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.
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.