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Sandy's Corner

Tough Mudder with Type 1


After seven months of training and preparation, countless hours at the gym, and with the support of a team and an entire community, I am now officially a “Tough Mudder.”

Promoted as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet,” Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile (16-19 km) obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With challenges as diverse as climbing over walls, to enduring electric shocks, to swimming through freezing cold water (aptly named Arctic Enema), and wading through miles of mud, Tough Mudder is not for the faint-of-heart.

For me, taking something like this on was more than a little daunting, as I’ve been a more-or-less sedentary workaholic for most of my adult life. The goal was to do whatever it takes to become an athlete again – and to complete the course with a team of other Type 1’s, showing that people with diabetes can manage their condition and successfully complete such a grueling challenge.

A group of us decided to do it together, including a couple of my Animas colleagues. “TeamOne: Diabadasses” was formed.

To say that the journey wasn’t what I had expected it to be would be an understatement – dealing with injuries and training through pain was not part of my original plan. I had enthusiasm and determination to spare, but back and hip pain threatened to derail my efforts, perhaps even my ability to participate. It took a team of healthcare professionals (physiotherapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, personal trainer) just to get me to the starting line!

Staying in the game mentally and not giving up — but wanting so badly just to cross that finish line — was probably the hardest part of it all. The care and support shown by my teammates went beyond what I could have expected, and meant all the more knowing I was the weakest link on the team due to my physical limitations.

From a diabetes perspective, I learned a tonne about managing blood sugars during different types and intensities of exercise over the months of training. But on event day, I pretty much had to throw it all out the window: nervous energy and anticipation (and that damn adrenaline!) changed everything!

An additional concern we had as a team of Type 1’s was where and how to pack supplies like a BG meter, snacks and supplies for lows – all while trying to keep such items dry. Armed with small backpacks, our preparation came in handy, and thankfully we were able to help each other by stopping and testing as needed. And can I just say how awesome it was to have a waterproof Animas® pump? When every other obstacle involved water in some way, the practicality of a waterproof pump sure paid off!

Having survived all 18 km and earning the highly coveted orange Tough Mudder headband, what did I learn?

  • If you know “why” you’re doing something, you can endure almost any “how.”
  • Reaching a goal is as much a mental game as it is a physical one.
  • Peace of mind comes from giving your very best, and letting go of your attachment to a particular outcome.
  • Diabetes shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a goal, but being prepared is key to being successful.
  • The journey is a whole lot more fun when you share it with friends!

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this great adventure – your support and encouragement meant the world to me. I feel so proud to have survived this outrageous challenge, and will forever be grateful for the memories and laughs along the way. Hoo-ra!

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