Saturday, October 29, 2011

Soma Triathlon Race Report

I'd like to start this race report by stating that I am one lucky individual. I have the best supporters on the planet. First, I really hit the parent lottery when I was born. My parents have been more than supportive of all my athletic goals through out the years and have always understood how it helps my diabetes. From baseball when I was twelve to doing triathlons as an adult. Second, my fiance Jamie is far more supportive than I could ever ask for.

This last weekend my Dad was able to fly into San Diego to drive with me to Tempe for the upcoming triathlon. It was more than awesome to have one of my best friends in the world come to town to do the long drive with me through the desert where we were able to see my Grandpa (Dad's father) before this triathlon. Not only that but Jamie, who had a wedding on Saturday night, flew to Phoenix on Saturday evening to be there for my race. Now both my parents have seen me race and Jamie has hardly missed any. Believe me, I know how lucky I am.  I am truly blessed.

Setting up race nutrition.
I was worried about this race in the weeks leading up to it. I knew I didn't rest enough after my last triathlon then racing the Denver half-marathon was a too much.  Honestly, in the back of my mind though none of that mattered as long as I could get another long course triathlon under my belt, having more experience with diabetes management during such a long race. Ultimately giving me the tools for Ironman Arizona next year.

Just as with the Orangeman Triathlon I created a full nutrition plan, including my diabetes management. This time I had more about hydration and sodium intake, the two areas I failed at last race. Everything leading up to the race seemed to the work well and I wouldn't change any of it, all easily digestible carbs and healthy proteins.

During the race I again planned to use a small dose of Levemir as my basal rate then bosul with the insulin pump. For any questions regarding diabetes I now have a "betes 101" here.  

Race Morning
After setting up transition.
Woke up with a high blood. 303 to be exact. Ugh. Double ugh. I couldn't believe when I took my blood sugar. I felt good, going to the bathroom was even good (normally I can just tell in the morning with this), I was shocked. My Dexcom sensor stopped working the night prior and I hadn't brought another. I could go into the long list of reasons why I think it was 303 (after going to bed with a perfect 103 blood sugar) but either way, it was high and I had to fix it. I waited to eat before seeing it go down, 45 minutes later. Mistake, waiting to eat would cost me later.

Either way I had my morning meal (45 minutes late) and we were off to the race. Set up transition, Ensure drink 30 minutes before the swim then off to swim start.

The swim took place in Tempe Town Lake, the same place as Ironman Arizona. It was a warm 73 degrees, luckily the wetsuit never got overly warm, the water was nice. This was very different from the ocean swim triathlons along the coast in San Diego. Instead of a beach start, this was a floating start, we would be in the water when the gun went off.

Just before getting in the water my blood sugar was on par, going down still and seemingly level. We got in the water, swam to the first buoy ... bam, gun went off before we even got to the buoy. We were off.

Right away I got dunked. I freaked out.  Looking back, I knew I should have stopped. I just didn't feel good and I wanted to fight it.  Right then I started to worry about the day. My arms felt heavy, it felt like I wasn't going anywhere (which I wasn't). I kept going, getting bumped a few times, swallowing more water than any of my ocean swims. It felt like I was back at swimming 101.

I didn't "get my stuff together" until 3/4 of the swim was over when I finally started to count my strokes. This got me to calm down because it didn't allow my mind to think about anything else other than the counting. With only 1/4 of the swim to go I got it together.

Time: 46:52
Over six minutes slower than my last half one month ago.  Disappointing.  In a lake none the less.

Transition 1
Wet suit off....struggle... wet suit off finally.  Chug 10oz of water.  Go

Time: 2:39

Bike Course
After about ten minutes on the bike I was able to check my blood sugar. 158. Awesome. About fifteen minutes into the bikes my sea legs were gone and I was off.

It was a mainly flat course with one major hill and a ton of turn arounds.  Four total turn arounds, meaning twelve in all during the three laps. Two of them without time to really get up to speed. Overall it was a good course, a nice course in which all of the riders could see a lot of Tempe with the mountains in the background, downtown Phoenix off in the distance and the ASU football and baseball stadium right there.

More than anything else I wanted to have a good bike split. In the end I hit my goal of keeping my average above 19, averaging 19.4 mph.

I took my blood sugar around six times on the bike, more than normal but for some reason I kept thinking to check it. Each time it was between 105-150.  Excellent.... kind of. Because it kept going up then back down I kept fueling.  I had too much "insulin on board".  I drank all my formula (Accelorade, a protein-carb mix) then had to start with what the aid stations had, basically powerade.  Mixing these would lead to my gut issues. The triathlon gods would teach me a lesson on the run.

Time: 2:53:08

Transition 2
Off the bike, on the run.  Not super quick but quick enough.

Time: 1:27

You know that feeling when you're really full after thanksgiving or when you went to the buffet and had too much food? That's what the start of my run felt like. My gut issues were bad as soon as I got off the bike.  My stomach was so heavy and upset I couldn't take on anything else. While I never once cramped during this race, I knew I would become dehydrated if I couldn't keep taking on water and electrolytes.

I needed my gut to feel better.

That was it. Decision time.

To throw up or not to throw up?  I did it.

I stuck my finger down my throat and made myself do it. My stomach was slightly better after this. While my stomach still hurt, no where near as bad as it did before. This was 1.5 miles in, after some serious run/walk. Checked the blood sugar, 89.

O no, needed fuel. I knew I couldn't possibly take a gel, it would come up. In my tri top I had a gel flask filled with maltodextrin and coke. It was only to be used for emergency. This was it.  I took half, probably 50 grams. Yuck.

The heat was starting to become a factor, wearing white heat sleeves was the best decision I made all day. This kept me cool while putting ice in my hat at each aid station.

I felt terrible though. I was in the darkest place I had ever been in a race. It lasted the whole run. Normally the dark place comes and goes, it never went away. As I couldn't take on much fluid I just kept getting deeper in dehydration. My heart rate started to become higher and higher, even at a slow pace.

Then came the turn around. I hugged Jamie and she ran with me for about 3/4 of a mile. It was what I needed. Seeing her and my Dad throughout the race kept me out of the dark place I had been in since the swim but I needed it now more than ever. She ran with me and reminded me that my body was just tired from the last month but it was almost over, I only needed to go six more miles in little over an hour to make my six hour goal.  Just "pump your arms and keep going" she reminded me. It was exactly what I needed.

Finish Line
I kept my heart rate where I knew I could and as my blood sugar kept sinking I took the rest of the gel flask, ate oranges at each aid station and tried to pace off people in front of me.

It was also getting hotter, I was going to a darker place. I had to dig deep. Hydrate whatever I could and get in carbs to keep my blood sugar up. I was even becoming dizzy, I started to worry.

With about a half mile to go I realized I would make my goal time.

Run Time: 2:11:39

Total Time: 5:55:46

Dad and I post race

 Post Race 
It was awesome to have both my Dad and Jamie at the race. While it was a super painful race, I hit my goal so I can't complain. After doing a little bit too much over a short period of time it's time for a rest.

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