A gorgeous video update from Seb and his team as he runs across Canada:
It’s cold. Freakshow cold, to the point where it hurts to stand outside for more than a few minutes. Chris actually built a shelter for The Cat That’s Not Ours (aka “Fluffy”) because it is cold as a witch’s’ nipple outside. (Can’t say “cold as a witch’s tit” because that phrase is creepy, but I almost said it by accident in front of the Birdzone and had to switch gears swiftly, leading to “witch’s nipples.” Birdy looked at me quizzically but then was distracted by the coughing fit I immediately and intentionally fell into.)
Right-O. Anyway, it’s cold, and I haven’t been outside to run in over a week.
Actually, I ran outside once last week. Wearing the heaviest running pants I own and one of those sweatshirts that’s made of magical fabric that keeps the wind from cutting through it, and a hat and gloves, I was still freezing. It was not the most pleasant experience, mostly because I had to keep watch for patches of ice on certain areas of the road and did I mention it was freezing?
Over the last few months, running outside has been the exercise I enjoy doing the most. Previously, I liked working out at the gym because I liked the comforts of temperature control, places to stash my diabetes supplies, and the ability to go pee whenever I’d like. (Sorry if that’s TMI, but as soon as I’m unable to access the bathroom, I immediately have to use the bathroom. It’s like a mental gallon of water.) But after a few months of exercising outside, I preferred the running trail to the treadmill. It wasn’t boring, it felt really good to be outside in the sunshine (even if it was chilly, or blazing hot), and it was good motivation to follow-through because once I was two miles out into a run, I had no choice but to turn around and run (or walk) back.
I prefer being outside, on all levels.
But the cold. The crazy cold that’s settled in for the last few weeks has made exercising outside a real challenge. Which means I’m making attempts to exercise at home without becoming bored. A few issues with that:
Even though it’s as cold as the potentially pointy parts of a witch, I’m still making the efforts to get some exercise. (Sometimes chasing a mouse becomes exercise. True story.) Any tips for at-home exercise ideas would be awesome.
When my friend Liz asked me to do a race with her in November, I was more concerned about whether or not I was home to participate instead of concerning myself with the specifics of the race itself.
“November 10th? Sure, I’m home that weekend.”
And then I looked at the details: it was a a 4.2 mile race over the Pell Bridge in Newport, RI. At 6.30 in the morning. On a Sunday.
A Facebook message to my friend: “Liz, I finally followed directions and signed up. But this shit starts at 6.30 in the morning? Blargh.”
But what sounded like the absolute suck was a really amazing experience, watching the sun rise as several thousand runners crested over the bridge, moving towards a common goal.
Performance-wise, I struggled, but that’s okay. Lots of rookie mistakes in play: a terrible night’s sleep (< 4 hours), a new infusion set put in morning of, a fasting blood sugar of 298 mg/dL that required an aggressive correction bolus (so that I would come down in time to not have the desire to pee on the peak of the bridge), and too much insulin on board (IOB) when I met the rest of the racers at the starting line. Thankfully, I reduced my basal rate at 4 am when I woke up, so I didn’t have my normal dawn phenomenon rate in play.
CGM check 20 minutes before the race: 158 mg/dL with an arrow pointing straight down
Meter check for confirmation: 139 mg/dL.
Bananarama: Ate a banana without bolusing for it, and chewed a Shot Blok to get some carbs coursing through my system before setting off.
Packing heat: And I had my Spibelt with two sleeves of Shot Bloks, my Dexcom receiver, and my meter. I was ready for anything.
At 6.25 am, five minutes before the starting gun, I was 108 mg/dL on the Dexcom with an arrow pointing due east, so I hoped the banana/Shot Blok combo was enough to see me through. But as the gun fired and runners started up the bridge, I felt that telltale heat washing over my body in waves of oncoming hypoglycemia. I popped another shot blok, but shaky hands told me I needed to consult my CGM, so 3/4 of a mile into the race, I acknowledged the 50 mg/dL and the down arrow winking back at me.
“You can go screw,” I thought.
I had to slow my pace down to fuss through the low, but after a few minutes (and thanks, in part, to the adrenaline that surely helped spike me closer to range), the down arrow disappeared and was soon replaced by a gently sloping northeast arrow on my Dexcom graph. I continued down the bridge, and then through downtown Newport, towards the finish line.
It was early, it hurt, I was a little sluggish post-low, but my legs responded to my requests, and I kept going.
Thoughts of “I can’t do this,” were replaced by, “Oh hell yes I can.”
I’m not a fast runner. Not a graceful one, either (more of a plodder). But I get there. And even though diabetes was a bit to blame for delaying my sprint across the finish line, it is fully to blame for bringing me to the starting line.
(And this run gave me a great Big Blue Test to log – 139 mg/dL at the outset, 158 mg/dL at the close, after 4.2 miles, 44 minutes, and about 40 grams of carbs. Exercise for the freaking WIN!)
Being on the blood sugar wagon is good, and easy to stay on once I’m settled in and wheeling along, whistling Dixie or maybe not because I can’t whistle so perhaps instead humming the theme song to The Facts of Life. But holy moly, falling off the wagon hurts, because it’s usually a face-first plummet into mud, or some unmentionable. Like full-sugar pudding. Or a pile of cacti. Or perhaps shit.
For over a year, diabetes was painted into the corner by being diligent about testing, correcting mild high blood sugars (bringing those 150′s back to 100′s, with less fear of hypoglycemia), and faithfully wearing/reacting to/being proactive about readings on the CGM graph. Once I was in a good grove of those activities, things were solid, and I had the meter averages and A1C results that (finally) reflected the work I was putting in.
Unfortunately, when my husband was away for two months and I was both solo-parenting and finishing writing my book, I didn’t do very well staying on the wagon. “Shut up; I tried” became a crappy mantra I hung on to while trying to keep things afloat until Chris came home. And it became clear how quickly good habits can pull loose at the seams and unravel into some sloppy diabetes management. (Yes, I’m on wagons and painting things into corners and working on some stitching, it seems. Metaphors for breakfast!)
Chris has been home for two weeks, and the blood sugar part of climbing back on the wagon has improved. Checking my blood sugar first thing in the morning, before doing anything else, is part of the routine again. (I mentally picture my meter as a handcuff, holding me to the bed, and I can’t get out of bed until I test. Which works, in theory, until the mental image starts to feel inappropriate, at which point I start to feel like a pervert.) Reacting to blood sugar numbers is becoming easier again because the responsibility of house and child is shared again, freeing up some room in my brain for diabetes math.
What I’m having trouble with is the forcing of exercise. Over the course of Chris being away, I wasn’t able to run much due to Bird-watching, and getting to the gym with regularity was tough due to the same issue. Despite having an ellipmachine in the basement, I wasn’t feeling it by the time Birdy was asleep. Most nights, I was asleep early, too, or up until embarrassing hours, working. In the course of two months, stress and exhaustion ripped the fun out of working out, and my stamina and fitness and weight and general feeling of “healthy” went out the window. Now that I’m trying to get back into the rhythm, it’s challenging to find that fun again because I feel like I’m jumping out from a sloth-ish starting point. It’s the time, though. Finding time for this stuff sounds so easy, in theory, but in practice, it’s tougher to pull off.
When I have time, I like going for a run. (Shockingly enough, I actually enjoy running now, versus a year ago when running a mile made my lungs feel like they were going to fall out of my body and flop against the sidewalk like dying fish.) My music mostly lives on Spotify, and making playlists for longer runs brings me weird joy. I always feel accomplished when I finish, even though I usually hate everything about everything when I start.
As with everything else related to diabetes, once I climb back onto the wagon, it’s smooth sailing. Making the effort for exercise is worth it, because even though it seems like a drop in the bucket, practice makes perfect. I need to be the early bird, making hay while the sun shines and keeping my nose to the grindstone. Rain or shine, I can do this until I’m blue in the face.
When you get into the car after going for a run and see a blood sugar of this:
… it’s way past time for glucose tabs. So when you reach into the Spibelt you’re wearing to retrieve the glucose tabs that you stuck in there, encased in a plastic bag once used for diaper discards instead of the travel tube because you forgot that at home and you didn’t want to have the Dexcom receiver covered in glucose dust, it might look, to an innocent bystander, a little like you’re eating dog poop from a doggy clean-up bag.
“They’re glucose tabs! I have diabetes, and I’m having a low blood sugar reaction,” I blurted out to the woman standing a few feet away, staring at me as she stood with her car door and her mouth opened.
“Oh thank goodness!” She laughed, relieved. “Because I thought you were … you know, I thought you were doing something you aren’t doing.”
“Nope. Not eating dog poop. Thanks, though.”
Copyright © 2014 Kerri Sparling & Six Until Me. 2005 - 2014. All rights reserved.
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