Marathon #4 – Inaugural Hill Country Marathon with subsequent “Spark” (1,200 mg caffeine) overdose – 10/21/13


Marathon #4 / Overall #5
Hill Country Marathon
And the subsequent 1,200 mg caffeine overdose with visit to the ER after
Marble Falls, TX

So I had been training for the 2013 Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio Marathon with friends from my running team RuNsane Running from the valley. I’ve already done a handful of long runs this season, including two long runs in the Bahamas while Chris, Nicole, Ashley and I were on a cruise (Freeport and Nassau).


Then, few weeks later, I had done two back-to-back long runs in Harlingen with the RuNsane Running team (a 17 miler and a 9 miler where I pushed some HEB kart which was like freakin’ 2 miles away back to the store off 77 Sunshine Strip! lol).

And then I saw the Hill Country Marathon come up. It was their inaugural year, hosted by Traverse Running, and I had thought this might be a good training run to do before the actual Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio in November. The time limit seemed pretty short at 6 hours and being supposedly one of the hilliest races, I figured that had I only finish 20 miles, I’d still be content. A finish would be a bonus ha…

The race was located just north of Marble Falls, about 2 hours north of San Antonio on 281, a distance that’s totally driveable.

When I was in Harlingen, I tried some of John’s Advocare Spark before a run and automatically assumed it was for hydration… lol. So for the Hill Country Marathon, I bought a whole canister of Spark.

Packet pickup was at a local brewery (Double Horns) in Marble Falls. This was going to be a small race (I’ve never done anything this small before lol).

Night before the race

So I hydrated myself with water and 3 scoops of Spark, and for the whole night I had a hard time falling asleep. I figured, this must have been the pre-race jitters.

Race morning

This race started out at the Marble Falls High School and the sun wasn’t out yet. This course had a combination of a full marathon, a half marathon, and a 10k.

Temperatures started out in the low 50’s, a very comfortable starting range… it was even a little chilly to be honest. The first few miles started out as a gradual downhill, then there was a steep dropoff right before the 10k turnaround point to the first aid station…

After the first aid station, the course proceeded southeast to the half marathon turnaround point. The full marathon turned around over here as well. All I have to say is… this is HILLY!! Much hillier than Austin which I’ve done earlier this year. There were some parts going downhill that was so steep that I went backwards… lol.

But… it was beautiful and quiet.

Coming back to the first aid station, the half marathoners would turn left and head back, while the full marathoners would go north for another 6 miles or so before the next aid station. Temperatures were still in the high 50’s and low 60’s but manageable.

This seemed like a rather long stretch. It wasn’t as hilly, which was a good thing. I had been using this whole time to practice ChiRunning which I’ve started to get into since July to August of this year after my DNF at Orange County. The last aid station was actually closer to Burnet than it was Marble Falls. Yes, they did have a timing mat there that would prevent people from “cheating” not that they wanna do it here lol.

The return 6 mile segment, however, seemed FOREVER, even though everything was asphalt or crushed gravel. At this point I could feel every hill that comes my way, and it got more difficult. Temperatures were slowly creeping up into the 70’s when I arrived at the first (and last) aid station.

And man… from the last aid station back to the start/finish was BRUTAL!! Since the first few miles going out were downhill, these last few miles were all UPHILL 😦 And some of the ones were steep too!! I was feeling crampy and slowed down quite a bit on the last few hills… lol.

Even with these conditions, I managed to finish with a PR of 4:57, just under 5 hours!

Feeling Lightheaded

However, shortly after finishing, I didn’t feel “quite right”. I felt a little lightheaded. Perhaps it was so hot outside. But at the same time I really wanted a beer. So I decided to go back to Double Horns Brewery before taking off to Austin. My post-marathon plan was to head to Austin to visit my friend Jennie (whom I hung out with after the Austin Marathon earlier this year), before heading back to San Antonio.

“Hydrating” with Spark

When I got to Double Horns brewery, I told the waitor I had just finished the marathon but wanted a beer. But I said, “before giving me that beer, can you please give me 2-3 cups of water and make sure I drink that first prior to the beer?” He was like “sure.. not a problem”.

So with every cup of water he brought out, I mixed in 2 scoops of Spark and drank it all. I had been there for almost an hour before I touched my food and beer…


And then I finally had my lunch with that beer. It wasn’t too big of a meal because I was saving some appetite for dinner… lol

Unexpected leg cramp coming off US 290 in Austin

Then I stopped by the local Starbucks and got a tall cup of coffee and headed towards Austin on SH 71. And I remember vividly after taking the I-35 north ramp from US 290, I had a painful spasm and cramp in my right adductors!! It was so painful that I had to pull over and stretch it out close to downtown. Then I was like, yeah something is wrong, maybe I need to soak in hot water to relax my muscles or something.

So I located the nearest Gold’s Gym with a hot pool, took another scoop of Spark with water, and sat in the hot pool for a good 20 minutes or so.

Arrived and twitching…

I got back up, drove to Jennie’s place, and by the time I arrived, I was twitching all over, and I don’t know why. Even after I sat down, I was twitching. Jennie asked me, “are you okay?” And I said, “Um… I’m not so sure right now…” She made me something to eat, and I sat down on the couch next to the TV but was still twitching. This didn’t feel right at all.

I remembered Cynthia (whom I call my big sister from the Valley) who ended up in the ER after this year’s Get Up and Train half marathon. I figured, maybe she can relate here… At that point I still doubted that it was anything I took, but can’t exclude a reaction from any Advocare products. Cynthia also used advocare products like John and Natali.

So I dialed her up:

Me: “Hey.. I just finished a marathon today in the Hill Country.”
Big sis: “I saw that! Congrats! How are you feeling?”
Me: “Um… not so hot actually. I actually feel like I have been twitching all over right now, and feeling overall uneasy…”
Big sis: “What’s wrong? Did you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated?”
Me: “Well, this morning I took 2 capsules of the Advocare O2 gold, and had about 8 scoops of Spark after the marathon”

Big sis: “You did WHAAATT!!!????!!!”

(uh oh… I knew I had gotten myself into trouble at this point lol)

Me: “Yeah I took about 2 scoops of Spark in 3 glasses of water to hydrate, then I had another scoop of Spark while sitting in a hot tub…

Bis sis: “oh my gosh, where did you get the canister of Spark from?”
Me: “I got it from Natali and John”
Big sis: “did you read the instructions before taking it?”
Me: “um… no, I had a scoop before I went on a long run with John Natali and Angie and thought it was for hydration”
Big sis: “Jesse!! You realize that this is an ENERGY drink right? Not only does it have ZERO electrolytes, every scoop has  120 mg of caffeine EACH, and it’s nothing but sugar and B vitamins, it’s like an energy drink!”

(uh crap…)

Me: “I took 3 scoops last night before going to bed and couldn’t sleep and I thought it was the pre-race jitters…”
Big sis: “No, no, no… You didn’t READ the instructions before taking it? You’re only supposed to take only ONE scoop, maximum, absolute MAX of THREE scoops a day!!”

Me: “Well… then in the last 24 hours I had about 10-12 scoops total… what do I do now?”
Big sis: “hydrate with REAL water and electrolytes…!!”

Wow, that was a huge FAIL…

Then I called Vo. I told him that I had a caffeine overdose with Spark, and maybe I should go to the ER… He was like, “well if you go, that’s like $2,000 that you’re throwing down… Why don’t you buy a **** ton of coconut water and pedialyte and hydrate from there?”

Meanwhile, Jennie was next to me and was like, “do you need me to take you to the ER? I can if you want…”

And I thought, h’ail no, I ain’t got no $2,000 to waste especially after a marathon…. Can we go to Walgreens instead?

Attempting to self-hydrate

So Jennie took me to Walgreens, and I got 2-3 bottles of Pedialyte and coconut water. It was around 8pm at night. For the next few hours, I would be attempting to correct my iatrogenic caffeine overdose problem by oral rehydration. I had been feeling a bit feverish as well. The only problem was, everything that I was taking in, I was peeing it right out less than half an hour later… I had to be at work tomorrow being on surg path, and I knew that I wasn’t well enough to go back tomorrow, so I called both of my chief residents saying that I wasn’t well enough to go back….

I had only minimally improved by a little before midnight. And Jennie was like, “yeah it’s getting late I’m going to bed, hope you feel better…”

An hour later, I got up, having not been able to sleep, feeling feverish, I knew that whatever I was doing wasn’t working. It was about 12:45 am, and I was like, “yeah, maybe I need to go to the ER after all… It may be $2,000 but I don’t want to die..” lol

Midnight trip to the Austin Emergency Center

Jennie had been a really good friend this whole time, she got up, drove me to the Austin Emergency Center off Far West Blvd, and I checked in. I told the doctor that I had ran a marathon and took 10 scoops of Spark, and that I was a resident at UTHSCSA… I’m sure he and the nurses were talking behind my back about how stupid I was… ha

My blood pressure was a bit high when they first measured it, and the doc was like, yeah we’ll get some fluids in you going… The nurse started an IV on my arm, and started the first liter of 0.9% normal saline. It went in me within less than 20 minutes.

I actually asked the nurse, “can we just do one bag instead of two?” (thinking that it would be $1,000 instead of $2,000). And the nurse gave me a weird look and was like, “do you want to get better or not?” I was like, “alright… I’ll suck up the costs then”  -___-

Discharge instructions from the ER

It turned out that since I had insurance, my copay was only $100, which is not bad at all!

It is official… I have been diagnosed with “Dehydration” and the ER doc handwrote in the discharge instructions to “STOP USING SPARK”… Hahaha!!

Stupid as stupid does… lesson learned. It was a little too much “Spark” in my life (1,200 mg)… lol



Comment: Of course John and Natali found out about my stupidity and the little too much “Spark”… lol. From that point on, John be sured that he told every single one of his clients, using my story as an example of what NOT to do, that Spark is NOT for hydration but an energy drink, lol.


2 thoughts on “Marathon #4 – Inaugural Hill Country Marathon with subsequent “Spark” (1,200 mg caffeine) overdose – 10/21/13

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