Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Weekend

We left our little house with the purple door early on Thursday morning. We had three suitcases and two carry-ons, each with the special Global Heroes luggage tag. I was calm and excited at the same time. I had the itinerary, I knew what to expect and knew how the weekend was going to play out. And yet I felt this deep sense that life as I knew it was going to change.

We stopped briefly in New York to switch planes for Minneapolis. I kept looking at all the other passengers hoping to spot a Global Heroes luggage tag. There could be one of them on the plane with us!! Omigod! 

I met the first hero at the airport when we arrived in Minneapolis. Kobi and his travel buddy Troy had just arrived from Sydney, Australia and were dressed for winter. I'm talking down jackets and toques. Being a good Canadian, I arrived wearing a hoodie and no jacket. Turns out Kobi and Troy had it all figured out. Little did we know it was going to turn into the coldest race weekend in 10 years... 

We arrived at the hotel and checked in with Mary-Jo, event planner extraordinaire. We then joined the other heroes in the hotel bar. I met Lance and his wife Jodie from Australia. She's a super triathlete (you know, the kind who gets their name on their race bib rather than a number) and Lance was full of stories of trying to keep up with her in various ironman races. He had decided to apply for Global Heroes this year because he couldn't apply the last few years. It falls on the same weekend as the famous Kona Ironman in Hawaii and Jodie has competed in it - twice. They spotted my triathlon necklace and asked about my races. I shuffled my feet a bit and said I had just started triathlons this year. They were so supportive and encouraging and curious about diabetes that I started to feel like a bit of a superhero myself.

More importantly, they taught me the proper way to eat TimTams - bit the opposite corners off, dip it in coffee (not too hot!) and suck. (That was the first thing I tried when I got back to work after the weekend. I think it takes some practice but it's super tasty.)

On Friday morning, the events began. We gathered at the top floor of the hotel for breakfast. I had brought a wee gift for all the heroes from Canada (ask me later about the border smuggling experience). I seized the opportunity to go around the room, shake every hero's hand and give them a bottle of good ol' Canadian maple syrup. 

I met Gary, Global Hero alumnus from 2011. He was our camp counsellor for the weekend and was a great combination of knowledgeable, funny, emotional and total crazytown. 

After breakfast, we boarded the bus and headed to Medtronic headquarters to meet the people who make the magic happen. 

It was pretty neat to see the little logo on my pump transformed into a huge sculpture on their front lawn. 

What an experience it was to be there. The building was stunning and the staff were so excited to see us. We explored the laboratories, we saw the latest technologies...

 ...and we got to ask questions. 

I asked my burning question: When will Medtronic have a waterproof pump? As a swimmer, I really really want that option. 

I took my question right to the top and asked Katie - President of Medtronic Diabetes. "Three to six months before it's out in Europe, six to nine before you get it in Canada. And it will have a colour screen and a louder alarm." 


The tour ended with an awards luncheon where we met more amazing Medtronic staff and board members. It was really neat because they were wowed by us but we were just as wowed by them. One by one, the hero stories were told and the heroes were called up to receive their award - right from the hands of Stephen Oesterle, Senior Vice President for Medicine and Technology. 

You have to love an organization that puts the accent on my name and pronounces everyone's name flawlessly. 

While he doesn't sport the official title, he definitely is my hero. 

After lunch, some of us headed back to the hotel while others hopped on a bus to tour the marathon route. Those who toured the route came back with two key messages: "it's SO beautiful" and "omigod there are SO many hills!". 

I was glad we opted to go to the expo instead. Some things are better left unseen...

Saturday morning dawned bright...and freezing. 

I'm talking 1 degree and windy with snow clouds overhead. 

We had a 9:30 photoshoot to be at - and it was outdoors. So much for having nice hair and wearing shorts and my singlet. I yanked on my running pants, long sleeved shirt, singlet, jacket, gloves and our new Medtronic toque. Hat-head be damned. 

The photoshoot included head shots:

Running shots:

(like my matching blue headband I found at the expo?)

and group shots:

Some of the crazier folks stripped right down to their shorts and singlets for their running shot. As the only Canadian, I was sensible enough to stay bundled. 

Afterwards, we all rushed back to the hotel for warm clothes. 

We had a few hours before our pre-race pasta dinner so Doug and I went out to explore St. Paul for a while. Then guess who I got to meet??

The one and only Scott Johnson!

Scott and I hung out in Port of Call for a while chatting like old friends about illegal border crossings, playing the diabetes card, the difference between a hat and a toque and the little differences we can make in people's lives that turn into big ones. Oh, and I tried to convince him to apply to be a Global Hero next year...right Scott?

Days one and two were over. The heroes had gone from strangers to acquaintances and were quickly moving on to something more. 

Tomorrow: race day!  


  1. SCOTTY!
    did he introduce you to the joys of Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls? I'm sure you didn't have much time for that.
    I love that you brought Canadian Maple Syrup - Ain't nothing like the real thang!
    Can't wait to hear about race day and the princess treatment you got to receive.
    SO COOL!

  2. Man, what a great experience!!! You definitely have me hooked. I better start training! If I can train my way through a 100-mile bicycle ride, I can train to run 10-miles.

    Dangit! I totally spaced out on bringing you a Pearson Salted Nut Roll!

    Seriously though, it was a real privilege to meet you and Doug, and to see some of the others in the group. Thank you for letting me share in a little bit of your experience!

  3. Isn't Scott great?

    Okay, so MM is going to make a truly waterproof pump? Yay! The next question becomes "Where am I going to pump it when I swim?"