Thank You to Diabetes Daily!

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Thank You to Diabetes Daily!

A huge Thank You to Diabetes Daily and Matthew Butterman for the article 'Be Extreme! Seven Lessons for People with Diabetes Doing Extreme and Adventure Sports'.

The story is below.

https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/be-extreme-seven-lessons-for-people-with-diabetes-doing-extreme-and-adventure-sports-546509/

Well written, researched and includes me along for the ride/jump/swim/run/climb/hike. Whatever it is, whatever you enjoy doing, whatever challenges stand in your way, DO IT! Do not let diabetes or your mind, stop you. 

Do check out the Diabetes Daily site. Lots of information, stories, advice, etc.

Many, many years ago, while living in Boise, Idaho, my neighbor casually invited me to join him for an outdoor activity. Actually, to go bungee jumping. I had never done anything particularly heart pounding and I gave it some thought. My thought process was very short and uncomplicated. I made a life-changing decision to join in on the challenge. The reason? I could not come up with a solid reason not to do it. Done.

 

 

 

 

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From Idea to Film

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From Idea to Film

My First Film

My First Film

When I took on the daunting challenge of riding a mountain bike with a team of riders with type 1 diabetes in a 24-hour race I was desperately lacking a few key items:
1. A rideable mountain bike
2. Teammates
3. The desire to park my running shoes for awhile
4. Ability to ride


These issues while being possible deterrents were not going to stop me. Ok, they could stop me dead in my (tire) tracks, but I decided to give it a crazy whirl.  

Underneath, I had another idea, buried within my creative spirit that had nothing to do with athletic ability or to not kill myself on my newly clutched mountain bike. Yes, I had conquered #1 on the list of deterrents. And a stupendous greenish color sparling new bike gave me a special feeling invulnerability, at least until I actually got on the bike.

During the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

During the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Tucked away in shredded, distant memories, I did have a semi-healthy background on a mountain bike. My brain does not serve me well to those reflections but I had an obsessed riding roommate and negotiating obscenely difficult trails was on our list of things to do since neither of us could define anything better to do. 

Oh, and that creative notion tossing about in my brain? I wanted to create a film out of the 24-hour experience. Why not? Or shall I ask myself, why so? This desire or goal had it's own list of challenges. Seems like most things in life do.

1. I did not quite know how to make a film
2. Newly acquired software that indicated I could make a film, but I was just learning how to not crash my computer system with it.
3. Would the team be ok with filming, questions, and sharing about their diabetes?

I am creative and have been a photographer by trade. I started pulling out the video camera when I would run into desert life, such as a rattling rattlesnake, tarantula, gila monster, etc. I began seeing the beauty of video, capturing unique moments in life and the ability to share more of a story by combining photography, video and writing.

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The icing on the sugar-free chocolate cake was being involved with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. A number of years ago my diabetes adventure group, No Limits received funding to produce our first film "Sugar Free Ocean". I would join the Banff Film Fest Sitka (Sitka, Alaska) as a board member. The funding was from the group which was generated from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour and their stop in Sitka. They would donate all of their profits of the film evening to one or more non-profit organizations. 

I would eventually become the director of the BMFF in Sitka until life moved me off of the island (One week before the BMFF!!!!!!!!!). I was inspired by the outdoor and cultural films that BMFF traveled the world to present. I had the good fortune to spend a lot of time with the touring 'road warriors' from Banff and heard some of the inside stories behind the films. The inside stories are often better and more interesting than what is in the film.

Amy, camera in hand during "Sugar Free Ocean"

Amy, camera in hand during "Sugar Free Ocean"

I was able to watch and assist Amy piece together the story and media to create the film. Not much of a role but I was glad to have pushed some buttons to make the effort happen. On the next No Limits kayak expedition the following year I would step into the role of filmmaker for the first time. 

L to R - Me, Scott (guide), Trever

L to R - Me, Scott (guide), Trever

What a learning experience it was to craft a story, inserting two incredible characters (Trever & Scott), abundant wildlife, solid weather (for Alaska), and the Alaska terrain, which never fails to amaze. And then, there is the humor that Trever bestows to the film "Alaskan Waters". Insanely funny and there is also a very deep angle of emotion that plays out. Watch and see! I just posted the trailer and I am almost done with this project that is now many years old. Although, I had started on "Alaskan Waters before "You Only Live Once", I shifted focus as the mountain bike film seemed a little more timely to complete soon. The tales from the wilds of Alaska could wait.  

I do not know what is next for me but I enjoy a new perspective and avenue to share stories involving diabetes, adventure, No Limits, living life to the fullest and encouraging and inspiring the watchers. 

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Calendar is edging quickly toward the 2018 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. I chose this year to focus on the Oracle Rumble (32 mile ultramarathon), but I have fond memories of joining team No Limits at the 2017 edition of the endurance race.

"You Only Live Once" is the film I created about Team No Limits during 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

It was a big stride (for me the non-racer) to do an ultramarathon (34 miles) in November and aim at a 24-Hour mountain bike race in February.  It was a good, successful and growing experience. Training for the 24-hour race would require a new mountain bike (triple yay!), a few crashes (got my first, and most graphic one out of the way on the first ride) and a shifting of gears to revolve from running to biking. 

Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Training would connect me with Kent, Olivia and Billy Joe, all on the type 1 diabetes team No Limits. Todd, Olivia's father would also join us on various shredding in the Arizona desert. We varied our dirt exploration and spent quality time on 7 or 8 trails around Tucson and Oro Valley.

Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

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at 24 Hour city

Hats and mountain bike helmets off to Kent, who worked with the team and who endured a riding pace that was far below any riding that he has done since donning a tricycle.

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As the race neared the focus and buzz was the coming weather. While scrambling to have all of my race gear, clothes, food and diabetes supplies in order we were now looking at atrocious conditions for the 24HOP. Really, ? Cold, windy, rainy and it would even snow during the night laps. 

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Pulling into 24 Hour city, it was quite the spectacle. This area that is vast, empty desert would become a community of almost 2,000 riders and 5,000 inhabitants. 24HOP (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo) is one of the largest mountain bike races in the world. It is a special delight that the course is about 25 minutes from the house and I see the terrain on most of my runs. 

Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Setting the tent up in 25-35 miles per hour winds (alone) was epic. Oh, what I would have given had I had the brilliance to video that moment.

Many, many activities going on before the race. This was one of the funner moments I captured. This is the rock drop (course goes in the opposite direction of this trooper).

Todd had a superb camping site for the team, despite coming equipped with gale force winds. We buckled in for the race. Todd & gang fed us extremely well and I was off to sleep. Wait, sleep did not arrive. More on this drowsy subject later.

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Race day rustled to a start and it...was...not...raining! Yet, the beast was coming. As team captain and just being a nice guy, I left the riding order up to the team. You can guess that this left me as the fourth No Limits rider on the course. In my many years of bungee jumping you wanted to be one of the first jumpers. Waiting for hours to jump would play on the nerves, blood sugar and confidence. This play of the cards would be a positive later on.

Running into other type 1 diabetes riders - Kathy from Seattle

Kent would ride first. This was the most challenging stage with more riders in tight spaces. Kent has unbelievable talent and is one of the best road/mountain bikers in the Tucson area. I did not post his monumental ride out of the gate but there is footage in "You Only Live Once".

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LeMans start - Photo by Sportograf

LeMans start at 24HOP

Olivia would nail the next loop and would call it a day. Billy hit the trail and I would prepare for my first mountain bike race experience. 

waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

There was a staging tent where we would wait for the team rider to finish the sixteen mile loop and you would hit the trail. The weather slowly rolled in and as it would play out, I only dealt with rain on my final lap. There were light snow flurries on my two night laps. More epicness, and to note, this was the only snow to fall in our area all winter.

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Catalina mountains - Photo by Sportograf

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Me, charging the course - Photo by Sportograf

My first lap went well, aided by training missions that took us around the course loop. Not a real hard or technical sixteen miles, but good to have seen it before. Credit to Billy who arrived late the night before the race and he had not ridden the course before. 

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Olivia and Kaleb (her brother) during the race. Photo by Sportograf

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Me, enduring the moment - Photo by Sportograf

I had come out to 24HOP the previous year to take some photos and to check out the event. I was impressed and this laid the groundwork to create a team and lean toward bringing along riders with type 1 for the experience. 

Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Recruiting was a challenge as I had roughly twenty five on the list of possible riders with type 1. Getting them to commit was a whole new ball game. Goal #1 was a co-ed team of five. We sort of got there with commitments from three males and two females. One of the females was a road biker wanting to dabble in off road riding in the dirt. She would not show up to any of the training so we would evolve into a team of four. Our search for female mountain bikers with type 1 would yield a total one in the Tucson area. Olivia is all the more amazing as she raced on the high school mtn biking team and is only thirteen years old. She did ride 24HOP in 2016.

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Billy Joe - Photo by Sportograf

A personal goal of mine, beside getting a new bike, was to create a film of Team No Limits. I had been slowly creating a film on a No Limits kayak expedition in Alaska, but I had lots of learning ahead of me. This would take me part of the distance with more territory ahead. 

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GoPro from Billy Joe's bike.

No Limits rolled into the night. I am used to running at night but riding is a different stroke that kept me on my toes. Blood sugars saw higher readings that I would like the first couple of laps and a lower scheme on my third lap. Fourth lap was good and overall I was happy with how the blood sugars went for the event. 

Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Finishing a lap at some ungodly hour, I strolled to my tent, head hit the pillow, I let out a few deep breaths, and nothing occurred. Sleep was not going to happen. I was wide awake and bobbing into my 2nd night with nary a snore. A guesstimation put me at about seventy six hours before I found the sleep zone.

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Me - Photo by Sportograf

No Limits would finish with fourteen laps and a good nod on the team standings. Success,and dirt everywhere.

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Photo by Sportograf

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Photo by Jim Rudnicki

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Let's Do It! (Part 6) An Almost Cross Country Bicycle Adventure (Hays, KS to Girard, KS)

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Let's Do It! (Part 6) An Almost Cross Country Bicycle Adventure (Hays, KS to Girard, KS)

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Our route had taken us into Larned, Kansas which was only 60 miles from where Eleanor, my grandmother lived in Hays. Also residing there was aunt Karen, who was gracious enough to pick up two smelly and tired cyclists.  We were in a good mood, though, as we were heading toward home cooked meals. Also greatly improving our disposition was a day that included fierce tailwinds, strumming us along at 18-25 miles per hour. I have been involved in seven Race Across America bicycle events (crew and staff) and a tail wind in Kansas is rather rare as relentless headwinds great most riders.

Somewhere in Kansas

Somewhere in Kansas

My journal notes share that we arrived in Hays and ate a ton for supper. Probably pretty close to accurate as riding your bicycle all day causes an otherworldly panic for sustenance. And add excellent home cooking...

The head of the American Diabetes Association (Kansas) Francis Shipper, visits with us for some tales from the road for an addition in their newsletter. 

The next day would see us at the other end of the camera with KAYS- TV. Watching yourself on the 6pm and 10pm news is a bit startling, but I do have the strong desire to encourage and inspire others with diabetes. Get in front of that camera Dave! I am not going to let diabetes rule my life.

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Roger would share that he felt like a celebrity with all the pictures, questions and media. Celebrity status (in a very minor way) would continue with articles by Hays Daily News (done in Larned, KS), Ellis County Star, and a story to be submitted by Cindy Wiley (Tucson,  AZ - American Diabetes Association) for El Tour Magazine (El Tour de Tucson bicycle event in Tucson).

Via the media, we would be contacted by Brian, a cyclist touring from Philadelphia, PA to San Diego, CA. He was in Hays doing a rather torturous grind with 100 miles per day in a solo effort. He would share trying moments such as; tire blowouts, being attacked by a swarm of bees, excessive rain, and lost maps. Ohhhhhh, so fortunate looking back on our exceptional tour and outstanding company.

Karen would take us to Fort Hays State University, Sternberg Museum, the swinging bridge, Taco Time, Bohm's Bike Shop (they had told us about Brian) and we would endure two games of racquetball. My notes share that we split the games. Her memory may say otherwise.  

Time to hit the road.

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Diabetes would not rule my life but the only section of dirt road on our tour, might. Well, maybe rule Roger's life as I did not have a flat tire. Karen shuttled us back to Larned to get back on our tour. After Larned we would reach this special section of road (10 miles).

While in Larned we were interviewed by the Tiller & Toiler (newspaper in Larned). Along the route, we have been involved with call-ins to KCMS in Tucson. A Christian radio station that Roger worked at. 

My journal spits out that the Larned to Hutchinson section was possibly the most difficult day (so far). That is what happens when you eat 1/2 ton of food! I could not put a finger on it, but it was a rare form of ugly on this day. Yes, Kansas was back to her old nature with screamingly torrid headwinds. I was felt ready to quit. Blood sugars were hellish. Thankfully a connection through the American Diabetes Association landed us at Skip Smith's home in Hutchinson. People are amazing and we were blessed every day.

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Woke up 50 to 75% dead. Feeling trashed, but at least not quite ready to end the tour. I do manage to ride better than I thought was possible. Blood sugar is still horrible and Roger is not riding well so we make it a short day. My mother's friend has a contact in Newton where we do a rendition of 'American Gothic' (famous farm couple painting with farmhouse & tool)and but enjoy an excellent stay with James & Cindy Wulf where we are so busy chatting that dinner is not tackled until 10pm. Roger and I are so impressed with the Wulf's and a very simple but hard lifestyle. 12-18 hours a day of farm work is daunting but is required for those living life on a farm.

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Life has re-entered my system as we roll out of Newton. A solid day of riding for the first time in three or four days. As you near the Kansas/Missouri border the hills begin to make their presence known. That rumor that Kansas is pancake flat has been shredded. Girard, KS greets us with a day off and a visit to Big Brutus (16-story tall shovel for coal mining). We attend a Pittsburg State University football game in Joplin, MO vs Missouri Southern State College. 

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September 25th includes a church service, Chicken Annie's, 75-80 degree day and another border crossing, this one into Missouri. I notice each year I am involved with the Race Across America that with the Kansas border at your back the scenery takes a dramatic turn and the hills salute you as you roll into the Show Me State. What will Missouri show us?

Big Brutus - West Mineral, KS

Big Brutus - West Mineral, KS

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 5) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure (Adrian, TX to Hays, KS)

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 5) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure (Adrian, TX to Hays, KS)

Headwinds greeted us as we journeyed east out of Adrian, TX. It was mid-September and the weather was changing as we could see our breath in the morning shuffle to pack our bikes, eat, shake the tiredness from our legs and take a quick blood sugar to see where my blood sugars were residing.  Our timing for this adventure would reveal outstanding Fall colors while scrambling for warmer clothing as the temperatures began to sink.  Not matter, each day was
amazing and a true revealing of the wonderful American spirit and hospitality. 

We are joined by a overly friendly dog - Between Adrian and Amarillo, TX

We are joined by a overly friendly dog - Between Adrian and Amarillo, TX

Going through my journal from the trip, I see that on this short segment that while we pulled onto an on ramp I would grab onto a truck bumper and got a free, yet limited ride.  Yes, I have just disallowed my riding a bicycle from Tucson, AZ to Yorktown, VA. 

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This short Texas segment also included the dog in the photo above.  Rog had stopped to pet the Toto and soon the dog had chosen us as his new owners.  He went Crazy!  The photo must be me and said dog as he/she, for some silly reason, elected to stick by me mimicking a tick.  Rog found this to be of supreme humor.  After 3+ miles (at 14 miles per hour) Toto tuckered out and was seen no more.

One of the all-time best billboards ever created - Oklahoma

One of the all-time best billboards ever created - Oklahoma

Good fortune would see us with at Wayland Baptist University for a visit with Roger's brother, Lance.  Four walls and a roof over your head is a special highlight when you are seeing your breath in the morning. Also, managed to play some basketball, frisbee and continued our tradition of eating almost everything in sight.  

Lance drove us back to the route where a flash flood and tornado had touched the area the day before.  More good timing for the bike riders who prefer to avoid tornado's when possible. We would encounter some of the wet stuff and it was apparent that we were heading into a storm. Roger likes these rough, snotty conditions. I am not craving misery, although I have an ability to deal with most anything that is tossed my way or deluges from above.

A 109-mile day and we were into Oklahoma and pretty much out. The panhandle of OK is short by all standards and we rolled into Kansas, my birthplace and home for all of six months. This would be our third 100+ mile day.  I still think back to how incredible this was as we were carrying loads that should only be transported by something with a machine designed to convert one form of energy into mechanical energy.  Yes, an engine.

Both of us with my Grandma (Eleanor Gottschalk) in Hays, KS

Both of us with my Grandma (Eleanor Gottschalk) in Hays, KS

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Roger would share during this segment, "This whole thing is still novel.  If the time is right and the music inspiring, I'll get goosebumps all over my legs and my understanding will tingle with joy, just thinking about how fun this is."

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Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

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Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

Not long after I arrived on Baranof Island, I found myself in a canoe training for a 10.7 mile (nautical miles) paddle in the Pacific Ocean.  Thankfully, I was not alone, but, with 13 individuals who I did not know.  13 people in a canoe would appear to be a survival at sea moment unless it happens to be a Tlingit Warrior Canoe. 

Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

The Tlingit Tribe had different canoes for different uses.

Head Canoe: A large ocean-going canoe that was up to 70 feet long with a large prow and stern, used for long voyages and warfare. As trade flourished along the Northwest coast, this type of canoe became less prominent.

Northern Canoe: Designed for long journeys over open-ocean. It had flaring sides and a rounded bottom, designed for buoyancy and speed; the beam was from 5 to 9 feet and ranged from 40 to 60 feet in length. 

Small Canoe:  10-20 feet in length used for local transport and fishing.

The canoe became a visual symbol of community.

Tlingit Phrase:  Aadéi yanal.á!
English Phrase:  Steer toward it!

Tlingit Phrase: Yindei naytsóow yee axáayi.
English Translation: Push your paddles way down.

Photo by Bill Greer

Photo by Bill Greer

Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

The Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race was created in 2007 and was the year that I participated.  Entrants used kayaks, rowing sculls and two Tlingit warrior canoes.  Most of the competitors were from Sitka, but there were participants from Juneau, AK, Salt Lake City, UT, Coeur d'Alene, ID and one from Adelaide, South Australia. 

Photo by Don Kluting

Photo by Don Kluting

Our course of 10.7 nautical miles seemed like a long ways.  Thankfully, no hills!  It was not the longest course, which was 17.7 nautical miles, 20.4 statue miles.  

There were nine finishers in the long course and twelve in the 'sprint' event.  

Not talked about much, but our key competition was Kaasad Heeni Yaakw'.  This was the 'real' Tlingit warrior canoe.  Made of wood and much heavier and slower than our vessel.  Not sure of our construction material but it was lighter and faster.  

Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Our Tlingit warrior canoe Toowu Latseen would cross the finish line in 2:52:14 coming in fifth place (short course).  This canoe is owned by Southeast Alaska Health Consortium (SEARHC).  Toowu Latseen means Inner Strength.  

The 'Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' is the Sitka Traditional Canoe Club's boat and means Canoe From Indian River.  They finished eighth in 3:04:22.

Later, we would hope on the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system) to enjoy the Kake Dog Salmon Festival in Kake, Alaska and race once again.  This time it was only one mile, but the weather was threatening.  Storm arose just as we got to the start line.  

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

A crazy time on the ocean, but we would conquer the seas and our warrior canoe competition.

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

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Diabetes Sports Project

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Diabetes Sports Project

I wanted to give a shout out to Diabetes Sports Project for featuring me on their Instagram page.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BXTM7nNASKO/?hl=en&taken-by=diabetessportsproject

If you are not familiar with Diabetes Sports Project, this is from their about page:

WHO WE ARE

DSP is comprised of the world’s elite diabetic athlete ambassadors who inspire and educate the diabetes community to achieve their goals and aspirations. These ambassadors demonstrate how through proper diet, exercise, a positive outlook and effective blood glucose management dreams can be achieved.

WHAT WE DO

The DSP ambassadors are directly engaged in community events within the diabetes and healthcare industry around the world. We participate in diabetes camps, JDRF & ADA events, industry conferences and trade shows, hospital visits, patient support groups, medical professional events and much more. Additionally, our athletes compete at the highest levels of sports to demonstrate that goals can be achieved with diabetes. 

We are dedicated to empowering the nearly 26 million affected by type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the United State. Through inspirational and educational community engagement along with competition in the biggest sporting events in the world, DSP will inspire and educate millions of people affected by diabetes.

Their website:
www.diabetessportsproject.com

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Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

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Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

Fulfilling the need to run, burn calories, melt the stress molecules, and escape the confines of four walls, I purchased a headlight.  A really, really expensive one (Petzl Nao).  It may become an inheritance item............

I had been chasing the fading daylight as the calendar edged into the end of the blistering heat of summer and into the fall season.  When fall strides our direction and the temperature finally dips below three digits we notice the light switch quickly dims and turns off.  Arizona does not have daylight savings.  While not the 3:30 sunset time I survived in Southeast Alaska, we do lose that extra hour of sun.  Shouldn't we change the time frame to get less sunlight during the summer?  Just asking...

On the run tonight I saw eighteen sets of spherical bodies.  Ok, most of these were drowsy, less than motivated deer.  Not real earthshaking.  Oddly, there were two sets of eyes that I could not identify.  One was from a distance, gazing hungarily at the lone runner.  Or was he or she just bored?  

I spotted a medium sized critter to the left of the ranch road that had become an important part of my daily existence.  I got closer and pulled out my trusty camera for...a missed shot.  I followed the animal.  Did I mention that it looked like a baby mountain lion?  Was he or she leading me back to mom?  Or was it a cat?  I would not expect a cat to be well within the confines of a rugged desert landscape, with a darkness enveloping the terrain. But, I guess I have ended up in places that are not well suited for humankind.  

Did I mention how dark it was out?

Moon making its entrance behind the Catalina Mountains

The new adjustment of running at night, chasing unknown animals and the solitude and joy of running through the desert well after the sun has set, has been a novel and rather amazing experience.  The weekend runs, sans darkness, feel unusual to a degree.  

I would leave the roaming 'critter' and head to the end of the trail and enter a stretch of asphalt.  A grunt up a steep hill and I am on top of the world.  Or, at least, the top of the Tucson valley.  It is the highest road (besides the Mt. Lemmon highway) in the area.  I would gather a sensational view of Catalina, Oro Valley and part of the metropolitan kingdom of Tucson.  

As I neared the end of the varied and beautiful loop run, I would see yet, another unidentified animal.  The sun was tapping on the jagged mountain lines above me, so I had a better look at this critter, but, it was from a farther distance.  What the heck was that?  

 

 

 

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An Ultra Challenge

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An Ultra Challenge

November 12, 2016 was a rather significant day for me.  It was, also, a very long day along the Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run course.  All 34 miles of it were calling my name.  My body was screaming "Dave!", toward the end of those lengthy, tortuous miles across the Arizona desert.  A day in the desert where challenges and goals were met.  Boom!!!

Bright and early near the start line

It had been 10 long years since I ran the Pederson Ridge Rumble (35 miles - Sisters, Oregon) and 5 years since I ran a segment for the Team I Challenge Diabetes in the Canadian Death Race (23 miles - 6500 feet or so, of elevation gain - Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada).  

The day started off well as I reached the parking lot at La Posta Quemada Ranch, next to the Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  How would this day go?  Would I have a great run, good run, a mix of running and walking or the dreaded DNF (did not finish).  Would my diabetes and blood sugar behave?

Only one way to find out!

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On the walk to the start\

I watched the 50 mile group stride past me and onto the beautiful Arizona Trail.  A half  hour later the 50k troopers toed the line and went through the pre-race talk.  The nerves had been activated, spinning, churning and clunking in the background.  In the foreground was the memory of the last two weeks of training, which had not gone well, by ultra running standards.

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Ok, it was a little cool for Southern Arizona

Countdown brought reality to the surface, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.........and away we go!  There were about 100 runners in the 50k category.  The race director had warned us that the most likely spot for participants to fall was in the first couple minutes of the race.  A crowded trail littered with a plethora of rocks, with runners anxious  to pass did prove his point.  At least it was a short way to carry the injured runners back to the start.

Cienega Creek, early in the race

Mid Route - suffering is half over!  - Photo by Damion Alexander

The sun had just risen above the ridge line of the  Rincon Mountains and and I was making good time.   In typical race happenings, I was probably moving faster than I should.  Running in a pack causes one to move a bit faster.  By mile 11 I was doing well as the terrain took us through some ups and downs through the beauty of the Sonoran desert.  Those 'ups' would total about 3,000 feet.  With an out and back course we would even out by the 34th mile.  

Runners and the Rincon Mountains in the background

I-10 Tunnel

Video of the I-10 Tunnel and it's occupants

Just past mile 11 my grand start began to fade and took on another dimension.  I was not feeling so good.  I had initially attributed that to a fast (er) start, serious lack of sleep and whatever else I could come up with.  I was wearing a CGMS (Continous Glucose Monitor System) to check on how my blood sugars were treating me.  They were doing well, I thought, as I made semi frequent glances at my insulin pump for readings.  They had appeared good, but my CGMS was not favoring me as I motored forward, with some hitches in the engine.  I now was feeling like I did not want to endure another 22 miles.  Maybe one mile at most.  This was motivated by the fact that the first aid station was nearing and I had a drop bag positioned for my stop.  With my blood sugar looking good (111) I began to question the accuracy of my CGMS and my decision to run 34 miles.  

I sat down, took a couple of huge breaths and pulled out my blood sugar meter to zero in on an actual reality.  Meter read 52.  Normal blood sugar is 100.  I grabbed a precious packet of Honey Stinger Pomegranate Chews and indulged.  And then the next packet.  I now knew why I was beginning to have a rough day.  Duh. Diabetes is a major reason I take on such challenges, though it offers back, a few road blocks, bumps or scary creatures along the way.

I will endure.

Somewhere close to the 1/2 way point.  Photo by Damion Alexander

 l left the aid station with a stomach full of energy chews and a feeling that I was heading away from the DNF (did not finish) category. The five miles to the next aid station included a nice upward trend to the high point of the course and the following downhill to the halfway point.  It also included a runner in a 40 gallon hat, which brought a smile to my face.

Video - Do not know who this is, but, seems appropriate.

Aid Station at 17 miles

At the half way point, my blood sugars were pretty solid and I was doing good in the energy department.  My legs had a few minor issues.  My iliotibial bands were screamingly tight and I was nearing cramp hell at the back of my legs.  I motored on...

The remote restroom at 17 miles

I dealt with another low blood sugar,  after the aid station, but not quite the punch that mile 11 had delivered.  I would catch the next aid station at mile 23 and access my drop bag for the last time.  I do not even remember what I grabbed, but, could not have been much as blood sugar was not yelling 'feed me', 'feed me'!.  Blood sugar/CGMS were playing fairly now and readings were almost normal.  Grand, sometimes, to be normal.

One of the factors in my favor was a lack of blisters.  The Injini toe socks had earned their high praise.  

Around mile 28 I was passed by a seriously nice looking gal named Kaitin.  Let me re-phrase  that.  Not the nice looking comment, the speed involved. She cruised by me.  What on earth was she doing so far back in the race?  I picked up my tempo, temporarily, and ran with her for maybe a mile.  Kaitlin was dealing with some severe stomach issues and proved the point as she would needed to stop and release her guts to the desert floor. We ran/walked together, or in proximity, to each other, for the next six miles.   

Passing back through the I-10 Tunnel.  At least I was ahead of this guy!

The end was near.  It had to be!  Coming up over a rise revealed a beautiful setting with the mountains surrounding me and finish line below. It had evolved into a bit more challenging day than I had signed up for, but, I was very thankful that I had made a step (roughly 70,000 or so steps) in the right direction.  I enjoy unique challenges and finding the finish line, whether it be at the end of a 34 mile race or a completed project.

I came across the line and received my special 50k finisher rock which sits on my desk at work. It is a reminder that I am still alive and kicking and will continue to seek adventure, challenges and more rocks. 

Cienega Creek

Finish line below

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Ending the year with Challenging Goals

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Ending the year with Challenging Goals

6 days from now I will be immersed in a 34 mile trail running race (Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run).  I opted for the lesser of the 50's.....50k - actually 34 miles.  The more impressive 50 denotes 50 miles.  Maybe next year, on the 50 miles.  I will look to survive this year, in sweaty fashion.  

 

Gila Monster on one of my training runs.

 

Along with the 50/50 race I have also signed up a team of 5 mountain bikers to race in the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race.  All of the team have type 1 diabetes.  A link that ties us together in a cause and probably in carbohydrates.  My goal is to create a film out of the adventure and share our time riding and living with diabetes.  

The team chose No Limits as a team name.  

The 24 Hour race did give me an excellent reason to purchase a new, crazy green, mountain bike.  My previous Gary Fischer model was dating about 15+ years old and was having issues.  I may have issues on the route but at least I will look good while I suffer.  

I created this website today so will continue to post on living a life with adventure and diabetes.  

Kent Loganbill and I riding in the Tortolita Mountains. Kent is helping me with Team No Limits.

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My time with the bat

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My time with the bat

My time with the bat

The day in late July would bring us more extreme heat, surrounded by an extra layer of thick, heavy humidity.  Another day in the Monsoon season, amid the dramatic landscape that is the desert southwest.

The storms were likely crashing the scenery to our southeast, leaving Tucson, with just plain, wicked heat.

Family had just arrived in town and they met me at the bridge at Campbell and River Road.  Not the usual family vacation destination.

Bat looking toward the bat flight and a beautiful sunset

We would be joined by my wildlife biologist friend, Eric Peffer.  

Underneath the bridge, a crowd was gathering, as Eric began an excellent introduction to one of the cities bat hangouts.  An estimated 10,000 Mexican Free Tailed bats reside at this location.   

The bat colony would send out a few scouts to determine the direction of the wind.  Much easier to soar into the wind than with the breeze.  

This is the time of the year that the newborn are taking their first flight.  This flight is a challenge as the little ones have to drop from the thin opening that is between the cement beams that they call home.  They have about 20 feet to learn to fly or they become part of the food chain.  Unless of course, we step in.

Sunset from under the bridge

The runt of a family did not make his/her first flight and ended up on the ground below.  We watched the little guy drag himself along the ground, knowing that he would not be able to gain flight and that he would likely not survive the night.  

I was surprised when Eric picked the bat up.  He would explain that the bat was not old enough to bite (the rabies issue).  Being nature minded and leaning toward adventurous, I would also hold the bat.

Eric would deliver the bat to a friend who transported him to a wildlife refuge.  The last we heard he is one of 3 or 4 bats that have been dropped off recently.

Bats in the bridge, before flight

Short section of the bat flight

Bat Flight at the Campbell/River Bridge

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Dave's Diabetes Story on the ADA Blog

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Dave's Diabetes Story on the ADA Blog

'Dave's Diabetes Story on the American Diabetes Association Blog'

I was fortunate to have a story of mine posted on the American Diabetes Association Blog. The link is below.

For the story, I submitted 3 photos.  If you pull up the story you will see my Medtronic Global Hero photo from 2012.  The photo above is from the Boise trail book of which I am a co-author.  It was an incredible experience to have run over 1,000 miles in the exceptional Idaho terrain that we covered.

This photo is from the 2015 El Tour Expo.  I was a new hire to the ADA and this was an event where I promoted our coming Tour de Cure.  I am sporting the Red Rider jersey which highlights riders at the Tour de Cure with diabetes.  

It has been a real honor and inspiration working with these outstanding individuals.

Dave's Diabetes Story

Link to the story.

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