Ironman Lake Placid 70.3 Race Report, Part 1: Half the Distance, Twice the Fun

I’m so relieved and proud to say that my redemption race was a HUGE success. It was a 70.3, so I’m still not an Ironman. But the months of training paid off in ways I didn’t expect. Here’s part 1 of 2 of my race report!

Day Before:

My Saturday started when our cat got needy and jumped on my chest to lick my face. At 4 AM. Oh well, it would make getting up for race day slightly less terrible. Right? I had to roll out at 5 AM anyways with my teammate Alix. We couldn’t go earlier due to work and family commitments. (Fortunately, my family commitment was vacation. On the beach. Yup, sleeping 10 hours a day and drinking margaritas was the greatest taper I’ve ever had.)

We arrived in the Adirondacks after blasting The Hold Steady, ate brunch at the Noon Mark Diner (yummm), checked in, and picked up our swag at the expo and the merch tent. I put my feet up and relaxed for a couple hours afterwards.

Then I regretted relaxing because I lost my registration packet and had to go on a wild goose chase for it.

Then I really regretted relaxing when my bike chain jammed as I rode it down to the athlete village for the aforementioned wild goose chase.

Okay, it turned out fine. I accidentally set the packet down at the merchandise tent and a volunteer was holding it for me, which we figured out in about 15 minutes. The side adventure fortunately meant that I bumped into my ROI teammates Jeff and Ann while finally checking in my bike!

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Thanks to Lisa and Ann for making this photo happen! 

Diabetes was a real pickle. My BGs were high all day from the pre-race butterflies. Then I corrected for the highs and pre-bolused for our team pasta dinner and wound up low. Thank goodness for our amazing cheer squad/chefs Amanda, Michelle, and Sam, who slipped me some emergency garlic bread. And cooked a delicious dinner for 25 people from scratch to boot! I was too distracted by laughter and baked ziti to feel too crappy.

I laid out my transition stuff while listening to Raleigh Richie to cool my nerves, then turned in with dreams of the start AND finish in mind.

Pre-Race/The Swim

I woke up at 4:30 AM with a BG of 225. One thing that’s working for me is to take my correction bolus separate from my breakfast bolus. Coach Cliff Scherb also suggested to us ROI athletes that we try a carb-loading lunch and a normal dinner to prevent race morning BG issues. (Next time… you don’t get home-cooked dinners for every race!)

All of us in the house were up and cracking poop jokes before dawn. Then we ventured into the Arctic.

A post shared by Tim Crossley (@timcrossley) on

Photo courtesy of cheer squad member Tim

 

The race morning forecast was nobody’s friend. The air temperature was in the high 30s, and the water was about 63 degrees. I opted for a warm-up swim, which for me was REALLY helpful. I got a wee headache from putting my face in at first, but got acclimated to the water and did some laps while hearing the gun go off and seeing the fastest swimmers start. (And one overenthusiastic chubby guy who might have snuck up there for the glory….) Getting out and finding my place in line for the rolling start was less pleasant, as the air chilled my extremities for another ~25 minutes. I kept warm by dancing to the start line music. Others had the same idea, which was good fun but also probably looked idiotic as we bopped around to Macklemore because #triathlonsowhite.

At the start of IMWI I got U2, and at the start of LP 70.3 I got back-to-back Bruce Springsteen tunes. Others around me were probably annoyed that I was belting out “BORN DOWN IN A DEAD MAN’S TOOOWN” to take my mind off the cold.

Maybe it gave them motivation to swim faster to get away from me?

In any case, “Born in the USA” segued to “Blinded by the Light” as a volunteer gave me the go-ahead to wade in the water from the beach. I’m not sure how I feel about rolling start vs. wave start vs. mass start; it all seems to depend on the people around you and how chaotic it gets.

Talking to other teammates, it seems like I really lucked out for the first half of the swim. It was impossible to see the buoys because of the fog, and my start corral position wound up being closest to the buoy line. I couldn’t drift too far with so many other swimmers to my right. Nobody was too crazy around me. I didn’t get kicked (hard) or punched (that much) or pushed down in the water.

The other advantage at the start is that the swim is my strongest discipline, and I’m good at staying calm and collected in open water. (I wish I could tell you how. I did swim team as a kid and I think it just imprinted itself in my brain. Better than riding a bike, which I learned as a girl and still fell over like a klutz until I finally got it to stick… at age 20.)

I do think it helps to practice thinking rational thoughts while you swim in open water. If I let myself go too far down the path of Ugh, too many people around me! or Help I keep swallowing water and coughing or I can’t see the bottom, what’s under there? …. then it’s too easy to get to the point where I imagine myself having a heart attack while getting eaten by piranhas. In a lake.

Well, as helpful as it is to think lovely thoughts, the good fortune burned off like the morning mist. On the second half of the swim my cap started popping off! I kept pausing to yank it down to no avail. At the same time I pulled off the cap in exasperation, my goggles came undone. To add insult to injury, they were brand new. I bought them two days before the race after noticing my old pair falling apart. I bobbed in the water like a drunk baby seal tying a knot in the brand-new pair, all the while trying to dodge any swimmers coming towards me. Luckily, they held up for the last 500 yards and I emerged from the water exactly 1 minute faster than my Syracuse 70.3 swim.

Swim time: 41:25

Transition 1

Aw man, this one was a bummer. It was too cold to take advantage of the wetsuit strippers, who are their own weird delight on race day. We had to run nearly half a mile down the road from the beach to the bikes, on what appeared to be shoddy reject tiles from Bob’s Wholesale Carpet Emporium. I used the porta-potty and accidentally whacked my watch while taking off the wetsuit, so my timing got messed up. And it took extra time to not only remove the wetsuit myself, but also to dry off as much as possible and put on all the layers needed to go biking in 40-degree temps. Plus, my BG was 201 despite following my nutrition plan. I knew this would be a long T1 but my time was still cringeworthy. At least I spotted my friends coming out of the water.

T1: 20:47

Up next….. the bike and the run, where the real fun begins!

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And I Think to Myself, “My God, What Have I Done?!”

It’s June 2017, on some beach in Staten Island at the start of the Flat as a Pancake sprint tri. The water is frigid and smells vaguely of gasoline. My blood sugar is 142 less than an hour after eating a Clif bar– when it should have been about 200.

A friend and I spot each other. “Hey Caroline!” she says with a hug, arms slightly immobile in wetsuits. “How are you?”

“Well, this is my first triathlon in…..1.75 years.”

“Oh, that’s great!”

“Yeah,” I say, perhaps unconvincingly. The whistle blows and the first wave goes off with a cheer. “It’s prep for Lake Placid 70.3. I’m doing that in September.”

“Wow! How are you feeling about that?” my friend asks.

“Well…..”

*****

The answer to that question has changed on a weekly, daily, sometimes hourly basis over the past five months.

Oh my gosh, triathlon. Remember biking? Clips?! After riding the war rig a grand total of TWICE in the past year? Hey, this is great. I remember why I enjoyed this. Ugh, running sucks. Whoa, look at my leg muscles! They’re huge now! I hate triathlon. I hate diabetes even more. This sucks. I love this! I’m a freaking beast! Every time I ride my bike I’m riding a DRAGOOOOOOOON!

But for real, the ROI kit plus my bike is all black and red. Like House Targaryen.

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Fire and blood! With diabetes….mostly blood.

I knew I wasn’t done with long-course triathlon after a miserable DNF in Wisconsin in 2015. The variables became, when and how long? “How long” was answered first. In the months after the race– and after frolicking for five hours through Prospect Park at the Brooklyn Marathon in one of the most chilled-out races ever– I waited for the Ironman gleam to return to my eye. It never did. Instead I thought about how much I enjoyed not exercising for two hours every night after work, or having to ride endless circuits of the park or 9W. Ugh! I like my long rides on endless country roads. I like sleep even more. Half Ironman it would be!

I was doing all that sleeping while taking a break from training for an event for the first time in over five years. Forget training plans, and rising before dawn for workouts, and my significant other sighing loudly when I lay on the couch groaning about my IT bands instead of scrubbing the toilet. It was time to RELAX! Until the the spring of 2016, when I decided that my A1C, weight, and sanity had enough relaxing and got back on the workout wagon.

Except…..I relaxed so hard that I slouched my way into a spinal misalignment and nerve impingement that kept me from running for six months. Yes, friends, I didn’t get injured by overtraining. I got injured by NOT EXERCISING ENOUGH.

So the “when” got pushed from 2016 to 2017.  And that’s when the stars aligned: I had the time, the physical ability, AND suddenly a brand-new half Ironman a few hours away from home! That both my local friends and ROI friends were signing up for!

My palms started sweating as soon as I paid up and got the confirmation email.

You have done four triathlons, the devil on my shoulder said, and they’ve all been DISASTERS! Whether it was diabetes, thunderstorms, bad bike luck, or just being in over my head…it was true. Triathlon had gone very poorly for me. Was this large, Ironman-branded dent to my wallet going to be the same?

Which brings us back to the start line of that sprint tri in June. I signed up mostly to get some good transition practice and get back in the tri groove after nearly two years off, but also because I needed to exorcise that demonic spirit telling me that I am a failure at triathlon. It didn’t look too promising at the start. The gasoline smell was definitely ripe during the frigid swim, and my blood sugar drifted high by the end. But after a 400 meter swim, 16 miles of biking, and a 5k run, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. And no disasters. One for five, baby!

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Smiling even bigger after seeing my ROI buddy Marcia out there!

Though it did cross my mind, at multiple points during the 90 minutes it took to complete the race, that I would be doing quadruple that distance in Lake Placid…..

But that’s what a good training season is for, and many weeks and long rides later, I’m READY. The nagging fear of failure meant that I actively corrected for the mistakes I made and lessons learned from Wisconsin. Here’s what’s better in 2017:

  • Quality people– who are local. I am proud and happy to be a part of team Riding on Insulin. We are a nationwide group participating in races all over. For both fun and accountability, I knew I needed a local group and a local coach. Fortunately, that materialized in the TNT alums and friends of mine who signed up for the race. We created an informal group called Endurance Club Brooklyn. Even better, we got coaching and advice from our multi-Ironman finisher experts Joel and Alix. They gave us hours of coaching and support in exchange for us fundraising $1000 or volunteering 100 hours for the cause of our choice. I’m obviously fundraising for ROI. If you want to donate, go to my personal page!
  • Quality people, part two. The other thing that was fantastic about group training is that people have CARS! This is an unfortunate necessity in NYC for long rides. Being able to drive out with my teammates to locations like Harriman State Park, New Jersey, and even Lake Placid meant far fewer junk miles and more quality hill training. Moreover, the fun and reduced mental burden of group training means that there are quite a few workouts that I nailed with ECBK that I wouldn’t have if I were solo. Because of them, I truly got to fulfill my goal of having more fun while getting ready for race day.

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Wetsuit models during our Lake Placid training weekend. Watch out, Derek Zoolander….

  • Logs, logs, logs. I kept an extensive training log and had stretches of monitoring my diabetes with logs too. While I nearly defenestrated myself when my endocrinologist barely glanced at six pages of meticulously detailed food, blood sugar, and insulin records, I gained a new level of insight about training and diabetes needs. As a result, my A1C is at a record low for adulthood and I can pat myself on the back for the progression I see when I open my Excel sheets and Garmin history.
  • Discipline. I never woke up before 6 when training for IMWI. There were a number of workouts that I shortened or skipped, whether out of necessity or sloth. Obviously, it’s much easier to get ‘er done with a half Ironman instead of a full. Still, I would estimate that it’s about two-thirds the training volume, despite being half the distance. I kicked myself in the ass this year. Not just when rising before dawn, or forcing myself to don my bike shoes when I wanted to just zone out and read Reddit. I also tried harder to maintain equilibrium between training, professional workload, and home life. Marathons, ultras, and long-course tris require hours and hours away from work and family. I didn’t always succeed, but I tried to be more mindful of the stress that others might bear. Having the discipline to be fully present in each activity enhances your performance across the board.

 

The race is– gulp!– tomorrow, so you may be reading this post-facto. If not, and you want to watch along from the warm, cozy, sensible comfort of your own home, you can use the Ironman tracker. Just enter my bib number, 867, for Lake Placid 70.3.

I’m estimating a 40 minute swim, 15 minute T1, 4:30 bike, 10 minute T2, and a 2:30-2:45 run. So…..super slow! I am working to banish the negative feelings and fear of failure. It might be half the distance this time around, but I’ll do my damndest to make sure it’s 100% the effort. I hope and pray that it leads to actually crossing the finish line. Otherwise, I’m really going to be playing that Talking Heads song about how this is not my beautiful life…..

Ironman (DNF) Dispatch: The Medical Postmortem, and Tips for Beginners

Hello blog friends. That was a bit of a hiatus there, wasn’t it? And I don’t even have the excuse of Ironman training anymore. I’ve been filling my hours not with biking, riding, swimming, or running, but with being blissfully……lazy. Skipping a workout because there wasn’t time and I wasn’t going to get out of bed before dawn to get it done. Sleeping in on Saturday mornings?! What frightening new world is this?!

A while back, I met with my endocrinologist for the first time since the Ironman. In fact, it was the first time I had seen her in nearly nine months. Hey, she’s popular and my A1C has been okay. We debriefed on various races and talked for a long time about my race experience at IMWI. I’m sharing here in hopes of providing insight both for diabetic athletes and aspiring Ironmen without diabetes.

Continue reading

The Five Stages of Grief for Your Ironman DNF

Denial:

[on the bike course]
Of course blood sugars oscillating from 336 to 65 to 224 is acceptable!
How can I be dehydrated, it’s only 65 degrees right now!
I can’t stand the thought of taking in my fuel, but surely that feeling will pass!
Hills are soooooo easy!
I can DEFINITELY go the same pace in the second loop as I did in the first loop….with barely any calories in me….
This headwind is no problem! No problem at all!
I refuse to believe that I’m going to barf if I keep eating or drinking my sports drink!
Wait…is that the sweeper van? Nope, can’t be. Lalalala.
I’M TOTALLY GONNA FINISH BEFORE THE BIKE CUTOFF wait there’s my family YUP I CAN GO FASTER THAN I EVER HAVE ON MY TRAINING RIDES they have a car AND THEN I’M GONNA RUN A MARATHON ON AN EMPTY STOMACH nope it’s mile 85 and I’m cooked

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I’M NOT FINISHING THE RACE?

Anger:

[dismounting, informing the volunteers I’m dropping out, shuffling to the car to drive to the nearest restaurant]
I wanted to finish, dammit! I worked so hard for this! Now I can’t tell people that I have diabetes AND I’m an Ironman triathlete. I can’t brag to my running teammates or coworkers. I can’t get an M-dot tattoo now! And I never even WANTED an M-dot tattoo!

I fantasized for months about crossing the finish line and Mike Reilly telling me I am an Ironman. In fact, he said on Friday at the athlete’s dinner, “You will be an Ironman!” LIES, MIKE, NOW IT IS ALL LIES.

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Bargaining:

[At restaurant, spending 90 minutes trying to choke down one glass of water and a plate of tortilla chips]
Are there spots left in, like, Florida? Chattanooga? Cozumel? Something soon that has an easier bike course?

No??

IF I FINISH I’LL GET THE STUPID M-DOT TATTOO! ON MY FACE!

Depression:

[Coming back to the finish line, that night, the day after the race, the day after the day after the race….]
I killed approximately 3% of the Amazon rainforest with all the tissues I used from crying. It would have been 4% but my bike jersey served as de facto handkerchief on the first round or two.

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Acceptance:

[past, present, future]
Packing up to go back to New York was arduous. I kept stopping for crying jags when unpacking my transition bags, or realizing that a special homemade shirt I had in the run special needs bag was now in the trash because Ironman doesn’t save your shit. I found a new respect for divorcees because I realized that this is probably what a divorce feels like, but that moment every day for several months on end.

Then “Better Days” by Springsteen came on shuffle, and he sang, “Every fool’s got a reason for feeling sorry for himself…” and I told myself to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.

Then a U2 song came up that reminded me of a mortifying moment in high school, and I told myself that the whole world probably wouldn’t care about this in 10 years…..just like high school.

But forget the world, because I knew no one but jerks would judge me for dropping out. I cared.

My first attempt at Ironman and I DNF’ed. I felt lucky to start, lucky to even be healthy and able to train at that level. And I was simultaneously crushed that the months of time, effort, and sacrifice I had put in to this goal….came up short.

I had a lot of little things pile up– often against my plan or previous race experience– that resulted in a bad day. Couldn’t have predicted things like going low during the swim or getting so queasy that I couldn’t handle the fuel that I typically loved to stuff in my face. September 13th, 2015 was not my day to become an Ironman and there’s nothing I can do to go back and change that.

So I sucked it up and packed my stuff, throwing away as much Ironman-brand crap as I could. I flew home to Brooklyn and went that night to hang out with my Team in Training athlete friends, who were universally supportive and encouraging. Hell, everyone’s been supportive and encouraging. My wonderful, badass friend and teammate Aimee, who DNF’ed her first Ironman last year, remarked that only by having a bad race and dropping out did she realize how blessed she was. It’s easy to support someone in the good times…..but when people show up for you in the bad times, you know it comes from the heart.

I’ve complained (stage 2) and bawled (stage 4) some more since then. But I’ve also taken many, many deep breaths while re-reading everyone’s emails, texts, Facebook messages, buttons (yup, homemade buttons) and more. The crushing disappointment will pass, but I hope to have such amazing friends and family in my life forever.

I read Meb Keflezighi’s biography, “Run to Overcome,” cover-to-cover on the plane to and from Madison. After discussing a series of back-to-back triumphs and failures in his running career, he wrote this:

Winning in life doesn’t happen when you overcome one thing– do or die. It’s persevering, knowing that difficulties are bumps in the road, not the end of the world. It’s continuing to do the right things, knowing your time will come. After all, you have to conduct yourself like a champion before you can ever win a championship.

Whatever you do, then, give it your best. Persevere in overcoming obstacles. When you do, you’ll be running to win.

He signed my book with the same trademark phrase– “To Caroline: best wishes and run to win, Meb.” So I’m going to follow his advice and give my best to my next challenge, whatever that is.

Well, I know what it’s going to be. I’m doing the Brooklyn Marathon, because there’s NO WAY that I’m letting all this endurance go to waste. I guess that’s a blend of stage 3 and 5?

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 2)

Part 2 of the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 race report! Sorry for anyone who’s been hanging on to the thrilling conclusion for the past 2.5 months. Training makes you busy….or a slacker. You can read part 1 here! And part two is after the jump.

Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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