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My First Marathon and Dehydration

My First Marathon Dehydration

The first half of the Buffalo Marathon went well, and I was on pace for a sub-4 hour finish. However, dehydration significantly slowed me down in the second half. You can read the whole story in the ebook, My First Marathon Surviving Dehydration. For sale on Amazon for only $0.99.

On Sunday, May 29, 2022, the temperature in Buffalo, New York, was a cool 56 degrees Fahrenheit. My marathon hydration plan was to drink the Gatorade Endurance in the 2-liter bladder of my Nathan vest. Instead of slowing down to grab fluid at aid stations and struggling to drink out of small cups, I will maintain a constant marathon pace throughout the race and only drink from my hydration bladder.

My Marathon Dehydration Mistake

Why did I think 2-liters for a marathon was the right amount? Because that’s how much elite pro marathoners consume during their marathons. My big miscalculation was that professionals completed the marathon in about two hours. However, my marathon pace would take twice as long (4 hours) to complete.

The Effects of Dehydration

An hour after the race, I feel sick and collapse in the lobby of Motel 6. My dehydrated body shakes on the floor. The front desk calls 911.

As my arms and legs shake uncontrollably, I close my eyes and groan out loud in awful pain. Then, realizing I’m going into shock, I raise my legs, resting my feet on the seat of a chair.

First Responders

The ambulance arrives, and paramedics start asking me questions. I’m breathing fast and heavy, my body trembling. Finally, they lift me onto a wheeled stretcher and into the ambulance.

Riding in the ambulance, I feel my arms and legs go numb. The blood pressure cuff squeezes my left arm, and I feel painful pins-and-needles. Laying on my back, I retch, trying to vomit. As I sit up, I get a vomit bag and dry-heave. Nothing comes out.

Hospital Dehydration Treatment

I arrived at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo. The doctor gave me a fast intravenous (IV) saline solution drip to treat my dehydration. After the first bag of saline, I felt better.

Then the nurse drew my blood and found elevated heart enzymes. Later, the doctor explained the increase in troponin levels indicates heart injury. So running my first marathon while suffering dehydration resulted in minor heart damage.

In the video, Running the Buffalo Marathon, you can see my abnormal heart rhythm on the EKG monitor.

How to Avoid Dehydration

My cardiologist, Dr. Brahmesh Siva, told me to drink at least 1 liter per hour to avoid dehydration. Furthermore, you may need to drink more depending on weather conditions. The more you sweat, the more hydration you need.

How much fluid did I consume during my first marathon? Unfortunately, I had about 16 ounces of Gatorade Endurance in the hydration bladder after the race. Also, I drank a small cup of water, 6 ounces, from the 16-mile aid station. Thus, I estimate my fluid consumption during the race was only 1.7 liter (58 ounces).

Immediately after the marathon, I consumed about 1.2 liters (40 ounces) of water and .24 liters (8 ounces) of protein recovery drink. However, I needed to drink at least twice as much to avoid dehydration.

Marathon Hydration Like a Pro

You can hydrate like a marathon pro. If pro marathon racers drink about a liter per hour and it takes you 4 hours and 30 minutes to race a marathon, you will need to drink at least 4.5 liters. The pros drink half as much because they race twice as fast. However, the hydration consumption rate is the same. Drink at least a liter of water per hour and race like a pro!

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