Never Letting Diabetes Stop Me
I wish I could say I was born with the ability to run fast but, sadly, I always lost in races on the playground. I loved being active, but I was not talented; I rue the day that I signed up for middle school track. My talent was more in the form of… Disney Trivia. So, when asked to sign up for a Disney Race, I signed up without hesitation.
Running slowly began to crawl into my every day routine. It wasn’t easy, but after a few weeks of hating every moment, it became a way to escape from reality. My friend suggested running a full marathon with her and I knew the FOMO (fear of missing out) would be persistent if I didn’t run. I jumped in feet first.
I hated the training cycle; it was long and grueling. I had to basically give up my weekends so that I could make all conditions perfect for my long run. Even then, it would take hours and I wouldn’t want to move off of my couch after. I told anyone who would listen that I would never do it again and that I was just finishing this one to be able to say that I did it. I couldn’t wait to get it over with.
After walking inside the expo doors at the Chicago Marathon, the electronic bass, the free samples of cut-in-half granola bars, and a way overpriced zip-up won me over. I was buzzing! It was all of 10 minutes before my friend and I had made the goal to do all six of the Abbott World Marathons together… What?!
Two years later, I was in the beginning stages of training for the Berlin Marathon and I was reminded of how absolutely terrible training was. I reached out to a few of my favorite Instagram runners to ask them how much water they were drinking each day while training. My thirst was seemingly out of control. Then, I started losing a ton of weight and thought that it just meant I was running super fast and that it would help me get a faster time. I was ignoring the signals of my body telling me that something was wrong, and I was too “invincible” and poor to go see a doctor regularly. After much too long of putting it off, I made the dreaded call to the doctor’s office to make an appointment.
The morning of that visit I asked the doctor if I could lie down after the blood draw because needles were “so scary.” That same night, I was learning how to give my own injections with shaking hands. Talking to the doctor, all I could think about was if I was still going to be able to run. Luckily, I was surrounded by a team of wonderful people who supported my crazy decision to continue training.
Now, not only was I training for a marathon, but also I was adjusting to the reality of being diagnosed with a chronic illness at 26. I cannot express enough that this time in my life was so much of a mental struggle to get out of bed each morning, and how misunderstood I felt through it all. Yet, each morning, I pulled myself out from between the sheets, and laced up my running shoes for whatever I could get myself to do that day.
About three months after the day my world changed, I crossed the finish line of the marathon and, in that same moment, burst through an emotional wall. Tears streaming down my face, I was awarded my medal by a volunteer who asked if I needed anything. What she didn’t realize was just how proud I was that I just finished my first marathon with diabetes. I was doubting since my diagnosis that I would be able to finish the goal I set with my friend two years ago because of this illness, but the dream still lives on.
Today, a year later, I am training for my third of six marathons. I am so thankful for my health now, even though I was once cursing my body for giving me diabetes. I am striving for goals I cannot see, and taking other people with diabetes along with me. Won’t you join? What crazy goal do you have? Let me see you achieve it to your fullest potential and spread the word that diabetes is not the end of your life—it is the start of a new chapter.