Q&A with Amy: Running the Boston Marathon in Range, the Whole Race!
5.22.17 | Amy McKinnon
It’s great connecting with past podcast guests (see episode 19). I got word that Amy McKinnon was traveling the world again, motivating me to get in touch. Amy was kind enough to give us insight into her recent completion of the Boston Marathon (no small feat).
Q: What adjustments in your game plan did you make for this marathon, compared to past races?
A: Leading up to Boston I had a couple of injuries that took me off my feet completely for a few months, so I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my fitness level prior to a race. Because of this, my pace would be a lot slower, so I changed my race plan completely. I decided to focus on keeping my BGLs in range the entire race while enjoying the atmosphere of the crowds and running the prestigious Boston Marathon. I went into the marathon with a very light-hearted approach, compared to my usual competitive self.
Q: In an emotional atmosphere like Boston, especially at the start, did you encounter any blood sugar difficulty?
A: Before a race there are a lot of nerves, excitement and adrenaline coursing through any body. Boston heightened those senses even more than usual, so my BGLs were a little higher than I wanted them to be pre-race. I gave a microbus about 1-hour prior to race start, nudging me just below 180 mg/dL prior to crossing the start line, which was perfect!
Q: During every race, there’s a diabetes management surprise. Any surprises this year?
A: In this race, the only diabetes surprise was a good one. My BGLs stayed in my ideal range the entire race which allowed me to follow my fueling and nutrition plan. The biggest surprise on the day was the heat! It got up to 78F during the marathon which is very warm to run in. Staying hydrated was a challenge.
Q: Tell us about the variety of race-day carbohydrate sources you carried
A: I’ve been experimenting with my race-day fuel recently in my training to find the best options that don’t upset my stomach and digest quickly and easily. I find SiS energy gels work really well for me. They are a quick source of pure carbohydrates and easy to swallow. I carried 4 of these and 2 Clif Bars in my waist belt. The Clif bars were for back up – chocolate chip is my favorite flavor!
Q: By mile (or however often you checked), can you tell us your blood sugars?
A: My BGLs were a dream. I was wearing my Medtronic CGM device, which was really helpful, so I didn’t have to juggle finger pricking while running (a difficult task):
I started with a BGL of 175
Mile 5 — I dropped to 110
Mile 10 — I was happily sitting at 90 after taking two gels within these 5 miles
Mile 13 — I was 95 and took another gel
Mile 18 — I crept back up to 140
Mile 22 — up a little more to 155
Mile 23 — up to 180 so I gave 1 unit of insulin through my insulin pump
Mile 25 — I dropped rapidly to 75 and took the last gel
Finished the marathon on a BGL of 95!
I couldn’t be more happy with those numbers 🙂
Q: For someone looking to make the leap from a 5K or half marathon to the full, any advice?
A: Patience is key. Build up your mileage slowly. No one starts off running 50 miles a week. Increasing your mileage 10% a week is perfect to allow you to slowly increase your fitness as you run more. Having a training plan is also great to keep you on track and accountable as your training increases leading up to a race. There are some great free ones online – I really like http://www.halhigdon.com.
What event is up next on your calendar?
A: A month after Boston I ran a 22KM (14 mile) trail race in the Blue Mountains Region of Australia. That was a new challenge and really fun. Next on my agenda is the Sydney marathon in September. This will be my 2nd time doing it.
Its a beautiful scenic course – very flat and fast.
For a sampling of Amy’s other adventures, head over to a collection of her past posts.
Amy is a 28 year old long-distance runner, living in Sydney, Australia. She has had type 1 diabetes for 16 years, currently using the Medtronic 640G insulin pump and CGM. She is training for the 2017 Boston Marathon and her first ultra marathon later this year. She recently went on an 8-month solo expedition through Central and South America with a backpack full of diabetes supplies. Amy is also a plant-based nutrition coach. IG: @amylmck