I interviewed Greg Weintraub, a runner with Type 1 diabetes, in March as he was preparing for the Boston Marathon. He successfully completed the race, despite the challenging conditions, making it his fourth consecutive Boston marathon. Here I follow up with him on his race experience.
AM: How was the run? What was your time? How was the temperature? How were the crowds, and how much money was raised?
GW: My time was not what I hoped. I finished in just over five hours, despite hoping for a four-hour marathon. The money raised was a record, for both myself and for Team Joslin. I raised $67,012. Team Joslin, as a whole, raised $240,000. This is the first time I have raised more than $60,000. This is also the first time that Joslin’s Boston Marathon team has raised over $200,000. John Hancock generously provided Joslin three more bibs this year than in previous years. Those extra bibs, combined with a very strong team of 15 fundraisers, brought us well over our goal of $200,000.
AM: What were your biggest challenges?
GW: The heat was my biggest challenge. I’ve always had a tough time running in the heat. In fact, I’m happiest (and I do my best running) when the temperature is 20 or 30 degrees. The Boston Marathon provided 70-plus-degree heat for the first ten miles of my marathon. I kept up my goal pace throughout those ten miles, and was on track to run a four-hour marathon throughout that time. However, the heat caught up with me once I started to reach the nine-to-ten mile mark, despite pouring cup after cup of water on my head and trying to stay hydrated. I just wasn’t able to come back from that. It wasn’t until later that I realized everyone was having a tough day — I saw multiple people being carried off the course on stretchers, and many folks who were able to keep pushing confirmed that they were having a tough day.
AM: How were your blood sugars? Did everything go OK with your check points?
GW: My blood sugar spiked early on, due to adrenaline. I experienced this adrenaline spike simply by standing in the Athletes’ Village. This adrenaline-induced spike in blood sugar continued through mile six. My blood sugar started to come down from that point onwards.
Everything went well at my checkpoints. My parents and I easily found each other at each point (mile 11, mile 16, and mile 20).
AM: This is your fourth Boston Marathon. What, if any, new lessons were learned?
GW: I learned several lessons from this year’s Boston Marathon.
First: Salt early, and salt often. I have a hard time running in the heat, and salt is supposed to help prevent heat-induced muscle cramping. I had salt throughout the race, but I wonder if starting earlier on (and having more salt earlier on) would have made a difference.
Second: Beware of adrenaline! There’s not much I can do to prevent high blood sugars due to adrenaline. However, knowing that a spike in blood sugar will likely happen before a major marathon will play into my management strategy next year.
Third: Post-marathon meal! I had potato salad after I finished the Boston Marathon. It looked good, and I was craving it. However, the potato salad I ate must have been high in fat, as I saw significant spikes in blood sugar six hours after eating it. It’s critical to know what to eat, and what not to eat, after a marathon. I’m happy I learned what not to eat in a safe environment (compared to eating potato salad during a marathon that is out of state, or international).
AM: What’s next?
GW: I have one major goal going forward. Keep training. I signed up for the Cape Town Marathon, slated to occur in September of this year. I’ll continue training throughout this summer to prepare for that marathon. Once I finish the Cape Town Marathon, my hope is to continue training — hopefully for the 2018 Boston Marathon.
This year might not have been my year in Boston. However, I cannot and will not let that stop me from pursuing a great Boston Marathon.
AM: Thanks for sharing your story, Greg. You’re being very humble. You’ve accomplished so much over the years for Team Joslin and are an inspiration to your fellow Type 1 distance runners!
Low blood sugar can affect your emotions in unexpected ways. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to learn how, and what you can do about it, from nurse David Spero.