Category Archives: Exercise

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.

Tour de Talbot recap.

Okay… My 55 miles in the Tour de Talbot on Saturday was not my favorite experience on the bicycle.

I was running late all morning, I forgot to put on sunscreen (no burn issues after all), I almost forgot to put on my riding gloves (and I’m soooo glad I didn’t), the weather was iffy, and my BGs did not want to play fair. But when do they ever play fair? Heck, I didn’t even get a photo of anything on Saturday, except my dog when I got home. Not to worry, I won’t bore you with it here. But I did complete the 55 mile journey, in roundabout fashion, and today I have a sore behind and a sense of accomplishment.

So let’s start at the beginning. BG at the start: 219 mg/dL. This is entirely due to the fact that I didn’t bolus for breakfast. I woke up at 81 mg/dL, and I didn’t want to be nearly that low when I started the ride. And yeah, I ate a lot of carbs for breakfast. I set my temporary basal rate at 30 percent for 5 hours.

This is the most laid back event ever. I think I mentioned that last year too, but it’s true. Somebody gives a speech at the beginning that hardly anyone can hear, then we’re off without a horn, or crowds cheering, or any of that. Down a paved two lane driveway and out onto the highway that goes between Easton, Maryland and St. Michael’s (more on that later).

We wound around a bit and then, about three or four miles in, suddenly we’re on a gravel road. Gravel. On my thin little road bike tires. This went on for about three or four miles, I think, and the whole time I’m hearing the same complaints and hopes coming from the other riders. Mostly, “I hope I don’t wipe out on this gravel”, and “I hope I don’t get a flat tire from this gravel”. Oh, and “Who’s idea was this?”. And these are still roads that are traveled by vehicles, mostly local residents and big farm trucks kicking up gravel as they pass by. And this was just the first gravel road we traveled. I started counting the riders on the side of the road with tire issues. I counted ten in 55 miles.

We hit the first rest stop 12 miles in. Even though it’s only quarter past eight in the morning, the salty pickles out on the table at this stop really looked good. But I passed them up in favor of a salty/sweet nut bar. These are usually my go-to snack on these rides. BG at this stop: 129 mg/dL. Pretty crazy, right? I dropped 90 points in about 45 minutes. With a 30 percent temp basal and breakfast carbs still working in my body (I think).

The next part of the trip wasn’t too bad. 18 miles to the next stop. Someone drafted behind me for about the last ten miles of that segment, but it was okay and we made good time. I made the mile 12 to mile 30 segment in a little less than an hour. That’s pretty good for me, on a long ride anyway. At the stop I had another nut bar and waited about ten minutes to let my body calm down a bit after working hard. BG at this stop. 82 mg/dL. I don’t want to worry anymore, so I just shut off my pump for the rest of the ride, and grabbed a banana at the rest stop too. Instead of climbing a steep incline after the stop, I decided to walk my bike to the top of the hill before climbing on for the next 12 mile segment. I’m glad I did.

The next 12 miles were probably the hardest 12 miles I’ve ever biked. About a mile after the rest stop, we turned onto another gravel road. Not as bad as the first gravel road we were on, but I had to make sure I didn’t get too far toward the shoulder or I would definitely have been in trouble. But I also had issues with the weather.

The same front that brought rain to the JDRF Ride for a Cure in Nashville was making its way toward the mid-Atlantic. Ahead of the front were some pretty strong 15 to 30 mile per hour winds from the south. On this stretch, we were riding south (on the gravel road) for about five or six miles. The rest of this part went pretty much straight south too. Straight into the wind. In short, it was brutal. I was never more grateful to reach a rest stop.

I took a moment to sit down and collect myself, and check my BG again: 66 mg/dL. Are you kidding me? My pump’s been off for an hour (and yes, it took me an hour to bike 12 miles). So now, I have to decide if I can even continue. I started with some glucose tabs, then loaded up on handfuls of pretzels for about 20 minutes. When I checked after being at this stop for 30 minutes, I was at 149 mg/dL. At this point, I felt like I could make it the final 12 miles, especially since we weren’t supposed to go any further south.

Shortly after leaving this stop, I connected with a couple of riders who were on my route, so I decided to ride in with them. Now it gets even more interesting. We’re about six or seven miles away from the finish, and we must have missed a turn. Because it wasn’t marked. I had been hearing about issues like this all day. Signs pointed in the wrong direction by pranksters. Arrows marked along the roadway pulled up. That must have been what happened to us, because before we knew it, about the three of us were in the heart of Easton. This was not on the route map. Now what to do? Well, I knew how to get back from where we were, and I wasn’t interested in going back to look for a missed turn, and I didn’t know whether the rest of the route was marked properly either. My decision was to go the way I knew to go to reach the finish. The two riders I had been with since the last stop thought that was the thing to do too, so we rode right through historic downtown Easton, then over to the main highway back to the start/finish.

Then, the final joke: When we near the finish, there were volunteers at the two lane driveway, which was now closed, directing us to go to the next driveway and turn right. So we did that, turning onto the worst stretch of one lane gravel road on the entire trip. With vehicles leaving the venue, coming right at us.

Somehow, we made it through and I was able to finish. BG at the end: 88 mg/dL. I can’t say that I’ll sign up for this ride next year. There were a lot of tough, grind it out miles, but overall, I can say that I’m happy to have been tested and passed the test. We claim our victories were we find them. This one wasn’t pretty, but in the end, it was a success.

D-Athletes ROCK.

I’m off today to do my 55 mile bike ride over on Maryland’s beautiful eastern shore. We start and end in Easton, which I like, because the area is about the flattest terrain I’ll ever ride on. It’ll be warm for this time of year, but the ride starts at 7:30 a.m., so if I put some real estate behind me early, I should finish by noon.

I know I wrote earlier this week about wanting it all to be over. But the fact is, I am pumped to do this ride tomorrow. That’s partly because I always get this way before an event. And it’s partly because of something else that I can’t reveal yet (sorry for the tease). I should be able to talk about it sometime in early October.

Anyway, I’m really excited to do this ride tomorrow, and I’m proud to be a Person With Diabetes who will be out there breaking stereotypes. I’m even more proud to ride in an event on the same day that others, in hilly Nashville, Tennessee, will be riding in the JDRF Ride for a Cure. I’m prouder still that many others with diabetes are training, participating, and yes, competing in athletic events around the world. And I’m not discounting you, all of you JDRF and Step Out walkers. What you do for all of us is special. It seems like the population of Athletes With Diabetes is growing every day, and I love it.

I hope that all of you D-Athletes run faster, swim longer, walk farther, and bike harder than I ever will. I will cheer you on all the way.

I am happy to be part of your team. Go us!!!

In praise of the temporary basal.

I’m ramping up the workouts in anticipation of another ride in September. This will be the Tour de Talbot, which covers a lot of the same ground that my ADA ride covered in May.

Without a doubt, getting older means a lot of things when it comes to training. It means getting up at 4:45 a.m. to get to the gym is tougher (but not impossible). I get a few more aches and pains than I used to. No surprise there. Recovery seems to take a lot longer than it used to. That’s hard when you’re a guy who’s used to powering through the pain. Mentally, once I get started, it’s tough to take a break.

One of the things that’s interesting about working out as I get older is that when working out, my insulin needs haven’t really changed a bit. In the three-plus years that I’ve been wearing my insulin pump, whenever I work out, I’m doing a temporary basal of ½ unit per hour. That’s roughly 38 percent of my regular basal rate in the morning.

To be honest, nobody told me about temp basals when I got my pump. That’s another thing I learned from the DOC. I guess everybody just wanted to make sure I could handle changing my infusion set and counting carbs at the beginning. Lucky for me, in my early days of pumping, I just disconnected my pump before my workout began. I remember reading about temp basals online for the first time and thinking “Wow… I can work out for an hour or more and not be at 300 mg/dL when I’m finished?… Brilliant!”.

It does seem kind of weird that my temporary workout number is still the same. Of course, I haven’t been attached to a pump for very long yet, so maybe it’ll change over time. Plus, I still have to be in a good place BG-wise before my workout begins, or I might wind up with less than stellar results after. Still, I like when I can just set something one way and forget about it. And still feel great diabetes-wise when it’s all over. So here’s to the never-changing temporary basal rate for my workouts. Always true, always keeping me in range. Everything about my diabetes life should be this foolproof.

Note: DO NOT take what is written here as advice. If you’re thinking about altering your basal patterns, for workouts or otherwise, you should seek advice from a medical professional first.

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