Why I’ve decided to drop down from the half marathon distance to the 10K distance for my upcoming race, and why it’s been the best decision I’ve made for myself this summer race season.
I had a great start to the year running wise. I ran my first official 10K which was an awesome way to kickoff my first marathon training regimen. I worked hard from December to May, and I watched myself hold faster paces each time I went for a training run. Then I ran my first 15K in Minneapolis, and my sister ran her first 5K. It was a month out from my first marathon, and my placement at that race was a great confidence booster heading into the marathon. Then the day finally came where I ran 26.2 miles! While I didn’t run it in the goal time I had set for myself, I was able to battle the wind, rain, and cold, and still finish under 5 hours. While the first half of 2019 has been great running wise, sometimes life doesn’t always go the way we plan it to.
Marathon training was HARD, and it’s supposed to be. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would be running marathons. While I enjoyed marathon training more than I expected to, it’s hard on you both mentally and physically. I had worked my tail off December through May. I rarely missed a run or cross training workout. I put in the hard work, and it paid off. After my marathon I took a week off. I didn’t run and I didn’t work out. For me, it was a break that was welcomed both physically and mentally, but getting back into things after that week off was hard. It took about a month to get back to paces I was hitting during marathon training, and my endurance took a hit. Fast forward to now, about 10 weeks post-marathon, and I’m back to running my usual paces and my endurance has definitely improved. I ran a 5K on the 4th of July and PR’ed, and I ran a 10K with one of my best friends which while it wasn’t PR by any means, it was fun and it felt easy. I expected my training to continue to feel easy and be free of any complications, but that wasn’t the case.
Summers in North Dakota can be very hot and humid, and that’s exactly what most of July was like. My 6, 7, and 8 mile training runs were all met with frustration. While it is difficult for anyone to run in the heat and humidity, it was even more difficult for me because of how those factors impacted my blood sugar levels while running. As a Type 1 Diabetic, running can be a difficult task on its own. Running, aerobic exercise, makes my blood sugar levels drop, and has the ability to drop them to dangerous levels. This means I need to pay attention to what I eat before, during, and after my runs to help keep my levels in range, and I need to pay attention to my insulin needs during my runs as well. Too much insulin during my run will also drop my blood sugar levels quickly, but too little insulin can elevate my blood sugar levels which can not only make your runs feel awful, but can also be dangerous. It took me a long time and lots of trial and error to figure out what works best for me as a diabetic runner, but it’s not always a fool-proof plan. During my last few training runs, I experienced the heat and humidity effect my blood sugar levels differently. I’ve had my levels drop quickly despite consuming multiple gels, these gels are full of fast-acting carbohydrates which help me keep my levels up during my runs, and I’ve had my levels raise to dangerous levels while running despite correcting with insulin during my runs. These incidents lead to a lot of runs cut short, and a lot of frustration.
Yesterday’s long run was no different. Although there was no heat and humidity in the equation, my ten mile training run was cut down to just under six miles because of a quick dip in my blood sugar levels. While it was a mistake on my part, as I forgot to decrease my basal insulin, it wasn’t the run I was hoping for two weeks out from my first half marathon of 2019. This race already comes with some hesitation as last year I was not able to finish this half marathon. It was a hot and humid morning, even at a 7am race start, and my blood sugar levels crashed around mile eight. I was unable to bring them back up to a level that was safe for me to run at, and I was forced to drop out. I wanted to run this race this year, mostly for redemption, but my training runs just haven’t been where I want them to be. After talking things through with my running buddy, I made a decision about how to move forward with my upcoming half marathon.
Yesterday afternoon, I made my first race transfer of my running career. I’ve decided to transfer down from the half marathon distance to the 10k distance. While I love the half marathon distance, I don’t want to go into a race feeling uneasy or unprepared. I think I could successfully complete 13.1 miles right now, but I don’t think it would be a fun or enjoyable race. For me, running is supposed to be fun. That’s why I do it. I sign up for races because I enjoy them, and I think the mindset you that you have for those races going into them is important. My mindset isn’t where I want it to be before a half marathon. Not being able to run a distance over eight miles has been frustrating, and I feel more confident in my abilities to run and do well in a 10K than I do competing in a half marathon right now. That being said, I have been working hard, it’s just been difficult to compete with external factors and battling unpredictable blood sugar levels. That’s why I decided to do the ‘TWO CHALLENGE” at the Go Far Women’s Run in two weeks. This means, I will not only be running the 10K on August 10, but I will also be running the 5K race on August 9. I feel that this will be a great challenge before heading into the fall race season, and something that I’ll find enjoyable. Exactly the kind of change in mindset I’m in need of right now.
This summer has been frustrating running-wise. It hasn’t gone the way I expected or planned it to, but I feel that running my upcoming race this way will be a great compromise for myself. Running with Type 1 Diabetes is never easy, but this summer it’s proved to be much more difficult than normal. While I have a few shorter distance races on the horizon for the fall, I’m aiming to run two half marathon before the end of October. My summer running has been full of frustration and runs cut short, but I’m hoping this race change will give me the confidence boost that I feel is very much needed heading into the fall race season. I never wanted to be that person who drops down to a shorter distance race after signing up, but sometimes despite your best efforts your training just isn’t where it needs to be.