How Drinking Water Almost Killed Me – Part 3 of 5 – Race Day – From Euphoria to ER

This is the third part in the series. The previous one described the preparations for the marathon.

March 25th 2012 was a special day. The first cup of coffee after 4 days was great. I also ate a few cookies and a yogurt. Perhaps also an energy bar. I drank water of course.

It was a bit cold in the morning of the race, but not too bad. I put on sun screen and wore a cap. The plan was to run at an average pace of 5:34 per kilometer, finishing the race at 3 hours and 55 minutes. This made sense given my fitness and the fact that it was my first marathon race. The organizer of the running group, who is a veteran runner, designated himself as pacemaker for the first time runners.

A group picture before the race:

Barcelona Marathon 2012 - Before the race
Barcelona Marathon 2012 - Before the race - Photo Credit: Marcia

The Race

The first few Ks were packed with people but we stabilized at around 5:30 not too far off from the start. The atmosphere was superb: many people were cheering us along the way, the sun was shining and Barcelona’s natural beauty was at its best: the course passed through some of Gaudi’s buildings, La Sagrada Familia, Camp Nou, the sea and many other nice places.

There were 11 water stops along the way: each one consisted of a bottle of 330 milliliters of water and a small open cup of Powerade, an isotonic drink. I assume there were about 100 milliliters of Powerade in every cup.

I stopped in at least 9 out of those 11 stations, consuming both the full bottle of water and the cup of Powerade. There were two stations of sports’ gels. I stopped in only one of them and chewed on most of the gel. There were 6 stations of “solid foods” – I didn’t stop in ANY of them. They had bananas, oranges and nuts. This was the initial error.

After about 30-32K I entered uncharted territory and began slowing down. Ingmar, the organizer of the running group and another guy also slowed down together with me and also encouraged me. Their presence kept me motivated and the pace matched my abilities. We ran at around 6 minutes / kilometer – not such a big difference.

We slowed down towards the finish line, and crossed the line while hugging each hugging each other. The finish time was 3 hours, 58 minutes. This was a bit longer than planned, but this slowdown was a reaction to what the body told me, and still a nice time (under 4 hours).

My wife Galia cheered me up twice along the way. After eating half a banana, a bottle of Powerade and more water, I left the running zone and went to the meeting point.

After the Race

We took our time at the meeting point, waiting for everybody to appear, having a great time. We were many first-timers that were thrilled to finish the race.

Perhaps an hour passed by since the end of the race (around 13:00) until we began searching for some place to have a drink and eat something. When we found a place to sit, it was in the sun, though not too hot. I ordered water and a sandwich. I assumed water was important in order to prevent dehydration. That was another big mistake.

The Downfall

Upon putting the sandwich in my mouth, I felt a nausea and couldn’t eat it. I ordered more water and asked Galia to go home. She paid, got more water upon my request and we began going home.

I felt a bit shaky on the way, but managed to make the journey. At home, I drank more isotonic drinks and more water. Galia told me I should eat something and I eventually ate some plain toasts. She also convinced me to take a shower, even though I only wanted to rest.

Somewhere late in the afternoon, around 17:00 or 18:00, I felt bad, got out of bed and immediately threw up, before getting near the toilet. It was mostly fluids. I was quite surprised and shocked, although I felt more stable afterwards.

After some cleaning up and taking a shower, I got back to bed.

The next chapter describes what happened afterwards including a day and a half I don’t remember and the recovery that followed.

From here on, this is Galia’s account as I don’t remember anything from Sunday at around 19:00 – 20:00 until the early hours of Tuesday.

All the chapters:

  1. Running Background
  2. Preparing for the Marathon
  3. Race Day – From Euphoria to ER
  4. Losing it and Getting Back
  5. Thanks and Conclusions

How Drinking Water Almost Killed Me – Part 2 of 5 – Preparing for the Marathon

This is the second part of the series. The previous one described my running background up to the 30K run to Montserrat in November 2011.

After completing that 30K uphill run, completing the famous marathon run certainly seemed feasible. It required careful training. I also preferred doing it in one of my home towns such as Barcelona or Tel Aviv, rather than doing it on unfamiliar ground.

I had a break from running during the beginning of January 2012 due to a visit in Israel, and I began considering the Barcelona marathon upon returning towards the end of January.

The race was planned for March 25th. At first I didn’t register, as I wanted to be certain I’m up for it. This cost me more money when I eventually registered, but I could afford it. So, I began training in the city and around.

Besos River - Barcelona
Besos River – Barcelona city limits


A friend helped me find a good plan, and I began running at least 3 times per week. This included several short and fast training sessions, medium length and medium speed runs and most importantly lengthy runs on weekends.

The long runs consisted of doing a half marathon, followed by a 32 kilometer (20 mile) training session on a gravel road in “Carretera de les Aigues” above the city. This run left my knees aching and a bit worried I’m not up for the big run.

During these long runs, I became aware of the power of Powerade (or Gatorade if you wish). The isotinc drinks presumably has the right balance of water, sugar and salt, and I felt that they gave me a big boost along the runs.

A week later saw another half marathon race in which I didn’t encounter any pain and in which I set a personal best of 1:44:42. It certainly motivated me.

The longest run of a bit more than 32K was a bit hard, but I completed it successfully. This was 3 weeks before the big run, and I felt comfortable enough to register for the marathon.

The plan was to run 24K a week later, but it turned into 30K, which was already in warmer weather and more tiring, but after having all this capacity behind me, adding a bit more seemed within reach. It was.

According to the plan, the last weekend before the big day was an easy 15K run in order to “taper down”. That’s exactly what happened.

Montjuic as seen from the outskirts of Barceloneta
Montjuic as seen from the outskirts of Barceloneta

I had my last short training session 5 days before the race. Then I started a coffee and alcohol diet: abstaining from coffee was done in order to clean my body towards the race and then have a nice cup of coffee on the morning of the big race. This way, the fat burning that caffeine offers would be more effective.

Abstaining from alcohol just helps clean up from a tiring factor before a significant physical effort. I also woke up early and got up early, getting myself ready for waking up early for the race, especially as it was planned for the day that DST came into effect.

The next chapter will be published tomorrow and includes the race itself and the aftermath (what I remember).

All the chapters:

  1. Running Background
  2. Preparing for the Marathon
  3. Race Day – From Euphoria to ER
  4. Losing it and Getting Back
  5. Thanks and Conclusions