Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ironman Saint George

I thank Triabetes for inspiring me to complete an ironman. I have made lifelong friendships in the Insulindependence organization and am proud to say that we are revolutionizing diabetes management!

Swim 2.4 miles. My wetsuit, neoprene cap, and earplugs ensured that I stayed warm in Sand Hollow Reservoir. I maintained a slow and steady pace to ensure that I would make the distance, my longest swim yet. Thanks Coach Steve Hyde and the SOBA Master's Swim Team in Hawthorne for teaching me to swim efficiently. I swam with them regularly in 2008 in training for my first triathlon, the sprint distance Day at The Beach Hermosa Triathlon. I have not been attending their training sessions lately, but still credit them for teaching me to feel confident in the water.

T1:Race volunteers helped me take off my wetsuit and gave me my bike gear bag which I checked in yesterday. I checked my blood sugar to calibrate my Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor, put on my cycling gear, and set out on the long ride. Dexcom is a generous sponsor of the Triabetes club team and is widely recognized as the leader in cgm technology. Their accurate sensors are virtually pain free to implant and last an entire week.

Bike 112 miles: Many thanks to the North Torrance Performance Bike Shop for taking care of all my cycling needs. Performance offers good deals and excellent customer service. I also need to thank the guys at the Manhattan Beach Helen's Cycles for being supportive throughout the year, suggesting training routes and referring diabetic customers to the wonderful resource that is Insulindependence.

It was hot and windy out on the course. Temperatures reached into the 90's and the winds were blowing at over 20 miles per hour. My Dexcom alerted me to the fact that I was trending high and needed more insulin, probably due to having been disconnected from my insulin pump for nearly two hours while swimming. Having a high blood sugar discouraged me from eating as much as I had planned. My pace dropped a bit on the second lap, but my intensity may have actually been slightly higher to compensate for the wind and cumulative effect of heat and fatigue.

T2: It took me ten minutes to prepare for the run. I must thank Coach Jimmy Dean Freeman and the SoCal Coyote Running Club for some incredible training runs this year. I starting running with this Los Angeles based trail running group in training for my second marathon last year. I am now a competent marathon runner and an aspiring ultramarathoner. I hope to complete my first 50 mile run soon.

Run 26.2 miles: My Triabuddy and a bunch of other ID supporters were on the course cheering us on. It was uplifting to feel their enthusiastic support. Triathlon is inherently an individual sport, but their cheers reminded me that I was participating in this race as part of a cause much larger than myself. I am not the first type one diabetic to finish an ironman. In fact, through my participation in the club, I have met the pioneer himself, Bill Carlson, on several occasions. Over the course of this past year as a Triabetes Captain and especially on this capstone day, I was humbled to be in the privileged position to inspire others to explore their individual capacities.

At the start of the run, I made the mistake of trying to catch up on my calorie and fluid intake deficit too quickly. My stomach couldn't handle so much food at once, but I was simultaneously concerned about the high amount of active insulin in my body from the correction boluses. Around mile 6, I got a cramp in my calf which was a warning sign of dehydration. I felt the contents of my stomach sloshing around with every step and sure enough, I vomited all the food I had consumed in the first hour of the marathon. I slowed down from a jog to a walk, and started taking a gel, cola, and water at each aid station. My blood sugar was dropping, but fortunately never so low that I couldn't keep on moving forward. I recovered as I absorbed the nutrition at a more appropriate rate, and actually felt stronger than ever in the last few miles.

I told my family and friends that I would be done in 13.5 hours which coincided with sunset. It took me about two hours longer than I anticipated, but I was still happy with my 15:38 finish on the most difficult ironman course in the world. The finish was bittersweet, though, because I knew several of my teammates had been pulled off the course throughout the day, primarily due to heat issues. Dedicated as they are, I am not surprised to learn that they will complete their ironman journeys by extending their training over the Summer and competing in another full distance triathlon in September. My next big event will be volunteering and cheering on my Triabuddy at his first open triathlon race, Ironkids San Diego on May 22nd. Good luck, Ryan!