Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Self-Transcendence Duathlon - Guest Race Report

OK folks, as previously advertised here is Harley's Race Report from the S-T Duathlon.  Harley is the Head of Physical Education at West Point Grey Academy (talk about an awesome job.)  

We reconnected at the North Shore Triathlon earlier this year where he was supporting/coaching a bunch of his kids in the race.  The type 1 diabetes has never seemed to hold him back, in fact I barely remembered that he had it... although I do remember he always got to have a ziploc bag of food in class.


Race Report - Self Transcendence Duathlon August 3, 2008 (the longest running triathlon in Canada at 29 years and part of the Provincial race series)

Firstly, thanks to Meyrick for hosting this on his blog. As he mentioned, we graduated together in 1992. Once, while playing rugby, Meyrick got hit and his (fake) tooth was dislodged. After the game, we went looking for the tooth and I ended up finding it in the grass. He still has that tooth today. But I digress…

I have been a type 1 diabetic since I was 16. This means that I take 4 shots of insulin daily and test my blood glucose about 5 times a day.
I wear a Medic Alert necklace and have had to be ambulanced somewhere only once due to having a bad sugar low (hypoglycemic event). Otherwise, I like to think of myself as “normal” medically speaking, just someone who has to have medicine and make sure I have food/sugar on hand at all times and especially when doing sporting events.

I have done 1 sprint triathlon for each of the past 3 years (North Shore x2 and the Panorama Classic). I am such an inefficient front-crawl swimmer (I sink) that by the time I get out of the water, my body is toast. This is why I chose to do a duathlon this year. I picked this one at Elk Lake and trained 5 days a week for 13 weeks (mostly riding) in hopes of getting myself ready to complete what I felt was at the upper end of my body’s capabilities.

The race was a 5km run followed by a 40 km bike and then a 10km run segment (around the lake) to end. My goal was to do it in under 3 hours: and aimed for a ½ hr run, a 1 and a 1/2 hr bike and then a 1 hr run.

A diabetic’s blood glucose is supposed to be between 4 and 7 ideally. It is dangerous if you go below 4 (short term) and dangerous (long term) if you are too high for prolonged periods. Doing athletic events, it is better to be a bit on the high side to get you through as you don’t want to crash while doing your event. In case you do, it is a good idea to carry these:

If you do go low, you can feel clammy, disoriented, dizzy, act irrationally and do weird things that don’t mix well with things like sporting events.

The night before the race I had a pasta dinner, a Hermann’s Dark Lager and a lot of water. In the morning, I tested at 10.8 before breakfast (I had reduced my previous night’s insulin a bit and that was where I wanted to be) and then had a banana and a bowl of Vector cereal at 6:00am.

I’m not sure how many triathletes would eat a full breakfast an hour before their race, but if there is one thing you can do as a diabetic, it is eat and (then) run. In a (relatively) short event like this there isn’t really a need to have a scheduled snack during the race (unless you were low or to keep your glucose score up). However, in a race like CityChase (where my sister and I finished just 10 places behind Meyrick and Mark) it was different. There, because we started at 10:00am and went until about 2:00, I had to scarf back some pizza and have my lunch time shot while riding the bus back to UBC that day.
But, back to the race at hand. The Spiritually transcendent start line (some duct tape on the ground) for the approximately 40 duathletes. The 5 km run was fine, I wanted to do this in about 25 minutes and ended up leading “the peloton” that was behind the main group of runners for most of the way. 

After the run, I grabbed a few swigs of my Powerade in transition and headed out on the bike.

The course consisted of an out and back with plenty of rolling hills. The first 8 km (over a bit of a bumpy road) was tough. I thought, oh no, here we go again, it doesn’t even matter that I didn’t swim this time, I’m still dying here. Then, thankfully a few things happened all at once: one of the downhills came along, we finally hit the well-paved highway, and the first of the roadside spectators appeared (and cheered me!) and it all came together. I ate 2 gel packs spaced out over the length of the ride based on how I thought my body felt. Anyway, I finished the bike about how I thought I would based on my training rides and other than the fact that riding Iona Beach probably wasn’t the best practice for this course, I was happy overall. I finished with a 28.2km average and was done in 1hr:22 mins.

At this point, I wasn’t sure at all what my score would be so I did a blood sugar test in transition and my score was 9.6 (pretty good considering everything so far).

So after getting cheered on by my family (wife Tracy, son Nolan and daughter Bronwyn) I went out again.
On this run, I had a couple of mini cups of Gatorade at the water stations but knew that I should have had enough “energy” to make it around. My legs weren’t really moving though, and I realize that I could have definitely done some more run training (I had avoided doing too much running due to compartment syndrome in my shins-which I had surgery for in 1996) but I made it around the lake in just under an hour.

Crossing the finish line- I think the clock is the triathlon clock - add 5 minutes to that to get my time.

The reason why we do these things to our bodies- the support of our loved ones:
                  Nolan and a visibly worn out dad

For an interesting related story, check out Jay Hewitt's blog and website.  Jay is a member of the U.S. National Team for Long Course Triathlon who got type 1 diabetes when he was 24 and has since done more than 14 Ironman triathlons.

He married Miss USA 2005, so he must be doing something right.

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MJ said...

Nice work Harley! Interesting to see how everyone has to think about different things to get from the start line to the finish line....

I though I had it rough having to switch legs in transition - was the test in T2 something you needed to do because you were feeling 'different', or was it a simple precaution?



Harley Rollins said...

Thanks, but I think your transition is tougher.

I wanted to test, because when working that hard (it's not a day to day feeling for me) you won't know where you score would be. I could have been high or low so I just wanted to test to be sure.

That Hewitt triathlete does his test while riding his bike...