Diabetic Runners


Diabetic - lifestyle change (my Journey through my 30s) (Read 109 times)


    I know that this forum has limited activity, but I feel compelled to share a portion of my story to the group today as well as those that may join in the future.

    I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 1999 at age 27, and changed my lifestyle that day.  My goal from that day on was to live an active lifestyle. 

    I went from being a couch potato to being active.  Over the course of the past 12+ years, "active" changed its definition.


    Last Saturday, I completed my 1st Ironman!


    Below, you'll see my pre-race message to family, friends, and training partners.

    After that, you'll see my race report.


    (I apologize in advance for surpassing the "unwritten rule" regarding the length of a post.  Bottom line, I feel, is that activity is wonderful and can change who we are).


    (written about 10 days before the race)

    My Journey

    In a few days, I will jump into the water and attempt to do what I once thought was impossible. 
    In a few days, I will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run 26.2 miles in one day.
    Hopefully, I’ll be able to do all 3 of those items within 17 hours.
    If so, I’ll be considered an Ironman.
    Portions of this journey have been tough.  What began as a goal to become active became an obsession that lead to excessive training, excessive focus, weekends training, early morning alarm clocks, complaining about my muscles aching, and changes in budget to account for new watches, shoes, bikes, and equipment.  I didn’t realize that those changes would occur, and that obsession would happen until I was in too deep.  My wife and kids have been willing to accept this obsession and understand my desire to attempt this event.  I am grateful for them, and their willingness to deal with this selfish “me”.

    The Beginning (Phase I):
    In 1999, I applied for additional life insurance, and was denied coverage because of my health.  I was advised to go to the doctor, and was soon diagnosed with type II diabetes. 
    On that day, I changed (my journey began). 
    Before that day, I spent 8 years struggling through school and paying the monthly bills while being married to a wonderful woman and having a wonderful son with some medical challenges. 
    After that day, I became active.  I began by run / walking around the local track, and within a few months, I was running 6 miles straight (at a comfortable pace).  Medically, I changed.  My blood sugars became “normal”.  I had changed my lifestyle to become healthy.  The journey had begun.

    The Middle (Phase II):
    On November, 2008, friends of ours invited my wife and I to run a local 5km race that raised funds for Multiple Sclerosis.  For them, the race was personal, as they had family that struggled through MS.  For us, it was less personal, but very enjoyable.  I don’t think that either of us knew what running a race would be like.  We ran.  I finished in the middle of the pack for our age group, and enjoyed it.  My wife finished a couple of minutes behind me, and little did we know that she came in 1st place in her age group and got a trophy.  That race was the beginning of this 2nd phase of this journey.
    In 2009 and 2010, I ran my first (and only 10k) race, my 1st half marathon, and my 1st (and only) full marathon.  In addition to these events, I also participated in 4 sprint triathlons (and learned how to swim), as well as an Olympic Distance triathlon (1500 meter swim, 24 mile bike, 10km run).
    In 2011, I had a goal to complete a ½ Ironman (aka “70.3” which is the total distance traveled during the day).  The 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run were an endurance test that challenged my ability.  My goal for 2011 was to “finish and enjoy a ½ Ironman.”  I fulfilled my goal, but that lead me to believe in and prepare for my 2012 goal.
    With my wife's support and encouragement, I signed up for Ironman, Texas (May 19, 2012).  This race is only a few days away.  Over the past 30+ weeks, I’ve devoted hundreds of hours preparing for this race.
    My goal for the race (and 2012) is to “finish and enjoy an Ironman.”  Deep down, I have other goals, and I’ve shared them with people.  But, a 12 - 17 hour race leaves a lot of margin for error, and a fixation on a given goal time could lead to disappointment when, in reality, there are so many factors in play that could change the outcome of the race that are NOT in my control.  So, my goal remains constant: “finish and enjoy an Ironman.”
    On May 20, I’ll wake up in the morning knowing that I fully prepared for this Ironman.  As I write this today, I don’t know what May 19 will be like.  All I know is that I fully prepared for this event.

    Chapter 3 is not “The End” (Phase III):
    On May 20, my focus will change.  I will have climbed my Everest.  There may be another summit attempt in a few years, but not next year.  In 1999, my lifestyle changed.  On May 20, 2012, my lifestyle will not change.  I hope to be active for the rest of my life, and I hope to enjoy my activity for the rest of my life.

    Final Thoughts:
    I’ve been surrounded by awesome people, and have met some awesome people along the journey this far.  I’ve run with some great people, and shared with so many like minded people the joy of activity.  I’ve received encouragement, advice, or support from: Shanthi, Alex, Andrew, Greg, Tracy, Joel, Carissa, Chris, Janet, James, Kyle, Amy, Kevin, Kendra, Kyle & Ley, Ben, Lucas, Mason, BJ, Matt, Kris, Brent, David, Ron, Hugh, Bob, Lucinda, Mirjam, Andy, Jeff, T-Bone, BT, Trent, and Jason.

    Some of these people are my family.
    Some of these people are family friends that we’ve known for many years.
    Some of these people, I’ve been personal friends with for many years, and they’ve also become training partners and friends.
    Some of these people, I’ve become friends with through the gym.  I’ve trained with them.
    A few of these people, I’ve only met through email, message boards, and training websites.  Although I don’t know them well, I gained insight from them, and they’ve encouraged me, helped me, or trained me through their words and through their personal workouts and workout logs.

    The Servant Song:
      We are pilgrims on a journey
          We are brothers on the road
          We are here to help each other
          Walk the mile and bear the load
      I will weep when you are weeping
          When you laugh I'll laugh with you
          I will share your joy and sorrow
         Till we've seen this journey through

    On May 19, you will be able to follow me live at IronmanLive.com.  The race is in The Woodlands, TX and begins at 7:30am.  

    Thank you for your support over the past few years!

    Sincerely, and / or “Cheers, my active community”,



    (written 3 days after the race)

    Race Day Weather:

    Water Temp: 80 degrees

    Morning Air Temp: 67 degrees

    Daytime High Air Temp: 90 degrees

    Wind: early morning, calm (less than 4mph).  Mid-morning from the south at 10mph.



    Friday night (the last supper):

    Dinner @ The Cheesecake Factory at 5pm.  I ate a salad with a pepperoni pizza.  It was good.

    Evening (1 salt tablet, 1 bottle of water)

    Race Morning:

    Alarm: 3:00am

    Breakfast at iHop at 3:30am.  I had a waffle, syrup, 2 strips of bacon, and 2 eggs.  My brother in law joined me, and gave me some last minute calming talk before the race.  I updated my Facebook status with the following quote I received a few weeks earlier from a friend of mine: “Everyone comes up with a brilliant plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like landing a man on the moon.  By remote control.  Blindfolded.”

    Our hotel was about 8 miles from the race area, and we left at 4:30am with a car full of my family (wife, and 2 sons) as well as my brother in law and 2 sister in laws.  It was great having a support crew there to help with parking the vehicle, cheering for me, picking up my bike and bags, etc.  It made it much easier for me, and much easier for my wife.

    Dropped off at the transition area (which was about 1 mile from the swim start) and about another ½ mile from the finish.  Brother in Law parked the car near the run finish (which would make for a nice evening commute home).

    In transition, I did what I needed to do (air up tires, water in bottle#1, Gatorade in bottle#2).  I added a couple of other stuff to my T1 & T2 transition bags (nutrition, advil, ???).

    Walked to the swim start and got body marked



    At 6:50, the canon fired for the Pro’s.

    At 6:52, my toes went into the water.  It was a non-wetsuit race, and the hardest part of the swim for me was the 8 minutes treading water.  I’ve never treaded water before, and realized that my natural buoyancy is around eye level.  So, I swam for about 5 minutes of the time and setup about mid-pack on the left hand side.  When our canon fired at 7:00, it was a little crazy, but I was expecting much worse.  My pre-race strategy was to swim the swim, not race the swim.  I constantly found swimming partners to sight off of and draft.  The water was dirty, so it was very hard to see their knees and ankles when swimming beside them, but the bubbles and water current from their arm stroke got some sunlight near the surface that enabled me to know they were close while I was swimming.

    The swim course consisted of about a 1500 yard out (south), 1500 yard in (north), and about 1500 toward transition heading east.  Heading north caused challenges sighting because of the sun in the eyes with a jagged shoreline “nearby”.  The 1500 yards heading toward transition were along a channel with cement walls on both sides.  The channel was only about 40 feet wide, and my 2:00 / 100yard was about the same speed as many others, which made for a surprisingly tight and busy swim section. 

    Time: 1:23:02, 1:58 / 100yards


    Transition 1:

    The tent was hot, humid, and dark.  I felt fine (since I never pushed myself too hard on the swim).  However, with all of the people, I was kind of disoriented while trying to find everything from my bag.  I put my HR strap on in Transition.  I put my helmet on before my shirt (because my helmet was on top of my shirt in the bag).  There were things like that which made for a “less than perfect” Transition 1 time.

    Time: 7:47



    The bike course was smooth and pretty.  On my Garmin 310xt, the only thing that I was showing was my HR.  I knew my HR was controlled.  On mile 3, I had a HR of 155 (which ended out being my maximum HR for the day!).  The first 50 miles were with the wind at the back, and the last 50 miles were with a headwind.  I maintained a steady pace without burning any matches.  On hills, I just rode up the hill allowing others to pass me if they wanted.  I drafted legally as much as I could as I was passing other riders and I was surprised how many others had excellent equipment that I was passing with my non-zipp wheels.  My Cannondale Slice was a great comfortable ride!  I averaged 20.16mph for the first 56 miles, and 19.06mph for the ride back.  There were a few tires that blew, and a couple of accidents that I saw, but otherwise, the course was smooth and safe for riding.

    Nutrition was fine (7 salt tablets, 4 zingers, 2 clif bars, 6 GU's, plenty of water and IronmanGatorade stuff.) 

    Time: 5:42:59, 19.59mph


    Transition 2:

    Since the tent was hot 6 hours earlier when it was 70+/- degrees, I decided to change my shoes outside in the sun on the grass rather than sit in a hot and stuffy tent.  I stopped for a few seconds to talk to my wife and then eventually made my way through the tent and onto the run course.  I also used the bathroom.  I truly don’t know how I could have save more than a minute or two from the time it took me in transition.

                    Time: 6:03



    The run course consisted of 3 loops of about 8.4 miles.  The first 6 miles were good (decent anyway).  I was hoping to run a 10:00 / mile throughout the run, with the true hope of possibly being able to hold onto a 9:00 / mile.  However, I found it very hard to maintain a 10:00 pace, and after 7 miles, my back began to spasm.  With every right foot step, I felt like it might go into a serious spasm, so my walk breaks became more frequent and more enjoyable.  The problem is that I let that last for a long time.  For about 2 ½ hours, I couldn’t run.  Actually, what I know is that I couldn’t run for a while, and then I decided that I wouldn’t run after a while.  My brain won a game and it took 2 ½ hours to decide that I was wrong.  About 3.75 hours into the marathon, I decided to run again.  Other than walking through the aid stations, I kept on running, and felt very good.  During the last mile, I also hit a HR of 155 (matching my maximum HR from the bike from mile 3).  My back felt fine.  I was able to complete the run (and the race) with my arms raised high and with a smile on my face.  

    My nutrition was mixed (coke, water, ice, early on migrated to coke, chicken broth, chips with occasional water and ice later in the race). 

    For 2012, my goal was to finish and enjoy an Ironman.  I finished the Ironman.  I enjoyed the Ironman.

    I want to do another.

                    Time: 5:11:26, 11:53 / mile


    Total Race Time: 12:31:17


    What I realized through this journey is that we (all of us here as well as those not reading this) can do so much more than we think we can do. 


    Years ago, this was a sport reserved for crazy people. 

    A few years ago, it was a dream. 

    A couple years ago, it was a possibility. 

    A few weeks ago, it was a probability.

    This week, and forever, it is a reality.

    I am an Ironman.


    I have climbed my Everest!

    2017 Goals:

    #1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours). 

    #2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

    #3: Prepare for 2018

      Congratulations on a truly amazing accomplishment! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You are an inspiration Smile