I do not see diabetes as my enemy in life, I view it more as my ultimate competitor; to be a true champion you have to first learn to respect your competitors, in order to get the better of them.
Currently I am preparing for the next ‘adventure’ of my rather adventurous appearing life. I never intended to live in such a random way – just the same as I never really intended to actually live with type 1 diabetes – but hey, I’m the ponderous type who looks up and considers the altering positions of which we view the sun each day and thinks “hmm… the world seems to be spinning in a coincidentally perfect way, so maybe sometimes things do happen for a reason.” Growing up as a kid with type 1 diabetes one of the more difficult parts on the emotional side was the feeling of suddenly being very ‘different’ to everybody else; however, now I look at life with type 1 diabetes and strangely enough feel kind of proud to be a bit more ‘different’ in my own way – or as I’d prefer to label it: unique.
And so the next challenge… to attempt to run 25 marathons in the space of a month’s duration between the 13th April and 13th May 2018. In some ways rather alarmingly, it is coming up bloody fast! The toughest part is arguably the element that you – yes you the reader – will not see. And ironically enough, the ‘not seeing’ element very much relates to those early years in living with diabetes, where others around simply could not see diabetes in oneself – it is an invisible disease – and therefore outsiders could not know about it; about every decision and daily challenge that comes with it. What you will “see” perhaps with this challenge is a mad man taking on a large number of long runs and absolutely destroying himself – hopefully making it to the finish lines – to try and raise some funds. What isn’t on display is the depth of work it takes to try and organise something to this extreme in the background!
There is a fair argument to say that this current part of the challenge – the organising of the routes to run with details in the maps, start points, finish points, the organising of venues, of reaching out to local communities and communicating, the effort to set a fundraising link up and to push it out there in hope that the efforts might be worthy of a generous pound sterling or two to put towards the desired outcomes, and not to mention, on top of all of that, the demanding physical efforts to get fit and condition accordingly – the organisation section here is the toughest part of the entire challenge and the marathon running is the much more simpler part.
Indeed, it is a fair argument, and one that I can assure you when it comes to actually being out there running each day, I will not remotely agree with!
It is called the “DiAthlete 100 Challenge” because it means over the past 10 years since I first started running crazy endurance challenges, back in 2008, if successful here with these very long runs it would total a milestone of 100 crazy endurance triumphs. That is a crazy thing for me to look back on personally – in some ways it starts to make me feel as old as Mr Pete Davies! But I have a very long way to go before reaching my Diabetes Diamond Jubilee – and may I add the aforementioned Pete feels very young on the inside, as he says, and the older he gets the more inspiring I find him; keep aging gracefully good Sir!
100 adventures contain a lot of great experiences to share, and so I hope if accomplishing such a milestone, the best of it is something that others can take something positive away from. Not something to be declared broadly on a billboard of any sort, just a little something that might connect with those who need it – the younger ones or those recently diagnosed especially – who just might require that little extra push of optimism back into their lives again.
A crazy personal target with this – a bit more crazier than the target of running 25 marathons in a month – is to achieve in-range glucose control throughout the marathons: I want levels to remain between 4.0 and 12.5mmol/ls! That may not be too possible given on an average week that’s probably not the case (not that average exists too often in my life) the insane depth of exercise I’ll be taking on, burning approx. 4200 calories per day, and in addition also travelling from place to place to get to the next run… but the dia-Houdini in me wants to pull that off on top of pulling off the 100th feat!
That’s ego talking. And the egoism, I feel in this cause, should be something put far aside. To speak quite frank, I’ve often acknowledged on social media debates a lot of squabbles and disagreements. Or even more so at professional events, the gossip or the false greetings, the tension that can come into rooms; I’d even go as far as saying that the more ‘professional’ the event, the more unprofessional the atmosphere tends to become! And if reading this and thinking that I am having a pop at you, then yes, I am – because whoever you are you just put your ego first by thinking that. And I’ll hold my hands up, “Mr DiAthlete” and say in the past, I’ve been just as guilty. There’s no place for egotism in our cause: it is about what can we do to support each other. What can we do to help improve the standards of health care, to innovate from our experiences a stronger tomorrow and to tackle key existing issues of today. If you are the egotistic type like myself, the chances are there’s also a lot in your locker to generate great outcomes from. What we need with it is more teamwork.
That is what’s worth running for this time around. Starting the League of DiAthletes programme means everything to me as the guys already onboard are so passionate, based all around the world and doing incredible projects with their diabetes communities; connecting them together, pushing for more awareness and financial support towards their grassroots outcomes, teaming up with online networking posts to discuss key issues, and, rather excitingly, hosting them all for a training and advocacy delegation in July (if all goes to plan). It is an exciting type 1 focused platform and I’m absolutely prepared to use that as a motivation whenever those latter stages of marathons 1 to 25 come round and I find myself struggling.
And I’ll be quite honest again (back on ego talk) one marathon alone is bloody hard work! It takes a lot! Getting up and doing it again… hey, I’m not Superman I’m just a fellow type 1 with a willingness to try my best. That’s what I’ll give you. If able to come and be a part of this adventure that essentially is the meaning of this challenge, to get as many fellow type 1s, their families, local healthcare teams and general random people that think sod it we’ll get in on this, involved and to all share exactly what we are about!
Likewise, if around in July, I’d be thrilled to see you at #T1DGlobal18 at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on 7th July, to come and meet and hear from (in particular) my teammates around the world in the League – I mentioned at the start of this very long post that my life has been very “adventurous” and I never intended for it to be such a way… well, it is, and on this random path today I consider myself very blessed to have met such incredible people across each continent, whom share so much passion in common, all because our pancreases contain an inability to produce insulin hormones. It’s a funny old world…