My left gluteus maximus is angry and screaming out for the bag of peas in the freezer that has become my new best friend along with my massage therapist, Anna. My left hamstring is tight, so tight it feels like it’s going to eat itself and I have a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee.
My suspicion is my dodgy glute has been working in cahoots with the other two as a cruel reminder of the milestone birthday I’ve recently had. They clearly don’t know who they’re dealing with. I won’t be beaten. It’s a trait that runs through all the women in my family. (To complete the somewhat tragic picture the blister on my right foot that was close to popping before my run has just exploded, and the affinity I have with my little feet, which borders on a fetish, does not extend to excretions.)
I’ve just returned from my daily run with Nick Cave and my body is aching. Friends say I should choose something more uplifting to listen to while I’m pounding the pavement. I think the two complement each other beautifully. The north eastern suburbs Adelaide girl in me still has a soft spot for Eye of the Tiger but sadly these days The Weeping Song is a more appropriate training anthem for me.
Why does exercise have to come with so much throbbing and pulling? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself over the past six weeks as I prepare for Run Melbourne. It never used to be like this. Growing up I conquered all surfaces; asphalt netball courts, corrugated footy grounds and pot-holed tennis courts without too much fuss. In 1984 I even dedicated my victory in the 100 metres on Sports Day to Zola Budd. By which I mean I ran barefoot – as far as I can remember I didn’t trip anyone up.
The truth is I’m putting myself through all this throbbing and pulling for a very good cause – to promote diabetes awareness, and in particular type 1 diabetes; also known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes the pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar), into energy. To survive, people with type 1 diabetes depend on up to four insulin injections a day and they must test their blood glucose levels several times a day.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet known but we do know it cannot be prevented. We also know that it has nothing to do with lifestyle and 10-15% of all cases of diabetes are type 1.
My sister Marina was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of ten. In those days we shared a bedroom and a love of Abba, The Bee Gees and Shaun Cassidy. We disagreed on Air Supply. I can recall Marina was always thirsty and would get up two or three times a night to go to the toilet. We later found out these were symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
After her diagnosis Marina spent the next two weeks in hospital to stabilize herself and learn how to inject insulin, first on an orange and then on her own body. A diligent straight “a” student she adapted to her new circumstances immediately with a level of maturity that blew us all away. Marina’s acceptance of her disease empowered all of us.
When she was diagnosed my family was told there would be a cure in five years. 33 years later nothing can be done to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes. For Marina, it’s not so much about her any more. It’s about future generations. “I hope there’s a cure for our children and grand children. That’s my wish.”
Today Marina is as diligent about her disease as the day she was diagnosed. The only difference is she uses an insulin pump worn on the outside of her body. She just punches in the numbers and it delivers a surge of insulin. The most difficult and nerve-wracking time for her was when she was pregnant. During both pregnancies she tested her blood glucose levels up to nine times a day to maintain good control. Without it, she risked foetal deformities.
I don’t need Paul the octopus to predict how I’ll be feeling after my 10km run tomorrow but the pain won’t compare to what Marina has been through. And this is what will be driving me on Sunday morning with perhaps
Eye of the Tiger thrown in for old time’s sake.