Are you running Boston next year?
November 22, 2017
BENEFITING: Joslin Diabetes Center
ORGANIZER: Joslin Diabetes
EVENT: 2017 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 17, 2017
I think it would be helpful for me to share why I got into running. It’ll tell you a bit more about me and why I am passionate about finding a cure for diabetes.
I am a full-time working mom and wife. A wonderfully hard role where it seems like somebody always wants something from you. I used to be exhausted all the time, borderline obese, had high cholesterol, and was one A1c point away from being considered a Type 2 diabetic. At 37. As a gestational diabetic, I knew I had a 35% to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10–20 years. Ouch.
The truth is this all began one random night in February 2012 after putting my young boys to bed. It was an ordinary evening like most others. I remember getting ready to go to bed, looking in the bathroom mirror and not recognizing the person looking back at me. She looked so tired and unhealthy. I thought, “How did this happen? Where had Erica gone?” I needed something. Something that made me feel good about myself. I needed to feel better. To be healthier. Something that made my boys proud of their mama.
I went to bed wiping the tears from my cheeks and woke up the next day hell bent on making a change. I laced up and went for my fist run in years. I could barely run for 10 minutes without stopping. It was cold too. It was February in New England after all. Two minutes into my maiden voyage I wiped out on black ice, got road rash on my palm, and fell flat on my bum. I picked myself up, wiped the gravel and blood off and kept going. And going. And going. Something in me had changed. I was done kidding myself that chasing two toddlers was enough exercise. That skipping breakfast was good enough to keep my weight down. Done with all of little lies I let myself believe.
I needed a change. I needed a goal. I was considering running a half marathon. I was nervous as hell. I asked my husband if he thought I could do it. Without hesitation, he said “Absolutely”. That stuck with me. I love him so much for that.
Eight months later I completed my first half marathon. The longest I hadever run in my life. I remember distinctly at mile 9 I was cresting the top of a steep hill. The view was gorgeous. There was a woman cheering us on. I have no idea who she was, but I’ll never forget her words. “Come on ladies! You’re doing it! You’re living the dream!” I wiped the tears off my cheeks once again. She was right. My life is certainly not perfect, but wow do I feel lucky and incredibly blessed. It was the healthiest I had felt in a long time. The reward certainly felt great knowing how hard I had worked for it.
That was 5 years ago and I am in the best shape of my life now. At 42. No diabetes, 48 lbs lighter, and from a size 14 to a 4. I added two pictures to fund raising page. The first was taken at my heaviest a little over 5 years ago. The second is me after my first half marathon with two of the biggest reasons why I live healthier and diabetes free now.
It’s funny. I get somewhat embarrassed when folks tell me I look great now. Perhaps it’s because it’s so much more to me. It’s the outward reflection of so much that has changed in me. It’s so much more than a dress size. It was the start of the rest of my life.
So now, at the 5th year anniversary of being healthy, I feel compelled to give back. To put all that running to good use. To help others get healthier. To give hope to the people below who fight diabetes every day:
For My Mom. She is a Type 2 diabetic and insulin dependent. She and I are very close and she’s one of my best friends. It’s through her that I learned the value of family. Sometimes in those simple tender moments like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake or watching her grandsons experience the wonder of Christmas morning, I know she fears mortality. I can see it in her eyes. She fears that this disease will steal precious moments away from what she loves the most, watching her kids and grandkids grow up.
For my Dad. He’s also a type 2 diabetic and one of the few people in my life that can always make me smile. He used to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to me as a kid. It still makes me smile and I know all the words. Despite being in good health, he developed Type 2 diabetes. With a considerable family history of heart disease, it makes his diagnosis even scarier. That being said, now more than ever, he understands the importance of being healthy. Last year (after my prodding) he finished his first 5k at 67 years old!
For Bobby: He is my cousin’s son and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a young child. He’s in 8th grade now and I could not be more proud of him. When we visit, he’ll always make a point to spend time with my boys (“the younger kids”) to play with them, show them how to throw a ball, or just make them feel special. Aside from that, he’s the Class President, has achieved academic honors, and is quarterback of the football team. He has done it all without ever asking for special consideration because of his diabetes. He never used it as a crutch. He is always the gracious champion of the underdog. He inspires me and countless others to be a better people.
For Kathy (Bobby’s Mom): Kathy was diagnosed with gestational diabetes after her pregnancy with her first son. She was never able to shake gestational diabetes and is now Type 2, insulin dependent, and has vision difficulties. Somehow she had the courage to have another child. That child is Bobby. Like her son, she never looks for pity and focuses her energy on raising two healthy amazing boys. I see how hard it is. I see the worry and it breaks my heart. They say having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body. I can only imagine what that must feel like with such an active and outgoing son that is Type 1. She once said to me, “You want to put them in a bubble, but you can’t. It’s scary. You have to let them live their lives and make their own decisions.” It has to be so hard. Not that she would ever tell you that!
For my Family: Because as much as I don’t want to think about it, diabetes can be hereditary. The day after Thanksgiving last year I dragged nine of my family members out of the house for a 5k turkey trot. This included my then 5 and 7 year old sons. Most of them had never even participated in a race before. As much as they moaned and groaned at first, I am proud to say we now have a new tradition. I am always trying to find ways to integrate staying active while having fun. To make that part of our new normal.
I’ve been through a lot to get me to this point. This is a very big deal for me. This commitment means trading time with my family for long training runs. This means having my husband take on more responsibilities at home while I prepare. I never would have considered this effort without their full support.
My grandmother used to say I was full of enough vim and vigor to do anything. If you put your faith in me, I promise I will give it my all. This race, and more importantly this cause, deserves that much. Thank you for your support. Be well.
Founded in 1898, Joslin Diabetes Center is world-renowned for its deep expertise in diabetes treatment and research. Joslin is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes and ensuring that people with diabetes live long, healthy lives.
We develop and disseminate innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries throughout the world. Joslin is an independent, non-profit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and a federally-funded Diabetes Research Center.
All of the money raised by the Team Joslin program supports the High Hopes Fund here at Joslin Diabetes Center. This fund is unrestricted and supports the Center's greatest needs. These funds ultimately contribute to Joslin’s capacity to prevent, treat and cure diabetes through cutting-edge research, comprehensive patient care and pioneering education programs.