Lessons from Writing The Marathon We Live: Training For a Personal Best in Life With Type 1 Diabetes

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The day after graduating from college in May 2015, one of my mentors, Dr. Ickes, had a final assignment: I was to submit an outline for The Marathon We Live: Training for a Personal Best in Life with Type 1 Diabetes...a book I pledged to write before starting medical school. I thought it would be like writing a college essay, but a bit longer. After making the outline, I would follow through linearly one section at a time and then tweak as needed. I estimated that with hard work, this process would take around 3-6 months. 

As I tried (unsuccessfully) to rip an entire 180-page draft about nine months later, I realized how naïve that actually was. When I started to research and write, my outline changed. Many, many times. So did my target audience. So did my title. So did my tone. In fact, everything about every book I looked at changed. There was formatting. Font. Margins. Referencing. Images. Acknowledgements. Forewards. And beyond all of that, how was I supposed to get this thing published? 

"Overwhelming" would have been an understatement. The rotten cherry on top was that I didn't actually like anything I had written. This was one of my dreams. A bucket-list item like the Boston Marathon. I had the passion and perseverance, but felt as though I had come to a dead end. 3-6 months suddenly turned to 3-6 years...or never.

Two and a half years and an estimated 2,600 hours later, I am somehow holding this book in my hands. It hasn't quite sunken in that things actually worked out. That I really like the final product. But what I do know is that there was a turning point in the writing process: I stopped writing based on what I thought other people would want to hear. What made the book special was my perspective...what had resonated most in my own care? What lessons did I find most helpful...and which did I need reminding of on a daily basis?

Using this approach, the words started flowing. 180 pages of useless, boring sentences became 120 pages of meaningful, interesting writing that actually sounded like something that would come out of my mouth. And why reinvent the wheel? Getting advice from other people in the diabetes world who had written books before was extremely helpful. The process became more clear and so did my goals. I aimed to surprise my mom with a hard copy of the book's proof for Christmas (see video at right). It happened. And it was awesome. 

Through the grace of God, this dream has become a reality. I learned so much from writing and am excited to share the book with the diabetes community. Even if it inspires only one person, the process of writing and every experience behind the words will have been worth it.

A description of the book can be found here. Each copy of The Marathon We Live: Training for a Personal Best in Life with Type 1 Diabetes benefits the Every Step Counts Scholarship Program. If you or someone you know is an incoming or current undergraduate student with T1D, the application can be found here. 

I am still an avid runner and will be running the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018. Training updates can be followed via Instagram, or later on this blog. If you are running Boston (or just love running) as well, please feel free to connect

Your support and time to read this post means the world. As always, thank you.