I have always had blood sugar issues, but I was still shocked when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with (surprise!) son #3. It was, nevertheless, the wakeup call I needed. Years earlier, I had handed control of my diet over to my (stay-at-home) husband, Mr. Coffee. His feelings about cooking meant we had been eating a lot of pre-prepared food. After the diagnosis, I regained control of my diet, and I thought it was enough.
Doctors told me that my lifestyle, my 20 extra pounds, my ethnicity, and my family history meant my odds of getting diabetes were about 60%. So, for months after son #3 was born, I monitored my blood-sugar and I couldn’t spike it if I tried. My father and his mother had been more than 100 pounds overweight when their diabetes kicked in. I figured I had time. I’d lose the weight; I’d be fine….in time.
When a family I knew lost their Dad, who was only 37 years old, in a freak car accident, I decided we needed life insurance. A few weeks later, I got a call saying that my rate would be 2x higher than quoted due to my blood sugar levels. So much for not being able to spike my blood sugar if I tried. I went to see the doctor and officially was labeled “pre-diabetic.”
As I have written about before, at almost the same time, a colleague (with Type I diabetes) announced that he would lead a corporate team for my employer at the Tour de Cure. I signed up. Options were 12, 30, 60 and 100 mile rides. I figured I could ride 12 miles out of pure pig-headedness. I needed more challenge than that. So I signed up for 30.
My colleague put together a beautiful training plan for us. Year ago, I had finished the Danskin triathlon – 3 times – and had learned enough about training to appreciate the simplicity of what he’d put together. Still, between what was needed from me at home and what I needed to do at work, I couldn’t find time to follow it. Fortunately for me, my historical finish – in any sporting event – was usually 2nd to last no matter how hard I trained. So I decided to do what I could do and aim to finish the ride. Just finish.
I began riding to and from work once, then twice, each week. This was 6-7 miles each way. I had ridden to work some years ago and knew I could do it. But I was surprised to find the bike route had been removed to make way for the light rail. *sigh*
My first ride to work involved biking several miles down west Colfax. Car fumes in the morning will really get you off to an interesting start! My next few rides to and from work were equally entertaining, and for one ride, I balanced on the white line with cars zooming at 60 mph on either side of me! No stress relief here. Google maps was no help, suggesting 2 incredibly busy and congested roads for my route.
It took several attempts, but I finally found a route that was mostly through neighborhoods. Since I was riding a child’s mountain bike (I’m not very tall) and wearing my Keens, this didn’t slow me down. And it made me much happier! I even rode home one day in the pouring rain, feeling exhilarated (and wet). And I only fell down a few times, always from a dead stop. Don’t ask me to explain that; I can’t. But it did mean I didn’t fall very hard!
A few weeks ago, I rode 50K (a little over 30 miles) in the Tour! I was humbled by the Red Riders (folks with diabetes) kicking butt on the route. There’s was even a little Red Rider being pulled by his Mom. Imagine being 5 years old and having to check your blood sugar and get shots 4-10 times/day. Ouch.
At mile 22, I thought I was done for. At that point, my feet and brain had a conversation that went something like “up, down, around, up, down, dammit, around, up, dammit, down, around, dammit, dammit, dammit”. But then, in the last 5 miles, we had a slight downward incline – and my brain and left hand decided “third gear means less peddling.” Oddly, it worked…and I crossed the finish line. I have never accepted a medal with more enthusiasm in my life!
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of the aphorism “Anyone can do anything, if they just put their mind to it.” I find it invites arrogant and ignorant judgment of others…and buying into it wholesale can be a one-way ticket to nervous breakdown. Those who do not understand may then be surprised then to learn that I love quotes like:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
Fall down seven times, get up eight. – Japanese proverb
You may not be able to do anything, but if you keep going, if you get back up, you can accomplish many things. You don’t need to let crappy routes, life’s demands, rain, and minor falls bar your way. Maybe you’ll establish a home after a period of homelessness. Maybe you’ll ride 30 miles, complete a triathlon (or 3), or finish writing a novel. Most important, you’ll survive…to see another sunrise, hear another Stan Getz tune, and maybe, if you are really lucky, you’ll get a great job, marry, and become the mother of three beautiful boys.
That’s my story. What’s yours?