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Volunteering at the NYC Marathon 2018

The NYC Marathon was on November 4th this year and conditions were pretty great for runners. It wasn't TOO cold, it wasn't TOO warm, the ground wasn't wet, and there were hundreds of volunteers geared up and ready to cheer on and support all runners. Runners from all over the world come to run this race which spans across the 5 boroughs of NYC. This year, a few of my friends signed up to be medical volunteers in the medical tents. There were medical tents almost every mile of the way. Within these tents, we had a team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, sports specialists, medical students, nursing students, PT students, etc.

We had to go to a training a few days before the race where a team of doctors spoke to us about the most common problems runners face during and after a strenuous race (dehydration, hyponatremia, exercise-associated collapse, hypothermia, hyperthermia, cramps... A LOT OF CRAMPING).

We definitely could have used more PT help. Majority of our patients coming in simply wanted a nice massage to get rid of their cramps. I was also at the VERY LAST medical tent of the race (a few miles after the finish line where runners do a cool down walk).

We gave patients acetaminophen aka Tylenol for any pain they were reporting that needed to be remedied (not aspirin or ibuprofen due to research which suggests harm to a runner's kidneys on race day. We also made a bunch of ice packs and wrapped them around those pained joints. It's very common for runner's to become hyponatremic as well as some may over-hydrate with water throughout the race and deplete their sodium. So we generally just toss a bunch of salt packets into their mouths and load them up on electrolytes like Gatorade. The salt could also help with their cramping.

Some runners come into our tent after having did their cool down walk and then become super cold, so we have fancy blankets that get pumped with warm air to warm up their body temps. (We also use these in the PACU at work when patients get out of the OR)

If necessary, an IV would be placed and fluids would be hung if the patient REALLY needs it. It was needed for one patient in our tent because she was nauseous and throwing up, couldn't keep anything down. Hung 1L of LR (lactated ringers) and gave her some odansetron through her IV to help with the N/V.

All in all, it was pretty inspiring seeing all these runners complete 26.2 miles. All the training and mental endurance takes a lot! 👏

Was low-key inspired to sign-up for a marathon after this event. But now that I think about it, I'm being a little TOO ambitious. I should work on potentially running a second half-marathon first. 😅

Have any of you ran half-marathons or marathons? What are some of your tips and tricks for staying motivated and preventing any physical strains (cramps, strains, joint pains, etc?



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