This past weekend I went to Tucson, Arizona. As some of you know I was recently added to the Team Type 1 Woman's cycling team. You might also know that I was (and still am) so totally stoked about this. Like bouncing off the walls while giggling and drooling kind of stoked. The entire TT1 family flew down to Arizona from all over the world to spend the weekend in a seriously up-scale desert resort. It was out of this world. Especially for a Canadian gal who's never even really seen a real cactus outside of the tropical plant section at the nursery. I mean, this place was so phenomenal it literally took my breath away. The scenery and the resort were both completely idyllic.
It started out Scully style to boot. I arrived at the airport and could see TT1 logos all over the place. I stood there waiting for my luggage as I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I munched on a few crackers thinking that would keep it at bay. The moment I get into the minibus (with 4 others) I had to whip out my glucose tablets. It was at that moment with a glucose tab in each cheek that 2 others started offering me things. I was deliriously happy and comfortable at the same time. Damn I love people who "get it".
The time went fast and the hours were jam packed the entire time. After arriving late Friday afternoon and making my way through the resort to my room I took a short walk around. I needed to take in some of this landscape in whatever way possible. I met my room mate and to be honest, I was a bit floored and honoured. About half the team are returning girls and the other half are brand spanking new. I got to room with Anne. I have been using Anne's training schedule as reference so I know she is a power house and a force not to be reckoned with on a bike. I feel pretty inferior to the girls with big cycling experience and I was really excited to be roomed with one of the girls I look up to. Thanks for the little walk among the cacti Anne!
I got to finally meet Kori Seehafer, the woman's team coach and retired pro racer at the top level! This woman knows her stuff and it's an honour to have her coach me. I can only hope to become half the athlete she is. I met the rest of the woman's team both new and returning athletes. Everybody is so great and I was glad to see that I wasn't the only girl giddy as all hell to be there. I really enjoyed meeting them all and now having faces to put with the names to the never-ending hilarious emails about nail polish and khakis. :)
Imagine this, 150 type 1 diabetics in one place. Imagine, 150 type 1 diabetic ATHLETES in one place. There aren't a lot of words that can accurately describe the intensity of the bond this delivers. I mean, I've been around the diabetic block now a few times. I am not new to being around other T1's. I have great real life friends that I've met through my blog and Connected in Motion and I wouldn't change it for the world. Diabetics are some of the best people I've ever met. There is just something about sharing this disease (yes, it IS a disease) and all the constant struggles that come along with it, with lots of other people. You can't help but instantly bond with these folks.
This shit is for real!
Anne and Mark
Becca and Daniel enjoying some general hilarity.
After picking up our new clothes and drooling all over the place because I was so excited, we all spent some time taking in a TT1 info session. I remember thinking, "This is it, I am going to be complete!"
The following day was mayhem. We all attended hours of seminars and meetings. I learned more about TT1 then I had ever imagined. The goals and direction of the organization and how they are all so passionate about getting out there and spreading the TT1 word. More races, more sponsors, more everything! It was really encouraging and exciting.
We had individual and team photos done by professional photographers. I've never sat in that "seat" before and I'm pretty sure I seemed awkward. I found everything very enthralling. I really enjoyed listening to all that they had to say. What I learned the most, beyond anything was that I am a part of something HUGE. I had no idea what I was getting into. None, what-so-ever. This is far beyond my wildest dreams. I am a part of something so influential, inspiration and motivational that I can't even begin to imagine where this will go.
I had an hour or so to kill before the big evening event. There was no choice about it, I had to find a quiet place. I have a lot of anxiety, there is nothing new about that. I was overjoyed with the landscape and scenery too as I've never been to Arizona. Add to that being totally and completely overwhelmed with TT1 joy that I can barely contain myself and I was a recipe for disaster. I took a walk and found a really serene rock in the middle of the resort golf course. I sat there for awhile talking to myself (out loud of course). How did I get here? How did I get involved with this? Just what the fuck is my purpose? I couldn't understand how something so big could happen to me and I had to talk myself down from an anxiety induced precipice. I was filled with so much happiness it was pouring out of my ears. I am the token Canadian (myself and one other guy from Montreal) and wonder just how I can spread the TT1 word up here in Canada. After my talk, I began to understand a little bit better.
Saturday night was a royal event. I got to meet Phil's mom Joanna, some members of the pro team and what seemed like an endless amount of awesome people all across the organization! I was sick with exhaustion but so utterly grateful for these folks even though they insisted I stay up till midnight to celebrate my birthday. I went to bed that night very late but with very little care because I had the time of my life. My mouth hurt from smiling. My belly hurt from laughing. My throat hurt from talking so much. I couldn't have asked for anything else!
The man of the hour. Founder and pro cyclist Phil Sutherland. When asked "In one word what would you say when I say the word diabetes?"
His answer? "AWESOME" while throwing his hands up in the air.
His speeches are genuine. This man was born to inspire! I sat there after he walked off the stage almost with tears in my eyes. ALMOST. He fills the room with incredible energy with his presence.
The men's pro team
Marcus accepting his Amateur Athlete of the Year award. YOU deserved it Marcus! The standing ovation we gave you was real.
I thought I was joining a cycling team that happened to be big on diabetes advocacy. I thought I'd be riding with a TT1 jersey. I thought I'd be sponsored and get some races paid for. I thought I'd have access to a world class coach and it would help me grow into a strong cyclist. What I didn't realize is that jersey represents a world of opportunities. A family that I belong to all striving for the same thing. A community of diabetic athletes fighting to prove that we can do anything.
I came away from that weekend with a bigger heart. A more full heart. I feel like I truly belong to something bigger than life. This is something that is so near and dear to me as I have slowly let diabetes into my life as a partner instead of something I was spending every day resenting. You can't help but fall in love with all those diabetic athletes! We were all there for a similar purpose. To prove that this thing called diabetes is what makes us so strong. Exercise and diabetes are quite lethal together, this is not anything new. It takes a very determined and disciplined person to run and cycle and train for things. It takes even more to manage it with diabetes. I'm sorry, but only diabetics will get that!
I know there is plenty more that I wish to write but then this post would be as long as Phil Sutherland's book ;).
All I know is how I feel. I am honoured to be a part of this team. I am HONOURED to think that I might be able to instill hope and inspiration into someone else the way TT1 has for me.
From the TT1 website,
DREAM . ACHIEVE. INSPIRE
LIVING WITH DIABETES
To all the folks I met, THANK YOU!