Yesterday was my first official day of training. As you can see from my training schedule, it was a three mile run. Thanks to "Starships" by Nicki Minaj- I was hyped up enough to finish it relatively fast!
I began writing in my food journal again, so that I can keep better track of the amount of carbohydrates I am eating so that I can better control my insulin. I wear an insulin pump, which directly reads my sugars after I test them. After I input the carbohydrate amount, the pump administers the correct amount of insulin I need to maintain a healthy range. When I don’t pay attention to writing down what I eat, I tend to take in more calories (and carbs) than I should which results in higher sugars. I know immediately when this happens because I start to feel very sluggish and I get a pounding headache. My younger brother once asked me what this feels like and I believe I described it best as “sea sick”. When you’re training for a marathon you need all the energy you can muster up and feeling sick and tired is a sure way to give into excuses of why you can’t run. You can also make up all the excuses in the world for why you don’t have time to write down what you eat. Well, what is more important than your health? Without that, responding one minute faster to an email surely wouldn’t matter, now would it? I am speaking from experience, from someone who has consistently put health last on their list. So get yourself a notebook and begin to write down; the time, the food you’ve eaten and the portions, the carbohydrate count, and if you are insulin dependent- the units you administered. This will help you stay focused on sticking to your diet plan and measuring your insulin accurately.
If you are having a difficult time estimating the amount of calories and carbohydrates you are eating, I suggest you download the free “Calorie King” app. This app gives you counts from popular restaurants, food brands and more. It will give you all the nutritional facts you are looking for in order to make smart, healthy decisions. For fun, look for some of your favorite dishes and notice their calorie counts. It may be quite eye opening. I know it was for me!
I began running when I was twelve. I would watch my sisters braid swinging back and forth and front of me, and I would concentrate on my breathing. I would follow her through the woodsy trails of Westlake, Ohio for miles upon miles until we hit the end of the trail. I began to love the rhythm and the challenge. It was, and still is, an incredible feeling of freedom. I didn’t need anything at all; just the air in my lungs and the motivation to keep quickening my stride. Later in life, I would take on marathon running and would feel an overwhelming pride when finishing 26.2 miles in various cities around the U.S.
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in adulthood, it was of no surprise to me. I had all of the symptoms a person should have when they are struggling with outrageously high sugars. I couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours. I was drinking water constantly and always feeling the panic of extreme thirst. I never felt “well” and had constant headaches. When I first tested my sugar in 2011, it was at 485. I would later learn that my A1C was at a 15% (off the charts, literally). Even though I was not surprised by my diagnosis, I was not prepared for the lifestyle change. Being insulin dependent was a challenge. I was having a difficult time not getting “lows” and feeling faint after workouts. I didn’t feel like I had the time, between work and graduate school, to keep a food journal. I was feeling overwhelmed, and found myself in the E.R with drastically low sugars a few times. I didn’t know how to continue running competitively while still maintaining control of my diabetes. I stopped running. I stopped recognizing myself.
Noticing my struggle, my Mom had me meet with Mary Ellen Grady, a nurse specializing in diabetic instruction at the Cleveland Clinic. After learning about me and having many conversations with me about my life goals, Mary Ellen began to realize I had a lot to overcome. We started with small diet goals. She gave me a chart to show me how many carbohydrates I was to eat depending on the amount of time I was prepared to exercise and what my sugar was at that time. I eventually began to use an insulin pump. It was strange to constantly be attached to something, and I struggled with the feeling that I had lost some of my freedom. However, the pump allowed me to control my sugar much better than I had been able to on shots. I realized, I had in fact gained more freedom. At our last instruction class, Mary Ellen gave me an article about a man who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in adult hood and is now a strong competitor in marathons. I felt it deep inside my heart that I needed to begin this journey as well.
In these next fourteen weeks, I will be sharing this journey with you and on October 7th, 2012 I will be running the Findlay, OH Red, White and Blue 26.2 Marathon. This page is meant to support any athlete, aspiring marathon runner, family member or friend of a person with Type 1 Diabetes. This page will provide you with advice and inspiration to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. More importantly, this page will help you, and me, to remember that YOU control how you choose to live your life. You and I can overcome any challenge and accomplish great things.