T&D June 19 – Time Off

A week of rest and recovery after Ironman 70.3 Cairns which included many hours in a deck chair, in the pool and at the dining table, it’s been a really different week for me. With no training on the cards for the time being I am reflecting on some of the big lessons I’ve learnt recently and allowing my mind and body to rejuvenate after a long 12 months. These things that I have learnt are all critically import to achieving my nest performances and they will form important checks for me next season so that all of my performances as good and better then my recent races.

  1. Mental: I believe that this has the biggest impact on my performance, both diabetes and athletic performance. I cannot believe how greater my BGL/diabetes stability is when I have a positive mindset. This positive mindset also yields the best training and racing performances along with rest (sleeping) and recovery.
  2. Physical: Although I am good a pushing my body to the limit, I am not so good at adapting my training program when my body is not 100%. Taking days off, sleeping in or doing those small recovery and rehab things are as important as getting the kilometres in.
  3. Diabetes: It’s obvious but the control of my diabetes (BGLs) has a direct influence on my athletic performance (and the rest of my life). This is the most important part of my life which I must remain focused on. This is not something to be upset by, it should be used to provide the planning and structure which will help me be the best possible athlete.
  4. Nutrition: Closely linked with all other aspects I have a tendency to be really strict with my diet which does not always provide for the best overall outcomes. There is no point beating yourself up for eating a treat and enjoying the experience. With a more relaxed approach over the last 3 months where I have allowed myself to indulge a little more, my performance has not suffered and have actually ended up physically and mentally stronger.
  5. Racing: During the last 12 months I got to a place where I was only focused on the result and forgot to enjoy the journey. It sounds simple but I was training hard and racing well but would constantly focus on the negatives. Recently with the help of my girlfriend and my training partner (constantly reminding me of all of the positives) it finally sunk in and this really transformed me. When racing, you’ve got to enjoy it and not take everything to seriously; you’ve done the training, your’re ready to race and the performance will be what you deserve.
Bike Rack Photo

With loads of winter training miles on the cards I can share the love around to all of my bikes; which one have I taken out this morning?

This is the first time that I have had a real break for the last couple of years and it’s certainly a new experience which I am going to have to adapt to. I’ve had to make changes to my diabetes management including increasing my insulin doses (around +20%) to account for the lack of exercise I am doing. My diet has also changed and although it is still very healthy I am not eating as much and I am enjoying a few extra indulgences. If I am thinking about doing anything to strenuous I just remind myself that I am actually getting real benefits from this break and by doing nothing it will actually improve my training when I return. It’s also a great time to pay back my family for all of their support and putting up with a diabetic triathlete (thank you).

Without training to blog about I have a couple of pieces which I have been thinking about for sometime which I want to post over the coming weeks. Mental health, diabetes performance and stress and use of continuous monitors. T&D will be taking a break until training returns in July but plenty of diabetes stuff will be posted. Looking forward to all the things to come!

 

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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.

Light & Dark: Exercise Addiction

I’ve become increasingly interested in mental health and well-being, and its influence and importance to athletic performance. This interest has developed from personal experience and varying performance over the last 12 months.

Alex

I read this piece (Light & Dark) on CyclingTips provided further insight into one aspect of amateur training and racing which is particularly prominent to Ironman triathlon where the quantity and quality of training required is very high.

You can access the piece on the CyclingTips website – Light and dark: Exercise addiction, and the different forces of cycling

T&D June 5

After such a good week this was not such a good week. Recovery from my previous big training week didn’t go to plan and to get to the end of the week still feeling a bit fatigued and working on some BGL stability is a little disheartening. The catalyst for my not so successful week has been the instability of my BGLs particularly overnight where high’s and lows haven’t allowed me to get restful nights. Subsequently I haven’t fully recovered from my large run volume last week and with my legs feeling heavy all week I wasn’t able to complete my planned sessions fully. On top of this the mental demons and negativity started to creep in again over the week and by the weekend I was in a bad mood, training poorly and my BGLs were all over the place. It’s a vicious cycle for me and one that occurs more often than I would like.

I wish that I didn’t let things spiral out of control like this but trying to balance training, nutrition, diabetes and personal life can be difficult and one poor decision seems to lead to another and another. I do realise that this is happening but it still takes a couple of days for me to draw  line in the sand and really pull things back into line. To do this I go back to absolute basics, make a plan and follow it 100%. My plan for Sunday to get back on track included:

  • Wake up as naturally as possible around 7am
  • Set insulin for morning exercise (2hrs prior) and complete exercise within set time
  • Do about 2hrs moderate exercise (ride) including time with my girl friend in the morning
  • Enjoy one coffee in the morning begin aware that caffine is an insulin inhibitor and cosumption should be minised through the rest of the day
  • Eat a basic breakfast with known carb content and BGL response; for me this is oats with berries and yoghurt
  • Ensure plenty of incidental activity throughout th day like walking to the market, walking the dog, cleaning the house; I find that this assist with my BGL stability as oppose to speanding the day on the couch
  • Follow a strict meal plan throughout the day including lunch, dinner and snacks, all food to have known carb content and BGL response; it is critically important to count cards and bolus dose correctly, NO cheating today!
  • Don’t react too quickly to rising or dropping BGL’s, allow them to settle before treating correctly (bolus correction or sugars and BGL testing)
  • Check BGLs regularly during the day
  • Stay positive knowing that a lot of hard work has already been done, not further improvements can be made training so close to a race and by getting this right my performance will be the best that it can be

All of this is pretty simple and in hindsight I feel a little silly that I can’t stick to what I know works all of the time and make my life a little easier, but that is just one of the challenges of type 1 diabetes.

So it’s certainly not the end of the world and after a good day today I am feeling both refreshed and positive for the coming week and the race. Getting through work, training, packing up my race kit and my bike for trip up to Cairns will make this shortened week fly by. Winter has finally struck Melbourne and I am looking forward to some tropical weather in Cairns.

trisuit

New race suit from Scody with Type1Athletic, DSP and JDRF logo’s. Colour worked out perfectly with the prominent blue circle for diabetes!

On a really positive note this week I received my new race suit from Scody which I will be racing in at Ironman Cairns 70.3. As my first suit with logo’s I decided to support the diabetes organisations which I am associated and my local bike shop (The Freedom Machine) which is like my second home. The purpose of these logo’s is to promote type 1 diabetes within the community, get people asking questions and talking about type 1 diabetes. The organisations that I am support are:

I am looking forward to working with both organisations in the future promoting, educating and inspiring people with type 1 diabetes and I am proud to race with these logo’s on my chest.

Also a quick update on the Abbott Libre Flash Glucose monitor which I have now been using for two weeks. I have so far been really impressed with the unit, the accuracy has been spot on for me and the easy of use during every day life and also training is fantastic. I am really looking forward to racing with this device and I believe that it will provide one less thing to worry about come race day. The Flash Libre is now available in Australia and I can highly recommend it.

If you happen to be racing at Ironman Cairns please come and say hello, I will certainly be looking out for other type 1’s when I am up there!

The Importance of Self-Awareness

One of the biggest things that I have learnt this year is the importance of having and acting on good self-awareness, both physical and mental. The mind and body gives us many signals both positive and negative and I have found that the more I listen to these the healthier I am and the better I perform. This is by no means a soft and fluffy approach to my health or training, but more a means to understand how my body is reacting to things; treatments, training, nutrition, etc. By having this understanding I can then make better decisions which result in better performances (diabetes, sport and just general well-being).

So what do I mean by self-awareness? It’s the sensations, feelings and thoughts you have many times a day about how you are feeling and performing. For me these are generally around fatigue and training performance (physical), blood glucose levels (diabetes), gut health (nutrition) and mindset (mental health). I’ll label myself a “competitive male” and as such I have generally taken the approach to push through with the mentality that the harder I push the better the result will be. This is certainly not the case and coincidently generally results in worse results for me. My most recent 70.3 race at Port Macquarie was a good example of this; a very good performance and leading into the race I made a concious effort to listen to what my body were telling me and adjust what I was doing accordingly (rest, recover, eat, etc.). I can attest from this that acting on this self awareness really helped my performance.

PMChart

I’ve found a good correlation between my self awareness, performance and what my Training Peaks data is telling me – best thing to do is listen.

How I apply this self awareness to my daily life is pretty simple, the difficult part is actually being aware of and interpreting what you mind and body are telling you. I have been calibrating how I am feeling with my data on Training Peaks and they align pretty well. When my body is telling me to rest and recovery, training peaks shows high fatigue and low form. It will be individual how you read your mind and body and it will take time for you to understand how best to react. Below I have listed some of the straight forward but very important signals and actions which I take.

Area

Signals

Actions

Fatigue

–    Tired during the day, falling asleep early at night

–    Feeling lethargic

–    Eyes hurting

–    Not alert or switched on during day

–    Allow body to rest, this can be for multiple days in a row to fully re-energise

–    Focus on diet and hydration (drink plenty of water)

–    Do nothing as oppose to active recovery

–    Get a minimum 8hrs sleep per night for several nights in a row (10hrs if possible is even better).

Performance –    Can’t hit session training targets (HR, Power, pace, etc.)

–    Feeling weak during training

–    Prolonged muscle soreness and not recovering as quickly as normal

–    Reduce training volume and stop intensity (try active recovery)

–    Takes a couple of days off completely

–    Get a massage and get on the foam roller/stretch every day

–    Ensure nutrition and hydration are adequate

Gut Health –    Uncomfortable stomach/pain

–    Bloated

–    Irregular trips to the toilet

–    Simplify diet and focus on foods which assist with digestion

–    Don’t over eat

–    Avoid foods which agitate your stomach including high fat, too higher protein, sugary and processed foods

–    Water, water and more water

BGLs –    Individual hypo or High symptoms –    Stay calm and go back to basics, count carbs and test your BGL regularly

–    I focus on being positive and doing things which assist BGL stability including walking, not stressing and eating sensible

Mental Health –    Lost motivation

–    No enjoyment

–    Procrastination

–    Negative mindset (can’t look at the positives)

–    Irritable and rude

–    Stop everything and speak to someone about how you are feeling

–    Assess what you may be stressing about

–    Work on things you can control and influence

–    Don’t worry about things which are not in your control

–    Do activities which energise you, for me this is exercising, relaxing with my girlfriend and walking the dog

–    Focus on single tasks, complete them and then move on

–    Review how you are going, continue to speak with someone and acknowledge when you achieve/do something well

Managing your mental condition is the most challenging of these for a number of reasons and it also may have the greatest performance implications. From recent personal experience this is an area which I have taken a special interest in and I will be writing a piece soon about how I have overcome the mental challenges and depression which I have faced.

It seems straight forward that we should listen to our bodies but it is surprising how difficult this actually is and how often we ignore the signals, ending up in a worse situation. The best performances comes when we are feeling at our best, both physically and mental. Feeling physically fit and strong, healthy and nourished and with a positive mindset shouldn’t be that hard to achieve. Use your mind and body as a guide and you will be able to achieve your goals.

T&D May 22

I don’t know if it’s my diabetes or trying to fit in training around the rest of my life but every week seems like a big and challenging week upon reflection. Even with all of the little things that seem to happen in my life (which seems pretty significant at the time) I still manage to have great weeks! This week with work, 15hrs of training, away for the weekend, out on Saturday night, a broken rear wheel mid-ride on Saturday, some high and low BGLs and an irritating reaction to my freshly cleaned local pool it was busy.

Point Lonsdale

Sunday morning recovery ride is the most important of the week for body and soul; Inge, coffees, muffins, selfies and a bit of recovery thrown in for good measure.

We choose to fill our days doing the things that we enjoy, that energise us (maybe apart from working but hopefully there are some positives there to) and the challenges that we face are part of doing these things. I don’t necessarily want to get up at 5am on a Saturday morning but when I’m cresting a hill with Bells Beach to my left and a sunrise warming my back I’ve forgotten about getting up and I’m just looking forward to the next couple of hours of nirvana (for me). Trying to fit everything in is certainly a juggling act but it can be, and is manageable. Priorities and planning is the aim of the game here.

Diabetes does add another dimension to this puzzle with the most difficult part being that diabetes often runs its own course and things happen even when you try your best to control them. My weekend for instance including perfect BGLs during my Saturday morning ride, good BGLs during my afternoon swim, high BGLs in the late afternoon and evening, high BGLs Sunday morning which turned into good BGLs for my ride and then run. I was able to complete my training sessions and enjoy a muffin on Sunday morning but I felt terrible on Saturday night and struggled to enjoy my evening out as I tried to bring my BGLs down. Pretty stressful I think and that’s by no means a bad 48 hours.

Think about this further I think on average 25% of my training sessions would be impacted by my BGL levels to some degree. Be that by a hypo stopping a session early, a high not allowing me to push out a quality session or a combination of BGLs and food making me feel ill. After so many years constantly planning and adjusting things occurs without me really thinking about it but it is very stressful and something which I am working to manage better and remain in a good mindset.

T&D

A planned and altered weekend (Saturday run missing) from a mechanical and BGLs. Overall though it’s been a great week of training!

The lesson which I have learned this week, and over recent weeks probably, is that things don’t need to run perfectly for me to achieve a great end result. This week for example was nearly derailed on a few occasions but from a training perspective turned out to be a really positive week. Even greater than this is possibly 25% of my training being impacted by my diabetes and even with this I continue to improve and perform well. I feel like diabetes is something which we can strongly influence buy never fully control and we need to be open minded to this. The uncontrollable diabetes events should not become the focus points of our day to day existence as even with these events so much is achievable. I will be reminding myself of this next time things don’t go to plan, maybe even today.

T&D May 9

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, recovery weeks are the best! No pressure, still training and feeling great. After leaving Port Macquarie with some mixed feelings I really tried to focus on the positives from the race (which there were many) and identify a few items which I can improve on. My partner said “no training and only positive thoughts until Wednesday, then you can get back to training and focusing on those improvements”. Good advice to follow with the benefits of a positive mindset and enjoying your achievements all too important as I now know.

Happy

Positive attitude, now always smiling – training buddy Mate & I living it up before the Port Mac 70.3 start

So being a recovery week my diabetes hasn’t been much of a highlight. I continue to monitor things closely and have noted a few adjustments which I will make this week for my morning training sessions to keep my BGL stable. I have reaffirmed this week how important my regular daily schedule and consistent meals are to my BGLs. Having fine tuned everything, even small changes can blow my BGLs out. It’s really important for me to understand my basal rate, previous bolus dose, time of day, what I am eating and what I am doing to keep my BGLs stable and give a correct insulin dose. No cheats here unfortunately.

I know that I am very hard on myself and I don’t like to accept anything but my best performance. Working on keeping a positive attitude I made a conscious effort this week to acknowledge the great achievement which my Port Macquarie race was. Excluding the hypo near the end of the race (costing me 10mins), the performance would have been amazing considering only 6 weeks ago I was too physically and mentally fatigued to train or even function normally. I see now how important it is to enjoy all of your achievements and focus on the positives which bring untold benefits to the rest of you life (including diabetes). It’s so simple and it is repeated in nearly all performance articles which I have read. Why I have neglected this aspect for so long now seems a little silly.

So my take away message this week is all about being positive and enjoying your achievements. Being a T1D and being active is so beneficial for you, training everyday with your mates makes you feel great, and racing with the support of family and friends is a really positive experience. There’s not a lot there to be negative about! I also find that my attitude and how I am feeling influences by BGLs. Having that positive attitude and being happy does seem to align with when my BGLs are very stable, and vice versa.

Feeling great, now for a big 4-week block of training before Ironman Cairns 70.3 in early June (and then a short holiday).

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.

T&D May 1

Race week and I was really nervous. Nervous because I’ve had a good block of training but mainly nervous because I wasn’t confident in having my diabetes 100% under control. With tamper, travel and then racing all happening this was going to be a big week and I really didn’t want to get anything wrong.

I had some real struggles before and during the race and in the end to walk away with 10th place was a great effort. Apart from the massive hypo I had in the last 2km of the run leg I was on track for a great time and result, and I take this as a real positive from the race. After the race I enjoyed as burger with my training buddy Matt (who PB again at the race!) and my family which quickly put everything into perspective. See my race report here.

Port Mac Walk

Post race walk and debrief in the rain at Port Macquarie

I have learnt a couple of really big things this week and I am surprised by what I have learned given that I thought everything was tracking perfectly leading into this race.

  • Your mental state and especially nervous energy, stress and adrenaline have a massive impact on you BGLs. I am usually really relaxed before an event but I was so nervous and anxious that my BGLs were out of control and I struggled to keep them stable over the race weekend. I am now going to work on my mental conditioning leading into a race to ensure this doesn’t happen again this was such a profound experience that I’m going to investigate it further in a future blog piece.
  • Diabetes control is the key to your best performance; taking the time to test your BGL during the race is worth it, that extra 30 seconds to do this won’t cost you a PB but if you don’t then it could cost you your whole race. Even with a CGM I tested my BGL multiple times during the race and although the numbers weren’t what I wanted to see, I did know where I was at.
  • Keep it simple: For both mental and diabetes performance keeping everything as simple as possible makes such a difference. Although I nearly lost my sh#t prior to the race if I didn’t have my race routine, food, bike setup, etc. already sorted then I would have been in a lot more trouble. Even though things didn’t go to plant I was able to ge thtrough the race but following the simple things which I had in place.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy it: I think that I have put too much pressure on myself over the last 6 months and my performances have suffered. During the race I reminded myself to enjoy it and with this mindset I didn’t let my diabetes issues get to me and my performance and times where good. No need to make a tough Ironman event any tougher.

I have six weeks now until my next race at Ironman Cairns 70.3 and with the success of my modified training program I am excited to get another solid 4-week block of training in and head to Carins ready for my best performance. I’ll be working on my mental conditioning and also my diabetes plan until then with the hope that everything comes together for this big race.

T&D April 10

After a couple of good weeks this past week was particularly challenging. Probably due my increasing volume of aerobic training I have suffered multiple hypos nearly every day and night this past week. Affecting my sleep, my training and just generally functioning each day made my week very frustrating. I have ended up reducing my basal insulin rate by nearly 10% and seen positive results though it is always very difficult making large changes like this and trying to figure out why things are happening.

This week has also been mentally tough with my BGLs causing havoc with my sleep and training. With the importance of these two elements to my life having them both not going well really stressed me out and I was struggling to keep myself positive throughout the week. I am lucky that I have a really supportive girlfriend and training partner who really help me keep my head in the game. In the end I was able to get a great weekend of training in (8hrs+) and I am feeling much better and coming into this next week with a great attitude.

Alex & Inge

Being honest and getting support from those around you is so valuable as a T1D and an athlete. Just doing what you can and enjoying it is so important. 

The challenges of this week have made me focus on a couple of the basic treatment and mental aspects of dealing with diabetes.

Make Small Adjustments & Monitor: Having multiple hypos during the day and night early in the week I had to adjust my basal rate to stop these. I am also nervous about reducing my insulin for fear of going high so I generally on my small reductions and then monitor how this goes. It is also important to only change one element so that you can more easily review if this works. By this I mean not changing your basal rate and also you bolus doses because you will not be able to determine which change worked or didn’t work. In the end it took me 5 days of adjusting and monitoring to get things stable again.

Do What You Can: Have these hypo issues made trying to train very difficult. I experienced either a hypo of high BGL with every session that I did Monday to Friday with the adjustments that I was making to my insulin rates. These incidents were both from the changes and also from second guessing what was going to happen as I had lost my consistency. Trying not to stress I did what I could and then adjusted the remainder of my sessions to accommodate by BGLs. This included a hard ride turning into an easy ride, walking and stretching instead of running and doing extra strength work when my swim session was cut short by a hypo. Although I was still frustrated these session were still beneficial and with a solid weekend it ended up being a good week of training.

Be Honest: I have generally kept my diabetes and its issues to myself which cause greater stress because the people around me don’t understand why I am acting funny. I made an effort this week to be open and honest with my training buddy so that when things went wrong it wouldn’t be a big deal. It is amazing how much easier it is when you are supported by others around you which instantly reduces your stress. No need to feel weakness because of diabetes issues, they are what they are and you need to work with/around them.

Although I am steadily building my weekly training volume and intensity I am conscious not to push too hard and overdo it. Ensuring that I get adequate rest including taking some days off is really important at this stage so that I can continue my progress towards Port Macquarie. Feeling energised, motivated and excited to continue to build my training!