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Ironman NZ 2011

Well my dad said it best when he posted this on my Facebook Wall...

To recap – Insulin Pump broke on Friday, sent Mark on emergency dash for replacement in Hamilton, couldn’t wear the pump on the swim, sugars were so low before the race – had to pinch a handful of sugar from the yacht club, reattached the pump in transition before the bike, had a hypo on the ride, recovered, and finished under 12 HOURS. What other athlete has to cope with so much!! You are my hero. (Carl Humphries)

To be honest I hadn’t even thought about it like that but I guess I did have to deal with a fair bit of extra shit the day before and on race day. Before I get into all of that I will give you the stats.

This is my third Ironman.

3.8km Swim - 1.11.52hours

180km Cycle - 6.06.46hours

42.2km Run – 4.27.55hours

A few minutes in transition doing my hair…NOT

Total Time – 11.59.49hours

Now for the BG readings…

Before the start I had an awful time trying to get my BG levels above 4mmol-L (testing pre-race 3.4mmol, 3.4mmol, 4.2mmol, 3.6mmol, 5.2mmol). When I tested 3.6mmol it was roughly 15minutes before start time. I never expected that I would actually run out of gels even with the spare ones my husband always carries (for this very reason). Up until this point I'd consumed 3 gels but I ran up to just about everyone I knew in the crowd but understandable no-one had any sugar on them. Fleur suggested that I went to the coffee cart up the road. In a frenzy I ran into the private function at the boat club and asked the volunteer if they had any sugar. Very obligingly, she came back with 6 packets of sugar which I downed in one and retested. With a reading of 5.2mmol I decided that I was happy to get in the water and start the race. I kissed my husband and ran to the start.

Transition One – After swimming for 1.11hour I tested 6.1mmol (this was great considering I swam without my pump and reattached it in the tent).

For the bike I reduced my basal rate for 7hours to 60%. I also wore a CGMS and monitored my sugars as I rode. I noticed for most of the ride it sat around 11mmol and I gave myself a bolus of 1unit at 40km. However around 165 – 170km my sugars unexpectedly dropped and I started to feel like there was nothing in my legs. I consumed I gel and then grabbed a bottle of coke from the next aid station. It took me a while to come right but we finished with a downhill section so I didn’t have work as hard.

Transition Two – After racing for 7.25hours I tested 8.4mmol-L.

For the run I reduced my basal rate for 5hours to 50% and this worked nicely.

My final test for the day was 9.4mmol.

The most pleasing thing about the day, apart from going under 12hours again and totally enjoying myself (until the last 17km of the run) was my ability to formulate a new plan in transition for each leg of the race. My original plan involved wearing the pump for the whole race…but I was unable to swim with it this time. My last two Ironman races were also with another type of pump and the settings aren’t the same so that meant it was going to have to be different anyway. It all worked to plan!

This brings me to what happened the day before the race...as usual my IM buddies and I were doing one last brick (swim-800m/bike-10km/run-4km) before the big race. I thought I would just test out PIP (pink insulin pump) under my wetsuit in my new 2XU tri-short with special back pocket, only to find out that it leaked. The battery compartment wasn't completely sealed and water got into the pump. My first reaction was to drive to the pharmacy and get syringes (just in-case). I made up some syringes and put them in my bike and run transition bags. While I did this my lovely husband rung Insulin Pumps NZ and organised a replacement pump...he then drove half way to Hamilton to meet Justin (who drove half way to Taupo) to collect it. So from 9 - 4.30pm I had to monitor my BG levels very carefully and have insulin by syringes however this meant that there was no basal insulin in my system for this time which upset my pre-race carbo loading and BG control. Also in this time I had to get my bike/helmet and two transition bags to the transition tent with no car (cause it was with Mark) before 4pm. I managed to get my bike mechanic friend Mike Peach to fix a wobbly bottle cage and then I rode off with two large bags, 5km down the road. Thankfully, I got there with 30minutes to spare before transition closed. My other problem was that I was running out of insulin. I had overpacked supplies but on Thursday I had another unexpected occlusion and had to refill my pump as a result. My good friend Dr Andy came to the rescue and wrote me a prescription at the nearest pharmacy. I only cried once on Friday but I'm so grateful for all of my friends and family members who helped me through this day.

I have 26 weeks until my next Ironman. This is going to mean lots of hard training through windy, wet, wintry Wellington weather. Alliteration aside, I will have to work on my running as this is now a weakness. I’d like to solve the mystery of the low BG’s on the start line and my last goal would be to achieve a time close to 11.30hours. While I wish I could be good enough to qualify for the World Ironman Champs in Kona-Hawaii, I will have to settle for now with a very respectable time and pretty good BG’s control.

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