Category Archives: Exercise

I don’t have to tell you, but…

I don’t have to tell you, but for the purposes of starting this blog post:

Getting older is hard.

I’ve been training since mid-May for my local 5k, the one I run nearly every year. Nearly every year, I start training in May, so when the race comes in mid-July, I’m ready to go 3 point some-odd miles without stopping.

I’ll admit, I hate to run. Hate it. I’m not very fast, though I’m not slow, and more than any other activity, running pushes my heart rate up. Usually, into the 190-200 beats per minute range, no matter how slow I go. Training allows me to keep it between 180 and 190 on race day, but that’s about as good as I can do.

The thing is… I like the race itself. Once the horn sounds and we’ve all started, it feels more like a party at 180 to 190 beats per minute. Plus, this event is close, about five minutes away from my house. And the truth is, there are far fewer activities (read also: competitions) I can get into at my age.

Okay, I know I’m not that old, but training this year has made me feel old for really, the very first time. I’m now at the point where I don’t know if I can run a sub-ten-minute mile anymore. I’ve been trying, but I’m not there yet. It’s hard to describe… but when I run now, I seem to reach a point where I just can’t seem to move my legs any faster than they’re already going.

Put another way, my top end speed is definitely slower than my top end speed has ever been. Even when I really push myself.

The good news is that my blood sugars don’t care. Rare is the occasion where I’m above 200 mg/dL these days, although I did have one terrible excursion in the over-300 range after a four mile run last weekend. Definitely hydration related. Once I got a correction bolus in, and about 40 ounces of water, I was back down around 100 mg/dL. So fortunately, I was only up there for around two hours.

The race is in a week and a half. After that, I’ll go back to training on the bike, though sadly, there are no bike rides to train for at this point. But I plan to run this race again next year, and do bike rides too, for a few years more, if I can still muster the energy.

For now, all I can do is look forward. There is still some hard training to do, but each run completed means one less run to do before the race. And I think that’s the point for me: concentrate on the next workout, the next event. Don’t worry about how much effort is involved, or how much more difficult it is now compared to 15 years ago.

The weird thing is, I feel weaker, more vulnerable than ever, at a time when I’m doing things that will actually help me stay active longer and hopefully, help me live longer. Like diabetes, concentrating on the good rather than the difficult will help me power through and achieve more than if I stick my head in the sand. A week and a half to go!

Editor’s note: I’ll be taking the rest of the week off (from running and writing) to volunteer at the DPAC booth in the exhibit hall at Friends for Life in Orlando, Florida. If you’re at Friends for Life, stop by and say hello!

With a little help from our friends.

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How did I get into this? Why did I get into this?

Because I’m a sucker for a good idea and D-Athletes, and I want to support my friends.

Many of you know Victoria Cumbow, who, among other things, is a passionate diabetes blogger and a dedicated bike rider. She’s participated in two JDRF rides in the past two years (hope I got that right), including one in Death Valley. And this year, she’s participating in two more: the Lake Tahoe ride, and her hometown ride in Nashville.

May is National Bike Month, and Nashville has jumped on the bandwagon to designate this Nashville Bike Month too. To kick start both her fitness goals and her fundraising efforts, Victoria has decided to complete a challenge of biking all 31 days in May.

She’s taking photos of her rides this month, and using the hashtag #inthesaddle to share her experiences. She also asked a very pointed question: Who’s with me?

I don’t think there’s any freakin’ way I can bike all 31 days this month. In fact, I know I can’t, partly because of restrictions and admission days for my clinical trial. Also because I missed biking on day 1. If you miss the month-long challenge on day 1, you can’t really make it up.

But I did decide to go halfsies: To support Victoria, I’ll be biking at least 16 days in May. So far, I’ve been #inthesaddle four out of eight days this month. Some days will be on my bike, some days will be on one of the spin bikes at the gym. And one day will be at the Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure, which is less than ten days away. Shameless plug: You can still support my ride by clicking on the donate button to the left. Thank you.

So far, the challenge has been good for me, helping me to focus on what’s really important (people), how much I like riding a bicycle after all these years, and helping me get into better shape for my big ride a week from Saturday.

Look for the #inthesaddle hashtag. And if you’re on your bike during this month, maybe you can take a photo and post it too. If you want to support Victoria’s JDRF rides this year (she’s raising $6,000 for research toward a cure!), click here to support the Tahoe ride, and click here to support the Nashville ride.

And pray that my legs hold out for 12 more days #inthesaddle this month.
 
 
 

Finally!

Last week I was extremely disappointed about missing out on a long-awaited ride on my bike. Saturday, I was finally, thankfully, able to get out and ride for a while.

The sun warmed up everything nicely, and it was about 70 degrees when I set out. I got a semi-late start, owing to the fact that I had to double-check my bike again (it was the first time I’d climbed aboard in six months), and the fact that I wanted to be sure I’d be okay diabetes-wise.

So I stuffed a salty/sweet nut bar in my bag, and I made sure I had a full bottle of water with just a bit of Gatorade. The BG check prior to the ride showed 185 mg/dL. When doing something like this, a number like 185 is not a concern at all. In fact, it’s a good sign. I had no insulin on board. I set a temporary basal on my pump of 15 percent. That’s right, just 15 percent.

Actually getting to ride for an hour was huge for me, as it always is the first time I’m out. That’s because of many things. It feels good, of course. I’ve always been the kind of guy that enjoys the feeling of freedom you get from riding a two-wheeler (I felt the same when I rode a motorcycle). And the difference in training on the road versus being in the gym is pretty big too. You’re stressing your muscles in ways, particularly uphill, that can’t be replicated on a spin bike, even in a tough class. I climbed three short but difficult hills, with three corresponding steep downhills (which have scared me ever since a bad bike crash three years ago). I moved deftly around traffic when necessary, and managed to avoid some nasty potholes that exist now thanks to our recent difficult winter.

I think I covered 14 or 15 miles, and wound up with a finishing BG of 89 mg/dL. Having a nearly 100 point drop in an hour tells me, if I’ve been reading correctly, that I was exercising in the aerobic range for most or all of that hour. If my number was higher, it would be a good indication that I would have been in the anaerobic range for a while. Or that I was dehydrated. Or both.

Regardless of where I was and how hard I was exercising, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I got this in. My 62 mile/100 km ride happens in four weeks. I need to be on my bike as often as possible, and at the gym when it’s not possible, over the next three weeks. The good news is I’m making progress. The bad news is I’ve got a long way to go.
 
 
 

Keep on truckin’.

Piggybacking on last Friday’s post, I was happily able to tweet this on Saturday evening:

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Pretty encouraging, right? But that tweet hides a lot. To be honest, completing that workout was extremely difficult. Man, I’m out of shape.

This was my first real workout in a long time. There are a number of reasons for that. To begin with, my schedule at work changed in the fall. After 15-plus years, I’m now required to be there half an hour extra every day. I decided to add that extra half hour at the beginning of my workday. And since my workouts during the week were always in the morning before work, I wasn’t able to do that anymore. Also, to be honest, after my final long bike ride last year, I didn’t have the same motivation to get to the gym that I had earlier in the year. Add in participation in a clinical trial and a couple of other things that came up, and it meant I wasn’t getting to the gym on the weekends either. In fact, I hadn’t been to the gym since early November.

So I’ve started my training, but it’ll be slow going for a while. On the bright side, I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my glucose after just working out Saturday and Sunday. Really good differences, which I definitely need, because those numbers have been creeping up a bit for the last month or so. For the first time in a long time, I’m worried about disappointing my endocrinologist when I go in for my appointment Thursday. That’s how I look at it too. She works hard and has done a great job with my care for a while now, so if I’m less than stellar with my A1c, I’ll feel a bit like I let her down. Oh well… one concern at a time.

The one thing I’ll try to remember through all of this is to keep on trying. Never give up. Yesterday is yesterday. Just a reference point. I can’t do everything, but I can try to do everything I can to make things better in the future. I hope you look at your diabetes the same way.
 
 
 

Way off in the distance…

…I see a long bike ride, and a triathlon. Please bear with me as I spill out some thoughts today.

I made the commitment again this year to ride in the American Diabetes Association’s Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure on May 17th.

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Last year’s event was fantastic, and I’m looking forward to this year’s edition. This is not the closest Tour de Cure for me, but this ride has a few things that work well for an old guy like myself. Mostly, timing and location.

Mid-May should be late enough in the year that any chance of super-cold weather would be minimal. Then all we have to do is cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t rain. Also, the location is flat, on Maryland’s eastern shore (east of the Chesapeake Bay), mostly on roads that are lightly traveled. Last year, the ride was well staffed with volunteers and there was plenty of moral support from other riders and residents along the route.

If you’re in this region, or if you’d like to travel for a fun ride benefitting a good cause, I want to encourage you to consider the Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure.

Now, about that triathlon…

I have a triathlon in mind, a repeat of the first one I completed three years ago. Registration isn’t open for this event yet, so I don’t want to mention it here except to say that it usually happens on Father’s Day in June. It’s a sprint triathlon, which means the distances are much shorter than those ironman events you hear about. In this case, it involves a 400 meter swim, followed by a 15 mile bike, then a 5K run. If I’m lucky and I train hard, I think I can still complete this in under two hours.

The triathlon is the real tough goal for me. I’m having trouble just mentally preparing for it right now. Even though the distances aren’t that lengthy, and I know I can do it, I also know that I can only do it if I train hard, for months, before the actual event. And I have to stay healthy. Over the next five months, many things could happen to sidetrack me. I had planned to do this one last year but had to withdraw because I encountered a series of illnesses over November, December, January, February, and March. They weren’t serious illnesses, but they sidetracked me enough that I couldn’t get my training ramped up to where I felt I could finish, or finish well. After that 100 mile bike ride back in June 2012, I’m very sensitive and a little scared about pushing myself.

But… I just need to put that in the memory banks and move on. I need to admit my fear, but push past it. My goal, I’m stating publicly here, is to complete that triathlon, perform well for a 50-something year old, or: Come as close as I possibly can to meeting this goal. Which would still be a big deal, even if it would leave me disappointed. The main thing I need to remember is one of the main tenets of living with diabetes:

Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.

So thanks for sticking with me here on this. Sometimes I just have to sit down and get all this off of my chest. As the training progresses, I’ll try to talk more about how exercise and my diabetes play with each other. Now that that’s out of the way… where did I leave that swimsuit?
 
 
 

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