It’s been 11 months since I laced up my Saucony’s and felt the finish-line runner’s high.
Not that long ago I ran 3 to 5 times a week. It didn’t matter whether it was blistering hot or bone chilling cold; I ran rain or shine.
After all, the extremes in weather gave me an excuse to find cute new running gear. I remember one trip to Costco in particular: I came home with 3 different running top/slack sets – one purple, one teal and one black. They would be perfect for my autumn and winter runs.
After work, Rob and I would meet to run “The Loop” – a 2.96 mile stretch around the Vanderbilt University campus. We lived in Nashville for 8+ years and it was on this loop that we learned to go beyond what our minds said we could.
I often recount that first loop with a smile: it was about a week after I had surgery (another story for another day) and I was determined to do something for myself. OK, I guess I should mention that while I was still recovering from anesthesia (yes, under the influence of a strong narcotic cocktail) I randomly registered Rob and I for a 5K race. The race was only 10 days away so our humble beginning as runners, was actually more like jumping off a cliff.
Our First Loop
Our first loop was a mixture of light jogging and walking. Rob and I were sweating and I was still bandaged from the surgery. It was a really difficult run.
Our diabetes didn’t help either; within a few minutes, we could feel our blood sugars dropping. We’ve never known this to happen so quickly! Naturally, we had to have snacks and we were grateful there was a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor on the route. I know. I know.
That weekend, an image of our first post-running woes will be burned in my memory forever: Rob stood at the top of our stairs while I stood at the bottom. Our legs were too sore to go up or down. From those awkward positions, we joked that maybe we could just throw stuff up and down to each other all weekend. For the next several days, Rob also teased that I was trying to kill him.
Ah, those were the days!
It didn’t take long before we got hooked on running though. We ran that first race, 10 days after my surgery. We weren’t running for speed, we were running for the moment. AND we did it. Soon, we found ourselves registering for other races; longer races. Within 6 months, we’d completed our first half marathon. The following year, we completed a marathon and even an ultra marathon. I even became a Medtronic Global Hero (now referred to as a Medtronic Global Champion).
Rob and I looked better than we did in high school. Today, I look back at the pictures that pop up on my Facebook timeline from those days, and I see two bright young kids, their faces glowing, looking healthy, happy and then I remember what we were battling with on a daily basis.
Lots to Learn
Diabetes is not a one-size-fits all condition. Every single person is individual. Things like exercise and stress affect everyone differently. AND no two days are the same. During those first few months and years as runners, Rob and I were learning about our bodies. We were learning how to balance the physical activity with nutrition and insulin. Rob and I could never just say, “Hey let’s go for a run.” We learned that running required planning.
Our nutrition was also evolving. We read books and discovered that we weren’t eating enough to support our new and active lifestyle. Most of the time, we stunk after our runs… not a little, a lot. And, we smelled like ammonia. We discovered that our diabetic friendly low carb diet wasn’t helping provide a pleasant eau-de-exercise 1.
Without getting into all the technicalities and specifications of running with diabetes (this time), something happened we didn’t expect.
Somewhere along the way, our running decreased, a lot. We went from running several times a week, to once a month and eventually, to every few months.
Our routines changed, I quit my job and the pattern that allowed Rob and I to develop a running habit, gradually disappeared. It’s not like we were sitting on the sofa eating bonbons, we were still VERY active with other activities like weight lifting, but running eventually fell by the wayside.
In the midst of all this, we also relocated to a different state, I’ve had to recover from another fairly major surgery, and we have both gotten started with new jobs.
It’s been a lot.
Rob has been out of town this last week. A couple days after he left, the drab New England weather suddenly shifted to a full-fledged springtime plethora of green grass, sunny skies and lots of pedestrians. I felt like I was waking up.
It’s about 7:00 AM on Saturday, and I’m sitting here in my PJs drinking coffee, and every couple minutes, I hear the rhythmic step of a runner on the street below. It’s hard to describe this feeling… the closest comparison is that I feel like a corpse whose heart has suddenly started to beat again.
On Tuesday, I awoke at 4:45am. The birds were chirping very loud outside my window. Unbelievable; I was up with the birds!
And then I heard that old familiar sound on the street below of a lonely runner who will never know his or her impact. The rhythmic step, step, step, step, evoked my own runner’s rhythm; my heartbeat.
Within a few minutes of not really knowing what the heck I was doing, I dug out my insulin pump and cell phone carry belt and my running shoes. I found a grey T-Shirt from the ultra-marathon Rob and I ran a few years ago and some black runners shorts.
I don’t remember if I brushed my teeth.
Then suddenly, step step step step.
This time, I wasn’t listening to another runner, I could hear my own rhythm while I remembered running… now running again.
Next time: I’ll share what I’ve been noticing with my blood sugars and nutrition. I’ll also show you what my blood sugar does when I run (I have a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor) so I can see my blood sugar trend. I ran on Tuesday and Friday this week – yes, twice so far!