For the last two days, all I have wanted to eat are chips. Not Cool Ranch Doritos or those schnazzy pita chips you get at Trader Joe’s, but tortilla chips. Simple, cheap and completely unhealthy.
But there is a reason for my craving–and for the awful migraine that preceded my face plant into the Santitas–I overdid it. In the last week and a half, I’ve really stepped up my 5K training, running–yes, actually, running–on the treadmill, steadily increasing both my speed and distance each time.
On Thursday morning, I pushed it, putting on “I Am a Champion,” which is quickly creeping into my 25 Most Played Songs on my iPod, and then Girl Talk’s “Night Ripper” (I specifically recall audibly rapping Biggie’s lyrics in this particular mix while a woman on the recumbent bike in front of me looked back at me in horror.) and running my ass off for two hard-fought miles.
By the end, my blood vibrated through my veins, and I could truly feel that runner’s high, my head fluttering somewhere above my body and my legs feeling like they were walking in chocolate pudding. My shirt was completely soaked through, and despite how much water I drank before running, I still felt dehydrated.
On my way to work, I proudly emailed Steve an update:
“Did double chia and ran two miles the whole way in 30 mins. Feels like my thighs are bleeding.
My thighs were not, in fact, bleeding, but they looked like raw meat, red and moist with a sheen of sweat. I showered, sat down at my desk and felt good despite my exhaustion.
Until I didn’t.
All of a sudden, I felt completely overwhelmed by a feeling–like when you’re in the pitch black dark but can sense movement around you, something out there.
And then it hit me: a headache that would have crippled Bigfoot. (Sorry to be picking on you so much lately, buddy.)
I couldn’t focus on anything. The computer screen melted in front of me. My thoughts were loosely connected but broken like a necklace made of paper clips that could no longer fasten. I was hot. Then cold. Then hot again. Light burned my pupils. And then someone drove by outside blasting some heavy metal, and I thought I was going to vomit.
Despite all the work I had on my plate that day, I needed to go home immediately, but the thought of being on the bus with all its shaking and weird smells didn’t exactly make me feel less nauseous. So I walked–I thought the fresh air would be good for me.
A block into it I passed a dumpster that smelled of french fry oil and beer shits and had to force the vomit trickling up my esophagus back down. Several blocks in, I was sweating so much I had to stop, drink some water, let my body cool down. After about a mile, I got on the bus, closed my eyes and hoped I didn’t puke on the high school students sitting around me and snapping photos of each other in poses that would make great outtakes for the 20th anniversary DVD release of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” (It’s coming sooner than you think, people.)
When I finally made it home, it was after 3 p.m. I hadn’t eaten lunch because I assumed I would just vomit it back up, but then I saw the bag of Santitas smiling from the corner of our pantry.
I ate the shit out of those chips. Then I had a string cheese and a banana. Odd choices, I know, but these three foods contain several of the major electrolytes, which are basically salts carrying an electrical charge that our cells rely on to carry the electrical impulses responsible for muscle contractions and nerve impulses to other cells. These magical salts include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate.
When the body sweats, it loses electrolytes, and without them, our cells cannot communicate efficiently. Despite all the water I drank, I didn’t replenish my electrolytes, which would help explain the migraine as well as my intense craving for chips over the last two days. After the electrolyte-replenishing feast, I laid down on the couch, closed the blinds, put SportsCenter on at a barely audible volume and slept with Lulu huddled against my body.
So, the lesson learned? I may be a champion, but without the proper balance of exercise and nutrition, I’m just another person in the world trying not to vomit.