Diabetic triathlete discusses role of his pharmacist and health care team in training

To most people, competing in an Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run, is not even in the realm of possibility. But to Andy Holder, it was the ultimate challenge that he posed to himself soon after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Just a little over a year ago, Andy realized this dream and completed his first Ironman race. Now, he’s building on that experience as he travels around the country participating in races and inspiring others, including a presentation at the USC School of Pharmacy on Sept. 7.

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 36. I realized I couldn’t change that diagnosis but I could change my attitude,” Holder told the audience of about 160 people. “I also looked at my two young sons and knew I did not want them to see their dad as diseased.”

Holder’s story is inspiring. While he had always been athletic, he had not been an endurance athlete, so his ironman aspirations required a very structured training schedule. Further, his diabetes came with dietary demands as well as consistent attention to measuring his blood glucose levels and giving himself adequate insulin.

“During training and on race days, I had to develop a very definite ritual to ready myself for the race,” Holder told the group. “Oh, I also had to learn to swim which I didn’t know how to do before I began training for the Ironman.”

Holder, who was in town to participate in the L.A. Triathlon on Sept. 9, credits his health care team with making it possible for him to achieve his athletic goals. Telling the audience how his pharmacist plays a central role in making his athletic goals a reality, Holder encouraged the students to seize their roles as pharmacists, helping their patients manage their diabetes and live without limits.

About a dozen audience members are participants in the Diabetes Ten City Challenge – a national, employer-based diabetes self-management program that USC offers to employees and dependents who are covered by the University’s Network Medical Plan.

The lunch program was supported by Good Neighbor Pharmacy/Diabetes Shoppe who sponsors Andy Holder on his national tour.