The 26.2 distance hits me with a touch of respect


9408606643_c3d93ed7eeAlright, at one time or another, we all make weird crazy decisions and sometimes some of those decisions turned to be totally horrible ones. Almost a year prior this start of the event I signed up for the Raleigh Rock-n-Roll half marathon. This was the 1st time the Rock and Roll series planned to do an event in NC. At that time that was the half was the plan, to perform good at a distance that I was starting to enjoy more and more. Coming from the Little Rock marathon in which I was feeling and running so great by mile 17 until the big weather event cancel “fiasco” and with another great performance during the American Tobacco Trail Half, it started to cloud my mind a bit. As the day of the event got close, I started taunting with the idea of switching to the the full marathon. I was going back and forth with that idea, hey it was another inaugural event so I need to go big.

The day to pick my bib arrived. I went to the Raleigh convention center, a big and very nice expo area. As I was walking towards the counter area, I decided that if they allowed me to switch this late, I was going to switch to the Full Marathon. As I make the line, still going back and forth, I asked if I could and they send me to another line to check if there are any open spots for the full. That area was empty with no lines I asked the volunteer and the answer was yes, I was allow to switch. I was very excited about it. With a new bib on hand and slightly nervous I spend some time at the expo. When I got home I showed the bib to my wife and she was thrilled that I was able to change it. Now for me, I started to have some doubts about the plan. Am I doing the right thing?

Rock-N-Roll-Marathon-20141For race day morning, I did the usual routine to get ready, oatmeal, coffee and a quick visit to the bathroom. Checked my sugars and they were on the high side trending up, so I did minor bolus adjustment. Got in my truck and drove to downtown Raleigh. The traffic was horrible, too many people trying to get to the area, even tho, I went very early thinking that there was going to be a lot of traffic, it took even longer that I was expecting. It felt that it took for ever to get to a parking garage. As soon as I got out of the car, the air felt good, but not great. A cool breeze, 56 degrees, but very humid. You can feel the humidity as the slight breeze continued. I was able to text Roland and met with him near the corral area. He signed up to do the half as our original plan. The first 8 miles both the full and the half shared the same route. We quickly walked back to the my vehicle to drop a few extra stuff I had for just in case. I want it to drop any extra stuff and be a little bit lighter. So dropped my phone, the garbage trash bag (cause there was the possibility of rain) and the extra zip-locks for the pump, pod and phone. I check my sugars one more time and they were still above my running range but stable, once again I did another small bolus adjustment since I knew I was going to take a gel 15 minutes before the start.

We went back to the starting corrals area, tons of people there, the corrals were somewhat not well organized, but ok. There were a few corrals that were in line with the starting line, while others were on the side streets. As the starting time approached, I took the caffeinated energy gel and discussed the plan of attack with Roland. Since it was a last time decision the change to the full, I was going to run along side with him until the split of the half and full. At that point I was going to make an assessment to see if I needed to switch back to the half. Once again I checked my sugars one more time before the start of the event and there were still high, around 230. I know this was not the first time I have started a run with sugars this high, but knowing that I have adjusted for it it normally was ok. But this was going to be my third adjustment so far, so I hold on the adjustment. They will go down, but it needed to go down in a controlled fashion if I want to be successful today.

Event started with a still good temperature and a light breeze, we went slightly fast the first few miles but were still feeling good. I believe that at mile 5, I started to feel weird, something was not going totally ok. Although I knew and studied the route in “preparation” for this, there were many ups and down which forced runners to change the pace constantly. I was having trouble finding a good pace and rhythm. Closer to mile 6, I started to feel that my chest was little bit tight. I was able to breathe ok, but felt tight. I check my glucose sensor (CGMS) and the sugars were still high, hovering 230s and trending up. I did another bolus adjustment for it. Keep in mind that the adjustments I do while running and less aggressive than when doing normal daily activities.

The temperature was rising, but still there was a breeze and it was ok to run. At the mile 8 split of the Full and the Half, I convince myself to continue the full and fist bump my running friend Roland. He was aware of my sugar readings and that I was not feeling 100%. He asked me if I was ok, from which I responded “Yes, I will be fine”. After that we departed ways and off we went. Roland to finish and me to embark into an adventure.

There was a med station around mile 11, since my pace was on target to finish well below the 5 hour mark, I stopped to check my sugars. I was able to confirm the values of the sensor, I was running 240, that was too high, but again I have dealt with this situation before. I checked to see how much active insulin I still had on-board, made a minor bolus adjustment and kept going. It was important to check how much active insulin I had already, since I did to want to then get a low sugar situation.

I started to feel little bit better, but still having still difficulties getting my breathing right and also my stomach started to feel a little bit uncomfortable. My chest was still tight, but the legs were ok. Now it is getting hot and the sun started to pound. Between mile 14-15, there was another water station and porta pottys. This time I needed to stop and use the bathroom. In all the events and training runs that I have completed this was the 1st time I had to go for number 2. Not feeling well, it was so hot there and I was sweating so much. Done with that, I grabbed some water at the aid station and continued, still on target to barely beat the 5:00 mark. I felt much, much better after the stop, but the sun, humidity and the miles were punishing everyone. Few runners on the side of the road, waiting for assistance and/or taking a break with a complete stop. EMTs were attending one runner on the side, I hope she was ok. I continued, by this time I added some walking to my running, but keeping the over all pace in check.

Along the way there was a few runners doing the same thing. I caught up with a small group and we talked for a while during the walk/jog segments. We were all in agreement the weather and the course conditions were not optimal for a successful long run or trying to PR (Not that I was trying). With my goal of finishing within the 5 hour mark in mind, I knew I was cutting it close, but I chugged along the miles, sugars continue to remain high, another minor bolus adjustment. The legs were feeling heavy and I did not know if it was because of the sugars, the temperature or the walking, but I was able to still run for a bit on and off.

After a long stretch of sunny roads, I got back to the main street back towards downtown area, I knew this street well, since I have run on that street a few times before. I decided to run to a street light, and then walk the next street light segment and back to running the next. Still not feeling that well and breathing was still a little bit problematic. After couple miles of doing that, I saw that the route was not what I thought it was going to be and they had us turning right into another area of the city, well before getting to main downtown were the finish line was. I guess, I forgot that section when I looked at the route prior to the event. This was not good. By this time I was really thinking that I should have not switch to the full Marathon. But hey, I came this far already, even if I finish within a 5:30 mark, that will be ok, given the conditions. Between mile 23 and 24, there was another medical tent, I stopped to check my sugars since my sensor kept telling me they were still high. Sure enough, the sugars were high per my meter. Now over 240. “No wonder I am feeling this way”, I said to my self, well two more miles two to go, that will be another around 24 minutes at this pace, so I decided to do the full normal adjustment instead of the running/training adjustment (The running adjustment is normally around 50% of the normal adjustment)

Soon as I started back running, I saw my friend’s “Nemesis” (Remember from previous events?) He was running using the Galloway style and I decided to tag along for a while, since it involves sections of running and walking breaks. We chatted for a little bit, about other races, up coming events and how difficult this event was proven to be. I started to so feel much, much better. I felt like I had a another jolt of energy, so started to run once again and at my normal race pace. I said “good talking to you”, wished him luck and moved head. All was well now ready to step up the pace.

Close to mile 25, I started to feel light headed and super weak, different this time. My running slowed and turned into a very slow jog then to a normal walk, then to slow walk. I walked for a few minutes and suddenly it was so hard to move my legs that I was barely walking. I was exhausted, my stomach started to get very upset. I tried to trouble shoot what was going on. Was I too hot?, Dehydrated, perhaps?, the sensor was showing the sugars were within normal range but trending down. Then I realized that the adjustment I did earlier was too much. (I should of stick with the adjustment I normally do when I am running). I tried to keep walking, now other runners were passing me. It was really nice to hear them encouraging me to keep going and that I was almost there close to the finish. But it did not matter with the sugars plummeting I needed to do something quick. I quickly grabbed another gel, and forced it down, little by little. My stomach was not cooperating, but I knew I needed to get sugars up. I reduce the basal rate to a minimum (I should of suspend insulin delivery at that time, but for some reason, reducing basal was logical to me at that time.) I knew I was close to a water station. Maybe if I get there I can have some energy drink as well. Before I could get there, I saw the upcoming intersection and a race coordinator was there, so I decided to basically crawl (exaggerating here, but it felt like a crawl) that way a wait for my sugars to go up. Since I did not had my phone with me, I could not warn anyone about what was going on and that it was going to take a little longer that I want it to finish. I know my friend and my family were waiting for the traditional I finished text with the finishing time.

Got to the intersection, the race volunteer asked me if I was ok. I told him what was going on and that I should be ok in a little bit. I sat down at the curve and waited. A few minutes later when I started to fell slightly better, I stood up and started to walk. But about 25 meter later, I had to sit again. Waited once again for a few minutes (About 5 minutes, I thought). While waiting I saw the “Nemesis” passed by at a slow pace but still moving. Other runners that were passing by were offering their gels and asking if I needed helps. It was very nice to experienced that. I waited a little bit longer and I stood up once again and started to walk, and could not move forward. Once again I sat down. A policeman nearby asked me if I needed EMTs. I said no, I knew what was going on and just needed some more time for sugar to go up.

Couple minutes later, 4 EMTs in bicycles stopped by and asked me if I was ok. “You looked like you are spent” one of them said to me, I smile and said “lol, looks like it…” I started to tell them about what was going on. They want it for me to be driven to the finish line. “No way!, I am less than a mile away, I will crawl if I have to.” They checked my sugars and they were 90, which mean after a gel and waiting for about 30min it was just starting now to go up. They offered two options to me,

  1. Shot of glycogen or
  2. An IV for getting glycogen into the bloodstream.

I knew that the IV was the fastest way to get my sugars back to decent range, so I agree to option number 2. Once I got the IV and they started to put in the Glycogen. It felt like the energize bunny, I could feel the energy filling in in my veins and my muscles. I less than 30seconds, I was ready to run again. I waited a few minutes for the IV to finish and stood up ready to go. The EMTs want it for me to take a ride to the finish and once again firmly I said, “No!, less than a mile, I am ready to go” theyIMG_1008 asked me to sign a waiver and that they were also going to have two of them follow me to the finish. I agreed with the proposal. As I was cleaning some dirt off my pants and shirts, they started to discussed who was going to follow me. I was very impatience and ready to get back in the flow of runners passing by. I said, “I do not have much time to wait, I have a race to finish. When you guys are done deciding who will follow me, please go ahead a catch up with me. Thank you so much for the help, seriously big time thanks.” Of I went to finish this crazy event, with about less than a half mile to go, I signal the two EMTs that I was ok and they should not spend any more time following me, in case there were other runners in need. I finished strong, with some speed in my legs, but with my pride devastated.

I took the Marathon for granted and in hand the marathon took a bite of me and spitted into the ground.

An hour after I finished, I came to my attention as I was watching the news, that two runners died during the event due to cardiac arrest. Both in their 30’s and less that two miles to the finish line, both doing the half marathon.

It was a tough one and that piece of news really puts things in perspective.

[vtftable cols=”{0}0-4:c9daf8;{/}”] {f1}Month/Year;;;{f1}Event;;;{f1}Location;;;{f1}Type;;;{f1}Time;nn;
Apr-14;;;Raleigh Rock and Roll Marathon;;;NC;;;Full;;;6:27:16;nn;


[vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlight & Learning Points;nn;Highlights:

Course: Great ample road right of the start. Expect lost of short hills. Water station setup and distances were really good. Pretty well staffed too. The course was well marked too but lots of area with little or no sun coverage.

Venue: At finish, excellent food, plenty to drink and beer.

Expo: Expo was excellent. Tons of booths and freebies. Well organized.

Weather: Overcast skies, 54º with 94% humidity. (When I left the venue the temp was around 66º)

T1D: Sugars slightly higher at start. CGMS was providing accurate reading. Continued to stay high and trending up all the way until mile 24. Low sugars crash at mile 25.

Fueling: Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal and Latte. One energy gel 15min before start of race

Race: Water at the water station. Gel every 4 miles.

Post: Pizza and water.

Learning Points:

    • No full bolus adjustments unless the event is over.
    • Good to have plan A, B & C
    • Use body cues to adjust pace and plan of attack
    • Not every event is going to go well
    • Any distance should be taken seriously. Just because I had covered the distance in the past, it does not means that I can run it again without any problems.