Race Transfers

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.

Fargo Marathon

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.

Wonder Woman 10K

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.

Minneapolis All State Hot Chocolate 15K

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.

How I Didn’t Let My Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis Get the Best of Me

Once upon a time, I was just your average 22 year old. I had just finished my collegiate swimming career, graduated college, and I thought I was healthiest I’d ever be in my life. Little did I know that in three months, my life would change completely. In the weeks leading up to my yearly physical, I knew something wrong. I, very stupidly, googled my symptoms, and after self-diagnosing myself with a few conditions I concluded that something WAS actually wrong. As I sat in the doctor’s office that next week, I spent more than half my appointment debating on whether or not I should tell my doctor all of my symptoms. Finally, at the very end of my appointment, I decided I might as well tell her what I was experiencing. She ordered a blood and urine test and assured me that there was nothing to be alarmed about, that it was probably just my thyroid. Feeling silly, I returned to work and pretty much forgot all about my appointment.

But then I got that phone call. I remember the lab technician speaking in what seemed like a foreign language and after I grasped that something was REALLY wrong with me, my mind started racing. I remember asking her if she could ‘dumb it down for me’ because I didn’t have a clear diagnosis. That’s when she said: “Your test results show that you’re diabetic.”  I thanked her for my results and then scheduled another doctor’s appointment for the following afternoon. Then I lost it. I called my mom, my dad, and my sister. I sat in my boss’s office and bawled, and I tried to figure out how the heck I was a diabetic. Spoiler alert: there’s no way to figure it out, and sometimes after 22 years together, your pancreas just stops producing insulin.

Now there’s lot of things they tell you when you’re first diagnosed. That it’s okay to be angry. That even though most people would consider you to be too old to be diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic, it’s more common than you think.  They tell you that you are now insulin dependent and that will never change. That if you don’t give yourself your shots, you’re going to have serious complications that could kill you. They show you all the new medicines you get. They show you how to test your blood sugar and give yourself your insulin shots. They set you up with a dietician who shows you how to count carbohydrates. You learn that now you will have to see a doctor every three months, and that they scheduled your appointment with your new endocrinologist. Then after what seems like the LONGEST doctor’s appointment of your life, they send you on your way with your new prescriptions and your new life.

Then it sits in. All the things they don’t tell you in your first appointment after being diagnosed. How sad and depressed you feel, and then how guilty you feel because even though your new disease can be life threatening, others have it far worse. That you’ll spend the next two weeks crying on the phone to your mom every night. That you’ll go through all of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Which honestly seems weird because no one died, and then you feel even worse because you feel like no one understands what you’re going despite the best family, friends, and co-workers around. They don’t tell you the financial burden you now have and that insulin will sometimes cost more than your rent. They don’t tell you that six months from now you’re still going to have breakdowns because this just doesn’t seem fair. They don’t tell you that some days you’re going to want to quit. That some days it becomes all too much and giving yourself that next shot becomes almost impossible. Looking back on it, this list just seems to scratch the surface.

For me, the first couple months after finding out that I was Type 1 were some of my darkest. I felt like I was in such a low place in my life, and it seemed like nothing was ever going to go right. I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling so sad and lost. I felt like people thought I was overreacting and that made me feel even more closed off. I can’t really explain how I got over it. I don’t think you really ever do. I think you just somehow find the strength to carry those feelings with you, and continue on with your life. You start doing things that make you happy again and you try your best to forget that you’re living with an incurable disease.

One day, it’ll all become routine. You’ll get in the habit and the only difference between you and everyone else is that you have to take a couple shots throughout the day. Everything will turn around and life will become ~normal~ again. You’ll get a job that you love and that you’re good at. Your family and friends will still love you and support you. You’re still going to be the same sassy, sarcastic person you were before because you didn’t let Type 1 Diabetes get the best of you. And that’s all that matters when it comes to fighting this disease.