Full Name: Jakob Conner Sandberg
Date of Birth: 03/08/1995
Location: Berkeley, CA
Hometown: Henderson, NV
Education: I’m a 3rd-year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, studying pure and applied Mathematics
Work: I work as a Research Assistant (RA) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, doing Software Engineering for the ATLAS Experiment.
Diabetes Diagnosis: December 12, 2007
In sixth grade, around the age of 11, I began running at night as a way to deal with stress and anxiety. I found that If I pushed my body in the right way, I could (almost) guarantee a relaxed and sedated state by the time I made it back home to shower and eat. Thus, my pre-teen self developed an emotional relationship with running as a means of emotional stability. Just over a year into this “relationship”, I found myself in the hospital diagnosed with type one diabetes. This required a lot of adjustments to my lifestyle, and thus I put running on hold until I went to San Juan Hills High School in Orange County, CA. Once there, I discovered competitive endurance sports in the form of track running and cross country. These experiences developed the basis of who I am today, as an athlete.
Although most of my progression as an athlete has occurred since my diabetes diagnosis, I truly fell in love with the sport of running prior to the discovery of this chronic condition. I think this fact is crucial in my personal development as an athlete: I have never looked at myself as “an athlete with diabetes”, I have always kept the two apart; thus, I have always seen myself as “an athlete who happens to have diabetes”. It is obvious that type one diabetes plays a huge role logistically in my training and racing, though I have never looked at it as an athletic inhibitor. I think this is a large part of my drive to be the best athlete I can, as I do not look at my diabetes as a barrier; in fact, my athletic endeavors have done nothing but improve my diabetes management, and with that comes maximized performance (relative to a non-diabetic).
Throughout highschool, my biggest struggle was finding a way to balance competitive performances while still managing my diabetes. By the time I started looking at and applying for colleges, I had developed most of the knowledge required to balance these two, though it is certainly a never-ending process of learning about your body. Around the same time, running injuries had introduced me to competitive cycling (and subsequently, swimming), where I began to develop my current passion for mutli-sport endurance events (e.g. triathlon). I competed in my first triathlon in 2012, and almost instantly fell in love with the sport.
My first two years in the sport involved a fair dose of training and racing, simply to get my feet wet and to see what I was getting myself into. Although I was certainly trying to get as fast as possible, time constraints alone limited much of my potential, particularly in swimming and cycling. In this period (2012-2013), I went through a ton of changes. I formally un-enrolled from highschool and subsequently enrolled full-time in community (2-year) college, where I immediately took on some pretty absurd course loads. During this time I also moved out on my own, just after I turned 17. Through thousands of hours of hard work, I put together a solid application and was admitted to the University of California, Berkeley, which is often regarded as the best public school in the world. Upon admission, I got a full-time job over the summer (working an average of 50 hours/week) to pay for my travel to Berkeley and my initial deposit/rent at the Chi Psi “Lodge”, where I currently reside today.
For any updates since I’ve been to Berkeley, please check out my new post: Personal Update: What I’ve been up to.