Yesterday, I completed/competed in my first triathlon. It was a very rainy morning. When I woke up, it was pouring outside. By the time we got to the course at 5:45AM, the rain had subsided temporarily. While I was waiting in line to begin the swim portion of the race, the rain started back up and was fairly heavy at times. By the time I got on my bike, the rain decided to temporarily cooperate and it downgraded to a drizzle, where it stayed until I was done with my race, when it decided to downpour again.
It wasn’t a beautiful day for a race, however, the rain managed to distract me some from my nerves about my blood sugar. Instead of stressing about how high I was, I was focused on if the rain was going to stop so I could bike ride safely without being pelted by rain drops.
I woke up at 5AM and my blood sugar was 169. 169 is exactly where I wanted to start my race. It was high enough that if I dropped 70-80 points, I still wouldn’t be too low but not too high where I had to worry about those darn ketones slowing me down. However, much like the weather that day, my blood sugar was not perfect. I took advice from others and went ahead and ate my normal breakfast, two waffles and a string cheese=19 carbs. For some reason, I always seem to have trouble with my post-breakfast blood sugar, often rising over 100 points. I was worried about eating breakfast for this exact reason, but I also wanted to have some energy for the race so I ate breakfast as usual.
At 6:45AM, after I had set up my transition area, I headed over to the pool area to get ready for the race to start beginning with the swim portion and I tested my blood sugar to see how my breakfast bolus was doing. Ugh-I was 252 at this point, not even close to where I wanted to be. I chugged some water to help flush out any possible ketones and I bolused for the high. My bolus wizard told me I had 1.7 units of active insulin and I needed 3.6 for a correction, which would net to 1.9. However, I did not want to have my blood sugar go all the way down to the range my bolus wizard wanted me to be, so I only bolused 0.7 units of insulin.
An hour later, around 7:45AM, I was about 20 people away from starting my race (the starting time was done on each racer’s swim time and since I am a slower swimmer, I was later to go) and I tested again. This time my blood sugar was 244! I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline pumping or my insulin just wasn’t doing its job, but I was again disappointed in my number because I did not want to start that high. However, I didn’t bolus for the high this time.
I completed the swim and ran to my transition area, where I tested again (around 8:15AM-30 minutes after my last test). I was 214 this time. OK, I was starting to come down so that was good. I began the bike part of the race and when I finished I tested again and I was 175-looking better! So I started the run and when I finished the run and the race, my blood sugar had come down to 151. I was happy with this ending number because it meant I didn’t get too low, although I wouldn’t have minded ending at 100 but I’ll take it.
While the weather and my blood sugar didn’t really behave themselves, I will say I am happy with how I did on the race itself. I actually finished the race, I ran the entire 5k, and I finished in under 2 hours!!
Swim time (400M): 13:02
Transition 1: 3:49
Bike time (11.4 miles): 56:22
Transition 2: 1:24
Run time (5k): 39:02
Total time: 1:53:39
I was not too happy with my swim time. When I was practicing, I had timed myself doing under 12 minutes. However, when I got in the pool, I was pretty overwhelmed. I was worrying too much about going slow so when I saw someone getting close to me, I would stop at the end of the pool and let them pass. This is proper race etiquette but I think next time, instead of worrying about the person behind me, I will keep going until I feel someone tap my toes, which is the sign to let them pass you. It was a much different feeling for me between swimming fast in my neighborhood pool and swimming fast for the race with swimmers coming up behind me. I think the swim part was my least favorite. I wish I had gone faster. I was hoping to swim freestyle most of the way and if I did that I think I could have finished in about 10 minutes but instead I did one lap of freestyle and switched to breast stroke for the remainder of the time.
The first transition didn’t go so smooth. When I got out of the pool, I was a little disoriented and overwhelmed by the swim. I started to walk/run over to where my husband was holding my insulin pump and test kit (USAT refs gave me a special privilege to get my medical devices from an outside source, getting outside assistance is not allowed). After picking up my pump and test kit I went over to my transition area and tested my blood sugar, put on my bike/running clothes (I didn’t have a tri suit), put on my shoes, socks, helmet and watch and ran with my bike out of the transition area. I think it took me so long because I wasn’t running like I should have been when I got out of the pool. Testing my blood sugar also added time as well as not having a tri suit. I’m pretty sure putting on my running clothes added about a minute to two minutes because I was also drying myself off so they would go on OK.
The bike ride was my favorite part of the race. I still wasn’t happy about the hills but there were so many people cheering the bikers on that it was a pretty fun time. I think a few times I even forgot I was competing and I was just enjoying the ride. It also helped that the rain had subsided by that point. I was a little unfocused at first on the bike because I was trying to do my temp basal on my insulin pump, something I hadn’t practiced while on the bike. I had also bought a new water bottle and while I was riding, I tried to get some water out of it and instead pushed a big cloud of air in my throat followed by a big gust of water that almost drowned me. In addition, the rain made my sunglasses (prescription) very hard to see out of. They were getting foggy and wet. It was even worse during the run portion. I was pretty blind throughout most of the race. After I got over those issues though, it was fairly smooth sailing. I finished in 56 minutes which is about what I did when I did the practice ride so I was happy with that time.
The second transition went pretty well. I mounted my bike, then got my test kit, tested, put on my race belt with bib number and took off. My second transition went way better than my first.
Finally, the run went better than expected as well. I’m definitely not going to win any 5k races with my time, but my fastest 5k time has been 36 minutes so finishing 3 minutes behind that at 39 minutes after biking and swimming made me pretty happy. I also ran the entire time which took a lot of mental effort-I was ready to say screw it and walk some of the way. There was a big hill at the end and I was ready to give up but then I had my small cheer group (hubby, step-dad, and sis’s bf) cheering me on, which helped me to finish strong.
Overall, my first triathlon was a lot of fun. My diabetes didn’t slow me down too much. I was happy my blood sugar didn’t get low, although I wouldn’t have minded it being a little lower than it was. I was also glad that I was given special permission to have my husband hold my insulin pump because that was my biggest worry (the transition area closed at 6:45AM, but I didn’t finish the swim until 8:20AM so that would have been too long to be without my insulin pump). I’m contemplating doing another triathlon and if I do, I will definitely invest in a tri-suit and work to improve my swim time.