Will Run Chicago

After my last half marathon in October, I was finished with races until 2020. While I was happy with the effort I had put in all year, I was ready for a break from training, and I was thinking about the upcoming year. I remember mentally planning out all of my races for 2019 and being so excited to run my firstmarathon. This year, planning out my races for 2020 has gone a bit differently. I knew I wanted to run another marathon, but I was unsure if the Fargo Marathon was the one I wanted to run again. Don’t get me wrong, running the Fargo Marathon in 2019 was amazing. The crowds were awesome despite cold, windy, and rainy conditions, but training for a marathon during a Fargo winter was HARD. It takes a lot of mental preparation, and even some bribery, to get myself outside in the cold and snow, or on a treadmill to get my miles in. That’s when I decided I needed a change this year, and that I was going to put my name in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon.

I never thought I’d apply for such a large race like the Chicago Marathon. I always thought that if I ever ran it, it would be because I got in with a time standard. Lotteries are a risk. It is a not a guaranteed entry into the race, but thinking about the possibility of running the Chicago Marathon helped me get through a bit of a running burn out towards the end of 2019. When the day came to enter into the lottery, I got my name in within minutes of the lottery opening. I then had to wait a little over a month to see if I was one of the lucky runners who’d get their name picked to run the Chicago Marathon. I was reading statistics about the odds of getting into the Chicago Marathon, and one stat said that in 2015, 53% of the 54,800 lottery applicants were accepted. That is compared to the New York Marathon lottery that same year where they only accepted 18% of lottery applicants. I thought my chances were pretty good.

Then the day came that all the lottery applicants were anxious about: selection day. I waited anxiously all morning, checking my email at least four times an hour. Then I got the email.

Thank you for entering the Bank of America Chicago Marathon non-guaranteed entry drawing. We regret to inform you that your name was not selected.

I was disappointed to say the least. I had been using the Chicago Marathon as way to keep myself out of running burn out, and I had pictured crossing the finish line during my training runs for awhile. I told my mom that I didn’t get in and then I went about my day, starting to map out a training plan for the Fargo Marathon. When I got to the gym later that day, I was relieved to hear that other runners had also gotten the same disappointing email. With a sense of relief that I wasn’t the only runner disappointed in their lottery result, I grabbed my phone and running shoes, and went to run out some frustration on the treadmill. That’s when I got the notification on Facebook from my mom about running the Chicago Marathon for a charity. I was suddenly excited about the chance of possibly still running Chicago. I chewed it over throughout the night, thinking about if it was possible to raise anywhere from $1,500-$2,000 for a charity I wanted to support. My friends and family assured me it was possible and without skipping a beat, I contacted JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the next morning about a charity bib for their organization.

If you’ve been following my blog or my Instagram for awhile, you’d know that Type 1 Diabetes effects me directly. I am a person living with Type 1 Diabetes, and this disease was the reason my blog and Instagram started in the first place. It was an absolute no brainer that I would choose to run for an organization like JDRF. I am honored to be able to run for an organization that is doing all that they can to change the lives of people living with Type 1 Diabetes and help find a cure. Running for Team JDRF will help me on my mission to show others that you can do anything you set your mind to as a Type 1 Diabetic. It’ll help me get the conversation started about what Type 1 Diabetes even is and just how it impacts those of us living with it. It’ll help me start other important conversations that come along with the severity of this disease like the rising price of insulin in the United States, insulin rationing, and why those things are so problematic. I’m excited to run in the Chicago Marathon in October, but I am even more excited about this opportunity I have been given to educate and inform others.

Since December 16, 2019, I have raised $675 of my $2,000 fundraising goal for the Chicago Marathon with Team JDRF. I haven’t even been fundraising a month and I’m 33% of the way toward my goal. I am blessed to have such supportive friends, family, colleagues, and local businesses in my life. Living with Type 1 Diabetes is not easy and running with Type 1 Diabetes isn’t easy either, but I’m so glad I have the ability to do it. If you’re looking for a cause to donate to this year, I ask that you consider donating to JDRF whether that be through my fundraising page or directly through them. Any little bit helps, your donation is tax deductible, and you’ll help improve the lives of diabetics, and hopefully help us find a cure.

Click here to follow a direct link to my Team JDRF 2020 Chicago Marathon fundraising page


From Chronically Injured to Chronically Ill

I had no plans to swim in college. That was never something I had initially planned on when I began applying to schools. My initial plan was to move as far away from my hometown as my parents would let me go. In fact, I think it was pretty much fate that lead me to my college and collegiate swimming career. If it wasn’t for that school, I may not have earned the degrees in my subject fields, the current career path I’m on, and possibly even the mental strength I posses to deal with my chronic illness.

I had received a pamphlet in the mail about my university, and my parents encouraged me to look it up. When they realized it was twelve hours away, they were hesitant, but the affordability of university eased their minds. For whatever reason, they agreed to drive me TWELVE HOURS out to South Dakota, and we looked at a few schools on the way. The funniest part about all of this was that after touring a few other schools, I had no interest in attending the college I ended up graduating from. It wasn’t until I ran into a professor who then introduced me to the head swim coach that I had any interest in my university. Like I said, complete fate is how this all came together. Two months later, my future coach called to inform me that there was a spot on the team if I wanted it. While I had not originally planned to swim in college, much less at the Division II level, I found myself committing.

My college swim career did not go as I planned. I never thought that I’d break records or earn a national cut, but I sure as hell did not think I’d miss almost a year and a half collectively. My first injury came my sophomore year of college. I began experiencing pain my right groin, but ignored it. I was running and swimming four hours a day, and was honestly still getting used to the demands of college athletics. It wasn’t until I found myself in extreme pain during a kick set that I made my way to the trainers. And it wasn’t until I was crying while walking across my small campus to get to class that I asked for things to be escalated. An x-ray and three MRI’s later, it was determined that I had torn the labrum in my right hip, and I needed surgery. I ended up missing the entirety of my sophomore season, but gained that year back with a medical red-shirt.

It was frustrating to have to sit on the sidelines and watch my teammates compete. It was frustrating to sit through four months of physical therapy post-surgery until I was cleared to swim. All I wanted to do was be back in the pool with my teammates, and I was SO relieved when that day finally came. I had been out of the water almost six months, and I was not in the same shape as when I left the pool. I worked my butt off to get back to where I was after before I had surgery. Then during the middle of a practice where I was finally feeling like I was back at pre-injury speed, my coach pulled me out of the pool again. Except this time, it was very obvious something was wrong. My right arm was swollen, and my hand was a blueish-purple color. Within the next two days it would be determined that I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and had then developed Paget-Schroetter Syndrome. I had a blood clot in my shoulder, and underwent surgery within the next week. I missed ANOTHER immediate six weeks of swimming, required more physical therapy, and was not cleared to compete until about two months later. It was another frustrating recovery period, but I was yet again optimistic that I could come back just as strong.

My third full year of swimming was one of my best. I had be voted captain of my team, I was back to times that I had been seeing before either surgery, and I made finals in every event I swam at my conference meet. Then my last year, I slipped on the ice before morning practice and fractured my radius. I was out for about a month, but it made made me question taking my fifth year. I was frustrated, I wanted to quit, and I was devastated with the luck I seemed to have. Somehow though, I came back. My arm healed, and I finished out my year with the same optimism and positivity that I had shown during my other two injuries. It was tough, but I loved swimming and I wanted to finish out my career.

After I graduated college, I thought I was done with being injured. I was ready to live a normal life, workout when I wanted, and start my career. That following August, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was furious, terrified, and any of the strength I had shown during my previous health battles was gone. The moment that I realized that there was no cure or quick fix, it destroyed me. I had been so lucky before with my previous problems. They could all be fixed, but no doctor in the world at this time can make my pancreas produce insulin again. It was a hard pill to swallow, and it was even harder to accept that there was no way to prevent this.

After going through what felt like the five stages of grief, I accepted my diagnosis. It certainly wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t a fast process, but I found the same strength I had had during my doomed collegiate swim career. I think that strength I experienced so many times before helped me carry the weight of my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. If I had not gone to my university and swam, and experienced that kind of set back, I think my acceptance of my diagnosis would have been very different. The way I carry myself as a Type 1 Diabetic could be very different. I am certainly not happy that I live with this awful disease, but I thankful for the experiences that I have had so far, no matter how difficult they were at the time, that proved to me that I can get through some of the hardest days with Diabetes.

Lows & Half Marathons

Last year, I woke up one Saturday morning at 5am and got ready for my second half marathon. I ate my typical pre-run breakfast and mentally prepared for the 13.1 miles that I’d be running that morning. While I wasn’t 100% confident on how this race would go, I laced up my shoes to join a few friends at the starting line.

When my friends and I were getting ready to leave my apartment, my blood sugar was in the 160s. I typically like to start my runs in the 180s, and my Dexcom was showing that I was slightly rising so I wasn’t too terribly worried. It wasn’t until I got to the venue and noticed I had started dropped to about 155 mg/dL that I started to worry. In a slight panic, I ate a granola bar, which usually makes me steadily rise, and hoped for the best. After one last bathroom break I checked my Dexcom and saw that my blood sugar levels were rising.I entered the race feeling relieved and confident.

By the time the first mile marker came around, I heard my pace through my headphones: “9:20.” We we’re running faster than we expected. We hit up every water station, and when the chance for Poweraid became available, I opted for that in hopes that it would help keep my blood sugar up and stable. Each mile passed, and each mile was under a 9:30min/mile pace! We were keeping up with the pacer whose balloon read 02:05. If we kept up with that her, it would be a personal record (PR) by SIX minutes. But then I heard it. The loud, blaring low blood sugar alarm of my Dexcom. I dropped a few choice words, and pulled one of my gels out of my running belt, and began continuously checking my Dexcom. 15 minutes passed and my Dexcom read 66 mg/dL with the down arrow.

I knew I was running fast and that I was on my way to a PR. I wanted nothing more but to keep myself going. I thought to myself: “If my gel kicks in, and I can get to the next aid station, drink a bunch of power aid, and then wait a little bit, I’ll be good to keep going. To my frustration, the next aid station was a bit farther away that I thought. My gel wasn’t kicking in fast enough, and by the time I got to the aid station, there was only water. There was, however, more gels so I hoped that if I ate another gel, I could get my blood sugar out of the 60s. By this time, I knew had added another half hour to my half marathon time. I was past any hope of PR-ing during that half.

I kept checking my Dexcom, but the arrows kept going down. My sugar kept dropping. There was no way I could have ran five more miles with my blood sugar under 90 mg/dL. That’s when I decided that I had to throw in the towel. I made the heartbreaking, but safe decision to pull myself out of the race. It was frustrating. I was running so well, but my blood sugar levels were being so stubborn. No amount of carbohydrates could keep my blood sugar at a level where I could safely finish running five miles.

I’ve had plenty of runs and workouts cut short due to low blood sugar. It happens, and when I decided to start running half marathons, I knew that there might be a race or two that I couldn’t complete because of low blood sugar. That doesn’t mean it makes it easier when it happens, though. I was feeling great. I was running fast. I was on track to PR. I did not want to turn to my friend and tell her that I couldn’t finish the race, but the reality of the situation was that it was in my best interest to pull out of the race.

The moral of this story is that diabetes can be infuriating, especially when working out. I didn’t do anything different from my typical pre-run routine. I ate the same breakfast and suspended my insulin much like I would before any other run. My blood sugar SHOULD have been elevated before my race and stayed stable, but for whatever reason that day, my blood sugar did not want to play along. I don’t think I could have prevented my low blood sugar that day. It’s just how the cards played out.

Was this upsetting? Yes. Will I stop running races? Absolutely not. If I stop running because I had one race that I couldn’t complete because of low blood sugar, that would mean I let diabetes win. Part of me wanted to wake up the next morning and run 13.1 miles just to prove to myself that I had it in me, but I knew there would be another chance for me run a half marathon. Diabetes may have stopped me from completing that half, but I haven’t let it stop me from running. To date, I have ran multiple 5 and 10K’s, three 15Ks, three half marathons, and one marathon. Running with Type One Diabetes isn’t always easy, but I’ll never let T1D keep me from running.