Category Archives: Exercise

With a little help from our friends.


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.


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:


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.


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?

Athlete with diabetes? You deserve an award.

Welcome to November 1st, the first day of Diabetes Awareness Month, 2013. World Diabetes Day is once again scheduled for November 14th, which is a Thursday. There will be many happenings this month, which I will do my best to keep track of over the next few weeks.

You know, every year around this time, I see blog posts and Twitter conversations filled with “What are you going to do this year for Diabetes Awareness Month or World Diabetes Day?”. And to me, that question is always kind of intimidating. I mean yeah, it’s helpful to remember that one thing at a time is important, and small changes can have a big impact. But when I hear that question this time of year, I don’t hear “What are you doing?” as much as I’m hearing “What big, gargantuan thing are you doing that will wow the masses?”.

Well, I don’t know if this will wow the masses. But it’s an idea that came to me a few weeks ago, and I’m going to try it and see if it gets any traction. If it does, great. If not, no big deal.

What am I talking about? I’m glad you asked!

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I am constantly in awe of athletes with diabetes. Not just the ones that climb Everest or run the Sahara desert. I’m also in awe of those people who get up and make a commitment to exercise, and keep going, despite how our bodies initially respond to said exercise, and in some cases, what years of insulin, and diabetes in general, does to our bodies (raising my hand here). Seriously, as an athlete prior to and after my diagnosis, I can tell you that it is waaaay more difficult to start and maintain exercise as a Person With Diabetes. It can be both scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

Yet, competing in events and going to the gym generally means you’re competing for the fun of it. No prize money, no podiums, you get the idea. Very few events give out awards or medals to anything lower than the top three finishers, if they give out anything at all. But the efforts of all of us are worthy of recognition and support. If you finish your first 5K run, if you ride your bike 50 miles, if you get up and hit the trails for a week when you haven’t gone for years, you’re a champion in my book. And I want to give you a medal.

Your effort as an Athlete With Diabetes should be recognized and rewarded.

So I had this crazy idea to see how much it would cost to have medals produced. They aren’t Olympic medals, but they turned out nicer than I thought they would. And I thought the blue ribbon was a nice touch.

Maureen and I sat around this week and came up with a few simple rules for getting your medal. You are encouraged to send a request if you are an Athlete With Diabetes, a spouse or partner of an AWD (see what I did there?), or an awesome parent of a kid Athlete With Diabetes.

1. The athlete receiving the award must be living with diabetes.

2. The athletic event must have taken place in the last six months. For now, we’re going with a pretty loose interpretation of the word “event”. If you feel you’ve accomplished something important to you, that’s an event. ‘Nuf said.

3. Send me an e-mail at Tell me your name, name of the athlete (it’s okay if it’s you), and your address (gotta know where to send the medal). Most important, tell me what athletic goal was accomplished, and when. Extra points if you tell me how you felt accomplishing the goal. Full disclosure: I reserve the right to use your testimonial here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Let me know if you don’t want me to use any names.

4. When you receive your medal, you need to post a photo of it around the athlete’s neck. You can send a Tweet to @ChampsWithD (hashtag: #champdathletes) or post it on the Champion Athletes With Diabetes Facebook Page.

Those are the only rules so far, though I reserve the right to change them as this thing develops. Not to make it more restrictive. To make it more fun.

I have all of 24 medals to send out. If this idea takes off, I’ll order more. If not, we’ll all forget about it by December.

So instead of asking what big thing you’re doing this month, I’m asking: What big athletic goal did you complete? Send me your e-mail today.

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