Monday, January 16, 2012

Put me on the disabled list


We realize it has been 6+ months that we have posted on here. We all went through some major life changes and at the time we all felt that we needed a break from blogging.

But now it is 2012 and we are ready to get back to business. We have new bloggers, new topics, and we are ready to share our thoughts and information about healthy living with you. Enjoy!

Allow us to introduce on of our new bloggers, Carolina

I'm a Miami native currently living in New York City with my husband. A former food writer turned legal journalist, I love to cook and later burn off those calories with a mix of swimming and running, with an occasional triathlon thrown in.

This is a healthy living blog, yet I'll start my time here by telling you about something I did last weekend that was decidedly unhealthy: I ran 9.5 miles on a newly-injured ankle, causing a very painful sprain that currently has me in crutches.

Why would I do something so colossally stupid? It had something to do with my 11 other teammates depending on me. Had this been a solo race, I would've dropped out immediately, but my teammates were counting on me to do my part of the Ragnar Florida Keys Relay, a 200-mile running relay from Miami to Key West, and I couldn't let them down or ask them to take on more miles when they were already exhausted. I was going to get across that Seven Mile Bridge if I had to walk the whole way.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start at the beginning.

A few years ago, my friends and I read about running relays, and we decided it might be fun to try one out. The four of us — all close friends from college who now live in different cities — asked a few more friends to join us, and we put together a seven-woman team for the 2008 River to Sea Relay, a 90-mile race across New Jersey.

We were hooked. We began looking around for other races and discovered the Ragnar Relays, a series of 12-person relays held all over the country. The Florida Keys race, begun in 2011, seemed perfect — it's a nice warm vacation for those coming from northern climes, the scenery is pretty spectacular, we have lots of local connections, and it's flat as a pancake.

So our little group expanded to include husbands and other friends and cousins, until we had put together a great 12-person team that included some more seasoned runners and a few people just getting off the couch for the relay.

Each person runs three legs in the same order. So, for example, since I was Runner 2, I ran legs 2, 14, and 26 (which were 4.4 miles, 4.7 miles, and 9.5 miles). Each of the legs was a different distance, and runners ended up doing anywhere from nine miles total over the whole race to almost 22 miles. Runners 1 through 6 are in one van, while Runners 7 through 12 go in another van. The two vans trade off throughout the race, allowing the "off" van to have a few hours to eat and nap.

The whole race can take anywhere from 24 to 40 hours. Teams run nonstop through the night, catching shut-eye whenever they can.

It is physically challenging and exhausting in a way no other race is (barring, perhaps, some of those crazy 100-mile ultramarathons), but it's also incredibly fun. And there's nothing like the thought of letting your teammates down to motivate you to get off the couch and make sure you do the training.

So, back to race day(s). My first leg was a lovely jaunt through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. I was worried about my knee (I'd been dealing with some tendinitis for the past couple of months), but it held up just fine, and I felt great.

My second leg was a bit more interesting. It involved running in the dark (with a headlamp of course) on a gravel, uneven trail in the Everglades that featured some larger-than-usual rocks. About halfway through that run, I began to feel like I'd strained something in my ankle. But I hoped it would go away by the next morning, when I'd have to run my longest leg.

It didn't go away. As soon as I started running, I began to feel a sharp pain shooting from about the inside arch of my right foot up through about my mid-calf. I literally limped across the Seven Mile Bridge (which made up most of the run), averaging 12-minute miles, about 2 to 3 minutes slower per mile than I should've been running.

We eventually made it to Key West 34 hours after we'd started, exhausted, happy to be done, and ready to party. My ankle limited my mobility quite a bit, so I spent my time hobbling from the pool to the beach across the street. Not too shabby, but a bit frustrating.

X-rays showed no broken bones, but the doctor told me it should take about six weeks, or possibly a bit longer, to heal. In the meantime, I can barely walk (did I mention I live in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in New York City about a half-mile from the closest subway stop?), let alone run, which is pretty much out of the question until at least March.

Which begs the question: was it worth it? Right now, I'm going with yes, definitely. If I'm still on a six-Advil-a-day diet come February, however, I might re-think that.

Still, the pain isn't nearly bad enough to prevent me from doing it all over again. We're already planning our next relay.


  1. That's inspiring Carolina! Be careful with those Advil though...I gave myself an ulcer from too much excedrin.

    1. Thanks Meg! Yeah, I'm a bit worried about taking too much Advil, especially since I'd been taking it a fair amount not too long ago to deal with the tendinitis in my knee. I'm going to start weaning myself off in a couple of days.