Dehydration

Did you know that the body needs water? I did. But apparently I forgot. Yes, folks, this marathon runner forgot to hydrate. I went about 20 hours without drinking water! Fortunately I caught my dehydration in time and there were no mishaps. I don’t remember driving 55 miles home today, though.

While nearly all of the blame falls on me because I’m the only one who can actually hydrate myself, a small part of it falls on the folks who put on the California International Marathon yesterday. I’m sorry, but there is NO excuse to not supply volunteers with some water, especially when they’re working 4+ hour shifts.

The marathon volunteering will be a separate post (probably not until Wednesday), and I had a lot of really great experiences. This post, however, is about water. Or lack thereof.

Saturday night I had my last drink of water around 10 p.m. I lost track of time and went to sleep very late, so when I woke up around 4:20 the next morning I was barely functioning. I had over an hour of driving to do in the dark, so I took two travel cups in the car, which means I drank about 24 ounces of coffee. It’s not clear whether coffee causes dehydration, since it’s made with water, but I didn’t have any plain water.

I was standing, lifting, carrying, pulling, moving around, yelling, cheering, and hugging runners for hours. I had no food or drink. Around 1 p.m., when I was done volunteering but was out on the marathon course to cheer some more, an ROTC cadet offered me a protein bar. Since I hadn’t eaten in about 13 hours, I was extremely grateful. Those bars are not exactly filled with fluid, though.

Then I went shopping, because I had a coupon to use. I really did not want to go shopping, but it was expiring soon and I’d paid for it. It took me forever, and then traffic going home was a bit slower than expected, due to rain. I got home around 4:30, drank about 6 ounces of water, hopped in the shower, got ready to leave, and headed to a local brewery for my running buddies’ marathon celebration.

Of course I ordered a beer, but I asked for water right away — which took a long time to arrive. I didn’t drink all of the water. I was beyond tired when I got home, and I had a little more water before crashing into bed. I awoke this morning with a splitting headache. I had a hunch it was a water issue, so I forced down about half a glass before showering and hurrying off to work. I was eating toast and drinking coffee in the car, and my stomach got mad — which never, ever happens to me.

Then I got to work, got out of the car, and felt woozy. Within 20 minutes things had continued downhill. I found myself dimming my office lights because they were too bright, and I started worrying that it was a migraine. I found some Excedrin, and I tried to drink more water. The Excedrin finally kicked in, but I was really worried because home was a 55-mile drive away. I decided to leave while I could still drive.

On the way home I took the advice of a friend who runs 100-milers: I stopped at McDonald’s and got fries with salt and a Coke. I apparently managed to eat them, drink the Coke, and almost finish my 24-ounce bottle of water.

I say “apparently” because I don’t remember the drive home. I do recall finishing the book I’ve been listening to on CD. At one point I had no idea where I was and thought I’d missed my exit on Interstate 5. I got home without incident, and I have no idea what I did for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight I discovered that I’d done a load of laundry, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Now I have consumed more water and tea (another way to get more fluids in), and the cobwebs have cleared from my head. Looking back, I estimate that I went for 20 hours with no water other than 24 ounces of coffee. I like water, I use my Brita pitcher, I run marathons — I know about hydration! And yet I had nearly all the early symptoms of dehydration.

So, kids, drink your water. And remind me to drink water, too!

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2 Responses to Dehydration

  1. Pamela says:

    I could never forget to drink, but Eric does it all the time. That’s the pits there was no water for the volunteers. Drink up!

  2. Estella says:

    It’s amazing what dehydration will do to the body, even in 20 hrs. That was unacceptable for the CIM race organizers not to take care of their volunteers. Of the races that I have volunteered, they have taken good care of us. I think a lot of the minor ailments that I hear people around me complain about can be related to dehydration. I know when I haven’t had enough, I just feel icky. Well, that was a bit of a scary fog you were in, glad I caught your post. :) I’m looking back at your stress fracture post too, want to see if symptoms mirror each other more than they did the first time I read it.