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Charlie Does the Marathon De Sable

Aug 08, 2022
 

Paul Coker:

Hi, it's Paul Coker here. And this evening, I'm here with Charlotte Hurst Charlotte lives with type one diabetes, and she's going to share with us, her amazing success of some recent sports challenges that she's been doing. And yeah. So over to you, Charlotte. So tell us a little bit about your diagnosis and how long you've been living with type one diabetes.

Charlotte Hurst:

Okay. Firstly, thank you very much, Paul, having me on I'm very grateful so I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 28. So that was back in 2008, two days before Christmas. I will never forget it. I'm sure. None of us forget the day we were diagnosed I had just entered a triathlon Ironman. I was probably in the most peak condition I'd ever been in, in my adult life and you know, variety of symptoms led me to getting the doctor's got a blood test and actually it was probably caught quite early. I wasn't hospitalized or anything like that. So very, very lucky, but that was back in 2008I am very stubborn person and just thought, I'm not going to let diabetes stop me, but it, I handled it in a really negative way initially and probably for 10 years I tried to control it.

Charlotte Hurst:

Didn't learn enough about it, refused to learn enough about it. Because I thought I've got to deal with this on a day to day basis as it is. I don't want to waste any more time learning about it really kind of pushed back against what everyone was telling me. I spent a couple years in France. I spent six years in Southern Ireland, so didn't have the backup of our wonderful NHS and then I came back to the UK 4 years ago and that is where everything changed for me. I’ve always been into sports, always been into fitness at school where I played team sports. I then kind of migrated into triathlons and whilst training for my first Ironman triathlon got diagnosed with a diabetes and they just said, look, you can do it, but you've got to just stop for three months, let your body resets, get your head around everything.

Charlotte Hurst:

And of course, when you, you, when you stop something, when you stop for three months and you know how hard you've worked to get there it doesn't come easy again, starting, starting again. So I never, never got back to that point but I carried on with the running a little. I stayed very active when I was in Ireland or bit kind of mainly sort of walking and hiking and a little bit of checking and I was involved with some horses and bits and bobs like that and I did a couple of fun run type things.  When I came back to the UK 4 years ago, is when it all changed and re-registered with the Doctor’s in the UK and they finally got me onto the DAfnE (Dose Adujustment for Normal Eating) course, which I'd pushed back against, like I said, for over 10 years and you know, what, it was incredible.

Charlotte Hurst:

Like I kind of sat there thinking I don't need to be here, you know, all bigheaded. And it was delivered by the most amazing Diabetes Specialist Nurse who she's now my nurse and it was just fantastic! It was an absolute turning point for me and since then I have not looked back the freestyle libre then came out just before I think it was a year before COVID? That was a massive game changer and I've gone from injections to an Omnipod pump now because of all the sports I do and it seems to work quite well. So that's kind of a little backstory of my diabetes and now I use it in a really positive way. I'm not angry anymore. I don't push back and actually it's made me and it's got me to where I am now, which in a funny kind of way, I'm really grateful for like my journey's been, when I look back, I just think, oh my God, what an idiot why, you know, you think, you know, better, but sometimes just to stop and regroup and listen to the professionals is the, is the best advice anyone could get

Paul Coker:

I'm laughing because I can connect with so much of what you're saying. And I think most of us can, you know, that I think we all hear about diagnosis and we see people getting diagnosed, but it takes so long to actually reach a point of, let's say acceptance, that we've got diabetes and that this is here for the long journey and that we can, we can only, we can only thrive by working with it rather than against it. My own personal belief on this is that education is the number one thing that we can do aside from having insulin to actually thrive with diabetes.

Charlotte Hurst:

Oh, I 100% agree. And, and, and that was like the DAfnE (Dose Adujustment for Normal Eating) course was so well constructed, so well put together and so well, so well delivered as well that, you know, they got doctors in and you know, and it just covered every aspect and it was all about living normally with diabetes and that you can, you know, if you wanted to go and pick out on a cake, you can, if you wanna go in fast for 24 hours, you can, you've just gotta handle it. And it just takes a bit of organization and, and that's, and you know, it was, so it was just for the first time I heard someone talk about it as in real life and, you know, rather than someone just preaching out in a textbook or trying to, you know, I mean, I haven't listen many people before that, but

Paul Coker:

That's key it that there are so many things that we can do. We just need the strategies to, I think that brings nicely to let's talk about your recent success. Was it two weekends ago?

Charlotte Hurst:

Yeah, so two weekends ago I did a a two day race. So I'll give you another bit of a backstory. So I have entered the Marathon De Sable next year, which is a 250 kilometers run across the Sahara desert, over 6 days carrying everything you need. Those six days, food included what's not included is they, they do hand out water on occasion, apparently , which is quite handy. And they do supply a bivouc  tent, which is a big open sided tent that you share with eight or nine other people so they kind of set up camp ready for when you get back each day you PI in your tent, you cook for yourself, like everything you've got then to survive for the six, seven days is there with you.

Charlotte Hurst:

So not only have you gotta do a marathon a day and on one day do a double marathon across the desert. You've also got everything on your back that you need. So from a diabetic point of view, you've got the worry of like, you know, high post stuff and medication and insulin and it all surviving at temperatures kind of up to, you know, mid to late 40 degrees. So in preparation for that, 've got a coach and he's absolutely fantastic he trained me up for, yeah, not the weekend has gone, but the weekend before that, and that was race to the stones  which was 50 kilometers, Saturday and another 50 kilometers on Sunday basically running from somewhere near Oxford. I think it was to Avery stones near Malborough and across the Ridgeway.

Charlotte Hurst:

It was just fantastic. And camping overnights, they supplied food and it was just absolutely fantastic. So I went to complete and I ended up winning to the shock of to the shock of me, ho the shock of my career. It definitely wasn't on the list of objectives.

 

I was not even aware of my race position until early on Sunday, when I went past the checkpoint and someone said, oh, you're at the moment you're leading lady.  I'm very competitive and at that point it  was a bit like red rag to a ball. So, that was it. It was like head down and grind it out.

Charlotte Hurst:

Yeah. So I'm just about back there. I just did a six mile run actually with someone in the sun, in the heat, because what an opportunity to experience what the heat does to the body that we never normally get in this country,

 

Recovery run in the heat

 I did six miles and it was, you know, not, not anything too crazy. I think I'm nearly there with the recovery. It I've had a, I've had a really sensible couple of weeks, 10 days but I just like, that's why the coach is so good. It all the thinking out of it, he just sets the plan and I just follow it.

Paul Coker:

And I think we should just tell everybody that you are a chiropractor. So you've probably also been getting some musculoskeletal therapy and treatment and other things in your recovery period as well.

Charlotte Hurst:

Yeah, absolutely. So I've got my own tools that I can use, which is like, I've got the ice machine and the compression boots and the massage gun and the taping. I kind of do all that to myself. And there was a really lovely, lovely lady down the road. We swap treatments. And sothey're getting a little bit more regular and they're we're both really busy. So they're now falling on a Sunday andbut it's great. She's so local. So it just works really well. Yeah, it's great. And it just means I can sort of help cover all bases for myself. I also use I get some soft tissue work done as well, and it's all just really important. It all just works together, and I just think, you know, I'm very, very lucky touch wood. I don't suffer with any kind of niggles, but I want to keep it that way. So I do, so I do everything I can. Yeah,

Paul Coker:

I can appreciate it because back in 2016 -17, I ran 40 half marathons in a year and I went around all these different running coaches to help me prepare for it, they were all saying to me, I can make you stronger. I can make you faster. And I hired the one that said I can get you through this without an injury.

Charlotte Hurst:

Yes, definitely. We're okay with that one. Brilliant. Oh, congratulations. Yeah, that's some achievement.

Paul Coker:

Thank you but nothing in comparison to what you you've just done and what you've got coming up. I'm just humbled by that so tell us a little bit about how you manage your blood glucose levels on an endurance event like that, because it's extraordinary to do that.

Charlotte Hurst:

It's, it's really a, almost a trial and error exercise. So you just learn as you go. And I'm really, really intuitive to what I'm eating when I'm eating it. How has that affected my blood glucose levels? Obviously the freestyle Libre has just made it so much more you know, those results and, and being able to follow that the progress of your results so much, so much more easy compared to, you know, the pricking, the fingers like, yes, you do it, but, you know, stopping and doing it and trying to do it when your, it just, just doesn't work as well. So what I previously, what ends up doing is just pushing my bloods high, getting through it, and then sorting it at the end. Now with the, I've got the Omnipod dash system, which is the pump So I've got a Bluetooth driver.

Charlotte Hurst:

And then I've got my phone to scan over the freestyle Libre. And I’m like checking that the whole time. So I'll drop my basal for a bit. Sometimes I might drop them a little bit too low and then correct and then sometimes I might not drop them enough and I have to take on more sugar, but I basically set a rule that when I set out on a long run, I've got 22 grams of carbohydrate, whatever that is in four, like it normally is in the form of either seven fruit pastels or four jelly babies or a, a SIS gel, or I found some really nice gluten free, like gummies that are really, really easy chew. So I take 22 grams of carbohydrate, every half every half an hour. And then the longer the run, the shorter that gap to take fuel gets.

Charlotte Hurst:

So I might end up doing it every 15, 20 minutes towards the end you know, fatigue sets in your muscles are craving more. Your glycogen levels are depleted, all of that. So there's the massive kind of balancing it during the event, but you've got the time to do it because, you know, I had five hours on my feet each day of running.

 

It's important to try and get it right.

 

Overnight between the two days, my blood sugars dropped, which I did expect but maybe not to that extent. So when I wake up, I was kind of around the, you know, great reading for the morning, you know, just over 4.0mmols/L, but it's too low to then go and start a run, you know, in the heat with that day. So I kind of was frantically sort of dropping my basals again, trying to take some glucose on, I'm not good with running with stuff in my stomach either, which is, makes it all more challenging.

Charlotte Hurst:

So I'm better off doing it fasted than I know what my blood glucose levels are doing. And then I can adapt and then I can take on the gel, you know, that way. Did have a shake, so I, and I, and I was fine then running with the liquid, if you know what I mean, rather than, so I've got some calories in that were actually not mega high carbohydrates. I think there was about kind of 15 grams of carbohydrate in it, not high, but there was some there to kind of fuel it, kick it up a little bit, and then I could sustain it, and put me right for the rest of the running.

 

I'm learning, it's the short answer and it just depends like, you know, yourself, like, it depends on the heat of the day, the time of the day, you know, the stress levels, the adrenaline, the, how did you sleep the night before?

 

And how tired you are.

 

All of that obviously comes into play and that's why living with diabetes is such a challenge in itself but  the whole thing about this is, is I love learning about myself now and I love pushing it and discovering more and discovering what works and, you know, I know that you've spoken historically a lot about insulin sensitivity and I can  agree more that's what works for me.

It's getting to a point where you know, you are more sensitive to insulin, like as my weight drops, as I get fitter as you know, when all know exercise improves insulin sensitivity I tuck in the odd fasting day once a week as well, just to make sure my basal rates are right. You know, so I flip between a lot of different kind of techniques I don't eat masses of carbs.

 

I know you’re; I know you're an advocate for carbs Paul and I do eat carbs in the lead up to the big race but I just find that I don't necessarily need them. I feel okay if I, if I feel low, I take them like, it's, it's simple. I do focus on protein without going too wild either I just try and have a balanced, healthy, whole food, not processed, nothing refined diet.

Paul Coker:

Well, I, I think that what it shows us is that there are lots of different strategies that we're all using. The more strategies that we haveto pick from in our diabetes management tool kit, the better, and really that's what I'm advocate for.

I talk about insulin sensitivity, and I do podcasts and I do coaching for people who want to go onto a whole food plant based diet. My aim is not to turn everybody into put the world on a  whole food plant-based diet. My aim is to give people more strategies for their diabetes management and that's all it's about. I'm just thrilled to hear that you've got all these strategies that you are using and rotating around to help you to manage your diabetes care and you are thriving. That's just music to my ears.

Charlotte Hurst:

Right. No one size fits all, does it? We're all so different but it's, I think it's about being open and, and getting the information. And if you have all the information there and you start playing with little bits and making little changes and seeing effects and being intuitive about it, like, you know, if it, if it all helps or finding that bit, that makes that bit easier or, you know, ah, massive.

Paul Coker:

Absolutely, so tell us a little bit about your, your next challenge. You've already mentioned it, the marathon BLE, and you've told us what it is, you know, it's this incredible 250 kilometers across the Sahara desert. I can't even begin re imagine what that is. Like, I know people that have done it, but I can't imagine what it, what it must be like but tell us a little bit more about that challenge. Why you doing it? How are you doing it? When are you doing it? How can we support you?

Charlotte Hurst:

Ah, thank you. The challenge itself is the end of April, 2023. They tie in with Ramadan because they have a lot of people that help obviously with the logistics and putting the, the whole event on like there's a thousand runners that do it. So it's, you know, thousand runners out in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere. And they have the best, the top medical team. They have cardiologists, they have everything like it it's self-sufficient, but nothing is overlooked. Like everybody that I've spoken to says, the minute you get out there, you see where your money goes and, and it is a hellishly expensive race to enter but apparently the minute you get out there, you appreciate where every cent of the money, every penny of the money that you spent has gone.

Charlotte Hurst:

So it's yeah. End of April next year why am I doing it? I'm just an ordinary person. That's pigheaded that that's me. And I, just want to put across that ordinary people can do extraordinary things and yes, I'm very, very excited about it.

 

I entered it having been to a running expo and getting a bit of motivation from Kevin Weber. I don’t know if you're familiar with him, he wrote a book called “dead man running” he has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and he is on chemotherapy. He's done the Marathon De Sable five times whilst being on chemo. This, this man is amazing. And the money he has raised for charity is just nothing short of incredible. Anyway, I bumped into him without knowing who he was at, the running expo and he sold me, his book told me and the idea to enter it.

Charlotte Hurst:

I have been obsessed with the race for 15 years as well. It's not like I, I plucked it out the air and went, oh yeah, I'll do that. So he filled me with motivation, when I got back home, I entered it straight away, and then I woke up the next morning and felt sick. Just thought, oh my gosh, what have I done? But, then you start listening to podcasts. You start reading books and you start chatting to people and you just discover this amazing, amazing community of people. I've already met some amazing people that I know I will become very good friends with and close friends with over time. And, you know, it's that whole sense? So, kind of fell into it spontaneously maybe, but since I decided to do it, I have not regretted it. Well not since that first morning.

 

 I want to spread the message that you anyone can do something like this. You have people that walk around and do this, and they complete it walking. You've got a camel that walks at the back and you've gotta beat the camel home at each stage. The other thing is that diabetes doesn't need to stop you. I didn't let diabetes stop me, but I handled it in a very negative way. I've now flicked that switch totally 180o and that in a very positive way.

Charlotte Hurst:

Since doing the DAfnE (Dose Adujustment for Normal Eating) course four years ago and getting a real handle on it, and learning all the time and being open to learning. The technologies that are coming out are incredible, the diabetes teams that we have now that are pushing for better treatment modalities, better technologies, closed loop systems. We are so lucky to be alive in this kind of era, because it's really, really exciting, like effectively in the very near future, we're going to get an external pancreas that just sorts itself out, pretty much somewhat I can gather. It's proving that anyone that living with diabetes or managing diabetes, or living with anyone with diabetes, that it just doesn't need to stop you. And it's never, you know, it's not too late to try.

Charlotte Hurst:

And you'll surprise yourself. Like our bodies are incredible. If you have this can get this mindset where you, our, our minds can overall our bodies. And in, in they say, when their body's done, it's only about 40% done or 60% done or something there's another 40% to give so yeah, I just want to spread that message. And I also really want to raise money for type one international. They are a fantastic charity making sure that insulin and all the diabetic stuff that we need and probably take for granted a little bit in order to survive is available globally and on a global scale. And they're just such a fantastic team I've connected with them a few times now. They're really, really supportive. They're very, very grateful. And I just want to do as much as I can for them because I think what they're doing is absolutely fantastic.

Paul Coker:

I agree with you. I've, I've met the founder a few years back, is it Elizabeth?

Charlotte Hurst:

Yeah, there's Liz. Yeah. There's a few girls there now, but Liz is there. I connected.

Paul Coker:

Liz actually set it up and, and ran and founded it. And it's an incredible charity. They're doing some amazing things. And of course they're commendable mostly, well, not only for the work that they're doing, but because they will not take any money from pharmaceutical companies, they're completely independent of that arm. And I think that that's just amazing.

Charlotte Hurst:

It is amazing because that's not easy.

Paul Coker:

So they they've set themselves a big mission and made it perhaps even bigger by selecting their funding stream so that they remain independent and that's just so commendable so I'd like to get you to share your link and I'll put it on the blog that I'll create around this, of how people can help you to raise funds for https://www.t1international.com/ I'm fully supportive of that mission. I think that's amazing and do you have it somewhere where not only people can actually donate, but you know, the type one community can actually come along almost in virtually cheer you.

Charlotte Hurst:

Yeah, absolutely.

I've just got a lady working on a website now actually, which will be charlieschallenges.co.uk that's effectively going to be kind of like a blog site and with all updates and linked to fundraising stuff and any events that I am going to put together, but I hang out on Instagram and Facebook an awful lot. So on Instagram I'm @charliedoesthemds that's Charlie with an IE and on Facebook my page is "Charlie does the Marathon De Sable" so I can send you those links and people can connect there and yeah, I just put like, you know, you'll, you'll get a giggle at my expense if, if nothing more because I'm fairly transparent on there and put all thoughts up. So but yeah, I'd love if if any followers that can come and join in on my journey send me their stories, you know, let's get some conversations happening and some interactions, because I'm really all for that. The more people we can get talking about this and the more kind of followers and exposures, I, you know, exposure I can get then the more I can get my message out and the more support that type one international gets as well. https://www.t1international.com/ So that's kind of the real big push and yeah, it's very exciting, very exciting.

Paul Coker:

I wish you the very best of luck throughout your training. I'm sure we're going to connect again and I think we've got so much in common and I, I look forward to hearing updates about your training and as the time draws close. So perhaps we can do another podcast. You, when you are ready, and if you need any help support from me, then let know I'll do everything that's in my power and share anything that we can do to actually get the community behind you and cheer, because I think that get getting those virtual cheers on these endurance events probably priceless. I, I know when I've spoken to Roddy Riddle about his journey on Marathon De Sable, a fellow Type 1 who did this, he was so encouraged by those tweets and printouts that he was getting at the end of each day and they gave him a real lift.

Paul Coker:

So if we can actually get something going around that to help you, then I'm all for that and I really look forward to hearing more about that if there's anything else that you need from us, just let us know. I think your journey and your story is inspirational. It's massive. And I love the, the idea that ordinary people can do extraordinary things because I fit that bill, exactly. You know, I'm not an athlete. I've never described myself as that. And I look back on the things that I've done and I see them as kind a normal and then I talk to other people about it and they think that what I've done is incredible. And I kind of know it really isn't and I, I get this kind of sense about you as well. I mean the race for stones,, as a runner, I know about it. I've never entered it. I'm kind of in awe of anybody that does, and I'm even more in awe of people that actually complete even one stage of it so I think that's just amazing and congratulations well done on your journey so far. Good luck.

Charlotte Hurst:

Aw, Paul, that's really kind, thank you so much yes. Going back to the virtual cheers, my goodness, they are worth their weight in gold. Like when you get to that kind of everything hurts and the body is just saying stop. Like, it's those things that keep you going. And like one small sentence can like change a day when you're out in the desert. I'm sure. Not that I've got experience of that, but I, you know, even just, you know, the, the two day stuff and the text that you get and you just get a glimpse them on your phone when you're pulling it out to check your blood and you just think, oh my God, yes, I can do this. And it's that it makes an awful lot of difference, so, oh gosh. I'm so grateful, Paul. Thank you very much. I'd love to come on again. Thank you very much for having me and yeah, I look forward to remaining connected. Yeah. Thank you very much.

 

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