"I've been diabetic for 15 years and finally got a pump a year before the 2011 London Marathon. Tried four times to get into the Marathon and eventually got a pump and a place the same year! Prior to that I had competed in some 10ks and two off-road half marathons, but I am by no means a runner - more a plodder!
It was a challenge to manage training and blood sugars with the pump and I did run without the pump, but with a humalog injection pen which I used. I got interesting blood sugar readings throughout the race.
Training was all about testing, before and after each run. I found that the knock-on effect of exercise lasts approximately 24 hours for me, resulting in lower blood sugars during the day after a run.
I used to take my pump off to run for up to 60-90 mins and did checks after the training and over the next few hours. I found that as I run slowly (10 minute miles approx) this is anaerobic excerise so my blood sugars were often highish after a run but I soon learnt to be strong and ignore them because if I treated this high (which was artificial caused by both the anaerobic exercise and the use of sports drinks) it would lead to crashing lows.
When I started longer training runs up to 18 miles, I did test on the run and carried a humlog pen along with other paraphaelia which i kept in a bum bag (quite a big one!)
On the day itself, breakfast was early; porridge, syrup and a reduced insulin bolus. The walk to the start and the waiting around until 10 without the pump was tricky. so I carried a humalog pen and had a few units before the race and indeed a few during. I drank lots of water at every water station and had a half Nuun tablet for electrolyte balance in each bottle of water.
I also needed to replace the sugar being utilised in the muscles so I diluted some of the Lucozade drinks given at aid stations and also took my favourite race nutrition which is Cliff "shot blocks". These are like eating jelly cubes so they aren't too cloying like some of the gels, also the nutritional value is easy to work out as they have 12g carbs per cube which is fantastic for diabetics to use as this is more accurate. I've since recommended them to lots of diabetics (I should be on commission!)
During the race, my sugars did rise to 22mmols and I had approx 4 units of humalog split over two hours and kept drinking water. It took me just over 5 hours which was about 1/2 to 3/4 hrs slower than i thought but it was difficult to run fast due to the volume of people and also the concentration required to avoid the empty discarded gel packets and water bottles!! But I didn't mind; I was 45, mum of three and diabetic so I felt I conquered the world.
At the end of the race and post-champagne, I returned to Greenwich by train for a pizza and salad; I took no insulin at all. On returning to my car and my pump my sugar was 6 mmols....PERFECT!!
The next day I reduced my insulin intake by approx 40% and blood sugars were back to normal very quickly.
The Marathon took over my waking thoughts and probably my sleeping ones for months! The impact on anyone's life is huge, but being diabetic it was an added consideration of huge importance.
However, I did it and the memory of crossing the line with tears down my eyes will stay with me forever! I did say never again, but when i remember the finishing line and think of the fabulous support of other runners and the crowds it's addictive....perhaps I will do it again!"
Words by Michelle