Kirsten did just that and is here to tell the tale of taking on one of the biggest challenges in her life – running the 2018 New York Marathon! Physically, mentally, and blood sugar management-wise, it’s a story that gives us goosebumps!
By: Kirsten Myers, mySugr Happiness Hero
I have never allowed my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age 17 to limit me. Within two weeks of diagnosis, I was back practicing with my rowing team and within two years, I was rowing collegiately for a division 1 team.
All along the way, physical activity has been my way of showing my diabetes monster that it has not stopped me. Every new goal I set tends to bring with it new challenges to my diabetes regime, but it is these challenges which allow me to learn more about treating my diabetes.
In 2018 I set myself on a staggering new goal: a marathon — 26.2 miles! But, unlike in the past when I had been the only person with type 1 diabetes navigating a new athletic or personal challenge, I did not want to be alone in this challenge.
Type One Run
In January of 2018, I started a chapter of Type One Run in my home city of Portland. Type One Run is a non-profit under the Beyond Type 1 umbrella, started by Craig Stubing and James Mansfield, with the goal of bringing together people with diabetes through physical activity.
These runs with other people with type 1 diabetes, in my community, started some new thoughts in my mind. What else could I do for people with diabetes? How do I connect with other people with diabetes? What ways was I stagnating in my own diabetes treatment?
I heard about the Beyond Type Run group in 2017, a group of people with type 1 diabetes who completed the New York City Marathon together. This was a step I wanted to take. The new challenge I was looking for, accompanied by other people with diabetes, and running to inspire other people with diabetes.
So, I applied through Beyond Type 1 and waited to hear back. By May, I was accepted and nervously began planning my training. I could not have anticipated the experience of being a part of the team, training together, and ultimately racing together in New York.
Through a Facebook group, we kept in constant contact as each of us put in miles toward the marathon. Race strategies and low snacks were discussed. We even had a number of sponsors who provided us with goodies to use during our runs.
Meeting my teammates in New York was like seeing family whom you haven’t seen in a long time. The Saturday before the race we had a team brunch to kick off the weekend, and I instantly felt like I already knew my teammates.
Race day was SO nerve-wracking, but we all discussed our blood sugars and strategies among a group of people who understood completely.
“Oh, you’re 300? Me too, hoping it will go down.”
“What are you bringing to keep your blood sugar up?”
Although most of us ultimately faced the miles of running through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhatten alone, we were together in our mission: standing up to diabetes, accomplishing a new challenge and raising awareness for others living with diabetes.
The race was exhilarating and exhausting at once! I wore “Kiki” in tape on my shirt, and all throughout the race, the crowd sang my name back to me.
I carefully monitored my blood sugar thanks to my continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. I ate many fruit snacks to keep my blood sugar up, and I may have had waves of nausea in the last hour – but I accomplished my goal of finishing under four hours! I felt like a diabetes champion, raising my hands at the finish line, a victory for myself and my teammates. It was awesome.
I hope one day I can run a race where I don’t have to obsessively worry about my blood sugar, or have to eat so much to keep my blood sugar up. But for now, I’ll look for more and more opportunities to challenge myself and find community, because that is when I feel least alone with this disease that can feel so unrelenting.
About the author: Kirsten Myers is one of our incredible Happiness Heroes, working tirelessly to make sure you’re all well taken care of, that all of your questions are answered, and that any problems that come up are resolved as quickly as possible. On top of all that, she loves taking on impressive challenges! She’s also recently been accepted into med school! Congrats, Kirsten! Go get ’em!