Diabetic marathoner pumped about running again

Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes would be a hard adjustment for anyone.

But in addition to learning how to handle her diet and having to take insulin injections, diabetes also took away one of Lindsay Gossack’s favorite hobbies.

Gossack, who ran cross country at C.M. Russell High School during her junior and senior years, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, in 2006 at the end of her senior year.

“It was hard news to get,” Gossack said. “I was diagnosed two weeks before sending off college decisions.”

Gossack initially used multiple daily injections to control her diabetes, a tricky way to keep her blood sugar consistent enough to exercise.

“I tried to continue running, but it was really difficult for me for awhile,” she said.

During her junior year at Seattle University, Gossack got an insulin pump, a portable device that delivers fast-acting insulin 24 hours a day. The device allowed Gossack to eliminate daily injections and also kept her blood sugar levels consistent enough to once again start running.

Since then, Gossack has finished two marathons, several half-marathons, shorter distance races, a duathlon and a 100-mile bike ride.

She was recently named a Medtronic Global Hero. Medtronic, the maker of her insulin pump, this year named 25 runners from across the globe who benefit from medical devices as Global Heroes. The runners received entry into the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon or Medtronic TC 10-Mile race, travel to Minnesota for themselves and a guest and a $1,000 grant to an associated patient organization.

Gossack, who still lives in Seattle, will travel to Minneapolis in October, along with her twin sister, who also ran cross country in high school, to compete in the 10-mile race.

Other global heroes include people who have pacemakers, stents and heart valve replacements.

“I’m really excited to meet all of the other people,” Gossack said.

Getting back into running was scary for Gossack.

Her attempts at exercise while using injections were disastrous, she said. When using injections, Gossack had to plan 24 hours in advance if she wanted to go for a run because her exercise would determine how much insulin to give herself.

“That was really frustrating,” she said.

Gossack’s insulin pump has made it easier to control her blood sugar, but running still takes extra planning.

“It’s still a struggle,” she said. “My blood sugar numbers can vary greatly.”

Anytime Gossack runs for more than an hour, she takes her glucose monitor along to test her blood sugar. Both her marathons took about five hours to complete.

“I think I tested by blood sugar about seven times,” she said.

Even though running is more complicated than it used to be, it’s still brings Gossack a sense of enjoyment.

“I really enjoy running because it might not be fun to do, but when I’m done with a run, I have a really good feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “It’s a really good time for me to clear my mind. It’s very meditative for me.”

Gossack currently works as a lab technician at the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute. She plans to attend school to become a physician assistant, a career path inspired by her own experience with diabetes.

Gossack’s next athletic goal is to do a triathlon.

“A half Ironman is definitely doable,” she said.