Tag Archives: Friends

Pacific Crest Sports Festival 2013

One of the highlights of this past summer was our family trip to Sunriver, Oregon in June for the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival. I love this weekend because everyone has a chance to challenge themselves, and we all learn how to support and encourage one another.

You never know what kind of weather you’ll get in Bend, but this year was beautiful! The sky was sunny and the air was warm every day. This did make for challenging running conditions later in the day, and also presented some additional diabetes-related considerations. We made sure to do extra blood sugar checks (before and after races) and keep lots of juice boxes, glucose tablets, and snacks on hand. Luke had one scary, almost-Glucagoned-him, very low blood sugar, but otherwise diabetes didn’t slow anyone down!

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Evie and Luke take care of their diabetes after a race

I was planning to run the 10K this year, but the timing of the race was inconvenient, so I went ahead and signed up for the Half-Marathon instead. My longest run up to then had been about 7 miles, so I had no huge expectations for 13.1 miles, other than crossing the finish line. I surprised myself by running the majority of the race, and reveled in the accomplishment for the rest of the day! I’ll definitely run another Half in the future.

This year was definitely the year for stepping up! Evie and Will, along with some of the other older kids, ran in the 5K race instead of the one-mile this year, and Jackson ran the 1-mile for the first time. I love to see them succeed when they challenge themselves, and it’s so good for their blossoming confidence to try new things, even when it’s tough!

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Small racers run in the 1-Mile Dash

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Our 5K runners….what a great group of kids!

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Will, Luke, and Evie after the 5K finish, enjoying treats in the Runner’s Pavilion

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Evie crosses the 5K finish line alongside Ruby

One of my other favorite things about this weekend is that we also have the opportunity to provide support and encouragement to athlete’s of all ages and skill levels on the race courses–our friends and family, as well as strangers. I know how energizing it is to pass people who cheer and yell for you during a tough run, and I’m happy to be able to pass that on!

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Learning how to encourage each other: 1-Milers pose for an after race photo, Jackson high-fives a triathlete along the course

Once again, it was an awesome weekend, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

It’s Race Season….Run! Run! Run!

After several months of holidays, busy schedules, and the resultant relaxation (no, the complete neglect) of my exercise habits, I’m feeling a little sluggish. In the past few years I have maintained a healthy level of fitness and activity through yoga, hiking, running, and whatever else I can grab time for. Physical activity, more than anything else in my life, keeps my mind clear and focused, my emotions steady, and my body strong and healthy. Which all make me a better mom, better partner, better friend….a better woman in general!

So we’ve rolled over into a new year, and are rounding the corner on winter. I’m craving some exercise and the pick-me-up that comes with it. Spring will bring sunnier days and warmer temperatures and….race season!

I just started running a couple of years ago with the encouragement of my sister, Kate, a marathoner. She’s inspirational in her own running and I’ve had so much fun racing with her! And she’s not afraid to yell “Tie that shoe Angie!!!” in the middle of a course.

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Left: June 2011 Solstice Run, Vancouver WA. Right: June 2012 Pacific Crest Sports Festival, Sunriver OR

Just like Kate has passed her love of running on to me, I aspire to instill the same feeling of excitement about fitness in my kids. Evie has participated in three seasons of Girls On The Run, a great program that builds confidence and love of fitness in grade-school girls. She and I have run three 5K races together as part of that program! I’ve been delighted to run together and encourage her, and to see the pride on her face when she completes a race and improves her time.

Left: Evie and one of her Girls On The Run pals after their Spring 5K. Right: Evie’s very first GOTR 5K. Will and Luke provided moral support and comic relief.

We participated in the weekend-long Pacific Crest Sports Festival last summer in Sunriver, Oregon, and Evie, Will, and Luke got a taste of the triathalon world. They each rocked the Kids’ Splash, Pedal, and Dash, and Will finished with an impressive 6:49 (that’s minutes).

We hung around transition areas and cheered. We watched athletes claw their way to the finish of a challenging triathalon course and then break out in laughter and smiles at the accomplishment! And in our downtime we rode miles and miles of paved and unpaved bike trails through the gorgeous Deschutes National Forest (Bonus!).

Kids' Dash

Left: Luke, Evie, Will (and cousin Ella) at the mini-tri bike transition. Right: Post-race smiles, and medals all around.

The very, very best thing about this particular festival is that it serves to generate excitement for fitness in the whole family. Kids run, moms run, dads run, friends run, strangers run (and bike and swim!), and everybody has a great time!

Emphasis is on personal best and finishing, not winning, and everyone’s efforts are recognized. Our group had racers in both triathalon events, the half-marathon, 10K, and kids’ races, and everybody’s finishes were celebrated wholeheartedly. I honestly can’t think of a better way to make fitness fun and to model that health is important and valuable.

1-mile Dash finishers

Left: Luke, Evie, and Will after their 1-Mile Dash finish. Right: Luke was especially proud of his race medal, and has since permanently affixed it to his school backpack.

So I’ve set a goal for 2013: I will run a 10K race in under an hour. I only have one 10K time under my belt for reference, but I think it’s doable. I have one race lined up for April, and I’m anticipating a second chance in June.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get running!

What activities excite you and make you want to get moving? Please share!

Common Unity

com·mu·ni·ty    kǝ-‘myü-nǝ-tē\  n.   
            1. A unified body of individuals.

We were blessed to spend our Thanksgiving this year with a wonderful group of new friends. This group of people has been working together, living together, and celebrating together throughout the evolution of life over the past ten-plus years. They are singles, couples, parents and children, and soon-to-be-parents. The group has shifted and changed over time, but their core values persevere:

Love. Compassion. Support. Joy. Family.

Put into practice, these values result in acceptance, generosity, genuine interest in the lives and hearts of other people, true emotional connection, and gatherings that are dang fun.

Something new that my brood and I bring to the group is diabetes. Insulin, pumping, finger sticks, hypos, infusion sets, middle-of-the-night alarms, carbohydrate counting–these are things that are now so pervasive in our lives that I’ve almost completely lost the perspective of life without diabetes. Spending extended time like this with new friends makes me more aware of just how burdensome and strange it all can be.

For example, another mom in the group offered to take Luke home with her from the park we were all at to play with her son, and it took me nearly a full 60 seconds of silent internal deliberation, calculation, and trouble-shooting to even answer her. And then I had to give The Plan. And then I made mental notes about absolute times when I was going to need to call and check-in. Would 1 hour be too long? I’m sure I seemed like a crazy person.

And did I wake anyone when I was shuffling through the house, barely conscious at 3 o’clock in the morning, to maneuver through a pile of sleeping kids and check blood sugars? Did anyone notice the vacant stare I adopt when my kids sit down with a plate of food and I’m mentally analyzing and calculating the carbohydrate content? That fleeting look of panic when someone starts to cut up pie?

Evie learns to make pecan pie from scratch. Score!

Evie learns to make pecan pie from scratch. Score!

The great thing about this cohesive group was their acceptance and attendant willingness to learn about what makes our world go ’round. People asked questions. They talked to my kids about their experiences and were interested in the answers. They watched me change infusion sets and dial in boluses, asked me about food and routines, and just genuinely cared about us.

And that’s what is so valuable about being part of a community. Whether it’s a small group of friends and family, a church or social circle, a local support group, or the larger cultural or medical communities, it’s valuable and vital to be able to share your struggles, burdens, accomplishments and joys with people who share some common thread. A common unity.

Everyone needs a community.

Kids have a remarkable ability to meld into relatively cohesive groups within hours of meeting each other.

Kids have a remarkable ability to meld into relatively cohesive groups within hours of meeting each other.

Diabetes Family Camp: Laugh. Cry. Bolus.

I wrote last month about our opportunity to attend ConnecT1D’s Diabetes Family Camp in Seattle, and how excited we all were for the weekend. Evie has gone away to diabetes summer camp for the past couple of years on her own, but this was the first camp that we’ve attended all together with other Type 1 families. We were ready for an adventure!

We skipped their half day of school on Friday and made our way leisurely through Seattle (“look, Mom, the Space Needle!”), playing a little along the way, and then headed North to the retreat center. After we checked in, met the camp directors, and found our cabin (double bunk beds!) we gathered in the meeting room with the other families for orientation. Then off to bed for a good night’s rest.

The morning started off with a bang, with a keynote presentation by a family psychologist that had me tearing up in my seat. The topic was parenting and diabetes and he touched on standard issues like discipline and family dynamics, but also addressed more tender topics like grief and loss. He asked us to reflect on our diagnosis stories and my chest tightened. We have two of those; they are different, but equally painful. Being in a room full of other parents who I knew shared similar stories and experiences made it a little easier to confront those memories and emotions.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Everyone gathers together in the center of the meeting hall to get to know one another.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Three teens with type 1 diabetes share their stories and answer questions

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Parents and caregivers listen together to the presentations.

Other sessions that day included a research update, a panel to discuss diabetes in the school environment, and a small group session in which we all shared tips and for living and coping with diabetes in our families. This hour or so of more intimate and open discussion was my favorite part of the weekend. Groups included caregivers with newly diagnosed kids, some who have weathered years and years of diabetes in their families, and everything in between. My group even included another set of parents that had two kids with diabetes.

Even though I’ve been parenting diabetic kids for four years now, I was a sponge, soaking up information and experience like I was a newbie. It was so comforting to be surrounded by other parents who Understand—other adults who have to navigate school policies and holiday parties, wake up multiple times during the night to check blood sugars, and learn to live with a complicated disease that has unpredictable and ever-changing effects on their kids and families. We could all look at each other, recognize that underlying burden of physical and emotional fatigue we wear like an old sweater, and say “I get it.”

I hope that my kids had similar feelings of solidarity. Evie and Luke go through most of their daily lives being the only kids with diabetes, singled-out by blood sugar checks, trips to the health room, and well-intentioned but isolating comments from teachers (“Please avoid sending sugary treats because we have a Diabetic in our class…”).

I expect that it’s a relief to be in the company of other kids who have to stop and pull out a medical device before tearing into that mid-morning granola bar and bag of pretzels. And whatever your age, its fun to swap “war stories.”

This one time I had a vampire cannula and my tubing totally filled up with blood!! 

Don’t you hate it when your mom pushes too hard on the lancet and your finger is still bleeding three hours later??

One morning my school served french toast sticks that had 300 carbs per serving and I had to do TWO injections just to cover!! (Er….WHAT??)

Evie offers moral support to friends about to have a blood test.

Siblings of kids with diabetes also need peer support, and I was happy to see Will interacting and making new friends. I doubt, at eight years old, that he engaged in any conversations specifically about his feelings and experiences being a middle child sandwiched in between two kids with major medical issues, but he certainly saw that he wasn’t alone, and that was the whole point of camp. So that none of us would feel alone in our circumstances.

Photo Credit: Kristine Burtner. Evie plays carpet ball with a fellow camper.

I hope to go again next year and see many of the same families I met. Evie collected some e-mail addresses and is already busy keeping in touch. And Will asks me nearly daily if I’ve heard from his new friend’s mom yet.

But the most important take away for me was the realization that support and connection with other people who live with diabetes is vital. Not only to share information and resources, but to have people that can laugh with you when you make jokes about infusion sets and low blood sugars, panic together at the empty coffee pot, and not bat an eye when you cry over breakfast conversation. People who “get it.”

See you next year!

Evie is enjoying keeping in touch via e-mail with her new friends from camp.