January 20th, 2013
It took a full week for my body to recover enough from the Tour de Ski to benefit from training. Recovering from the seven races in nine days would have been difficult on its own but I had blood glucose management problems as well. After the 36km Cortina to Toblach race my blood sugar did something it had never done before after a marathon style race. It rose and it kept rising. In fact it went higher than I have ever monitored it. As a panic reaction I dosed a very large amount of insulin to counteract the high. I dosed too much and my glucose dropped to 30 (a non-diabetic would never see a number below 70). This low left me shaking and sweating so I ate carbs to bring my glucose back up, and it shot into the high range again.
The next day I had to race the 5k classic and I felt like a truck had hit me. I called my doctor afterwards and he explained that the high blood sugars would have prevented any recovery from the previous day’s race by drastically raising my muscle enzymes. The low sugar caused my stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, to spike. The combination of the high and low sugar in rapid succession was in his words, “the equivalent of being shot in the chest.” I was told that if he had been there with me he would have prevented me from racing in the 5k. Recovery would take about two weeks.
That night I looked into getting a plane ticket home. I could not find an affordable option with means of transport to the airport for a week. That meant that I would have to continue to follow the Tour. I called my doctor again and asked wether continuing to race would hinder my recovery. He thought that there would be no danger of setbacks as long as I was able to keep my glucose in a normal range. He cautioned that I would most likely race poorly though. Because I was stuck in europe anyway, the fact that I hate dropping out of anything, and that the last two races of the tour were good for me historically, led me to decide to keep racing. My doctor was right. I had nothing.
Knowing that a momentary lapse in blood sugar management can have consequences that affect my performance for weeks is very stressful. That stress added to the travel, elevation change, and different foods that I was confronted with every day, through me off the tracks.
It is hard to be home in the middle of the season, but a training block at home was the best way for me to stabilize and rebuild. My body is in a good stable place again and it is responding to training well. I have always loved skiing at my home ski area Waterville Valley and I am getting three solid weeks to do nothing but ski there. Waterville always reminds me that skiing is really fun. I will return to europe to compete in the pre-worlds 15k skate in Davos.