I traveled down to Tuscaloosa, AL, to compete in this year's Age Group Nationals (my first time to qualify for such a big race!!). Pretty good venue, especially getting to watch the pros race that same day, but it was definitely hot and humid down there! A very humbling experience as well, but still a blast.
On race morning, I woke up with a BG of 64., with the CGM reading 82. A 20 point spread due to my calibrations, but as long as it stayed that way I'd be fine.
I just ate a yogurt and of course had my obligatory pre-race drinks of a diet mt. dew and a diet coke (I drink at least a diet coke before every race...I don't drink coffee, but I'm a caffeine addict Then it was time to start "real" hydrating!
Got to the transition area (TA) about 5:30 and checked on my bike. Tire pressure still felt good. Set up my usual stuff and clipped my shoes to the bike.
Met another person with diabetes that morning named Erin. She was racing the female 25-29 age group, and after the race I learned she was pretty darned quick, placing 16th in her AG (with eligibility for Worlds qualification!). I really enjoy meeting others living with this disease that are able to be so successful at competing with other racers who have so much less to worry about. This was only her first year racing triathlons (did I mention that this trip was pretty humbling?
Planned on eating a clif bar before the swim start, so I bolused for it and left my pump and CGM in the TA. I was 144 when I left the CGM. I also set my temp basal for the swim and bike legs. I kept testing prior to entering the swim, and my last two checks were 97 and 112 with gatorade and that clif bar "on board".
The swim was an "in water" start against the dock. I let the gun go off and followed everyone two or three seconds later (I don't really like getting beat up for swim position, especially in a race seeded with this many other really great competitors!).
The first 1/3 of the swim was with the current, which felt pretty good. Turned the far end and headed upstream, which felt like someone was constantly swimming/kicking in front of me. Finally rounded the last buoy and headed for shore. Came out of the water with a 27 minute time; I had wanted to break 30 with the current, so I was happy.
Back in the TA I tested at 123. CGM reconnected at 142. Still 20 points off--really good feeling actually, because I could rely on the results and adjust my carb intake and any boluses pretty conveniently (calculating off of my "real BG").
Jumped out on the bike and knew it was time to lay the hammer down. That's what I had come to do I consumed one honey stinger gel (29 g) after I had gotten my feet into my shoes and had turned the first 180 degree turn.
The course was great rolling hills that weren't too steep. I am a slow climber (relative to my descending speed) so I would get passed by several on the way up, and then my weight and "need for speed" would help me blow the doors off of those same folks on the downhills. The bike course was two loops, so on the second loop I knew exactly where to push and how to handle the rollers. Managed to hit almost 45 mph for several of the downhills (not my fastest descending ever but still very fun!), and averaged 22.3 mph for the whole course. CGM read between 123 and 149 on the bike course. Here's me coming back into the TA about to cross the dismount line and jump off the bike:
Came into the TA and the CGM had me headed up past 150 (45 degree arrow up). On longer courses I decrease my basal even further for the run as I get really insulin sensitive, but with this faster, shorter race course I decided to just let it ride and see what happened.
Running shoes on, I took off at 7:30 pace ("fast" for me) with a goal of catching everyone I could that had anything between 25 and 29 written on their calf (since that's the people I was "really" competing against, especially in a race with such talented/fast individuals).
Couldn't hold the 7:30 pace once the course turned and went "up" into the neighborhoods. But I was able to keep it around 8s the whole time. I had some minor GI issues (just a bloated feeling really) on the bike, and they continued on the run as well. It wasn't enough to make me really need to throw up or stop running, but it was definitely not comfortable either. But, no pain no gain right? Every time I noticed myself slacking or lagging I would try to re-focus and go chase someone down.
CGM kept creeping up and hit a high of 208. With the 20 pointt spread that meant just less than 190. Not perfect, but it was something I could work with. With a distance like this I spend most of my time right at lactate threshold (which is where your aerobic/anaerobic energy supply switches as well). Especially during the run I know that my HR is waaaay up, so some of the glucose on board may not get used as quickly because I am actually anaerobic (not using glucose as primary form of ATP production at the cellular level). Because of this, I only drank water at aid stations on the run. And really just a sip at each one, so I could throw the rest over my head (which felt awesome in the humid, hot air of Alabama!).
With 2 miles to go the CGM headed back down (ultimately finishing with a reading of 175 with a slight down arrow). I wanted to PR (old was a 2:34) and as I neared the finish line, I could tell I might even break 2:30! I kicked in everything my legs would deliver and came across the line with a 2:27:47! I was ecstatic. A successful iron-distance triathlon less than one month ago and now a new PR for an Olympic distance!? Awesome.
I was very proud of my performance, despite the field of competitors being so strong! I hope that I can qualify for this event again next year, as AG Nationals will be held in Burlington, VT (wetsuit legal for sure!)...and placing in the top 18 of my AG would guarantee a spot to Worlds, which would be held in New Zealand in 2012 (I would LOVE to make it there!). Just for grins I looked up 18th place for this year's race, and I would have needed to drop exactly 20 minutes off of my time to hold 18th. The realistic side of me doesn't think that I will increase my speed that much (not enough to make a top 18 spot), BUT I will definitely keep on dreaming and training as best I can!
Here are my finishing stats: