No poison in this IV

Fifteen marathons and I’m still learning about my body. An easy conclusion after suffering through – and after – my latest 26.2 is that I should strongly consider not running a marathon when the temperature rises to 85. Of the two I’ve done in such conditions, the outcome was the same: nausea, vomiting, and a trip to the hospital. In a word, dehydration.

My first experience on a hot day was at Boston in 2004. I tried to run at a slower pace, I drank as much as I could. Still, three hours after finishing in 85-degree weather, I threw up and felt like throwing up for the rest of the day and into the next morning. The only solution was a trip to the emergency room. If you can’t rehydrate yourself through your mouth, it has to happen through your arm.

That time, I waited until the next morning to “give in” to my wife’s and mother’s request to go to the hospital. Two and a half IV bags later (plus two welcoming bowls of hot onion soup; I don’t even like onion soup) I was back to myself again. In total, I took four bags that day and was in the bathroom constantly the rest of the day.

On Sunday, it was much of the same. I ran slower (I had little choice) for the final 5 miles of the Shires of Vermont Marathon and then drank as much as I could afterward. I did make sure to stop and walk and drink at every water stop. I put ice inside my hat as much as possible. I downed five 16-ounce bottles of water in the hours after the race … and by 4 that afternoon, I was tossing my cookies (it was mostly pizza) at a rest stop along I-91 near Greenfield, Mass.

Still, I wasn’t out of the woods. I drank two more bottles of water, choked down a few pretzels and by the time we got home at 6, I knew the hospital was a likely destination. I went out and bought two 32-ounce bottles of Gatorade, got through half of one of them, before finally telling my wife that I needed to go get hooked up with an IV. It wasn’t happening the natural way, so off we went.

Before getting tapped, I felt just as I did in ’04 – nauseated, lethargic, thirsty and sick and tired of being unable to hydrate myself. Only this time, I didn’t wait until the next morning.

Once again, after two and a half bags, I started feeling better. By the end of the third, I was asking for directions to the bathroom. When I got home, I went straight to the bathroom. A half-hour after falling into a quick sleep, it was back to the can. You get the idea.

By the morning, I was finally hungry again. Time to eat one of those tasty apple cider donuts that we bought in Vermont the day before.

The other 13 marathons I’ve run have either been early (6:30 or 7 a.m.) enough to avoid the heat, or in more favorable weather, like Boston ’06, when it drizzled and temps never left the 50s. But every once in a while, the heat kicks on. Just like last month’s Boston.

I was glad I wasn’t running that race this year. When I heard the forecast, I thought that I’d strongly consider not running if indeed I were in the field. And I just found out that more than 2,100 runners decided to take the Boston Athletic Association’s highly-respected (in my opinion) offer to defer to next year.

What that means, however, is that the 2013 race will be harder to get into for runners such as myself. My goal for the Shires Marathon was to break 3:05 (at least) and beat my Boston qualifying time by more than 20 minutes, which means first dibs on Boston race signups. But because of the heat, I simply met my qualie time and will have to hope for a strong effort out of my computer in September when it comes time to registering for the race.

The deferred runners will now get the chance to sign up first; then those who beat their time by more than 20 minutes; then the ones who beat it by more than 10 minutes. Then I can try to sign up. There will once again be 27,000 in the field, but my chances have slimmed from my original plan of running better than 3:05. But that’s the luck of the draw with marathons. You can do all the training in the world, but if the weather isn’t cooperative on race day, there’s little you can do. Survival mode takes the place of a PR.

Will I choose not to run the next time I see a forecasted high of 85 for my next marathon day? I’ll have to seriously think about it. Because it’s likely to happen again. Maybe next time I’ll request an IV upon crossing the finish line. Why delay the inevitable?

But for now, I’m looking forward to signup day for next year’s Boston. I want to run that race again, and do it every year if I can. The hard work is done, the rest is out of my control.

Time to put my computer into training mode. Once again, it’s luck of the draw.

I had a rough marathon over the weekend, so maybe the odds of getting into Boston are in my favor. If not I’ll keep trying. My next marathon is bound to be a cool one. Hopefully it’ll be on Patriot’s Day.


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