This profile of Greg Putnam first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of our magazine.
First Person: Gregory Putnam
My first race was thirty-five years ago, the Ed Henley Memorial Road Race on the South Shore. I wanted to run that race because it went right by my house in South Weymouth. I don’t remember my time or place: Coolrunning.com was only printing results in the local newspapers, at least I think it was, so head to the Weymouth News archives for the full story. I ran in high school and loved cross-country the most—the autumn cold morning air, the smell of leaves and trees—all the heart and nerve and waffle flats on the line. I loved my teammates too: we raced hard, we trained hard, and we goofed off extra hard. Self-belief and belief in your guys are powerful forces. I feel that same way about my Masters teammates today. I could write on and on about CMS and a winning tradition, but all I know is that the long car rides to Grand Prix races fly by with guys that are as invested as I am with running and racing…and goofing off. CMS is the team for me; however, it took a long time to get that old high school feeling back…
I fell out of love with running thanks to my college coach, so I switched to racing bicycles: we had a great team there too, with collegiate champions and national team members on the squad at UMass Amherst. I was about twenty-eight when I came back to running and at that time I was first diagnosed with diabetes. The doctors weren’t sure which type of diabetes I had because it wasn’t really juvenile (commonly known as Type 1) and I wasn’t the morbidly obese type (fitting for Type 2). I didn’t seem to fit into any diabetic group and I often felt lost, frustrated, and angry when trying to manage it. After two and a half years managing diabetes with oral medications, the honeymoon was over and I went on to insulin injections. This made life difficult—never mind the running—with eating habits, frequent sickness, the constant testing of blood sugars, and the fear of both high and low blood sugars. I had a couple of bad low blood sugar episodes that led to emergency room visits…when they finally found me. To this day, I think about every piece of food I eat, and even though I have been a high school English teacher for twenty-three years, I do some serious math for each meal and snack. For racing and training, it gets even more difficult to manage ratios of carbs along with effort/miles/time. Again, I think about every bit of food I eat and at times it gets frustrating and infuriating: so then I run.
I cannot write about running as a Master without including diabetes, as it is a part of who I am. These days my life is safer and easier with my Dexcom CBGM which I use to give a continuous blood sugar reading throughout the day and the Omnipod wireless insulin pump that acts as an artificial pancreas. Both devices are manually inserted under the skin on a weekly basis. With all of that, I run about sixty-five miles a week with two workout days on Wednesdays and Sundays. Life as a masters runner is a wonderful challenge, a balance of work and family and the rest of the low blows that life provides.
My wife Allison asks every day about how each run went and how I am feeling—I love that about her. My two children, Eveline almost six, Sebastian age two, will chant: “Go Daddy, Go,” when we get ready for a road race. We all went in November to the New England Cross Country Championships—Ahab has his white whale, and I have Bear Cage at Franklin Park. After the race, earning third place, Eveline told me, “I’m still proud of you Dad…even though you didn’t win.” What else is there, right? The only thing after that was to hug her and whisper, “No dessert for you, unless you carry me to the car.”
Below are sample weekday and weekend schedules from Greg.
0540 Wake up, check blood sugar, sync Dexcom with Omnipod, make coffee, make my lunch, make my daughter’s lunch for kindergarten, head back upstairs, and get dressed for school.
0636 Drive to North Reading High School.
0700 Arrive at school; prep for the first show at 0730. Front row seats still available!
1200 Lunch: I graze throughout the day: jazz apples, bananas, and granola bars depending on blood sugar.
1400 Last class ends; see students for after school help and eat for the upcoming run.
1430 Mon, Tue, Thurs, and Friday: Run an easy 8 miles.
Wednesday: Intervals on track, usually 4-5 miles of workout depending on the season and training stage: 16×400, 4×800, 8×1000, 4-5×1 mile ALL done at 5:16 pace. There is also a good .33 mile hill loop at the Stoneham Fells that I like, easy dirt roads for the legs.
Total with warm up/down 10-11 miles.
1545 Drive to pick up kids from daycare and kinder- garten.
1615 Get home. Make snack for kids: fruit and peanut butter and play outside unless torrential rain or games called due to darkness—chasing the kids equals core work? Also lots of boo-boo kissing takes place…Check blood sugar.
1800 Make dinner, trade off with Allison—either prep or clean up. Clean up is a real brute, so I try to go for the prep. Veggies, pasta, beans, hummus, salsa, guacamole, veggie crumbles, organic chicken and ground turkey for taco night and the always popular breakfast for dinner. Family sit down for meals: “How was your day?” Des- sert after veggies consumed: Smartfood, popsicles, nuts Teddie peanut butter by the spoonful.
1930 Bedtime for the boy, Caps for Sale.
2000 Bedtime for the girl, I am a Pole (And So Can You) and/or Ramona the Pest.
2100 Bedtime, blood sugar check, and reading: Velo News, T&F News, Moby-Dick, A Confederacy of Dunces, anything by P.G. Wodehouse.
0645 Wake-up, make kids breakfast.
0700 Putnam Olympics: wrestling, chasing, running, screaming, laughing, crying, then laughing again, time out for pulling hair—the boy, time out for sore loser of couch jump event—me.
0730 Run from house to the Stoneham Fells/Whip Hill for an easy 10-11 miles. Sunday Workout: tempo run of usually 5 miles: warm up run from house (2 miles), then start at the Stoneham Zoo and head up to the reservoir for multiple loops around the water. Total 12 miles.
0915 Back home on kid patrol, swim lessons, tumbling.
1030 Work outside on various house projects: put kids to work or no dessert.
1200 Lunch: pb & j with fruit or Whole Foods sliced turkey.
1400 Back outside for work, solo, so I can undo all the things they did.
1800 Fancy Food Store dinner (Whole Foods)? Great samples to fill up those kids.
Check blood sugar even more frequently due to increased activity on weekends/vacations/ summer.
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