My Rocky Start to Running
Editor’s Note: Marie Beyond Type Run‘s 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Team sponsored by Dexcom and Insulet, makers of the tubeless Omnipod Insulin Management System. Learn more about the 2019 Beyond Type Run team here.
I like to joke that middle school never happened. This is largely because I have yet to meet someone that wants to remember life as a pre-teen. The (only) highlight of those three years was that track began in seventh grade. I grew up listening to stories of my dad and his eight siblings crushing records and winning state championships in cross country. So you can understand how real this was for me. Finally. Real uniforms, real track meets, and it was just the beginning.
A quick recap of how seventh grade track went for me: Coaches decided on the runners from our school that would compete. I was always in the top three runners, so I qualified for every meet that year. I would eat a pack of fruit snacks to prevent a low, run my race, repeat. It was awesome. You can imagine my surprise when I sauntered up to my coach, handed her the eighth grade track approval form to sign, and was told that I could not run track.
Luckily, this was orientation night and my dad was with me. After failing to get a logical explanation from her, I jogged over to my dad, completely bamboozled, and tugged him over to talk to my coach.
Want to take a guess at what her explanation was for not signing my form?
Ding-ding-ding! Diabetes. “I am really afraid that you will have an emergency with your diabetes while we are out running,” she told us.
Those words didn’t even make sense to me since I always ran with glucose gels and my Omnipod insulin pump, and never had an emergency. Not to mention my school 504 plan (thank you, Americans with Disabilities Act).
There are only a handful of things that people with Type 1 diabetes cannot do today. The short list includes, commercial pilot, active duty military and astronaut. My parents sent an email to her; they explained Type 1 diabetes again, detailed all of my precautions, and covered emergency procedures. (I am sure they also mentioned my rights under the law). I was able to run eighth grade track, and I found new motivation to keep my blood sugars in range when I was active.
I learned to advocate for myself through this incident. It was the first and only time that someone tried to use this disease to limit me. It helped me navigate Type 1 discussions with my high school soccer and cross-country coaches, and I am better prepared to address others concerns to this day.
Someone call up my old track coach and tell her that I am running the New York City marathon this year!!! Fight for your dreams, especially when Type 1 is trying to get in the way.
To learn more about the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Beyond Type Run team click here.