Born to Run: Will’s Story


Editor’s Note: Will is a member of the 2021 team of Beyond Type 1 runners that will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon. Beyond Type Run is sponsored by Dexcom and Tandem Diabetes Care.

When I heard there was a team of people with type 1 diabetes (T1Ds) running the NYC Marathon in 2019 I immediately thought that I had found my people and wanted to get involved. When I saw the application open for 2021, I couldn’t wait to apply.

I first started running many years ago with the help of a friend. I ran a 5K, that evolved to 10, then 21.1, but I swore I would never do a marathon. Well, here I am, and I’ve now run 5 marathons. My goal is to run one a year while in my 40s, 2020 & 2021 made that difficult so I’m behind by one, but that’s ok, I’ll make it up.

Born to run

I love to run, it’s how I control my sugars, my mood and stress. I don’t know any other people my age with type 1 or, for that matter, any that run. It’s nothing new for anyone with type 1, but boy do I struggle sometimes. My performance sucks when I’m low or high; trying to race is a game, if I’m successful with my sugars I can find success. I watch my friends and see how freely they run, without a care in the world. For me, it’s two watches (one for sugars and one to track my run), a belt with all my low supplies, a phone for the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings, and of course my pump—hoping every day my site doesn’t fall off from sweat.

My Tandem pump and Dexcom CGM are what allow me to do this, they are essential, I wouldn’t run if it wasn’t for the security and knowledge they provide me.

Going for a run takes planning, you can’t run with insulin on board or a low is guaranteed. I can’t always pick up and go when a friend calls, I need at least six hours’ notice. I find success running first thing in the morning when I’ve fasted, even though my body struggles to get moving that early.

My story

I am so thankful that this disease came to me later in life and I was able to enjoy my teens and twenties.

Initially, I was treated as type 2. It started with one medication, which led to another, and another and another, I was eating no carbs at all and losing weight extremely fast. I had lost the ability to run, play sports,or even function as a parent. I would sleep excessively and felt miserable all the time.

It wasn’t until a close family friend suggested I make a call to an endocrinologist that he worked with. After extensive testing and a long meeting discussing my history, I was diagnosed with type 1. I really didn’t understand how bad it was until he asked how many times I’d been to the emergency room. I was in full-blown diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), close to having major complications, and I was told to start insulin immediately.

That started a long journey learning how to live my life differently.

I was so fortunate to have a nurse that took the time to work with me, she was amazing. But the best part was she is a runner, so we started on the journey to get me healthy again and eventually back to running.

Will is raising money for Beyond Type 1 through Beyond Type Run—his fundraising will make a real difference in the lives of those living with T1D.

WRITTEN BY William Greenwood, POSTED 10/28/21, UPDATED 12/07/22

William is a member of the 2021 Beyond Type Run Team and lives with type 1 diabetes.