A Wee Problem at the Rotorua Marathon

Rob1922Getting on for three decades ago (Good grief! Is it that long?) we used to have 10 minute talks on running when we met in the upper meeting room at the Aquatic Centre at 8 o’clock on Sunday mornings. President Peter Shackleton talked about the benefit of stretching before and after a run. There was a lot of concern about hydration at the time and I can recall the next President Ross Fisher telling us that after a 2 hour run in the morning – there were no walking packs then – we had to keep rehydrating all afternoon until our pee stopped being yellow and became more pale. I find I still monitor the colour and know I should do more stretching but I am always too stiff to do so.

tonyTony Coard was a frequent speaker and before each Rotorua Marathon would tell us such things as how to cope with the hills and how to pace ourselves for the 42.195 ks. In those days we packed a whole bus with Clinic runners and would stay together at Novotel. I recall the first time I ran the marathon and I kept anticipating these fearsome hills we had heard so much about. I was running with a group of Clinic members and also some Rotorua runners and after getting around to the other side of the lake asked when we were going to get to the hills.

Mate. you’ve already run most of them‘, was the reply.
Hey‘, I said, ‘we are from Wellington, those don’t count as hills‘.

Well, one year, about three weeks out from the Marathon, Tony recounted how he had read an article about hydration. Apparently we lose up to a litre of water every hour at the pace we were running at, and having 200 mls of water at every drink stop came nowhere near to replacing this. The solution, according to Tony, was to OD on water beforehand. Like drink at least a litre, but preferably two litres just before the race.

This seemed like imminent sense to me and half an hour beforehand, in the Novotel room that Brian Read and I shared, I drank as much water as I could and sort of waddled over to the start. You know what it is like when you fill a balloon with water and bounce it up and down from the neck when you walk. What had not occurred to me was that my system was rapidly gearing up to shove as much of this water through my kidneys as it could. And it became necessary to do something about it. By this time there was only 15 minutes to the start so there was not enough time to get back to the room at the Novotel. And, of course, the queues to the portaloos were taken up mainly by the women. I discovered in subsequent years that the men made good use of the stand of bamboo near the start line. Each year this stand grew most vigorously.

Well, no worries‘ I thought. ‘I shall make use of one of the portaloos that will no doubt be at regular intervals along the way‘.

I saw a couple, but there were people waiting outside to use them. Otherwise, I must have missed seeing them.

OK, so the standby for males in such situations, is bushes. But such were the spectators, and the constant stream of runners, that this was not a viable solution. I saw one public toilet in one of the parks on the opposite side of the lake. It was about 100 metres away. Which would have added a good 5 minutes to my time.

So I kept on running. Past the airport, into the mephitic cloud of car fumes, hydrogen sulphide, and sulphur dioxide and along that straight that never seems to end, to the gardens and turning into those last 200 metres to the finish. Which wasn’t too bad for Rotorua at 3hr 38. And I thought ‘There is something I really have to do.What is it?’ And I realised, to my astonishment I didn’t. Apparently, you can reabsorb water from your bladder if necessary.

In those days, we ran with Past President Roger Hooper’s 5 1/2 min/k. His wife Leslie, who took over as Pack Leader when Roger stood down, Bruce and Jean Campbell, Lorriane Freeman, Bill Buxton, Brian Read, Sue Evans, Sean O’Neill, Molly Hunua, and some 20 others and we all hammered along at just over 5 min/k and finished marathons in under 3 hr 45. Those were the glory days.

Clinic members did a lot of sleeping together back then. On the return to Wellington on the Sunday morning, most of us fell asleep before the bus had cleared the Rotorua boundaries, and we slept together all the way to Levin.

There does not seem to be the same concern over dehydration these days. Sean O’Neill always said that the emphasis on hydration was overdone He said that no one ever died of dehydration. I am not sure that the bleached bones in the Sahara, or those of the Eight Army, including the NZ Division in the Western Desert would agree with him.

But browsing through the internet, there apparently is a new method of telling whether or not you are dehydrated.

I have named it THematic Integrated Reflex Self Testing. Or, as it is in the acroynm -THIRST. That is, when you experience THematic Integrated Self Testing Youself and find you are THIRSTY, you drink water.

Rob Julian
Past President
Wellington Marathon Clinic

There is the flip side of this story, drinking too much water.
Several people have died in the last decade or two of hyponatremia… google it if you are interested – Stan

I was aware of the problems of hyponatremia after reading this article on the obsession of drinking eight glasses of water a day. According to the above article, athletes can get it by drinking too much water all at once when they are suffering from dehydration – Rob.



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