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
melb-marathon-2016-13

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!

finish

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.

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Diabetes Sports Project

When I started this blog it was my first real look into the type 1 diabetes community. Although I had been a T1D for over 20 years, like many T1Ds I’d just gone about managing my diabetes on my own and was not interested in reaching out or promoting my diabetes. In 2014 when I got serious about my athletic performance and started researching how to get the best out of myself I found that there was a real lack of resources available for T1Ds on this topic. I started Type1Athletic as a means to note down everything that I was learning through my research and subsequent trials (and errors), and I found many fantastic people, groups and organisations who were trying to do the same thing. This was a really positive experience and helped me in a number of ways.

I came across the Diabetes Sports Project (DSP) when searching the web one day and I instantly felt like I was looking at what I wanted Type1Athletic to be in the future. Through similar experiences to my own and in achieving some amazing race results with T1D the co-founders of DSP, Casey Bowen and Eric Trozer, were showing that having T1D was no hurdle to achieving sporting success. I was not only impressed by the quality of the athletes who were part of the DSP team but also the fantastic public awareness and education that they were doing in America. Working with children and the broader community, and also getting support from some significant companies they were really making a difference for the diabetes community. I felt an instant affinity with the group and contacted them immediately.

DiabetesSportsProject

DSP is led by a group of world class athletes who thrive with diabetes, their stories, athletic accomplishments and community outreach empower other to live healthy, responsible and active lives.

It is truly fantastic when you meet people who have shared very similar experiences and are working towards similar goals as you are. My contact with everyone at DSP has been really positive and I have been introduced to other inspiring T1D athletes from around the world. With technology making it easy to communicate with others across the globe and getting instant updates through social media, being involved in a global network of like minded individuals is nothing but positive.

In July 2016 DSP launched their “Champions” who are everyday T1Ds doing amazing things in their chosen sports and whose stories will provide further inspiration to all T1Ds to not let T1D stop them from achieving their best. I am proud to have been chosen as a DSP Champion and I hope that my experiences can educate and inspire people. Being involved with DSP does not change my attitude to my sport or how I live my life, but I get great motivation from knowing that I might be inspiring someone to achieve their own goals and that others can learn from my experiences. Through the challenges that I have faced I know that it would have been a lot easier if there had been a resources like DSP available to me when I was struggling.

Champions

Diabetes Champions – Stories to educate and inspire

Although DSP is based in America they provide a fantastic resource for all T1Ds worldwide and I highly recommend visiting their website, facebook page and following them through social media on instagram and twitter. I guarantee that having a network of T1Ds will provide you with the information, support and motivation you need to achieve your best.

Diabetes Sports Project: www.diabetessportsproject.com