Philadelphia man competes in rigorous Ironman competitions despite having type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has also been called juvenile diabetes since it is typically diagnosed during childhood. However, this was not the case for Philadelphia resident Andy Holder.

He recently told that he was 36 years old when his doctor told him he had type 1 diabetes, which was a shock to him and his family because he had a healthy weight, ate well and lifted weights regularly.

Now 43, Holder told the news provider that his diagnosis motivated him to inspire other people who have type 1 diabetes to live life to the fullest and set lofty goals for themselves.

"I couldn’t change it or make [the disease] go away, so I had to control my attitude and turn it into a positive. I was in good shape, but was the furthest thing from an endurance athlete. I taught myself how to swim [and] created this really cool, motivational story to inspire people," he explained.

The news source reported that 'Iron Andy' completed his first Ironman competition in 2006 and has continued to participate in the rigorous triathlons, which begin with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and end with a full, 26.2-mile marathon.

Although type 1 diabetes doesn't stop Holder from engaging in high-intensity exercise, he said that he sometimes checks his blood sugar levels as many as 70 times per day during Ironman events and wears an insulin pump.

He explained that while it is easy for him to sense hypoglycemia during everyday activities, the adrenaline rush that comes with physical exertion makes it more difficult to detect fluctuations in blood glucose.

According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals with type 1 diabetes should check their blood sugar 30 minutes prior to exercise and again immediately before physical activity in order to determine if levels will remain stable throughout the workout. The organization states that ideal pre-exercise blood glucose levels are between 100 and 250 mg/dL.