Team Type 1 Athlete Tom Kingery

Tom Kingery is a seasoned marathon runner, triathlete,  and four time Ironman finisher.  He also has Type 1 diabetes.  As a member of Team Type 1, Tom and his teammates inspire those affected by diabetes and show that with the proper diabetes management and care, anything is possible.  We caught up with Tom to learn more about Team Type 1 and how managing his Type 1 diabetes has helped him live healthier and made him a better athlete.

How did you initially become involved with Team Type 1 Sanofi and what motivated you to do so?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 28 years old.  At the time, I was training for my seventh marathon and just starting to dabble in triathlon.  I thought that my athletic career was over with the diagnosis – I just didn’t know enough about the disease at the time.  I luckily had a great doctor who encouraged me to keep chasing my athletic goals.  I quickly learned that I could still compete despite the diagnosis and I wanted to share this belief with others who may be struggling with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes actually helped me learn more about my body and I found that I was actually getting better at the sports I loved, simply by being more aware of my blood sugar levels and living an even healthier lifestyle than I was before.  I became involved with my local diabetes association--fund raising, speaking and putting on events like the 4 Miles 4 Diabetes run, in hopes to show others with Type 1 diabetes that it doesn’t have to be a limiter.  In 2007, after completing my first Ironman,  I was contacted by Matt Vogel who was a member of Team Type 1.  He was starting the new Team Type 1 Triathlon Team and wanted to see if I was interested in joining.  After talking about my past and my goals for the future and how they aligned with the team’s mission, I happily joined the team.

When you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, did you believe that this type of athleticism was still possible?  If not, what changed your mind and how did you go about managing this disease while being an athlete?

No, I definitely thought that I would not be able to keep up the level of athleticism that I had been accustomed to.  I certainly didn’t know any athletes with the disease.  But after talking to my endocrinologist, I felt encouraged that I could do everything that I was doing prior to my diagnosis. To be honest, it took some time to figure out how my body responded to running, biking, and swimming in regard to my diabetes, but I found that living a healthy lifestyle actually made it easier to control my blood sugar levels.  I needed less insulin when I worked out, I could treat the famous “bonk” that so many people experience (which I came to find out is really just your blood sugar dropping), and I was much more aware of what my body was doing during my training and racing by monitoring my blood sugar.  I actually feel like diabetes has helped me become a better athlete.

What is the most rewarding part about being a part of Team Type 1?

Easily, the most rewarding thing about being on Team Type 1 Sanofi is being able to reach out to others with diabetes and hopefully inspire them chase their dreams, despite the setback of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  All of the athletes on Team Type 1 are a testament that with appropriate diet, exercise, treatment and technology, anyone living with diabetes can achieve their dreams.  The athletes of Team Type 1 are also a daily motivation to me in my athletic and professional life. With my teammates I have completed numerous marathons, five Ironman triathlon competitions, was a part of two winning Race Across America cycling teams where we set the current world record for fastest time across the country in just 5 days, 9 hours and 5 minutes. Most recently, ten of us from the newly formed Team Type 1 Running Team ran in a non-stop relay from San Diego to New York City in a 3,000 mile Run Across America. These accomplishments are only possible with a positive attitude, a belief in yourself and careful attention to diabetes management. To share the incredible stories of Team Type 1 athletes and their successes, with children, and even adults who are struggling with or the physical, social, or mental side of diabetes management, and to see the positive change occur is the most fulfilling experience.

Can you tell us a little bit about the run across America?  What did completing this monumental race mean to you and Team Type 1?

In late October 2011, 10 members of the Team Type 1 Sanofi running program started a 3,000 mile journey in San Diego, CA with the mission of running across the country and ending on World Diabetes Day (November 14th) in New York City.  This was the first time that anyone, let alone a group of Type 1 diabetics had run relay style across the country.  We ran 24 hours a day for 15 days (which averaged out to about a marathon a day for each of the us).  There were a lot of challenges – injuries, blizzards, wild animals, changes of strategy for recovery and speed, etc.  It was definitely a “learn-as-you-go” process since it had never been done before.  We had ten guys who are all phenomenal athletes, dedicated to the Team Type 1 mission of instilling hope and inspiration in people around the world affected by diabetes.  We accomplished an amazing feat that most people can’t fathom, and we all did it while managing diabetes! It is true, that people with diabetes can accomplish anything, and in many cases do it faster!

What does the future hold for the TT1 running team?

2012 is going to be an exciting year for the Team Type 1 SANOFI.  We’ve added a few new members, two of whom have competed in the Olympic trials, a triathlete, Sebastien Sasseville who not only has completed many  Ironman triathlons but also has summated Mt. Everest .  We have two guys, Ryan Jones and Jon Obst, competing in the Leadville 100 Mile running race this year as well as a 24 hour run in Cleveland in May!  Judging by the amazing talent on the Team Type 1 cycling teams, triathlon team and running team, I anticipate a lot podium finishes and victories in 2012!

To learn more about Team Type 1, please visit TeamType1.org!

Tags: type 1,type 2,Type 2 diabetes,type 1 diabetes,Team Type 1,triathalon,Race Across America,Team Type 1 SANOFI

Category: Interviews