Year in Review 2016: a journey around the world

2016 was a year dedicated to becoming an endurance athlete.

The adventure began with a New Zealand visa stamped into the crowded pages of the passport. I boarded a bus with loose Facebook instructions to find Marty, my childhood best friend. From Lake Wanaka we set off along the Te Araroa trail to one of the most southern points in the world: Bluff, NZ the 46.5 S parallel.

This trip caused the first big toenail to fall off.

Hiking in the back country set the foundation to complete what many runners consider the pinnacles of their career – a marathon. James and I found ourselves as the first passengers to board the plane bound for Copenhagen, Denmark to run 26.2 miles, or 42km, around the capital city.

The next race required me to purchase my first pair of swim goggles. Suddenly, panic rushed throughout my body as my toes gripped the edge of the pier to begin the mile-long swim in this Hudson. The happiest moment of this year was reaching that pier to transition into the 24-mile bike ride, eventually finishing with a 10k run around Central Park to collect a medal for the New York City Triathlon.

After this the second big toenail fell off. This was the official mark of becoming an endurance athlete.

Two weeks later, my dad broke the news that he would compete in the Atlantic City Triathlon happening at the end of the month. At the age of 61 he became a triathlete.

The cool weather of the changing seasons swept across the mountains of Vermont to create the autumn scenery leaf peepers hold close to their heart. Dancing under the moonlight in a barn, the crowd of friends and family shared smiles from face to face to celebrate my sister’s wedding. This warmed my heart more than crossing any finish line.

Following the main part of the racing season came a drastic change in how I treated type 1 diabetes by switching from the Medtronic pump to the Omnipod wireless system. The Gameboy clear Medtronic meter had been my trusted travel partner for eight years – thank you. What the Omnipod brought was a solution that is waterproof and has no tubes. The best part of this is being able to walk or dance around naked. Freedom!

The final race to close out the year was a local 5k run supporting JDRF in Cranford, NJ. A father who brought fourteen of his family members grabbed me as I crossed the finish line and began talking to his childhood who was a type 1 diabetic: “See how fast you can be?”

His young son did the appropriate diabetic “hello” by showing off his pump site located on our favorite spot – the lower back aka our butt. We shared a chuckle.

On World Diabetes Day, Nov 14th., Diabetes Abroad was launched to help diabetics explore the world. This project has been on my mind for years with ideas being jot down on cocktail napkins while flying. We cannot wait to learn from a global community.

At the age of 25, I also had my first colonoscopy. No details are needed but that is life.

Every journey that we accept offers new lessons to learn from and grow. The biggest adventure of this year was hiking along the trail which left me with these words:

“Hike your own hike”

Let’s explore the world together in 2017.

-Erik Douds

January

"There are few people in this world that will know you since childhood," says Marty's dad in the kitchen as he whips up an Italian meal. After 25 years, I share an epic adventure with my best friend.

The public gardens in Christchurch, NZ offer a picturesque scene.

Sam does a belly flop into the crystal clear waters along the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand

The sun begins to set over a field of flowers in Macetown, NZ. Photo by Tash Austin.

February

A rig is set up to go up into the canopy of the pine trees of New York State

March

The NZ crew has a reunion in New York where Tash, the Kiwi, insists on hiking part of the Appalachian trail.

April

Somehow lost the back wheel of my road bike.

May

America's Cup visits New York City with the world's fastest sail boats racing in the Hudson River.

James naps in the corner of the terminal as we wait to board a flight to Denmark for the Copenhagen Marathon.

A couple plays with bubbles in the Danish royal gardens

June

My sister smiling and joking around during engagement photos.

July

My parents holding a giant sign my aunt made for the New York City Triathlon.

August

My dad places 4th in his age group as he finishes his first triathlon.

September

Haley makes her wedding bouquet by hand.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and this man drove me to school in the morning for years.

October

One medal for being a diabetic athlete. Another medal for running fast...enough.

November

Amber Cove, Dominican Republic is the first sight we see as Fathom cruises pulls into port

Mo and I take shelter under a gas station during a thunder storm as we race back for Thanksgiving Dinner. We practice our basic Spanish to meet some locals.

December

Unfortunately, this year marked my first colonoscopy.

Happy New Year! 2016 ended with a few days of skiing out in Colorado with my family and our new extended family.