I’m new to the whole racing scene.  Today I ran my second race, the Harbour Front 10k.  I learned a lot about diabetes management on race day, and I have a lot more learning to do!  What I thought I knew, I had no clue! 🙂 So let’s get down to it.  I ran my first race, a 5k, back on April 13.  I had decent management of my diabetes then, but I really couldn’t learn much because I was sick as a dog and was mostly in sick day management mood with temporary basals, and what not.

So, what did I learn for the 10k prep?  I was actually a bit nervous about the 10k – it’s long enough that I have to start managing my pace a bit more, and it’s long enough that a hypo can hit me.  I’ve run lots of 10k’s on my own time, but I just didn’t know what I’d do in a race.  That’s why we run them!  So I set some goals.  I knew from the 5k race that I was going to beat my training run PB’s – which was ~41:30.  So I set a goal of 40 minutes.  I pre-ran most of the course (well, the hilly section) and knew that this was possible.  But for some reason pace kept nagging at me.  I pushed it to the back of my mind, or so I thought.

Next up was pre-race feeding.  I tend to have a diet that is 40% carbohydrates, and a 10k doesn’t really demand serious carb-o-loading.  For my planned marathon I’ll be bumping my carbs up to ~60% at least 2 weeks pre-race.  That being said, I did have a someone carb intensive supper.  I had an awesome savoury oatmeal – steel cut oats, miso, soya, lightly pan fried veggies, spinach, avocado and a poached egg.  It was delicious with a side of “ginger ale” (1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, ~1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, top with soda water).

Mmmm Miso Oatmeal

Mmmm Miso Oatmeal

My blood sugar was doing great post meal, or so I thought.  My wife then setup a restorative yoga session – aimed at stretching out my hamstrings, opening up my chest, and relaxing me.  It was perfect.  I was so sleepy and ready to hit the hay early to get up at 5 AM.  Then I tested my sugar.  WOWSERS.  Turns out that as I was starting to think more and more about the race I started getting stressed.

Race Glucose

Race Glucose

I had always read that pre-race stress can cause blood sugar to spike, and to plan a temporary basal accordingly.  Well, boy did that ever creep up on me.  I had 4 overnight boluses to try and correct my peak down.  My sugar has not been that high in months!  I was livid – because my sugar went so high and that I was waking up every hour to test and adjust.  I am highly insulin resistant at night, so I was taking large boluses, and then I was terrified of going low.  Anyways, around 2:30 things started looking better and I got to sleep until around 5 AM.  For me, I need to have my sugars in range when I’m exerting myself.  I just perform that much better when my glucose levels are balanced.  My brain is getting the right amount of insulin, my nerves aren’t being stressed, and my muscles are getting glucose from the blood stream.  It’s a win-win.

When I woke up I was happy with my blood sugar, and went about my plans to have my race day breakfast; steel cut oats with chia seed, 1/2 a banana, and an egg cracked into it egg drop soup style.  My mantra is “Eat real food, run fast”.  Of course I had my coffee, and missing from the shot is my morning cappuccino.  This is pretty much my breakfast every morning (except no banana, that’s an event day treat).  I bolused accordingly, and as you saw from the plot above I did fine (well, I drifted close to my low limit once).  I also turned my pump up 40% on the basal program because I knew I was getting a bit nervous.  As I was lining up at the start line my glucose was ~6 mmol/L.  I knew I was going to run the race hard, so I ate a sourdough, PB&J sandwich I took with me for just such an occasion.

Pre-race oatmeal at 5:30 AM, give it time to prime the glycogen pumps

Pre-race oatmeal at 5:30 AM, give it time to prime the glycogen pumps

Now, I’d love to share with you race blood sugar levels overlayed with my HRM data; however, my Dexcom did not report a single sugar during the race.  Maybe it’s because of how tight my muscles may have been (I wear it in my arm), maybe it was a combo of clothing and friction – it’s been known to cause issues.  Maybe having the transmitter in my tights in a plastic bag (it was raining) was blocking the signal.  I don’t know, and it’s going to be another blog topic at a later time, but I am sad to report – no data. 😦  My average HR for the run was 172, so I was pretty high in the threshold/anaerobic zones and was burning glycogen fast.  Still, post race it popped back on at 7.8 mmol/L and started to creep up.  That means I probably didn’t need the whole sandwich or I should’ve bolused, but lesson learned for next time.  Also, there was probably some anaerobic spiking going on there, but without the data in the middle it’s hard to say.  I wasn’t too far out of my desired zone during the race, and my time showed it.  I finished the 10k well under my goal at 38:02, coming in 11th overall and 5th in my age group.  It was a great day! 🙂  Post race I did have one other small peak from eating a bit of recovery food, but it quickly came down as my metabolism was all fired up

So fast I'm a blur! :)

So fast I’m a blur! 🙂

So, it’s still a work in progress, but here’s what I learned:

  1. Pre-race; plan to start an increased temporary basal early – as early as supper time the night before;
  2. Run some more runs at race pace without fueling to see how I respond (do I get an aerobic peak);
  3. Test ALL clothing combinations for Dexcom compatibility; I think this may have been the plastic bag as that was the only new variable in the equation;
  4. You can’t always rely on your CGMS. Have a plan for longer runs;
  5. Run more races prior to the August marathon by the sea;
  6. Continue to eat real food for races.  It works. 🙂


In closing, just a heads up that I am taking part in the Diabetes Blog Week starting tomorrow.  It’s a post a day on various topics.  It should be fun!