You know when you see these people from all over the diabetes world on the social network and you think that person is cool, I love them, lets follow them – not in the stalker way it sounds, I promise, but in the totally non-stalkery Brave New World style of Facebook / Twitter etc – isn’t it strange when you unexpectedly bump into those legends in real life?!
During Vancouver (a shocking 5 months ago, where is time going?!) at the World Diabetes Congress, I was running in the [email protected] Race around the Vancouver downtown seawall, hosted by Novo Nordisk. Running is my thing, so all of the Young Leaders I was with were backing me to go and win the race with ease – unfortunately I tend to run long distances like 900 miles, so 5kms are my worst nightmare! I run smart – I save my energy and then burst out with everything I’ve got left in the tank in the final stages; usually after several hours of running! 5k racing to me means sprinting off like a whippet and killing yourself! I was happy with how I coped though, I kept a pace which was fast and was with the front pack more or less, apart from this professional guy from Team Novo who just shot off from the start. And considering I had spent the past 2 weeks inside conference halls and hotel rooms (maybe with a fair bit of alcohol on the evening wind-downs too) – I could hack it pretty well. I wanted to beat 20 minutes and I did that, just, 19 mins 53 – and I’ve ran quicker than that before, plus had to stop and tie my laces, so there’s some potential in the 5km with a bit of training!
At this point I will announce that in April I will be taking on another 5k race, Saturday 16th in Sofia, Bulgaria. To be fair, I have been taking it far too easy since Vancouver and resting the body a bit – as I had many challenges repeatedly to end 2015: cycling 1000 miles over the Alps, enduring the Bear Grylls survivor challenge, running a half marathon in the Ghanaian humidity, the travels to Vancouver and California, it was a lot. It was amazing – diabetes in my life made those incredible experiences happen and did not hold me back in the slightest – but also tiring. The thing about resting up is it always becomes harder to get back into the swing of things, seemingly the older you get. So I am not in ultimate DiAthlete machine-mode right now, but have recently been putting myself back out there and training – and with an A1C now at 6.8% down from 7.4, I am content and also just said it, I am The DiAthlete, anything is possible with this guy, right? He is not all human! It is just a matter of keeping at it, getting out there, being committed and getting back into that character!
At the end of this mentioned 5k race in Vancouver though I bumped into none other than Kyle Jacques Rose. Who else? When I am at events in London or the UK, chances are at some point I will be at an event with Kyle; when I am climbing up the Alps in France, the chances are Kyle happens to live on those Alps; when I am in Brussels being seen off before a cycling tour I am dreading (as I am a runner and not a cyclist), the chances are that Kyle is the official guy seeing us off; when I am in San Diego to speak at Dexcom’s HQ, chances are Kyle is there at a meeting with them too; when I am in San Francisco, chances are Kyle is property viewing in San Francisco; when I am on tour in Australia, chances are Kyle is also at a conference down under too. Kyle of course is a legend, as well as my stalker. It is more a case of me being like 007 and Kyle being like Felix, his secret service ally from the CIA… He was one of the co-founders of Team Type 1, a professional cyclist and is very active all around the globe for the cause – particularly with the app MySugr.
Kyle Rose introduces me to his giant and cool friend called Bastian, from Germany, who like Kyle and I also lives with type 1 diabetes. Bastian happens to be the founder of the deDOC – which was the original diabetes online community account, started for German diabetes networks. So after a good chat following this race, dressed in running wear, Kyle invites us to this party.
I text Paul Madden, who is like every Young Leader’s uncle and also lives with diabetes, (he was one of the first people to receive insulin from Banting he has been around that long!) so it is important to let Paul know if you are going out and are likely to come home late. The Young Leaders were at an organised dinner but after engaging in great conversation with Kyle and Bastian, by the time I would have made it there all the Young Leaders (the coolest group of people living with diabetes from all over the world by the way) would have eaten all the food! It seemed best to stick with Kyle and Bastian…
So we completely crash this gathering, which is inside a very nice room of a very nice hotel in Vancouver, after a 15 minute walk or so. Luckily some good food was on offer too! And whilst at first I do not recognise any faces, as everybody is spread out from the balcony area to the kitchen – it was surprising how big the suite stretched too! Eventually people just start popping out of nowhere and it is that very moment which I mentioned at the beginning of this post. T1 legend and writer, Riva Greenberg, is hanging out with a glass of champagne in hand! I walk by to go to the bathroom and out of nowhere I end up having a hug with Dr Manny Hernandez from California! I go to take a seat and I’m sat next to this Swedish guy, also founder of MySugr, Fredrik Debong! And when going to view the balcony area I bump into Zoe Heineman from New York, who founded Hypoglycemia Awareness, and we’re having a chat about running marathons. It was a surreal experience because initially I just wanted to finish my race and get some grub, next thing I’ve gatecrashed The Dia-Legends club. And I was still wearing my shorts, despite the very cold Canadian winter air!
I’ve been very fortunate to meet many people from all areas of the world on this journey that life more or less threw me into. It has been an honour and the one thing above all else I can take from it is that whilst living with a 24 hour disease, where you have to be constantly responsible for your health, there’s a big plus side, a reward that can come with it too – against all the negatives you can list, the positive that I wouldn’t change in the world comes from all the people you automatically become connected with, through this cause. The diabetes communities are outstanding, we all share something in common, whatever our race, culture or background, and unite because of it. My advice to those who shut themselves off or who have been recently diagnosed, remember you host a membership in the DiA-Legends Club too!