This weekend I did something a bit different. I flew to Paris with a fellow pharmacist to complete our first marathon. Now in two different hospitals it was a nice reunion and another hurdle, perhaps comparable to that of the pre-registration year. Pharmacy may have been far from our minds, but medicine in general definitely had its role.
After a tough night’s sleep, the alarm clock sounded with dread. A bowl of porridge (for carbohydrates), with nutella (for protein) fuelled us up for the race. My urine output was up to scratch, evident from multiple visits to the ladies. This was a consequence of water-loading the day before. We then generously applied Vaseline, a runner’s saviour, to prevent from painful chafing (especially useful for men around the nipple region). Standing waiting for the race, some off – licence use of loperamide helped to prevent any runner’s diarrhoea. As each wave took off it was evident runners used everything from this to gaviscon to help settle a nervous stomach. Also littering the streets were tubes of magnesium, which is known to deplete in endurance sports and helps aid muscle contraction.
As I crossed the start line I focused on getting to every 5km where I could rehydrate. Too much hydration however is bad leading to potentially fatal hyponatremia. At each hour I refuelled with a gel, these replace electrolytes and carbohydrates and some contained caffeine. Caffeine as well as providing a mental boost is said to enhance recovery and speed. Regardless of this, the placebo effect worked miracles and they became my “magic” gels. Other aids included jelly beans and sugar lumps to help wave off hypoglycaemia. At mile 20 I begged my friend for some ibuprofen as my feet began to cramp. I was however only allowed this if I caught up with her. Sadly at mile 24 I turned down the offer of wine , unsure if it would hinder my finish.
Crossing the finish line was phenomenal. Post- recovery is not. Blister plasters, analgesia and the applications of “RICE” are some of the few pharmaceutical measures I will be using. However if you are thinking of doing a marathon, I say do it. I am yet to wipe the smile off my face.