I'm a MainiacLast Saturday dawned as a beautiful if chilly day in Portland Maine. I was up around 6:15 AM (45 degrees C) to put my triathlon gear into the car and by 8 AM I was on the road to beautiful Biddeford for the first ever Mainiac triathlon.
I put all my stuff at the transition area and talked with some other folks before the race started. As I wanted to keep my blood sugar under control, I'd decided not to eat any carbs for breakfast and I reduced my basal to 50% for 2 hours about 2 hours before race time. Thanks to my Dexcom, I was able to watch my BG creep up until it was around 215 before the swim started. So I ended up taking a small bolus before removing the pump and zipping into my wetsuit.
Then off to the beach with other triathletes to wait for the pep talk before race time.
After a recap of the rules and a lovely rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, we all walked down the beach to the official starting point.
There were four swim waves separated by 3 minutes. I was in the third wave, for the over-40 men. So we got to see the first wave rush towards to the water while we waited nervously. As someone said, it was a beautiful photo moment.
After a few minutes of smalltalk it was our turn to rush towards the cool blue Atlantic water.
Let me just say that the swim was a lot harder than I'd expected. Although I'd done several miles of swim training overall, the combination of the colder water and the slight current made this part a lot more difficult than I expected. So I made slow progress in completing the 1/4 mile, and I was fairly worn out when I did make it back to the beach. (Note to self, I need to learn to do front crawl!)
Then it was a 100 yard dash up the beach to the transition point. I dried quickly and got my pump back on as I changed into my bike gear. My blood sugar had gone up slightly, so another minor correction and a quick drink of some electrolyte mixture before getting on the bike.
The bike ride was 14.7 miles and it was really flat with nice scenery all along the way. Much of it hugged the coast and the breeze was gentle enough that it neither helped nor hindered. But I did notice my legs cramping up during the last few miles. I stopped twice to get a look at the Dexcom and drink some extra fluids, and my blood sugar was finally getting closer to a normal range.
Getting back to the transition area, my blood sugar was around 150. A relatively quick change into running shoes and top and I was off on the last 3.2 miles. Now the weather was a good deal warmer, so no long sleeves were needed.
One of the things that the run (really an extended jog/walk) taught me was just how hard it is to do even a short triathlon like this one. I appreciate much more how hard an Ironman event must be, especially with diabetes. By the time I got to the first water stop, my blood sugar was dropping faster so I drank some energy drink and walked on. At some stage I passed the 1-mile marker and was very disappointed that it didn't have a big 3 on it!
But I made it all the way home to the big timer and a "Bernard Farrell is now a Mainiac" announcement from the DJ.
The organizers did a great job. There were several folks from a local college who were training as masseurs, so I managed to get some relief for my brick-like calf muscles. That helped a lot.
Total time was a big disappointment, a little over 2:07. But looking at the biking time, I realize that it was the tiring swim that really messed me up. During the entire triathlon my blood sugars ranged from 230 to 130, which is a little high but a great range overall.
The good news was that I finished the triathlon and was still able to walk/get around for the rest of the weekend. Along the way, thanks to many friends, I managed to raise over $4,700 to support Dr. Faustman's research into a type 1 cure. (And I'm happy to take more donations if you're feeling generous.
By a strange coincidence I met Dr. Faustman on Monday, when I was giving another blood sample for her research. The news there is all great. In August her team published a paper showing that their approach kills the bad T-cells that destroy our insulin-producing beta cells. They also showed that this approach did not kill any important cells in the healthy blood samples. To my mind, that's important proof that this is unlikely to produce unwanted side effects.
Dr. Faustman also told me that she was interviewed recently and asked which venture capitalist was funding her research. She told the interviewer that it was being funded by lemonade stands and bike rides. He was amazed that this level of research could be funded in that way.
Those of us in the D-community understand the importance of this research for ourselves or our children. And we're doing whatever we can to keep it going, though it seems like an impossible task at times.
Thank you all for your support in my triathlon attempt. Next year (hah!) I plan to get to the finish line much more quickly and in better shape.
Attribution: The great photos were taken by my sister-in-law, Marie Mersereau.