To celebrate the end of summer in a way that only Kenyans and masochists could appreciate, I decided to run a marathon in the great state of Wyoming during Labor Day weekend. To get you up to speed (pun intended), since November 2000 I have been on a journey to run a marathon in every state. For personal reasons, both physically and spiritually, the journey has been a transforming experience, and as of June 2016 I had successfully completed a marathon in 47 states, with only Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii left to realize the dream. During the past sixteen years, I have had to encounter some unique obstacles as a card-carrying member of the no pancreas movement; when you travel like a pack mule through the streets of San Francisco or the desert of White Sands, New Mexico, you have to be ready to address low blood sugars, high blood sugars, soreness, weather, altitude, geography, sometimes during the same race.
With only one contiguous state left, I researched to find a race I could train for in a reasonable matter of time. I found the Jackson Hole Marathon in Jackson, WY, a tourist hotspot just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park. After signing up, I began sketching out a training plan for the summer, which created its own set of problems. Where I live, humidity is part of summer like barbecues and sunburn, resulting in training runs either before dawn or late at night. I’m a night owl, so I planned my long (10-20 mile) runs under moonlight where the heat would not be so brutal. During this training cycle, I carried my PDM in my running fanny pack along with a snack and water, and the Omnipod served me well, holding to my body incredibly well despite the humidity.
Then it was onto Jackson. I arrived on Friday, September 2, and drove from Salt Lake City to Jackson, reaching town around dusk. I checked in to receive my race gear, ate some dinner, and then retired for the night. When I travel, my glucose levels tend to run higher than normal due to stress, so I make an effort to snack rather than consume large meals until dinner, when I eat a more traditional meal. This race was no different, eating a banana and nuts during the day and having a black bean burger and sweet potato fries for dinner. I woke up at 5 am the next morning, two hours before race start, to a glucose level of 285. I bolused 1 unit to bring it down, ate a banana, and turned off the Omnipod for two hours so I could prevent insulin shock once I started running.
The race was challenging with altitude and heat, and I periodically drank my sports drink as I wove my way through the mountain terrain. I turned my PDM back on with 6 miles to go to get basal insulin working,shuffling my way to another finish. I came off the course, tired and happy, and checked my blood sugar (428), instantly bolusing to bring it down within the hour. After a shower it was back to driving to the airport, Jackson in the rearview mirror and State 48 added to the collection. I breathed a sigh of relief. Another successful trip; summer was officially over.