Julia Arnold ’20 was destined to run. Her father was a high school and college cross country and track guy. Her mother was a triathlete, who retired after competing in the Ironman at Kona, Hawaii. But one month before she was preparing to join her middle school team, she was given a very important reason to run.
Arnold (Valparaiso, Indiana) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “It gave me the extra incentive to run,” she said.
One of the primary ways to help control diabetes is through exercise. So, at age 11, she started running . . . and running . . . and running. She ran cross country and track for Valparaiso High School for three years before joining her sister, Sophia ’21, at Culver. As a junior last year, she ran cross country in the fall and the 3200 in the spring.
Now, since she has completed her four years of high school eligibility, the CGA senior is dedicating herself to running to raise research funds for a new diabetes treatment program, Islets of Langerhans Cell transplants, which is currently taking place in Chicago. Her race: the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. Her goals: raise a minimum of $3,000 as a member of the Chicago Diabetes Project team and, simply, finish the 26.2 miles.
“I’m not worried about my time,” Arnold explained. “Since this is my first marathon, I just want to finish.”
She doesn’t have to qualify for New York since she is running as a member of a charity team. The research she is supporting has had great success in 75 trial cases and may become the standard of care. But Arnold explained she’s not a candidate. “It’s only for brittle (hard-to-control) diabetics,” she explained.
Now, after seven years of running as a member of a team, Arnold has been faced with making some mental and physical adjustments to running much longer periods of time by herself.
“It’s definitely different,” Arnold said. She now listens to music, having different playlists for different days or moods. She is following a training regimen designed for her by one of her dad’s old college teammates, who is a cross country and track coach in Warsaw, Indiana.
She initially had trouble with pace. She was running too fast. And, while she still runs fartleks (interval speed training), they are longer, slower, and part of her overall run. She also eats an energy gel packet every three miles to keep her blood glucose level from dipping.
One day each week is dedicated to an alternative form of low-impact, endurance training to help take some of the pressure off her joints. On that day, Arnold heads to the Siegfried Fitness Center. She prefers the elliptical machine over a stationary bike or a rowing machine. And she takes one day off for rest and recovery.
Arnold is in her peak mileage period right now, having just run 47 miles in a week. “I don’t think I’ll be running much more than that from here on out.”
She has two pairs of shoes, alternating them so neither pair gets too broken down. She may run the marathon in a pair of racing shoes, which are lighter. It is a decision she will have to make soon so she has time to break them in. She also started wearing thin, synthetic socks to help keep her feet dry and prevent blisters.
Arnold will be running her first half-marathon on Saturday, Sept. 14, when she participates in the Run Lake Max charity fundraiser for the Marshall County Healthy Families Program. There is a 5-kilometer run and the half-marathon, which begins at the Culver Town Park. It is her senior service project with Marissa Rivera (Columbus, Indiana) and Rachel Ricketts (Rochester, Indiana). This will be the longest race she has run to date, although she recently completed a 15-mile training run.
Her regular afternoon training runs have also become a pressure release valve. After a day of classes, meetings, and homework, her running “helps me blow off some stream,” Arnold explained. Her route generally goes along Lake Maxinkuckee, through Woodcraft Camp, the Culver Academies Golf Course and the nearby roads.
In covering the longer distances, Arnold believes her view of running has changed. She started running as a social opportunity. It was a chance to make friends and catch up with each other during practice. Now, Arnold’s solitary runs have turned into introspective journeys.
“It’s become more about self-care,” she said. “It’s become something special for me.”