This November, Jerry Armstrong and a “band” of ultra-runners will run from San Francisco to San Diego in an event called Run The Coast. I met Jerry last summer at Ironman Louisville, his wife has type 1 diabetes. Jerry is committed to putting his love of ultra distance running to good use to help people with diabetes. I am the lucky recipient of his efforts because the Run The Coast was conceived by Jerry for the purpose of raising money for the Iron Andy Foundation. The other day Jerry was interviewed by his local TV station, check it out - http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=145783&catid=188
To find out how you can support Run The Coast, check out http://www.runthecoast.com
Ironman Finish #6 is in the books, but like all of them this one was a struggle…but not for the reason you may think. Despite the fact that my very busy travel schedule this Spring hampered my training slightly, I felt I was in good condition and ready for the race.
The swim, like all Ironman swims was very crowded. My time was 1:24. Not earth shattering but average…for me. It is always such a relief to get out of the water.
The first half of the bike was very good, just under 3:00 hours. I was on pace for my fastest Ironman CDA bike split. Then, at mile 75 my blood glucose dropped to 80. It was above 200 for the first part of the day, then out of nowhere it was 80. Way too low, especially since I still has 37 miles on the bike and a marathon still left. In the past, my blood sugar didn’t get low until half way through the run, but never that low. I had to slow it up a little, going barely faster than a coast, AND I started loading up in Gatorade and Gel in an effort to bring my blood sugar up. For two hours, it would not budge above 100. I was facing the prospect of either not finishing, or best case scenario having to WALK the marathon. So the second loop of the bike took over 3:40…and most of that was over the last 37 miles. Needless to say, all the get and gatorade was making me feel very sick!
I managed to keep the blood sugar at around 100 and I finished the bike. It was very frustrating to feel strong, and like I could have ripped up the course, but instead I had to watch as hundreds of people rode by me.
I got into T2 (transition are between bike and run) and although I felt sick from all the junk in my stomach, my blood sugar was finally starting to rise…150. I left transition and ran into a volunteer I knew, I told him my issues and he handed me an ice cold can of coke. Obviously I don’t drink Coke on a regular basis but I was in survival mode. I downed half the can and started running. A few hundred yards up the road was the Special Needs Run are, where at about mile 14 of the run you are allowed to get into the bags with the “special needs” (stuff you put in the bag the night before - gel, drinks…in my case an extra blood glucose meter and a few bottles of glucose gel.) I downed a bottle of gel and kept running. At mile two I tested again and my blood was 426…higher than I have ever been in my life. Not only is that too high, but it meant that I could not take in any carbs/energy….which would make it very hard to run a marathon. I decided to give myself a small bolus of insulin to bring it down a little. But by the time I got to mile four, I was back down to 150. SO…I spent the rest of the run with my blood sugar hovering around 100. I had to run slow because of it…and once again very frustrating since my legs felt very strong.
The good news is - I finished. My time wasn’t great, but considering what i had to deal with I am very satisfied and relieved. Someone asked me today “why I do this, the other triathletes out there don’t have half the battle you have?” What I said is the same thing I always say - If it was easy, no one would be inspired!”
Next stop - Ironman Wisconsin in September…but for now I will take some time off from traning and bask in the glow of my 6th Ironman finish in four years!!!
I was in San Antonio this past week, speaking at both Randolph and Lackland Air Force bases. This was my second visit to an AFB since doing this IRONANDY thing. I had an opportunity to speak to four different groups of airmen and women, went on two morning runs and had a round-table discussion with a NCO (non commissioned officer) young leadership group. One of the questions I was asked was - “Sir. (I heard Sir. a lot in two days) what are your feelings about the military and what we are doing?” I wasn’t expecting this question and wouldn’t have thought I was prepared…but the answer rolled of my tongue like I had been rehearsing it for weeks - I said, “I think all Americans are proud and humbled by the SERVICE these men and women are giving.” “Whether or not we agree with where we are, or why we are there…EVERYONE is thankful, proud and supportive of these young men and women.”
Of course I was in San Antonio to inspire and motivate, but for me it was a chance to thank a few hundred people who are risking their lives…not necessarily for a cause you may or may not believe in, but because that is there job. That is what SERVICE means!
Anyway, if you have a chance to thank someone in the military - DO IT! In an airport, shopping mall, wherever. It means a lot to them to know we are thankful and that we support them!
I often reference Lance Armstrong during my oral presentations - I talk about him in the context of him being an almost mythic character…fictional in his ability and the impact he has had on this world. I then make a distinction that I am more of an ordinary person who wanted to do something extraordinary (Ironman) to inspire children, people with diabetes. Well, if you have been watching the Tour de France my notion that Lance is far from ordinary is being re-enforced. This guy is AMAZING! What he is able to do on a bike at 37 (soon to be 38) after being out of the sport for four years is inspiring. I am almost more impressed with his performance this year than the seven years straight that he won. Who knows if he can actually win this year, he seems to downplay it and says it won’t happen. But I would not bet against him! Hats off to you Lance.
This weekend at the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Arizona State sophomore Anthony Robles took 4th place in the tournement…giving him the title of All-American. I myself wrestled in college but came NO WHERE NEAR earning all-american status, but I do know what an amazing accomplishment that is. So, consider how amazing this is since Anthony Robles only has one leg. After losing in the semi-finals to the eventual national champion, Anthony received a 5 minute standing ovation. Being a sophomore, he has two more chances at a title…but in my opinion even if his career ended tomorrow he is a True Champion. Congratulations Anthony!
If you are wondering what this BLOG has to do with me, or diabetes - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I just wanted to give props to someone who is Living Without Limits!!!
Below is a brief write up from the Hemet Tinsel Triathlon. Apparently these kids have even inspired some of their parents to start thinking about triathlon as a way to stay active and healthy…and of course to inspire others.
The 23rd Annual City of Hemet Tinsel Triathlon sponsored by the United Way. With childhood Obesity and Diabetes on the rise it’s refreshing to see a group of young athletes willing to inspire others through action “Living without Limits” . These young Athletes not only compete because they love it but to inspire others to be more active. Good Neighbor Pharmacy/Team Iron Andy had 9 Athletes represented in the under 17 age group all of whom finished in the top 20. We had 4 boys in the top ten and our 2 girls finished 1st and 3rd in the under 17 female group. All of our Athletes wore Living without Limits jersey’s provided by Iron Andy. The Athletes have been mentioned on two different occasions on Iron Andy’s BLOG. The Athletes hung out in the GNP booth looking professional in their jerseys and attracted the attention of other athletes and spectators.
- Large long time running community event
- Over 3,000 competitors and several thousand spectators
- GNP/Diabetes Shoppe booth with give-always and store information
- Pharmacist in booth to consult and answer questions Barry Shapiro from Idyllwild Pharmacy donated his time and stayed longer at the event then promised and said he would love to do it again.
- Many people stop by the booth to ask questions and inquiry about Iron Andy
Looks like I will have a cheering section when I return to California on April 4th for my first triathlon of 2009.
I just returned from an amazing 11 day trip to Hawaii…where I attended the Ironman World Championship in Kona, then spent a week in Honolulu doing media and visiting pharmacies. Although the Ironman in Kona is arguably the pinnacle of the world’s top athletes but also the main stage for Ordinary people doing Extraordinary things.
So you may be shocked to read that my BLOG this week will focus on an Extraordinary person who was not in Kona (but I guarantee that he will be there someday!) He is Devin Rettke, he has type 1 diabetes and has already completed 25 triathlons. I will use next weeks BLOG to talk about the Ironman in Kona and my week in Honolulu…but this week I want to introduce you to an amazing kid who is truly Living Without Limits. Here is a letter he wrote to the US Congress…it’s long but worth your time:
Dear Members of Congress,
My name is Devin Rettke and I am a 14-year-old boy living in Honolulu, Hawaii, with my parents and my 16-year-old sister. I have been given a challenge. At the age of nine, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I will never forget that last week of third grade. Up to that point I was a healthy happy kid who loved life. Okay, I didn’t love school as much as soccer, sleepover with friends, and my dog Tuffie. Life before diabetes was pretty sweet. Boy, did that change in an instant!
Now my life is filled with the challenge of trying to regulate my insulin with school and my sport activities. I just want to sit down to eat a normal meal without having to count all the carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and protein so I can try to figure out what will it do to my blood sugar in a few hours. I would love to run a race and know for sure that I will finish. I know what 24/7 means. I have forgotten what it is like to sleep through the night without having someone poke my finger to check my blood sugar. You see, diabetes never goes away!
I have been given a challenge and I have decided I have to do the best I can with what I have been dealt. With a lot of education, modern technology, and the love from my family it did not take me long to realize that diabetes was not going to stop me from doing anything. In fact, because of my disease I discovered my new love-triathlons. I have completed at least 25 triathlons and this past summer I raced in the USAT National Youth Elite Triathlon Championship race in Colorado. I am training hard and planning on returning next summer.
Diabetes has made me realize that life will always give me challenges. How and what I choose to do with those challenges will determine my destiny in life. I know I have a purpose in life- teaching and educating others about diabetes. I have been given a disease; I did not ask for this challenge nor do I like it all the time. I just know I have a purpose in life and that is doing my best living one day at a time taking little steps to get to my BIG dreams—an Ironman Triathlon.
Now I am asking you, members of Congress to help kids like me reach our dreams. It is important for each of you to support diabetes research so we can find a cure for Type 1 diabetes and continue to improve the technology to beat diabetes. Insulin alone is not a cure! I am not the only kid that is tired of diabetes and would love to forget about it. We all have BIG dreams and we can only do so much praying and wishing. I just want a fair chance in life to be Devin the Tri-athlete, not Devin the Diabetic.
I feel as a 14-year-old boy I have done my part to promote awareness of Type 1 diabetes in my community. Below you will find a list of my services that I have participated in. Now it is Congress’s time to promote and support diabetes so kids like me can fulfill our dreams and make all of you proud of us. I want to continue to live my life for Devin and I want others diabetics to have what I have….HOPE!
How I have promoted Type 1 Diabetes
I have delivered “Bags of Hope” from the local JDRF Chapter to newly diagnosed children in the hospital.
I have participated for the last four years in the Walk To Cure Diabetes.
I have been a key player in raising money for this cause by involving my school in school service projects such as a special “Jeans Day”, “Hats Off To Diabetes Day”, and a “Crazy Hair Day”. As a member of the Student Council the last four years I have helped create these fun days to spread awareness of my disease along with raising money for a cure.
I have received the Golden Sneaker Award for JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 2004-2007.
I have been the team captain and co-captain for the 2005-2007 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes where our team received the Gold Level Team Award for raising over $5,000.
I was the Guest Speaker for the 2006 parent Kick-off Walk To Cure Diabetes Luncheon for 100 guests.
I was the Guest Speaker for two HMSA 2006 Corporate Chair Internal Kick off Walk To Cure Diabetes Luncheons.
I was the Youth Ambassador for the 2006 JDRF fundraising gala in Honolulu, HI.
I was the feature speaker for the Find A Cure Video that was shared with over 300 guests. This video has also been shared with educating nurses and educators in Guam and several schools throughout Hawaii.
I have participated in numerous local JDRF chapter educational/family activities.
I am active with Tripler Hospital’s Children with Diabetes Support Group.
I participate in monthly activities that range from education about diabetes care to just sharing laughter and fun with kids like me.
I have participated and encouraged my friends to join me in triathlons and races that donate proceeds to JDRF.
I have worked this past year very close with our CDE Hope Cooper-Oliver, educating kids and their parents about diabetes. I have spent hours teaching and inspiring kids like me to dream BIG!
Most of all I hope I have educated our community about what a kid with diabetes is capable of accomplishing.
Can you belive this kid is only 14.
Until next week - IRONANDY
Last month, a group of “studs” from Claremont High School in Californina tore it up at the Lake Arrowhead triathlon. I was introduced to these kids by a colleague at Good Neighbor Pharmacy. When he told me that his son and a few friends were planning to race in a triathlon, I offered up a bunch of Team Iron Andy triathlon jersey’s. Not only did they wear the jerseys, but these inspiring young athletes practically swept the Youth divisions…winning 7 medals. Apparently a number of spectators where inquiring about who Team Iron Andy and Good Neighbor Pharmacy was. Sounds like these kids made a big impression on the crowd, I know they have made a big impression on me. I only hope they want to support my Team more in the future. Congratulations one more time to: Ryan Pedvin, Tyler Gibson, Paul Ross, Robin Reeder, JP Du Plessis, Kelsey Keough, Keenan Gilson, AK Metoyer, Colin Domonoske, Josh Gilson and Luke Keough.
Great Job and thanks for representing my Team!
Once again…Team Iron Andy was strongly represented in an Ironman event. Karl Amber of Berkley, MA completed Ironman Wisconsin in 12 hours and 31 minutes. His splits were as follows: Swim - 1:17 / Bike 6:21 / Run 4:36. From what I hear this is a tough course. Karl had issues similar to the ones I had in Coeur d’Alene, his blood sugar went very high on the bike, then in an effort to bring it down he gave himself insulin and his blood sugar crashed. He spent the entire bike trying to settle his blood sugar into an acceptable range…like it’s not enough to worry about riding for 112 miles and still having to run a marathon! But he did it…again. Finshed his 2nd Ironman.
Karl has represented our Team a number of times this year and I/we are extremely proud to have him. Congratulations Karl! Enjoy these recovery weeks, don’t gain too much weight…and I can’t wait until we can race together again.
Once again, Team Living Without Limits hits the street! Yesterday there were a number of my colleagues from AmerisourceBergen Corp. who ran in Philadelphia’s famous Broad Street Run. This 10 miler is popular among professional runner’s as it’s the fastest 10 miler in the country. I would like to congratulate all my friends who raced yesterday…especially the First Timers (you know who you are). Sorry I couldn’t be there with you. I will be representing the Team this weekend in Grand Rapids Michigan for the 5/3 Bank - River Bank Run.
Also, this weekend was the 34th Annual JDRF Promise Ball. Once again it was an amazing event and LOTS of money raised to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and it’s complications. Thank you to the JDRF, all the volunteers and generous donors. I look forward to this event next year when the Iron Andy Foundation can make it’s presence felt.