Chicago Marathon - The Post Before the Post

While I do have a race report coming (3:23 marathon in blah conditions), I first want to write about my Team Type 1 teammates.

While the March event was a better race experience for many of us, the nature of this weekend allowed for infinitely more team bonding. Most of us got in Friday, which allowed ample time for the expo, pre-race chilling out and pretty much just being a bunch of marathoners who happen to have diabetes.

The cast of characters for this crew was slightly different than the March one; some guys who were at the UltraFest weren't here and vice versa, but those I hadn't met before were just as awesome as the ones I had. So, because I have this thing for trying to learn whenever ever possible, here's what I learned from the Team Type 1 participants at the Chicago Marathon:

1) Ben Semeyn - It's about more than the workouts. The day before the marathon, Ben put on a "display" with an assorted list of torture tools I've seen in the back of running magazines. The "stick" I'd seen before, but never used, but Ben also had rollers, balls - basically anything you can rub on a runner's muscles to induce pain. I compared this to my post work-out routine of turning on the air conditioning and realized I could do much better.

2) Eric Tozer - Large gains are attainable. In March, Eric did his first marathon with Team Type 1, finishing around 4 and a half hours. Yesterday? Nearly 1 hour faster.

3) Cale Gondringer - Large gains are attainable, even when sleep isn't. Cale's improvement from March was closer to 40 minutes, but he did it while sharing a hotel room with a two month old baby.

4) Jerry Willis - Great diabetes control is always possible. Jerry is unbelievably resourceful in finding affordable ways to get blood sugar strips, insulin and Omnipods at great prices. Not only that, but he can find creative ways to make money. Did you know Omnipods use the same expensive batteries as PowerTaps, but when the Omnipod dies after 3 days, the batteries are 95% full? I didn't. But Jerry breaks the old Pods open and sells the batteries to his cycling buddies for $2 a battery. I also learned a lot about the alcohol laws in Oklahoma. Yikes.

5) Tom Grossman - The weather doesn't have to be an excuse. It was for thousands of us, yesterday, but not for Tom, who nailed his goal time. As 1 of only 2 guys on yesterday's squad that has had diabetes longer than me, Tom was an easy guy for me to relate to as we joked about old meters.

6) Matt Patrick - Though Matt taught me dozens of small running things this weekend, what I really learned from him was what my wife puts up with. On the first night, Matt's Dexcom went off in the middle of the night, and I found myself sounding just like my wife: "Matt, check your blood sugar!" And then 10 minutes later, "Matt, you're still beeping." Married to a diabetic, I realized, must be a pain!

7) Nathan Bartels - I always enjoy my conversations with Nathan because he's the epitome of West Coast laid back, but what I learned from him this time around was to always be on the lookout for a bargain, even when you are in pain. We were limping around after the marathon and Nathan made a gimpy bee-line to a RedBull car pulled over on the corner. I followed him and we scored free samples, which helped us hobble to the train.

8) Jon Obst - Set bigger goals. You've probably heard of ultra-runners who do "birthday runs;" celebrating by running 1 mile for each year on their birthday. Jon does this, but with an interesting twist: he runs 1 hour for each year of his life. He's done this for about 4 years now and will turn 28 in January.

9) Brian Foster - Get creative with basal rates. Brian and I are two of the pumpers on the team, and he has a somewhat confusing but very innovative way to handle his basal rates leading up to the marathon. While my plan also results in great blood sugars (I finished at 120 yesterday), Brian's would allow me to not consume a Cliff Bar 30 minutes prior to my run, which theoretically pulls blood away from my muscles. Though all of the guys on our team do their own weird things, obviously the stuff the pumpers do is more relevant to me. This was also the first time I met Brian, and we ran the first half of the race together. I knew going into the marathon that he and I were fairly well matched for speed, but I had no idea how well we'd gel running together less than a day after we met. But in the end, results aside, we had a blast, and I can't wait to run side by side with him again.

10) Tom and Colleen Kingery - You don't have to have kids to make marvelous parents. As usual, Tom banged out a great marathon while Colleen ran the first half as a planned training run, but they also did so much more. From the airlines to the hotels and dinner plans, they did everything possible to provide a great weekend for all of us. And keep in mind, we ARE 11 diabetic marathoners. A snapshot of the long walk back to the train after the race: 10 hobbling runners, 1 vomiting, 1 looking like it was a distinct possibility, 1 stopping for ice cream because he got low, and another one who needed to get on the road home to his family. And yet the Kingery's took it all in stride, leading us home like 10 wounded diabetic ducklings.

As always, I can't say enough about the opportunity I've been given to compete on Team Type 1. It's a special blessing that leaves you literally grateful to be diabetic.


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