December 4, 2010

Are We There Yet?

For those of you who are interested, the key to getting through long road trips quickly is to not stop driving.  (That includes not stopping by driving off the road & crashing into something... that's just poor form.)  This may seem obvious, but it's not always easy advice to follow - or to follow safely.  The biggest rest stop culprits are usually food & bathrooms, both of which ya kinda need.

The problem of food is easily resolved by packing healthy options in your car.  This feeds three birds with one stone:  You don't have to stop, you save money AND you can avoid eating the fast food junk that is often the only option.  Some of the items I packed were fruit, whole wheat bagels & peanut butter, hardboiled eggs, veggies, cereal and nuts.  (Keep in mind, I have well over 5000 miles of driving in total so that's not excessive.)  The best items are ones that you can safely eat while driving and that won't end up all over your shirt, pants, or car.  If you drop something, let it lie until you can pull over.

The problem of bathroom stops is trickier.  Some of your options include:  becoming a vengeful astronaut, soda bottles - easier for guys (I actually know someone who's done this while driving - you need good aim), dehydration, and stopping a lot.  With less than a week to go before CIM, I probably should have stayed hydrated but I didn't want to spend more time in the car.  So I went the dehydration route, supplementing my water restriction with the occasional diuretic Diet Dr. Pepper & Coke Zero to speed up the process and keep me alert.  It became clear just how dehydrated I became on day 1 when on day 2 I barely needed to go to the bathroom despite drinking significantly more.  Oops.  Yesterday & today, my water bottle hasn't left my side.

But don't rehydrate too quickly!  Too much water too quickly can cause hyponatremia & water intoxication, which can result in death in extreme cases.  This can even be a danger when you drink too much during marathons or other athletic events.  A great explanation can be found here.  The idea is that your body is a mix of water and a lot of other things, like electrolytes.  If you drink too much fluid that is hypotonic (has less "stuff" in it than in your body's normal mix) than you water everything down.  (Gatorade, for example, is isotonic so this should not occur if it's mixed properly.)  The first thing that dilutes is the fluid outside your cells, and in order to find an equilibrium, water then rushes into cells and causes swelling.  If enough water rushes into your cells (including brain cells!) your brain can herniate when the cells swell and no longer fit in your skull.  Hey... it's not that big a place.

What are the signs of water intoxication?  They include weight gain (over the course of a race or long run...), changes in mental status, vomiting, nausea, headaches and seizures.  You may also experience swelling of the hands and feet and a worsening headache.  Since these symptoms can be confused with heat stroke, it's important to note that with water intoxication your temperature should be within the normal range.

Wow.  Sorry.  My inner geek is showing.  I'll stop now so everyone will wake back up.

And speaking of bathrooms, it's sad how much I laughed when I saw this on my drive:
Yup.  That says BM.
Apparently I am still 5 years old.


  1. I love the pie charts you put up! Thanks for allowing us to follow you on your loooooooong drive.