To Helena and Back

Posted by Ross Baker on Tue, 09/20/2016 - 18:57 in

Another big endeavor I planned for this summer was to complete a marathon in the great state of Montana in my quest to complete a marathon in every state and the District of Columbia. I began this quest in 2000 on a dare. I had always spent my youth active in sports, playing football and baseball throughout high school. Shortly after I enrolled in college, I was diagnosed with Type I in 1992 and my sports career ended, resigning myself to become a fan along with the rest. Despite the diagnosis, I wanted to stay active and continued to work out, but there was always a desire to push myself in a competitive capacity. After I graduated, my friend’s father, who was an active marathoner, issued a challenge to me and his son as we talked one day after church: enter the lottery of the New York City Marathon and see if you get selected to run. I love challenges and I had never been to the Big Apple, so I entered and, surprise! I got in. (My friend was not so lucky.) I struggled through my training, learning how to eat and run (literally) so I could maintain my blood sugar levels. On November 5, 2000, I shuffled across the finish line in Central Park, exhausted and elated.

To Helena and Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash forward fifteen and half years and 47 marathons later. I was now down to four states to complete my quest: Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and last but not least, Hawaii. Before I would get the chance to dance in the sun on some tropical island, though, I would have to overcome the altitude and the raw Western prairie of Montana. I left on a Friday in early June this year, flying out from my home in Charlotte, North Carolina to Missoula, Montana, then driving two hours in the dark to Helena. Once I arrived, I performed my usual routine: check my run gear, prep my race fanny pack with my Omnipod® PDM, sandwich baggies (to keep everything dry), Clif Bars and ID, mull over the race course to plan for blood sugar testing, and then sleep. It was now race time.

The next morning came, the race starting at 6 am to beat the heat. The course itself was at a decline starting at an altitude of almost 6,000 feet and trailing down eventually into the capital city of Helena. I ran by myself, braving the wind and thin air and rugged but beautiful course as I labored through the miles. Thankfully, my diabetes was never an issue. I typically turn off the insulin delivery from my Omnipod® at the start of the race for the first 2 hours so burning glucose won’t create a perfect storm with insulin intake. Today was no different, my body stable throughout despite over four hours of hard running. I crossed the finish line with a smile, receiving my medal and checking another state off the list. Onto Wyoming!