Dear Iceland: I Love You

I’m back!

Well, truth be told, I’ve been back for a few weeks, but things have been so busy around here that I’m only now getting the time to sit down and tell you all about my trip to Iceland with the Canadian Diabetes Association and Team Diabetes.  Warning, this post is very long and has lots of pictures!!!

I signed up for this fundraising excursion last September for two main reasons.

1.  I had just been diagnosed 4 months prior and was very much in a fuck-you-diabetes-I-can-do-whatever-I-want-you-don’t-control-me phase.  It was very much on a whim, as I could do this amazing adventure, despite having diabetes, while raising money for diabetes research.

2.  One of the options was a 10km race in Reykjavik.  ICELAND.  It’s been on my list of places to go, so when I saw it, plus the fact that I didn’t have to do a full or half marathon (did I mention I don’t really like running?).

I was sold.  Over the past year I’ve been working hard to raise the money required for the trip ($6100) and managed to reach my goal!  So on August 21, I left a warm sunny Halifax for Reykjavik, and another stamp in my passport!

The trip to Reykjavik was long.  I first flew to Boston, where I had a 5 hour layover before continuing on with IcelandAir.  It wasn’t all bad though, as I managed to snag a couple of bags of my favourite US treats!

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Why we don’t have these in Canada is beyond me…so delicious!

We flew overnight to Reykjavik and arrived at 6am.  It was a bit of a shock.  I left Halifax with it’s  warm and sunny weather, and arrived in Reykjavik with cold, wind and rain.  It was I’d been transported to a late Halifax fall, instead of summer.  To be fair, it wasn’t that cold, I just wasn’t acclimatized to it. But I was sure happy I packed my warm clothes!

We met up with a lot of other Team D people in the airport, with most of us coming in from the Boston flight.  We were transported to our hotel, where we weren’t able to check in for another couple of hours.  So I set off with some of the people I met to go out and explore the city!   Reykjavik is a small city, but it’s got a great feel to it and some pretty cool sights!

View of Church from main street

Street signs!
Street signs!

View of Church from main street

Graffiti

Graffiti

Statue of Leif Eriksson in front of the Church

Statue of Leif Eriksson in front of the Church

Engraved doors on the Church

Engraved doors on the Church

Inside, very plain, not as elaborately decorated as most churches I've seen

Inside, very plain, not as elaborately decorated as most churches I’ve seen

View from the Church tower

View from the Church tower

View from the Church tower

View from the Church tower

Inside view of the clock face in the tower

Inside view of the clock face in the tower

Street view!

Street view!

When I was finally able to check into my room, I passed out for a good solid nap!  But not before I booked my tour for the next day…horseback riding!!  I’d heard lots about the Icelandic horse, and hadn’t ridden in about 6 years so I decided to give it a go!  Since my race was going to be the day after, I wisely chose a short ride so my legs didn’t seize up.  It ended up being the perfect amount, as there was no pain or stiffness the next day!  My horse was…how can I put this?  Spunky.  He was not happy to just plod happily along, he had attitude and wanted to be near the front!  Which was ok, he was still well behaved and wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.  As the guide said before handing him over to me, “Not too lazy, not too crazy!”

Look how little they are!!

Look how little they are!!

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My horse!  Skottoplassis (at least I think that's what he said...)

My horse! Skottoplassis (at least I think that’s what he said…)

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Taking a quick break

Taking a quick break

What happens when you try to take a selfie - with your phone- on top of a moving animal...I did it for you Alanna!

What happens when you try to take a selfie – with your phone- on top of a moving animal…I did it for you Alanna!

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With a landscape like this, I can see how trolls and elves play a big part in their folklore

With a landscape like this, I can see how trolls and elves play a big part in their folklore

Loving it and rocking the stylish orange pants

Loving it and rocking the stylish orange pants

The next day was race day.  Since I was running the 10K, I had a 9:30 start time.  So I got up and went for breakfast at 8:30 (on a side note, I had pain au chocolat – basically a chocolate filled croissant – every morning.  And no I’m not sorry).  This is where I made my first mistake.  I gave a normal breakfast bolus, not realizing at the time that my insulin would be peaking right at the time I started the race.  Damnit!  Luckily for me, I started the race at 11.5 so I had a lot of room to work with.  I ran the first half with another lady from Halifax and carried on by myself when she stopped at the 4km water stop.  I stopped to check my blood sugar at 5km (yay bra with pockets!!)  and I had dropped to about 4.4.  So I shoved some Dex in my mouth and carried on.  I made sure to grab some Powerade at the next rest stop, as well as after I crossed the finish line.  I was a little worried going into this race because I still hadn’t run a full 10k before I left and my last training run in Halifax I was dead by 7.5.  However,  in Iceland, it felt fantastic!  I don’t know if it was the race atmosphere, cool weather conditions (only 12 degrees Celcius – perfect) or the fact that I was just having fun with it.  The awesome part was wearing my Team Diabetes shirts and getting cheers from spectators for both being Canadian and for diabetes!  I finished the race with a time of 1:09, which I was really happy with!  I would have done it sooner, but I stopped to change my music so I finished the race with my two favourite songs.  “Feel so Close” by Calvin Harris for all the people I wish I could have had there with me.  My family, my boyfriend, and every single person who donated and helped me to get there.  The second was “Beautiful” by Social Code.  That one was for me.  I had it cranked as I crossed the finish line.  I’m not going to lie, I was bawling.  Between the race atmosphere, having just finished my first race since being diagnosed, and the giant hug I got from another Team D member as I crossed, I was a mess.  But I felt amazing.  I worked hard to get there, I killed it, and I did all while raising money for diabetes.  It was a good day!

Pre-race!  So full of colour (minus my bright purple Nikes I left at home...Sadness!)

Pre-race! So full of colour (minus my bright purple Nikes I left at home…Sadness!)

At the start line.  So many people!

At the start line. So many people!

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Post race and just after I managed to pull myself together

Post race and just after I managed to pull myself together

Oh and did I mention I had to pee for the entire 10K?  Like almost pee-my-pants bad?  I almost stopped and searched for something to hide behind.  Luckily I managed to finish the race and make it back to the hotel without any accidents.  Lesson learned: always go before you go to the start line!!

The next day, I went to one of Iceland’s most famous attractions, the Blue Lagoon hot springs.  I booked my ticket way in advance because this was the number one thing on my list and I was not missing it!  Good thing I did too because when I got there, the line up was HUGE!!  It was incredible though, and so beautiful.  I have never seen water that colour before.  It’s apparently caused by all of the silica in the water and it’s supposed to be amazing for your skin.  There’s even stations around the pools where you can put lagoon’s signature silica mud on you.  Really cool!  It was a fantastic, luxurious way to spend the day after the race.  I could have spent hours there but I had to head back for the Team D celebration dinner!

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Volcanic rocks on the path to the lagoon.  So many colours!

Volcanic rocks on the path to the lagoon. So many colours!

Such a beautiful blue colour!

Such a beautiful blue colour!

You can see the silica build up on the rocks

You can see the silica build up on the rocks

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Sadly, the very next day I was on my way back to Canada.  I didn’t get nearly as much time as I wanted, but I didn’t have the time off or the money to stay longer.  Iceland was amazing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of going.  I had a fantastic experience, and I’d love to go back.  If you ever do go, bring more money that you think you need (it’s expensive – $10 for a beer!!) warmer clothes than you think you’ll need, and make sure to stop in at the Sea Baron on the water front for a bowl of their lobster soup.  Trust me on that last one.

Lulu to the Rescue!

One of the things I was struggling with in training for my run (WHICH IS IN 23 DAYS!!) was how in the hell I’m going to carry all of my necessary diabetes supplies.  For a run on any given day, I’m usually carrying a meter, strips, sugar, lancing device, and cellphone (I don’t take insulin with me as I’m generally only gone about an hour).  It’s a lot, especially for someone who didn’t even carry a purse before I got diagnosed.  Needless to say, I hate carrying extra shit around and I hate things bouncing in pockets even more.

I bought a Tummitote from TallyGear, and although it’s a great product it just didn’t work for me.  I’m not sure if I bought it too big or if the material was just too slippy, but it ended up hanging really loose around my waist and driving me nuts.  Lots of bouncing…not cool.  So I’d been trying to search for different options.

Going back to mine and the boyfriend’s trip to Alberta and Edmonton, I found my solution!!  And it came in the most unexpected way.

I was in Lulu Lemon buying my sister her birthday present.  Ordinarily, when shopping for workout clothes, I usually make it a point to avoid going there (for everyone who doesn’t know, it’s a store that specializes in yoga and workout gear).  They have really nice stuff but it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive and I can’t bring myself to spend that much money on their product.  Or so I thought.

Anyways, I was browsing through their stuff waiting for my sister to decide on what she wanted when I discovered this:

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Yes, that’s a sports bra with POCKETS!!!!  POCKETS!!!

I grabbed one and immediately ran to the change room to test it out.  In went the meter, strips, lancer, tube of dex and my cellphone.  Cue lots of jumping and fake running and putting on my shirt to show my sister and boyfriend my lumpy boobs…needless to say it was a pretty good time!  Everything fit and held nice and snug with no bouncing around, and aside from the aforementioned lumpy boobs everything was perfect!  So I paid the exorbitant price and I was on my way!

On another note, you know you have diabetes when you get this excited over something with pockets…true story.

I’ve used it for a few runs and I absolutely love it!!  It keeps everything together and compartmentalized (a tube of dex fits nicely in a small pocket in the cleavage!) and there is absolutely no bouncing around.  And because there’s a barrier between your skin and the items, sweat isn’t as big of an issue.  It’s made going out for runs a whole lot easier and much more convenient.  It’s been a fantastic investment!  And if the bra fits…

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Buy it in every colour!  Thanks Lulu!

*I was not asked to provide a review.  I just bought a product that I love and wanted to share it with all of you!!

Adventures Ahoy!

So I’ve made mention in the past on this blog that I’ve been involved in a fundraising initiative with the Canadian Diabetes Associan, called Team Diabetes.  What it involves is an individual fundraising on behalf of the organization, and if you reach the goals they set out, you  are sent to an exotic locale to compete in a race of varying distances.  It’s an awesome idea, and one that’s used by a few different charities as well.

Well guess what…

I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between September 2012 and July 2013 (approximately 10 months), I met my goal and raised just over $6100 for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Holy shit!

Me!  I did that!  With the help and support of my amazing friends and family, both here in Nova Scotia and back in Alberta.   The really amazing part? of that $6100, only about $1500 came from organized fundraising events.  Meaning that the rest, around $4600, was entirely personal donations.  I’m literally blown away.  To everyone who helped me out, I can’t thank you enough, and I love you all.  I couldn’t have done it without your support and I am so grateful.

And now for the big question…where am I going?

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Reykjavik, Iceland!!

I’m so excited it’s not even funny.  Iceland has been on my list of places to go for a few years now, and I’m stoked!  Especially to do it now, with diabetes, while raising money for diabetes.  I’ll probably be one of those people who cry crossing the finish line.  Not even kidding.

While I’m not doing the full marathon (my body was NOT built for 42km thankyouverymuch), I’ll be doing the 10k distance of the Reykjavik marathon.  The only running I’ve been doing lately is for rugby so I have to start putting on some miles.  I did 7k on Saturday, even though I only meant to do 5…apparently my route planning skills are a big fail.  Things to work on.  I have to do it soon though, I leave in 6 weeks! 

Holy shit…I’m going to Iceland in 6 weeks.  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ruck and Roll!

Springtime is upon us here in Halifax, so that can only mean one thing.  Rain, rain, and more rain.  As a transplanted prairie girl who’s used to dryer springs, I’m sure you can imagine how well that goes over (hint:  NOT GOOD).

However, with the arrival of spring comes the arrival of something much more exciting.

Rugby season!

 I went to my first practice on Tuesday and boy was that intense!  I haven’t played in over a year, as I decided to take the season off last year due to my diagnosis.  So I was a little intimidated coming back into it.  I’ve been letting my exercise slip over the past while as a result of some nagging injuries and a rough mental period, so I was also worried about that. 

I’m not gonna lie, the fitness portion kicked my ass.  The coach who runs it is actually related to Satan.  True story.  It was hard, but I managed to keep up pretty well and I felt really good after!  It’s during the exercise that I hate it.  Then it was on to passing and contact drills.  Hopefully this is the year I finally learn to pass properly, but I’m not holding my breath…  Contact went well, considering I haven’t hit anything in over a year, so it felt good to ease back into it with some simple drills.  Tackling is going to be a whole nother animal though! 

It was odd though, thanks to the training I have been doing in the past year, I felt stronger, faster and more confident in practice.  This is my fourth  summer playing, and I feel like I’m finally understanding the rules and the strategy involved (slow learner much?).  That in and of itself feels really good. 

Our first game is in less than two weeks so I hope I’m up to the challenge by then! 

Diabetes might be a bit of a challenge though…pre-practice BG was 4.4.  Shit.  2 glucose tabs and an apple sauce (~20g of carb).  Halfway through it was 5.1.  Not bad, keep going.  At the end, after a 2 hour practice it was 4.6.  2 glucose tabs and another apple sauce, as well as a granola bar when I got home (no bolus), to end the day with a 7.1 before bed. 

I have a feeling I’m going to be needing to keep lots of extra carb on hand…if there’s anybody who’s played team sports before, what kind of system did you use?  I’m going to be needing some help on this one so any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Montreal, Yoga, and Diabetics in the Wild!

So this past weekend I was in Montreal for work.  What was I doing?  Taking a yoga instructor course!  That’s right, my job is pretty sweet sometimes!

We’ve had clients at work asking for yoga classes for a long time now, but we’ve never had anyone certified to teach it.  I’ve been looking into it for a while, but every course I found was a year long, and super expensive ($3000…no thanks!).  But I finally found this course which was considerably cheaper, and one weekend.  It’s tailored mainly towards yoga in a fitness setting (ie a gym) as opposed to a full on yoga studio. For where I work though, it’s perfect!

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for myself for a while too.  I’ve always liked yoga, I just never got out to do it much because it’s relatively expensive, so this way I can practice on my own with confidence.  Also, as a diabetic, I read somewhere that your flexibility can decrease over the years because of the disease.  No thanks, I like to move!  Also, it will come in really handy for balancing out all the weight training I’ve been doing, so that I’m not walking around like a meat head.  That’s just not cool!

So it was two full days of yoga, practicing poses and teaching them to the other participants.  It was awesome, and I took so much away from it!  I’m really looking forward to teaching it.

It was also amazing, because I got to go to Montreal for it.  If you’ve never been there, you should go.  It’s a fabulous city!  It feels like you’ve gone to another country, it has a completely distinct culture and feel to it.  And there’s so much to see and do!  And eat!  I may have indulged in pizza, poutine, and crepes!  And not just any crepes…a crepe with nutella, Bailey’s and walnuts in it.  Oh yes.  It was incredible and definitely bolus worthy.  I was doing enough activity that it was keeping my blood sugar nice and stable.  Another bonus!!

At one point in the class we were talking about diabetes, and one of the other participants spoke up about it, saying she was a Tyoe 1.  I’m not gonna lie, I may have had a “be my friend be my friend be my friend!!!!!!!!!!!!” moment.  Kind of like this:

friends

 

I’d like to think I was slightly less creepy, but there’s no guarantee about that.  She was pretty cool about it though, we had a chat about pumps and pump programs (she’s from Ontario, where they have a really good one) and about being active with diabetes.  She was super sneaky though, until she brought it up, I had no idea.  I hadn’t seen her test or bolus or anything, but then she didn’t know I had it either.  Apparently diabetes comes with ninja skills?  That would be a good way to make it more bad ass.  Seems to work for George over at Ninjabetic – I’ve been reading his blog for a while, and I’m pretty sure I want to be on his level.

 

Bolus so sneaky you didn't even see it!

Bolus so sneaky you didn’t even see it!

 

All in all it was a fabulous weekend, diabetes behaved itself, and I learned A LOT.  Suffice it to say I’m exhausted.  But it was well worth it!

I’m on YouTube!!

I was training with one of my co-workers on Friday, and he taped my last set of deadlifts so I  could have a look at my technique.  I was going to post it here but he put it on YouTube first so I decided to post that link instead!

So here’s my last set, at 165lbs (the video says 160 but it lies!!).  Nothing crazy heavy but then I’m just getting back into it.  Here’s the link!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2zbTljsNHU

Sqauts and bench and deads, oh my!

So today was my first real strength training workout in a long time… and man do I feel it!  My coworker who’s helping me prep for the meet wanted me to pick a weight and do as many reps as possible to get a prediction of training numbers for my program.  I rarely go above 5 reps, so to be told I had to do as many as possible (preferably over 10) was a big change for me!

We did the three lifts in the order they are done in competion: squat first, followed by the bench press, and finishing with a deadlift.  So I got warmed up and got under the bar.  I hadn’t done any strength work in a long time so really, my expectations weren’t that great.

Starting with the squat, I did 20 reps with 85lbs.  Not too bad!  My squat has never been my strongest lift so I’m ok with that one.  Probably could have thrown some more weight on, but where I haven’t done it in a while.  My form is rusty and I don’t want to push it too much.

For bench, I did 16 reps with 70lbs.  Now that’s a bit better!  I have an ok bench (at the last competition I was second amoung all the females with a weight of 110lbs), but I’d still like to get better at it.  Still, that’s a number I can be happy with!

The last one was the deadlift.  This is hands down my favourite lift.  I just feel so bad ass lifting a bunch of weight off the floor!!  Again, not my best lift, but the one I love the most.  I pulled 135 for 15 reps.  I was done after that!  My heart rate went up to 188 and I was breathing like I’d just run a bunch of sprints!  And that’s in less than one minute of work!

Before my workout, my BG was 7.9.  Ate a yogurt and bolused half a unit and ended up at 9.7 after my workout…Looks like I’m going to have to play around with that one.

So now that I have numbers to work on, all I have to do is lift!  Program starts on Monday so all I have to do then is let my body recover and hope I’m not too sore.  Because I also signed up to play rugby this weekend…apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.  Hopefully my body forgives me!