The things I never thought. My Nike 15k recap, running with type 1 diabetes + other autoimmune fun

 

 

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

The Nike Toronto 15k took place a few weeks ago and I need to share with you some surprises that happened along the way. This was a great experience from my own personal health perspective in dealing with multiple autoimmune disease fun.

1. At the water stations, they provided Nuun. I have never used this before at a race but realized quickly that I needed it. According to the packet, each Nuun tablet has 13 grams of carbs, but was each tablet used per drink? I have no idea.

Lesson: Check to see what is offered at the race stations and try it out beforehand. My stomach doesn’t welcome everything with open arms so I lucked out that taking it in went smoothly.

Also, check if they water the carb drinks down (common practice). That can also mess up your calculations while you are pounding the pavement. Be assertive. Sometimes companies don’t like to admit how much they water down drinks but usually when you say your medical well being heavily depends on knowing this information (and it does), you can usually get a truthful answer.

2. Since I was on an island (Centre Island), it meant cooler temps with the water surrounding me. Add some nasty rain and chilly wind and it equalled out to be quite the bg dip before the race started. I downed a ton of carbs but nothing seemed to bring my levels up so I started a lot lower than I would have liked.

Lesson: Think of ALL weather factors and basically be a came and pack all your food, super extra food, if possible.

3. Take lows in stride. It’s easy to get frustrated quickly when you look down and see your CGM says….

Lesson: Enjoy the experience and think of it this way: You are running a race. Some people would never get the chance to do this, yet here you are, feeling the buzz of thousands around you getting active and building a sense of community. STOP AND TAKE IT IN.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Running where the planes take off! How cool is that!? Source: Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

4. Okay, if I can help it, I rather pee in the bush than wait in line for the few port-a-potty’s that are out there on the course. I did not look as carefully as I had thought and when I crouched down a thorny needle-like plant went right into my inner thigh. Once I was done I quickly pulled up my pants and kept running but it hurt. A lot. Eventually it either fell out or I became numb to the pain. Either way…

Lesson: Pee carefully.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Overall, the race went well. I had to take some of my other neuro medication the night before (which makes me feel super lazy and feeling ‘hungover’ the next day) so I was thrilled with my efforts. And once I got into the groove… I took the time to stop and smell the roses.

XO,

Jess

 

Animas Canada has kindly chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM as I continue to train for triathlons, cycling and running events. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. Please read the full disclosure here

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What’s a poker run? Costumes, cards and charity. Running Room’s Ride to Conquer Cancer fundraiser

“Do you want to come with me to a 5km charity poker run?”

“What’s a poker run?”

“At each kilometre, a sealed envelope is handed to every runner containing a card. When the race is over, the runner hands over all his or her envelopes. They are opened by race volunteers who reveal what you got. Prizes are handed out to the best and worst hand. Proceeds go to Ride to Conquer Cancer.”

I immediately said yes.

So off I went to make some last minute poker-themed attire.

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My headband. M&M’s aces all around.

Matching card patches

Matching card patches

Here are some of the creative costumes I saw.

There was a great crowd out and together we trekked through the snow and tackled one nasty hill that seemed to go on forever.

Anticipating the next card and what it might hold made this run completely different. So fun!

Grabbing my third card. Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold.

Grabbing my third card. Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold.

Turns out I wasn’t so lucky.

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But I felt like a winner.

Raising money for charity, experiencing a unique race experience, running, meeting new people and dressing up.

I’ll be back next year,

J

What it’s like to be the only Chinese type 1 diabetic you know

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Every time I go to a type 1 diabetes-related event, my heart breaks a little.

Not just because I have type 1 diabetes, which I am learning is a disease that breeds champions, but because I am consistently one of very few if not the only Asian person there. In Canada. In Toronto. A city that is touted for being one of the most multi-cultural places in the world.

In fact I’ve been hard-pressed to find a significant representation of any visible minorities during the events I’ve attended. Mind you, I haven’t been to a ton of these things, maybe 10, but for me it’s enough to know that when I go in the future, chances are, I stand alone. And, if I ever do get the chance to see another visible minority out there, I apologize in advance, but I’m going to want to befriend you very quickly and in all likelihood will try and hug you towards the end of whatever session we are attending.

I attended my first JDRF adult support group meeting last night, and I asked the entire group, “Do you know anyone who is Asian with type 1 diabetes?”

Silence. Then the JDRF rep piped up to say she did know Asian families with children who have type 1. Okay, so they are children and I’m an adult (I was diagnosed at 29). However, it was enough to give me a little boost.

Once the meeting was over, she came back to me and said, “Now that I think about it, the kids are mixed with one Asian parent.”

I can’t explain why but I was a disappointed when she said that. Let me be very clear, if I’m not seeing anyone out at support groups because I am really one of a very very small group of people who are Asian and have type 1, I am totally fine with that. But I really don’t think that is the case.

I’m not going to say that Chinese Canadians are the only group of people who, in general, don’t speak openly about illness. That would be very ignorant. There are a myriad of cultures and subcultures that hold beliefs which make speaking about illness in an open fashion a very difficult task.

Explaining to people you have type 1 diabetes is not easy. You need to mentally prepare for what it means to take this next step: the questions, the myths, people’s wild assumptions, clarifying stereotypes, the pity party you did not ask for, and the worst, that look and sigh, as if to say, “Sorry your life sucks”. For me this is an emotional and taxing process which requires a lot of strength, courage and sheer willpower.

I’ve done it before, so I know what it’s like. I waited a month before telling my parents. I did this in part because I wanted more of a concrete answer to what I had (they initially diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes), and in all honesty, I needed the time to mourn. And although in my heart of hearts I knew this wasn’t the case, I still felt I had let them down somehow. I felt I would be outcast, unwanted and unloved. And my parents are the most wonderfully supportive parents I know of. Yet I still felt this way. I still struggle with these thoughts all the time. I secretly cry about it still. I’m working on it.

I understand and sympathize as to why people believe it’s important to keep illness a secret. I must, because I’ve spent a good chunk of this past year trying to break my own head out of that belief system.

There’s no place in this entry to explain all the different types of belief systems that lead people to live with illness in silence. I’ll leave that up to you to decipher. And it’s by no means a finger point to any of the cultures that hold these beliefs either.

People who have diabetes or any kind of illness need support. I think it’s fair to say the greater the support, the better chance at a greater quality of life. How do you garner support when no one knows? One of the biggest reliefs I felt was when I met people who also had type 1 diabetes.

No one wants to feel alone. Loneliness is a dark and scary road. I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better going to battle with an army of people beside me than carrying the load by myself. Knowing people rally behind me gives me strength to move forward and to tackle life’s challenges.

If you are out there, Chinese type 1 diabetics, or anyone living with an illness tucked neatly in your jacket pocket, please know you are not alone.

You are not alone.

Jessica

Please feel free to e-mail me with 100% confidentiality at t1dactiveliving @ icloud.com (take out spaces).

Every runner needs to spend time at the side of the road

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Every time I cross the finish line I get a rush. A buzz. A natural high.

I’ve attended one race prior to today’s events as a spectator. But this morning I took it up a notch with my first experience “running people in”.

“Running people in” means being the personal cheerleader for your teammates as they complete the final stretch of their race. You can run someone in at any distance really. When they are drained with achy legs, it is your job to provide support in any way they need it.

After run club one morning I got into a conversation with two of my favourite fellow runners Margaret and Hazel. They spoke about the struggle towards the end of their last 10k race, and I offered to help “run them in” for this one.

As the gun went off, I stood at a visible spot cheering for everyone I did know but also those who I didn’t. I held up my neon pink sign which on one side read, “I’m a stranger but I’m so proud of you”.

When I saw Margaret and Hazel make the corner, I flipped my sign and yelled as loud as I could. “Margaret and Hazel’s #1 Fan!”

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They passed me in high spirits, and I then walked to the 7km mark of their 10k race. I eagerly awaited their arrival, and when we met, I felt a little nervous.

How many times should I say encouraging things and when do I stay quiet? Do I really push them or is my job to just accompany them?

In my own head during races it’s a delicate balance of self encouragement but also tough love. And since I’ve been diagnosed  with type 1 diabetes, it’s been hard to understand when my body needs to push or if pulling back is what I need to stay strong till the end.

So I stayed as quiet as I could, but every once and a while would try to encourage them both in whatever way I could.

Way to go! Keep going! We’re almost there!

Then I would sometimes try to distract them. “Hey look at that sign” “Isn’t the fall leaves pretty?”

For part of the run I carried the sign I made for them on my back. I ran in front of them, instructing them to look at the sign or my feet.

I remembered that during a nasty run in the dead of winter, my cousin was pushing me to keep up with him. It was blizzarding and we were the only ones out on the road. He ran in front of me and said, “Just look at my feet. Match my steps, and just focus.” It carried me all the way home, so I opted to give the same advice.

Hazel was looking strong towards the end and I was running with Margaret who was not far behind. Towards the end of the race, another runner from our club named Jack came and grabbed Margaret’s hand. She grabbed mine and together we crossed the finish line.

I had never felt that kind of joy after a race. I got no medal, and I ran 3km in total for the whole day. However when I saw how happy they both were to have made such a strong finish, I was elated. They both made PB’s too!

It was that, coupled with all the thank you’s from strangers this morning, that makes me confident that I’ll be out there again…not gearing for a PB or to complete a certain distance, but to be a cheerleader.

Thank you to all those who have ever come to cheer during a race. It’s time to pay it forward and do the same. Hazel and Margaret continually thanked me after the race but really, I should be thanking them. They gave me such a positive experience and I’m grateful to have had the honour of running in two wonderful friends. I’ll never forget it!