Multi-day Cycling in Tasmania & My Diabetes

I recently spent 8 days cycling in Tasmania from Launceston to Hobart experiencing the amazing landscapes, the great cycling routes, and also the impact of 8 days cycling on my diabetes. This was my first time to Tasmania and it was truly a great experience, I will be back to experience more!

This was an organised cycling trip with my father and our partners which had been in the planning for some time. It aligned perfectly with my JDRF One Ride training and I was looking forward to cycling heaps of kilometres while is Tasmania. The trip including 8 days of cycling from Launceston to Hobart around the east coast, with one rest day and covering between 50km and 100km per day. This was going to be a great challenge for my partner (she rode he first 100km ride during the trip) and with the extra time I was planning on clocking up over 1,000km for the trip (which I did).

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Tasmania is a great place to cycling being easy to find quite and spectacular roads

Big days in the saddle are not foreign to me and I cope with these pretty well. Cycling back to back days though introduces new challenges being physical, mental and with managing my diabetes. I learnt a lot on this trip and this is especially important as I will be riding 6 days straight and nearly 200km per day when I ride to Adelaide for the JDRF One Ride at the start of May. So what were these new challenges I experienced over the 8 days:

  1. Physical toll: an obvious one but every day’s effort has a cumulative effect and without spending 4-6hrs in the saddle regularly this will be a very new experience for your body. Physical condition, recovery and diabetes plays a big role in how you feel each day.
  2. Mental condition: just cycling day after day, keeping your mind occupied trying not to think about the aches and pains, and trying not to think about the kilometres ahead becomes strangely more difficult each day. The joy of cycling can be lost quite easily over many days.
  3. Getting recovery each day: without being able to take a day off it only takes a bit of dehydration, poor nutrition or minor niggle to turn your next day into a disaster. It’s easy to miss one of these for any number of reasons but as soon as you get on the bike the next day you’ll realise the issue and once behind the eight ball, it’s difficult to get your body back in check.
  4. Changing responses to insulin (insulin requirements): specifically relating to type 1 diabetes, I experience a significant drop in my insulin requirements from day 1 to day 8. As an example, my morning insulin went from 2 bolus units and a basal rate of 0.600 on day 1 to zero bolus units and a basal rate of 0.400 on day 4. Impossible to predict these changes which then required constant BGL checking, eating and insulin adjusting along the way. There is then the reverse problem when the riding stops.
  5. BGL instability: with the cycling, the changing insulin requirements and the variable carbohydrate consumption is can be expected that your BGLs might be more unstable than normal (more of a roller coaster pattern). This instability has a big impact on how you feel, how you recover, what you can eat and how you sleep. Coupled with the other challenges this can take a pretty significant toll on you.
  6. Variable days, meal times and activities: I am a big advocate for consistency for good diabetes management and a group cycling trip doesn’t provide the most consistent environment with activities, times, meals, etc. changing every day. This is a real challenge for a type 1 diabetic.
  7. Food and drink: on a normal long training ride, you can consume just about any food and drink you like and your body will be able to cope with it (within reason) and then you can go back to your normal meals after the ride. When you are out on the bike for 8hrs each day to can’t just east anything and it is tempting to do so as you would on a normal training ride. Energy bars, coffee and high carb foods eventually wreak havoc with your stomach and then your overall feeling of well-being.

So having experienced the above to varying degrees on the trip, what will I be doing on future multi-day cycling trips to avoid them happening again. My biggest challenge was balancing my food and recovery with the changes and instability of my BGLs. With each day that passed my fatigue built and the challenge to eat the right foods and get a good night’s sleep (both impacted by up and down BGLs) took its toll. By the last day of the tip, day 8, I was tired and struggling. Next time I will be working on the following:

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The final climb of the trip to the top of Mount Wellington in Hobart. A tough climb especially with 1,000km in the bank, the weeks fatigue, and my BGL up & downs 

  1. Plan: goes without saying, plan for everything as a cyclist, a traveller and most importantly as a type 1 diabetic. This is both preparation and execution during the trip. I would highlight insulin requirements, food and hydration, and your means of achieving daily recovery as the most important.
  2. Regular checking BGLs: no excuses here, check your levels every 30 minutes to make sure that you know where your BGLs are. You can then adjust before they rise or fall too much. There was nothing worse than thinking about how good lunch was going to be for the last hour only to arrive and find my BGLs had gone through the roof and then I wasn’t able to eat!
  3. Conservative approach to insulin doses: it’s better to be a little high than a little low so I will reduce my insulin doses from what I learnt on this trip and also use a combo bolus (staggered bolus) if I need to make adjustments whilst riding. Avoiding big bolus doses and high carb intakes will help avoid big BGL spikes and falls.
  4. Try to maintain regular meals: that is breakfast, lunch and dinner, and make these meals similar to the healthy diet that you normal eat (low GI carbs, protein, fats and fibre). This consistency will help with BGL stability, stomach health and recovery which will all overall benefit you. My days’ meals would include: porridge, salad sandwiches and then a larger dinner, all meals having the carbs, protein, fats and fibres I need.
  5. Eat real food: don’t get stuck eating muesli and sports bars, gels and snacks from the bakery along with coffees as your daily ride nutrition. This will not only be detrimental to your recovery but also cause stomach issues after a couple of days. Sticking with a balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with snacks like fruit, nuts and anything unprocessed which will generally have a higher nutritional value and be better for your stomach. For my snacks I like bananas, trail mix, dried fruits, vegemite/peanut butter/jam sandwiches or homemade bars/biscuits/cakes.
  6. Ensure you are well hydrated: it’s easy to not drink enough on the bike and then drink too much coffee at the café, making sure that you are drinking around 500mls an hour whilst riding is important and has a big effect on your performance and recovery. A recovery hydration formula is also beneficial for a little top up at the end of each day (I use Endura no-carb, NUUN and hydralyte).
  7. Communication: as a type 1 diabetic there is a good chance that you’re not going to be feeling 100% at some point on the ride, there’s no need to worry about this (you can still be the strongest cyclist and have a T1D issue) and it’s best to let others know how you are feeling so that they can help you out, even if this is just moral support.

There’s clearly a lot to plan and think about for a multi day cycling trip and being a type 1 diabetic just adds to the important items which you must stay on top of. Things don’t have to go perfectly to plan and as we know they generally don’t, but being well prepared and sticking to some of this simple steps will mean that you’ll go a long way to minimise the physical, mental and diabetes stresses from a multi-day cycling trip.

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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.

TFM Around the Bay in a Day

This past Sunday I rode with the Freedom Machine team in their annual Around the Bay ride supporting Zagame Motors. The Zagame group was huge (over 200 people) and the weather conditions were terrible (50km/hr+ winds) but the ride was a great success.

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The TFM crew at the mid-ride stop, still smiling before the headwind return!

Details of the Ride

  • Distance: 150km including getting to the start
  • Time: 5:30am to 12pm including waiting at the start and mid-ride stop
  • BGL Checks: 20
  • BGL Range: 4.5 to 12.5mmol/L
  • Bolus doses required: none, adjusted basal program provided enough insulin
  • Carbs Consumed: approx. 150gr during ride (7am to 12pm) based on my BGLs and how I was feeling energy wise
  • Issues: ‘pump not primed’ warning which require a stop and re-prime

The evening before an event is very important, apart from organising all of my cycling kit I also figure out my diabetes plan which includes insulin (basal rate) and the food I’ll consume. For a ride like this I’ll usually take enough real food, sports bars and gels to provide up to 50gr of carbs for the first couple of hours after which I would restock. For hydration I prefer a no-carb mix as I can then always consume it no matter where my BGL’s are at (a carb loaded drink could not be consumed if BGL’s run high). With my basal rate I need to consider that although I was getting up at 5am to get to the start, the event wouldn’t actually start until 6:45am. I needed to increase basal a little for when I got up and then a little more for when the ride started. I obviously wanted to avoid a high or low whilst I was waiting for the event to start. In the end I set my basal to increase at 3am and 5am and then reduce at 8am and 10am to cover the ride duration. All in all, it’s a good hour to get things organised the night before an event.

On Sunday my alarm went off at 5am and I immediately checked my BGL’s which were running at 6.5mmol/l. A good start to the day! I usually try to get up and be training within 30 minutes so having to ride to the start of the event and then wait for around 1hr meant that I have to take extra care to maintain stable BGLs. Due to this I consumed a low carb protein bar whilst waiting at the start and I checked my BGLs every 15 minutes to ensure things remained stable, which they did. Setting off for the ride my BGLs were at 8.5mmol/L which was a good level with my increased basal rate and the cycling soon to kick in.

When cycling I usually check my levels every 30mins over the first hour, then every 20 minutes for the next couple of hours and for longer rides like this one I end up checking every 15 minutes as the risk of rapid BGL changes increases the longer I am riding for. With a strong tail wind, the first half of the ride was really fast and we were at the breakfast turn-around within 2hrs. I had consumed a muesli bar on the way down and my BGLs were dropping when we arrive. This was actually planned and I didn’t eat any carbs as we got close to the midway point know that there was food available there. I had a coffee, ate a banana and half a vegetable wrap at the stop which equated around 50gr of carb. For the 20 minute stop I would have checked my levels 4 times so that I ensure I did not go too high or low. The stop was only for 20 minutes so I did not give myself a bolus dose with any BGL increase to be limited when I started riding again. We ended up stopping for over 30 mins which meant that my BGL rose more than I would have liked to 12.5mmol/L. I decided not to give myself a bolus dose and after we started the ride back (into a 50km/hr+ headwind) I check my BGL every 15 minutes to make sure that this re-stabilised.

Riding back into such a strong and gusty headwind was really challenging. Obviously I was getting blown all over the road, the effort was high and the speed was slow, and in situations like this you can forget to check your BGLs and it’s easy to forget to eat. We were also responsible for getting the group to the finish line safely which meant constantly checking on how the group was going (not an easy task given the conditions). I was checking my BGLs consistently on the way back ate a sports bar and snickers bar (my treat on long rides) as well as mixing some Gatorade in my drink bottle for some extra carbs. I was able to keep my BGL’s stable on the way back and finished with a reading of 6.5mmol/L. After a quick shower I was able to have a good lunch with carbs (50gr), protein (omelette with extra egg white) and plenty of salad.

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Not perfect but very manageable, two spikes before the start and at the mid-way stop.

Overall the ride was not overly tough even though the wind made the return journey twice as long. From a diabetes point of view, it was a challenging ride having to manage a delayed start, riding with a group, at their pace, and generally not being in control of my own ride. Also having to monitor the group, provide assistance and battle the weather added to extra things to think about. I was able to manage my diabetes without an issue and to achieve this I made a point of doing what I needed to do, when I needed to do it (check BGL, eat and even re-prime my pump).

So some important things which helped me get through this ride:

  • Good organisation the night before the ride including setting insulin plan (basal) and laying out all the food I needed including calculating the nutrition/carb content and having some low carb options
  • Regularly checking BGLs throughout the event including every 15 minutes during critical times and later in the ride when insulin sensitivity increases
  • Making sure that I ate when I needed to which was not necessarily when the group stopped and eating only what I could best estimate the carb content of (no egg, bacon and relish rolls)
  • Letting people know when I needed to stop to re-prime my pump, confirming things were alright and then chasing back on to the group

Even with type 1 diabetes every event is achievable and all that is required is a little extra planning and following the process to maintain stable BGLs and performance.

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…

T&D Mar 20

Another week and another bout of flu has knocked me down. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to kick the bug which I have had for the last 4 weeks and needed a couple of days in bed plus some antibiotics to finally put the nail in this bugger. Feeling much better now at the end of the week and hoping that with four weeks consistent rest and recovery I should now be able to get back into training. Managed to see an amazing sunrise this morning during an early ride which has finished off the week nicely.

On a positive note, I listened to my body this week and when I wasn’t feeling well I just took the week off and rested. In the past I would have tried to train and just push through it and I am proud of myself that I just stopped and didn’t stress about not being able to train. You’ve got to accept the situation that you get yourself into and then make the best of it. As a type 1 diabetic this is an important lesson to learn because T1D deals you a lot of the unexpected and you’ve got to be able to deal with it sensibly.

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Selfies while on the bike, how my world is changing!! Love cycling around new areas.

I haven’t used a CGM for 4 weeks now and my BGL control has been very good. I do think that the CGM is a fantastic tool but it is not 100% necessary all of the time to maintain excellent control. The best thing to get out of the CGM is understanding how your BGLs respond to your daily life and once you know this you can trust yourself without the need to be constantly checking BGLs. In saying that, I am still testing 10-15 time per day at the moment and will be back on the CGM in the coming weeks as my training builds up again.

My thought for this week; diabetes management is all about consistency. Consistency in when we do things, in what we eat, in how many times we test our blood and dose insulin. This is repetitive, it can be frustrating and it doesn’t always work, but when you are consistent you know what is going to happen and can respond accordingly when it doesn’t. The attributes of a healthy and well controlled diabetic provide great benefits for the other parts of our lives and I believe being a T1D actually makes us better equipped to achieve the best out of ourselves.

Team Novo Nordisk

I have been inspired by the Novo Nordisk cycling team since it became a purely type 1 diabetic team. Seeing these cyclists racing at the highest level with type 1 diabetes really showed me that my diabetes was no obstacle to competing in all the endurance events that I wanted to.

Further inspiration this morning through these images of members of the 2016 roster going through a Navy Seal style training camp in California. I’ve sometime thought that I’d make a good Seal, now I know that I can!

Novo Nordisk training on the beach in San Diego, California

I really like the Novo Nordisk messages – Inspire Educate Empower #diabetesempowered #changingdiabetes. I think that these sum up a fantastic message so simply.

Photo’s of the training camp can be found on the Cycling News website.

Type1Athletic Logo

I am so excited to launch the Type1Athletic logo today and it is extra special as it coincides with World Diabetes Day held on the 14th of November each year. I am proud to be a type 1 diabetic and it has played such a significant role in my life and who I have become over the last 20 years. I am looking forward to achieving greater things in the future, promoting diabetes in the community and what type 1 diabetics can achieve.

Type1Athletic Logo (2015)

Type1Athletic Logo (2015)

I have been inspired over the past 18 months through my own personal challenges to create Type1Athletic. These challenges have been both diabetes and sporting related and I have learnt so much about diabetes and tyring to compete at the highest level with non-diabetic athletes. I found over this period that there were no easily accessible resources available to assist type 1 diabetics with sport and exercise related topics. These are really important not only for athletes trying to compete at the highest levels but also for achieving better day to day diabetes management. I created Type1Athletic to try to provide this information and motive others to push their boundaries and achieve greater athletic goals.

So what does the Type1Athletic logo stand for?

Blue Circle – the International symbol and colour for diabetes

Finishing Ribbon – achieving the best that you can, you can be No.1

Type 1 Athletic – I have been inspired by Type 1 Diabetic athletes and I am a Type 1 Diabetic athlete

Live Life Active With Diabetes – promoting the importance of being active and healthy for the successful management of diabetes

I hope to get the Type1Athletic logo out there in community soon and I will be getting it printed on my training and racing apparel with a focus on the colour blue and the circle to promote type 1 diabetes. If you see me out there please come and introduce yourself and have a chat. I love speaking about type 1 diabetes, about cycling, triathlons and sport in general and most importantly to other type 1 diabetics. I look forward to meeting you!

World Diabetes Day is an international event to raise awareness about diabetes and is celebrated every year on 14 November. World Diabetes Day 2015 focuses on healthy eating, which is a key factor in managing type 1 diabetes and helping to manage and prevent type 2 diabetes. For more information see the International Diabetes Federation (IDF website) and the Diabetes Australia (DA website). Happy Diabetes Day!

Happy Birthday?

I have a love/hate relationship with three significant annual occasions; Easter, Christmas and my Birthday. I love them for the obvious reasons; family holidays, presents, food and chocolate. They make me really anxious as a diabetic because of food and chocolate.

As it’s my birthday today I’m going to focus on this and the birthday treat, the cake.

Pana Chocolate deserts on show, had a selection of six for my birthday cake!

Pana Chocolate deserts on show, had a selection of six for my birthday cake!

One of my rules (see my tips) is to avoid refined sugar which means that generally deserts and cakes are off the menu. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact I have a real sweet tooth, it’s just that I find it incredibly difficult to keep my blood sugar levels stable when I eat them. The moment’s sweetness isn’t worth the after effects for me.

So how do I manage to steer clear of these and if I don’t, how do I keep things under control.

  1. Just say no – the hardest but best solution, I often fail with this one (including last night).
  2. Know what you are eating – by knowing exactly what I’m going to be eating and allowing a little extra insulin for a small piece of cake I can have my cake and eat it too.
  3. Have someone to support you – it’s always hard to say no to temptation so I ask my partner to give me a nudge when I am tempted by something that I shouldn’t eat. She reminds me how sick I will feel in a couple of hours and that usually is enough to then say no thank you. She is fantastic support!
  4. Find an alternate desert/cake – forget the chocolate mud cake, a favourite of mine is a watermelon cake with ricotta, nuts & mint inspired by Team Novo Nordisk team rider Chris Williams (watermelon cake link). I was presented with some beautiful raw deserts last night (pictured above) which are raw, organic and have no refined sugar. These are a great alternate but still need to be eaten in moderation.
  5. Just a taste (if you can stop at that) – last night’s birthday deserts were perfect to slice up in small pieces and just have a taste of everything. This is a perfect middle ground so long as you get your insulin requirements right which can be difficult with these type of deserts where you are never 100% certain of the ingredients.

I don’t like to think that this is putting restriction on me but I know what is important to me and that the sugar hit really isn’t. Keeping my blood sugar levels stable and feeling healthy are more important and in the end spending that time around a table with family and friends provides the best pick me up.

If you are in Melbourne check out the Pana Chocolate store in Richmond or order their chocolate bars online (http://www.panachocolate.com/) for your sort of healthy chocolate hit.

Products and thoughts in this post are the authors only, see Disclaimer.

T1D Looks Like Me

Flicking through Instagram the other day and this one similar blue image keep coming up on my feed. It was the JDRF campaign for Diabetes Month, #T1DLOOKSLIKEME. The colour blue representing the international colour for diabetes and image representing the many faces of diabetes, you and I.

JDRF T1D Looks Like Me Campaign for Diabetes Month

JDRF #T1DLOOKSLIKEME completing my first Ironman Triathlon in March 2015

The image and hashtag is simple but so powerful and I was blown away by the sheer number of people who had reposted it. This was a moment where I truly felt like I was part of a unique community and that I was not facing the daily challenges of diabetes alone. It was motivating, inspiring and empowering.

Absolute credit to JDRF for coming up with this campaign, I love it! You can easily get the image yourself from JDRF website and share it on all social media platforms just like I did.

Bump in the Road

After a very promising start to my triathlon season I had a crash in my first major event resulting in a broken collar bone. My training was going really well since starting with a new coach in July and since setting my long-term goal to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World championships in September 2016. My first event was meant to be a great opportunity to see where I was at, if I had made improvements and possibly get my qualification for the 70.3 World Champs.

Racing at the Port Macquarie 70.3 Ironmen event in mid-October I came off my bike at the 40km mark of the bike leg. Having come out of the water in 3rd place I was sitting in 2nd position with the front group when the incident occurred.  Coming down hard on my shoulder on the road I knew immediately that my race was over and a trip to hospital was likely. The diagnosis was straightforward – broken clavicle and should damage with a trip to the shoulder surgeon as soon as possible.

Broken Clavicle X-Ray

X-Ray from hospital; Diagnosis – broken clavicle and shoulder joint damage

You experience so many emotions after an incident and injury like this, pain and fear are probably the most powerful ones immediately. It was difficult not think about how this injury was going to impact my day to day life, my training and my triathlon goals. At that moment everything was going to be a disaster and I was a shattered man, in a lot a pain, and with a 14 hour road trip to get home.

Luckily the clavicle and shoulder surgery are relatively straight forward and after waiting a week for the road rash. the surgery is completed successfully and the road to recovery commences.

X-Ray of repaired clavicle and AC joint

X-Ray of repaired clavicle and AC joint

As an athlete and a diabetic there are so many challenges an injury like this introduces, not least that as a right-hander I’m pretty much useless at everything for the next couple of weeks (try changing your pump with only one hand or using a knife and fork effectively).

Important things that I’m trying to do to get through this time are:

  1. Follow doctors instructions for rest and recovery including staying on pain killers to assist with healing. Speaking with diabetes doctor has also been important as some medications impact your blood sugar levels
  2. Keep on top of diabetes management and use the time to get non-training insulin patterns right; alternate basal and bolus doses as I’m not exercise and eating less
  3. Stay stress free, try to enjoy the down time and do things that I normally wouldn’t do like spend a whole day watching TV
  4. Thank those that are helping me and i make an effort to show them my appreciation. Their support is invaluable, especially when I need two hands
  5. Try not to stress about athletic goals, I can’t do nothing about these right now except making a full recovery
  6. Reassess goals and adjust them around the recovery time. Luckily as it’s early in the season my long-term goals are still achievable.

Most of all this is just a bump in the road, a good opportunity to post some gruesome x-ray images on social media, and before I know it I’ll be back to doing what I love.