Saturday, November 26, 2011

Make Sure it's Inspiring

As we near the end of November, I am reminded that besides being a month focused on turkey, leftover turkey (and even some pardoned turkeys) some extra days off and giving Thanks, I cannot forget that this is also diabetes awareness month.

The 'I Challenge Diabetes' race team at the Canadian Death Race

An excellent time to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control. With nearly 26 million children and adults in America living with diabetes, and another 79 million at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the disease is taking a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on our country.

Pumps Rock at the No Limits Sitka Sound Adventure Swim post swim dinner

Yet, most Americans don't consider diabetes a serious matter. They feel it is someone else's responsibility; someone else's problem. That someone else, just happens to include me. I am one of the 26 million. That bit of news hit me 36-ish years ago. I had rocket high blood sugar (in the 500+ range), felt like I was in the walking dead club and got that very unwelcome news that I not only had diabetes but I somehow am striving for extra credit, with Type 1 diabetes, a lifetime chronic disease.

This tidal wave of news had a deep impact on me, of course, but also touched the core of the Nevins family. This disease would affect each member in the family in different ways. I am forever thankful for my loving and adaptable family and the support they have showered me with.

Our film, created on a kayak adventure, to inspire others

It made all the difference.

Receiving the Reifenstuhl Award for promoting community wellness

"Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it's inspiring."
~Lorrin L. Lee

I stumbled across this quote during late night Facebook manuevers. Life with diabetes has been a challenge but it has also been a truly amazing ride. I have chosen to chase and spread "inspiration".

Make sure you do the same.

Our sky diving event

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grinding Up Mt. Hamel

Grinding Up Mt. Hamel

This is Canada:
  • Really good people reside here. Jaime said it best, "Canadians aren't faking, they really ARE that nice"
  • Overuse of the term eh!
  • An obsession with hockey, curling and Tim Horton's.  Tim Horton's website sadly informs me that I am 253.5 miles from the nearest Tim Horton's (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory)
  • Creation of some rather cruel races
  • Home to the Canadian Death Race

    My feet on Canadian soil, I was headed off to one of my more unique adventures.  The Canadian Death Race is set on a stunningly beautiful course.  The wilderness of Canada, the lofty mountains, glassy blue lakes and a thick blanket of forest just screams, Adventure!  The race is 125 kilometers and touches the sky while summiting three peaks.  Using the conversion factor, a kilometer equals: extremely hilly, muddy and pain to follow.  Using the complex conversion factor indicates that rain is a must.  Eh!!!

I Challenge Diabetes - Team Shot

The route from the start line to our sleeping bags back at Tent City would scramble our two teams of 5 and two solo runners over hill and dale.  Hill would be the insufficient, lacking term, that really means mountains,  lofty peaks that this race makes no effort to avoid.  The 3 summits tagged in the death race equate to over 17,000 feet of elevation gain

Dale (Tuck) would be the race founder and C.E.O. of Canadian Institute of Extreme Racing.  With a title like that, and the creation of an event known as the Death Race, need I say more?

Starting the trek up Mt. Hamel

I was racing on the "I Challenge Diabetes" team.  This is an organization created by Chris Jarvis (a Canadian Olympic Rower with Type 1 diabetes)  for people with Type 1 diabetes.  We had 2 relay teams of 5 and 2 solo racers.  A truly amazing group of people.  Inspiration has a home.  We were here to inspire others with diabetes and to continue living the adventure that defines who we were.   We had cool race shirts and we had diabetes and we were soon to become death racers.... 

 I was on the 4th leg of the race and had much of the day to rivet into race mode.  I went over my vital, required gear list, my recommended gear list, and my necessary diabetes items. Prepared for most everything except a Moose attack, I was off to the transition zone.

A team that planks together....Igor!

Late afternoon, the first drops fell from the heavens.  Within a few minutes, Marco completed leg 3 with a hand off of the official timing chip and race coin.  That coin would be payment for Anne's shuttle across the Hell's Gate Canyon, at the confluence of the Smokey and Sulphur Rivers.  I am guessing that the ferryman is not in a very pleasant mode if you arrive without the required coin.
Game time and off I rambled. To work for a magical view means that you climb like hell.  I would have about 5,000 feet of gain within 6 miles, before I reached  the top of Mt. Hamel.  It was quite the grind but  well worth it.  There were even nice Canadians running, hiking and crawling along the route.  Suffering, but still nice.
One of my favorite quotes from the race came from Heather when she shared to the team one of our experiences.....that you all got to experience a real "Albertan summer" (rain, sun, wind, cold, sort of warm all within the same hour).  I lived the Albertan summer experience only to find that the experience would evolve into 5+ more hours of rain

                                                       Grand Cache from Mt. Hamel

I was running well as I headed down Hamel.  A heinous climb meant that there had better be a long, long downhill.  Unbelieveable sights as we wove our way down the rugged terrain.  Hamel Loop conquered, I zagged past the aid station and loaded up on H20 and began the last 6 miles to the end of this leg.  Inventory time:  H20 - check, food - check, working headlight - ok, not really, so I pulled out headlight #2 - check, trekking poles ------------------------trekking poles - uncheck.  Yea dude, the expensive trekking poles you borrowed.  Back up the hill to the aid station for poles and evidently to make up some wild dream that I needed more mileage on top of about 23 already. 

For lack of a way to verbalize that sound that a insulin pump makes when it is not happy and there are issues, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, you get the idea.  I had a dead pump and deader than dead continous glucose monitor system.  Error message on the pump informed me that it was now retired and  the latest victim of the 'death' race.  Thank goodness that I was within about 1 hour of finishing and that I was spending my weekend with a bunch of people with type 1 diabetes, and extra pumps. 

Time chip and race coin handed off to Anne, rain crashing down, mud pits beginning to swallow runners whole.  It was near midnight, I was cold, soggy wet, blood sugar was creeping upward  and I knew that this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You must live in the present...

"You Must Live in the Present"

picture that Trever gave me after the kayak trip

A large framed picture adorns my cluttered office space. It is the picture above, while three kayak warriors camped at beautiful DeGroff Bay, during our amazing 2010 No Limits Destination Alaska Sea Kayak Expedition. Those who know me, probably know that I plant inspirational and meaningful images in my living and work areas. This surprising gift was compliments of wisdom from Henry David Thoreau and the kind thoughtfulness and checkbook of fellow kayaker, bungee jumper, adventurer and card carrying diabetic, Trever Alters. Trev joined guide Scott Harris (Latitude Adventures) and myself on the kayak journey that took us into some secluded waters of Alaska.

Trev and I had crossed paths, amazingly, through bungee jumping when my casa resided in Boise, Idaho. He understands that people with diabetes can lead incredible and adventurous lives. And he lives and breathes it (scuba diving in Puerto Rico in two weeks is another confirmation!). He was a key component to No Limits and our many unique events. Bungee jump and sky diving fund raisers, an adventure racing team, rock climbing, ultramarathons, it was a grand time. Henry David Thoreau sought to rise above common thought and ideas. He would have smiled at our lifestyles.

While I was stoked to receive a lasting memory of our incredible 4 day kayak journey near Sitka, Alaska, it was the Henry David Thoreau quote that made the gift primo.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your element in each moment".

perfect. Thanks Trev.

Trever in Nakwasina Sound

A very non-scientific ratio that is in my notes from the trip and which I cannot prove or disprove, but I had noted that this year's weather was 234% better than the 09 trip of weather horror. Yes, we survived in 2009 and a bloody well yes, we had a good time but Miss Mother Nature was beasty at times.

This year the animals came out to play. Lots of them. This is Alaska! The critter log:

Grizzly Bears - 4

Eagles - vast quantity

Harbor Seal - at least 1

Mink - 1

Commorants - ok I am not a bird person so don't know the count

Porpoise- 1

Sea Lions - a few of the big guys

Jelly Fish - enough for any horror film

Jelly fish touch contest - many close encounters

Trever explores the Neoga near Hallack Point

I set up the video cam to allow each person an opportunity to share their thoughts on the trip, life, diabetes, current girl fiascos, etc. It was just the cam and their thoughts meeting on the shore as daylight slowly faded.

Much after the trip, life settled a bit and I made way to view the footage collected from an excursion awash with excellent company, stories and many kodak moments.

Before the trip, Trever had shared that he was excited about kayaking and that he had wanted to come visit me and to see the Last Frontier. I knew that he had just returned from a trip from Hawaii and in the back of my mind I was slightly jealous of a summer that included Hawaii and Alaska. Little did I know....

As darkness crept foward and the sea slowly lapping the shoreline of DeGroff Bay, Trev would share his angle on life as a person with diabetes, Alaska, etc. The footage rolled forward but Trev took a left turn from his usual fun, optimistic, humorous mood. He would bare his emotions as he dug deep to share the recent loss of his brother Nate. Nate had been hit by a car on March 18, 2010. Trever had planned on visiting him in Hawaii in May or June but that would never happen. He made the trip despite Nate's passing, as a memorial. He spent most of his time in Hawaii hanging out with Drew, Nate's closest friend. The Alaska trip was good timing for Trev as he had to deal with Nate's death amongst other circumstances that made the year a challenge. It is my guess that Trever did not want to share the tough details of what he was going through so that it would not hover or drag down our trip.

My heart fell.

Photo by Scott Harris

In the 35 miles of sea that we paddled through, we explored a shipwreck, went snorkeling, beachcombing, exploring, ate some incredible feasts created by Scott, our great cook/guide, compiled footage for a future film, saw animals galore, managed to get growled at by a bear, tree climbing and absorbing information on diabetes and the great outdoors, in a classroom called Alaska.

We did our best at living in the present....

launching ourselves on every wave.......

finding our element in each moment..... May it continue for a life time.

Scott and I are working on our the next expedition which will be July 16-19 (with a possible extension to July 21). If you are interested and have diabetes or are involved in diabetes care please consider joining us. Contact me at

L to R - me, Scott Harris, Trever Alters at DeGroff Bay ps- Trever is living in the present as he spent this last weekend in remembering Nate. He traveled to Boise, Idaho to unite with family and friends as it was the 1 year anniversary of the accident.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Inspiration, Caving, and a Montrail hat

Inspiration, Caving, and a Montrail Hat

Inspiration to write can come from many sources. Usually an approaching deadline seems to encourage me to slap words onto a page. A buzzing due date forces me to put on the writing cap (currently a Montrail hat worn backwards). These ugly deadlines seem to arrive when I am at my busiest, laziest or least creative status. Or to make my life way more interesting; all of the factors come together to create the perfect storm. But deadlines do work. I am basically dead with lines to put on blank pieces of paper. I was dwelling at the minimum allowable quota of writing inspiration so when PBS aired a program about caving onto the airways, I was inspired.

I spent many years living in Tucson, Arizona, just a hop, skip and a rappel, from a screamingly large amount of passageways that see very little traffic. I often dwell on the crazy trips we made. I still have planted in my mind my second journey into the depths, suspended about 20 feet above the cave floor, working my way along a ledge that was so small that we were jamming our knees into the jagged limestone wall, inching along the wall with each handhold I could secure. This was at the beginning of one of the most spectacular and technical caves in Arizona.

Clinging to walls, zipper tight passages, technical ropework and 15 hour journeys into the bowels of the earth were not the norm. Most trips were for the faint of heart, hanging out with great friends and exploring. Exploration took us along the ridges of limestone looking for any place that a “normal” human being would rather avoid. The true highlight of our caving world was finding caves that we did not know about. A few of these had never been entered or had only entertained a few lucky souls. We exercised extreme caution in this delicate world of speleothems. A speleo universe of soda straws, cave pearls, stalactites, stalacmites, flowstone, baconstrips, columns, cave popcorn and helictites.

Having T1 diabetes and spending vast amounts of time in the underground arena are not what the doctor or the parents recommend. I hit the subterranean zone well prepared with xtra food, sugar cubes, glucagon, insulin/syringes (for myself and a set for someone else to carry), blood glucose monitor and I shuffled some cubes/food to others in the party. I give many diabetes 101 speeches to alert those who were in the adventure zone.
What an amazing time in life!

Tina Carson on rappel