On Saturday, I ran my first race of the year and in Minnesota. It was my second 10K, having run my first one in New York City last September. I’ve done a lot of running since then, and learned even more about what I need to do to manage my diabetes while running. Of course, just because something works most of the time does not mean it will work every time, so there’s always a bit of crossing the fingers (and toes!) when it comes to diabetes and exercise.
My husband and I had gone out to dinner the night before and that can always set things up for catastrophe, but it had been a long, stressful week so I really needed a little date night. We went to an Asian / Latin fusion restaurant in Minneapolis called Chino Latino, and had quite a bit to eat. Paired with a delicious raspberry margarita, we had two eggrolls and a paella with chorizo, shrimp, calamari, and chicken with Spanish rice. We also decided to splurge on dessert! Yikes… Thinking back, it was probably not my finest decision but it was certainly tasty!
Around six o’clock in the morning, I woke up. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom and I didn’t feel low, but I only wake up when there’s something wrong with my diabetes so I tested and saw that I was 283 mg/dl. Eek. I debated what to do, but finally decided that since I had a good three hours before my run started, it would be okay to give the full correction. I would go ahead with my usual plan of bolusing half for my breakfast to bump my blood sugar, and I figured that the remaining active insulin from the correction wouldn’t be too bad. Turns out, I was right.
When I woke up and tested at 7:30 a.m., I was only down to 235 mg/dl. I didn’t even look to see if I needed more insulin or not, because I knew that any extra insulin this close to the run would basically double in my system and I would crash. So I just rolled with the 235 mg/dl. I had a bagel with a schmear of peanut butter with a cup of coffee, and bolused half the carbs in the bagel. I don’t turn down my basal when exercising, and just rely on my fuel to also help with my blood sugars.
I’m not currently wearing a CGM (looooong story and one for another day), so my last test before the run was at 8:30 a.m. when my husband dropped me off at the race in a park in South Minneapolis. My blood sugar had spiked to 313 mg/dl, but I was okay with that because I had insulin in my system and I didn’t feel sick which means it wouldn’t affect my run.
In my SPIbelt, I carried my phone along with two GUs for low blood sugars, and in my Nathan’s belt, I carried an additional GU that I planned to use as fuel at the halfway mark. It wasn’t necessarily for my blood sugar, although that definitely helps, but also because I know that on a long run, I need to fuel to stay energized.
Everything went according to plan on the run. I alternated between running and walking, which my CDE Jenny Smith told me can help with blood sugar. She explained that when the body stays oxygenated, it more easily can burn fat for fuel. If not, it starts burning glucose faster. Since I didn’t want to tank and go through blood sugar too quickly, I wanted to do interval running. It’s something that I normally do anyway and have always had good results, but it’s nice to hear that there’s a reason!
At the 5K mark, there was a water station, so I grabbed a glass and tore open my GU, although my fingers were so sweaty it was a bit tricky. I felt fine the whole way until the end. Although I didn’t PR, I did well and finished the run with a blood sugar of 151 mg/dl.
When we got home and had lunch about an hour later, my blood sugar had started to rise to 202 mg/dl. I underdosed for lunch, which ended up backfiring and I spiked up to 254 mg/dl. Bummer. Although I don’t usually have lows during or right after exercising, I do have lows about 12-18 hours after exercising. Usually I have a low blood sugar early in the morning if I don’t lower my AM basal rate. My basal rate goes up for the dawn phenomenon, but something about exercise negates the dawn phenomenon, so that’s when I have to turn it down. This time, I went low just before bed, but I think it happened earlier because I exercised earlier in the day rather than my usual late afternoon/evening routine. I’m not much of a morning person!
In other news, I’m also training for my first half marathon! I’ll be running a half marathon here in Minneapolis in July, so I’ll start increasing the length of my runs. I’ve never gone farther than six miles, so it will be interesting to see how my blood sugars react to increasingly longer runs. See also: where to put all the GUs?