Sage Donnelly Show Notes

0:02 / 41:12

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 7 - Sage Donnelly



Sam Benger

Published on Sep 17, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete Sage Donnelly. A diagnosis of T1D at age 3 did nothing to slow down Donnelly as she grew up skiing, rock climbing, and being incredibly active, but she found her calling in kayaking. Now a Jr. Freestyle World Champion, Donnelly has her sights set on the Olympics. Join us today for a powerful story of positivity in the face of adversity.



what's up everybody Sam bender here

welcome back and for our first time

listeners welcome to the game plant t1d

podcast for today's episode I was lucky

enough to be able to sit down with

junior freestyle kayak world champ and

Olympic hopeful sage Donnelly we covered

a number of important and fascinating

topics during our talk today and I'm

excited to share it with you before we

get started I just wanted to highlight

we have a new I have a game plan blog

series which highlights athletes of all

levels and is another fantastic

spotlight on t1d all-stars who are just

crushing it right now these articles are

written by the athletes themselves so it

gives an authentic look into their life

with diabetes Joe give the articles a

look on the game plan t1d website

sometime soon so without any further ado

please enjoy my conversation with sage

Donnelly all right well with that

welcome to the game plan to und podcast

I'm your host Sam bender we have a great

conversation coming up today that I'm

super excited for with us on the show

today we have stage donnelly sage how

are you doing I'm good how are you doing

fantastic so for our audience members

who haven't done a little bit of

background research on you like I have

kind of talked to us about just what

your background is as a diabetic athlete

well I was diagnosed with type 1

diabetes when I was 3 years old which

was the same age as my grandpa so we

kind of thought coming a little bit and

then I started whitewater kayaking in a

two-person boat with my dad when I was 2

and sort of running rivers in my own

boat when I was 5 those kind of raised

doing that as well and I've just been

super outdoors in my whole life I

started rock climbing before I can

remember skiing and then when I was 7 I

started competing and kayaking and kind

of decided to switch more towards that

and now that's pretty much all I do yeah

if you guys want to be just blown away

by a diabetic athlete who is crushing it

right now go check out sages Instagram

and she

has some just crazy stuff posted on

there I was looking through there

briefly before we go I'm on the call and

you got a particular run I think in

North Carolina posted where it's just

this looks like a 10 or 15 foot drop not

a river I guess to get to that point you

got to start young to be helping to be

okay with with drops like that but talk

to us a little bit about getting started

I was reading on your site that not only

are you an avid kayaker but you also do

stand-up paddleboarding rock climbing

you were skiing double diamonds at the

age of five apparently was this do you

think a result of your family saying

okay you were diagnosed at age three we

want to make sure you're active and

that's going to be sort of an effort to

combat the diabetes or was it just

naturally something that you were really

passionate about and that your family

was really passionate about well you

know honestly I think it was more of

like we're not going to let diabetes

stop us from being active because we've

just been my parents were super active

they actually met rock climbing learned

how to kite for their honeymoon so

they've been super active their whole

life as well and then they just kind of

were raising me just doing that like

they were and then that was kind of

thrown at us and we just rolled with it

I mean I don't obviously remember very

much of it at first because those three

but we just rolled with it and kind of

made it work and just kept being active

and doing what we love mmm in stage

talked about doing skiing doing rock

climbing doing these different things

how was it that kayaking kind of became

your central focus in in main passion

going forward as an athlete oh that's a

hard question I'm not really sure I mean

I just kind of fell in love with it like

I said I started at a super young age

and there's just this amazing feeling

you get from going down like I mean when

I was younger I wasn't doing super hard

stuff but uh I'm just going down a river

going over waves and my family made it

always like a family event like when I

was super young up in Reno my dad and I

would go up just by ourselves we would

actually bike our own shuttles

so we would leave the car at the bottom

of the

Riverrun and then weed he would run and

I would bike up to the top where gear

was waiting we'd lock the bike up and

then we'd paddle down and drive back up

to get it so it was always just super

fun just something I always really

looked forward to and then at one point

was like that I want to learn how to

roll my boat back up right that was when

I was about six turning seven and then

after that I was like well I can roll

now so I might as well start competing

pretty much because I'd always wanted to

do it like we had gone to Colorado for a

couple years in a row just watching the

competitions there and then doing our

own just fun kayaking

I was also chosen there's a used to be a

system for the Reno River Festival where

you would paddle with the pros so they

would select like four people to paddle

with some pro kayakers and kind of learn

how to kayak better and to compete in

the Reno River Festival so I was

selected for that I think that was

actually my first freestyle competition

so it's like pretty much gymnastics in

the water while we're surfing a wave and

after that it just kind of took off

those like and I really like your

feeding I love doing this like I want to

learn how to front flip and then I just

kept wanting to learn more and more and

here I have this that's amazing yeah so

try to try to level with our audience

for a second here because my only

experience kayaking outside of on like a

very still body of water is I tried to

take my kayak out in the ocean one time

when I was like flipped and hit me in

the head and I was crying so how was

there any ever fear when you were

getting started you know what we talked

about these like massive drops that

you're doing and stuff like that was

there any ever fear and getting started

or trepidation or was it always like

bring on that that was the next class of

like a lot of fear my dad my dad has

worked with me there's so much of just

like standing at the top of a rapid

looking at it and just being super

scared because I mean there are

consequences of course to everything but

one of our rules was or my parents rules

and they never put me on something that

I didn't have the skills for so I was

always like ahead in my skill level like

I knew I could do it but it also is

scary because you know if you do mess it

up there could be consequences but it

was always a super safe environment

set safety my dad would actually break

it down for me so it was like a rapid we

break it into like sections they're like

okay so what's the worst thing that's

going to happen here

well I'll flip and what's going to

happen I'll roll up and then after that

and you kind of realize okay that's the

worst that can happen it got a lot

easier and then I'd eventually just like

okay I'm running it and I go but I mean

there was definitely a lot of standing

around talking about it being scared and

working through it of course that I mean

and I mean I still get scared like I've

hunted some Big Rapids and the bigger

they are the more consequences there are

and you just kind of have to either go

okay I want to run this or you know what

maybe today is not my day and I mean

it's just picking your paddles and

deciding if you're feeling it or not and

if you're not feeling it it's it's okay

to not do it of course but I mean I

usually end up doing it just because

it's so fun and I want to but yeah yeah

the deceleration Trump's the fear but

actually just about a week ago watch

this awesome video where this little

girl she must not have been older than

my eight or ten did this massive

downhill ski jump

so it shows her at the top and she's

like alright here we go it was her first

time they bumped up like from a 20 foot

jumped like a 40 foot jump and it it's

out of that same thing where it's like

if you can be realistic about what's the

worst that can actually happen she's

like it's just like and you the video

shows her talking to herself before she

goes just like it's just like a 20 foot

jump but just a little bit longer so

it's really about how you frame the

challenge that you're going into I think

this is really the perfect segue into

talking about your diabetes diagnosis

and we've talked about you getting

started with kayaking and competing in

that talk to us about how you were

getting started as a competitor but at

the same time managing that additional

burden of being a diabetic yeah so my

parents kind of raised me after I was

diagnosed to kind of just not really

treat it as a burden it just treated as

part of life on investment quality I try

to keep still to this day and I mean it

does get hard obviously like I'll have

training sessions where I get super low

and I won't be able to move pretty much

and all office

which is super frustrating and stuff

like that but I mean I've always just

kind of thought of it as something that

just makes me stronger and I've never

let it stop me from reaching my goals I

mean we just take extra precautions

obviously like we always have juice

around when I'm training or competing

we're constantly checking my blood sugar

I beseech EMS we're always looking at

that and making sure the numbers are

correct and I mean it's a lot of

preparation but like I said it's just

it's just part of my life and I don't

like to think of it this burden I really

think that's the the correct frame of

mind and mindset to approach type 1

diabetes with so I just turned 23 just

graduated college and I think I'm just

now starting to appreciate how diabetes

can be advantageous from not only mental

resilience and strength standpoint but

you know being part of the the larger

t1d community as well I think has

benefits but it sounds like you from a

young age been raised to to look at your

diabetes as something that makes you

stronger was that always the case and

talk about how you were able to kind of

reframe or frame from the start your

diabetes in a positive light well I mean

I think it was honestly kind of easier

for me to frame it in a positive light

because I was diagnosed so young so my

parents instantly which is like okay

this is good

we're fine we've got this and just like

constantly building me up and so like I

said I don't really remember a whole lot

when I was diagnosed just remember the

needles but I mean that's just kind of

always the mentality we've taken and I

mean when you're diagnosed so young it's

a lot you didn't do that but I mean even

to this day I still have like hard time

it's definitely a really bad feeling to

have to stop a training session

especially in slalom whitewater kayaking

which is the sport I'm going for the

going up trying to go for in the 2020

Olympics we only have one hour training

slots allotted to us so if you get low

in one of those it's pretty much your

training sessions done and I mean I've

had a few breakdowns during that when I

get low and I have to stop and eat and

drink and it's not a great feeling but

you kind of just have to take a step

back and go like I'm still training and

working my butt off

with this disease and I'm not letting it

stop me and that automatically just

makes me ten times better than a normal

person just doing this so you kind of

have to it sounds really arrogant but

you come out to build yourself up a

little bit you know absolutely I

understand where you're coming from with

the frustration and my senior year our

training staff and I was I played

college football but if I was below 80

during a game I would have to sit out 15


oh-ho and there's also a football game

and you know you're like man I just want

to get back out there but at the same

time it's ultimately for our safety

exactly similar similar to usage I was

diagnosed when I was five years old so I

I do remember that the syringes as well

in the shots but um I didn't know

anything other than being a diabetic

growing up and I think that is

definitely advantageous because I was

just focus it was you know this is life

for me but type one diabetes the average

age of diagnosis I've heard recently is

14 years old so I think both of us have

have learned just by growing up and as a

result of the age of our diagnosis we

can you know appreciate how we're we're

better for having diabetes but for

someone that's diagnosed at that average

age say 14 15 years old do you have any

tips for them say John on how they can

work to appreciate diabetes and not look

at it as a burden I mean it's definitely

hard but try to be consistent in just

correcting your mindset like every time

you're like oh I can't do this right

because my diabetes just say no you know

what I can't do this if I prepare

correctly and I set things up correctly

I can do this and you know sometimes and

we'll work out sometimes you'll go too

low sometimes to go too high when it

gets to that point you just have to take

a deep breath and say you know what I am

doing what I love and just because I

have this disease doesn't mean that it's

going to stop me you just got to kind of

roll with it and just do your best and

there's going to be times where it feels

awful I have your body wants to just

stop but you just have to push through

it like I said just really being

consistent and just not letting it stop

you and trying to keep as positive as

you can I definitely

agree with that and I think when we're

talking about framing your diabetes it's

not just like this flip that switches

and I think that might be a

misconception that some people have and

they're like well I just can't flip that

switch and appreciate what I'm dealing

with with you know the highs and lows

that come with diabetes but I think for

me it's it's really about small

victories and I actually just read a

book recently it's called bright spots

and landmines by Adam Brown and he's a

diabetic and he talks about different

small actionable steps that people can

take to frame their pot their diabetes

in a positive light and one of the big

things he talked about is numbers and I

think numbers are such a can be an

emotional touch point where if if you're

not on a CGM and you're doing finger

sticks and you check and you're like I

was feeling good but I was 250 and then

you're like oh man 250 what did I do to

mess this up what is this doing for my

long-term health and you can kind of

spiral down but what Adam talks about in

his book is just take a number for what

it is if you're 250 correct to bring

yourself down into range and don't

attach any emotional baggage to that

number is that something that you that

sort of resonates with you

that's definitely resonates with me

that's a really good idea actually I

kind of do that but I don't realizing it

but now that you say that that actually

is really smart and yeah I mean it is

hard to do that of course but my whole

way that I try to take any part of my

mental side if it's diabetes or

competing is just consistency like

consistently reminding yourself to be

positive and that's a big team and I

have to do in my life but I'm getting

better at it so mm-hmm

yeah it's definitely even I think even

for us you know there are days when you

struggle obviously and it's not it's not

all good it's not all bad but it's a

process like you said as long as you can

be consistent in and kind of ring the

bell and show up every day to that and

kind of face up to your diabetes then

you're absolutely on the right path but

I wanted to talk to you about sort of

current schedule I was looking again at

your Instagram you Poland Russia or in

Slovakia you're traveling all around the

world tell us a little bit about your

current training schedule and also maybe

we can dive into how you manage your

diabetes with so much travel

yeah so this is actually my seventeenth

day home this year 2018

I started in December 31st I was two

months in New Zealand and Australia for

winter training and then I was home for

six days got in my car with my dog drove

out to North Carolina was there for

about two months and then drove to

Georgia for like a week and then drove

to Colorado for three weeks four weeks

and then right after that I didn't even

go home it was straight from the car we

parked my car at my friend's house onto

a plane to Europe where I've been for

the last three months

competing pretty much every weekend holy

cow happen for that was for audience

where is where is home base for you

Carson City Nevada okay

nearly quavo Reno so you're flying every

which way out of Nevada New Zealand you

said how does I because I've always

found for me when I travel especially

flying in you know you're around

different environments different foods

that can complicate maintaining a stable

level of blood sugar what do you do to

try to maintain that I'm sure you have a

system with like you only being home 17

days a year yeah yeah definition of a

jetsetter at this point so how do you

even come go about maintaining a good

level of blood sugar and maintaining

your diabetes well when I am stuck in a

car for five days or on a plane for 16

hours it's honestly just a lot of

insulin like I had to pump up my Basil's

well now I'm on a Medtronic continues

because closed-loop system so don't pump

up my Basil's but if I I like back in

the day I only got on this this year I

used to have to pump up my Basil's

sometimes usually 20% but sometimes even

50% and then Bullough seen you have two

bullets when you eat food yes two

bullets like extra early like hours

Ebola scene 30 minutes early before I

could eat I'm just trying not to get my

blood Sugar's high because I am so

active um whenever I'm not working out

my blood Sugar's just go crazy see yeah

it's just a lot of insulin Ilana

pre-planning for traveling and then it

is hard especially like going

up into Australian stuff with different

suits but over the the years you kind of

get used to guessing carbs and

everything and you know sometimes it

works out sometimes it doesn't you just

kind of to roll with it and go oh next

time I eat that food I probably should

give more insulin or maybe less and it's

just kind of a guessing game omus but

you know you make it work yeah it's fun

I think one of the things I get most

criticized for her by my endocrinologist

the fact that I don't have a set carb

ratio I kind of just eyeball things and

she is disgusted by that she's like why

you need to have a carb ratio and no

wonder you have a couple lows here in

the morning and I'm like well I've had

this thing for eighteen years I'm pretty

good at eyeballing the amount of carbs

on my plate but it sounds like you're

doing that a little bit as well too

definitely yeah my um my endo always

gets mad at me for not actually using

the what is it full list wizard where it

does all the math for you I'm like I'm

good at math I just want to do it yeah

diabetes makes you fantastic at math so

that's the silver lining that we're

going for but um so in all these

different places you're doing different

runs in these different countries talk

about what is the process like kind of

scouting out a location and I imagine

you know a run in New Zealand versus our

run in Poland or Slovakia those are what

I would imagine vastly different how do

you try to make like maintain a

consistent level of performance across

those different environments well it's

pretty tricky I'm actually doing pretty

much all of this travel for slalom

so it's let me just give you a little

breakdown of it it's like skiing song we

have gates we have to go in between but

some of our gates are down gates some of

them are up and you get in trouble and

you have two seconds added on to your

time if you touch them in 50 seconds if

you miss them so you're trying to be

clean in between the gates but also fast

so it's very on the edge hard sport and

our courses lasts about a minute thirty

of just sprinting as hard as you can

yeah yeah it's hard

so I've done most of my traveling for

that and all pretty much all of our

courses nowadays are artificial so

they're man-made most of them in Europe


it off of a river but they're all like

concrete some of the new ones actually

they just build a big circular ditch

pretty much they put pumps at the bottom

and the water gets pumped in a circle

like full circle so it's not like super

hard whitewater it's more technical

whitewater like you're not going to see

any big scary like consequential things

but you're going to you're still going

to have a hard time battling so it's

kind of like a different thing than just

going down river you know but I mean

every course is different which is the

cool thing about it some courses are

more similar to others but pretty much

every time you're on a different piece

of water which is amazing and super fun

but also can be pretty tricky absolutely

I can't imagine so you said that the

average run is somewhere between a

minute and minute and a half

do you have multiple runs to qualify or

is it usually like one and done if you

don't make the time you're out so

basically you get two runs the first day

so they you have probably like sixty

athletes the first run they take the top

20 and then the second run if you don't

make top twenty you have the chance to

make the next top ten so they take 30

total and if you don't make the top ten

then you're done and then the next day

you have semifinals so you get one run

top ten from that part goes to finals

and then if you don't make the top ten

you done it so it's pretty pretty brutal

no second chances pretty brutal indeed

it sounds like so do you have it's sort

of I would equate this or make an

analogy to like an Olympic sprinter you

know you do all of this training all of

this visualization and it's when the the

light goes on or the gun sounds you have

such a limited amount of time to

actually go out and perform and execute

on this strategy do you have any sort of

approach or routine that you do prior to

kind of getting behind the starting line

to one of these events I mean I

definitely have a set routine but um

I've had a bit of a hard time with it

this year as far as competitions I

haven't put down a ton of good ones but

that's more of my mental side that I'm

trying to work on but normally it's like

two hours before my kids you have set

times chores before my run I'll do a pre

warmup which is like just easy paddling

Sprint's and then I'll get out walk the

course with my coach look at the water

just kind of get centered and then about

15 minutes before my run I'll get back

in just warm up again and then it's go

time and there's a lot of music put into

that okay what do we listen to do ah

lots of different stuff some some rock

some punk some rap this kind of depends

on what mood I'm in do you have a go-to

song oh that's hard I don't know it kind

of changes

honestly like changes for competition

depends on what mood I'm in sometimes

it's like more upbeat and fun sometimes

it's just like getting super pumped up

and like stuff like that yeah yeah no I

definitely know what you mean depends on

the day and I actually before football

games there was a stretch where I and I

get so much adrenalin for or I did I'm

washed up now retired but I would get so

much of an adrenaline rush before games

I would actually have to try the

opposite approach

I would actually listen to music that

tried to calm me down so I was looking

to like a mellow Coldplay songs and try

to relax

when I understood so that's another

thing I want to talk about as it relates

to diabetes is and especially these

shorter events I imagine there's

obviously got to be a lot of adrenaline

and excitement flowing through your body

so and we know scientifically that that

cortisol will affect blood sugar levels

and elevate your blood sugar have you is

that a phenomenon that you've noticed

and do you have any strategies to kind

of counteract it I definitely have

noticed that even during training

actually I I'll be like 121 I'll get all

be okay perfect and then I'll just spike

up to 250 for absolutely no reason I'll

have like not eating anything I'll just

like up so that's definitely from

adrenaline and just you know all that so

I try to give myself like a little

Bullis when I get off they kind of try

to counteract that it's still not super

perfect but if it works better and then

yeah I try to do that after races as

well during slalom it's not too bad I

get spikes after training mops and then

I get spikes after races but during the

Creek races which is going from point A

to point B

as you can over super-hard whitewater

like almost the hardest whitewater you

can have my blood Sugar's go crazy after

that because that is like pure

adrenaline you're running over

waterfalls and going through just

massive whitewater so yeah that makes

sense it's almost like with the slalom

you have to be a little bit more

calculated and calm in terms of exactly

yes so talking about your competing I'm

looking at your resume here to 2013

junior women's national freestyle

champion 2014 you followed it up with

being named canoe and kayak female

paddle paddler of the year and then in

2015 junior women's freestyle world

champion is there a particular run or

event or win that sticks out in your

mind as a moment that for you is you

have the most pride about um it would

probably definitely have to be my 2015

freestyle Junior World Championships I

had it was on a wave versus a hole so

they're a lot harder to put a whole ride

in because you can flush off a lot

easier and I'd never and there are also

different tricks and I never wave voted

before in my life I made team and I went

up to Canada and just put a ton of work

in I was paddling like three times a day

just trying to learn the tricks to do on

those ways having no idea what I'm doing

and my dad and I worked through it and I

put down my whole competition ride that

I wanted to and my score actually

outscored the women I had it was it was

an amazing feeling that's one of my

favorite competitions for sure that's

amazing and when you say tricks describe

that to me because I'm like envisioning

you doing like flip off of a jump in a

kayak but I don't know if that's even

picture like a surf wave in the ocean

but make it stationary and we are

actually in our kayaks going up and down

the wave and throwing like it's easier

to describe it in a hole where we do

front flips and stuff but wave tricks

kind of these a lot of ends a little too

like it sounds awful someone names a

trick of blunt

okay and we'll do we'll do blunts so

it's like just like a cartwheel pretty

much but only the first end of it and

you can do that backwards and we do my

signature trick was 360 on my head

pretty much like using my paddle blades

to spin me around so you're upside-down

doing a 360 and that's called the helix

and do it okay yeah learn it at this

point in your completely underwater yes

well you're trying to get air on it so

that's the goal of the trick you can

actually score it unless you have air

but you definitely can't breathe it's

not enough air for that Wow and is it

always in the sort of are you training

in the same environment that you're

competing in or are you training in a

more controlled environment to kind of

learn these tricks so basically for a

competition like World Championships I

always go there at least a month before

to the exact venue where the competition

will be on just to figure out where I

can throw a trick how I can set up what

works in different places and kind of

figuring out my competition ride and

also working on new tricks so that's

that's kind of what I do see I'm in the

competition venue for a while but

sometimes it depends sometimes like for

smaller competitions we'll just show up

like the week before but you always get

at least some kind of training at the

competition venue but for slalom

actually we set gate for training but we

actually have no idea what the course

will be for the competition until the

night before the race and then we don't

get to practice on it at all we get to

watch some paddlers who aren't racing

navigate it and kind of figure out what

to do off of that but the first time

we're touching the course is on our race

run so that makes it even harder yeah

yeah the unknown

so do you does any of your training

happen outside of these courses or is it

primarily your in the boat where you're

going down a course and that's where

most of the training happens are you

doing you know strength training or

plyometrics or anything like that

outside of the water um yes the during

winter I'm actually working out about

three times a day so I'll do

water which can go from anaerobic to

aerobic will either do like shorter

Sprint's for a longer period of time or

will do seven minutes at our heart rate

at 170 and then take a little break and

we'll do that like 10 times so it's

really working on trying to build up how

fast you can go for that minute 30 and

then I'll do a gym session which can

range from we will do like usually

during the winter it's faster stuff so

we'll do a lot of circuits which can be

like pull up benchpress kind of

everything you can think of squats


lots of burpees and just you know kind

of stuff like that pretty basic workout

we like we don't do anything super fancy

but it's like it a super high intensity

lot higher reps a lighter weight and

then getting towards more of the ends of

winter training we'll do like less reps

with heavier weights and stuff like that

and then I'll also do like another

either technique session or recovery

paddle which is like 30 minutes and easy

paddling or just um usually more of a

aerobic type session to finish off the

day which could also involve a run yeah

I'm constantly constantly training yeah

definitely sounds like that's that's


so what sort of community do you have

and do you have a community that you

sort of train with and what is that kind

of support network look like um so I

actually do a lot of my training on my

own because I live in Nevada and the

closest like qalam group to me is in

North Carolina uh-huh well yeah there's

a little one in Colorado but they don't

have a good course either um so I do

pretty much all my stuff on my own I

have a remote coach who lives in Spain

and he'll send me training plans when

I'm home and I'll send him video back

and he kind of will Skype me and help me

with my technique but yeah I know

training partner out here anything and

in the summer when I'm training I

usually use a different coach than the

rest of us team so I'm still kind of

training on my own normally um so I

don't really mind it but actually this

this winter in about a month

we heading out to Spain to train with

the coach who sends me training plans so

I'll have some buddies out there to

paddle with which will be nice amazing


I think someone who's trained alone a

little bit for a college football I

think it's tough um I definitely think

there are advantages to being part of a

group but at the same time training

alone I think is a great tool to kind of

sharpen mental toughness would you agree

oh yes I definitely agree it definitely

is not super motivating there I don't

get super motivated sometimes to get

nicole's all by myself but it helps with

that and I think it also helps with

diabetes and training like that kind of

help each other as far as the mental

side of just like toughening up and

going out and doing it so we talked

about I know you mentioned the 2020

Olympics briefly and I wanted to get

your take on what are some of your goals

moving forward as an athlete as a

competitor and what do you sort of have

your sights set on moving forward see

how's my main goal right now is the 2020

Olympics this is the first year we'll

that they'll have canoe women's in it so

we've had canoe men's kayak men's and

kayak women's but this year's the first

year where they're adding canoe women's

which is my favorite so I really want to

go for that and then I would also love

to go for kayaks because I do goals yeah

so that's that's my main goal that I'm

working towards right now my first

qualification race is World

Championships in 2019 which are insane

so I'm getting ready for that and yeah I

also freestyle so next year I have real

Championships which is my first year as

women's I'd really love to medal at that

and yeah just keep improving and

paddling and having fun of course

absolutely having fun most important

part what would it mean to you to not

only represent the US and the Olympics

but also sort of the diabetic athlete's

community it would be incredible

honestly you don't see at least I

haven't seen a lot of media of diabetic

Olympians so I would love to represent

the community and hopefully help inspire

other diabetics to follow their dreams

and I mean of course you're presenting

my country and the Olympics has been my

dream since

like seven so it would be pretty

incredible we're wishing you the best

but on what other I saw on the Instagram

is on your Instagram as well I think you

were doing a shoot for perhaps Medtronic

correct me if I'm wrong but what sort of

and what do you feel is the importance

of advocacy on the behalf of diabetic

athletes and kind of using their

platform to try to be an inspiration to

other people living with diabetes

honestly I think it's huge and I

probably haven't been the best at

advocating for diabetes but I've decided

to start getting better at that I have

had a lot of people contact me asking

like oh I didn't know you're diabetic

you know what do you what do you do for

competitions and stuff so I definitely

want to put more stuff out there to help

other diabetics and I've also this year

especially had a lot of very ignorant

people try to talk to me about diabetes

so I want to also help the general

public kind of try to understand what we

go through when when you say ignorant

just to clarify is that like they don't

know the difference between type 2 and

type 1 or is it usually why had a mother

say that diabetes was just like having

Alexia um so kind of stuff like that

where they have just no idea what

they're talking about

I've had people ask oh why are you

wearing your insulin pump all day and

you know just like crazy stuff like that

was like well I I need it to live yeah

yeah so I think a lot of people don't

understand diabetes they don't even know

what it is and I think that having some

more people know and understand would

also really help other diabetics with a

support group and everything for sure I

think all diabetics regardless of

whether you're a successful athlete or

not have a platform and they have the

ability to impact other individuals

maybe it's just one person maybe it's a

hundred people or a thousand oh but you

know as a result of diabetes being sort

of an invisible chronic illness you can

go through your life and through your

sort of diabetic journey and not kind of

let anyone in on what's going on and

I've said this before on the podcast and

I'll repeat it because I think it's


I was you know in my senior year doing

injections I was on a pen at that point

I'm now back on a pump but doing

injections in the locker room and guys

were coming up to me that I played four

years of football with and asking you

know what that was you know I think it's

important to be proactive about

advocating our diabetes and being

demonstrative with your treatment

because the simple fact is you know we

are so desensitized because we live with


we're around it 24/7 but the truth is

like you experience age a lot of people

don't actually know about it and by just

being a little bit more vocal in our

treatment we can really impact people

really educate people and hopefully in

the end state really inspire a lot of

people and people especially living with

diabetes oh yes definitely and I always

try to answer everyone's questions

especially in person but um I definitely

want to get more on the bandwagon of

just posting stuff about diabetes on

social media and all that so so in those

17 days that you're your home of the

year what do you do to kind of remove

yourself from all the stresses that come

with competing and kind of what do you

do outside of the boat what are sort of

your your hobbies to kind of detach from

that well honestly right now I'm swamped

with college so I do online classes

through western Nevada college so right

now it's just a lot of school but I mean

I love to go on hikes with my dog I have

a little reduced enriched back and he's

just the cutest and we'll go out for

hours and just hike and it's great and I

live near Lake Tahoe's we have amazing

mountains and you know I love to

longboard height yeah run just kind of

anything outdoors I just love like

stand-up paddleboarding just going

through a river run is just amazing

because I mean you're out in nature you

can see beautiful things do with your

friends I mean it's just it's a lovely

step back in training even though I'm

still kayaking yeah I just do a lot of

outdoor stuff I read when I can but that

doesn't happen very often I'm pretty


ya know it certainly sounds like that

like it and I think I'm now appreciating

the value of nature and just being out

exposed to it going for hikes I just did

a after I graduated school a big road

trip in the

Southwest so we did arches Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon lands Zion and just being

out and around nature just kind of

rewires your brain and I think it's just

so awesome and it's tough being and I'm

based in Boston so we have a shorter

window to Wow yeah things like that but

and you know outside of it just being

good for your your state of being I

think for diabetes I think it can

introduce a lot of stability to your

blood sugar by just going out if you do

a two-hour hike you'll be shocked at the

rest of the day how stable your blood

Sugar's definitely but yeah sage so in

starting to wrap up what are some of the

other things that you you think about

with regard to your diabetes and what

would be some of your messages to the

broader t1d community I mean since I was

diagnosed I've always been trying to

push out just just because you have

diabetes doesn't mean you have to give

up on your goals and dreams I've met a

lot of diabetics like even at my

endocrinologist that were like oh yeah I

used to play soccer but I have diabetes

now so I can't and I just really want to

push out that that's not the case you

can follow your goals you can follow

your dreams it'll be harder obviously

than not having it but it'll actually

make you stronger in the end and you can

be an amazing athlete or whatever else

you want to do couldn't agree more and I

think that's the that's the thing and if

you can if you can embrace that and

believe that diabetes won't hold you

back I think in the end you'll actually

find that the disease empowers you to do

things from a mental standpoint and just

from an overall resiliency standpoint

that you wouldn't otherwise be able to

do absolutely that's yeah that's a

realization that will come at different

points for different people

and I think we were both you know in a

sense fortunate to be diagnosed at a

young age and have sort of had a longer

run time with diabetes so that we could

have that sort of epiphany but it is

really and I am coming to the

realization that t1 DS is a blessing in

disguise if you manage it properly if

you keep your blood sugar under control

so yeah couldn't agree with you more in

terms of it is absolutely not a

roadblock to athletic success or success

otherwise or living a gratifying and

happy life so sage thank you so much for

coming on the podcast

this was fascinating it makes me want to

go out in kayak I don't know where but

hopefully a better experience than when

I was 12 in the kayak slipped and hit me

on the head but again thank you so much

for coming on I really appreciate it and

it was an awesome conversation we'll be

pulling for you to make the 2020

Olympics and best of luck in moving

forward with your career as a

competitive athlete thank you so much

and thank you for having me and if you

ever find yourself in Nevada if I'm home

I'll take you cocky I know I guess we

just got to hope for that it's one of

those 17 days that you're back

definitely I am change on me I have type

1 diabetes and I have a game plan we

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