April 14, 2005
BehindTheMedspeak: If you're a marathon runner, drinking too much water can kill you
Wait a minute — aren't runners supposed to drink water constantly, even when they're not thirsty?
What about the old saw, "Drink ahead of your thirst — if you're thirsty, it's too late."
That's all hogwash, is all that.
Today's New England Journal of Medicine features an article entitled "Hyponatremia Among Runners in the Boston Marathon."
The authors studied 488 runners who finished the race.
They took blood samples at the finish line and analyzed them: the surprising result was that fully 13% of the samples showed hyponatremia (low blood sodium), which can lead to "race-related death and life-threatening illness among runners."
0.6% (6 runners) had critical hyponatremia, three with levels so low they were in danger of dying.
Who's at highest risk?
Men who run slowly (over four hours for a marathon).
That gives them plenty of time to stop at every aid station and drink, drink, drink.
Dr. Tim Noakes, a hyponatremia expert at the University of Cape Town, said in Gina Kolata's article in today's New York Times about the findings, "Everybody becomes dehydrated when they race. But I have not found one death in an athlete from dehydration in a competitive race in the whole history of running. Not one. Not even a case of illness."
On the other hand, he said, he knew of people who had died from drinking too much water.
He said doctors and emergency workers at races sometimes assume sick runners are suffering from dehydration and give I.V. fluids, killing the patient.
The problem surfaced at the 2002 Boston Marathon, when a 28-year-old woman reached Heartbreak Hill, at Mile 20, after five hours of running and drinking.
Feeling terrible and thinking she was dehydrated, she chugged 16 ounces of liquid.
She collapsed within minutes and was later declared brain dead.
Her blood sodium was 113 mmol/liter (normal is 135).
As blood sodium decreases the brain swells, which can cause confusion, grogginess, and lead to seizures and cardiac arrest.
On a related subject: if you're planning on running a marathon but don't want to destroy your body training for and doing it, the best investment of money and time you can make is to buy and read Jeff Galloway's superb book, "Marathon: You Can Do It!" (pictured above).
It costs $11.17 at amazon.
After having run a number of marathons and half-marathons the old way, I tried Jeff's way — which includes short breaks for walking on a regular schedule.
Not only was my overall time lower but I actually enjoyed most of the race and felt fine afterwards as opposed to my usual weeks-long period of post-race pain and fatigue.
It's a great book for those of us who'll never break three hours – much less four — in the marathon.
Why should you believe Galloway?
Maybe because he's a former world-class runner and member of the U.S. Olympic team who has run over 130 marathons?
I dunno, seems like he might have useful advice to offer most anyone.
Fuzzy Pompom Light Switch
Conductive fibers in the fabric detect the press of a hand.
Dr. Orth said, in an article in yesterday's New York Times, "You just squeeze the pompom, and the lights go on or off."
I want one. Or ten.
Currently on display at the Cooper–Hewitt National Design Museum in New York in the just-opened show, "Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance," the devices are expected to hit stores later this year.
International Fashion Machines wins a bookofjoe Naming Award.
'Cigarette Lighters Banned From Airplanes'
That's the news today.
The new restrictions began at 12:01 a.m. today at all U.S. airports.
So if you're on your way to the airport as you're reading this you might want to leave your fancy Dunhill or Cartier lighter in your glove compartment rather than have it confiscated at the security checkpoint.
Strange, isn't it?
The whole brouhaha about lighters and matches began back in 2002 when Richard Reid tried unsuccessfully to light his explosive-filled shoes with safety matches (the ones that come in a matchbook).
With the new policy in place, cigarette lighters are banned along with strike-anywhere matches (the ones cowboys light on their boots).
In a bizarre exception to the rule, safety matches — the type prospective shoebomber Richard Reid used — are still permitted as carry-on.
You can only take four books, though.
Don't say you weren't warned.
125 Steps to turn on a flashlight — Purdue University takes third consecutive Rube Goldberg Award
The Boilermakers (above) know how to do things the hard way, no question.
I use the word "almost" advisedly: you may recall one of bookofjoe's most popular posts ever, featuring the redoubtable retired engineer Seth Goldstein's remarkable tie-tying machine (below), which creates a perfectly tied tie in 562 steps.
bookofjoe suggests that the contest fly Mr. Goldstein out to present the award.
CellCup™ — Turns your cup holder into an organizer
Turn your black hole into a functional space.
Made of soft gray foam so you won't chip your nails reaching for things.
Holds your phone, pen, pencil, coins and notepad in one easy-to-reach place.
"Fits snugly to hold your phone in place without rattles. A port in the bottom lets you pass your charging cord through."
Petra Haden II — 'The Who Sell Out' Never Sounded Better
It arrived Tuesday and I've been listening to it almost nonstop ever since.
I also ordered The Who's original album so I could refresh my memory of what Petra worked off of.
I am here to say that Petra's version is magnificent and wonderful and surprising and inventive and, well, buy it for yourself.
Her versions of "Armenia City In The Sky," "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand," "I Can See For Miles," "I Can't Reach You" and "Sunrise" are breathtakingly beautiful.
For one thing, Petra's voice is gorgeous in and of itself.
Another treat is that for the very first time I can actually understand the words, which on the original were buried under multi-tracked and layered fuzz and buzz.
The lyrics are wonderful.
And her versions of the commercials and ads and Radio London spots are priceless.
At amazon you can listen to clips from each song.
An amazing achievement and a work of art is "Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out."
Stainless Steel House For Sale
Noted architect Arthur Cotton Moore built it for himself and his wife six years ago.
The 4,000-square-foot house at the tip of Benoni Point (above) sits on the Tred Avon River, about 50 miles from Washington, D.C.
The Moores are selling because the drive in and out of D.C. has gotten old.
It turns out that while you can run a virtual empire like bookofjoe from a little town like Charlottesville, in the middle of nowhere, architecture's not like that; said Moore, "You have to view things, you have to go to sites."
The couple have already moved to an apartment in the Watergate complex but they've left their furniture in the house to make it more marketable.
Empty, the steel house is probably like being inside a refrigerator or nicely finished storage container with windows.
The house might not be the easiest sell in the world: in an article about it in 2000, Washington Post writer Ken Ringle wrote, "James Bond's arch-villain Ernst Blofeld would feel right at home among its sinuous curves, corrugations and antennas."
I don't know about you but I'd prefer Bond's house to Blofeld's.
Fred A. Bernstein of the New York Times wrote, also in 2000, that Moore's house was "almost his undoing."
Putting together the 77 stainless steel girders, many of which were curved and "usable only if correctly formed to within one-sixteenth of an inch" required "more than nails," Bernstein said.
He wrote, "As Mr. Moore's wife, Patricia, observed: 'Other people have a family doctor; we have a family welder.'"
Here's a link to Sandra Fleishman's April 2 Washington Post article about the house.
Here's a link to the listing, which states the price is $3,850,000.
Hey, Arthur Cotton Moore is living in an empty apartment.
He's going to be 70 years old this year; each heartbeat could be his last.
Offer him $3 million cash and I'll bet you've got yourself a steel house.
No, not the successor to metrosexuals or macho man or anything like that, nor is he Spider Man's new nemesis.
Rather, Metro Man (above) is a cotton-bodied, lavender-scented bead-filled creature with Velcro®-covered hands that slip over a cardboard hanger that you put in your closet.
"Metro Man freshens the air in unvented areas like closets and drawers."