Donate to Climb for the Cure!


Help me raise money for diabetes research! For every foot of Mount Rainier, donate one-thousandth of a cent! ($14.41). To donate, click on the link above or send me an email at After expedition costs, all funds will be allocated to the American Diabetes Association. If you represent a private or a public sponsor, or if you are also wishing to make a donation, send me an email with the subject line SPONSORSHIP. Your help will get me to the top of Mt Rainier! Thank you, and wish me luck with my journey!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weeks 4 and 5: Hurts... So... Good...

Over and over again, I am astonished at the levels of physical exertion to which I am able to push myself. Admittedly, I've harbored the deeply buried and shameful idea that being a diabetic makes me more brittle than a non-diabetic. I am proving to myself that this is wrong.

Which, of course, is staggeringly life-changing. Though I've always believed that I should be just as physically capable as a non-diabetic, I never thought I actually was. Since the beginning of my training in January, noticeable changes have been appearing in my physicality, performance, and appearance. This is truly an achievement for both myself and diabetics everywhere; to know that the condition does not have to dictate your abilities. Attitude and discipline are everything.

This past week or so was intense. As my climbing technique, strength and stamina are all increasing and developing steadily, I conquered my most challenging climbs ever at the rock gym; a couple of 5.9's a few times and one 5.10! I'm not at all solidly on that level yet, though, because even some 5.7's challenge me. I am hoping to master 5.9's very solidly within the next couple of months so that I can learn to sport lead, a much more demanding and dangerous style of rock climbing.

To feel my body changing is very exciting, and it's almost at a rate too fast for my consciousness and awareness to maintain. When I am up on the rock wall, my muscles feel much stronger than I can ever remember, and I'm moving in ways I don't fully understand. My creativity in climbing movements is surprising me, and it's encouraging to feel myself improving in my skill and ability. Needless to say, I'm still in the honeymoon phase of my physical training.

This last weekend was perhaps my most physically demanding of all. I managed to do a 7-mile hike over very rocky terrain with a 44-lb. pack (approximately 32% of my body weight) that lasted about 4 hours. Three days later, and my gluteus maximus is hurting so very, very good. Buns of Steel's got nothin' on that hike.

The hiking crew and I, far left. I'm the dipstick with the massive pack.

If that weren't tortuous enough, I just had to go climbing at the rock gym immediately afterward to bag those tough aforementioned climbs. Whoo dillay! I am hurtin' from my ankles, to my calves and things, to my back, shoulders, forearms, and everywhere in between. I need some aspirin, a massage, and perhaps a punch in the face for having lost my mind. Does anyone know a good masseuse/ dojo/ pharmacy?

Truth be told, I loved every minute of the grueling agony of physical exhaustion, and I had even more energy left over. In fact, I wanted to push myself further, but enough is enough! There is always time for more masochism later...

Since that hike, my blood sugar has practically resolved itself. In the graph, take a look at the last third of the readings. Those are my blood sugar results since the hike and following climbs. It may not be easy to see, but my blood sugar finds a much tighter range, with one high reading of 285.

This is a breakthrough in my understanding of how exercise affects my metabolism, and I'm excited for the good news. Also, I blasted through all of my emergency sugar while on the hike, so I can't be too careful about that. I'd rather carry too much than too little, and that's a lesson I don't ever want to have to learn the hard way.

Lastly, I will be doing a late winter climb of Mount Washington come March. Weather conditions ought to be crushingly cold and windy, perhaps below zero and >40 mph winds. I can't wait! What a great opportunity for me to get some instruction and experience with snow travel, crampons, ice axes, and self-arrest. Also, I'll be anxious to see how my glucometer and insulin will fare in such harsh conditions. I'd rather make some mistakes and learn from them on Mt Washington than Mt Rainier.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Week 3: A Little Bit High

So far, so good. The first three weeks were really about the strong establishment of a routine; without a solid foundation, anyone attempting a new fitness routine might be prone to failure. As in every way possible, I want to enable myself to experience success in what I attempt, and I certainly don't want to make myself susceptible to giving up.

But then, that's why it's so great to keep a training blog - it's something to hold me accountable! What am I going to do, lie on my blog? That would neither serve me or you, the reader. I'm blogging about my real experiences, because I believe it's important to show the world what I'm doing, and because I believe everyone should be getting "out there," and challenging themselves to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Besides, if I'm not happy with what I have to say on here, then I'm motivated to do something to satisfy my hunger for stimulation and to push my limits some more.

Now that I'm heading into my fourth week of training, I can't believe a month is gone already. Officially, I have 20 weeks left until I get on the plane to Seattle-Tacoma airport. Sounds like a lot, but looking back, time really flies.

In reflection, I think that I've done a great job so far. In terms of fitness, I've managed to:

  • become an avid climber of my local rock gym, hitting it for many hours several times a week
  • establish a habit of going to my local fitness center to do one-hour workouts, encompassing warmup, cardio, strenth and flexibility training at least three times a week
  • hike my first proper "summit"
  • keep my motivation momentum going!

Also, I can tell that my physiology is changing. Not only does my body feel tighter, leaner and stronger, but I have a spring in my step and some power to my grip. Everything; standing, walking, all movements feel more precise and carry more power. In other words, I feel fitter than ever.

My blood sugar hasn't magically resolved itself to perfection (I'm very disappointed to say) but I have been monitoring it even more actively than usual - which can never be a bad thing! I'm also waiting for the green light from my insurance company so that I can go on the Omnipod. After trying it on, I realized there is no way I could ever use a regular pump. The Omnipod liberated me in ways I haven't felt since before my diagnosis, and that's peace of mind worth every penny. I hope my insurance agrees!

Logistically speaking, my flight is booked, I have a hotel in Seattle for a few nights after my Rainier attempt, and I've got a 5000-cubic-inch girly-purple expedition pack on its way to my doorstep, along with some nice hiking boots for outside training. Check out the pack!

With my new pack (as required by Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.) I'll be doing some serious pack training, which is one of the best ways to get in shape for a big climb attempt, according to most experienced mountaineers. Makes sense - replicate the climb itself for the most logical and effective prep.

While I'm waiting for my new toys, I'll be continuing to go to Earth Treks to get my butt beat on the rock walls, and going for dayhikes in the area.

Speaking of which, I climbed my first proper "summit" this afternoon, with the company of my mountain-climbing dachshund, Karma. Who knew doxies were such enthusiastic mountaineers? Karma, at least, is a powerhouse. Take a look at her as she absorbs everything from her vantage point at 1300 feet up at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

While 1300 feet isn't much to look at on paper, it was a good challenge for training purposes, and it was beautiful at the top, too! With a 25-lb. pack, I climbed to the top and watched the sun dip behind the rolling Appalachians. Being a monodnock, or a single peak that's lasted through the geological eras as its surroundings have mostly eroded, the view from the top was spectacular.

What a view! And what a nice reward for a good two-hours' worth of climbing. I picked up a couple of Sugarloaf quartzite nuggets as well, just for shiggles.

Looking forward to the coming weeks and months of training, I figure it's time for a concrete plan. Here's my training-goal calendar from here until Rainier:

Week 4 - 30 minutes every 3 days on steeply-inclined treadmill with a 25-lb. pack, plus regular workout routine of lifting, stretching and cardio

Week 5 - 45 minutes every 3 days as above with 35-lb. pack

Week 6 - 50 minutes every 3 days as above with 35-lbs.

Weeks 7-15 - 50 minutes every 2 days as above with 40 lbs.

Weeks 15-20 - 1 hour every 2 days as above with 45 lbs.

Besides my goals with a weighted pack, I will maintain my regular gym schedule at Earth Treks and with cardio and strength training. Also, I plan to climb Mount Mitchell in North Carolina before the winter chill is gone, which ought to happen in March sometime; Mount Mitchell is the higest peak East of the Mississippi River.

Until next week, happy blood sugars!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week 2: 12 New Callouses and One New Insulin Pump

This week, I was able to do my hardest climb ever. On the Yosemite Decimal System, a 5.10 is a challenge for many experienced climbers. I was able to attack a 5.10 not just once, but twice! I am very proud of my newest climbing achievement, and it helps to further my motivation to improve into a strong and skilled climber. 

I've become a member at my rock gym, and I intend on going several times a week. 

I'm also happy to announce that it is only a matter of time now before I am officially on the Omnipod, Insulet Corporation's insulin pump with tubeless technology; the first of its kind. It's been a very long time coming both for me and the diabetic community. 

Admittedly, I've tried traditional pumps with infusion sets and long tubes - no good. While many pumps out there are truly spectacular, a pump is a pump. The Omnipod, however, is more than a pump: it's a guarantor of freedom. 

When I wore a traditional insulin pump, I felt imprisoned by its tubing and weight. As soon as I put it on, I felt great, but my happiness quickly dissolved into a very unhappy flashback to when I was first diagnosed. It wasn't pretty. 

The Omnipod is different from other pumps in the enormously advantageous respect that it is sans tubing. Because of this functionality, I was able to forget it was even there! What invaluable peace of mind! As a diabetic, that feeling is mostly a foggy memory. I'm delighted. 

Besides my new equipment, I'm also happy to announce a budding partnership with the ADA annd JDRF. With pleasure and respect, I will be representing both organizations at future events, such as fundraisers, radio interviews, and health conferences. I'm sure countless good can come out of such a partnership, and I am very excited to begin collaborating our resources to raise money and awareness for the benefit of diabetic everywhere.

So with my dying grip and newly calloused hands (12 in total, thankyouverymuch), I'm off to get some rest to finish up another week of training. Week 4, prepare to be climbed/ hiked/ attacked/ rocked!