T&D June 12 – Ironman 70.3 Cairns

Ironman 70.3 Cairns race week has been a huge success! Many of the things that I have been working on recently have come together to allow me to overcome my challenges and have a great race this past Sunday. Race weeks are particularly challenging for type 1 diabetics as training loads are reduced and there are many extra emotions and stresses to deal with. This often culminates in highly variable BGLs that add to fatigue and stress. With this event in Cairns I also needed to pack all of my race kit, bike, nutrition and diabetes stuff to fly up to the race. Just a few extra things to think about during an already busy week!

Over the last two weeks my overnight BGLs have been very erratic and as a consequence of this I have been feeling very tired and fatigued. I worked really hard in the days leading up to the race to get things more stable and with this effort the last couple of nights where very stable. I still wasn’t feeling 100% but with my BGLs stable and with a mindset to really enjoy this race I was happy how I was heading to the start line. Without question this was the most mentally prepared I have been for a race in the last 6 months and it felt fantastic. My BGLs tracked between 5.0 and 8.0mmol/L for the two days prior to the race and I was fuelling up and enjoying myself.

The correlation between my mental state and the stability of my BGLs is very strong. As I have looked at this connection in more detail it has become clear that whenever I am stressed, angry, worried or similarly emotional my BGLs spike up and down. These spikes lead to over-corrections (bolus and hypo-eating) and then further stress when they do no stabilize. My mental state in the days leading up to the race was fantastic. I was not stressed, I was looking forward to the race and then a holiday, and my BGLs reflected this 100%. I can actually pin point the moment during the previous week when my mindset shifted positively and then everything fell into line. I was on a ride, it was around 6am and I wasn’t feeling great physically or mentally. I was assessing why I was feeling so average and I realized that I was feeling the same to how I was in late February before I took a 4-week break; I was mentally fatigued, my BGLs weren’t that great and I was feeling physically weak. I knew at that moment that I needed a break.

Luckily we had planned to take a week off after the race, a little mid-year holiday where resting and re-energising was about all that was on the agenda. The time worked perfectly and after I consciously acknowledged that this would be like the final race of my season and after which I would have a break, my body and mind seemed to relax and generally feel better. I still pushed myself and it was still tough but I didn’t feel like I was being beaten down by everything. It is amazing how the mind and your mood can have such a powerful influence on your body. This also showed me how important planning out your races, training and recovery are to achieve your best. You can’t continually push yourself without sufficient rest and recovery, and if you do you won’t achieve your best and you certainly won’t enjoy it.

The race itself was extremely tough and I definitely underestimated how hard the conditions would be. Heat, humidity, ocean swells, heavy rain and wind all contributed. With my BGLs tracking smoothly and in a great mindset I was focused and relaxed during the race being able to overcome a couple of hiccups and the conditions to finish the race in 4hrs 38mins (9th). Unfortunately I got a puncture at about the 50km point of the bike leg, which I quickly changed (~5mins) and a dip in my BGLs to around 4.0mmol/L caused me to slow and eat during the last 10km. I was able to start the run feeling pretty good and I then pushed through some tough patches to finish strongly with a big smile on my face. During the race by BGLs ran from 10.0 to 4.0 during the bike and I finished at 6.0mmol/L. A near perfect performance; if only I’d eaten a little more during the second half of the bike leg. The scenic course and spectators made this a great race and although it was super tough it was the most enjoyable of the last 12 months for me.

On another positive note the Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Sensor worked perfectly during the race and made checking my BGLs during the ride and run stress free. I used a simple snap lock back to keep the reader water proofed and I didn’t have any issues.

I’ll be posting a full race report later this week with all the details and hopefully with some great photos! Now it’s time to do nothing…