Featured Runner Preston Gardner

As an athletic physically fit person my whole life, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes nearly 12 years ago – the diagnosis from the doctors that was that my life was coming to an end. For the first couple of months, I actually believed the doctors and nurses….I felt there was no hope, nor was there anything to look forward to. During the time I was in the hospital, the doctor made a comment that didn’t really bother me at the time….but he said, “don’t plan on running any marathons…or anything like that because people with diabetes can’t do those kinds of things.”

Now, remember…. I was in my mid 20’s, recently graduated from college and had a little 2 yr old daughter and that everything I had hoped for in life was now not possible.

Over the next couple of months, I found myself getting accustomed to taking numerous shots throughout the day depending on my blood glucose levels and I was getting used to poking my finger 10 or more times a day to see what my blood glucose levels were. I was getting used to what it felt like to have high or low blood sugar and as basically getting somewhat comfortable living with this disease. I was having lows and highs in the middle of the night that would required me to get up many times to check my blood sugars or needing to take a shot to bring my blood glucose levels down.

My wife and family were starting to get used to me living with diabetes and it became a topic of conversation with many people as they felt they had the cure or they had zero understanding between type 2 diabetes vs. type 1 – (type 2 is typically lifestyle – which definitely was not me) and so everyone became a critic and an expert dealing with my diabetes…offering the most ridiculous advise etc.

I grew up playing competitive golf as my father was a golf pro and I soon felt comfortable being able to go out and play golf again, which felt good and gave me a huge self-esteem boost.

The words of the doctor kept rising in my ears even though I had zero desire or interest in running a marathon (my wife had run a few and even Boston) but I had no interest and really actually hating running as I associated it was punishment from high school basketball practice. However, approximately 6 years ago – out of the clear blue….I decided to go for a run, I was under the impression that I had run 3 to 4 miles – but my wife corrected me and told me I had only probably run maybe 1 mile. I hated running it was painful and I didn’t feel anything good or positive with going out and running.

One day out of the clear blue – I decided to see what it would be like to run 20 miles and so I embarked on a horrible decision to actually try it….I did run 20 miles, but had low blood sugars and had to buy gatorades and other challenges along the way and then couldn’t walk for 2 weeks with IT Band problems and so I was discouraged and still had no desire to run a marathon.

Over the next year or so I began to run with my wife who was actually faster than me and I had a hard time keeping up with her, but over time I began to get more comfortable and each time it felt better and better and so that led to me the goal to run just 1 marathon….just 1 marathon and no more. I found a marathon in St George Utah and decided I would run it – I was not ready and the marathon was a horrible experience.

However, over the next 6 years I started to really work and dedicated the time to train and getting good shape and was able to qualify for The Boston Marathon with Type 1 diabetes and will be running my 5th Boston in a couple of months. I have now run nearly 40 full marathons and just ran the LA Marathon this past Saturday and ran Phoenix 3 weeks ago. I finally ran a couple marathon in the 2:37 and 2:38 times with Type 1 diabetes.

I now run to show kids / everyone with diabetes (specifically those with type 1) that there are not limits as to what you can do or want to do with your life…..do NOT set boundaries or listen to what others are limiting you to….because if I had listed to the nurses and doctors I would have lived a life with limits / boundaries. There is nothing a person can or cannot do with diabetes…they have every single opportunity to go and do what all other kids / adults are doing. I was on the board of the JDRF and all too often these young kids and families were distraught over being diagnosed with diabetes and I loved spending time with them and giving them hope and promises in their many years of life experiences that lay before them.

I am hoping to run the most marathons with a person who has Type 1 diabetes, although I don’t know if there is a number or if anyone is actually counting.