Heidi-Jane James (T1 Tri Girl) has been running since she was seven years old, competing nationally across New Zealand, and holding national records for track running.
You were diagnosed when you were a child, tell me what that was like for you?
I was diagnosed when I was 14years old (1992) on Christmas Day. I had never known anyone else with the disease and wasn’t too sure what was going on. I wasn’t too upset about it all and I gave my first injection with no trouble.
What do you remember about your diagnosis…for example, what approach to diabetes management did your family take? Freedom or overprotection?
I’ve always been very independent and took on all the responsibilities of injecting and testing myself. My parents were very protective of me though and I wasn’t really allowed to go anywhere.
When did you start running and competing? How do you manage blood sugars with training and competing? Do you wear a pump? Do you carry glucose tabs etc. etc.
I started running when I was 7 years old. I watched my father running on the track and in marathons from a young age and my mother play netball every Saturday in the winter. I was ranked #1 in NZ when I was diagnosed with diabetes and thought that I wouldn’t be able to run fast again. After being diagnosed I have been a National Track Champ (1995) only 3 years after being diagnosed, represented NZ in 4 ITU World Triathlon/Duathlon champs and completed 5 Ironman races.
I wear an insulin pump now but did my entire track running with MDI’s. I carry gels in my pocket and when I run with my husband he always carries some too. I try to manage my BG levels during exercise with complex carbs as a preventative rather than treating a hypo. It’s just too hard to recover from a hypo when you are training or racing.
Tell me about your advocacy efforts? Type 1 Tri-Girl runs sports camps, is that right? Why are these camps important, what is your goal for these camps and did you go to a diabetes camp as a child?
I set us T1 Tri Girl to show people that T1’s can do anything. I run camps for adult who want to learn how to be better at controlling their BG levels as well as youth/teen camps for kids who are into sport. It used to frustrate me that I couldn’t get any help with my sport related diabetes questions whenever I went to the Endo…so I wanted to help people with that side of their diabetes.
Your website headline uses the phrase ‘a proud Type 1 Diabetic’ tell me why the word proud is important.
I say “a proud Type 1 Diabetic” because I love having diabetes. I wouldn’t know what to do without my diabetes…It makes me unique and special. I feel stronger knowing that I can do things that people without diabetes can do and sometimes better.
What are your future athletic goals?
I am training for the ITU world triathlon champs in October where I would like to finish in the top 20. My ultimate goal is to qualify for Kona World Ironman Champs.
Learn more about Heidi-Jane at: