Type 1 Challenge – We Did It!

It is difficult to put into words how good the Type 1 Challenge was, it was a spectacular success! After months of hard work organising the event and training for the ride, the results for everyone involved could not have been better. In summary:

  • We raised close to $140,000 for JDRF (thank you to all our sponsors and supporter who made this possible!)
  • The JDRF One Ride event raised $1.1M (second highest in the events history)
  • We featured on TV news, Radio and in the Newspaper, raising awareness for Type 1 Diabetes
  • We meet with families in Bendigo and Sea Lake (which was really inspiring for us T1D’s)
  • We had amazing feedback through social media on @JDRFAus, @Type1_Challenge and @Type1Athletic
  • All 15 cyclists and 8 support people made the full journey (some supporters even cycling a bit) from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley (910km)
  • All 15 cyclists participated in the 160km JDRF One Ride in the Barrosa Valley, two leading the way in the leading bunch and also taking out the KOM for the day (I’ll congratulate my self for that one)
  • Received so much interest from people about participating in the Type 1 Challenge next year that it can’t not go ahead again
  • I received a special thank you award from JDRF for founding this ride and pushing it to achieve the successes that it did
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Smiling as we charge out of Melbourne and into the hills on day 1 (the smile last the whole week)

 

When we arrived in the Barossa Valley on Friday afternoon I have never been so proud and I had a real moment of reflection on the amazing things that we had all achieved (fundraising, awareness and cycling). When I spoke to the JDRF One Ride group at the Friday night briefing I noted that as a cyclist, a T1D and as a JDRF Ambassador, this ride had truly been a life changing experience.

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Meeting Blair (T1D) in Sea Lake. What an inspiration this kid was, doing so much for T1D in his isolated regional community! What a champion!

The ride itself could not have gone better. We had no incidents or mechanicals (only 3 punctures), the weather was perfect (no rain) even having a tail wind most of the way, and our organisation/logistics ran so smoothly (100% professional).

The people on the ride really contributed to the great time we all had. You couldn’t have asked for a better group, everyone had a fantastic attitude and we had a lot of fun together. I think that we have made some life long friendships and cycling mates out of the trip. The support crew was absolutely fantastic and the ride wouldn’t have run as smoothly without them. Managing 15 cyclists for 5 days is not easy job and to keep everyone happy and well feed (always on time) was just spectacular. Several of the support crew even jumped on their bikes and rode in the peloton each day and we were happy to sit them at the front and enjoy the ride. A special thank you to my wife who supported me from the beginning and has made a massive contribution to the success of this event (a often stressed cyclist and type 1 diabetic is not easy to live with).

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Type 1 Challenge cyclists, support crew and JDRF representatives at the send-off 

 

The ride was all about type 1 diabetes and having three type 1’s riding really had an impact on everyone and the event overall. Myself, Trevor and David nearly all cycled the entire way and has no major diabetes issues. Riding, eating, recovering everyday whilst managing our type 1 was not only great for ourselves but also gave everyone else in the group an insight in to what we have to deal with everyday. Feedback from other was that this was really powerful and contributed to the swell of support for JDRF.

 

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Great cycling roads, fantastic people, perfect weather and country bakeries made for big smiles

This was really a inspiring and I think life changing event for me. I have a real passion for everything about this event (cycling, T1D and awareness) and I am already thinking about what we can do next year to build on what we have achieved. Already excited!!

Thank you for all of your support and donations.

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That’s who we’re representing – JDRF and type 1 diabetes

 

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Type 1 Challenge – 1,000km Melbourne to the Barossa Valley

The time is finally upon us! After many months training, organising and fundraising we are one week from starting our ride 1,000km ride from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley in support of JDRF One Ride and type 1 diabetes research. The training has been long and hard, we have fund raised tirelessly and the planning/logistics meetings are finally complete. There has been fatigue, frustration and stress, but over the last week the realisation that this amazing event is about to happen has really energised me and I couldn’t be more excited to get started on Monday 1st of May.

The ride has been named “Type 1 Challenge” which aims to reflect the association with type 1 diabetes and also the challenge of the event along with the challenge of living with type 1 diabetes. The way the idea has flourished has led me to commit to running a “Type 1 Challenge” annually in conjunction with JDRF to build on the amazing base of support I  and the concept have received this year. The more I reflect on what we have achieved, and the more I speak with people about what we are doing, the more I am motivated to make this bigger and better. But know we have the 1,000km of cycling to get through before we can really celebrate!

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The Type 1 Challenge: Ride to the Barossa cycling kit full of our wonderful sponsors logo’s

The Type 1 Challenge is now 15 cyclists and 8 supporters who have raised over $160,000 for JDRF. This is a significant contribution which will allow 1yrs further research to be funded. This not only includes the money raised by the 15 cyclists but also direct corporate support for the Type 1 Challenge from; Mastercard, Cuscal, Telstra, Bendigo Bank, Placard, Nokia, Prosegur, Art Series Hotel Group, Sterling Products, U-Haul Australia, NCR, Transaction Network Services and Wilson Plumbing & Drainage. I a truly thankful for all of the support given by these companies (as the founder of the Type 1 Challenge and also as a type 1 diabetic).

Our ride will take us 5 days cycling an average 200km per day. We will be stopping in Bendigo, Sea Lake, Pinnaroo and Murray Bridge before making a triumphant (yet very tired) entrance to the JDRF One Ride event in the Barossa Valley on Friday afternoon. As a group we have ridden nearly 50,000km cumulatively in 2017 (so far) to train for this ride and after out last group training ride on the weekend I am confident that we will all enjoy a safe and highly successful journey to the Barossa Valley.

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The Type 1 Challenge Team post final training ride enjoying the prospect of 1,000km to come!

We will be leaving Melbourne on Monday 1st May and arriving in the Barossa Valley on Friday 5th May. The best way to follow our progress will be through instagram via @type1athletic, @type1_challenge and @jdrfaus. Looking forward to a great ride, a great JDRF One Ride event and continuing to raising awareness of type 1 diabetes and inspire people!

You can still donate to JDRF through this link: Donate to JDRF/Type1Athletic

JDRF One Ride & my new team

It’s been about one month since I launched my JDRF One Ride fundraising campaign and the response and developments have been fantastic. Firstly, I have to thank everyone who immediately donated and we have raise nearly $2,500 to date!! Secondly, and more personally satisfying, has been the number of people offering support and coming to speak to me about Type 1 Diabetes. I really enjoy talking to people about the disease and my experiences, and through my association with JDRF I can now also emphasis how important research funding is and how this actually makes a tangible difference to my life. I now understand that the more people that know about the disease the better, and although less than 5% of the population has Type 1 Diabetes, many more people than I thought are touched by the disease. This first month has certainly energised me to work even harder for my JDRF fundraising.

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Team Telstra JDRF Ride Event on the Morning Peninsula, this group included Matthew Keenan (TdF Commentator) and Justin Morris (Team Novo Nordisk Cyclist)

My big plan to ride from Melbourne to Adelaide has also been met with enormous support and had the desired effect of motivating people to donate. A common response has been “you’re doing what?” followed by “that’s amazing!”. My original plan was to ride solo from Melbourne to Adelaide in 3 days, an epic challenge for me but with an unknown impact for Type 1 Diabetes awareness and JDRF. I can now confirm that I have been joined by up to another dozen riders who have committed to tackle this journey with me, and we now have a fantastic team working on this project. The route has now also been revised and we will be completing the 900km ride over 5 days arriving at the JDRF One Ride Event on Friday afternoon and also stopping in communities along the way to promote and support the JDRF network and local type 1 diabetes initiatives. Going from one cyclist pedalling across the border, to now having a strong team of cyclists and corporate supporters, the broader impact of this trip could be really significant.

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The new ride route which we’ll ride in 5 days, stopping in towns for some T1D and JDRF events with the local communities. 

Not only are we being supported by some fantastic organisations including JDRF, Telstra and the Bendigo bank, there are now three type 1 diabetics riding in the team! Three Type 1’s with three different diabetes experiences and three inspirational stories to tell on this journey. I am really looking forward to sharing this experience with them and I know that I will get a different perspective on how people manage their own condition and I am I sure that I will learn plenty from this. With the introduction of more Type 1’s, a dozen cyclists, corporate’s and on-road supporters this ride can only have a positive impact on our JDRF fundraising and on the One Ride event itself. I am excited and grateful for everyone’s involvement and enthusiasm.

So what happens next? Cycling, fundraising, more cycling, JDRF events, more cycling, planning, more cycling, more planning… you get the picture. It’s pretty exciting stuff and I am really looking forward to working with this great group of people, making new friends on the bike, talking about Type 1 Diabetes and most of all spending lots of time riding my bike. It is also going to be a lot of work but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it.

If you are following my blog or fundraising campaign, thank you for your interest and support. If you are thinking about making a donation, then please do. The changes in diabetes management I have experienced over the last 5 years has been fantastic and my quality of life is now better due to these advancements. Insulin pumps and continue glucose monitors are just a couple of examples of these developments which have been funded and supported by JDRF and which your donations help fund. Any donation, no mate what size, will make a difference (Please Donate Here).

2016 Ironman 70.3 Ballarat

After putting in some serious weeks of training in preparation for the Ironman 70.3 in Ballarat last Sunday I was super excited to get there and race. With my JDRF fundraising activities and my wedding early next year this race is going to be my only 70.3 triathlon for this summer season and I really wanted to make it count and get the best possible result that I could. I took a relaxed attitude into the race, prepared as I normally do and raced to enjoy the day, which I did. Apart from a couple of incidents it was a great race where I performed really well in all three legs. A puncture on the bike, along with a couple of hypo’s cost me some time but I still crossed the line in 4hrs and 33 minutes just outside the top 10.

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Crossing the finish line with a smile!

The Ballarat course was fantastic and provided for some very fast racing. A swim in the calm Lake Wendouree, a generally smooth bike course and a flat 3 lap run to finish in perfect sunny conditions were ideal. Although I really wanted to do well I didn’t put any added pressure on myself and my lead into the race was really relaxed and my BGLs reflected this. From my last couple of years racing experience I know what basal rates I need to program for a race and these worked really well for this race, not even an 18.0mmol/L reading overnight caused me issues. On race morning I always have a carb option and a no carb protein option for my pre-race snack, on Sunday things were tracking so well that I was able to have a bit of both. The race started in the 16-degree water of Lake Wendouree and I happily swam off the front of my group and into the masses that started before me at 8:18am. When you’re relaxed and enjoying a race it really does go quickly and even with my puncture this was the case for me. I was also fast and on a PB 70.3 time until the puncture and hypo’s got me. I had the following incidents during the race:

  • Rear tyre puncture 45kms into the bike leg; a split in the side wall and then it was difficult to get tyre bead to seat when pumping up the tyre (took 11 minutes to fix)
  • Minor hypo at about 60km on the bike resulting in my power being down whilst I ate and got my BGLs back up, this was also when the course had an incline and was into a head wind which slowed me further
  • Rapid hypo at 15km on the run; my levels had been fantastic on the run to this point (6.0 – 8.0mmol/L) and this sudden BGL drop caught me by surprise

Without my 11-minute puncture and my two hypo’s I think that I might have gone close to a 4hr 20min 70.3 which would have been a great PB for me! This not being the case, I still took some really positives from the race and although I’ll be waiting till later next year to race again I am excited to see if I can break the 4hr 20min barrier and maybe go faster again. So I was really happy with:

  • I performed really well with only one 4-week block of 70.3 specific training before the race (training for marathon before this)
  • Remained relax leading into and throughout the race which helped keep my BGLs stable
  • I generally got my nutrition and hydration right for the day (apart from after the puncture where I forgot to eat)
  • A good swim coming out of the water in 27.33 and in 4th place
  • Felt strong on the bike and I was able to maintain slightly higher power than my previous races (apart from my hypo)
  • Even with my puncture and hypo my bike split was OK and would have been great without these incidents
  • My transition into the run was fantastic and I felt really good for the first 14km of the run holding close to 4min/km pace

 

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From both my performance and my diabetes, I learn something from every race. From Ballarat I learnt a lot about what type of training and recovery my body needs to perform at its best. There is no substitute for hard work and my improved run performance can be attributed to the time put in training for the Melbourne marathon. In the swim and on the bike I focus on getting my high end quality sessions completed 100% and then managing the remainder of my training load around how my body was feeling. I still did double and triple session days of 8hrs just because I’m a little crazy but I was smarter managing things around these days.

From a diabetes perspective the race reinforced that you can’t ever assume that your diabetes will just take care of itself. I made smart decisions the night before when my BGL was as high as 18.0mmol/L and in the morning when I chose my pre-race snack (about 1hr before the start). Getting my nutrition and hydration right during the race was also really beneficial and although I did have two hypo’s I was encouraged with this aspect of the race. With regards to the hypo’s I didn’t eat when I should have after getting the puncture and once your BGLs start tracking down whilst exercising it is difficult to pull them back up. My second hypo on the run was really unexpected as I usually trend high at the end of the run. My lesson learnt here is the importance of being proactive with my nutrition and keeping my BGL’s up a little.

I now have a good basal program, pre-race prep and snack, a hydration plan (no-sugar) and race nutrition which doesn’t upset my stomach or spike my BGLs. Very happy with what I have learnt from my last 2 years of racing and I am confident now racing in any event, managing my diabetes effectively and performing to my best.

My focus now turns to cycling 1,000’s of kilometres to raise money for JDRF Australia including riding from Melbourne to Adelaide (Barossa Valley) and participating the JDRF One Ride Event (JDRF One Ride 2017). I will miss the summer of triathlons, especially the varied training, but I am excited to stack clocking up the kilometres for JDRF and Type 1 Diabetes research.

Please have a look at my JDRF fundraising activities and consider making a donation (Donate Here). The work which JDRF does really makes a difference and they have directly contributed to improving the quality of my and other Type 1 Diabetics lives. Thank you.

My JDRF Fundraising Story

To kick start my fundraising for my JDRF One Ride participation I wrote an email which I planned to distribute to all of my contacts. I was aiming to connect my personal diabetes story with the JDRF cause and positive outcomes to get as many people to support me as possible. As I wrote the email though I became quite emotional as I realised how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and how significant and life threatening the complications can be. It actually brought me to tears when I read it out to my fiance. Below is an adapted version.

As you may be aware I am a type 1 diabetic, I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old and I have been living with the condition for over 22 years now. Type 1 diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin which is what allows the body to process sugar to create energy. Without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food and the sugars which remain in the blood stream then cause other complications. To manage type 1 diabetes, I must keep my blood sugar levels as close to the normal range as possible by dosing insulin, something that is very complicated and difficult to maintain.

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You would have seen me testing my blood sugar levels (nearly 50,000 finger pricks) and giving myself insulin (over 30,000 injections) and from the outside I would appear to be a very healthy young man; at the moment I thankfully am. The longer I have type 1 diabetes though, the risk increases that the disease will ravage many of my organs and bodily systems leading to health complications including kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke. The potential complications though are secondary to the daily challenges of keeping my blood sugar levels within a safe range whilst being active and living a normal life, all while trying not to stress about the condition. Type 1 diabetes requires constant management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I have had type 1 diabetes for nearly 8,000 days, and counting.

Type 1 diabetes is one of the only conditions where the patient determines their own doses of medication (insulin), and that this medication both keeps them alive and can also kill them. Insulin is required constantly or at minimum with every meal every day of a diabetics life.

Type 1 diabetes has not stopped me living an active life, nor achieving my goals. Through school and university, my working life, completing many endurance events including an Ironman, and most recently getting engaged and starting to plan for a family. Along the way I have overcome the daily challenges of having type 1 diabetes which have included hypoglycaemic events (which can be fatal), always planning ahead and carrying my diabetes supplies and food, and trying to fit the strict nature of diabetes around the spontaneous nature of life. Although I have managed my diabetes well there have been plenty of scary incidents; being resuscitated by paramedics due to severe hypoglycaemia, breaking my hand during another hypoglycaemic event and various times where things just didn’t go to plan and I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I can’t imagine my parents stress when I was a teenager and now what my fiancé feels when I head out on a solo adventure with all of that to worry about.

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So I am fundraising for JDRF through the One Ride Event  because I understand how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and it scares me that even with good control there are high risks of potentially fatal complications. I have also received the benefits of recent technological developments which have made living with type 1 diabetes so much easier; I am on an insulin pump and I use a CGM to monitor my BGLs. I am cycling 1,000’s of kilometres to inspire all type 1 diabetics that this disease should not stop them from doing anything their heart desires and that achieving their wildest goals is within their grasp. My plans for my fundraising activities can be found here JDRF One Ride 2017

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I am currently preparing for the Ballarat 70.3 Ironman on December 8th, my only triathlon for this coming summer and one which I really want to do well at. After that I will be focusing on cycling as many kilometres as I can to raise funds for JDRF, raising awareness about type 1 diabetes, inspiring other type 1 diabetics to join me, and also prepare for my ride from Melbourne to Adelaide in May 2017. There’s also an engagement party and a wedding in there which will be a lot of fun!

I have not previously done much fundraising and before starting to work with JDRF I didn’t really understand how important it is. JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion since its inception and has delivered a pipeline of innovative therapies and technology to people living with diabetes including my insulin pump and continue blood glucose monitoring which I have found absolutely life changing. By making a contribution you will have a direct and significant impact on the lives of all diabetics, making it easier to live a healthy and complication free life.

If you would like to donate and support me on my JDRF cycling journey please donate through this link Alex JDRF One Ride

I can honestly say that your donation will contribute to making a significant difference to my life and I will forever be grateful.

Melbourne Marathon Report

Race Summary

  • Time: 3hrs 1min (goal time was 3hrs)
  • BGL Checks: 10 (from 6:30am started warming up to 10am end of race)
  • BGL Range: 10.0 to 18.0mmol/L (much higher than I wanted)
  • Bolus adjustment doses required: 2 x 0.25 units during the race (somewhat ineffective but taking a very cautious approach)
  • Carbs Consumed: approx. 50gr during the race (much less than planned due to high BGLs)

On Sunday 16th October I completed my first road marathon at the Melbourne Marathon and crossed the line in a time of 3hrs and 1 minute. Although I have always been fit, I have never been a runner and many years ago the thought of doing a marathon was terrifying. I went into the race with the goal of running under 3hrs and I only missed this by a minute; I am really happy and proud of my performance. Marathons are really hard and I’d rate this as one of the hardest events which I have completed, as I write this several days later my legs are still screaming at me.

The lessons that I’ll take away from this event and implement for the coming triathlon season are important for me and for bettering my performance in the future:

  • Try not to get sick before a race; nothing I could really do about this and in the end I think that I managed it pretty well
  • Increase insulin doses pre-race to cover the BGL rise from my nerves and adrenaline, this will be more important for new events where it’s more difficult to relax
  • Stay hydrated during the race and not get dehydrated; this will involve managing my own hydration and not relying on the ‘aid stations’
  • Adjust insulin plan during the race if BGLs are running high, it is important to get fuel in during a race and get the carb/insulin balance better
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Not sure how I look strong and happy at this point, just past 40km!

My training leading in the event was really good and a month before the event I decided on a goal time of 3hrs. I believed that if everything went smoothly I would be able to achieve this (though I wrongly calculated the per kilometre pace which made for some funny conversations in my head during the first 5kms of the race at 4 minute pace).

Two days before the event I came down with cold/fly symptoms which put me in bed from Friday morning. Feeling terrible with body aches and a blocked up head the only thing which I could do was rest, drink lots of water and hope that I would be feeling OK on Sunday. After months of training this was terribly depressing but I was determined to complete the marathon. With illness come higher and more irregular BGLs and I had to work really hard to keeps these within good levels for these couple of days.

With a start time of 7am I was up at 5:30am on race day and arrived in the city at 6am to get ready. My BGLs had tracked OK overnight and they were stable around 6.5mmol/L at this stage and I ate a small low carb protein bar to get some calories in before the race. My plan was to consume carbs during the race from about the 30-minute mark where my basal rate and the exercise would keep my levels reasonable stable. At 6:30am I jogged to the start line which was about 2km away, I used this as my warm-up. Just before 7am my BGLs had risen to 9.5mmol/L, I was not overly concerned about this as I expected them to plateau once the race started.

BANG! We were underway. I had decided to run with the 3hr pacer and just try to hold on to the finish line. The pace started at 4min/km and I pretty quickly realised that this was going to be a tough race and the pace for a 3hr marathon was 4:15/km pace! In my head this was scary, so I just focused on the runners around me and started ticking off the kilometres. In training I generally check my levels every 30 minutes to being with and then every 15-20mins after the first hour. I checked my levels at the 7km mark and they had risen to 16.0mmol/L, not what I had planned! I decided to give myself a small bolus dose of 0.25 units which I expected would bring them down. It was nice a this point when another runner asked me about my diabetes and said that his son had just been diagnosed. My Type1Athletic top must have been easily spotted and it felt great that I was able to tell him that type 1 diabetes had not stopped me from doing anything, including running this marathon.

Kilometres 10 to 30 passed without too many issues. I focused on having a good cadence and light ground contact and the kilometres just ticked over. I checked my BGLs every 20 minutes and they continued to be around 15mmol/L. I was nervous about giving a bolus dose and having a hypo. As I was feeling pretty good I continued with only another small 0.25 unit dose. I ate a low card protein bar at around the 1 hour mark and then a gel at around the 2hr mark when my BGLs started to trend down (but then up again after the gel). I was conscious of keeping hydrated and was taking water at every aid station. In hindsight a small cup of water every couple of kilometres really wasn’t enough and as the race progressed so did my dehydration. Sticking with the 3hr group until 35km, ticking over at 4:10 pace, not fuelled or hydrated, I then hit the proverbial wall!

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Winner are grinners; finishing with a lap of the MCG.

Although I had felt pretty comfortable up to this point the head cold, my high BGLs, lack of fuel and fluid during the race eventually caught up with me. Drained of energy and with my legs really hurting my pace dropped to 4:45 kilometres. Jogging, running, jogging, running, walking, jogging, the next 5 kilometres were a real battle. Never wanting to stop and with the MCG (the finish) visible, I just pushed as hard as I could. Walking through the two remaining aid stations I took down as much water as I could. As I got closer to and passed the 40km mark my pace quickened with a little boost of finish line adrenaline and I ran through the last kilometres feeling amazing that I was going to finish my first marathon and go oh so close that that magical 3hr mark. Crossing the line with barely the energy to raise my arms above my head, my whole body aching, my stomach churning and knowing that I was really going to suffer when I stopped, I could not have been happier. Best off all my family was in the stands of the MCG cheering me around that final lap and my best mate finished the half marathon only 10 minutes earlier, was also there to celebrate with me!

So a really challenging race both physically and mentally that I am super proud of. Starting with a head cold, running in 35km/hr winds, dealing with high BGLs due to being sick, not being able to fuel properly and then getting dehydrated all made this really really challenging. I always review my races and I will learn a lot from this event and hopefully not have to experience these challenges again (the ones which I can control).

From a diabetes point of view, the reasons for my higher BGLs during the race were (plenty to learn from here):

  • Illness; I had been suffering from a cold/flu for a couple of days leading into the race
  • Nerves/Adrenaline: Due to running my first road marathon with a challenging goal time
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can cause BGLs to rise at a more rapid rate
  • Carbs/Insulin: Trying to balance eating a small amount of carbs during the race but also dosing a small amount of insulin trying to avoid a sharp spike in BGLS
  • Exercising in the anaerobic zone; higher effort and heart rate sucking all the glycogen into my system for fuel

After going so close to 3hrs I’ll have to do another marathon to get under this magical mark. I’m also super proud of the other type 1 diabetics I saw out on course and also the people who I spoke to during the race about diabetes. I hope that we’ve inspired a few people to give something like this ago and not let type 1 diabetes hold them back.

JDRF One Ride 2017

I am super excited to launch my campaign for the 2017 JDRF One Ride today! This is one of JDRF’s important fundraising events and is held in the Barossa Valley at the beginning of May 2017. I’ve got some big ambitions for my fundraising and participation in the event and I really want to get as much exposure for Type 1 Diabetes and JDRF out into the community.

I have a page dedicated to One Ride Event JDRF One Ride 2017 where I’ll be linking all of my posts and activities to, and my fundraising page can be found here Donate to Type1Athletc One Ride.

Please head over to my JDRF One Ride page for all of the info and please think about getting involved in this fantastic event however you can, your contribution reall does make a difference to the lives of people with type 1 diabetes! Thank you

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Ironman 70.3 Cairns Race Report

Cairns was a fantastic race to end this block of training and racing for me. I’ve have many challenges over the last 12 months and to finish with a tough and successful race is really positive and has made me more enthusiastic to continue racing and improving. 12 months ago my mindset was all about the end result but I have learnt that there are many smaller victories along the way and enjoying the journey and the racing is the most important thing. I am now a better athlete for all that I have experienced.

Ironman 70.3 Cairns is a little more complicated than other races with the travel from Melbourne, organising my bike and kit, planning nutrition, different start, transition and finish locations, and of course keeping my diabetes under the best control possible. Cairns is a huge event that felt like it took over the whole region with the Ironman atmosphere. Getting that buzz when you arrive is great and gave me that little kick to get through to race morning.

Coming to Cairns with a season worth of training and racing under my belt I was focusing on the other important things including; nutrition, hydration, rest and of course my diabetes. Leading into the race I was in such a positive mindset that everything felt like it was running to plan and even my BGLs were stable and predictable. I had everything planned out and I just wanted to get to the start line and race. I have not felt like this for over 12 months and it was really energising to go into a race knowing that everything was under control. I was really enjoying this and being positive was also making me feel physically buzzing also.

Race day I was up at 3:30am to get to the bus terminal for transport up to the start at Palm Coves (45mins trip from Cairns). My BGLs were running perfectly at 6.0mmol/L from 3:30am to when I arrive at Palm Cove at 5:00am. My plan was to setup my transition, do a short warm-up, get into my wetsuit and then have something to eat about 30 minutes before the start. For the hour before the race start it was raining heavily and the winds were picking up making things a little awkward getting ready squeezed under the limited available shelter. With my BGLs still tracking at 6.5mmol/L I got down my carb/protein/coffee shake at 6am and was ready get on the beach for the start.

As a sub-30 minute swimmer I started in the first couple of groups off the rolling start. I was relaxed and enter the water calmly duck diving a couple of times and then swimming to some clear water around the first buoy. It was a little funny when I realised that I hadn’t done a swim in the “ocean” for a long time with all of my recent races in protected water. The ocean swells and choppy conditions were certainly a little challenging but the swim course was straightforward and passed pretty quickly. I was able to swim in clear water and sighted the buoys clearly. 29 minutes out of the water, feeling great and even giving my support team (Inge, Mum and Ken) a quick smile as I started the long long long run to my bike in T1 (I’m guessing this was about 500m and a pretty unique transition).

I am always happy to get onto the bike as I feel relaxed riding and it gives me plenty of time to check my BGLs and adjust if need be. Starting on the bike leg my BGL was at 10.0mmol/L that was a little higher than I thought it would be after the swim but still in a good range. Using the new Freestyle Libre Flash glucose monitor for the first time in a race it really made checking my BGLs easy and I trusted that the reading would be accurate. I wasn’t wrong and I honestly thing that this little device relieve the one of the stresses from previous races when my CGM wasn’t accurate I was finger prick testing during the race.

BikeRun

Not needing to eat straight away I got in plenty of fluids (no carbs Endura) and settled into a steady rhythm (aiming for 85 cadence at 250 watts). There had been plenty of chatter about the drafting enforcement and there were a lot of TA official’s on the bike course. I had ended up in a group of 4 riders with each trying to push away but all seeming to remain together generally at a legal distance. The Captain Cook Hwy is a beautiful stretch of road and with the rolling hills and the ocean almost within reach the kilometres passed really quickly. The rain was pretty constant and at times so heavy that I couldn’t hear myself think as the massive tropical raindrops hammered into my helmet. After the turn-around point at the 30km mark I was feeling great and still in the group of four. There was now a slight head wind and the heavy rain continued. At around the 50km mark just as I had pushed to the front of the group I noticed my front end go wobbly and looking down I could immediately see that I had a flat tyre. Having had not handling issues on the wet and slippery roads to this point I nearly came off when trying to come to a stop now. Heart racing and legs pounding I was immediately annoyed but quickly got off, flicked off my front wheel and changed the tube. It may have taken 5 minutes all up but I didn’t worry and I was quick to get back into my rhythm heading to Cairns back past Palm Cove.

With 15 kilometres to go I was feeling the power draining from my legs and after checking my BGL realised that I hadn’t eaten enough in the last hour and my BGL was down to 4.0mmol/L and dropping. I had to ease up at this point and find a more comfortable rhythm so that I could eat and get my BGLs back up to start the run leg. My last 15 kilometres were slower than I would have liked but I just focused on being smooth, eating and drinking, and then checking my BGLs every 10 minutes. When I got to T2 my BGLs were back up to 6.5mmol/L and having eased off for the last part of the ride was feeling great starting the run (in the pouring rain). I got a little extra boost from seeing Inge and Mum again as I ran out of the transition and I may have even given someone a high-five!

Having put extra hours into my running over the last month I was looking forward to seeing how this training would pay off. I wanted to set a 4-minute pace to start with and I looked to find someone of a similar pace to work off. I was able to stick with this pace until the 8km point where the hurt set-in and I needed to slow. This was a little mental hurdle to overcome and I told myself to stick tough and maintain a steady pace, picking it up if I could. For the remainder of the run I was pacing around 4:30/km with a couple of faster and slower kilometres as I pushed harder or checked my BGLs and sucked down a gel. The heavy tropical rain continued to come and go and there were plenty of big puddles to run through (sort of good to take your mind off the pain). With my BGLs being on track I also enjoyed a few pieces of watermelon. Being my weakest leg the run is always tough but having my BGLs under control meant that I could focus on the running and not my diabetes for the first time in several races. With the atmosphere at the turnarounds and the crowds spread out along the whole run course the kilometres did pass quickly and the Ironman red carpet was underfoot with my arms in the air (still in the rain) before midday! BGLs finished at 6.0mmol/L, treading slightly downwards which allowed me to indulge in the recovery tent with a few big slices of watermelon and a protein recovery drink.

I finished with a time of 4hrs 38mins in 9th place in my age and 35th place over all. This was the toughest 70.3 race that I have completed and not worrying about the time or the place I am ready happy with my performance. There is always room to improve but I raced with the best mindset and with excellent control of my diabetes. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after the race!

Finish - Cropped

Couldn’t be happier crossing the finish line!

I take some real positives out of this race. Firstly, my mental state leading into and during the race had the biggest impact on my performance including my diabetes. Being able to overcome several challenges and then keep going is a real strength that I am proud of. I have now learnt that my mental state is the most important thing for my performance and something that I will continue to work on for every race. Secondly, my diabetes plan worked perfectly with the basal program I set allowing me to eat and keep my BGLs stable. Finally, my swim and bike legs remained consistently strong and if not for the puncture I think that I would have been close to a bike PB for the 90km. With my diabetes plan working perfectly I did forget to eat during the bike leg (possibly because of the flat tyre) that led to a minor hypo. My nutrition and hydration are elements that I need to work on. Finally, although my run was OK I do want to improve this and be able to run consistently around 1hr 20-25 minutes for the run leg.

I actually feel like a different person to 12 months ago when I performance like this would have been picked apart negatively. Being positive really changes my whole performance and as hard as it has been to get to this point I am so glad that I was able to get here. I’ve had the best support from my partner Inge who has really shown me how important your mental condition is and how it impacts all other aspects of your body and your performance. Of course the rest of my family has been wonderful support and they’d enjoyed a few little trips away to support me. I’m now looking forward to a little break and then getting back into it for next season, new races and new goals.

Ironman 70.3 Port Mac Race Report

On Sunday May 1st I completed Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie finishing in a time of 4hrs 34mins, in 10th place in my age. This was a big event for me given 6 months ago I broke my collar bone at the same event and since then I have struggled with fatigue and mental well-being and my last event was a DNF due to diabetes issues. 6 weeks ago I made a big change to my training program and I was anxious to see if this had paid off, and if my diabetes would remain stable throughout the race. In the end I overcame some serious pre-race nerves and diabetes issues during the race to finish with a smile on my face (though nearly in a diabetic coma)!

PMac Race Summary

Ironman 70.3 Race Summary

Leading into the event I was confident that my condition was good enough to post a competitive race time and after not finishing my two previous events I really just wanted to get over the finish line strongly. As the weekend approached I started to get really nervous about the race which I think was a combination of; not finishing previous races, breaking my collar bone at this race 6 months earlier, my diabetes impacting my race as it did in Geelong and really wanting to do well. Although I tried not to put pressure on myself I think that I did the opposite and by Saturday I was so nervous and anxious that my BGLs were out of control and I was heading for a straight-jacket and padded room. Luckily my partner pulled me aside and did an hour of meditation with me. This really helped me relax and if not for her brilliance it would have likely been race over for me before it even started (xoxo).

Come race morning and conditions were perfect. As we were following the Ironman Australia event the 70.3 started a little later than usual at 8am. This later start along with the extra adrenalin from my nerves caused my BGLs to run high from 6am. I cautiously tried to bring my BGL down with small bolus doses (unsuccessfully) but in the end I started the race with a BGL of around 12mmol/L (possibly higher). My BGLs ran between 8.5 and 13.0mmol/L for the swim and bike legs and even with my high basal rates I was not able to consume my planned race nutrition. Leading into the run leg I did have a gel as I really needed the energy boost and this seemed to be OK for the first hour of the run where my BGLs stayed around 10.0mmol/L.

The swim passed without too many issues apart from not feeling great due to high BGL and the course possible being a little longer than normal (Garmin read 2130m). I’m always happy to get through T1, test my BGL and get onto the bike where I feel more in control of things. With plenty of rolling hills on the Port Macquarie course, which favours my cycling strengths, I quickly got into a good rhythm and set off on my way for the single 90km loop.

My main thought during the bike leg was to enjoy the ride and get to the run feeling OK. With the hilly course profile and a couple of sharp climbs I maintained my race power throughout the 90kms and worked steadily up each incline. With the mind set of enjoying it, the 2hr 20mins passed quickly with my only a few body aches from the really rough road surface and not a lot of fuel in the tank due to my higher BGLs. Not trusting my CGM I did a couple of finger prick tests during the ride which proved to be pretty challenging as the road was so rough that it was difficult to hold on, get a drop of blood on the test strip and let the meter process it. I managed to survive though and entered T2 in a good position ready to tackle the 21km run.

Port Mac

My Port Macquarie race photo summary

Really enjoying the race I started the run feeling OK albeit high BGL concerns. Looking at maintaining between 4min and 4:30min per km pace I settled in for 3 laps of the 7ish km course. Running is hard. Running is even harder in a triathlon. The first 15km were hard but enjoyable with plenty of athletes on the course to run with and plenty of spectators to entertain us. My BGLs came down to around 8.0mmol/L during the first 15km and I was able to down some Endura and watermelon at a couple of aid stations.

At around the 17km mark I really started to feel average and totally drained of energy. A quick BGL check revealed a reading of 19.9mmol/L. As I was feeling so average and with only 20 minutes left to run I decided to give myself a small bolus dose which I hoped would bring my BGL down by the end of the race. I continued on but things deteriorated very quickly and with less than 2km to go I was struggling to even walk. Testing my BGL again my level had dropped to 2.7mmol/L. I sucked down a gel and gingerly but determinedly made my way to the finish line. The last 2km of the run took me 14 minutes and when I finally ran under the Ironman banner I could barely stop my watch let alone raise my arms for a finish line photo. I was however absolutely ecstatic to have finished.

Port Macquarie is a fantastic event and I really like the combined Ironman and 70.3 experience. There was so much atmosphere around the whole course that it made for a really enjoyable time throughout no matter how much pain you were in. My training put me in great condition for the event by my mental state and diabetes was not controlled well. This is something that I can work on to get things more stable for my next event. Having gotten through this race I will be feeling a lot calmer next time.

Thanks to my support team for getting me through the weekend and taking some great snaps of me suffering during the race (I did try to smile every time I saw you). Well done to my training buddy and friend who notched up another PB in the event (#seriouslyjealous). I couldn’t have done it without you all. See you next time.

The Good Pain – Peaks Challenge

I watched this short film this morning and I got that nervous feeling in my stomach just thinking about the pain you get from pushing yourself further than you think possible. Inspiring short film is from the launch Bicycle Network’s Peaks Challenge Series for 2016/17 which comprises three amazing and challenging cycling events in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. After watching this I have pencilled these in my diary for 2016/17.

Please Enjoy!