New tech helping Type 1 diabetes patient race to San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon finish line

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 20:02:38-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - This weekend, about 30,000 runners will be taking over the streets of San Diego for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. They'll be able to tackle either a 5K, half marathon or full marathon.

For Kristy Castillo, it will be her first time running the full marathon course of 26.2 miles. A few years ago, it was something she never thought was within her reach.

"It was always a roadblock as far as me wanting to get engaged in intense activity," Castillo said.

That's because Castillo lives with Type 1 diabetes. Her body doesn't produce the insulin needed to process sugar and produce energy. Long distance running or any intense exercise sends her blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster, spiking and dropping.

RELATED: San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon road closures

"When your sugars go up you feel more sluggish; your performance isn't as good. When blood sugars go down, you feel real jittery," said Castillo.

It will be the longest race of her life. But in addition to her training, she'll also be armed with a new device that will not only monitor her blood sugar but pump insulin at the same time.

With Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), patients can measure glucose levels in real-time throughout the day and night. It's also waterproof.

"Over those few weeks, it started learning my body and the rhythms and is keeping my blood sugar steady during these intense runs," Castillo said.

Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, corporate vice president of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, said the device is a game-changer for patients.

"It really will allow patients who previously had to think of everything … they had to be the brains behind how to inject their insulin; they now allow that process to be automated," said Philis-Tsimikas.

Leaving patients like Castillo in control of their diabetes.

"It's a part of me, and it can take this journey with me, but I don't want it to define me," said Castillo.

You can follow Castillo's race on Sunday by entering your number here and receiving text messages. Runners will be wearing a GPS chip in their shoes so family and friends can watch their progress ever step of the race.