Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Final Prep and pulling the kit together

You may, or may not be interested in my kit list and plan for the Yomp, but I’m going to write it anyway.  You can at least get an idea of my (possibly deluded or twisted) thinking pattern.

Starting with the minimum kit, this is an official fell race, so that means official fell race kit.  In practice, that means that regardless of weather conditions on the day, I’m supposed to carry a full set of waterproofs, a local map (specified in the entry conditions), a whistle, compass, emergency food and suitable additional clothing, and the organisers can stop you any time out on the course if they like, to inspect your kit.  Last year, they cost one guy a PB as he’d just dibbed his timing chip at the start and they asked to look in his bag.   Overall weight of that stuff, bugger all.

So what else will I carry? Food yes, water no.  This race is great in that navigation is super easy, you follow a line of poles stuck in the ground no more than 50 yards apart; why a map is required is beyond me.  The other thing they do is have water stations every 3-5km or so, so all I’ll carry in that respect is one 500ml bottle of concentrated Nuun for electrolytes, maybe 3 tabs in that one bottle, to sip as I go in addition to water.

The key thing behind the overall strategy is the balance between the water stations, the nutrition and the blood testing.  Normally I test every 5km on the longer runs, but on this occasion I will vary it somewhat for a number of reasons
  • The frequent water stops are a good point to test, eat, drink
  • There is a lot of uphill in this race, which means a lot of walking; why slow to a walk to test in addition to that?
  • I have no idea how this race will affect me this time round with the mix of terrain and paces
So the plan in that case will be
  • Test every 5km, unless
  • There is an uphill section in view in which case I’ll wait and test when I’m walking anyway, unless
  • There is a water station in view, then I’ll test there and eat and drink in one go
The nutrition plan
  • 1 x 500ml bottle of nuun for electrolytes, concentrated, 3 tabs in the bottle, carrying some extras to refill if necessary
  • Water at the water stations for hydration
  • Allow 50g carb per hour, working on 4.5 hrs with a bit extra.  Made up of gels at 20 or 30g carb each and NAKD bars at 20g per small one, 35g per large one.  Using NAKD bars rather than plain dates as they are better packaged for a shorter race, also contain some protein in the form of nuts or soya.  I may also carry some 9-bars, but they tend to work out too low GI and energy density to help on the run for me, but maybe good for recovery and later race where I’m more dependent on fat reserves. 
  • Test as above, eat to the meter, eat every test unless the BG reading is above 7.0, typically 20-30g carbs each time.  

Luckily I have a support crew for this race in the shape of my parents, who live in the area, so no need to carry everything.  The plan is to carry half plus a reserve of my calories, and they will meet me at the road accessible mid way point with a goodie bag.

Teh Hi-5 is for immediate post race recovery when my body will want to be sucking in as many carbs as possible, the malt loaf and biscuits are for on the way home to manage the post race drop.

Other kit starting at the bottom;
  • Shoes – Inov-8 X-Talon 180as the weather in the week leading up to the race is pretty much awful, and given that one area you run through is called the Hags, that gives an idea of the general bogginess.  Other shoes just won’t cut it for the grip levels.
  • Socks – Injinji, trail weight.  Toes will be taped for blister prevention before.  Last year my feet were wet for about 34 of 37km.  Pre taping means not carrying tape in my pack.  I’ll also have my gaiters, but they are more for preventing stuff going in the top.  They have no waterproofing function whatsoever, and the shoes are an open mesh.
  • Legs - 2XU calf compression sleeves really make a difference in preventing fatigue and improving recovery. If I’d had time I could have run again on Monday after wearing those last Sunday for 34km. I’ll also have my new Skins compression shorts, and if I can convince myself I’m not too self-conscious at having my bollocks on display, that will be all, but my shirt should hide it all.  Maybe a pair of running shorts over the top.
  • Vest – advertising JDRF, the whole point of doing it, although the logos may get hidden, so I’ll probably wear a normal comfy Salomon shirt I favour and do something funky with the vest as a banner
  • My trusty old Texas Longhorns ball cap, to keep both the sun and the rain off.  I can’t run in shades, I find they bounce around too much and when you have a prescription that throws things off.
  • The Camelback – bladder removed as unnecessary due to the water stops.  Used to carry map Nuun bottle, carb supplies, BG tester, waterproofs etc.  I’ll have to weigh it before I go.

 Drug strategy
  • Insulin – 0.5 unit bolus with a big breakfast, 1 unit basal
  • Aspirin or Ibuprofen x 2 as a preventative
  • Maybe a loperamide pill – there’s nowhere to go out there.
From that point on, when the hooter goes, it’s all down to training and a bit of luck on the day and a PMA.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Last Long Run, Race Ready, Two weeks to Plan for the Yomp and get the Legs Ready

Sunday just gone saw the last long run of this training phase before The Yomp on the 1st June.  Ironically, with all my training on the flat, the Yomp is a Cumbrian fell race with 4 big peaks of >500m each and about 1200-1300m (4000ft) of climb involved.  Last year I sort of fell (no pun intended) into it as a bit of fun and a tester before the main race of Grimsthorpe at the beginning of August. 

This year it’s a bit different; I see this as the effective anniversary of my diagnosis and I wasn’t to make a point that I can go quicker as a well controlled diabetic than I could as an undiagnosed, ketotic diabetic likely to keel over any moment.  That however is going to be a tough demonstration.  

Last year I had agonising calf cramps from about 15miles of the 23mile race distance, a combination of electrolyte imbalance, high sugars (22mmol/l vs a normal 5-6) and high levels of ketones, all of which went towards a state of severe dehydration and reduced efficiency of fuel usage however much I stuffed in my face.

This year I hope it will be different, and I hope that I am on top of the things that I can control.  Sunday was a good lesson in that, and a bit of a wake-up call about what I need to control, and how to do that for success.  In East Anglia, particularly north Cambridgeshire, Sunday dawned bright and was only ever getting hot.  So, all insulin and carb management considerations aside (I’ll cover those later) fluids were my main consideration.  It was going to be hot, it was going to be sunny and my planned route mainly on farm tracks and a bit of tarmac had very little shade apart from my Texas Longhorns baseball cap.  The camelback was therefore loaded up with the full 2l and the right dosage of Nuun this time.

The plan was a nice, steady 35km or so (race distance is 37) about as much as I think necessary two weeks out.

So let’s talk about the insulin sensitivity considerations.  As usual for a long run of this type, morning basal was taken from 3.5 to 1.0 – I’ve discussed taking this down even further with my DSN, but we both felt this was risking problems later in the day.  The one I think may take some further playing though is the bolus.  Again I took this down from 3 units to 0.5, a ratio of 60g/unit, extreme to the max.  I’m going to discuss going with zero bolus for Grimsthorpe which I estimate will take me 6.5-7 hours. 

I thought I’d over armed myself as usual with carbs, plus my back up extra emergency quick carbs.  I had 2 x 20g carb gels, 1 x 30g carb gel, 2 x small date and nut bars, 100g of dates (60g carbs), a 9-bar with 20g gels.  All in all about 180-190g, so enough for a good 3 hours plus at 40-50g per hour.

So how did it go down? Well, to start with, I dispensed with the pre-run malt loaf this time as that was clearly too low a GI to get the BG up immediately pre-run to allow for that cliff dive in the first 5km.

The porridge with extra dates had me at just 11.3 30 mins before the off, and fallen back to 10.0 when ready to set out.  The extra bolus this time was a date and nut bar.  The resulting 5km test was 4.1, about as good as it’s been at that point.  This is where the 30g carb gel comes in as expected carbs needed for the next 5km plus a bit more for good measure.  After that I was taking in between 20 and 30g carbs every 5km (25-28 minutes). Everything I had got eaten, except the emergency reserves.  The blood glucose after the first test stayed happily between 4.8 and 5.8, maybe a little on the low side, but for me and running a pretty decent record.

That’s the diabetes dealt with, what about the run?  It was tough.  The first 25km were good, easy HR, easy pace varying a bit with the terrain.  It’s all flat, but some of the tracks are so rutted you need to slow down to avoid turning an ankle or worse.  From 25-30km though, it all came off the rails a bit. Mentally and physically it got tough, it was hot, the track was hard work – sundried, rutted to hell, and the sun was beating down on me, and I was thirsty.  That’s a bad sign, the trick with endurance racing is not to drink to your thirst, that’s far too late.  Early, regular drinking is the key, which I had been doing but not enough, obviously.  I upped my slurp rate, and then a breeze sprang up as well to cool me a bit, but with the double edged sword that I was now running into it, so the pace slowed.  

I ended up at 34km, with a 500m cool down walk back to the house. Definitely dehydrated; dark yellow urine about the colour of apple juice; lost 2kg weight (some of which will be glycogen related) and over half a litre left in the camelback.  My urine was not back to the right colour until I’d had another 1.5 litre of fluid and 2 hours.

Remember the trick after the workout, reduced bolus to avoid that later hypo.  Lunch had another 50g carbs with a 1U lunchtime bolus, and a maximum post meal reading of 7.5

 Sunday 18th May
-120min- 5.6, 50g carbs, 0.5 QA, 1.0Ba, porridge with dates and berries
-30min - 11.3, 0 carbs
Start – 10.0, 10g carbs
5km - 4.1, 30g carbs, 26:41.2, 05:20/km,  AHR139, MHR150
10km - 5.5, 30g carbs, 27:48.6, 05:34/km, AHR144, MHR 152
15km - 5.4, 20g carbs, 28:03.6, 05:37/km, AHR 145, MHR 154
20km - 5.8, 30g carbs, 28:44.1, 05:45/km, AHR 147, MHR 152
25km - 5.4, 20g carbs, 28:28.5, 05:42/km, AHR 146, MHR 152
30km - 4.8, 30g carbs, 28:57.2, 05:47/km, AHR 147, MHR 152
34km - 4.8, 17g carbs, 24:14.1, 06:03/km, AHR 146, MHR 152
+30min - 6.9, 50g carbs, 1U QA
+60min - 7.5
+90min - 6.2

Next instalment; a new problem, chafing; the kit and the nutrition for the race; planning the testing and eating strategy; getting the legs ready; the taper

I’ve also been asked to write a short article for a Natural Running Centre publication, on how I manage running and T1D, very exciting.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

So close, you can almost taste it, and a pump is chosen

So, the next race is now pretty close, 23 miles around the hills of Cumbria with about 4000ft of elevation thrown in if I remember correctly from last year.   Last year’s time was 4h 25 which I fully intend to beat, and which has been the aim of the training so far this year, with a mix of endurance to make sure I can go the distance and speedwork for strong legs on the climbs and at the finish.

So far it’s going well.  I’ve been up to 20 miles as a long run in just under three hours, an average pace including the time to eat, drink and do BG tests was 5:33 per km, compared with last year’s similar distance at average 5:55 with no  BG testing (pre diagnosis). In fact the race on 1st June will be, near as dammit, my diabetaversary.  

Anyway, this year I’m feeling strong in my legs, no injuries, no niggles, feet good and at the end of my last 32km run I felt like I could easily carry on for the next 5km to do the Yomp distance.  Of course in the race itself, there’s a lot more walking involved up some of the hills which simply cannot be run. 

This week as also been a busy one, with my wife off to Sweden on Tuesday, back on Sunday and a busy timetable for me as well.  I’ve had the week off work a) to use up excess holiday I was owed and b) to look after the kids and get some quality training time in.  So far this week it’s been;
Sunday – 6 hours walking around Duxford air museum with the kids
Monday – 3 hour/32km run
Tuesday – only about 20km ridden, to/from railway stations for an insulin pump selection day at Addenbrookes
Wednesday – another 20km run in under 2 hours, an afternoon of gardening.  The surprise with this one is that the pace was only 3secs/km slower than Monday on tired legs.
Thursday – 2 hours/47km on the mountain bike in the pouring rain, some more gardening, an hour’s yoga
Friday – none – expected pissing rain which never materialised and lost morning childcare, so spent 4 hours in the garden instead
Saturday – kids off school so no chance
Sunday – may do something like a 10km row if I wake early enough

All in all about 8 and a half hours this week, which is actually a peak for me, outside of one or two race weeks for endurance events. It's also 52km on my feet, only 10km shorter than the Grim 40.   With the next race now just 3 weeks away, the last long run of 30-35km will be next Sunday (18th May) giving me two weeks of taper before the big event, and time to plan the nutrition and testing strategy in more detail.  

The main work in the garden this week has been rearranging a couple of raised beds, which has involved moving and cutting some sleepers, which is not an easy job just with a handsaw, but I got there in the end.  To do this I also needed to move some  gravel, some top soil and dig up and replant a few trees and pot one or two more into bonsai pots.  Some of the veggies are also getting big enough to go out into their final positions.  I'll post some bonsai shots next time.

So, Duxford last weekend was  a good day out, just me and the kids and a picnic.  Schedule was all screwed up as usual with published events either not happening, or at a different time.  There was also a very good classic car rally with everything from 1930’s Roll’s Royce’s to E-types and the more modern. The main reason for choosing Sunday was to let Serena have a ride on a tank at the land warfare exhibit; only problem was the tank.  She was all lined up ready to go, helmet and goggles on, and then the tank broke down in clouds of smoke with the previous bunch of kids on board.   Overall though a very good day was had by all, Rohan got to run around lots, Serena got to sit in a very old car and have a ride in a flight simulator, and I got to see my favourite car, the E-type and favourite plane, the Spitfire in action.

A few photos below

Even though we arrived 15 minutes before opening, there was a queue - not impressed

 first ride in a classic Bentley

 My favourite, fixed head E-type, and in British Racing Green as well
 I think Serena's decided this is her favourite aeroplane
Talk about a photo-bomb, getting our selfie invaded by an SR 71
Getting ready for later
One that Grandad used to work on, the VC10

Unfortunately, this is the closest Serena got to the tank

Pump choice, I’ve gone with the latest one to market, a cross between the tethered/tubed pumps and the patch pumps, being removable, but essentially a detachable patch pump with a very short length of tubing, and all controlled from a remote control type handset.  It’s called the CellNovo, http://www.cellnovo.com/ .  With the logistics involved and my scheduling, I’ll probably be getting it in early October, a bit later than I’d hoped, but realistic I think, and not too disruptive to the racing season, with just a 10km coming later.  The real hope is that I can now get away from the need to constantly eat to avoid mid-exercise and post exercise hypos.  Tuesday, for example after Monday’s long run I was bumping along below 5.0 most of the day, needing a constant top up of the carbs which could be avoided by setting a lower basal rate that day in response.  With just quick acting insulin on board, I’m hoping there’ll be much more flexibility and a faster response time to changes; and the ability to stop insulin going in when I start going low, rather than needing to eat to cover the excess.  I really want to get back to my fat burning mode again.    

Well, that’s it again, another 500 plus words and a few piccies this time to boot.