I ran the New York Marathon with Type 1 Diabetes

I ran the New York Marathon with Type 1 Diabetes

By Emily Vuong

Before I start this recount, here is some background information about me: I am by no means a ‘runner’ by nature. In fact, when I was younger, I pulled pretty much every excuse in the book to avoid running. Despite this, I have always had the dream of running the New York Marathon. Weird, I know!

In February 2019, I found out I had won a ballot to enter the New York Marathon. As a person living with Type 1 Diabetes for 22 years at that point, I knew the challenge ahead was going to be a big one.

Lucky I like challenges.

Emily Vuong runs the New York City marathon despite her diabetes.

Emily Vuong runs the New York City marathon despite her diabetes.

 It took seven months of gruelling training to prepare my mind and body for the race. On top of building up my fitness, I had to learn how my blood sugar reacted to endurance running. I practiced using different temporary basals on my pump, eating different pre-run snacks, and even learning about the different types of energy gels and how quickly they absorb into the bloodstream to treat and prevent mid-run hypos.

Every time I went out for a long run, I felt like I was a pack horse; my pockets were always full to the brim with glucose. Despite being super prepared, I often had to stop at petrol stations to buy water or Gatorade to supplement the glucose I packed.

My partner and I, who was also running the marathon, raised almost $5000 for JDRF Australia. When it came to marathon day, we knew the support of everyone that donated would be a driving force to get us to the finish line.

We arrived at the start village at around 8am in the morning. The atmosphere was electric - there were tens of thousands of runners buzzing around - the nervous energy was palpable. Inevitably, my blood sugars skyrocket from the adrenaline! I was conscious not to give too much insulin, as I learnt from my training that running with even a little bit of insulin on board could be catastrophic under the wrong conditions.

All my training paid off on race day and even though my blood sugars were a bit wonky, I kept myself safe and relatively in-range.

But don’t be fooled. Running 42 kilometres was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. There were points where I truly questioned my capacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other. In those moments, I put all my focus on one saying: “pain is temporary, pride is forever”.

I knew that if I finished the marathon, I would not only be making my friends and family proud, but most importantly, I would be making myself proud.

You see, when I was a kid, I used to get really down on myself because of my diabetes. I had convinced myself that because I was diabetic, I would never be able to do hard things like go to university, adventure with my friends, travel, or even run a marathon.

When I crossed that finish line, I realised that my disease didn’t stop me. It motivated me to be the best version of myself despite diabetes.

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