Training for my first half marathon – part 2: spikes, ‘HI’s’ and the real deal

After working up to a respectable 14km, it was time, in the words of Shaun T – to ‘dig deeper’, make a decent playlist and start getting my butt out of bed before 9am on Sundays. Now the distances were getting longer, and the half getting closer, I wanted to start training in the morning to try and get an idea of how my bloods would respond to running in the early hours (when the actual race would be) – and boyyyy were they different from evening run bloods. I felt like I was running with a different body at first – those well-mannered, carb-count obeying BEAUTIFUL sugars I’d often experienced running after work before now seemed like a distant memory, and as I got into the 16-18km runs, they were being a right pain. Struggling with the carb-loading and seeing spikes to 17-18 mmol/l made the runs sluggish, painful, and frankly just LONG.

spikes during a 16km and 18km

Ever since starting on the Libre I’ve noticed that my insulin sensitivity is generally pretty pants in the morning (I suspect thanks to the so-called ‘dawn phenomenon’), and have enjoyed many days of early-hour bolusing, bolusing and more bolusing, with little luck – so I wasn’t overrrrly surprised to see this difference in blood sugars when switching up my run times. But having my sugars sweep up to the near 20’s wasn’t exactly what many would describe as ‘ideal’ running conditions, and was something I wanted to nip in the bud before the big day.

But miraculously, as is often the case with T1, with a bit of perseverance, I managed to nail some really, really good runs. I remember thinking about halfway into my first 19km (of which before I was doing anything to avoid – I was NOT in the mood!) how great it felt – and why was I suddenly enjoying this so much?! Low and behold – a quick scan of the arm, and my blood was in the 5’s. Suddenly it clicked – this is what running feels like for people with decent pancreas’ – I felt energised and not at all exhausted for the first time in weeks (almost Forrest Gump ‘I could run for weeks’-like) – and that’s because, thanks to the nice bloods, I really was. With a starting BG of 9.5 mmol/l, a bit of carb-loading beforehand an energy gel en-route, I ended the run on a splendid 4.6 mmol/l, and was now buzzing for the real thing.

spikes during a 16km and 18km

The half itself was amazing. I LOVED it – so much so that I’m already looking up which one to try next, and imagining just how great our top shelf would look filled with half marathon medals (… too much?!). But seriously – completing it felt AWESOME, and a couple of days later I still can’t stop talking about it, and am feeling SO proud of my now very achy 5”1 ‘you don’t look like a runner’ body for getting me round in one piece. But one thing I was a littleeeee less impressed with was my pancreas (although let’s be honest – when are us T1’s ever that impressed with our duff pancreas’?), as on the one day I just wanted it to be predictable and hassle free, it wasn’t. At all.

The first bummer was around half an hour before the race. I had everything planned – I’d check my blood, my blood would be fine (ha), I’d eat my measured out portion of cold, plain pasta (jealous?), and have perfect bloods the whole way round and forget I even have diabetes. Easy.  Anyway – this optimism got panned very quickly when my Freestyle Libre read 17.5 mmol/l, and my Accu Chek read 12.7 mmol/l. Now why my Libre was playing up today of all days I have no idea – but I decided to go with the finger prick and believe my blood was around 12. So I ate half the planned carbs, and tried to put it to the back of my mind. By the time the race started, my Libre was back down to 13 mmol/l – so I calmed down a bit, and tried to focus on the other mammoth issue of now having to actually run 13.1 – good sugars or bad.

I didn’t check my blood again until mile 5 – to be honest, there was SO much going on that I didn’t even think about it until about the 4th mile when the nerves and adrenalin started to settled, and it dawned on me that I was already feeling prettttty exhausted. So, naively thinking, ‘I wonder if it’s time for an energy gel’, I scanned my arm, and was mortified, to say the least, to see my Libre say ‘HI’.

Now this one got me. I was SO prepared for a hypo – my arm pouch, running belt and leggings pocket  were packed with energy gels (I’d even stuck one down my sports bra for good measure) – but it hadn’t even occurred to me that I might hyper to THAT level – and I had no insulin anywhere near me. After momentarily panicking a little/a lot, I told myself to just carry on, and that, like in training, it’s probably just a spike which would soon come back down.

By the end of mile 8 the ‘spike’ I’d wished for had developed into a nasty flat line of ‘HI’, and I was getting a bit on edge. Luckily, I knew my boyfriend was watching, and had all of my medication on him – so next time I saw him (which thank gawd was at mile 9), I ran up to him, arms flailing, and shouted ‘INSULIN! I NEED INSULIN!’ (I got some great looks, as you can imagine). Being the trooper he is, he whacked out the pen and needle, dialled 3 units, and I gave myself the most rapid Novorapid of my life (see what I did there eh).

After this I was on the home and dry – I was insulined up, just a few miles from the end, and honestly just chuffed to know that my sugars would finally be on their way down. After feeling desperately tired and pretty broken by about mile 11, and looking like this (lol) by the final kilometre (see below), I got myself over the finish line a few minutes after the 2 hour mark, and felt fabulous.

‘i am so done help’

Although it’s annoying how after all these years, T1 still has the ability to catch me off guard, and, if I’m honest, completely throw me (I had NO idea that the nerves and adrenalin would affect my bloods so drastically) – as long as it doesn’t stop me, then that’s OK – these curveballs are all part of the fun. And actually, after the initial panic of being too high, the whack ‘HI’ BG readings just made me even more determined to not let T1D ruin this for me. So even though my BS’s weren’t perfect/were actually quite horrendous, knowing that I ran it with T1D doing its best to mess me up felt pretty damn good 🙂 #screwyoudiabetes.


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