Saturday, October 21, 2006

Analysing the Half Marathon

I have been trying to work out why I threw up at the 10km mark on Sunday. It’s possible I pushed myself too hard over the first 10km. I was going a little fast for the first 5km, but I think I slowed to a reasonable pace after that. There’s also the possibility that I drank too much water too fast, or that it was the gel shot. I drank one small cup of water at the 5km mark, and possibly around the same or slightly less from Jo’s drink bottle. As I said in my last post, I spent the next 5km obsessing over water.

When I got to the 10km mark I drank another small cup of water with a gel shot added, then another cup of water after that. Almost immediately I started feeling nauseous, spitting out bile. I threw up a couple of minutes later, and it was all water. So it is possible the gel shot or water triggered it. However I’d already had a couple of bilious burps running up the hill to the drink station, so it’s more likely the gel shot simply tipped me over the edge.

It’s also worth noting that I had a stomach full of pills. I ate an average-sized bowl of Hubbards Nice and Lite at 7am, and accompanied that with three 5mg Hydrocortisone pills, 2 Thyroxine tablets, .05 of Fludrocortisone and 15 mg of DHEA in two capsules. I would normally have only taken one Hydrocortisone pill, so that may have had something to do with it. I’m not sure how to get around that one, other than to get up earlier and eat more.

I’m not sure how serious a problem I had with overheating and dehydration. I was a little sunburned afterwards, but I was dressed a lot more lightly than some. One of the symptoms of Addisons is heat intolerance, although it’s never been a problem for me before now. However most of our training took place in freezing cold or mild temperatures, so I certainly wasn’t used to the conditions.

Ultimately I can make a few assumptions about what happened, but I won’t ever know for certain and will simply have to treat future long runs as an experiment. My plan of attack is as follows:

∑ Start running in the heat
∑ Buy a fuel belt and carry water and an electrolyte drink with me
∑ Wear a hat
∑ Drink even more water the day before and on the morning of the event
∑ Carry medication – pills and Solu Cortef

The last is the most crucial point to note. I would have kept running if it weren’t for the fact I didn’t have any medication on me. If I’d thrown up again I could have ended up in Addisonian Crisis and in serious trouble. If I have Solu Cortef with me at least I can inject myself with extra cortisol. I will also have to carry some clear instructions with me on what to do if I collapse. If I’m going to get into endurance sports I’m going to have to take my health seriously.

Note: Having talked to some of the jog squad girls on Wednesday night, I’m now REALLY glad I didn’t continue. I realise now that my memories of the actual course are very hazy. Jo says she’s never seen anyone drink as fast as I did when I took her water bottle off her. Even worse, some of the other women were apparently there when I was throwing up, and I don’t remember them at all. So I must have been more badly affected by the heat than I thought. I’m a little unnerved….

I’ve looked at the Foxton course and there’s around 7 opportunities to take on water. So I probably won’t carry water with me, but I will still take medication and something in writing to make it clear what needs to be done if I’m found unconscious. It’s unlikely to happen, but there’s no harm in being cautious and a lot of harm in being stupid.

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