BMX racer with type 1 diabetes, Matt Neal, gives you an inside look into one of his recent races and how he managed his blood sugar levels throughout the whole experience.
The Southwest Nationals in Tucson, AZ is a typical stop on my race schedule. I decided to dust off my bike and see if I could still compete. I went to two practice sessions at my local track the weeks leading up to the event. I felt decent on the track. My starts were good, first straights were ok and I was feeling comfortable on my bike everywhere else on the track. What I was most pleased with was my blood sugar levels. I set a target of 150 mg/dL and was within 10 mg/dL of that during my practice sessions. I’m sure that helped me to feel good on my bike.
So with very little preparation, I loaded my truck up and headed south to Tucson to practice on the track.
My blood sugar was a little low before I left, so I ate some extra carbs to bring me back up. By the time I got to the track, I checked my blood sugar again and I realized I had over corrected. It was just over 300 mg/dL and I knew I needed to bolus. I took the recommended bolus that my Omnipod insulin pump suggested and cut it in half. I didn’t want my blood sugar to drop too low before I practiced. It worked well and I finished my practice session within range. So I headed back to eat some dinner and get some rest for the weekend’s race action.
Adventures During the Race
I rode my practice session Saturday morning and felt pretty good. My blood sugar was pretty steady and I was ready to race. I had an outside lane in my first race and didn’t make the cut to move on. That meant I had to get top four in my second round to make the main event. I had a decent start and cruised around the track. I went back to the stands to relax and drink some water, with one lap to go for the day.
For the main event, I had a middle lane to start and three of the fastest guys in my class all on my inside. Because the first straight was so short, it can cause trouble in the first turn, because everyone is bunched up and going for the same spot on the track. Unfortunately, it did cause some trouble. I had a decent start and was in the middle of the pack going into the first turn. A couple guys on my inside got together and one of them bounced out to the outside and we hit. It happened really fast and, from what I remember, our wheels got tangled up and we both went down. Fortunately, it wasn’t a bad crash and I escaped with a few cuts and scrapes, nothing serious. I got up to finish my lap and ended up 8th place.
The great thing about BMX nationals is that there are essentially two races during the weekend. Sunday was a brand new start and I was eager to get on the track and finish better than yesterday’s race.
Finishing the Race Strong
There is no practice on Sunday nationals so my first lap was my open moto. I had a good start and won the race from start to finish. My blood sugar was in good control and I was feeling good. I had a poor start in my class and knew I had to wait for the second round to make the main event. I won my second round of open and was almost guaranteed the overall win at that point. I had a good start in my second moto for my class and easily made the main event there as well. Now it was time to hydrate, check my blood sugar again and rest up for my final two laps of the weekend.
My blood sugar was 152 mg/dL before my open main event. Once again I won that race. I took the overall win with a perfect three points. I knew my class main would be a tougher race and I was up for the challenge.
The adrenaline was building up for the main event and my blood sugar jumped up to 165 mg/dL. I had a great start in the main and was in the top four going into the first turn. Another rider and I got together in the turn and that contact slowed me down a bit. I was still sitting in fourth place coming out of the first turn. I got out of the turn well and made a move to pass for third down the second straight and into the second turn. Once again, I took off out of the turn and had my eye on the leaders. I saw them get together in the last turn and one of them went down, leaving me in second place. I was happy about that and still wanted a little more so I took off down the last straight. It was a drag race which resulted in a photo finish. I ended up getting second place, just three inches away from the win!
I was really happy with my results, especially because I hadn’t ridden or prepared for the race at all. One final blood sugar check and I was back down to 139 mg/dL. Perfect!