Barry Roubaix


barry roubaixMy first race of 2015 is in the books.

On Sunday I finished a 62 mile gravel bike race in Hastings, Michigan called the Barry Roubaix.  Although it’s a four hour drive it’s a great early season race and it always feels great to get outdoors.  What doesn’t feel great and the challenging part of this race is the weather.  Conditions are far from predictable and racers can expect anything from cold ice and snow to 40-50’s and sunny.

I looked at the weather early in the week and it predicted 40’s and sunny.  Perfect!  However as the week progressed the start of the race was going to be more in the low 20’s.  But still sunny!

I booked a hotel in Kalamazoo, MI an hour away from the race start but given the 10am start that was acceptable.  The race is 4 hours and 1 time zone away making it almost necessary to drive out the night before.

I packed different types of layers for the bike.  I packed sandwiches for breakfast and dinner, a small red wine for the room, red bull and diet coke for the drive home and plenty of water and electrolyte drink for pre-race fueling.

I arrived in Kalamazoo and re-arranged my bags since I had packed in a bit of a hurry.  I put all my cycling nutrition and gear in 1 bag and laid out my cycling clothes for the morning.

The Clothing:  A spring race is always hard to dress for but here is what I went with:

  • Craft winter cycling tights – fleece lined, wind proof front the warmest in my collection
  • Mid-weight craft cycling jacket – not quite fleece lined but wind proof
  • VQ winter fleece lined vest – love this item fits over jackets and has 3 deep pockets in the back – capo
  • Gore windstopper balaclava
  • Winter Pearl Izumi lobster gloves and chemical hand warmers inserted inside.
  • Giro wool cycling sox, toe warmers and thick wool socks over top – I am deathly afraid of cold feet.  Too many bad experiences during my winter commutes.  The pain in insane.
  • Winter SIDI gore-tex cycling boots – a size and half too big too fit extra layers and still have room.

My trusty rig of course was Peters Power my Trek Cronus X bike.  I love riding this bike it is smooth and light.  I had ridden it a week prior and unfortunately it was a bit gritty because of course I didn’t clean it like I should have.  Luckily I bought a bike cleaning punch card from Trek HP so will be having it cleaned next time!  My only worry was that I had just installed new pedals myself and had only tightened them by hand. Any time I do any mechanical work of any time I have concern but I had ridden it to work during the week and the pedals seemed ok.

Tucked in behind trying to get a break in the wind.

Tucked in behind trying to get a break in the wind.

The nutrition: was not terribly planned out.

  • Two bottles which were meant to have Skratch but I forgot it so one had water and one had a Hammer fizz tablet.
  • Packed 2 packets of cliff blocks, 2 gels and a tube of glucose tablets.
  • For breakfast at 7:15 was 2 low carb bread sandwiches with Jason’s chocolate hazelnut butter and banana and hotel coffee.  Bolused 60%.
  • No temp basal mainly because I just forgot.  Apparently a four hour ride isn’t worth worry about?
  • Waking BG was 120!
  • What I ended up eating:
    • 1 packet of blocks
    • 1 half pb and j sandwich at the first aid station

I got to the race site at 8:30.  I picked up my packet and went in search of a parking spot.  I decided to go for the charity pay lot.  I entered and the lady told me there was one spot left but it was tight because 1 guy had not parked straight (non-racer).  I decided to take my chances and squeeze in.  As I was getting ready the owners of the one car arrived and I asked if she had enough room to get in.  She started bitching about the race and said she was told to park there and she lived across and they were not told “nothin’”  I commiserated with her and apologized and told her that was terrible.. etc.  I don’t need to make any enemies after all and it was Tom’s car.

Once I had everything in order I did one last check on the bike.  I spun both wheels.  The back wheel was rubbing slightly on the brake.  Not good!  I took it over to the mechanics and lucky I had time for him to fix it.  I really need to learn this stuff!

It was now about 9:50.  The race started at 10:00 with my wave going off at 10:02 which included all women and masters men.  I walked up to the start and saw some friendly faces – Cecilia, Nan and Dave Noda.

Last year I used my mountain bike and right from the beginning I had been dropped by everyone.  In fact I remember hardly seeing anyone during the first half of the race last year then eventually catching up to people during the second half.

We started off and I realized I hadn’t checked my dexcom again prior to the race but it wasn’t alarming.  I was so sidetracked with the brake issue on the bike and the parking spot issue I just ran out of time.

A gravel race is not the easiest race for testing blood sugar either, pulling things out of pockets or even grabbing a drink.  Immediately I had regretted not using the camelback.  Although I feel like I’m a good bike handler it is still pretty hard to get a drink without slowing down a bit.  I tried to drink on the smoother parts as much as possible.  In addition I had used an insulated water bottle which I think actually caused it to freeze faster.  The bottle was hard to squeeze and each time I tried to use it a small dribble would come out.

The race started, and although I felt like I was still at the back of the wave I didn’t feel like I had been totally left behind.  I was still able to keep up with racers and draft as much as I could, it was a very windy day drafting definitely helped.

Despite the wind the course was in better condition this year, less mud.   There were plenty of rocks and sand and some rutted sections.  On one of the rough dirt sections I had to ride around two stopped riders, which I did and as I was pedaling cautiously around some deep hazards a guy came from behind and fell into me.  I landed in the bushes.  I was pretty annoyed considering I had been proud for navigating through the tough section.  I didn’t feel anything then but the day after I definitely feel a strain in my neck and my right glute.

I stopped at the first aid station to grab more fluids although it was water which seemed to freeze instantaneously!

During the leg 2 (20-40 miles) Laurie Mann another VQ’er caught up to me.  We ended up riding together most of the way in.  We had a small pace group going with another guy and a girl.  We arrived at the second aid station, had I been on my own… I probably would have stopped, however the rest of the group didn’t seem to be stopping so I rolled through grabbing several cups of water from the volunteers.  I was really thirsty.  I knew I was sweating and I knew I had not been drinking enough.  My insulated bottle had completely frozen.  I had been sipping the fizz bottle but it was still about ½ full at that point.  Laurie and I lost the other two at some point and rode most of the way in together.

The thoughts in my head were as follows:

  • Why didn’t I lube my chain it is squeaking so badly
  • I wonder what my blood sugar is, I don’t feel bad.
  • I should really stop and check my blood sugar, but I can’t (don’t want to)
  • What is that other squeak? I think it is the # plate at the front of my bike
  • Why do I race
  • Its so pretty out here
  • I’m not an athlete
  • Should I be riding faster because of bike camp
  • Should I tuck in behind this guy I’m coming up to or pass him?
  • Can I finish in 4 hours this year
  • I’m so thirsty
  • I’m pretty comfortable my feet and hands are toasty
  • I need to stretch my back out
  • I need to get my front derailleur tweaked (I had a hard time getting into the big ring)
  • I need an uphill my toes are starting to get cold

10 miles out I still felt good and had many guys commenting on my speed up the hills (thank you bike camp).  I made a conscious effort to continue the same effort as I crested the hills and into the flats rather than getting to the top and taking a break.

The best part – sprinting to the finish while hearing GO VQ!!! a quick arm pump and I was done!  30 minutes faster than last year’s race partly better conditions partly better fitness.  4:04:45 for 17th out of  27 women.  Check the deets here:  strava file

Despite not checking, my blood sugars were fairly good throughout.


Blood sugar readings for the race.

Blood sugar readings for the race.

I joined the VQ crowd after the race to chat with Mike, Robbie and some others and had an amazing Porter by Founders Brewery one of the sponsors.  I watched some of the awards then started packing up my car to head home with my red bull and a sandwich.   Tom even commented that I was more alert that evening than I normally am after races – fitter?

The day after:

I woke up the next day with an aching back and a sore neck.  My training schedule gave me the choice of a sub max run or taking the day off.  I knew that I would run outside that day the weather was cold and blustery.  After stretching for a half hour my back felt better and I left for my run around 1 pm, after a pleasant morning of oatmeal and coffee.  I set my basal (constant drip)  to 60% for 90 minutes about 30 minutes prior to leaving knowing that I would have a high chance of going low after yesterdays ride.  Sure enough about 4 miles in and prior to my warning alarm I felt it.  I quickly inhaled 2 blocks and continued on.  10 minutes later I still felt the bonking so I suspended my insulin and took another block.  Another 10 minutes still feeling it I ate my last block.  Finally, like a light switch I felt normal and was able to finish my run.  I ended up running 10.5 miles which I was pleased with.  A great weekend overall.

Next up the Rough Road 100 and the Grumpy Grind 3 in 2 weeks as prep for the DK200 in May.  In the meantime ironman training and “the swim thing” is like a monkey on my back during the week I have been trying to get 3 swims, 2 other runs and an intensity ride in.  My goal this week is to at the very least  get my entire swim workout done.  Lately I am lucky if I make it through the warm up and have been maxing out at 2000 yards…time to embrace the swim.



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I hate swimming laps in a pool.  I don’t hate swimming per se just the lap swimming.  I liked being in water and partaking in indoor tri’s or swimming on vacation.  It’s the boring monotony of swimming back and forth for what seems a thousand times. It’s not have a view, I love everything outdoors and will choose outdoors any day over indoor training anything.  When I swim laps I get to look at a blue line at the bottom of the pool and maybe the odd swimmer in the next lane.    It’s the horrible chlorine that dries out your skin and hair and makes you smell all day.  It is goggle eyes.  Goggle eyes are the worst… or at least I seem to get them very bad, especially when I swim in the morning before going to my office job.  I have had colleagues ask if everything is ok thinking that my eyes are puffy from crying.

Since I’ve started to train for another Ironman (wisconsin 2015) after taking nearly a year off of triathlon (aka swimming)  I asked for a waterproof iPod for Christmas.  It won’t resolve the dry skin or puffy eyes but I thought if might alleviate the boredom. So without much research (when do i have time for research) I chose the audioflood.

The iPod shuffle I got came in a regular case with its own headphones and charger etc. identical to my regular non-waterproof shuffle.

It also came with a cute little bag with waterproof headphones, a swim cap and various earbud attachments.  Pictured here:




I tried it for the first time this past Sunday.  I got to the pool late and dreaded every minute of it. It had snowed the entire day before and I didn’t want to drive in the bad roads/ weather so my previous workout plans were put on hold as I figured out what I was going to do (or maybe it was just avoidance). Finally after spending the day indoors working and doing some wardrobe spring cleaning I had to get out.  So I gathered all my stuff put on many layers and my big winter boots and walked to the closest FFC location.  It was nice to get out and there was a sprinkling of snow coming down… so pretty.

At 4:30  ish I finally arrived at the pool deck.  Delaying as much as possible I jumped in.   I attached the headphones to the iPod and inserted them in my ears and pulled my cap over my ears.  Good so far.  I turned the iPod on and clipped it to the back of my cap.  Satisfied with the volume etc. I started swimming… all I could hear was a buzzing or white noise in the background.  I stopped to adjust the volume and this time clipped the iPod to my suit in front.  Starting to swim again I could sort of hear the music and it came in and out in line with my breathing.  Apparently when my head turned out of the water for a breath I could hear better…  I kept swimming, the earbuds fell out.  I pushed them in my eardrums and pulled the cap down again.  I clipped the iPod to the back of my cap.  I worked my way through myself made workout – of 200 swim, 200 breath left side only, 200 kick, 200 pull all x 2.  At this pool I do 10 lengths for a 200 vs the normal 8 because the pool is really short.  The earbuds fell out several times and I could sort of hear the music.

I was thinking maybe I could load it with some podcasts or something but if the sound doesn’t get much better I might just stick to music.

Next time I will try different earbuds.  It came with shorter ones so I think these might fit my ear better.  I hope it works!!!!

Well its noon here in Chicago and I’m already trying to prep myself for tonight’s swim at 8 pm… Its cold the pool is cold, it’s at a high school (think high school kids who have just swam in the pool- ewe!)

They don’t call it triathlon because there is no swim…

Stay tuned for trial #2. Anyone else out there have any thoughts on this? I would love to hear what others think.

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A DIAGNOSIS DIDN’T END THE RUN – Medtronic Global Hero Marathon Weekend




I wish I could get these posts out sooner but I do take very good notes!

The weekend and this report is more than just a race or race report about the Twin Cities Marathon it is about the joining of 25 individuals brought together in the face of some sort of medical condition.  The tagline of the event best describes it “A DIAGNOSIS DIDN’T END THE RUN”.  These individuals share one common trait and that is they have not let their medical condition slow them down.  I always say that although I HATE diabetes I also LOVE diabetes because without it I definitely would not be the same person I am today and I would never have met some of the most amazing individuals I have in my life right now.

In the summer my friend and colleague Adam and fellow T1 Diabetic nominated me to be a Medtronic Global Hero.

What does it mean to be a Medtronic Global Hero?

The global hero program is a cooperative effort between Twin Cities In Motion and Medtronic Philanthropy, the Global Heroes program recognizes runners from around the world who have a medical device to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain and spinal and neurological disorders.

As a global hero I was given an all expenses paid trip for me and Tom and an entry to the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.  We arrived in St. Paul Thursday prior to the marathon where we were greeted at the airport with snacks and water then whisked away in a car to the hotel.  From the minute we arrived we were treated like royalty.

That evening we attended a welcome happy  hour where we got to meet the other 24 global heroes.   I won’t be able to give everyone’s stories justice here but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least provide a summary of the 24 because they were such an amazing group of people. So I’d like to introduce to you my 24 global hero brothers and sisters and SOME of their stories (at least the ones I could find).

Molly Dicroce, Arvada, Colorado

Dicroce has a spinal and bone fusion device to treat lumbar degenerative disc disease.


Jason Dunn, Smithville, Missouri

Dunn has a stent to treat coronary artery disease.


Gillian Forsyth, Chicago, Illinois

Forsyth has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.


Kent Grelling, Orinda, California

Grelling has an artificial heart valve and a conduit to treat a congenital bicuspid aorta and ascending aortic aneurysm.


Lynn Hall, Lafayette, Colorado

Hall has a neurostimulator to manage pain.


Kristen Hallock-Waters, Tabernacle, New Jersey

Hallock-Waters has a pacemaker to treat heart sinus node dysfunction.

Roberto Itimura, Jundiai, Brazil

Itimura has a stent to treat coronary artery disease.

Dawn Kenwright, Lampeter, United Kingdom

Kenwright has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

Luis Moreira Da Silva, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Moreira Da Silva has an artificial heart valve to treat ascending aorta aneurism and aortic stenosis on bicuspid valve.


Saci Mowinski, Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada

Mowinski has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.


Joshua Simon, Key Biscayne, Florida

Simon has a shunt to treat hydrocephalus.


Amanda Zullo, Saranac Lake, New York

Zullo has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

Ten Mile Participants

Monika Allen, San Diego, California

Allen has a shunt to treat hydrocephalus.

Brad Ashfield, Haddon Township, New Jersey

Ashfield has a lumbar cage to correct a ruptured spinal disc and a stent to treat coronary artery disease.


Rachel Bishop, Holland, Michigan

Bishop has an artificial heart valve to treat a congenital bicuspid aorta and ascending aortic aneurysm.


Gabriel Estrada Mejia, Bogota, Colombia

Estrada Mejia has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.


Roger Frisch, Plymouth, Minnesota

Frisch receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of essential tremor.


George Gilbert, Cuffley, United Kingdom

Gilbert has an artificial heart valve to treat bicuspid aortic valve regurgitation.

Kimi Hall, Southlake, Texas

Hall has a pacemaker to treat arrhythmia caused by heart block.


Geoff Henderson, Binalong, Australia

Henderson has a pacemaker to treat sick sinus syndrome.

Fei Jiao, Sanmenxia City, China

Jiao receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Carrie Romero, Columbia, Tennessee

Romero has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to treat cardiomyopathy.


Alana Savage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Savage has a septal occluder device to treat an atrial septal defect.

Carolin Suhayda, Roma, Italy

Suhayda has a pacemaker to treat sick sinus syndrome.


Guy Yohanan, Givat Ela, Israel

Yohanan receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

More info on these amazing people can also be found here:  .

We also had Global Hero Alumni and fellow Canadian Debbie Muir Zelez and Aussie and musician Warren Williams to help us with the lay of the land.  

Friday after an amazing breakfast and presentation we were all given an awesome backpack filled with team swag then we were bused out to the Medtronic headquarters.  Here we were given a fantastic tour and shown some very cool devices that were being developed.  One was a blood dialysis machine which was portable so that people didn’t have to go to a hospital 3 x a week for blood transfusions.  Listening to the employees speak about their projects you couldn’t help but feel the passion and desire in their voices to make medical improvements for people in need.  Listening to and seeing the history behind the company and my insulin pump a few of us were brought to tears of gratitude knowing that our lives had been changed forever by these people and this company. After the tour we were treated to a VIP lunch at the headquarters and were each presented with a beautiful crystal globe engraved with our names.  We were also treated to a musical performance by global hero Roger Frisch a concertmaster for the Minnesota Orchestra and a violinist.

Getting my award!  I was so honored that I missed half the presentation!

Getting my award! I was so honored that I missed half the presentation!


My beautiful crystal award.

My beautiful crystal award.



Musical treat.

Musical treat.


Outside Medtronic Headquarters with the famous logo.

Outside Medtronic Headquarters with the famous logo.



After the lunch we were off to packet pickup and a VIP reception for marathoner organizers and elite athletes.  We were honored at the reception as well.

Saturday we had pictures with the team then time on our own.  I decided to go for a run to shake out the cobwebs.  I felt like had been eating and drinking for the whole time.  As I left the hotel another woman was also leaving the hotel.  We just naturally started to run together.  She was tiny and looked like a good runner.  As we ran together we talked.  As it turns out it she is masters runner Christine Kennedy who will be turning 60 in December.  She is hoping to break the 60+ record and run under 3 hours.  Her marathon PR after 50 was 2:51 she told me she was seconds from getting into the Olympics she ran a 18 minute 5k at age 53.  A reminder to not let age ever get in your way!   Luckily she was going for an “easy” run which still left me gasping, Thank goodness we hit a few red lights and I managed to keep up for the 4 miles we ran together.

Later, Tom and I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota which coincidently had a butterfly exhibit happening.  Everyone who knows about my friend Katie knows that if you see a butterfly it is Katie letting you know that she is with you from above.  We went to the butterfly room where immediately 3 butterflies landed on my head and didn’t leave until we left. It was definitely Katie saying that she was with me for this race.

A visit from Katie and her friends.

A visit from Katie and her friends.

For dinner we went to the marathon pasta dinner then off to bed early.

Marathon morning near Vikings stadium being rebuilt

Marathon morning near Vikings stadium being rebuilt

Amanda and I waiting to go to our start corrals.

Amanda and I waiting to go to our start corrals.

Sunday was marathon day.  It had been two years since I had run a stand-alone marathon.  Waking up to do a marathon is so much easier than a triathlon or even a long bike race.  I woke up at 5am and ate my usual pre-race meal of bagel, jason’s chocolate hazelnut butter and banana and gave myself my full bolus.  My BG was 202, as my pump delivered the insulin I chickened out and stopped the insulin with 1 unit to go.   The temperatures were fairly cold to start but I had plenty of “disposable” clothes with me so I was plenty warm getting to the race start.  I tested prior to dropping off my bag at 236 so I was happy.  I set my basil at 60% for 4 hours.

I had not followed any typical training program.  I did a lot of bike racing and training all summer so hadn’t been running, aside from once per week as marathon coaching started up in June.  I had run one 15 miler prior to the end of August.  At the end of August I traveled to the west coast for races.  I ran the hood to coast relay race in Portland which included 3 legs at 4-7 miles each.  The following weekend I raced in Rebecca’s private Idaho a 100 mile gravel bike race (RPI Post) .  My real marathon training started when I got back after labor day weekend. I had 3 weeks to train.

I ran 3-4 times a week for the 3 weeks.  I tried to run the mid-week runs at a decent tempo place and I ran 2 20 milers.  Something I definitely would recommend for any beginner but knowing my body and knowing my pace I felt confident enough to not overdo it.   I hoped that my biking fitness would transfer over to the marathon.  I looked up my last marathon time and splits. It was 2012 Chicago where I ran 2:00 in the first half and 1:50 ish in the second half.  I knew I had run negative splits that day but that is crazy.  I decided for this marathon I would aim for 2 hours at the half again then see where that would take me.  At my ripe old age I only need 3:55 to have a Boston qualifying time.  Not that I want to run Boston soon but I’d still like to keep my Boston Qualifying time alive.

For the cool weather I wore a thin base long sleeved layer with shorts and my Medtronic singlet. I also made sure that I had the purple butterfly cancer pin that Chris Navin had given me to my jersey as a reminder of Katie.

Butterfly Pin

Butterfly Pin

As I was running my shorts kept falling down.  I couldn’t figure out why but I was quite annoyed by it.  I had worn the shorts before I didn’t know what had changed.  Then I realized that it was because I had my base layer tucked into my shorts.  The waistband was not gripping onto my skin but rather was sliding down my torso with the jersey.    Once that was fixed I was happy.  The chocolate cherry gel I had stored in my shorts fell out and all I had left was my sleeve of blocks but that was plenty. The gel was really just for the caffeine if I needed it later in the race.

Cool temperatures and being well rested seemed to be a good mix, I felt great.  The miles were flying by.  It was a bit hillier than I was used to but it was extremely pretty and the streets were lined with people the entire way.  I watched my pace and stuck to my plan.  I let fellow diabetics and global hero’s Saci and Amanda go as they were going at a faster pace than I had planned so ended up on my own.  As I got to mile 10 I thought to myself only 7 miles before I get to see TeamWild founder Mari Ruddy.   I got to mile 13 exactly on pace at 2 hours.  I still felt great.  There were even a few mile markers that I just missed completely! The sights and the people were just so amazing.  The marathon course led runners through beautiful neighborhoods with lovely lakes and throughout the neighborhood people got together and looked like they were having a blast.   I finally saw Mari in the distance with her teamwild jacket.  I yelled Mari, Mari!  She finally saw me and I slowed down to give her a hug.  It’s always nice to anticipate people on the race course.   At mile 19 I heard my name being called as a global hero over the loud speaker I raised my arms and cheered and so did everyone else… it was awesome and gave me a nice boost!  I was supposed to meet up with Adam at mile 19 he had offered to run with me and I honestly felt I could use a bit of a push but we never saw each other.  After that bit of excitement I knew that the toughest part of any marathon was coming up.  Mile 20!  I also knew that there was a 2 mile uphill between miles 21-23 ish.  It wasn’t over yet.  I continued on. People every once in a while yelled go global hero! It felt great.  I was pushing it but kept up the pace with all my might in the last few miles, honestly I felt like I would never get to that last downhill mile. As we were coming down the final stretch I saw the parliament building in the distance and thought to myself it is so far I’m not going to make it at this pace!  Then I realized that the finish line wasn’t quite at the building so I was able to pick it up.  As I came down the finishers chute I veered to the left where I knew the Medtronic VIP section was.  I heard all my fellow global heroes as well as Tom cheering and tears came to my eyes.  I had finished in just under 3:55 and had qualified for Boston for a 5th time.  Yay! My splits can be seen here:

I slowly made my way through the finish line area.  I definitely felt every last mile in my body as it started to shut down as the adrenaline wore off.

I arrived at the Medtronic tent and was greeted immediately by Ranita the Global Hero Program coordinator she had been and is amazing and made you feel like you were special the entire weekend.  She gave me a huge hug which was exactly what I needed.  The tent was heated and had plenty of snacks and hot soup which hit the spot.  Another peasant surprise was seeing Team 2 End Aids endurance program director Jonathan who oversaw the marathon program that I had been coaching back in Chicago.  He was there with his wife and family.  It was so nice to see a familiar face and to meet his family.  Of course Tom my forever supporter as always was there to get me what I needed.

The Medtronic team had written out messages from friends and family on cards and had hung them in the tent.  I loved reading them.

IMG_0414 IMG_0397 IMG_0399 IMG_0400

Messages from friends and loved ones.

Messages from friends and loved ones.


I quickly tested my blood sugar for the first time since before the marathon I was 125 ! yay The 60% basil worked and I had eaten my sleeve of blocks evenly throughout the marathon and had drank water/Gatorade at the aid stations.  I also may have eaten a donut hole or two J, a couple of orange wedges and a ¼ banana. My Dexcom had crapped out on me and I didn’t have my tester so I went totally by feel.  Something I would only recommend if you have marathon experience!

After waiting for some of the others to finish we hopped on a bus and headed back to the hotel.  I had a nice hot shower a little drink then headed over to a brew pub for post race food and beverages.

"The Diabetics"

“The Diabetics”

We all chatted and took pictures and were sad that our weekend was over.  My life has definitely been enriched from this weekend as I now have 24 new bionic sisters and brothers.  We continue to this day to share stories of exercise and life on our facebook group page.  I have NO doubt that I will see many of them again.  I know for one I will see Saci since the two of us are both doing Ironman Wisconsin in 2015 with the “Riding on Insulin” group.  We have 100 people so far signed up many of whom are diabetic.  I am also raising money for the Riding on Insulin charity which is a great organization which provides athletic outlet for kids and adults with diabetes.  Riding on Insulin Fundraising Page  Sorry for the plug here but please consider a small donation!

The next day we said our final good byes and headed to the airport.  Tom had surprised me with a first class up grade!  Woo hoo, my weekend of VIP treatment lasted that much longer!

Until we meet again my fellow global heroes (and I know we will) love all of you and i’m glad I get to be a part of your lives forever.

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Rebecca’s Private Idaho – Part 2


After running in the hood to coast race in Portland and spending a week working in Vancouver, WA  I started the drive to Idaho.  Besides a $260 speeding ticket my drive to Idaho was spectacular. I really like driving and have no problem driving long distances on my own.  After working all day, I made it to Ontario, Oregon on the first night which is just west of the Idaho state line.  I arrived at the Hailey airport 2 hours ahead of schedule and made friends with the hotel shuttle driver who was waiting for the next flight to come in.  I assumed that it would be all the VQ people and it was.  It was nice to finally see some familiar faces after 5 days of being on my own.  Everyone piled in the bus and the chatter began.

Not long into the drive Robbie received a call from my coach Mike.  Apparently he had been mountain biking with his brother earlier and flipped and broke his collar bone.  We all sort of sat in disbelief.  He was so dialed in for this race and I couldn’t believe that once again he had such bad luck.  In Kanza in May he experienced 5 flats and a fall and now this.  He wasn’t even going to be able to start this race.  I knew knowing him that he would put on a brave face but I also knew that he had worked really hard to be ready for this particular race. Where most people would be crushed and likely would have flown home to have the shoulder taken care of right away he embraced the chance to cheer his teammates on despite the pain. I just can’t begin to explain the gratitude the whole team had for his encouragement at the 40 & 60 mile aid station of the race.  I also can’t even begin to imagine exactly how much pain he was in.  Later he found out that it was one of worst breaks the surgeon had seen, apparently his collar bone was splintered in several pieces.  If Rebecca Rusch is the queen of pain, this guy is definitely the King.  His strength and determination is infectious, when you are around him you want to do well.

So here I was again at another race.  You may wonder and I wonder why the hell I keep doing this.  I think about all the training I do for these race and yes sometimes I think I should just stop, sleep in have a lazy Saturday or Sunday.  Instead I get up early to run or get up early to go on a long bike ride on the weekends. And certainly July was one of the hardest months mentally that I have had in a while. I think Rebecca Rusch said it best in her book “I am addicted to finish lines” I love the way it feels when you come across that line and your team/or friends are cheering for you or the feeling of even finishing at all.  My experience at the Boulder Ironman this past August was  case in point.  I had flown out to spectate since I knew several people who were competing.  The whole time I was watching and cheering in the heat and seeing some of athletes suffer from the altitude and the heat I just thanked god it was not me and after seeing the carnage of the marathon I had no interest in doing another ironman.  Then, as soon as I got to that finish line and I was banging on those boards listening to Mike Reilly call out the names of the new or once again crowned ironmen I wanted it so bad. I wanted to go through all that pain and suffering just to see that finish line.  I’m not anywhere good enough at any race to worry about winning or placing in my age group, I don’t think my nerves could handle that pressure but I like to get out there and train as hard as I can to see that finish line.   I don’t think my brain or my body would be happy if I wasn’t doing something.

After we were dropped off at the our awesome hotel – the sun valley resortsun valley resort we all got into our bike gear and headed out for a quick ride.  It was a short steep ride we were all trying to watch our watts but as we climbed I found myself in the lowest gear almost immediately.  This concerned me because up until now I had always used my mountain bike for these gravel events.  I had a ton of easy gears and I could bomb down the hills as well.  The rest of the day I spent worrying about my gearing.

Later that night we got to go to a VIP party in town for the race.  We were given some cool swag and got to meet the girls Katie and Jen from World Bicycle Relief an organization that provides bikes to 3rd world countries as a means to go about their daily lives with improved efficiency. You can find more information to this great organization at this link:  World Bicycle Relief . Visionquest raised enough money for 68 bikes! I also saw some of the folks from Dirty Kanza.  I spoke with the race director and tried to talk him into sending me a 200 sticker that I had lost at the end of the DK200 race but he wouldn’t budge.  I guess this means I need to go back.  Kristin another Kanza organizer said she remembered me finishing and said that she had hugged me which I thought was really cool.  The party was a lot of fun we had some great food and good wine.  I soon forgot about my gears.

Picture with Rebecca at the party.

Picture with Rebecca at the party.

The next morning we went out on another ride, this time with the Queen of pain herself – Rebecca Rusch.  This was about the 3rd time I’d met her and she recognized me from Kanza which I thought was nice.  This time we rode the entire first climb of the course.  I managed up it with my gears albeit slowly.  Once I realized I could actually hang on even in the lowest gear I felt a little more comfortable.  We had fun talking to Rebecca and enjoying the fabulous view.  On the downhill we experienced the infamous washboards of the race.  It was seriously so bumpy I felt my brain smashing around inside my skull.  My arms and hands were shaking so much it was hard to hang on.  You didn’t know whether to ride it fast to get it over quicker or ride it slow to slow down the bumps!

Recon ride with Rebecca (on the left) (me on right)

Recon ride with Rebecca (on the left) (me on right)

Top of climb.  It was a bit rainy and cold that day.

Top of climb. It was a bit rainy and cold that day.

During the day we all watched the wagon days parade.

Wagon Days Parade

Wagon Days Parade

Then headed back to the hotel for a big pizza / pasta dinner.  Apparently I  had worked up a hunger because I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs and the pizza.  I ended up paying the price later as I woke in the middle of the night with sky high blood sugar.  I hardly ever eat pasta and pizza is pretty infrequent too so I definitely misjudged my insulin requirements.  Luckily I did wake up and was able to give myself a correction and was fine again for race morning.  It could have been ugly if I hadn’t woken up.  Thank goodness for the dexcom alarm!

We woke up to a chilly morning.  I ate my usual breakfast in my room of wheat bread, crunchy peanut butter and a banana, while the rest ate breakfast together.  With a blood sugar reading of 100 I bolused about 50% for the meal and increased my basil to 120% for 2 hours to account for start-line adrenaline. Other than that I planned to keep my basil at 100% for the remainder of the ride.  I had packed my bento box and shirt with cliff blocks and gels.  For the first time in a long time I didn’t have my hydration pack or a liquid nutrition bottle with sustained energy. It was a bit of a risk but I planned on using more cliff blocks, gels and aid station food.  I wrote on my arm my inspiration – Katie love.



I packed up my things and met some others to head to the start.  I wore my arm coolers, thin vest and my VQ kit with long fingered gloves.  I knew that we would hit the hill soon enough where I would get warm.  Hopefully the vest would keep me warm on the downhill.

Race Start

Race Start

The race started on a paved road, in fact the first 6 miles or so were paved.  I tried to draft off of as many people as I could until we got to the gravel.  I felt pretty good on the uphill and noticed that I climbed it faster than the day before.  I came across a few teammates and one of the World Bicycle Relief girls.  We chatted until we got to the top which made the hill go buy much quicker and it felt really easy.  Later she said that she had been struggling and that I helped take her mind off of the struggle.  It is always nice when we can help each other out during some tough times.

We arrived at the first aid station and got a refill of gu roctane.  I had only drank 1 bottle of skratch at this point.  Although I made sure I drank I wasn’t sure if I had enough.  I also had a qtr of pbj and one of the amazing roasted potatoes. Although I had been popping some cliff blocks along the way I figured I’d better eat some solids while I felt like it.  I make my stop quick like I had been working on.  The next several miles were a gradual downhill and I felt superfast on the Trek Cronus that Mike had so kindly lent me, the gravel was fairly hard packed.  I averaged nearly 21 MPH.  The next aid station arrived fast again I made it quick, having a couple of potatoes and a few sips of cold coke.  All the time I had been slowly sipping on bottle # 2 of skratch and refilled again on GU roctane.  I had brought extra skratch with me but rather than taking the time to mix it I just used what they had on the course.  I wished I had taken the time because I felt that the GU roctane didn’t quite agree with me, it wasn’t what I was used to.  At this point I hadn’t heard any dexcom beeping and I felt good so didn’t manually check my sugar.  I took off heading to the 3rd aid station.  Which was a slight uphill.  During this section I experienced lower back pain to the point where I was having to relieve it every few minutes.  I figured it had something to do with increasing my running mileage.    I tried to alleviate by going in the drops getting out of the drops but the only thing that would help was to stand up and give it a good stretch.  At least it was nothing that was going to stop, it was just annoying.

Aid Station and spectacular views

Aid Station and spectacular views

Before I knew it I arrived to see Mike’s smiling face at the 3rd aid station.  What a treat.  I knew he was going to be in the course but didn’t know where.  Seeing him gave me a big boost. He asked if I had seen the cows and the antelope, I had not. I wonder if I just wasn’t paying attention?  I thought I was enjoying the scenery.    I grabbed half a pbj and 1 potato and continued on into the loop of the lollipop route.   I noticed a girl wearing a bright pink t-shirt and bright pink compression socks and ended up behind her the whole way.  I made it my goal to keep her in my sight.  At one point she stopped at the side of the road  I made sure she was ok and continued on.  On this loop I did see the cows but no antelope, in fact at one point I slowed down as a cow was approaching the road and I thought he was going to walk in front of me but he stopped as he saw me.  I guess I looked scary.  At the end of the loop I ran into my teammate Andy.  He wasn’t doing to well and had lost a bottle along the way.  All I could say was 1 mile until we get to see Mike!  In fact the entire loop that is all I thought about.  15 miles to Mike, 10 miles to Mike… We arrived at the aid station together I grabbed some more roctane and headed out.  By this time “Pink Girl” had passed me again. She didn’t stop at the aid station like I did.  I knew I was going to stop at each aid station because I only had two bottles with me but it turned out I really only needed 1.  My back one was still fairly full at each aid station but better safe than sorry.  I didn’t test at that aid station either because I really felt good and my Dex was not alarming. At this point I felt great and was excited that I was already 2/3rd of the way in.

more amazing scenery

more amazing scenery

The next section was the stick part of the lollipop which we had ridden out on. This time we had a benefit of a gradual downhill for a while.  The wind had really noticeably picked up.  I stopped again at the next aid station had a diet red bull.  In hindsight I should have has a regular one.  I ran into another teammate Eric he was extremely tall and apparently his longest ride before this was like 65 miles.  He was suffering quite a bit and the wind was really strong this 2nd to last leg and we  also had a gradual uphill.  I tried to pull as long as I could then I had to let him go for a bit.  We worked together for a bit then I lost him.  It was during this time that I heard the beeping of my dexcom coming from my bento box.  I honestly was not sure if I was low or high at this point.  I took the machine out and tried to read it in the sun, no easy feat.  I finally got to some shade and saw that I was in the red low.  I took this opportunity to have my salted caramel gu and I also had a few glucose tablets.  I arrived at the final aid station and although I didn’t need to stop I stopped anyway.  The rest of the way would be the really quick albeit painful downhill then the quicker paved section.  I grabbed more liquid for some reason and ate a bit of a banana.  Eric also had come in.  I took off and started bombing down the hill.  I felt pretty good and confident with my hands in the drops ready to apply the cantilever breaks on the cross bike.  Shortly after my descent started Eric caught up to me and passed me.  Then I passed him again once we were on the flatter section.  I also passed the girl in pink and spoke to her briefly.  I don’t think she was happy that I passed her because she wasn’t really friendly.  I finally saw the mile to finish sign and saw another woman I rode past her at the pace I was going , then she picked it up and put the hammer down.  I thought I didn’t have anything in me at that point to push that sort of power and told her I had nothing.  But then something happened and I was able to sprint with her to the finish.  We ended up with the identical time and tied for 10th place.  Had I known it was for 10th I might have pushed it a little more but honestly I don’t think I could have.  The finishing timer mat was about 2 miles from the actual “finishers” chute so we ended up chatting the rest of the way.  She told me that her and her husband usually do 400-500 mile races.  I asked her about them, about sleeping in tents /food etc. Then I told her I did Kanza and she said she DNF’d because she underestimated it.  Later when I looked at the results I realized that she was Jay Petervarys’s wife.  Jay Petervary link

I arrived at the finish with some great cheers from the team and they said I was probably only the 10 or 11th girl to finish.  I had no idea who was in front of me or who was behind me at this point. I just had a great race, it was an amazing fabulous day.  I just couldn’t help think about how lucky I was to be enjoying this glorious ride and day.  The views were spectacular to say the least and although my blood sugar dipped low I really like it better when I can maintain a more normal range rather than running high which is usually the case.

These last few sentences sum up why I have forgotten about all trials and tribulations, all the mental anguish, all the tired Sundays and why I am signed up for my next big adventure! Even after I arrived home and was back at work I was basking in the glow of that race and the whole RPI camp.  It was a great time with great people. It made me smile.

I ended up eating:

1 Salted Caramel Gu

1 Chocolate Razberry Gu

2 packs of shot blocks

1 pack of GU chomps

2 bottles of skratch and 4 bottles of roctane

Approx 4 small-med red potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary with salt (so awesome!)

¾ PBJ sandwich.

½ banana

Awesome Idaho Potatoes at aid station.

Awesome Idaho Potatoes at aid station.

Finishing time was 6:37:08 over 94 miles and 5,200 feet of climbing. My max speed was 38.5 mph (woo hoo).  Lesson learned – I should have stuck with my Skratch.

Race Day BG

Race Day BG

Strava File

More amazing shots can be found here:

Linda Guerrette Photos


Although most people left the next day I had arranged to stay another day in this spectacular place.  I woke up late, went for a swim, I rented a city cruiser bike and rode it to the ski lift at Bald mountain and breathed the beautiful mountain air.  I ate lunch at the roundhouse at the top of the ski lift.  The views were stunning and it was so nice to just chill after racing.   Mentally I usually prefer to take a day to relax after a race.  I hate packing everything up and getting on a plane back to reality.  A day is nice to soak it all up especially if you are surrounded by mountains. Honestly this place was a little slice of heaven.

Top of Bald Mountain at the roundhouse

Top of Bald Mountain at the roundhouse


NEXT UP THE TWIN CITIES MARATHON ON OCTOBER 5TH.  I need to start doing some serious running!!!!

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The road to Rebecca’s Private Idaho – part 1

These are my hi-lights of the summer getting ready for RPI part 2 will be the race report.  I wanted to write about them as I went but well, you know, life.

I just returned from Sun Valley, Idaho.  A place I never imagined I’d visit, knew about or thought about. It is a place where the sun always shines, the people are happy and unicorns prance around freely.  This is what I love about racing and training is that  I get to see places that I would never have known about.  This year I got to visit St. Louis, Emporia, Kansas; Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; and Sun Valley, Idaho.  I discovered Seaside, Oregon an area of beautiful little cottage homes and a ginormous beach.  I also got to see the haystack rock, and the Columbia gorge.

Beautiful Sun Valley

Sun Valley Idaho



Haystack Rock after Hood to Coast

Haystack Rock after Hood to Coast


The Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge


The week after Kanza was the Tour de Cure a recreational ride where participants raise money for the American Diabetes Association. I raised over $2,000 dollars.

Tour de Cure ride for American Diabetes Association:

This  year our team made the ride in honor of my best friend Katie. If you have read previous posts you will know that Katie passed away in March from a rare cancer at the age of 33.  A lesson to us all that life is short.  Don’t live with regrets get out there and do what you love! We called our team Team Katie Cyclemonsters.  My dear friend Katie always made an effort to help out the diabetes cause  and it was also the event of her first long endurance ride.  We were all so very proud of her.  It was bittersweet to do it this year since she would not be there for it but it was nice because we had so much support from friends and family either who did the event or donated money.  Some of my diabadass girlfriends (a secret sisterhood of girls with T1 diabetes) even flew in from out of town for the event.    Katie’s boyfriend and my good friend Chris Navin helped organize fund-raising efforts and also selflessly gave his time to the ADA. We had a lot of fun working with Bill Nedza and David Gibbs doing some course recon and filming the route!    Chris and I both raised over $1000 and became ADA Champions.  We also appeared on the CBC morning news where we were interviewed by Derrick Young.  It was so great to see all the pictures they posted of Katie as well as helping to spread the word about the benefits of exercise to diabetics.

And I did an interview for ADA social media talking about the red rider program.  A program started by Mari Ruddy to help honor those that ride with diabetes.  Check it out here:

I also enjoy this event because it is one of the few events that my boyfriend and I do together.  He is not a huge biker but every year he signs up to do it and rides 60 miles on his huge heavy clunker bike. After Kanza this was a nice slow easy ride with lots of rest stops!  I would encourage everyone to sign up for this great event which starts and ends at the two brothers roundhouse brewery in Aurora!  Yum.

If you want to join our team for next year please do so at:

Team Katie Cyclemonsters

ADA Ride - diabadass girls and Derrick Young

ADA Ride – diabadass girls and Derrick Young


Overall my training for June included 540 miles on the bike and about 35 miles of running. Why running?  I started my 3rd year as a marathon coach for FFC.  This year we are coaching a great bunch of Team 2 End Aids athletes. I was also planning on running the Chicago marathon until this:

I applied in June to become a GLOBAL MEDTRONIC HERO and my application was accepted.  I was one of 25 individuals from across the globe, chosen for this and I could not be more proud and humbled.  Again, I think it is a great program to help spread the word about the benefits of exercise even if you use a medical device to help you.   So I get an all expenses paid trip for me and Tom to fly to Minnesota and run the marathon!  I also get $1,000 donated to a charity in my name. Unfortunately it is a week early so my already short training schedule will be cut even shorter!

Despite all the great things that were happening, July was a very hard month for me emotionally.  Work was nutty and the reality of Katie was very heavy on my heart.  I did a lot of long training rides on my own which I typically don’t mind but I think some distraction might have been useful.  I really went through a tough time.  This is when my coach Mike stepped up and helped me through the tough times.  He is truly part therapist part athletic coach.  I guess that is the sign of a good coach. He is the best.

10,000 5,600:

My next event (training event) was this puppy:  I was signed up for the long course 10,000 feet of climbing over 124 miles on July 12th.

It just wasn’t my day.  I rarely do not finish up a day until my goal has been met and I rarely give in.  This race I did.  In my eyes I failed.  At the long-course cut off point I just decided that I did not want to be out there for 12 hours on that course.  My bike was off and was squeaking incessantly, I had lost a contact near the start, I had gotten a flat early on, there were a million bugs in the air.  With the humidity and the lost contact I couldn’t see for shit and I was barreling down gravel roads without a clue as to where I was or what was in front of me. I was also carrying far too much food and water.  I had two bottles on my bike, two bottles in my hydration pack and a full 3L bladder.  It weighed a ton.  My back was killing me from the start.  I think being diabetic makes me over prepare and over concerned about running out of food and water.  With no SAG at this event and only 1 place to get water I thought more was better.  Mike and I were the only VQ members doing it and we had both agreed that since there was no SAG we would wait for each other in case either of us needed help or needed to be picked up.  The race organizers were fairly adamant about the lack of aid in their advertising.  Had I gone on I would have been lucky to have finished by 7pm.  I was not going to have Mike wait that long and with the way I felt it was the right thing to do regardless of how it made me feel.  I rarely make the best decisions in the world because I’m so stubborn but this was the right thing to do.  It still ended up being 75 miles with 5600 feet of climbing and took me nearly 6.5 hours!   I happily finished, changed and waited for the first long course riders to come in which was exciting.  I was expecting Mike to be in that bunch but turns out his day was not the greatest either and I was happy to be there for him when he arrived.   Due to Dexcom delivery issues I was without my dex but I tested less than 200 each time. Not finishing what I started was a hard pill to swallow but the right thing to do. I will back to get my revenge next year.

When I look back at the numbers now I see that I still cranked out 540 miles of biking and 66 miles of running in July.

In the meantime while working insane hours and training for Rebecca’s I was asked by my friend Aliki to join her team for the Hood to Coast relay running race.  This race is practically impossible to get into.  When I talked to Mike about it he was as excited about it as I was, which is why I think we get along so well!   The link is here to read all about it. Basically a team of 12 people run various legs from Mt. Hood to the coast, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that! I ran 16 miles in total over 3 different legs.  The race was the week before Rebecca’s so the travel and coordination to make both happen was pretty interesting.  So I flew out and spent 40 hours in a van with 4 girls I didn’t know and one I did know. Why not?! What a blast! I will post a follow up on my BG’s for HTC because relay racing has its challenges in that regard.

Hood to Coast Gang Two Vans Twelve people 200 miles!

Hood to Coast Gang Two Vans Twelve people 200 miles!

Hood to Coast Van decoration . I'm so flexible.

Hood to Coast Van decoration . I’m so flexible.

So with Hood to Coast plans, marathon coaching picking up, marathon training and a trip to Boulder to spectate Ironman in between I arrived in August with some renewed motivation!

The sisterhood of the Diabadasses at the Boulder IM swim start.  What a day!

The sisterhood of the Diabadasses at the Boulder IM swim start. What a day!

Mrs. Rocks:

Next up on the training plan was the Dairyland Dare on August 9th, my last big training ride before Rebecca’s.

The ride included 11,700 feet of climbing over 250k and 11 hours of cycling. I used my osprey synchro hydration pack again with 3L of hydration and I used a bento box with some solid nutrition. Carrying the 3L of Skratch allows me to skip aid stations and have plenty of the hydration mix that I like, although I was careful after the 10,000 race not to overpack.   Although this ride provides plenty of aid stations I like to try to stick with my own nutrition – sustained energy mix, blocks and skratch. The syncro appears quite big, it has a frame keeping if off your back to avoid excessive heat, over the past year I’ve been teased by a certain VQ employee about how I ride with a tent.  Here is the pack Osprey Syncro 10.  I think the straw broke the camels back was when an older gentleman on the ride asked if I was carrying a bag of rocks and from that point on he called me Mrs. Rocks. It’s true it was a bit heavy, especially in hills.   It was then that I decided at Rebecca’s I would go sans hydration pack and just go with the bottles and refill at aid stations which there were plenty of for the race.

The climbs of the ride were constant not long slow gradual climbs but relentless sharp hard climbs which were made even harder with my pack of rocks.  I felt fine until about mile 130 however those  last 20 miles felt like 100 miles.  I rode my Madone road bike and I ended up getting severe foot pain from hot feet which got harder and harder to ignore.  I tried all the tricks but it wouldn’t alleviate.     Luckily I hooked up with a few guys in the last 20-30 miles which allowed some great bitching sessions.   After discussing the ride with Mike I found out that even Robbie thought the ride was really hard. This made me feel a little better.  I had no dex readings because of the aforementioned delivery issues with the sensors. I did test the old-fashioned way and my blood sugars remained fairly consistent at least when I tested at 160.  Yes this ride was a huge struggle but as I learned last year I need to “trust the struggle”  which I feel like I have done a lot of this summer. Ride file is here:

Dairyland Dare

Overall for August I was down to 410 miles of biking and about 60 miles of running.  My mileage was down due to my Boulder trip and Hood to Coast but as I said earlier life is short and I don’t train for these events to win. Being in Boulder for Chris and Karen was too important and the chance to participate in Hood to Coast was too good to pass up and

I feel so lucky and fortunate that I have the financial means, the use of my legs, arms, body and mind to be able to participate and complete the events that I sign up for. I think Katie would agree.

Rebecca’s Private Idaho race report – Part 2 to follow

Here is a little view of what it was like:



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The Dirty

As I sat down to write my dirty kanza race report I noticed the familiar shake in my hands.  I looked at my Dexcom and saw 65 with a down arrow.  I don’t recall giving myself too much insulin but that’s the way the diabetes ball bounces sometimes there is no explanation. I often say that diabetes calls for a lot of on the spot doses and last minute fixes.  I dose and eat according to historical references that are filed away in my brain.  I  know that my correction factor and my basil rate (the constant base rate) are good because I have days and nights where the line on my dexcom is straight.  I’ve also had long rides with great blood sugar levels.  I love those days, when I nail it.  I’m often more worried about nailing my blood sugar than nailing a race.  Keep in mind this is just me, I know plenty of diabetics who seem to race very well without issues.  However not so many are doing 200 mile gravel races that last well over 12 hours.

If you’ve been reading my blog you will know that I signed up for and had been training for the Dirty Kanza 200, a world premier gravel race in the flint hills of Kansas.  I trained and raced with my wonderful coach and now mentor and friend Mike Peters.  I had, what I thought was a sketchy start to the training.  Work was crazy and I suffered the loss of my best friend Katie to cancer.  I was physically and emotionally exhausted at times.  200 miles seemed daunting and I often thought about throwing in the towel.  There were days where I would be riding for 5-6 hours by myself, just thinking about life and Katie the emotions were physically draining.  This is where the mentoring part of Mike kicked in.  It wasn’t just a calendar filled with miles and watts, he had this way of just saying exactly what I needed to hear to continue towards my Kanza goal.  For that I owe him a debt of gratitude. I know he will be reading this so, Mike, thanks from the bottom of my heart for your words of wisdom, your encouragement and for believing in me.  Thanks to him and the support of Tom, I got to feel what you can see in this picture.

Completely Giddy

Completely giddy and covered in dirt

I can’t even write anything that would come close to what you see here, as the saying goes this picture IS truly worth a thousand words. In the few minutes following all I could see was Mike beaming at me and coming to greet me, it was a moment that brought tears to my eyes and a moment that I will never forget .

The other person that I owe a debt of gratitude to is Tom.  Without his  support through my training I might have completely folded.  I usually introduce my zaney race ideas casually to him then secretly sign up and pretend that we talked about it and he knew that I was doing it.  Before he bats an eye we are planning a “vacation” to Emporia, Kansas.  Seriously, his patience with me is never ending.   He half joked “ so we are driving 500 miles so that you can ride 200 miles then driving 500 miles home.”  Yes, honey, that is correct.

He meticulously packed up the car with his coolers, displaying tremendous ice managing skills second to none.  We started the drive Thursday before the race and arrived in Lawrence about an hour and a half outside of Emporia where the race was.  I had sprung on him that I wanted to stop here to see Rebecca Rusch “the Queen of Pain” do a course talk and iterated that there would be prizes and free stuff.  So we arrived in Lawrence at 5 pm ate a big burger with my teammate and T1 diabetic Eric then went to the course talk.  Tom patiently endured the heat of the 2nd floor in the bike store as I listened to Reba talk about her addiction to finish lines.  It all paid off as I gleaned some great tips which I used during my ride (see my post here ) and I won a beautiful pair of Smith sunglasses with 3 interchangeable lenses.  I had a feeling that things were going to go well that weekend.  After the talk we continued to Emporia where we checked in to the hotel.  We got the room key and entered a smelly dank room.  I’m not even sure this hotel was a 1 star.  This was supposed to be “Americas best” Inn.  We immediately heard the familiar chirping of the smoke detector, you know the one when the battery is dead or dying.  So we picked up the phone to call the front desk.  No dial tone.  The phone didn’t work.  So at 10:30 at night after 15 hours being on the road I went back to the front desk and told them.  She offered to take the battery out.  I said that didn’t sound very safe.  So we got another room, still no phone but at least no chirping, which could either be a sign of a good battery or no battery.

We unload the car and had a wee drink then hit the hay.  Friday I washed my bike and started preparing for the race.  One of Reba’s tips was to be prepared and have your bike ready, tuned and cleaned.  I figured I should wash the dirt off of it from the prior week’s race.

trusty stead

trusty stead

I rode my Trek Superfly mainly because I don’t have a decent CX bike (oh woe is me) and I had been training with it.  Overall I don’t feel like I was at too much of a disadvantage.  I could certain scream down the rocky sections like there was no tomorrow much to the envy of most of the cx bikers I passed and I easily navigated up the loose rocky sections.  I will say that I was fairly impressed with how some of the people negotiated these sections on their CX bike, I’m not sure I would have been so brave.

Friday, we picked up the race packet, went to Walmart for some provisions, picked up spare wheel set from Mike, headed to lunch then hit the course talk and the pre-race meal.  We arrived back at the hotel at 7pm and I got ready to make my sandwiches for the next day.  As I was making the sandwiches I gave Tom his instructions for his important role of being my support vehicle.  This was important because it would be my only source of refueling, water and extra tubes if needed.  Bike racing, all day events and such are so out of Tom’s element so he made careful notes of instructions for each checkpoint.  I’m pretty sure that when I told him about this race I hadn’t really articulated that he would be spending ALL day in the car waiting at each of the 3 checkpoints.  Well, bless his heart he did such a great job.  He was at each check point on time, he had the blackhawks flag (prior to them losing game 7 to LA) way up in the sky on a flagpole so I could see where he was parked and as I arrived I could see that he had taped his instructions for that checkpoint to his old green cooler.  I was so touched by this.  Like I said previously I couldn’t have done this without him.

My nutrition included the following a more detailed view of my intake is included below:

On the bike on each leg I had:

a full 3 L hydration pack with Skratch

dark chocolate and almond kind bar

a gu

4 packs of blocks

1 bottle with sustained energy and espresso hammer gel

1 spare water bottle for emergencies and/or cooling off

At the checkpoints I had:

Coke/diet coke/red bull and one coconut water

Jason’s chocolate hazelnut and banana on whole wheat low carb soft bread in halves.

Ham and cheese and mustard on whole wheat low carb bread in halves

Peanut M&M’s and other chocolate treats

I carried 2 spare tubes and 4 c02 cartritdges and some tools that I probably wouldn’t know what to do with even if something did happen but you never know.  I just kept praying to the flat god’s and funnily enough to Katie to have me not flat, I am sure she was saying gills (that is what she called me) there’s nothing I can do about that!  It wasn’t so much the racing or riding I was worried about I was more worried about mechanical issues.  It’s not that I don’t know how to change a flat it’s just that I hadn’t done it on my MTN bike before and I was running tubeless which just freaked me out a bit.  But hey, it’s not like I’m the only rider who doesn’t like flats, Lance Armstrong rode the last 10 miles or so of Leadville with a flat so I don’t feel so bad about admitting that. I ended up using the same tires I rode Leadville in, Racing Ralph 2.1 tubeless.

I had worked out my insulin requirements and set up a new pattern on my pump rather than using a temporary basil set up.  I also placed my pump in a frio pack to keep cool and had placed a spare vial and syringe in another frio pack in my hydration pack.  My basils were set up as the following:

5am-7pm 0.8 units per hour compared to 0.5-0.7 on regular days.

7pm+ 0.6 units per hour

I reduced my basil in the later hours because typically at an Ironman I will go low later on in the race. Not so much this race.

I had set my alarm for 3am the morning of the race, not to get up but to check my blood sugar.  I figured If anything was wrong it would give me 3 hours to fix it.  Sure enough I woke up and saw that I was at 200 so gave myself a correction bolus.

I woke up at 4:30 am and ate breakfast and bolused about 80% (about 3 units).  I had 2 pieces of low carb whole wheat bread with banana and chocolate hazelnut butter my go to race day breakfast.  Tom drove me to the start line .  I felt great, my blood sugar was in the 170’s when I left I had all my supplies I had my VQ kit and arm coolers I was all set.    I started back with the 18 hour crew but inched forward a bit since there was space and I didn’t want to get caught up with any bad riders.  I didn’t see Eric or any of the others prior to the start.  The temperature was pleasant and there was still a morning haze which kept the heat off.

A look at the haze that blanketed the land

A look at the haze that blanketed the land

We were led out 3 miles by the police then it turned to gravel.  I made my way through a crowd of people and settled in.  I sipped on my skratch and my hammer bottle and ate blocks here and there.  I probably should have had a more timed eating strategy but I felt like I was spacing out the intake nicely.  Well, wouldn’t you know at about 7:30 heard the familiar beep of the dexcom, I was over 300.  I hadn’t felt overly excited or nervous so I didn’t think adrenaline would have factored in but apparently it must have since nothing else I was doing or eating was out of the ordinary.  I quickly gave myself a mini-bolus of half a unit. I also increased my basil rates to 1 unit from 0.8 units for 2 hours.  Within the hour I had double arrows down which was ok because I had just been sipping and nibbling.  I took the opportunity to eat my gel which was a salty caramel gu.  The next hour I spent enjoying the scenery and looking at the beautiful haze over the land.  I felt like I was in a different country, beautiful expansive rolling hills as far as the eye could see.  Near the end of the leg was the water crossing (pictured below) where most of us got off our bikes and walked through knee high water.  It wasn’t worth thinking about, so I just plunged right in, water soaking through my shoes and socks, I came out the other side feeling like I picked up several pound in water weight in my wool socks.  The first checkpoint arrived really quickly, honestly I had barely even noticed that I had already ridden 50 miles.  I looked around and sure enough there was the blackhawks flag flapping in the wind high above all other things, it was perfect.  I rolled over to the spot and was surprised to see Eric.  Tom was busy helping him and saw me standing there and jokingly yelled at me for being early.  I had told him approx. 4.5 hours for CP1 but arrived about an hour early!  He had not even had a chance to fill my other hydration pack yet.  I wanted to make the stop quick so I hopped off my bike and ran around trying to find a port a potty, I had been dying to go for quite sometime and refused to stop on the course.  I didn’t see any so ran over to a park and went behind a sign… I’m all class.  I ran back and Eric was getting ready to leave, he said he would see if the others would wait, I told him to go on but sure enough Eric, Brett and Steve waited.  The time pressure was on.  I replaced the hydration pack and all my bottles which I had pre-made, grabbed another pack of blocks and a gu and tested ( I was 160 yay!!!). I grabbed a half banana and jason’s chocolate hazelnut sandwich which Eric decided to hold on to for me and we rode off.  I couldn’t help but notice the thick layer of reddish/brown dust that had blanketed my legs.  Pictured below, those shoes ended up in the trash!


Water crossing

Water crossing


check point 2 with my momentos

check point 2 with my momentos

The  leg 2 started off fairly bumpy and hilly. I had completely forgotten about my sandwich that Eric had.  Then I realized and took it from him.  Unfortunately the roads were so rough in this section that there was not a lot of opportunity to eat it.  The thing was turning to liquid in my hand.  So I tried to put it in my bento box.  Unfortunately after another several miles I looked down and saw that it had fallen out… no sandwich for this gal.  I ate some extra blocks and continued to sip on my hammer bottle as well as the skratch.  After sometime the boys decided they would stop and pee.  Apparently they had not done so at the checkpoint so assuming that they would catch up to me eventually I decided to pedal on.  I had already resolved to pee on the bike (I know gross, but i did use my spare bottle to help wash myself off a bit.)  I had to go to often, it wasn’t worth the effort to take off my jersey every time.  Besides there was not a whole lot of shrubbery to go behind, it was literally all grass. The scenery got even more spectacular as the day went on.  The skies turned blue and the sun came out.  We truly lucked out.  My heartrate maintained around 130’s. Miles later the 3 amigos (Eric, Steve and Brett) caught up to me.  We rode together again.  At some point Eric said he was going to eat something  I think he was going a bit low so he slowed down to eat, again I said I’d just motor on at my own pace.  Somehow I ended up riding with Steve for a while and Brett and Eric were behind.  Steve said he was going to hang around and wait for them so I told him I’d just keep going.  I figured better for me to get a few miles ahead than have to slow them down later. Besides if Eric was always behind me he would be able to help if I got a flat! Yes I had some motivation.  I never saw them during the second leg again.  At about 10 miles out I felt a little hungry and ate most of a kind bar.  I pulled into the second checkpoint, still feeling good. I had finished  the 3L bladder.    The first thing I noticed was that Tom had laid out my little momentos that I brought with me for inspiration.  The picture that Katie gave me of her a few months prior to her passing, a picture of my mom and dad and finally the stuffed Honeybadger and tequila bottle that my very dear friend Helen (aka H-fog) gave me with a little note on it.  It made me smile from ear to ear.  Then Tom told me that my niece Cassaundra had texted him to say good luck.

I inhaled two ham and cheese halves with an ice cold coke.  I swear, It was the best tasting meal I’ve ever had.  The rest was a bit longer than I wanted, it was quite hot.  The last few miles were pretty grueling and a little windy.  I had been by myself for quite some time.  I tested again – 160 ! yippee!  Considering the coke etc. I gave myself a mini bolus of 0.5 units. Mike had given us the idea of filling pantyhose with ice to keep me cool.  So Tom got busy filling this cut stocking.  It was quite humerous as the stocking got longer and longer.  I tried to put the “ice pack” on my neck but the ice slipped into each side and fell to my waste under my jersey.  I felt like I had two sagging boobies.  I decided to keep it in since it was ice after all. I saw my blood sugar creeping up so I upped my basil again to 1 unit for 2 hours.  I was just about to get started as Eric rolled up, he said that they had all run out of water, so Tom got busy helping Eric. As I was heading out I noticed that my back tire was low, oh crap.  So I took the opportunity with Eric there to go back and check it out.  He pumped it up but it still worried me… was this the beginning of a flat?  Please god no. Pray to the flat gods, pray.

I decided again to keep moving.  I had already been at the CP for 20 minutes and I didn’t want to risk hanging around for much longer.  I headed on my way and at this point recognized some jersey’s  from past miles.  There was the guy with the yellow “don’t run me over” jersey and the guy with my favorite jersey of the day “energy circle” with a donut pictured below.  I kept a close eye on my back tire… sure enough it started creeping down.  It didn’t go flat but was pretty low.  Do I put a tube in now or keep riding it knowing it was soft?  I decided to fill it with some co2 to try and make it last. I checked the entire tire for a tear or hole, there was nothing,  I did see some moisture where it looked like some of the Stan’s was leaking out. The seal appeared to have been broken.  I knew that I was losing some efficiency by riding on a softer tire but I also knew that changing it would take a long time for me.  Isn’t that just crazy?  I also thought at some point Eric and the gang would catch up.  I kept looking back but no such luck.  I continued on rolling through the fields cringing on the rough parts and the cow grates.   The sky was blue the sun was hot, the grass was greener than I ever thought possible.  We literally went miles without seeing one building.  There were several sections where the cows were actually on our path.  I took my time so as not to startle them and start a stampede.  I did NOT want to be run over by a big ass cow.  Between the cows, turtles crossing the road, armadillo shells, snakes (yes I saw a slithery snake), green green grass, blue blue sky and gravel my rear tire continued to be soft but not flat.  I kept thinking about when my nickname “the honeybadger” was coined.  It was during a Madison loop ride where I rode on a soft tire for several miles until the bike shop aid station where I had a new tube and tire put on.  Lyndsay (teamWILD) started killing herself laughing that night and saying “Gillian doesn’t give a shit if she has a flat, she just keeps on riding”.  I laughed to myself with that memory.  I also looked up at the blue sky often to speak to Katie and pictured her up there looking down at me.

I topped up the air in the tire several times with the same co2 cartridge.  Then at about mile 25 I was tearing down a hill and heard the unmistakable hiss of the back tire, it was truly flat this time.  I look again and didn’t see a hole, I spun the tire around.. even put the bike upside down and stood there.  As I stood I was passed by two girls… ugh.  25 miles to go …  I can do this.  I had lots of cartridges I filled up the tire again.. maybe the seal would re-seal itself.  I continued to ride. This is where I met “big Dave”  He started talking to him and we exchanged names.  I told him about my tire woes and he said he would help if I wanted to put a tube in and thought that I should.  I was so stubborn and this point I only had 20 miles to go, surely I would make it to checkpoint 3?!  We actually stopped and he actually got out his hand pump and started pumping….It only lasted a mile.  I got off and took the tire off feeling like a numbskull for not listening to him.  Luckily he was behind and stopped again to help.  I was so unbelievably greatful for him.  As we started to take the tire off, up road Eric, Brett and Steve.  Eric was not doing very well and was cramping up like crazy.  He was suffering from dehydration big time.  He hopped off his bike and started to help.  I said good-bye to big Dave and thanked him profusely. Eric finished changing my flat for me, we still didn’t see any damage to the tire which was a good thing.  Brett and Steve had circled back to the house about ¼ mile back with the hose to get some cold water.  Eric tried to get back on his bike and cramped.  He said he wanted to go back to the house as well.  So knowing how much he was hurting we wanted to make sure he was ok.  So we all walked back together.  We found some shade for him and told the house owner that he was going to rest.  Brett and Steve thought about waiting but Eric insisted on staying and said that he would have Tom pick him up.  So after a little deliberation we decided to march on.  We knew Eric was safe anyway.

Big Dave from Oklahoma

Big Dave from Oklahoma

Brett, Steve and I rode the last 20 miles to checkpoint 3.  It felt like 200 miles.  It was hot and a bit windy at this section and we were 130 miles in.  I honestly thought CP3 would never arrive.  Finally we turned the corner to the road and saw it like an oasis in the dessert. I asked how long they planned on being Brett said about 10 minutes, so I said I thought I’d probably take a bit longer than that.  Their support vehicle was at the front of the CP and mine was down the road further at the back end.

I felt slightly dehydrated during that last stretch and I had started to feel a little woozy during the last few miles and was getting goosebumps, so I downed the cold coconut water.  Tom had his CP3 list taped to the cooler and went through it with me.  I got my lights and decided that since I’d still have a couple of hours of day light I would put it on down the road rather than ride with the weight on my head.  I put the light in my pack.  I tested at about 160 again, honestly the same # practically every time. I ate a sandwich had a coke and some m&m’s .  I’m not sure why but I didn’t mini-bolus for this, I paid for this later. Again, I didn’t sit down.  I changed my sunglasses to my clear ones, replaced some blocks and a bar. I also put on my old Garmin that I had loaded with the course, I knew my 910 xt was supposed to last 20 hours but would it?  I had the back up just in case.  I did NOT want to get stranded in the dark! Eric had gotten in touch with Tom and said that he was getting a ride to CP 3 with someone.  I waited for a bit.  Finally he arrived in bad shape.  His heart rate was elevated and he was cramping big time.  We told them to get an EMT . An ambulance pulled up and cranked him full of fluids and checked out his vitals.  The paramedic came over to me and told me that they wanted to take him to the hospital but he refused to go in the ambulance.  So I went over to talk to him.  He was pretty clear that he didn’t want the ambulance so I said that Tom would take him.  I was finished with all I needed to do so Tom started to unpack the car to put Eric’s bike in and repack it up.  Again, Tom was just an angel throughout this ordeal.  Once I knew everyone was in good hands I said my good-byes assuming that Brett and Steve were long gone.

I really didn’t feel bad.  Yes, it was daunting to think I had another 50 miles but I just kept pedalling.  One of the things that Reba said on Thursday night was “I think how great it is that I get to just ride my bike all day”.  It was true, no computers, no cell phones, no texts etc. just you, the bike, and nature.  I just rode, fairly easy.  Eventually I started catching up and passing some people.  I also passed the two girls that had pass me earlier during the flat incident.  I was feeling good.  Enjoying the ride.  Then at around 7:30pm I hear “beep beep” … Dexcom was telling me something.  I looked and it just said “high” with a line going straight up practically.  I guess this isn’t like ironman, no lows after 12 hours, I should have mini-bolused at cp3.  Given the “high” I bolused a full unit.  For the next hour or so I sipped very slowly on my Skratch, knowing that I would still need to keep hydrated.  Eventually I came down and was able to munch on my blocks again. I was happy with my pace and was surprised that I met up with big Dave again.  He said he was not doing well so I offered him a block which seemed to do the trick as he picked up the pace again.  We rode in most of the way together with a few others.   However I was losing light fast.  I was riding with 4 or 5 others with lights which helped but eventually I was going to need to put mine on.  This was a dumb move on my part. As I looked at the map I decided I’d ride with them to the next turn which put me approximately 10 miles from the finish.  We finally made the turn and I had to stop.  I was worried that I couldn’t see where I was going and I was worried that I was going to get in trouble for not having a proper light.  I had a small one that barely let off a glow but I think it was fading.  So I stopped and I watched the trail of glowing lights ride off in the distance.  At this point it was so dark I could barely see my hand in front of me.  I took the light out then realized I needed to align the plug into the battery so I had to get my cell phone flashlight out to see. So, trying to hold my pack, my phone and my light I finally got it turned on.  It felt like everyone was passing me at this point, then I saw the one woman pass me again.  I threaded the strap through the helmet which proved to be very difficult in the dark with the Velcro sticking to itself etc….. it was the most frustrating 10 minutes.  The whole time the mosquito’s were buzzing around my ears and I was having to shoo them off.  I finally got it on put my pack on and took off.. I didn’t even do up my straps, the battery cord was in front of my face but I didn’t care.  I pedaled like mad to catch up to glowing lights in the distance.  I finally was able to catch up to everyone again, including the one female.  I rode with her and her crew for the last 6 miles.  They were from the area and had been training hard.  I wanted to break away from them but they knew the way turn by turn and it got a little confusing towards the end as we got closer to town and the university campus so rather than trying to muddle my way through I rode with them.  We got to the top of commerce drive which was about ¼ mile from the finish so 201.75 miles in we both laid down the hammer.  We were neck in neck sprinting to the end.  We finally got to a barricade with a fairly narrow entrance, I bowed out and let her go in.  I then slowed down a bit and drank in the cheers and the crowd, high fiving people as I rode in. I saw Clemens first who said how proud he was of me.  He has a son with type 1 diabetes.  Then I saw Mike running over to the biker exit with a huge smile which is where I almost lost it. I had done it and I felt great!    I was sorry Tom just missed me at the finish line as he was coming back from seeing Eric at the hospital, he literally missed me by minutes.


finish line photos

finish line photos

All in all aside from a few glitches my blood sugar was relatively good. Here is a general run down of my intake:   NUTRITION 1

dexcom kanza

Other Links

These and more awesome shots can be found here:

My Strava file:


727 registered and 465 finished which was a record.

From what I can tell 28 women finished.  I finished 13th overall at just under 16 1/2 hours and 10th in my age group (40+),  3 seconds behind “my friend” and about 20 minutes behind the 8th place finisher. So needless to say I was pretty pleased!

Mike, although finished in time that I could never fathom did not have such a good day, with 5 flats and a couple of spills it just wasn’t his race but was in great spirits nonetheless. He has vowed revenge on Kanza and said he’d be back. I think I would actually do this one again!

I also raised over $2,000 by selling my Kanza miles for the American Diabetes Association!  It’s not too late to donate if you care to. (I promise I will stop doing this after this month !) But have to do it just in case. Click the link!

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Bib 681 Kanza is here.

Bib 681- Links at the bottom!

gravel, green and blue

gravel, green and blue

This week was busy…. starting off with Sunday.  Sunday was my final race before Dirty Kanza this weekend.  It was a 68 mile gravel race with similar conditions to Kansas (long rolling hills and miles and miles of gravel roads through farm fields with some grass tractor roads mixed in).  Although I felt like it would be fun and there were 30 or so VQ’ers doing it I was hesitating because it has been my M.O. to not do much on race week.  That is any race.  My reasoning is that if I haven’t been on my bike for a week then I’ll be itching to go come race day!   Anyway I was so indecisive that I decided to ask my coach for advice, realizing he had already said it would be ok for me to do or not do.  I knew he would have the words of wisdom to help me.  When I received his message I was hesitating to listen because I was actually afraid that he was going to say not to do it.  I guess that should have been an indication. So sure enough he said the right thing and I did it. It turned out to be a great decision.

The race started in DeKalb at 9am.  I had just had my bike tuned up and when I say tuned up I mean I spent $600 on new drive train, rotors and brake pads!  Some people don’t even spend that on a new bike!  Anyway, it should be all set for another couple of years and I will remember to change the chain every 500-600 miles vs letting the old worn chain wear down the teeth on my cassette and chain rings! Such a better idea to spend $40 a couple of times a year vs $600 every year!  So I was anxious to make sure everything was in working order.  As we turned the corner I noticed I was in the small ring as I shifted up the entire chain fell off!  So I had to pull over almost right away to get that set up again.  Not a good start.

The race was led out by a cop car for about 3 miles or so. So it was a nice easy warm up for me vs a balls to the wall start which I hate!

I stuck with some of the VQ crowd for a while who were all on cx bikes and we sort of played cat and mouse for a bit as they went ahead then I went ahead etc.  I think they were trying to stick together.  The roads were great and the scenery and weather was awesome.  Eventually I lost the VQ’ers.  At about mile 20 something really cool happened.  I started drafting off a guy on a fat bike.  It seemed that we also were playing cat and mouse for a while so rather than expending all that energy I decided just to hang with him.  The really cool thing was that without a word we just started drafting off of each other, taking turns pulling.  I drafted off of him and as I saw him struggle I pulled up ahead, then he went and so on and so forth.  It worked really well, just having that few minutes rest between pulls was so beneficial.  Unfortunately after about 10 miles he told me he was going to have to pull off for a bit and we thanked each other for working together.

Then we got to a 5-6 mile section which was more conducive to mountain biking.  It was more like a double track.  Needless to say I zipped ahead as people commented how lucky I was to have my mtn bike. As I turned on to the road I saw Eric. Eric is that crazy biker who just got T1 diabetes 2 years ago in his 50’s.  He had spent his entire life doing what he wanted and when without thinking of his health. He had been having a hard time dealing with the disease and I’ve been helping him whenever I can.  He was sitting on the ground and looked like he was in pain. So I stopped to make sure he was ok.  He wasn’t.  He was having trouble with his saddle and sitting on it.  He had no idea why.  I stayed with him as we decided what to do.   Someone had offered to give him a ride to DeKalb but the person didn’t have room for his bike.  The 41 mile checkpoint was just 6 miles away so we decided that he would try to ride to the checkpoint to get a ride there.  We checked our sugars mine was terrible.  I’d been having a terrible blood sugar day for no apparent reason.  His was ok. We took off and I soft peddled with him as he rode standing up for six miles.  We made it to the checkpoint and made sure that he could get a ride back.  With a lot of energy I took off and motored the rest of the way.  It was funny because this is where a lot of people who hadn’t been eating or drinking properly were bonking.  So I got to pass a lot of folks who had passed me.  One section got pretty rough with huge trough like divets.  They were so deep that I couldn’t turn my pedals.  We also went through a few mud sections and a water hazard and a section where we had to get off our bikes and walk over railroad tracks.. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t legal!  At one muddy section  a couple of guys on cx bikes  stopped abruptly in front of me which caused me to nearly fly headfirst into the bushes.  Luckily I escaped with just a flesh wound.



As I rode along the last few miles on the road I passed a guy that I had been riding with off and on through the course but he had taken off ahead of me.  I yelled out, you’re pretty fast for a mountain bike!! Hell yes!

It was a fantastic day, it was hot and dry and I felt pretty parched.   The only negative was that for no apparent reason my blood sugars were through the roof.  I ate and drink everything just like in previous rides, same insulin levels, everything.  But I could not get under 200, when I got off my bike at the end my body felt numb and I felt a little dizzy.  I tested and saw that I was 396!  The only thing I can think of was that the insulin was bad.  I had used the infusion set the day before and knew that it was working.



After the race we had a beer and some pulled pork courtesy of the race organizers and I hopped in the car to head home then out to a memorial weekend bbq.  It was a long day but glorious!

Monday we had people to our house for a bbq and I had to start packing for the drive to Kansas.  Tuesday and Wednesday I was away for a work conference in Oak Brook after the 90 minute drive on Tuesday I decided to stay the night and treated myself to a short run and a short swim in the outdoor pool.   Also, as luck would have it, Ray from Bodygears360 happened to be working 2 miles down the road on Wednesday so I got up early and had a pre-race dry needling session.

Thursday we packed up the car and took off for Kansas!  I am a notoriously disorganized packer vs Tom who carefully makes a list out. I am just not a list person. But I didn’t forget the honeybadger!!!



The car is full so hopefully that means we have everything.  As we are driving South I’m looking at all the green and the fields and thinking of myself riding through the fields on Saturday and thinking about my mind and getting myself ready to dig deep.  You can prepare mentally as much as you can but nothing is like being in the moment where you have sunk so low that you cannot possibly move an inch further. But I cleaned Rocky and I’m ready to roll!










I’ve been making some notes as I go of some quotes and things to help me through the day.  For more inspiration I packed the picture that Katie  had given me of her and I prior to her passing, I packed a picture of my mom and dad that they had given me for Christmas I also packed my Leadville medal and the special gift that Robbie and Mike had given me after the race.  I’m also going to have my niece and nephew text me or Tom throughout the day so I can get message from them.

My coach sent me this, which sends shivers up and down my spine.

Courage. We all Suffer. Keep Going.

Courage. We all Suffer. Keep Going.



I also saw this one on facebook today:

Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

And of course I always like:

Pain is temporary quitting if forever.

And my road ID quote:

Smile and Enjoy the ride.  I still have Katie as an emergency contact.

Last night I attended a talk with Rebecca Rusch – The Queen of Pain.  She is a 4 time Leadville 100 winner and has won the dirty Kanza 2 times. She said a few things which really resonated. She is such a wonderful woman to talk to.

  • She said she hates to race but she loves the finish line feeling which is so true.   There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishing a goal.
  • She said that we are so luckily because we get to spend the whole day on our bikes! No computer no cell phones no work to stress us out.
  • She also mentioned that we should speak about our goals.  I was happy about that because I do strive to inspire and talk about our goals.


I’m not really afraid of failing because I had the courage to try. I was also able to raise over $2,000 for the American Diabetes Association and wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who donated to the cause.   Tomorrow I will think of you all!!!  Here is the link for those of you who still want to donate for this great cause!

I’ve worked hard for this and when it gets rough out there and I’m in a deep dark place wanting to quit, when my legs don’t want to go any further I will think of Katie who soldiered on through such pain and agony even in the shadow of despair when there was less than a glimmer of hope.  She fought. I will not quit.

Katie Strong. Katie Love.


If you want to track me you can use this link.

If you want to track the race checkout this link.

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2 weeks to Kanza-the final countdown!

This weekend called for two 4 hour rides.  Funny how 4 hours now seems like a drop in the bucket. Neither of my rides went quite as planned but I still enjoyed myself.

For Saturday’s ride I needed to pick up my bike at Trek store Highland Park where it was getting tuned.  From there I planned to ride to the Des Plaines River Trail, the same trail I rode just 6 days before.  I got to the trail and turned on to the path only to see a sign that said trail closed due to water.  I was trying to recall how this could happen in the last few days then I remembered the storm.  I figured how bad could it really be?  I’ve seen that trail covered in water but didn’t think it could be so bad now so I just ignored the sign.  Just a few miles in I came to my first “water hazard”  It was about a 20 foot stretch of the trail covered in water.  I decided to take my chances knowing that Kanza may have some water passes.  So I entered the water and started to pump my peddles so as not to get my feet wet, unfortunately the mud underneath got so stick that if I didn’t do a full peddle I’d stop and fall over so in my feet went into the water. Great, half hour into the ride and my feet are soaked.  I kept going.

As I kept going I saw sign after sign of “trail closed” or “underpass closed” signs.  Luckily for the most part I remembered how to get around the underpass.  There was a couple of times that I ended up riding up and down a road looking for a way in.  One time I found myself in thick 8 foot tall weeds trying to get around the water, unfortunately it didn’t work and I ended up on the road again and had to pull out my iphone to figure out where to go.  Every time I got diverted I thought oh maybe I’ll just stick to the road, but I just couldn’t divert from my plan.  I really wanted to make it to the end of the trail again.  I just kept hoping that the each following section would be better.  I approached the freeway underpass, not just a road, the actual highway – 94.  I saw the closed sign and again refused to believe that it could be that bad.  I arrived at the underpass and sure enough it was not passable however unlike the other underpasses I couldn’t exactly hike up to 94 and walk across or ride to the next intersection! So rather than going back like a normal person I decided to climb onto the embankment beside the underpass where there was about a 2 foot space clearance.  All I can say is that I’m lucky I had my helmet on because as I got a few feet in I clunked my head on one of the girders.

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The river overflown!

The river overflown!


I definitely went through a lot of water on that trip.  I also did one other underpass caving expidition.  I finally made it to a stretch of about 9 miles that was almost waterless.  I ended up making it to the end of the trail albeit with soaked feet the entire time.  I rode the 9 miles back then took it too the streets.  I had had enough of the water and hike a biking. I made it back in 2 hours vs the 3 that it took to get out there!

I was really happy with my nutrition.  I stuck with the same mix – skratch, sustained energy and hammer gel mix, over 4 hours I ate a pack of blocks and one other gel.  This worked out to be about 44 g carb/hour and 200 calories per hour.  This time I left my basil rates at 100%.  My blood sugar’s were great, they dipped a bit but managed to get it back up.  I figured If I can keep that up for the race then eat real food at the checkpoints I should be good.

I was a little disappointed in that I had to get on and off the bike so much and having to ride on the road on the way home. It ended up being about 62 miles at about 4.5 hours.

Today I had volunteered to be lead biker at the half marathon downtown.  I had done this before and really enjoyed it. I figured I could ride the course a few times then continue on from there.  Well, it never really works out that way.  So I was up at 4:30 putting wet shoes and heading to the start line. As myself and Dave Athans rode back out on the course after taking in the lead runners we ended up riding home with the last racer.  Her name was Cindy,  I couldn’t just leave them despite the grueling 15 min/ mile pace.  I really wanted to see Cindy finish.  She told me that it was her first half marathon and that she had lost over 70 pounds over the past year and works with a group to promote wellness and exercise.  She walked a good portion of the last half of the race.  Still we stuck with her.  As we rounded the corner towards the finish line I saw the tears of joy coming down her face. It just made me so happy to have been a part of her race and her goal, she was amazingly strong.  Because I had been gone already for about 6 hours and not really eating very well I ate some of the race food.  I finally got back on my bike and rode for another 2 hours.  I wonder if that counts as 8 hours in the saddle?  It was definitely a long day!  I figured I did about 60 miles overall albeit over a long time!  So overall not really a quality workout today either.

Bike marshals!

Bike marshals!

Bike Marshals on the course!

Bike Marshals on the course!


This was really it for Kanza training so I hope I did enough. In hindsight I guess I don’t make the best of decisions training wise but I got to see Cindy finish her race. Over all I feel good and my blood glucose control has been good during the rides.

Diabetes Blog Week.

Well I made it through 3 days.  I just couldn’t find the time to write on all the days.  I did however read some pretty cool stuff including another exercise junky!

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Diabetes Blog Week – Day 3 What brings me down?

pulling hair outMy doctor once said you need to make diabetes your number 1 job.  This is easier said than done, my job is very stressful and time consuming and I have chosen to participate in a very time consuming hobby (endurance sports).  I tend to not make diabetes as much of a priority as I should.  Constantly guessing the # of carbs in a meal and what your body is doing at that given moment to determine how much insulin to take is not my idea of fun. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the occasions where you are exactly right about are few and far between.  Who wants to always do something knowing that it’ll probably be not quite correct all the time. It will cause you to pull your hair out sometimes! I have a whole list of things that I beat myself up over because I have done them or I still do them from time to time.  They are things are mostly avoidable and I have no excuse for.

  • Sometimes I have let my insulin pump run dry because I am purely too tired or I haven’t made the time to change it. ( of course I change it at that time).
  • Sometimes at night my dexcom will be alarming that my blood sugar is high and I just ignore it because I physically don’t have the energy to get up and test.
  • Sometimes I just forget to bring emergency supplies on a long bike ride.
  • Sometimes I go high for hours and just keep dosing before I realize that maybe my insertion site is blocked or the insulin is bad.
  • Sometimes I have run out of pump supplies.
  • Sometimes I don’t make the time for follow up appointments with my doctor.
  • Sometimes I have 1 too many drinks.
  • Sometimes if I’m busy at work I don’t take the time to test even if the dexcom is asking to be calibrated.
  • Sometimes I will go out and exercise even if my blood sugar is over 300.
  • Sometimes I don’t check for Ketones when I should.
  • Sometimes I just don’t see a trend in my numbers and can’t make heads or tails out of it.
  • Sometimes I don’t speak up when I’m feeling shitty from a high blood sugar.
  • Sometimes I just completely forget to bolus for a meal.

So I beat myself up. I’ll also be the first to admit that I get frustrated with the diabetes roller coaster.  Eating when I don’t want to or not eating when I want to eat.  I did learn a valuable lesson this year when my friend Katie passed.  I learned that life is very prescious and it can be short.  So I’m trying to not sweat the small stuff and be grateful for what I have.  And I absolutely need to take care of my body and my health first.

When I get down about it, I step back and look at my life with diabetes. I was an adult, already 30 when I was diagnosed but I really had not grown yet.  I didn’t know who I was.  I was married and I got a divorce.  I can’t wonder who I would be or what my life would be like had I not gotten this disease. Would I still be married, maybe. Would I be a mother, maybe.   I have so many good things to be thankful for and these are the things I remind myself of.

  • I am in good shape.
  • I run, bike and swim.
  • I have a relatively healthy lifestyle
  • I have nice bikes.
  • I get outdoors.
  • I understand the importance of nutrition better than a lot of my athlete friends.
  • I have met and am friends with an absolutely amazing group of individuals because of this disease and for that I will be forever grateful.
  • The happy dance when you have a good diabetes day!

Would I rather race an Ironman or a mountain bike race without diabetes?  Hell yes, but that wouldn’t be me. I am Gillian with T1 Diabetes and that can’t be changed. I consider myself lucky to be able to compete at all.

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