Today I’m revisiting one of my favorite blog posts. I wrote this post after completing my first half marathon in 2009, and whenever I’m having a bad diabetes day, I remind myself that for every bad statistic about diabetes out there, there’s a whole other set of numbers on the other side of that. We can thrive with diabetes.
Heart disease and stoke account for 65 percent of deaths in people with diabetes…
It’s Sunday morning and its early, but me and my friends have been up since 4am. We walk towards the starting line of the AFC Half Marathon. My heart is beating fast – part nervous, part excitement. “Ready?” I ask my friends. “Lets do this” they reply. Our gait changes from steps to strides as we cross the starting line, the first feet of 13 miles that lay ahead of us.
Diabetes causes between 12 and 24,000 new cases of blindness each year…
Miles 1, 2, and 3 seem to glide by effortlessly. My friend Betsey and I chat about funny runners, the song we’re listening to, and how beautiful our city is. We coast mostly downhill, and as we trot by the mile 4 marker, we pop open packets of carb gel to keep our energy up. My legs feel strong, my lungs wide open, and my face is towards the still rising sun in the east. America’s Finest City indeed.
More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes….
Mile 6 – we’ve been running for an hour and my legs are starting to feel heavy. Our pace is steady – we’re holding at just under 10 minute miles, but I’m starting to feel it. The pain in my right leg has moved from just the side of the kneecap to the entire knee. I ignore it and tune back in to my music. An older gentleman cruises up next to me. “I like your shirt” he says, nodding towards the “I RUN ON INSULIN” logo on my back.
I grin and pant “Do you have diabetes?”
“No, but my son does” he says. We share a smile and words of encouragement, and we press on. The 7 mile marker comes in to view. More than halfway there, I think to myself.
Having diabetes doubles your risk for depression…
As Mile 9 approaches, my body is screaming for a break. We’re approaching the furthest I’ve ever run in my training, and my body knows its limits. I remind myself that in less than an hour, this will all be over. I’ll be done, and can retire to the couch for days if I do so desire, but I have to finish. I’ve trained 10 weeks for this, and if only to prove it to myself, I will keep running. Betsey and I have ceased chatting. We’re focused only on putting one foot in front of the other.
People with diabetes are two to eight times more likely to die from stroke than people without diabetes…
At Mile 11, the course begins to wind through the streets of downtown, and soon takes a sharp uphill turn. I see the thousands ahead of me climbing up that hill. Only two miles left, but I don’t know if I have it in me. Two short miles stand between me and the finish line, and I’m running out of gas. I dig deep. I curse the course designers for the hill. Dozens around me have slowed to a walk. I run on, head down, focusing on keeping my legs moving. I don’t know what my blood sugar is. I don’t know what song is playing in my headphones. I just know I keep running.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure….
I round the street corner on the final leg of downtown. The ornate entry bridge of Balboa Park is up ahead, filled with runners. The crowds on the sidelines shout encouragement, waving their colorful signs, clapping and cheering. I don’t hear their words, I just look straight ahead. Quarter mile. One-tenth of a mile. Feet away from the end. My legs are numb, my heart feeling as though it might pound out of my chest, my body pushing itself to the very limit.
The banner ahead reads “Finish Line….” I cross, and raise my fists in the air. 13.1 miles behind me. 13.1 miles in the face of all the odds. 13.1 miles carefully titrated, dosed, carb-counted, tested and adjusted. 13.1 miles run with the strength of 24 million people with diabetes behind me. I run on insulin.