A few days ago, friend and faithful Stationary Waves reader LK got in touch with me about the prospect of running the 2014 New York City Marathon. The idea was of obvious appeal to me, but it's been five - and will be six, by the date of the race - years since I ran a marathon. I wanted to run it, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull it off.
The last race I "ran to win" had a rather remarkable impact on my blood sugar. At the end of the race, my blood sugar was elevated. I ran at around 9:00 AM, and I ended up eating lunch at the usual time, around 11:30 or 12:00. When I tested to measure my lunchtime bolus, my blood sugar was very, very high. But I knew it was temporary. I took a reduced lunch bolus and then at around 2:30 PM, the inevitable drop in my blood sugar happened. I knew it was coming, so I could handle it. I also knew it was going to be a big low, and it didn't let me down. I spent about an hour trying to keep my blood sugar up.
Ever since then, I've been a little reluctant to get back into racing. I can obviously take care of myself - I proved it that day. But the exercise-induced blood sugar spike is not really a great thing for my health, and on top of that I started to wonder in the back of my mind whether that kind of exercise was really a good idea.
I quickly brushed the thought aside, but it obviously sunk its claws into my psyche. The fear took hold, and I've been carrying it with me ever since. With the fear, comes doubt and not a little bit of sadness. Will I ever be able to "really run" again? Will I ever be able to handle a marathon? What can I expect to gain from exercise anymore? And so on.
Clearly, a large part of this is irrational. I have been exercising regularly - and in fact, quite heavily - since my diagnosis, with no real end in sight. Exercise helps me manage my blood sugar, it's not a hindrance at all. I can do this, and experience proves it. At the same time, another sizable part of it is entirely rational. Blood sugar spikes take a toll. Hypoglycemic events are traumatic, especially the big lows that come from a heavy burst of exercise. There are no two ways about it. Balancing this complex set of emotions can be tricky. Then again, conquering one's fears and learning to effectively manage one's diabetes is an important part of living with the disease. So getting in touch with LK about this marathon was a much-needed impetus for change.
I honestly don't know whether I can run the New York City Marathon. I'm comfortable admitting that. In another life, it would have been easy, but like Living Colour says, "This is the life we have." I have to start somewhere. I have to try to make changes, improve on my abilities, overcome my illusions, and conquer my fears.
All that is to say that I registered for the Cowtown Half Marathon this morning. The race is on February 23rd, and I am not really in shape for it. But the benefit of doing this is that, first, I am forced to get in shape for it; second, I need to do some reconnaissance to find out whether I can even make a go at NYC; and third, it ought to be a lot of fun.
Maybe I will see you there.