Finishing my first half marathon was one of the most fulfilling things that I have ever accomplished. Many of the half and full marathons that I have finished before were all just for fun and to just complete them. This time was different. Running this race had a lot of meaning for me. I had to prove to myself that having Type 1 does not hold me back nor should it stop me from following my dreams and goals. This day showed a lot to me and it’s a step in the greater direction in believing that Type 1 doesn’t make me a weak person. It shouldn’t make anyone feel weak.
Waking up in the morning at 5:30am, my blood sugar was 89. I continued to get dressed and do my morning routine to get ready for my race. I ate a protein bar to get my blood sugars up to 120. I did not take any long-lasting or short-lasting insulin that morning so that my blood sugars wouldn’t go too low during the run. I started the race 7:00am, ready to roll. Starting out I was feeling great! I was feeling light on my feet and my breathing was at a relaxed pace. I truly feel the difference of my energy levels and strength after making my lifestyle change to a paleo, gluten free, sugar free, grain free, dairy free lifestyle. I have noticed that my body feels cleaner and my movements feel smoother. Cruising through the mile markers, I felt like the old me, the non-diabetic me.. As I was running, I felt as though all my struggles of a new Type 1 Diabetic have disappeared and that I was back in my old body doing what it knows best. My goal of this race was to stay in touch with my body, listen to it, and feel everything that is going on with it. I didn’t care so much about my time for this run because finishing and getting through it as a Type 1 was good enough for me. I want to feel out my first one so that by my next one, I can really push myself.
Through out my run, I alternated between watered-down Gatorade and water to keep me hydrated, replenish my electrolytes, and to keep up my blood sugars because I know when running long distances, I gradually get low. By mile 7, I started to feel a loss of energy and I opened up a packet of my Clif Energy Gels, which are packed with fast acting carbs and sugars that will help bring my blood sugar and energy back up. Immediately after doing this, I felt great and back up to speed.
I kept running along to where at mile 9.5 my leg muscles start to feel a little bit of cramping. I take deep breaths and create a mind over body type of meditation. I just kept thinking about the finish line and how my body can get me through this, it has done it before so it should do it again. By mile 11 I start to feel the lull of loss of energy again. I have mastered this feeling because I know that it means my blood sugars are a little low. But I continue to run and squeeze another Clif Energy Gel in to my mouth along with some Gatorade and I feel good again.
The last mile always seems the longest. Mile 12 is this never ending mile that seems to want to kill me. I push through just thinking that there is only one mile between me and the finish line. One mile is nothing. One mile is not going to stop me from getting to my goal. Before I know it, I’m at mile 13! I see the mile marker and I pick up my pace to kick it into my second gear. Coasting towards the end, the crowd thickens and my adrenaline kicks it. I’m now sprinting at full force towards the finish line, passing people left and right. Before I know it, I crossed it! I crossed the finish line as a Type 1 Diabetic. My first half marathon as a diabetic and nothing bad happened to me. As they placed the medal on my neck, that feeling right then and there was one of the most powerful feelings that I have felt in a long time. I finished on my own, my own body, independent, fearless, and accomplished.
I was greeted by my amazing cheerleading supporter who immediately squished me in his embrace and continued to describe how much I continue to inspired him every single day. To me, it is one of the most rewarding feelings to be able to inspire (not only myself) but influence others in accomplishing their own personal goals.
Within one race, I felt the whole spectrum of human emotions. While running, I couldn’t help but take those 2.5 hours and reflect about my life and the path I have taken. 13.1 miles to myself to think about anything and everything. I felt happy that I was able to complete something that the Type 1 disease couldn’t take away from me. I felt sad because of the unbelievable struggles and hard times that I have had to face after being diagnosed.. From almost being on my deathbed in Europe to having to face reality, people, friends, family about what Type 1 is and constantly having to explain to them that it is NOT Type 2. I felt excited because life is now different for me, I am a whole new person starting a whole new book of my life. The old me is gone and a completely new, confident, health driven, passionate, independent, fearless, determined person has blossomed. I felt angry, not because my legs were in pain, but because of how uneducated the world is about this huge dangerous disease and how people don’t even know that there are two very different types of diabetes. Type 1 is like a form of cancer and it deserves to have more awareness and education than it does now. I felt love because I was currently doing what I love to do and I was doing it for ME, no one else. I felt the amazing loving support from my friends, family, and the Diabetic community cheering me on to complete something that many Type 1 Diabetics are afraid to do.
I finished the race with a blood sugar at 79. That was a perfect ending to another life changing day. I had a banana and coconut water post-race to bring up my sugars to a better level of 105. I continued the rest of the day not having to use any insulin at all because of my food choices and the extensive workout that I had.
Another milestone of my life has been made.