Training – Can’t remember what week it is: Failure and T1D Management

So, I have been training….and spending most of my time on the bike.  Due to the fact that I have the Challenge Triathlon Relay next weekend.  I am the 112 mile bike leg.  Just so happens that I am going to complete this with two of my favorite training buddies:  my wife is going to kill it in the 2.4 mile swim, and my college team mate and good friend, Zach is going to drive it home with the marathon.

Over the last two months, I have tried something new.  I’ve been racing with the Action Wheels race team in criterium and road races.  It’s been a great group of folks to ride and race with and I’ve been having a ton of fun while hanging with them.

Here’s the interesting part….it’s another new athletic thing to tackle.  Train, recover, fuel, hydrate, and manage blood glucose levels to do this all effectively.

We’ve all seen the statements on FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter about failure.  These statements, in my world, are true….and false all at the same time.  A necessary evil, if you will.

If you have T1D and want to try something new, it means insulin level adjustments and fueling adjustments.  Not just for right now, but for the next 24 hours.  If you stack your workouts daily, or get to 2 a days for the multi-sport folks, then the off workout time gets tricky with balancing insulin levels needed now for recovery fuel but without over doing because you just had a hard workout.  Then, what if you want to go to sleep and your blood glucose level isn’t right?

I’ve heard people say that managing T1D is the only disease you manage where you deliver a drug (insulin), multiple times a day, that if you make a mistake, it could kill you.

THAT’s a strong statement.

There’s a reason I like cycling….well many, really, but it compares to T1D.  Racing a bicycle is all fluid motion.  Constant change in the group, with the dynamics on a razor thin margin just waiting to fall one direction or the other.  You have to be ready, at a moments notice, to chase a wheel or attack of the front, and then know when you need to sit in and recover.

Sometimes you feel like this (Giro Del Cielo Creiterium):


But other times, it’s smooth, and the plan comes together and your team comes home with a win (NJ State Criterium Championships).



Cycling is constant learning.  Pitting yourself against the other riders to perform your role for your team.  You miss a wheel here, gap a rider there, attack and stay out to long.  But these moments are banked away to be used again, so that the next time you face this situation, you adjust and make it work in your favor.

Management of T1D is the same way.  Built on experience.  Trial and error.  Failure.  Make the adjustment, try it out, make a mistake, make another adjustment and gain some success.  These incremental successes are where good T1D management occurs.  You have to be a grinder, constant learning, constant change.  If you’re a fan of cycling and know about Rule #5, it applies here.  Show me a family that lives with T1D, and they inherently know about Rule #5.

How does this work?  Have a good team.  You need to trust your physician.  Communicate your goals to your family.  Have a plan, and have a back up plan.  Test the plan.  Test it again.  Be gritty.  Don’t back down when the first failure occurs.  And it will, so have a plan. Adjust, and try it again.

Failure in T1D management is going to happen.  The plan doesn’t work, so it has failed.  But here’s the most important fact about failure:  it puts you one step closer to success.  Don’t use it as judgement, use it as data, because the data doesn’t place blame.  There shouldn’t be any.  The data will point you in the right direction, so follow the data.  Failure should not be an emotional response, it should be informational in nature.

So, next week is the culmination of many failure’s over the last two months.  I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t get frustrated, because I did.  But I’ve been training since winter for this event, so I am going to use every bit of failure as data points to make this weeks event a success.

This (Philadelphia Marathon 2010)

2010 Philadelphia Marathon

2010 Philadelphia Marathon

Plus this (healthy fueling, a constant for the last two years):

Kale Infused Recovery Smoothy

This (blood work 3-4 times per year):

Mike Blood Draw


and this (a lot of training):

Mile 23 Jersey

All went into the preparation that will equal the effort.  And that’s just for the 112 mile bike leg.  Wish us luck!  More to come next week after the race……

Trial Run (Bike, Run)

Well, the end result is a mixed bag, but nothing to be surprised about considering recent training.

13:52 – 2 mile
1:59.45 – 40.3 mile
1:26.56 – 8.8 mile

Total – 3:43.28

Enough to place 10/21 for the Duathlon and 1st in my age group.

My training supports the results. I was pretty strong in the 2 mile and on the bike. However, the 3rd leg just isn’t where it needs to be. I haven’t started training with brick workouts yet, so it’s no surprise.

Action Item #1: Time to start the brick workouts.

As far as my fueling plan? Just about spot on. 25 grams of simple carbs every 20 mins through the event and my blood glucose, stayed just at, or just under my target performance range of 130-200. I had set my base rate of insulin for my pump at my predetermined rate, so that I wouldn’t drop too low, but still have enough insulin on board to turn the quick carbs into fuel for my legs.

Action Item #2: Make adjustments to basal rate to keep from dropping below 130 during event.

Other things I learned or was reassured of today.
1. The endurance community is made up of some generally good people.
2. Maybe I should put regular soda in the bottle that’s easy to clean.
3. Might have to make adjustments to my shoes, as my feet were cramping off of the bike. However, this may subside if I just do some bricks.
4. Mighta….shoulda used a little more chamois cream…….
5. This was a test. It’s always a test. But generally, I give myself a B. need to work on bricks and longer endurance. However, everything else went real well and I was able to push through to the 2.5 hour mark.

The Important Stuff
There are a couple of main reasons for why I am able to do this. Lets recount the excuses others have made or I could make:

1. I am a retired hammer and discus thrower.
2. I have asthma
3. I’m 6’2″ and 205 lbs
4. I have Type 1 Diabetes

However, never one to believe in naysayers, I took on this challenge of turning the above 4 items into an endurance athlete. And I’ll tell you how it happened:

I was inspired as a child through a camping program for kids with Type 1 Diabetes. By participating in this program, I learned I wasn’t alone, I could do things other kids do, and that I was fortunate to have good access to healthcare.

I was enabled through advancements in care by the research driving by JDRF, the #1 funded of Type 1 Diabetes research over the last 40 years.

Because of these experiences, I can take on some previously perceived ridiculous ideas of athletic performance. And by doing so, I hope it inspires others, others with challenges and especially my children, who have the mixed bag of athletic genes that may lead them to living with Type 1 Diabetes.

For that, I thank all of my JDRF sponsors again, for all of the support you have continuously share. JDRf, the Type 1 Diabetes community, and I, could not do it without you.


Week #’s 13-14: Turning a Barge into a Race Boat

Week #’s 13-14, by the numbers:

20.2 miles run on the road. 6.6 miles on the treadmill. 133.8 miles on the bike, 3 time on the trainer, and 5,916 yards (2.5 hours) in the pool.

I had no two/day workout days. A lot of rest days.

Average Blood Glucose: 134

No significant pattern of low blood glucose.

No significant pattern of high blood glucose.

Comments about training for the past two weeks:

I feel like I have found a balance between training, work and family life.  I am not getting 2/days in, but I feel I am getting stronger, faster and am able to go longer.  It’s a good spot to be in, with that balance.

Barge Bustin’ – Let’s Make it a Race Boat:


I never thought that when my daughter started swimming a couple of years ago that I would be in the pool training for Ironman…..

For the last eight weeks, I have fought the water.  Every stroke was a struggle, every breath I had to fight for.

But then, this week, it was almost like I was a swimmer.  Not a meathead, or a sinking ship, but a swimmer.

I changed my basal rates two weeks ago and I’m not chasing low blood glucose levels.  It’s not perfect, but its getting close.  There’s been some bumps along the way, but its close.  My average blood glucose level was up, but not a lot.  However, I have not been chasing low blood glucose levels and I have had more energy.

You sink, or you swim.  It’s not always perfect, sometimes gasping for breathe, but sometimes, you get just enough that you can get into a rhythm.  And then one length turns into two.  The flip turn temporary slows you down, but back at it down the lane.

Managing Type 1 Diabetes is not a sprint.  It is not easy, but by taking one step at a time, one stroke at a time, managing gets easier and you get down the lane.

Mikes Miles Cedarvale Winery 5k for JDRF – 2014

Come run with us!  A fun, family event supported by local organizations in and around Logan Township, New Jersey.


A Special Thanks to our Sponsors!

Cedarvale Winery – Ed & Marsha Gaventa,

Haley’s Home Team – Keller Williams,

Cecil Creek Farm,

Sweetsboro Pastry Shoppe,

Caldwell Home Remodeling,

On Command Dog Training,

Paul’s Commodity Hauling,

D’Lauro & Rodgers,

Week #’s 9-12: Every 3 Month Anxiety…. and the “Bad” A1c

Week #’s 9-12, by the numbers:

51.3 miles run on the road. 15 miles on the treadmill. 86.8 miles on the bike, 0 time on the trainer, and 3:10 hours in the pool.

I had no two/day workout days. A lot of rest days.

Average Blood Glucose: 114

No significant pattern of low blood glucose.

No significant pattern of high blood glucose.

Comments about training for the past four weeks:

I spent my training over the past month getting in quality vs quantity.  My knee had hurt in January, from what appears to be either a quad weakness, arch drop in my foot on the bike, or both.  So, I spent the time getting in quality workouts, allowing for proper recovery, stretching and foam roller.

I have to admit, too, that my focus has dropped off.  Sore knee, “bad” A1c, and the variability in winter training…..all exposes any lack of focus/drive and impairs consistency.  Time to get it back, though.  Shooting for a 1/2 marathon PR at the April Fools 1/2 in April, and my first 1/2 distance tri in May.

I also started swimming……my only comment is that this barge needs some “reshaping”.

Every 3 Month Anxiety & The “Bad” A1c:

Every 3 months, those with T1D get blood work done to analyze for their “A1c”.  This is more formally known as the Hemaglobin A1c and is essentially a long-term blood glucose test.  This is what it looks like:

Mike Blood Draw


So, the results showed this:  Hemoglobin A1c: 7.2%

And I was livid!

Imagine my surprise when my last A1c was a 6.5% and my average numbers for the last 90 days show an average blood glucose of 118.

I had worked too hard for this!

Once the blood work is complete, then I, and those with T1D visit their Endocrine…..and this is where the anxiety starts.  “What’s my A1c?  How’s my endo going to react?  What changes is he/she going to make?”  These are all legitimate questions that run through our heads…..questions about how we are going to be judged…..

What we, the T1D community, don’t do, is use the numbers as tools.  I heard this this past weekend at a Riding on Insulin Camp, “No number is a bad number, we need the number to decide what to do.”

Endo’s, parents, and those with T1D, have a hard time remembering this…..however, it is important to keep the right mindset.  Making good choices without judging…..

So, what do my numbers tell me?  There are enough BG readings above the 140 level that have impacted my A1c.  The trick over the next 90 days will be to lower the number of outliers without increasing the amount of low blood glucose I experience.

It is only through the proper mindset that I will succeed in my triathlon goals.

The numbers are a tool to my success.

So, I’ll keep “tri-ing” and use the tools I have to improve.