5 Lessons from Running the 5 Boroughs with Beyond Type Run

11/21/17
WRITTEN BY: Stephanie Kahn
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Editor’s Note: Stephanie ran in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon sponsored by Medtronic. Learn about the 2018 Beyond Type Run Team, sponsored by Dexcom and the Omnipod® Insulin Management Systemhere


Beyond Type Run has been a life-changing experience.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to make my marathon debut at the largest marathon in the world, one of the six Marathon Majors, and I did it all while marking my 20th year living with Type 1 diabetes. I learned a lot along this journey, and I want to share with you some things I learned along the way:

Running

The human body is remarkably resilient. After dealing with issues ranging from blood sugar swings to plantar fasciitis, I never stop feeling surprised by how okay I can feel the day after a very long run.

Running is a mental game. When I’m out there for multiple hours by myself, I can get really lonely and stuck in my head. Since giving up is not an option, those are the moments when having a reason for running is most important. I had such a concrete reason: proving that people like me can do anything.

Having a routine helps me track my progress. By logging my workouts and doing certain things each day of the week, I can really see how far I’ve come. My yoga poses are stronger. I graduated to heavier kettlebell workouts. I can hold a plank on my hands — instead of my forearms — much longer than before. And I can run crazy long distances. I remember where I started, and I am really proud of my progress and achievements even if I don’t take the time to celebrate them each time they occur.

Get. Fitted. For. Running. Shoes. They aren’t just for style and they can make the difference between running with and without pain. It’s worth it to spring for inserts. A 2mm difference in heel to toe drop is the determining factor for whether or not I need KT Tape and if my hip will hurt. KT Tape and compression clothing can hold a body together through a lot of things!

Diabetes

Sometimes, T1D has a mind of its own and gets in the way.

Long runs take a lot of preparation: hydration, sleep, nutrition, clothing, ways to carry STUFF, warming up, and then the actual run. Figuring out how to manage BGs for endurance sports is a lot of trial and error. Intense training can increase insulin sensitivity. Don’t be alarmed. Treat the lows, reassess your ratios, and figure out the new normal. It’s going to be ok.

I had to stop in the medical tent at Mile 14 because my blood sugar was low. I was in the 60s and not rising fast enough to continue. The nurses were really nice and made sure I had Gatorade and access to the glucometer — they even offered me their own snacks — but when one of them asked if I wanted to continue, I realized it had never crossed my mind that this low blood sugar would prevent me from finishing the race. Sure, my goal to finish in less than 6 hours was out the window, but that wasn’t the point. I knew I could do it, I trained to do it, and I did it. It was a true moment of living beyond.

Gear

My Minimed 670G is my best friend. It doesn’t let me stay high for hours on end and it’s really good at preventing lows. I used to be awakened by “low predict” alarms multiple times every night, and now auto mode just takes care of it preventing the hypoglycemia for me and lets me sleep.

I love our clothes from Adidas and the Power Up compression socks from Zensah. The right apparel for running and recovery is important when the entire sport is just your body, and Beyond Type Run set us up with items that looked amazing and were also wonderfully functional as we ran all those miles. Our StayFit Running Belts were a game-changer. They held so much stuff, including insulin pumps, and nothing bounced while running.

It really is nice to have the running stats on your wrist, whether you use a GPS watch or a different sort of tracker. I started out with audio cues and then switched over in July, and it makes it easier to zone out when I can do a status check quickly on my wrist instead of waiting for the sound.

Community

It takes a village. Running friends, diabetes friends, diabetes running friends, family (shout out to my parents for participating in the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k as part of Beyond Type Run!), medical team, neighbors, gym people. The commiseration, encouragement, and problem-solving that everyone brought to the table made the whole endeavor possible.

Going through this process as part of a team kept me from feeling alone. Having other people with diabetes to help me troubleshoot how to do this thing that is crazy enough for people without diabetes was incredibly helpful and encouraging.

Running with friends makes such a difference! I run happier, faster, and easier when I’m with a buddy who pushes me to keep going.

Athletic communities are some of the most supportive, especially with running. My Wednesday morning TRX/Kettlebell classes and Saturday morning Run Club workouts quickly became staple benchmarks in my week, and I truly look forward to seeing all the people I’ve met through these groups each week.

The diabetes community fostered by Beyond Type 1 is amazing. Seeing a whole section of people cheering just for us was the best and made Mile 8 one of my favorites of the entire race. I did not know what to expect from the crowds, but every time I saw a red hat and knew it was for me, I smiled bigger, waved to our supporters, and had just a little more spring in my step.

Personal

The feeling of accomplishment after doing the impossible is unparalleled.



Stephanie Kahn

Stephanie is a non-profit associate and graduate student in Cleveland, Ohio. She has had T1D since 1997 and grew up attending Camp Ho Mita Koda. When she isn't working, doing schoolwork, or running, Stephanie enjoys reading, participating in National Novel Writing Month, and working in theatrical lighting design. Follow her Beyond Type Run marathon training adventures on Instagram at Instagram @skrunsamarathon.