Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid Swim

3am my alarm goes off and I snooze it for about 10min before waking up to the biggest day of my life. Ironman Lake Placid. I chose to wake up early so that I could eat my breakfast and give a normal insulin dose without having any insulin on board by race start. Upon waking my BS was 144. Perfect. It goes great with my small breakfast of Banana, 1 slice of bread with PB and 1 1/2c of coffee with cream. Total bolus was 4.50units (.50 for BS correction). I was feeling rested despite only getting 5hrs of sleep; I knew all week I had made my 8hr per night sleeps so I WAS rested. I felt very emotional and was starting to get nervous when we were all getting ready to leave. I couldn’t relax and my heart rate was at 100bpm, I felt like I couldn’t catch a deep breath. Yes, I was FREAKING out. I couldn’t quite grasp that this day had finally come after 2 years of planning. After a hug and a short cry with my dear friend Danni we were off to the race!
First thing was to drop our special needs bags off at their designated spots, then double checking everything was in my bike/run bags before continuing on to where our bikes were racked. It was very early so we didn’t have to worry about the crowds just yet. After pumping my tires, putting some lube on Starlite’s chain and wiping her down (it had poured the night before) I was good to go get body marked. I felt a little off with my BS so I checked and I was 75. That’s a very low number and I felt like I was still dropping. I was grateful I remembered to pack an extra GU just in case. As we were leaving the bike area the line of athletes entering the arena was very long. Again I was happy I got there early to alleviate the stress. I was happy to see my two teammates Miriam and Len and wish them luck as they were entering the arena. I felt so cool getting body marked. It’s a really nice feeling and it was simply COOL to have my race number written on my arms and legs and my age on the back of my calves. Off to the swim start!

heading over to change into wetsuit IMLP
 As Danni and I were heading to the swim start and looking for our other friends I wasn’t feeling good so I checked again and I was now 65 at 6am. I had to eat that GU. I didn’t understand why I was low when I gave the correct amount of insulin for my small meal a few hours earlier. It was frustrating to say the least; I just needed to bring it up. We were able to talk to a TT1 (Team Type 1) athlete for a few minutes and then go hang out with my other group of friends who were racing. I was very happy to be able to see my old bike coach and good friend Danny as he was walking with his athletes. He gave me a hug and told me how proud he was of me. It’s a comforting feeling to have your coach give you a hug even if he’s no longer coaching you. When you think about it, any of your coaches throughout your life will ALWAYS be your coach. Doesn’t matter where you are or who your current coach is. I was ok mentally at this point. I mean THIS WAS IT! Put on our wetsuit, check my BS one more time, set pump to 50% temp basal and head to the water at 6:45am. My final BS before getting in the water was 145. Perfect! I had another GU before I got in the water. This was my original plan, 1 GU before I start and 1 at the 1.2-mile mark. I’ve raced this way before and trained this way. It should work.
All smiles
Water temp was 77 degrees and wetsuit optional, of course I was wearing mine, I needed any help I could get! There were about 2500 athletes in the water. My friends and I gave each other one final group hug and kiss in the water before we swam to the middle of the start. It was game time and I was focused. I was here in the water, about to embark on the hardest physical challenge of my life. I was ready.

Gun goes off and it’s pure chaos. Swimmers were swimming over your legs, arms were getting tangled, you were getting elbowed, kicked, I just tried to keep going forward, stroke, kick, sight, repeat. A couple of times I thought I’d be at the bottom of the lake because I was getting sucked under. My goggles got knocked off my face and one of my earplugs got loose but I corrected it all. All I could think was “geez are ALL IM swims like this?!” I decided I wanted to get to the line. I knew if I got to the yellow cable that runs across the lake I’d be ok. It’s a security blanket. So I started swimming to my extreme left, it was crazy but I made it to the cable about halfway before the turn point. There were a lot of swimmers on the line but I could keep my own and I didn’t feel as though it were so bad. I felt comfortable in the water, and could definitely feel the draft. As you get closer to shore you could hear the cheers and Mike Reilly announcing us coming out of the water. It was awesome, I felt good coming out of the water but decided to check my BS. As soon as I came out of the water I sucked down a GU and checked my BS. Making this stop cost me time, almost 2min. I had gotten out of the water at about 40min and by the time I got back in it was 42min. BS was high. I was 240. Shit. WHY didn’t I wait to have that GU??!! Run back in the water and I go straight for the line. I did not pick my head back up until I was coming out of the water again. I was hoping my BS had come down. I was also hoping I had a negative split but wasn’t sure. Best of all I was done with the 1st leg of the race. WHOOOOOHOOOO! Yes these were things that were running through my head. I got to see my friends and teammates cheering for me on the sidelines as I was running to T1. I felt great. The crowds were amazing!

Final swim time: 2.4 miles 1:25:07 2:14/100m


3:30am BS 144
Breakfast: banana, 1 slice of bread with PB, coffee with cream
4.50units of insulin (.50 for BS correction)

3 GU’s
1 @ 6am for low BS of 65
1 right before start at 6:45am I also started my temp basal of 50% reduction at 6:30am
1 @ 1.2mi mark

Ironman Lake Placid Bike

After running through the swim chute and the cheering crowds I made it to my bike bag and headed to the women’s changing tent where a wonderful volunteer helped me with everything. I checked my BS first. 308. Damn. I finish dressing and cancel the temp basal I had going for the swim so during the ride I’m at normal basal. I punch my combo bolus into my pump for the foods I was going to eat on the bike. I was supposed to give myself 30units over 7hours; I was thinking I would be done with bike within 7hrs 45min. So rather than give 30 units to avoid a low later in the bike I gave myself 25units over 7hrs with 5% upfront and 95% over the 7hrs. I run across the field to Starlite and then head out. Right as I was getting on my bike I saw Danny again and he was telling me to take it easy, don’t worry, take it slow at the beginning. Again, he was the calm comforting voice I needed to hear.

I knew I needed to spin my legs and drink my Nuun water in the first 10 miles. Don’t push it. The first 7miles are uphill followed by the 7mile descent. I had my Dexcom CGM hooked up and it was alarming with arrows going up and my BS saying 300. I pull over to check at around mile 5 at 9:15am and I’m 331. “What to do, what to do”. I decide to give myself 1.2 units of a correction because I’m still climbing and the only active insulin on board is for the food I haven’t yet started to eat. And I needed to eat. Remember what my coach Tom said: eat as much of my solid foods at the beginning of the bike because later in the day my stomach wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. I cross the timing mat around mile 30 and feel really good, I had checked my BS right before that point and I was 179 but with arrows now coming straight down. I didn’t realize this then but I had dropped 150 points within an hour. That’s way too much too fast a drop. I finish the first loop very strong and my legs felt great, I was able to keep my cadence up around 90rpm’s for the entire loop dropping down to 85 on climbs. I was so happy I had changed my rear cassette to an 11-28. Climbing up the last hills in the first loop I could see all the written words of encouragement written by spectators; one of the funniest things written on that final hill was: “Remember…you PAID to do this” I thought that was hilarious. I was all smiles seeing my friends at the top of the hill; my friends Seb and Sarah were there to greet me, Sarah started running alongside me cheering that I was doing great. I was stellar. Felt strong. I could do another loop no problem.

I stop at the special needs bags to switch bottles and get more nutrition, I started to ride away and had to go back because I FORGOT my bars. The whole reason I needed to stop in the first place. Back on track I start the second loop same way I started the first, spinning my legs and cheering my fellow racers. We were halfway through the bike! I see a fellow Tri Latino athlete and start talking to him. He had forgotten his salt pills at special needs. I offered him 6 of my pills since I knew I had more than I would need. He thanked me and said the Karma would come back tenfold; I had just saved his race. I was happy I could help and we part ways. I pull over to check my BS and I’m 120 at 11:55am with an arrow still coming down but now it seemed it was starting to slow down so I have a GU and continue to eat my Powerbar. Right before I start the downhill I check my BS one more time, I was concerned with being low on the descent, I check and I’m 148. Perfect. Get through the descent and start riding towards Jay and Upper Jay. This is a nice stretch of flat but I don’t feel ok. I start to feel a little wobbly on the bike and realize I must pull over my CGM is alarming and it says I’m low 50. I think it must be wrong. I see a race support vehicle and decide to stop near him. I check my BS and I’m 47. Crap. I checked my pump to see how far along my combo bolus was and I still had 5 more units to be delivered. I had 2.65 IOB (insulin on board). I cancelled the combo bolus. I thought I was going to die of hypoglycemia if I kept it going. This isn’t good. I have zero energy. No power. I suck down a GU, drink some of my EFS, and eat a banana the race support guy had given me. I saved the trail mix he gave me in case I needed it for later. I realized I was now at mile 75-80 and I couldn’t just wait until my BS went up. Even if I was going slower I needed to keep moving. Time was getting away from me.

Mile 110 speeding to the bike finish IMLP
The next 2 ½ hours were a major struggle. I knew I had no power because I couldn’t bring my cadence up above 80. I was fighting the battle of low BS. I kept on eating my powerbars but they were starting to make me nauseous. I didn’t know if this was from heat, low BS or the race itself. I started to eat my PB crackers instead and it helped immensely. I also was eating bananas from the aid stations. I still had no energy though. My BS went up to 102, then dropped back to 76, and then 82. I couldn’t bring it up. While those numbers are normal numbers they are not good numbers to be riding in for me. I need to be above 100. It’s physically draining to battle lows. Once I finished the last out and back I had about 13more miles til the bike was over. I stopped at a rest stop and the volunteers were amazing. I was so hot and the guy asked if I wanted water poured on my head. He saved me with that water and bananas. I left feeling restored. Best of all I could FEEL that my blood sugar had finally broken 100. I was riding at 115BS with a steady arrow on the CGM. It was crazy how one minute I wasn’t ok and I was battling it out with my BS but then I won! My energy came back, just in time too because the last 12 miles are hilly with Whiteface mountain my nemesis. I checked the time and knew I had to keep moving quickly because it was now 3:45pm. I was riding stronger, and coaxing my fellow racers to keep moving because we didn’t have that much time left. We couldn’t remember if the cut off time was 5:20 or 5:30. In my head I put it as 5:15 better to be safe than sorry. Climbing those final hills I was making each mile faster than the last. I finally get up the bears and see that funny inscription on the ground. No one is at the hill. I felt like I was flying on Northwood Rd. As I approach the house I rented I could see my group of friends and I could hear them: “is that her? It’s her!!” I flew past them shaking my head and rounding the corner into the last mile and a half of the bike. I had lost almost 30min dealing with those lows. It was close. No way did I come this far to fail and not make it to the run. I was making that bike cut off.

T1: 14:25

Final Bike Time: 112 miles 8:27:34 13.24avg mph

Bike Split 1 30mi: 30mi 1:52:50 15.9mph
Bike Split 2 86mi: 56mi 4:13:06 13.28mph
Bike Split 3 112mi: 26mi 2:21:29 11.03mph

BS Info: Full basal and a combo bolus of 20.65 units 5%:95% (had put in 25u but cancelled 5units due to low)

8:50am 308
9:15am 331
10:10am 340
11:05am 179
11:55am 120
12:50pm 148
1:45pm 47
2:20pm 102
2:50pm 76
3:05pm 82
3:45pm 115

Nutrition: 2760 calories

4 bottles of EFS = 3 scoops for 3 bottles and 2.5 for one bottle = 275g carbs
3-4 bottles of Nuun water
1 bottle plain water
2 bananas = 40g carbs
5 Powerbars = 225g carbs
1pkg of PB crackers = 25g carbs
5 GU’s = 125g carbs
2 salt pills (just for good measure hehe)

Ironman Lake Placid Run

I speed into T2 with the fear that I’m still not going to make the cut off, because I wasn’t sure if you needed to be on the run course by 5:30 or simply off the bike. Now I know you just need to be off the bike. The volunteers grab my bike from me and I run to get my run gear bag and change into my compression socks and sneakers. Thank goodness I had Vaseline in there…definitely had some chafing I needed to fix. I changed my insulin pump settings down to a 80% reduction so I was taking 20% of my normal basal. I know other T1’s told me I might not need ANY insulin for the run or maybe only 10% but I know I need something higher than that so I kept it at 20% and would keep it that way for the entire race. I made one final stop to the bathroom before heading out. I felt good, my legs felt fresh, and of course I had the cheering crowds to make me feel even better. To top it off my BS was a perfect 90, a great number to run with. Even though it was later in the day it was still hot. For the first 2 aid stations I took their cold, water soaked sponges and wet my head and chest. My plan was to run in z2 or pace of 13:30-14:00 and walk the aid stations. Well, that didn’t quite go according to plan. I was slower, and I was only running ¾ of a mile and walking. My pace was slower at around 16min mi., then I’d run and get it back to 13min mi but I wasn’t as consistent. I also thought I felt a blister coming on within the first 4 miles. Oh lord. It would be a long night. BUT a couple of things happened that would repeat in my head for the entire marathon.

  1. I saw a bunch of QT2 racers throughout the day and then kept seeing them on the run and thought of Cait Snow and my friend PJ and how they run. Their form. I decided in that first 5 miles to change my run form. I know, I know, you never try anything new right before an A race let alone the DAY OF the race. But I did. I changed my form. I kept my arms glued to my sides pumping them forward and back. I also took shorter, quicker strides. So for my usual 2 strides I was now taking 4. Now I know I’m not fast, and running is my weakest link but this approach helped me and kept me going. Not once did I have shin issues, or tight calves, which has always happened in training.
  2. The second thought that kept playing in my head was my T1 friend Shannon, and how she crossed the finish line in her first Ironman with blisters and raw feet galore. If she could do it - I could do it. Besides I wasn’t even sure if I HAD a blister, it just felt like it. I was going to make it no matter what.
  3. The final thoughts that played crucial throughout the marathon were the words from my coach Tom, my friend Igor and my “D” sister Denise (she was also racing and making her way to a PR!). EAT! Keep moving one foot in front of the other. Any run pace is faster than walking.
Those 3 big things would all be re-playing in my head. Within the first 10 miles of the race I was able to eat 1 banana, 4 GU’s, 6 orange slices, some grapes and a few pretzels. I saw many athletes on the side of the road doubled over or sitting down on the side barriers within that first loop. I now realize they must have been on their 2nd loop while I was on my first. I saw them and I Just. Kept. Moving. Never stop, don’t stop moving. I felt bad for them but what could I do? Coming back into town on the first loop was great but at the same time I kept on having the volunteers telling me that “I was almost done, you’re almost home” when sadly I was only just finishing my 1st loop. When I would correct them they would say, “you’ve got plenty of time 4 hours still”. However, while that seemed like a lot I was already calculating how I needed to pick up the pace and that I would be cutting it very close. The last 3 miles of the half marathon are great, you have lots of crowd support, and I was able to see my friends and teammates again. My new friend Sarah ran with me during miles 12 and 13. I was grateful. She was awesome and was cheering me and telling me how great I was and the next time she saw me I’d be crossing the finish line an Ironman. I was getting so choked up at that time that I had to fight back the tears because I couldn’t breath, cry and run at the same time. The emotion chokes you.

running through mile 14 IMLP
 As I was running down mile 13 I remember telling my friend Seb as he was videotaping me that “this is hard”, he of course was laughing because he’s done it. Twice before and will be doing it again in August for IM Canada. Yes he’s another T1 too. We are all over spreading the good word about how cool it is to have diabetes and racing with it. I felt restored again, thanks to my friends and the crowds. Yes I was still smiling. As I approached mile marker 15 I remember seeing that sign in wonderment because I had never run that far. I thought that was pretty cool.

As I’m plodding along there are less and less people on the road. It was getting dark. I felt like the last person on the course. I was also getting nauseous again. I drank some of my Nuun water for the electrolytes but I remember I needed to eat something. There’s no nutrition in Nuun water. Miles 17-22 were the absolute worst miles of the race. I was on autopilot. One foot in front of the other. Eat a glucose tablet (it’s a simple sugar and would not upset my stomach). Sip some water. Drink some cola (I hate cola but it really did help). Drink chicken broth. If I walked I was trying to walk faster and then I’d just start running again. My quads would scream at the initial start but then they’d settle. Follow the white line in the road. That’s how I know I’m going straight. I’d look at my CGM to make sure I wasn’t low and it was a straight line of 100. Every time I’d pass an aid station they’d offer cookies, pretzels, bananas. I couldn’t even hear them say the word cookie and I wanted to gag. “How could anybody eat anything sweet?” I’d think. Just keep moving. I have to make it. I figured if I could get to the turnaround point by 10pm I’d be good because that means I just had 7miles to the finish. I could run 6miles in an hour. Hold on, Back up. Did I just say I could run 6 miles in an hour? Haha funny. Not even on a GOOD day have I ever been able to run 6 miles in an hour, there was no way in hell I was running 6 miles in an hour today. Let’s move that time to 10:20pm turnaround. That’s better, and I made it at that time too. I was running more. Remember what Tom said, any pace is faster than walking and he was/is right. Seeing that turnaround mat was like seeing the finish line. I was so frigging happy! Only 7 more to go!

I picked up the pace again and was with a group of other athletes (I guess I wasn’t alone), an official told us near mile 21 we needed to maintain a 16min mi pace in order to make it to the finish line. He said my run pace was good. I’d make it the way I was going. Phew! I was coming back to life. Still nauseous but I was doing better. I saw a woman running and leaning to the side and I felt bad for her, she was ahead of me but then I passed her. I was getting stronger. Oh god I just wanted to get to that last 3miles! I needed to make it. God I needed to make that time. It was going to be so close. Please don’t let me fail. Keep moving. Any pace is faster than walking. One foot in front of the other. As I was coming into town I could see finishers walking with their bikes, one woman who had been sitting on her lawn was cheering me. She remembered when I went out and told me then she’d stay until I passed again. And she did, she stayed on her lawn until 11pm when I passed. That emotion when I passed her choking me again. People telling me I was going to make it as I’m doing my short quick step run. Then we get to the hill leading up to Main Street. I started walking fast; I needed a break just for a second. I had another official tell me I needed to maintain a 16min pace in order to finish. I started running again. As I make the left onto Main Street still running up another hill I start panicking because I still have 2 more miles to go. It’s 11:25pm, oh my god I’m scared! Please let me make it. The few people who are still watching from the sidelines are cheering me, yelling “GOOOO BROOKLYN! You’re an Ironman! Keep going at that pace”. I didn’t believe them. Not yet. I still had 2 miles. Then a volunteer started running with me, I think her name was Joy. She started pacing me along with another guy who was volunteering. Joy was great. She was reminding me how I trained all year long for this, I was an Ironman, and I’ve got this. Keep moving those arms fast and my legs would go faster. Don’t stop. Mile 25 people were screaming my name “Jennifer is an Ironman! Go Brooklyn!” I saw my coach Danny again and he was telling me to keep moving! I’ve got this! My dear friend Danni was passing me in mile 26 (I was so happy she was making it!) and she yelled “JEN – RUN!!! DON’T STOP JEN!” That emotion was choking me again. I couldn’t breath. I needed a quick walk break again just for a second. My pacers gave it to me for 30seconds telling me to stride it out. They kept looking at their watches. Start running again. I was almost at the mat where I turnaround. Joy said: “that’s YOUR mat, run across and then it’s downhill, loosen up, breath in through your nose out through your mouth, fast arms, fast legs”. 1.2 miles to go. They gave me one final break of 30 seconds then I was running to the finish. No stopping. As I was running I could hear people screaming but it was almost distant because I was focused on the finish and just MOVING, RUNNING. I needed to make it. Then Danny ran next to me. Danny the comforting voice throughout my race. There at every point. He was screaming/yelling “Jen baby you got this! Don’t stop now!” Then he told me how proud he was of me and I was doing great, gave me a kiss and quick hug and I was off. My pacers telling me I was an Ironman. I was going to make it. That emotion choking me again. I still didn’t believe them. Not yet.

As I got into the last 200 yds officials stopped my pacers and told them they couldn’t go any further. I thanked them profusely (as I had been the entire time they ran with me), I saw my friends Jack and Sandra first screaming for me. The crowds of spectators were going CRAZY! I felt like I was flying. I saw my other friends and friends of friends in the crowds. My girls Jen, Dee and Cheryl. Seb and Sarah. I was running and giving high fives to everyone who had their hands outstretched. I was almost there. I could hear Mike Reilly through the screaming crowd announce my name and say “Jennifer Davino YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!”

I believed him.

You can see me cross the finish line here

Overall Time: 16:55:09T2 12:13
Final Run Time: 26.2 miles 6:35:50 15.06/mi

BS Info: Temp basal reduced to 80% for entire run (so I was only taking 20% of normal basal), gave 1.70 units correction at 11:25pm because I was in the 200’s.

5:35pm 90
7:20pm 106
8:25pm 109
10:05pm 157
11:20pm 235

Nutrition Info:

1 bottle of Nuun water sipped throughout run
1 or 1½ banana
4 GU’s
6 grapes
6 slices of orange
Ice chips
7 glucose tablets
~4 ½ cups of cola
~4 ½ cups of chicken broth
1 salt pill (for good measure)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Will I survive the mass of bodies in Mirror Lake?

Will I make the bike cut off times?

Will my blood sugar cooperate?

Will my fueling plan work the same in training for the race?

Why did I miss those workouts?!

Did I train enough?

I haven't run a marathon. Will the pain I imagine be the same that I actually feel?

Will my now recovered fractured leg hold up?

Why did I feel great training 2 weeks ago and now my legs feel pressurized? Is this just part of the taper?

Will my body hold up?

Did I do everything I could have done to get the result I want?

Will I make the cut off times???!!

I don't want to let anyone down.

I'm scared.

I'm elated.

Can I actually DO this?

Will I cross that finish line?

The time is coming near and the questions are gathering like tumbleweeds in my head. The words I must repeat to myself to try and calm the mental storm, the words that will replay over and over in my head on race day: I WILL do this.