into those big numbers again. I don't want to buy new clothes. And I don't want to be a stuffed sausage in my triathlon kits!! That's not a pretty picture for ANYONE!!!  

I desperately reached out to Veronica for some guidance. Could she put together a nutrition plan for me for the next 4 weeks so I can drop some weight before this race??  I had run a half marathon the Sunday of the 147 and I felt SO SLUGGISH, like I was moving through molasses. I need to drop weight, and drop it fast. But fasting is NOT healthy and I can't risk the negative effects of dieting drastically before this race. I was in a BAD place, emotionally.  Veronica was amazing and got me a meal plan to keep me focused. I wanted 1200 calories a day, but she fears it's too little. So, she made a 1200 cal day, 1500 cal day and 1800 cal day - with the thought being that if I'm doing a century ride and am in the saddle for 8 hrs, or running a 25 K, I need 1800 calories for those days.  Okay - fair enough! She's the expert! I am SO grateful for the help.  I've lost 6 lbs to date. I'm optimistic. I'm imposing strict "no crap" limits ... which is hard this time of year - EASTER - with all those delicious peeps and Reeses eggs! :(   Very sad. But necessary and I'm DESPERATE to drop at least 10 lbs by race day.  Larger goal is 115-118 for September's Rev3 full distance triathlon, my "A" race. Doable. As is my goal of dropping an hour off of that race time, but that's a story for another day.

So, in struggling with these issues, I find myself somewhat bipolar in experiencing panic, depression, disgust, anger at my lack of self-control and self-discipline, optimistic, trying to be supportive of myself, as I would be for any single one of my friends (why are we so much harder on ourselves???!!!???).  I've owned my issues. Owned my culpability, and acknowledge that a lot of it is NOT my fault too, and I'm putting it out there - for accountability. 

Moving on. Did a half-mary 2 weeks ago. Eh, it was not my best performance, but a decent training run, and chance to work with the pump in a race setting. I'd grade it as a solid C performance.

This past weekend, I upped the ante with a 25K race. I knew (know) my race holds up to about mile 9, MAYBE 13, but then deteriorates exponentially after that, so this was an effort to strengthen that. I had new shoes, which is always risky. It was a fine day, weather wise. I felt good! I had a nice steady pace going until ... mile 9.  Then started the walk/run method, which is a great strategy for the IM "run" leg. I walk fast, powerful, and swing my arms like a pendulum - a drive train - opening up my gait and moving me forward faster than any other "walker".  I would run until my HR hit 168 - that's where I hurt, walk for about 30-90 seconds, letting it drop down to 158, then start up again running, feeling "refreshed". That worked well ... for a while. Then some blisters started on the balls of my feet. Eh, I knew that was a possibility. The thing that, in hind sight, bums me out, is that Angie Ridgel had suggested Aquaphor in the past, and I forgot to try it! Grrr. I will try it on my long run this Friday.  My BG was great - no issues there.  Got passed by some friends - no biggie, I can handle it. Got passed by the plus-sized girls (you GO girls!). Yes, I could handle it. Got passed by an old man - I'm talking 70s!  (Way to go buddy!).  Feeling a bit dejected by this time, but still, it's just a training run, no reason to make this more of a "failure" right?  Then, come to realize ... I'm DEAD LAST.  Yes. LAST. And to add insult to injury, the "pace car" decides to "idle" along side me the entire last mile (that I forced myself to run, out of pure humiliation!!) Dude, do you have to drive next to me, at 1 mph?  Can't you drive ahead and say, hey, our last runner has a blue hat - she's a mile out.  That would have been SO much less humiliating!!!  UGH!  (Possibly, to their defense - they DID know I was diabetic, because at the last aid station I asked them to top off my gatorade with some concentrate, so I wouldn't need to drink as much volume. They had it "put away"... do I want them to go get it?? No. I'm okay.  Then about 5 min later they came chasing after me with the concentrate ... I think they were worried about me ... or, at least let me believe that, rather than the "snail-pace" runner!)  My average pace was 11:23/mi ...knowing I did a 9:10 mile pace for the first 8-9 miles, you can see that I deteriorated. But hell, I wasn't CRAWLING!!

Okay, that was humiliating. Clearly I have lots of work to do.  I go home and guess what: Hematuria and glucosuria :(  Laymans terms: The stones are on the move (or less likely, exercised-induced hematuria)  No ketones though.  Okay - I'm convinced - I will call urologist MONDAY!

Moving on, SUNDAY was to be my big century ride. Remember folks, I live in Cleveland! We don't get to ride outside until APRIL typically. This would be my MAIDEN VOYAGE for Felicity, my new Felt B16 Carbon Triathlon bike.  I was invited to join a group of riders leaving out of Brecksville by the awesome Ed Slovenkay.  Now, many of my Triabetes Captains know Ed, for all of his awesomeness, but let me tell you, what you know, is not even the tip of the iceberg!  This guy is such an amazing athlete!!  And, he's taken on a bit of a coaching role for me, as well as a positive supporter of Triabetes. His step-daughter Rachel is my triabuddy! I got lucky with a triabuddy and a very cool friend when I met Ed.
To give you a bit more background on Ed, he's done 2 IM that I'm aware of, and does them in, like, 10 hrs or something ridiculously good like that.  This year he's training for IMLP (which I'm going to as an IRONFAN - CAN"T WAIT!!!) and hopes to qualify for Kona, as he's turning "40" (Oh, so old!!).  Well, I see him training each Sunday, and hear of his workouts, and I will put $1000 down that Ed Slovenkay qualifies for Kona this year! He's just such a committed, knowledgeable, and superb athlete! And he's very humble and gracious ... not one of those blow-hards that are good and know it!

Getting back to my RIVETING story ... Ed invited me to ride with his group. Knowing FULL WELL, I am SOOOO out of his league, I put out several FB calls for B riders to join me. No takers. Well, my bad, because I am NOT a "B" rider ... I'm a C- rider. This is factual and irrevocable at this particular point in my "triathlon career".  So, no takers.  I'm okay with this. I've done 2 full century rides, not including IM races, both solo. I think there is a lot to be said by doing this alone. It simulates the mentality you face on race day. Right??? You are ALONE on your race day ... with only yourself to motivate or criticize yourself. So, I was fully prepared to ride alone!!! This is absolutely true and I wish I'd had made this clear to Ed from the onset. He assured me I wouldn't be dropped, but that just went out the door, as I never planned to stay with him at all. In hindsight, I should have had this conversation with him prior to Sunday.  

He'd sent the course, and I had the cue sheet. I was familiar with much of the route. I was nervous, mostly because I didn't know most of the riders, and, it was to be my first ride on Felicity. There's an adjustment - like learning where your brakes are, how to shift, and fine-tuning your "stuff".  I had a backpack - which had everything I needed for a LONG day. The weather was set to be in the 70's. I arrived at Starbucks and chatted briefly with Steve Thompson and Kim Shaheen.  Janet Edwards arrived, and Martha Wood, everyone else, I did not know. I was very nervous by this time ... I can't explain why ... I'm typically pretty social and fine in these situations, but they all had their BAFF kit or Fleet Feet, whatever - they were all WAY better cyclists - a huge group of "A" riders. So, my HR was up from the get go. 

We started out on 21 south. If you know the area ... it's an undulating climb. And climb, and climb. Long rises, not steep. By 30 seconds into the ride, I was topping out at 172 HR. Panic.  I couldn't catch my breath. I was afraid to shift my gears into a lower gear and the pack pulled away EXPONENTIALLY!   It was quite dramatic. I did a lot of self-talk: It's okay, just let them go, you'll enjoy this so much more. (bullshit! still felt bad!) I also felt like about 496 lbs and couldn't catch my breath.  I made a decision right then and there: I AM NOT - NOT!!! - doing IMSG.  I'm OUT!  I will fake an ACL tear.  Pass a friggin' kidney stone. Swerve into an oncoming vehicle to create some catastrophe ... but I am SOOOOOOO - SO - NOT DOING IMSG!!!  F-this!!! I'm not ready. I wish I could get the last 6 months back ... I feel like I've never ridden a bike before.  I was happy to be distracted with all the possibilities to bald-face lie to get out of doing St. George. It was NOT going to happen. Shit, I'm not even going to spectate. Who was the G.D. imbecile that thought IMSG was a "good idea" for an average person to take on??? I could kill him/her right now!!!

By this time, the pack is LONG GONE. My HR comes down. I'm still OUT for IMSG, but I figure I'll just enjoy this ride and use it to build for my "A" race in September.  Next thing I know, I see a rider heading back (against traffic!!) and I KNOW it's Ed ... he's feeling crappy.   Well, it WAS Ed. He's trying to pump me up ... but I'm WAY, WAY, WAY out of his league. He says, c'mon, draft, I'll pull you!  Dude, you'd need a John Deere and tow rope to pull me! I tell him I'm fine, please, go back with your group. I'll feel awful if you babysit me. I'm FINE. I'm fully prepared. I have EVERYTHING I could possibly need, including the cue sheet, and I promise to call if I have trouble. PLEASE rejoin your group!!??!!  I cannot handle the guilt of you riding with me today. You go work on your goal - I want you to make it to Kona so "I" can say I know a Kona qualifier!!!  He FINALLY believes that I mean what I say ... he makes me promise to call if I need him, then he was off in a flash catching that long-gone peloton.  Whew. Now I can just do my ride.

My plan was to ride 50 miles south, turn around and come back. Little did I know 21 dead-ends into 18 in Montrose. I stop there to use the facilities at a hotel, check in, and sent Ed a long text reiterating that I'm really, REALLY fine.  I posted on FB (how could you expect that I would not??!!??), just to let hubby and friends know I'm okay. I'm in Montrose - never been there before. I pull up my iphone GPS and see that I can take Sand Run (or something similar) east and eventually end up in the CVNP. So, that's what I do. I loved that ride - by this time it had gone from CHILLY to nice, and there were lots of people out, on this first, beautiful weekend. It was very enjoyable ride! I was learning my bike, and I must say that my Adamo saddle is Da Bomb!!! Love it!!! I was pretty damned comfortable given the 8.5 hours on the bike ... but I digress ...

Turning onto Riverview Rd was a familiar ride to me and I knew of the steep climbs I'd encounter at, specifically, 3 separate spots. I'll own it: I dismounted and walked 3 separate climbs. Hey, it's the level of rider I am - I wasn't able to complete the climbs on the bike. The weather was great, and there were tons of riders out - I had a super ride. I took Riverview all the way up to Chillicothe Rd (Rt. 82) and looped back to my car. Had 2 Clif bars, texted Ed letting him know I was half done, and he was at mile 75. He thought we might see each other, but I knew otherwise ... there is no way in hell I'll be there when you will, you'll be long gone! :)  By this time, it was getting quite warm so I took off my arm warmers and my cycling boots and made the best decision of the day: I would REVERSE the loop for the second lap! I was feeling tired, but not exhausted. I was ready.

Now, I should backtrack a bit to say that I'm a nervous rider. It's improved over time, but I'm still pretty sure that any day I'm doing a long ride, I am likely going to die. Hit by car, specifically.  So many drivers are unaware that legally then need to share the road. So, I am resolved that this will be my final day of life, and I am at peace with this. But, on THIS particular day, I am NOT at peace with it. You see, while I know that my children will be sad to lose their mother, and my husband will be sad to be a widower, my primary concern on THIS day, is that if today is the day of my demise, it will be on my BFF's BIRTHDAY, and that's a shitty anniversary of the death of your friend. AND, should I perish today, poor Ed Slovenkay will likely feel wracked with guilt and spiral down into a deep depression, and there will go his Kona aspirations for 2011! I just cannot have TODAY be my death day! So, I was very diligent in my safety, taking breaks when I needed them, and being sure that when I became fatigued, I would take a rest and stretch, rest, eat and hydrate. I was on no timeline here. There were moments where I was a bit shaky on the bike, due to exhaustion, but I quickly refocused and was sure to do my best not to die on 4/10/2011! :)

Clearly I did not die!  AND, the pinnacle of the ride was the GLORIOUS descent down the undulating hills of Rt. 21! I topped out at 42 mph! I felt good and was happy to be done. I texted Ed to let him know I was done, and safe.  He replied that, while he was happy for me, he felt very guilty.  NO!!  No, No, NO!!  Guilt is SUCH an unproductive emotion! There was NOTHING to feel guilty about. I had a good day. It was fun. I felt better ... even to the point of rethinking my DNS from St. George. (Yes, I'm going to do it!). This day was exactly what I needed. I built up my mental toughness, I worked on some mental race strategies, and, overall, had a really good day!! If Ed was going to feel crappy about any of this, it would take away all the GOOD it did for me. I was emphatic that I was FULLY prepared to ride solo and he had to PROMISE me not to feel guilty.  He relented, and I hope he means it!  He's such a great guy ... and I'm greatful for everything that happened that day! I learned a lot about myself on Sunday.  A LOT.   I did it.  And while I'll never be a podium threat, that's not at all what Ironman is for me ... it's the personal, private testing of the limits of what I can do physically, mentally and emotionally.  I'm okay being an average age-grouper. More than okay - I'm proud! How many of my friends are Ironman finishers? Not a huge percentage!  And I'm proud of anyone that tackles ANY challenge ... it's pushing the limits and seeing what you are made of.  I didn't curl into a ball and cry (although, in all honesty, there might have been a nanosecond of thought of doing that!) :)

Finally, moving on ... my BG was fab the entire day on Sunday. Today? Not so much. No hematuria. No glycosuria. But ketones. :(   I always have a rough few days after an exertional event or training session.  I'm finally below 200 (157 at 6:30pm) after being between 350-450 all day.  I struggle with hitting that bolus button. I feel like each bolus hit will plop another pound on my ass. That's not acceptable!! So, it's this challenging situation that I am unsure if I'll ever perfect. I have GOOD days, where I'm optimistic, and all Pollyanna in my attitude about the 'betes ... then there are the dark, gloomy days where I wonder if I'm going to need to buy new clothes, moving up a size. NOOOOOO! I don't want that!! Sometimes I feel like I need to choose between being fit (and "thinner") and having high BGs, or having good BGs and plumping up. Now, I DO know how shallow that sounds ... but ladies, c'mon, you know what I mean, right???   As someone who topped out at over 212, I fear that backslide. I'm trying to find that balance where maybe I'm not a size 4, with a crappy A1c, and not a size 16 with a great A1c. It's an irrational fear, but it's my reality ... my blog, so I get to say what I feel.  I want to weigh 118 and wear size 6 ... AND have an A1c of 6.1!  Is that too much to ask??   Okay, I'll drop this ... my point is not to inflame anyone, or to judge - that's not who I am - except for myself. My struggles are personal and real and often VERY, VERY HARD.  It's hard to watch that muffin-top develop over that kit that used to fit oh-so-well.  So, I'll continue to work with my dietician, my support peeps, and do the RIGHT thing, which is not always the easiest thing.

So, there you have it! You are up to date ... please know that IMSG is a survival race for me. I am NOT good with hills. I'm a hill wimp. IMSG is chalk full of mountains hills, and I saw first hand how hard that course was for what appeared to be super-fit athletes last year. I am not afraid to admit it: I AM SCARED!  I'm scared of DNFing. I'm not afraid of pain. I just don't want to fail - at this - the finale of my incredible journey as a Triabetes Captain.  So, with that being said, if you are open to helping me strengthen my ride and run over these next 3 weeks, PLEASE, ask me to join you. I'll do my best, I won't beat myself up, I don't need you to babysit me, but I can use all the ass-prodding I can get to get out and cycle, run.  While most of my other captains are beginning taper, I am just not ready. I have no injuries, I need to toughen up my feet, and ... ugh ... get in Lake Erie for 15 minutes, so I will continue with my base building, since I cannot find a time-machine to get me back to December. I must continue with what I have, and build on it a bit more. Three more weeks for me.  Oh, and one last item ... I meet with my urologist Wed. after having x-rays. I'm going to try to schedule Lithotripsy for April 29th.  My urologist is cool, a realist, and if I'm totally nuts to consider this, she'll tell me. We'll just have to see how it plays out! Damn you, kidney stones!!!

Peace out, my beloved Peeps!!


  1. Where to start? First congrats on reaching your fundraising goal. That is no small task I am have no been afraid to even try such a feat!

    Saturday's 25k sounds like u had a lot u were dealing with...way to practice some IM run stategy and make the best of it.

    Moving on to sunday, I totally echo the ed sentiments...what a phenom athlete and good person. I wish I coulda made u more comfy that morn. That climb up 21 was sorta a rough way to start but unfortunately not a lot of other options. Nonetheless I fancy U as so much mentally tougher than I as I never would do it solo. I cannot tell ya how much credit I give ya!

    You are awesome in my book girl, hugs!

  2. Tiffany, can I just say that I absolutely LOVE reading your blog because you are so real, so funny, and so much like me in your thought processes! I have had every single one of those thoughts you had while riding with Ed. I have decided to quit or fake an injury so many times, and then I have forced myself through and been so proud that I finished, and realized that no matter how slow I might be...I will still be able to finish. I just hope I feel that way on IMSG day! I am SCARED to DEATH for IMSG, and still fear I've never done enough, but it's too late now and I'm going to try. I have learned so much from you, and I'm truly INSPIRE me and I cannot tell you how much I love you and appreciate our friendship. You get it. You and I are in such similar situations, and I love knowing I'm not alone. Love you!!!