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Posts tagged ‘running’

Seb’s Still Going.

A gorgeous video update from Seb and his team as he runs across Canada:

 

 

Go, Seb, Go!!

Of Icicles and Ellipticals.

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:

  • The ellipmachine in our basement is convenient, but it’s kind of boring.  So I’m trying to use my ellipmachine time to catch up on TV shows I’ve missed, or wouldn’t otherwise have watched.  In the last few months, I’ve watched all available episodes of Veep, The Carrie Diaries, The Colbert Report, and New Girl (It’s Jess!).  However, watching a TV show while exercising gives me the built-in timer of “once the show is over, so is the workout.”  This is not always the best plan, because some days I need more release.
  • I am also afraid for Loopy’s life because as the foot pedals of the elliptical machine cycle around, she tries to bat at them with her paw.  It’s a secondary workout in itself, keeping her out of the room.
  • Chris recently cleaned out our garage, with intention to stick my car in it during snowstorms, but so far, we haven’t followed through on that and instead I found a jump rope in there and have been trying to use it.  There are some benefits to being slightly shorter, and being able to effectively jump rope indoors with low ceilings is one of them.  (Related: How did I do those Jump Rope for Heart fundraisers in middle school, jumping rope all frigging day long?  Now I feel accomplished and exhausted after ten minutes.  Getting older is weird.)
  • Same Loopy issue applies here, though, only for different reasons.  She doesn’t try to grab the rope while I’m using it, but she stands in the corner of the garage and watches me, making herself dizzy.  She worries me.
  • And weight training is an at-home option, but one I take (literally) lightly.  Since being diagnosed with diabetic eye disease, I have avoided any kind of strenuous lifting because I don’t want to fritz out any delicate connections in my eyeballs.  So my weight routines involve body weight and free weights ranging from 5 – 10 lbs.  These exercises are less boring than the ellipmachine, and are easy to switch up.
  • But the exercise I get most often (and most aggressively) is Kid Play.  My child is not the biggest fan of sitting still, so running around the house and random dance parties are nice little doses of sweatabetes.

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.

Pell Bridge Run.

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!)

Breaking New Ground.

I know exactly where the “half mile” point it, because I’ve run that trail so many times I don’t even need RunKeeper on to track how far I’ve gone.  The same tree is overgrown in a spot by the bridge where I have to duck my head just a little bit to keep from being tagged in the face by a branch.  There’s a rock jutting out awkwardly on one corner that I have the avoidance side-step planned out paces in advance.

I know that running trail by heart.

If a tree falls in the forest, does it still make a big mess?
A week or two ago, I found a new running trail close to where I live.  It’s longer.  Less structured and still wearing itself into the ground.  It stretches near a baseball field and I can hear the crowd cheering for their teams in the early evening, when the flood lights are switched on to signal sundown.  It smells different, with different trees and rocks and wildlife.  I have to watch my footsteps occasionally to still feel sure, and I run with the music at a lower volume, getting to know the lay of the land.

Running this new trail isn’t easier.  It has more hills, it has less sun, and it’s a longer drive from my house.  It’s harder and when I finish, my body aches in different ways.

But somehow, I’m faster.

I feel like I wear a groove with so many of my habits:  same grocery store, same running trail, same diet, same at-home schedule, same way of thinking about things.  While I can put my habits on pause for a week or two in order to accommodate work travel, I always fall back into the same pattern when I’m home.  For some things, it’s not a bad pattern.  But other things need to be changed up, swirled up, mixed around.

Is it as simple as a new meter bag to reinforce my dedication to checking my blood sugar?  Is it as easy as making myself go to bed an hour earlier than usual in efforts to avoid the exhaustion cycle of self-employment?  Could it really be as small as finding a new running path to force me to challenge myself, quicken my steps, ferret out security in an insecure place?  Does self-improvement need to be this big, exhaustive endeavor or can it be rooted in changes that are simpler?  (And can it be found in a paragraph of rhetorical questions?)

Even though it’s harder, and it hurts more, and I have no idea yet where the mile markers are, I like the new running path.  I feel like I’m breaking new ground with every step, in ways that reach far outside the moments on the trail.

Filling Back Up.

It whispered in my ear two January’s ago, when a low blood sugar came too close to becoming terrifying as I felt the whoosh of that bullet go by. I’d never felt anything like that before, that aftermath of fear and numbness.  Then I marked twenty six years with type 1 diabetes, and I just wanted to outrun this disease, to stay ahead of it, to pretend that it can’t ever possibly catch me.

Then there was this weird feeling, one I’ve never felt before.  It wasn’t depression, I don’t think, because it didn’t feel … I don’t know … like anything I’d ever read about or been warned about by my doctor.  I didn’t feel uncontrollably sad, and I didn’t have thoughts that would have concerned my family.

There was this emptiness, though.  And I can’t put my finger on where it came from or what its role was in my life.  Not an all-consuming feeling, but it did strike me at the oddest times, like during a conference when I was hoping to be more social, or during a movie that was supposed to make me laugh, or like when I would be in the car by myself and pull into the driveway of my house, and I’d feel lost.  And empty.   Coming into the house and seeing my happy daughter and my husband filled me back up, but for those brief moments before opening the car door and letting the sounds from outside come rushing in, the quiet was overwhelming.  I’m normally a happy person – quick to laugh, and happy to be surrounded by people – but I suddenly wanted to be alone, only being alone made me feel better, for a few minutes, then ultimately worse.

I talked with some people, including my husband and my closest friends, trying to understand why I felt this way and how to keep the feelings from becoming everyday.  It wasn’t all diabetes-related, but there was something about having had this disease for twenty-six years that made me feel trapped.  I started doing destructive math in my head, about how nothing had been introduced into my life that I’d had longer than type 1 diabetes.  Diabetes has been part of my life for longer than school, longer than any romantic relationship, longer than any hobby, longer than any car or t-shirt or memory. I thought about life’s milestones and the influence of diabetes on each one, sometimes just a light touch, not enough to leave the smallest mark, other times a heavy-handed drag of claws.

A few months after marking the twenty-sixth anniversary of my diagnosis, I turned 34 years old and felt convinced that I was having a mid-life crisis.  I feared death, actively and aggressively, nervous to go to sleep at night because of the low blood sugars that sometimes crept in.  I started feeling nervous about unreasonable things.  Panic attacks, like the ones I had back in college (when my parents split and my immediate family life was very unsettled) revisited for a few weeks, making my chest feel tight and making me wonder if it was indeed panic or was I having a years-of-type-1-diabetes-induced heart attack.

But then I started filling back up, emotionally.  While marking a diabetes anniversary was the catalyst for darker times, acknowledging the feelings that made me feel unsettled made healing easier.  I didn’t see a therapist (though I would if these feelings were to resurface) and I didn’t add medications to my list (though I would have, were they necessary), but I did ease myself into things like family trips, private (non-blog) journaling, and finding time to dedicate to quiet jogs that stopped my brain from going into panicky overdrive.

One afternoon, I realized it had been days since I’d felt empty.  Weeks went by, turning into months, and then the emptiness started to become harder to remember, harder to pinpoint the “why” of, and life felt more like I remembered before my twenty-sixth diabetes anniversary.

I don’t miss feeling that way – all that emptiness – but I’m not surprised that I felt it.  Diabetes is intrusive and touches everything, like a kid with grubby hands.  For decades, I didn’t mind wiping away the fingerprints that were left everywhere, but last year, I reached not so much a breaking point, but a moment when I couldn’t bend things any further without snapping.  I didn’t want to deal with this disease.  I was mad.  Overwhelmed.  And then that empty.  It was a strange grieving process for a disease that wasn’t going anywhere and for a life that wasn’t over.

It was raining a little when I started running this past Tuesday morning, September 10th, but I decided to go anyway.  I set out after sticking my Spibelt underneath my shirt instead of over it, to protect the Dexcom receiver from the rain.  Sneakers worn from a year’s worth of logging miles and my pump clipped to the top of my pants, I ran.  I’m not a pretty runner – I slog and huff and puff and probably resemble more ‘laboring pug’ than ‘actual human’ while I’m on the trail, but I made the decision to keep going.   With each step, it didn’t get easier.  I wasn’t riding endorphins during my run, and I felt the strain on my muscles and my resolve, but I kept going because it’s good for me to run.  It’s good for me to try.  It’s good to feel healthy and to look healthy and to be healthy.

The following day, Wednesday the 11th, I marked my twenty-seventh anniversary with type 1 diabetes.

I wish I had a more gracious outlook on my experiences with diabetes, but I don’t.  I wish I felt that it was some kind of blessing, but to me, it isn’t.  It’s a thorn in my side that digs in deeper with every passing anniversary, but fuck you, diabetes.  I’m tired at times, but I’m not stopping.  I’m afraid, but I’m still going.  Diabetes has brought me to some of the edges of life, daring me to look into the abyss and wonder just how long I’d know I was falling before I hit the ground, but there’s power in that.  I’m living with diabetes, with all the accompanying ugliness and arrogance, power and determination, all the perspective and perseverance and bitterness, all the fear and fearlessness that comes with any life, but is micro-scoped and magnified by a disease that never, ever takes a breath and doesn’t leave my world until I do. 

Yesterday, my daughter and I baked a cake, but I didn’t eat it, or explain why or why not.  She wanted to make fancy treat, and I wanted to see her smile because she fills my soul.  We put candles on it, hummed a sort of tuneless ‘happy birthday,’ and blew them out, marking a celebration of absolutely nothing and at the same time, everything.

Up and Running.

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.

Not What She Thought I Was Doing.

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.”

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