So, what’s your race day tactic? For some people the answer might be go hard with the swim, save energy for the run or even take a gel at each transition. My race day tactic sounded simple, yet was far from that…. Keep my blood sugars under control! In my previous blogs I’ve described how adrenalin affects my levels and how water temperature and wind resistance affect my need for glucose in the swim. However on race day combining considering external factors and simply remembering where I left my things in transition (rack 4 it turned out) meant a lot of mental calculations. I feel my brain was doing something like the image below…
Last year when I did a triathlon I struggled in transition due to being unable to open my test strips pot as my hands were too cold, being unable to reattach my pump as I had put the site on too low on my stomach to easily get to it and then being so high I felt I couldn’t take on any extra energy. This year after attending the Animas Sport Weekend my race day tactics had changed.
The first difference was using a Freestyle Libre which I kept with me in an overboard waterproof bag through out the event. For the swim I placed it in my wetsuit and the rest of the time in my trisuit. Pre-swim this provided me much needed peace of mind as I entered the water to know where my blood sugar was. It also (supposedly – more to come on that!) saved me from having to fumble with test strips in transition. My second change was to have two infusion sites for my pump – in case one came off – one on each arm. This meant I could very quickly plug my pump back on without fuss and reach the site. Moreover it meant that during the bike / run I could alter my temporary basal rate as needed. Third change was my nutrition. I have now learnt to “drizzle in” my glucose and alter the temporary basal rate as required to keep my blood sugars more stable. By taking lucozade pre-swim, another swig of lucozade post swim and High-5 energy drink (44g of carbs) every 2km on the bike ride it seemed to work. Although my blood sugars didn’t need a Torq energy gel pre-run, I felt that I did therefore I was able to increase my temporary basal rate and bolus for the gel at the end of the triathlon. My blood sugar stayed at 10mmol almost consistently (ranging from 8mmol to 10.5mmol) throughout the event. I finished on 12mmol due to the energy gel setting in. Previously I finished my triathlon in the high twenties!
Problems – the Libre is amazing, when it works! Coming out of the swim my Libre told me it was unable to read the glucose. From using it regularly I know it says this when I’m rapidly dropping therefore I assumed it was due to that and took on lucozade in transition 1. Out on the bike I tried to scan again – this time the Libre told me the sensor – not the machine – was too cold (probably why the Dexcom shows the dreaded ??? after a swim). It was cold, windy and rainy on the bike so I then spent the next 3km with my hand over the sensor site. This did warm it up and the sensor was back in the game. However the stress of not knowing if the sensor would be warm enough to work and knowing I hadn’t got any testing equipment out with me as I had perhaps naively relied on the Libre to work was a little stressful. Problem 2 – I took my Torq gel as I left Transition 2 and set off for the run with my now working Libre. I got to the 1km marker and realised that I had no emergency glucose with me. Now I knew my blood sugars were fine, yet the feeling of knowing I should have taken an energy gel or a pack of haribo with me was not fun. I knew I could turn down my pump, and that I had just taken on 20g of carbs so in theory would be fine (and was fine) , but the panic of being without had already set in. In hindsight I’m sure any of the other athletes would have given me one of their gels which they all had with them and I will stock up my trisuit pockets pre swim next time.
It was a tough, hilly, wet and windy triathlon yet I finished 17th in my category which for someone who has done minimal run / swim training isn’t too bad! I even finished with a smile!