Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why it's Important to Use Body Glide (or some equivalent)

Um, well, sorry about this image, but I just wanted to encourage everyone to use some kind of anti-neck chaffing material when wearing a wetsuit. I have a ring like this all the way around my neck (and the close ups are even grosser, and it kind of stings). I was wearing a surf wet suit on Saturday when I swam, but I didn't have a rash guard or anything on. It was a bit painful while swimming, and now, it's a little embarrassing and looks pretty strange. Learn something new all the time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Swimming at Aquatic Park, Running in the Presidio, and Riding in West County

Wow, the last two days have been pretty incredible! From Saturday morning's swim in the cold (55 degrees supposedly) in San Francisco Bay at Aquatic Park, to running to Baker Beach in the Presidio, to today's amazing ride from Santa Rosa to Bodega Bay; I feel so lucky!!

On Saturday morning I met Mark and Holly Pepper at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. We donned our wetsuits and headed down to swim in the 55 degree water. Probably over half the people in the bay were NOT wearing wetsuits. We all were. Mark and Holly had neoprene caps, and I had two swim caps, plus ear plugs for the first time. So, honestly the first 5 minutes were miserable. Putting my face in the water was so hard. It gave me that beating headache instantly. But somehow, we just kept going, and after 5 minutes or so, it was fine. We swam around the cones back in forth for about an hour. The current swimming towards the Golden Gate was pretty strong, and you'd get pushed towards one of the big boats there, when swimming between the buoy and the boat. And then, about 30 minutes into it, my neck started to just sting. Not from a jellyfish or anything, but just the sheer fact that the wetsuit was rubbing against it. It hurt! Next time, I guess body glide is a good idea; that and perhaps not using a surfing suit.

At any rate, we all made it thru, and felt great getting out. My blood sugar had been 96 before. I ate a clump of old cliff bar samples from the SV triathlon I had brought and 1 cliff shot. Post swimming it was 124. I at 1 shot block. Then, we set out to run thru the Presidio. It was beautiful. I think we went about 11 miles or so (although I'm not sure). But it was great!

Then, today, Blair and I went riding in west county. (http://www.mapmyride.com/user/3589126/anniebacon). It was epic. From the beginning, cool early afternoon, to the Coleman Valley Rd. climb, which was a little brutal in parts, to the amazing view from the ridge, down to the ocean. There was a point (see photo) that we began to feel the cool ocean breeze. We cruised down to highway one, went along it for 8 miles or so, then headed up Bodega Hwy to the Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone. Wow, it was amazing, and then we headed back to Santa Rosa. It was just over 60 miles, and beautiful. I had a low about 2 blocks from home, and couldn't make it without stopping and eating a bunch of dried fruit very quickly. Then, I ran a yellow/red light and wasn't thinking too well, but luckily made it, but learned that I really need to slow down at yellow/red lights.

It's been an amazing day. I love the connections with people that I'm making thru Triabetes. I'm so thankful for the friendships already forming. Blair and I have been talking a lot about what Triabetes means, and I've really been trying to articulate the ultimate goals. I keep coming back to: "getting people with diabetes to talk to each other, build community, and friendships". There is more to it than that, and I look forward to exploring and discovering and helping to be a part of it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Long Bike Rides

Last Saturday, June 19, I went on a fantastic ride with two friends. It was the farthest I'd ever biked, and it was one of those "I love that I live in what seems to be one of the most beautiful places in the world" moments. We took the precarious Calistoga Rosa, which was a bit, well actually super narrow, steep, and full of traffic. And then descended into Calistoga, where we biked along Silverado Trail. What a perfect road! Rolling hills, nice big shoulder, and just awesome.

We biked to Yountville, specifically the La Bouchon Bakery. Because just about every long bike ride I think needs to at least include one stop at a fantastic bakery. We were not disappointed. From the cookies, to the danishes, they are really really good. Unfortunately my blood sugar was 392. I took about 7 units, drank like 4 cups of water, ate a walnut roll with lots of butter (to slow down the absorption of the flour and carbs), and hoped it'd all level out in a few hours. It did.

We got back on the road, and road back up Silverado Trail, into Calistoga, then along a different route back to Santa Rosa. We'd been told there were better alternatives to Calistoga Road. So, we took Franz Valley Road. It was one of the most beautiful roads I've been on in a while. There were barely any cars, incredible views, shade, hills, but also flat parts; all in all amazing. Coming down Mark West Springs road was difficult due to a lot of traffic, and little shoulder for most of it.

It turns out we rode over 85 miles, and did 4973 feet of climbing! Except for my cleat falling off my shoe a couple of miles from home, it was great.

The next morning, I went for a 12 mile slowish run, and felt great. I kept wondering whether I was overconfident as I began to think about how maybe, just maybe, I could do the full vineman on July 31, rather than Barb's race, which is half. I felt really good, and kept increasing my speed. But I knew at some level that endorphins can probably produce overconfidence.

I thought about it for about 24 hours, and concluded (with the help of some good sound advice), that it probably would not be the best idea. But it was hard. I'm constantly fueled by a new challenge, and, based on how good I felt, I thought it was a good idea, and kept thinking I could make it happen. But apparently jumping the gun on an ironman without a solid base of training is not too smart.

So, I'm back on the plan of July 31 being Barb's race (1/2 iron distance), Aug. 29, 1/2 marathon, Oct. 10 full marathon, and the schedule as planned.

85 miles and 4973 feet of climbing!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ponderings on People with Diabetes

It's a real long shot, but it seems to me that there are certain characteristics that I've noticed in people with diabetes. But, I must couch saying that with the fact that, up until a few months ago, I have only been friends with two people with type 1 diabetes. One is a colleague, and one is a 14 year old. But, as I start to spend more time with other diabetics and get to be friends with them, I keep wondering if I can classify certain characteristics that pertain mostly to diabetes. Maybe it's an error to try to separate the natural personality traits from chronic illness induced ones. That's not a nice way to say it. But what I mean is that it seems like there are some similarities in people that I know with diabetes. First, they are planners, and calculators. Well that's pretty natural, considering that diabetes is such a game of calculation. From the effects of water, electrolytes, exercise (including intensity), stress, food, duration of the food, insulin, (Lantus, Humalog, Novolog, NPH, Regular, insulin pumps, insulin pens, whatever the delivery device), it all contributes to blood sugars.

What I'm not sure about is whether that habit of calculating for diabetes management permeates into other areas of our lives, so that we are planners and calculators when we would otherwise not be were it not for diabetes. I find myself thinking about not just the above mentioned, but also about how to improve efficiencies and inefficiencies in systems, how to get the best deal possible, etc.

I wonder if that's just my limited knowledge of people with diabetes. At any rate, it's very interesting to me, maybe just because of our human tendency to categorize.

As far as I know there are no scientific or even behavioral studies that have been done on this topic. And if you google 'sociology and anthropology of diabetes' not too much comes up that is directly related to the subject.

I guess trying to dissect the components of any human character is a tricky business. Whether from the perspective of diabetes induced behaviors or not, it's a relatively vague territory to be able to discern direct origins in. But it's fun to try.

I would venture to guess that having diabetes does make you a planner and a calculator. Not necessarily a type A across the board, but a maybe just a 'thinker'. Because you always have to be thinking about what's going on now and what's next. And perhaps the difference between someone without diabetes thinking that way and a diabetic is that a diabetic's physiology is actually dependent on successfully calculating and thinking.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day after the Triathlon

It's always kind of a let down the day after a triathlon. What next? And, I also wonder if I should feel sore. I don't at all, just a little tired of having high blood sugars. I'm not totally sure if blood sugars in general should be high after a short triathlon. On the one hand, one would think they'd be better, with all the exercise under the belt, but I also don't know how long the adrenaline lasts. Then, on the other hand, if there was any muscle trauma, maybe that makes the sugars go up. Who knows. But it's kind of a let down and it makes you physically feel bad when sugars are high. I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a little better. And, I'll get back on track with things.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Silicon Valley International Triathlon

Well, I'm totally exhausted, not so much from the triathlon, as from the sun, travel, and just sheer energy of it all. First off it was great to see and meet Holly and her husband, Kathleen and her friend, Bobby Joe (and her really sweet little girls, who got to hand out medals to the finishers at the end), Lucy, James, and others. On Saturday, Peter and I talked to a few people about diabetes, as we shared the shade of the bright orange Triabetes tent with others. Although there was not a ton of action, I think it was really good to have a presence there, as we are the official charity of the race. And, we heard Mark Allen talk. What a stud. He talked about his biggest competitor, Dave Scott, and their races to win the Ironman. For more info, click here. He also talked about his spiritual path and the Shaman work that he as done. I imagine that's a natural desire for a lot of professional athletes, to try to also work on their internal life. All in all it was really interesting - a bit disappointing that so few people were there to hear it. Among other things, he mentioned the importance of taking shorter strides in the run. And how Dave Scott was a vegetarian, and used to rinse his cottage cheese because it was too much fat.

Later, we had a really nice dinner at Sports Basement on Saturday night with James, Lucy, Kathleen, her friend, Bobby Joe, Yetti, Casey, Anne, Peter, and I. What an awesome set up Sports Basement has. They provide really good snacks and drinks, a meeting pace, and all meeting attendees get 20% off when they shop there. And they are super friendly. Like the one in SF, it was just an all out great opportunity for people to talk. Peter pointed that out to me, how it's really all about bringing diabetics together to talk. And so much can come out of that. From inspiration to practical knowledge and ideas, from companionship, to humor, understanding, and so much more.

Following the dinner, we all planned to meet up at 5:30 in the transition area the next morning for the triathlon. My blood sugars had been great during the till an evening 307 out of nowhere for me. I corrected, but still went to bed with it high, and then woke up with around 230 I think. I took 1 unit (1/2 of what I'd usually take to correct).

At that bright hour, Bobby Joe, Kathleen, James, and I were the four Triabetes people (we met up with Holly late) all together. For breakfast I ate a rice cake with peanut butter and agave and took another 1 unit. A little while later it was 286, then right before the swim, (and here is where I think I made a mistake), it was 223, so I thought, shoot, it's dropping, and I ate a little clif bar and 1/2 a banana.

Swim was organized by gender and age group. I started at 7:16. The water left a lot to be desired. It smelled like what I hope it was not; sewage. I had debated whether to wear a wetsuit, and wish that I didn't. Despite the increase buoyancy, it is hard to move, and I felt a little claustrophobic. It was hard to aim directly for the yellow buoys. At one point, I looked all around and didn't see any white caps, and couldn't figure out if they were all behind or in front of me. Eventually, I rounded the last buoy, and headed to the finish. My arms were tired though, and I felt kind of depleted for the first half of the run.

I ran up to the bike, checked sugar, 263, thought maybe it'd decrease on the bike, so I didn't eat anything or take any insulin, BUT I forgot to take some gu's with me. I pushed hard on the bike and felt really good. There was a headwind heading out, but after the turnaround, there was a nice little tail wind. I didn't have anything to track mileage, but by the end, I kept thinking, I should be there, I should be there.

Ended with the bike with the lovely blood sugar of 392. Thought about keytones, took two units of humalog and 1/2 of a gu and the rest in my pocket, since I hadn't eaten anything during the whole event. I felt sluggish at the start of the run. And it was hot. But then about 3 miles into it, I felt a lot better, and finished feeling pretty strong. Although my blood sugar was 353. My overall time was 2:48. Although official results aren't up yet, I believe my swim time was 30 or 31 minutes. And my bike was 1:21 and run was exactly 8 minute miles (49:36). Transitions were like 3 and a half minutes.

All in all it was an excellent time. I'm really looking forward to the next events. Holly, Bobby Joe, James, and friends will plan some rides sometime in the Marin/Sonoma area soon, and hopefully get the dawn phenom events going as well in that SF area too.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diabetes and Community

For most of my life, I've believed that community is key. It's important not only for us to grow, challenge ourselves, take care of one another, but also to learn new things, have accountability, and face challenges together. I've grown up always as a part of an incredible group of people. From my beginnings in Maine, where I was born, right on Frenchman's Bay, where, when my brothers and I were younger we used to run to the neighbors house to play cards, get a piece of candy, learn about the stock market from Kal and Phyllis, to my best friend Beth's house, where we'd chase bees and step on them with our bare feet, swim in the bay (we would spend hours in the 57 or so degree water), and lay in the sun all day, I've always felt very blessed.

From Maine, we moved to California when I was 5, but used to drive back to Maine every summer in our orange 1972 volkswagon van. it only went about 45 (and that was on the downhill), well, maybe 55 every once in a while. But we found things to amuse ourselves. We'd play the alphabet game, clean the van (because I was afraid of bears), play bingo, tease our dog, try to get him to stop drooling on us as we drove across the Nevada desert with no air conditioning, fight over who got to sit in front, and more.

But in California also, we were a part of a community. We grew up at Wellspring Renewal Center in Philo, California. Where, we lived in a very small house (about 600 square feet I think for the 5 of us), with kerosene lanterns (later solar electricity, river generated electricity, and eventually when my 10 year old older brother was frustrated enough to dig an entire trench, 'real' electricity), no hot water, no indoor toilet, a huge garden that we mostly ate out of, but never did I not feel totally supported, and a part of a community. Granted, I did every once in a while wish for TV, donuts, and cheetos, but oh well. And people would give us these things, just as they also supported us with our interests, beliefs, activities, and lives.

Then, when I was 12, and was diagnosed with diabetes, it was also a community of friends, family, and others who were there. I still have a huge poster that all of my seventh grade classmates (and teachers) put together for me and sent to me in the hospital. Maybe I should recycle that, but it meant so much to me. And I remember, friends of ours sent a clown to entertain me. And, people visited.

For the last 20 plus years, while I've been involved in other communities (in Central America, locally in my neighborhood, in Maine still, my family, and others), I haven't focused on seeking out and being involved in the diabetes community.

And, I'm so glad that I have. I am touched by how kind everyone has been. Open, accepting, kind, and just so willing to listen and help one another. Whether it's anticipating how to best treat highs in the morning, or talking about how much it can such to not be able to convince your doctor that you are in bad enough control that you need a continuous glucose monitoring system, it's been a totally unexpected and wonderful surprise for me.

I'm really looking forward to continuing this part of my life, and connections that I'm making with others, who are not just part of my diabetes community, but becoming part of my life as well.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Always something new to learn

Every time I visit my doctor, I hope that he has some jewel of knowledge about diabetes that will really help me improve my blood sugars. Sometimes I'm disappointed. But I wasn't on Thursday. I was trying to figure out why I'm having so many highs in the morning, and he suspected that I'm having lows that I'm not aware of during the night. I scoffed somewhat, as by this time (with over 20 years of diabetes), I am overconfident that if I had a low at night, I'd wake up. But he informed me that there are 6 hormones that cause your blood sugar to go up: cortisol, epinephrine, glucagon, and I don't know about the other 3). At any rate, all 6 of this cause blood sugar rises, and only 1 hormone (insulin) causes it to drop. That's helpful for me. Make sense to think in those terms.

So, I'm going to test for more night time lows. In the meantime, I'll explore other things....
I have so many things that I want to write about, and now, when it's time and I'm actually writing, I find myself sounding trite, somewhat self-absorbed, and uninteresting. So, I'm working on the rest of the stories. I think that I'll use this blog to try to share a little more about my life beyond diabetes. Now, where to start... I'll give it some thought, and come up with more soon.