Race Report: Ironman Syracuse 70.3, 6/21/15 (Or, That Time I Got Pulled Off the Course and Finished the Race Inside My Hotel, Part 1)

The summer solstice this year brought my very first half Ironman triathlon! This race report was getting too long, so I broke it into two parts. For those of you who can’t stomach even that, here’s the extreme short version:

  1. Swim: Fun!
  2. Bike: AHHHH!
  3. Run: An odyssey and a HALF!

Read on for the full story. Continue reading

Things I Googled Before & After the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 Triathlon

Before:

  • “Triathlon transition tips”
  • “Change clothes during half Ironman”
  • “what do you wear under a wetsuit”
  • “Syracuse 70.3 race report”
  • “Ironman Syracuse bike course”
  • “Ironman Syracuse bike elevation map”
  • “Prospect Park elevation map”
  • “How to not die on hills cycling”
  • “Syracuse weather forecast”
  • “Cycling in the rain”
  • “Ironman DNF”

After:

  • “Ironman weather refund policy”
  • “I did my own half Ironman”
  • “Victory GIFs”

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Full race report to come.

Ironman Dispatch: Ker-SPLAT

I have christened my Ironman training with a bike crash!

Two Saturdays ago, I was riding on Route 9W, the road city cyclists can take from the George Washington Bridge all the way through New York State. My plan was far less ambitious. I was just riding from my apartment, up the West Side Highway, over the GW, and then enough out-and-back on 9W to total 55-60 miles.

The “out” portion took me past Piermont, through Grandview and almost to Nyack. As I was riding back, I came to a rare intersection with a stoplight. The light was red and no cars were coming. Two cars on my side of the road were stopped. I decided to slow down and pedal through.

Except there was a patch of gravel in the space between one car and the curb, and it was deep enough to cause my wheel to lose grip and spin out.

Like any fall, it was both immediate and endless. Before I knew it I was on the ground, and yet I had enough time to think, Oh no, I’m wobbling. Oh crap, I’m not going to make it through this. Here I go. I’m going down!

Splat.

I can’t remember how I got unclipped, or how my bike was positioned in relation to my body. All I know is that I leapt up and immediately grabbed my bike, afraid the cars would run me over with the (now green) light. One driver stared blankly at me; the other rolled down his window and asked if I was okay. I glanced down and found no major pain, bleeding, or broken bones, so I waved him off and they drove on while I pulled over to the grass to collect myself.

Heart pounding from the shock (and efforts to maintain a cool exterior after wiping out in front of strangers), I checked myself over first. There was road rash all over my left leg and right elbow, but otherwise not too bad. Then I looked down at my bike.

The front wheel was turned 90 degrees and the left handlebar was wedged UNDER the top tube.

I grabbed the tube and pushed on the handlebar edge. Nothing.

I set the bike against the stoplight pole and pushed some more. Nope.

The effort got progressively more Herculean. I tried with my feet, with my hands. It wouldn’t budge. I tried pulling on the top tube, just enough that it might flex and I could pop the handlebar with the other hand. Still nothing. I was panting, and now covered with sweat along with blood and gravel.

I remember hearing about some study that found that shouting curse words is a constructive release of emotion compared to other activities. Or maybe it was just Facebook clickbait. In any case, nobody was coming, so I laid into it. Like the dad in A Christmas Story, I wove a tapestry of obscenities that may still be hanging in space over the swamps of Jersey.

“PIECE OF SH{_}T!” Yank. “SON OF A LYING TOOTHLESS B{_}TCH!” Pull. “DON’T F[_}CK WITH ME, YOU PATHETIC PILE OF–” Struggle, heave, go cross-eyed.

Finally, with one foot on the top tube, both hands on the handlebars, and a resounding shout of “MOTHERF{_____}CKER!!!!” I pried it free.

I let out one more exultant “F{_}CK!” for good measure. Just in time, as a cyclist came whizzing through three seconds later.

Now it was just a matter of getting home. I had another 13 miles or so until I reached Manhattan, and any train that could return me to my doorstep. I wheeled my bike back on to 9W and hopped on. The handlebars were still crooked.

Glancing around to make sure no cars were coming, I took off and started to pedal. Hmmm….gears turning smoothly. Wheel is okay. I can still steer even though the handlebars are off. Can I make it?

An hour or so later I did, just with a killer shoulder ache from my crooked stance. I texted my beau to request a shower beer and a pat on the head for the return home, and descended to the A train for the 90 minute ride home.

“How long was the ride?” a stranger asked me as I was eating my last Honey Stinger waffle.

“Fifty-five miles.”

“What?!” he gasped. “That’s crazy! I only go, like, ten or fifteen! Fifty-five? You’re nuts.”

I just nodded. “I know.”

Sadly, my blood sugar was atrocious post-ride….something around 256 once I got back. I ate that waffle on the train without bolusing, which was dumb because often BG will spike after endurance events (because the body is still spitting out glucose etc. for muscle uptake, even though activity has stopped). Plus, the physiological stress of skidding across the road and wrestling with my bike couldn’t have helped. So close to a shower beer, and yet so far! (Spoiler alert: I drank it anyway. Bad diabetic.)

It’s far from the worse bike crash I’ve ever had, but it certainly wasn’t fun. That said, I knew it was coming, and many other triathletes on Facebook echoed that sentiment. Up next: tipping over because I can’t unclip in time. And butt chafing. I still have those two things to look forward to. Until now, I have some more scars to add to the collection!

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I am training for Ironman Wisconsin as part of team Riding on Insulin. This terrific nonprofit runs diabetes camps for children and adults alike, providing both practical experience and hope. I’d love it if you supported my fundraising efforts here: https://www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=350567

Race Report: Brooklyn Half Marathon, 5/16/2015

The Brooklyn Half this year was one of the goofiest races I’ve ever done.

I signed up a while back, excited to finally be able to run it after several years in a row of inconvenient scheduling (travel, May marathons, etc.). Following my Ironman training calendar, I had originally planned on running it comfortably hard. That plan went down the tubes the night before the race with my second or third happy hour margarita. Much like all those margaritas ended up down the toilet tubes. Twice.

5 AM and the resulting hangover came really fast.

Then at 6 AM there was a broken rail on the 2/3 train to the start, so I was rerouted and underground for an hour despite being in the same borough. Then, since we had to get off a different stop, I had to walk an additional mile or so. Missed my original wave 1 start. Fortunately, this gave me plenty of time to rehydrate and contemplate the last time I had gotten that sloshed. (Don’t worry, it was a long long time ago. I only had so much fun because an out-of-town friend was visiting and we were celebrating his recent promotion and he holds his liquor much better than I do and SURE A PITCHER OF MARGARITAS SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA!)

So there I was, in the wave 2 start line, having finally cleared the bag check, metal detectors, and porta-potties, when I turn around and spot a giant Maggie Simpson head.

I rubbed my eyes. I can’t still be drunk, can I?!

No, it was a giant Maggie Simpson hat, upon the head of….my running teammate Dana!?

I look next to her and there’s my teammate Jess, wearing a bee costume that I had definitely seen before.

And next to her were a group of other Team in Training friends.

And at the other end….our teammate Mara. Dressed in a full-body cow suit.

I elbowed my way through the crowd and hollered, “Hi guys!”

“Hi!” they all said. “We’re doing a 3:1 run/walk. Want to join us?”

NEW RACE PLAN ACTIVATED.

 photo Brooklyn Half 1.jpg

Everyone in the group had a reason to take it easy, whether it was illness, a recent race, injury, or wanting to relax and have fun during a backyard race. So we ran for three minutes and walked for one minute the whole way. We stopped at every mile marker and body-spelled “GOING HALFSIES.”

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Not wearing a costume, I felt a bit like the nerdy girl who crashes the cool kids’ party. SO many people pointed and laughed or said something. I get that some athletes get annoyed at the costumed runners, the run-walkers, or those who otherwise don’t appear to take things seriously. I’ve been stuck behind the cast of the Wizard of Oz in a race, I get it. But this was HILARIOUS. People buzzed and mooed at us. Nobody could remember Maggie Simpson’s name and kept calling Dana Marge or Lisa. Or “chickenhead.” We spent many miles coming up with cow and bee puns….dressed in all our bovinery, this is udderly fantastic…..running too fast would certainly sting, but we have to bee aggressive (be! be aggressive!)….

Relaxing during a local race means you can stop and hug and high-five any friends who are out on the course. Including our teammate Flegar, whose tradition is to hang out around mile 11 dressed in little else beyond an American flag Speedo.

 photo BK Half 2.jpg

Despite feeling like bollocks (although the hangover did melt off somewhere in Prospect Park), I had the best time. I think I spent most of those 13.1 miles laughing. We finished in some absurdly slow time that was certainly my personal worst. But I consider this one a PR in fun for the half marathon.

 photo BK Half screenshot.png

Adding to the fun? The afterparty was at MCU Park, the ballfield, and the band was Slavic Soul Party! One of my favorite bands, and a thrill to my Balkan-brass-loving heart!

When I got back home, I remembered that this wasn’t the first time I had experienced costumes at the Brooklyn Half. Here’s the 2013 race, when I cheered for friends after a tapered long run. One of those friends was Pam……dressed as a Nathan’s hot dog.

 photo 2013-05-18 09.40.32.jpg

Diabetes Blog Week: Continuing Connections

I was so good at keeping up with #DBlogWeek until the last day. Technically it’s over but here’s my contribution to the last topic, mainly because I would like to shout out some cool D-bloggers!

The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it’s held every year. So let’s help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week. Share a link to a new blog you’ve found or a new friend you’ve made. Or pick a random blog off of the Participant’s List, check it out and share it with us. Let’s take some time today to make new friends.

New to me is Polina of T1D and Gluten Free. She’s a D-mom who reached out to me as a fellow runner. I salute anyone out there who raises a kid with diabetes and celiac. Sometimes I think having celiac would be even more difficult (socially) than diabetes. Together?! That’s a feat of serious love and effort.

During #Dblogcheck a couple months ago, I found Nerdy April’s Space Adventures. April is trying to become the first Type 1 diabetic in space. She recently became certified as an ACDO, meaning she’s one of the pilots of the International Space Station. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! Go soak up the nerdy goodness.

Finally, I have known about Celine at Running on Carbs for a while, but it was nice to go back and catch up on her athletic achievements and blogging. She does five bazillion sports (Triathlon! Curling! Golf!) and it’s fun to read about.

That’s it for Diabetes Blog Week 2015! Karen at Bittersweet Diabetes is a champ for organizing this….and reading ALL the posts. That’s…..maybe….the word count equivalent of all of Game of Thrones so far. Perhaps with just as much blood??

You can read more Day 7 posts here.

Diabetes Blog Week: Favorites and Motivations

The week is nearly over, and here is Saturday’s prompt: If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.)

I think it’s fun to write, so that’s why I started blogging.

Thanks to this topic, I went to the Wayback Machine and found the very first webpages I made……a few Expages sites back in 1999. I read HTML books and ran contests and had this whole network of fellow teenage nerdy girls. I’m not linking because my 13-year-old writing skills….do not deserve to be on here. (SO. MUCH. “KEWL.”) But it was hilarious.

I kept a Livejournal for many years as an older teen, another place filled with humor and angst. Someday I’ll go digging for the best writing there.

I was a guest blogger on ACT1Diabetes for a while. The site is down; hopefully only temporarily because most of my posts on there don’t seem to have migrated to the Wayback Machine. Here’s one, and one of the best…..not for the writing so much as the memories. Simonpalooza, Big Apple Edition.”

But it occurred to me, as we were sitting around at the bowling alley noshing on special-edition Simonpalooza cupcakes (thanks to Tina) and shooting the breeze…..that this gathering was all about love. Usually diabetes meetups occur because of a larger event: World Diabetes Day, the rally for the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases, even dinner after an ACT1 support group. But that day was the first time for me that we were gathered simply to share the love and power of community. To meet new friends and greet old ones again. To talk for hours about everything besides diabetes, but to not bat an eye when a CGM starts alarming or somebody needs glucose tabs. And an opportunity for Simon to share with all of us his profound gratitude for being, in his own words, his “closest allies through a period of near blindness and extreme disability, nurs[ing] me through erratic and unpredictable blood sugars….”

“I consider some of my ‘online’ friends closer than family, for without their support and understanding of the diabetic journey I shudder to think where things might have ended in my spiral into depression and isolation.”

As for Chortling Towards Bethlehem, I’m most pleased with the research I did on the subtle science of racism. If you want something funny, there’s also that time I fell while running, bled everywhere, broke my Dexcom, and met the weirdest tennis player ever.

I’m excited to read other people’s responses to this one! We can read more Day 6 posts here.

Diabetes Blog Week: Cheese and Other Things I Eat

In honor of Katy and her birthday, today’s prompt is hers:  Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.  (Thank you, Katy of  Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes for this topic.)

There’s only one thing I eat almost every day.

CHEESE.

 photo cheese halo.jpg
I actually found this image on a site for vegan cheese, SSHH DONT’ SPEAK OF THE ATROCITY

I love cheese. Diabetes plus Scotch-Irish guts means that I can eat pounds of it and be the happiest camper. I love hard cheese, soft cheese, packaged deli cheese, fancy cheese that gets paired with wine, fancy cheese that gets paired with beer, gooey melted cheese on sandwiches, string cheese in cute packages, stinky cheese from France, an entire plate of fried cheese that’s meant to be an appetizer but really I can devour it all myself…..

I’m salivating just writing this.

 photo cheese medley.jpg
PARADISE

So I’ll eat cheese and deli meat for breakfast if I wake up with a high blood sugar. I eat cheese on sandwiches for lunch. 75% of my life, lunch is a sandwich from Subway. Because it’s tasty and moderately healthy and carb-countable. Coworkers make fun of me but HATERS GONNA HATE, PANCREAS NOT GONNA PAN-CREATE INSULIN ANYTIME SOON.

I eat cheese as a snack when I get home from work because I always want something to nosh on then, even if I’m not hungry.

Sometimes when I get home late from choir rehearsal or running practice, I’ll eat a snack beforehand and just have cheese and crackers for dinner.

As for Actually Cooking Food, I’m not blessed with much talent or interest in that department. I do it so my dude and I can have dinners together. Bless my lucky stars, he LOVES to cook and will often whip up delicious Asian food for us to eat.

Or we just get noveau-Mexican delivery from up the block and veg out.

I really like food, I’m just bad at planning for it, making it, or eating the leftovers of it before they start to go bad in the fridge. To inspire creative use of food, and also because I LOVE CHEESE GUYS, here is a picture of a cheese dress.

 photo cheese dress.png
Dress courtesy of http://www.facepalm.com

Read more Food on Friday posts here.

Diabetes Blog Week: What Should Change About Diabetes?

Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

This one is easy.

I’d change the lopsided power structures and unjust systems that keep poor people sick.

Multiple scientists agree that social class is the biggest determinant of health. Being poor increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. (I’ll give you studies, upon request.)

Both adults and children across the world die every day from poverty, corruption, and lack of insulin.

This is not a matter of “this could use changing.” This NEEDS changing.

Read more Day 4 “Changes” posts here.

Diabetes Blog Week: Let’s Face It, Sometimes We’re All Idiots

Wednesday of Diabetes Blog Week brings us this prompt:

Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let’s clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.)

I’m airing a potentially unpopular opinion here.

Many people join the DOC flock because they find a group of people who “just get it.” People who understand the difficulties of diabetes. People who don’t judge you for your problems with it.

It’s an essential function for the mental and emotional well-being of many. I can’t tell you how many testimonies I’ve seen of people who feel renewed, accepted, understood, and embraced wholeheartedly when they start talking to other PWDs. I felt that way too when I first found online and in-person support around 2010.

Sometimes I wonder if it goes too far.

Sometimes I cringe when I see comments saying, “It’s TOTALLY okay that you skipped a workout because of a low!” or “Go you for eating that giant fudge sundae!”

Sometimes I think we’re too quick to say, “Diabetes just doesn’t make sense!” when really…..we just made a mistake that we can’t figure out.

Can we all ‘clear out’ our ability to talk about D-mistakes honestly? All things being equal, a diabetic has way more decisions to make on a daily basis than a non-diabetic. With all those pathways just in the course of a typical lunch, of course we have a higher chance of borking something. It happens.

Can we ‘clear out’ our tendency to blame the mysteries of D? I do this an awful lot, but Marcus at Sweet Victory got me thinking. “What you’re dealing with is fourth grade math and eighth grade chemistry,” he says. Ginger Vieira, in her book Your Diabetes Science Experiment, is a big proponent of this too, and outlines various exercises for that eighth grade chemistry in her book. I know if I put in more effort, I can figure things out better.

Can we ‘clear out’ our lackadaisical side and be more supportive….by way of positive accountability? Look, if you really want that hot fudge sundae and you accept the resulting blood glucose atrocity, dig in. If you’re intimidated by starting a Couch to 5K program, I would be too if I had never run before. I wonder if we as a community can both accept people wholeheartedly as they are AND help each other be better. I know I’m inspired by PWDs who are kicking ass at life. I could do better at a lot of things, from doing planks to changing my pen needles to giving more cash to Spare a Rose.

Now that I have ‘cleaned out’ this thing that has been bugging me for a while, time to change my lancet, floss my teeth for the first time in two weeks, and actually get eight hours of sleep. And then log my BG response to all that tomorrow.

success kid photo: success kid 1246405349165.png

Read more “Clean It Out” posts here.

Diabetes Blog Week: Is My Business…Your Business?

It’s day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week, and here is the prompt.

Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see. What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet? Or from your family and friends? Why is it important to keep it to yourself? (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone. There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects. Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.)

When I say “business” above, I mean literally.

Diabetes and healthcare became my career path when, as a soon-to-be-unemployed college senior, I started looking at job and volunteer postings with gusto. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to live. The economy was in the tank. Well…., I thought to myself, what am I passionate about? What do I care most about?

While I wish I could be a professional U2 groupie, I also have at least a scrap of logic. So I started searching for listings that included “diabetes.”

Lo and behold, I found an Americorps position in New York City through Community Health Corps. I applied, got in, moved to the Big Apple, and…it stuck. Six years after those Google searches, I still help patients with diabetes, through counseling or encouragement or concrete services like yelling at insurance companies for not covering test strips.

My business life has given me great insight into issues facing the diabetes online community and my personal life with the big D. I try to chime in when there might be useful information to share. Before the Affordable Care Act passed, I shared info about patient assistance programs for insulin and test strips. I’ve waded into conversations about clinical guidelines for newly diagnosed T2s, and whether or not they need to see an endo. (Answer: generally not right away! Usually a PCP works with a T2 patient to manage diabetes, and refers to an endo if their A1C remains persistently high.)

But there’s a world of patient stories that I don’t have the right to share. There are my own feelings of burnout, both with healthcare and with my own diabetes after talking D all day at work. There are worries about our broken healthcare (sick care) system that nag at me, and especially the ways in which hospitals as we know them are very bad at fixing the root causes that make people sick– namely, poverty and social inequality. I’m bad at talking about that last point as much as I should.

For privacy I try to stay semi-anonymous about my work, although I’m sure anyone with a certain amount of google-fu could figure it out. There are two sides to my diabetes life, business and personal. If you read here, you’re much more likely to get the personal. Most of the professional stuff…..I’m keeping to myself for now.

Read more Day 2 posts here.

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