Events, Fitness, Health, Local

Post-marathon: Allow 2-3 weeks to recover after big race

Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE
Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE

On Sunday, thousands woke in the predawn hours and headed to American Airlines Arena, where they ran, ran/walked (intervals) or rode special bikes to compete in the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon.

When they crossed the finish line, they got a rush of adrenaline and took a moment — maybe more — to recover.

But sitting still after the race is not the way to go, say sports medicine doctors and experienced marathoners. In fact, there are important steps to take immediately after a big race, and in the days following it, to prevent injury.

“Research shows that muscle, cellular and immune systems are compromised for two to three weeks post-race, so recovery from a marathon is a critical component,” said Dr. Farah Tejpar, a sport medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “Runners who don’t recover properly from a marathon put themselves at increased risk of injury and delayed healing.”

Tejpar recommends resting for at least three to four days after a big race before returning to a normal exercise routine. She suggests starting with low-impact cross training or 20 to 30 minutes easy jogging.

“Don’t rush to compete again. Allow your body the time it needs to recovery,” Tejpar said.

Dr. Thomas San Giovanni, an orthopedic surgeon at Miami Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute of Baptist Health South Florida, concurred that rest is essential.

“The next day, runners want to get right back into running because they figured they’ve reached this maximal fitness and they don’t want to lose that,” said San Giovanni, who is also the co-medical director of the Miami Marathon. “That is a common mistake. You want to give your body some time to rest to allow your body to recuperate and restore.”

He advocates a good night’s rest and a well-balanced meal. To help reduce inflammation, take ice baths and keep legs elevated.

After a race, some people may not be able to distinguish between post-race soreness and an injury because it’s common to feel pain and aches.

“Look for swelling and inflammation that lasts and pain that persists,” San Giovanni said. “As the days go by, if it doesn’t seem like you’re getting better, then you may want to seek medical attention or get evaluated.”

Frankie Ruiz, brand manager for the Miami Marathon and chief running officer at Life Time Fitness, says support is crucial in the period immediately after a race.

“Have somebody near by, so that you can lean on them or in case you might need attention,” Ruiz said. “I definitely recommend somebody walk with you through the recovery and that you’re not by yourself.”

Tracy Smith, a marathon runner and director of physical therapy at Cleveland Clinic, completed the Miami Marathon last January in four hours and 27 minutes. She advises athletes to stay hydrated and get some food immediately after a race. Many marathons are stocked with bananas, oranges, bagels and protein bars for the runners at the end of the race.

“You don’t want to overeat because your body doesn’t really digest at that point,” said Smith, 41, who lives in Davie. “But you have to get some calories and some carbohydrates back in.”

She also advises not to stop after a race.

“The key after is to really keep moving,” Smith said. “Not to cross that finish line and sit down. Walk around and enjoy whatever the marathon has for entertainment.”

Paul Sykes would agree. The 50-year-old Coral Gables resident completed the New York City marathon on Nov. 1 and walked a mile to retrieve his personal items.

“At the time, that felt really bad, but it’s actually the best thing that I could have done,” Sykes said. “The last thing you want to do is run 26.2 miles and then sit down and let your legs seize up.”’

According to Ruiz, marathon organizers kept this in mind. At the Miami Marathon, organizers placed the finish line a quarter of a mile from Bayfront Park, where the food and entertainment awaited.

“There’s a purpose to that,” Ruiz said. “So people don’t just come to a complete halt, throw themselves on the ground, and end up needing medical attention.”

Sykes completed the New York Marathon in four hours and 18 minutes. In total, he has run eight marathons and 25 half-marathons. His biggest advice to others is to stay in shape.

“How you recover is impacted a lot by how you prepare,” said Sykes, who had heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach nine months before the New York City race.

Sykes underwent a minimally invasive method that involved a small, five-centimeter incision, resulting in a quick recovery. He was training just three weeks after his surgery.

His surgeon, Dr. Joseph Lamelas, the chief of cardiac surgery at Mount Sinai, recommended a minimally invasive approach because the recovery is more rapid and patients who are athletes can return more quickly to an active lifestyle.

Marathon runners and doctors also advise runners to congratulate themselves once they cross the finish line. Ruiz believes in rewards such as a massage or a small treat.

“A little bit later in the day, it might be time to reach for that dessert,” Ruiz said. “A scoop of ice cream or a key lime pie.”

Although he doesn’t recommend overindulgence, Ruiz does enjoy a sip of soda after completing a big race.

Features, Local

Helping veterans transition to everyday life

Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.
Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.

For the Miami Herald.

He dreamed of becoming a doctor. He even had a job lined up at Baptist Hospital in Kendall before he completed his service for the Marine Corps in December 2006.

“I thought I was going to be fine,” said Edwin Vasco González, who joined the Marines in December 2002.

Six months later, he quit his job at the hospital and he was far from fine. González was experiencing just how difficult and unnerving the shift to civilian life can be compared to the years of discipline and structure in the military.

“I was going through a lot at the time and I didn’t have a lot of support,” González said. “ I was doing poorly psychologically and emotionally.”

Like many veterans, González, 31, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He tried to find a place and sense of purpose through jobs and education. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, where he studied sport physiology.

“I didn’t really like anything I was doing because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything positive for other people,” he said.

González was lost until he found Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization based in St. Louis that aims to empower veterans through community service.

“It was something that I had been missing,” said the Kendall resident, who completed a six-month fellowship for the organization.

He soon found what he was lacking by being around other veterans and doing community service projects.

Now González is the first Miami service platoon leader for the organization. He hopes to help other South Florida veterans cope with adjusting to civilian life, while giving them the opportunity to continue to serve the public.

The organization, which has about 270 members, meets the first Saturday of each month. They host and assist with many events and service projects.

In June, Miami’s Mission Continues hosted a PTSD/Suicide Awareness Walk.

“In our country, at least 22 veterans commit suicide every single day. That’s almost one an hour,” said Tabitha Aragon, a reactionary therapist at the Miami VA. “A lot of our platoon members focus on trying to keep that suicide rate from increasing and to hopefully bring it down.”

Aragon, who has worked for the VA for 12 years, is not a veteran but volunteers at Mission Continues because she sees the daily struggle that veterans go through.

“Transition is very hard. The way military works is so different,” Aragon said. “They were in a combat zone, under high stress for months, day in and day out.”

She sees many young veterans return feeling lost, lacking support and having survivor’s guilt. To her, having an organization run by veterans, for veterans helps with these issues.

In August, the organization hosted a tree-planting event at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, where they planted 1,000 trees.

For Shane Suzuki, 34, doing great things for the community with people who have a common background is important.

“I think Mission Continues is different because it’s so oriented around service; we’re not just getting together and telling war stories,” said the Marine Corps veteran who was deployed in 2005 to Ramadi, Iraq.

“We’re getting together, telling war stories, while we’re doing something worthwhile in the community.”

People from every branch of service participate in the organization, and they often bring their families and friends.

Stacy Roman, 30, a member of the platoon, was among those who planted trees. The Barry University student was in the Marines for 10 years and has gone through her own challenges when she came to Miami two years ago.

For her, the organization helps to bring awareness to veterans.

“Sometimes there is a bad stigma for veterans,” said Roman, who is a sales representative for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We’re 1 percent of America; 99 percent of America isn’t going to adjust and try to understand us 1 percent. Us 1 percent has to figure out a way to adapt.”

For González, Mission Continues is a platform for veterans to make lasting impact.

“We have to feel like we count for something,” he said. “Which is what we try to build with the platoon. We make veterans feel like they are greater than themselves again. They are pulling for one common goal and doing something positive.”


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Features, Local

Help for the homeless: Chapman Partnership celebrates 20 years

Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald
Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald

For the Miami Herald


Gulliver Prep engineering students create system to fight malnutrition

After an intense year of brainstorming, researching and inventing a product to alleviate malnutrition around the world, seven students at Gulliver Preparatory School have won the Best Presentation Award at the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

For the students at the Pinecrest school, their task at hand has just begun.

The award for presenting their project at Kennedy Space Center last week was just one achievement in a list of goals.

“Our goal with the actual presentation wasn’t to win the competition,” said Louis Hamilton, 16, one of the students who focused on producing the prototype. “It’s getting people to watch it from all over the world.”

Gulliver is part of Project Lead The Way, one of the nation’s leading providers of K-12 STEM programs. It serves more than 6,500 schools around the country.

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Events, Video

Dads and their kids mix it up at Miami Dolphins Day

For Miami Herald.

For Carl Toussaint, the hardest part of being stationed in Afghanistan was watching his four young children grow up on a computer screen.

“Out of all the things that happened over there, that was the worst,” said Toussaint, 40, an Army soldier who spent a year away from home.

On Saturday, Toussaint, along with hundreds of others, participated in a Dads, Fathers & Kids event hosted by All Pro Dad at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. The event kicked off a partnership between Family First and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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Caregiving for an early-onset patient

For Miami Herald.

On Roger Roessler’s first date with Rosie, his hand shook when he picked up the phone.

“You should probably watch that,” she joked. “It could be Parkinson’s.”

Five years later — after marriage, three kids and an accident that severed three of his fingers — Roessler does indeed have Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that typically targets those 60 and older.

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Art gallery transforms Holtz Children’s Hospital

For Miami Herald.

Jacqueline Roch paced through the hallways of Holtz Children’s Hospital as her son, Lucca, underwent an eight-hour heart surgery.

Lucca was born with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a heart condition in which there is an abnormal extra electrical pathway, which can lead to a rapid heart rate. Doctors discovered it when he was 11. Now 16, he has gone through three surgeries.

A couple months after his last surgery, Roch stumbled upon a CBS News special about the artwork displayed at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The segment highlighted the world-class collection of contemporary art throughout the hospital, a collection begun in 1966 when a businessman and art lover, Frederick R. Weisman, suffered a head injury.

His wife, Marcia Simon Weisman, an influential art collector, grew alarmed as her husband struggled to remember her name. To stimulate his memory, she brought some artwork to the hospital. He immediately recognized an abstract piece by Jackson Pollock, with its trademark jagged lines and dripping colors.

“I was still in a very vulnerable, sensitive place and I just got so moved,” said Roch, a visual artist at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood.

She decided to donate her own work to Holtz.

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Events, Fitness, Health, Profile

Coral Gables man will do Ironman triathlon despite injury

Finishing the last stretch of a five-hour bike ride to and from Everglades National Park, Humberto Speziani was feeling great.

“I was doing awesome,” said Speziani, 51, a Coral Gables resident and father of three. “Other people were complaining about the wind but I was cutting through like a knife.”

Riding at about 20 miles per hour and approaching Black Point Marina in south Miami-Dade, he was about five minutes ahead of his riding group as cars and boats passed him on the road. In a flash, Speziani looked up and saw cars piling up on the road as a boat trailer had gone past the guardrail shoulder, leaving Speziani little space.

“I just really wedged myself through,” said Speziani, who bounced against the boat, lost control and tumbled off the bike, flying shoulder first into the guardrail, damaging his collarbone.

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Education, Events

Museum brings art to Miami-Dade summer-camp kids

For Miami Herald.

Starting with a pile of colorful twist-ties — those flat, wired ribbons that keep your bread in the bag — two dozen Miami-Dade kids made frogs, spiders and hats.

The kids, ages 5 to 14, then attached their creations to the ceiling of a community center at Juan Pablo Duarte Park in Allapattah, creating a larger work of art.

The art-making exercise was part of the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s outreach program, “PAMM in the Neighborhood,” in which the museum traveled to more than 70 camps and community centers throughout Miami-Dade County, from North Miami Beach down to Richmond Heights. The project reached more than 8,000 budding artists.

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Coral Gables police department and disability group create ID cards for people with autism

What happens when lawyers, an academic institution and the police department get together?

The creation of wallet cards, a communication tool used to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder in situations where they would be in contact with law enforcement.

“This card is going to be an aid,” said Lt. Bart Barta of the Coral Gables Police Department, who has a son in elementary school with autism. “We don’t want police officers or first responders to misinterpret the behaviors and the actions that individuals with autism might be having.”

The group behind the wallets cards, Disability Independence Group (DIG), University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) and the Coral Gables Police Department recently won $5,000 in the Philanthropy Miami Shark Tank, a competition launched by Leave a Legacy of Miami-Dade.

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Events, Technology

All things tech will be the focus of festival at Coconut Grove science museum

By Matias J. Ocner and Crystal Chew

Read in Miami Herald or South Florida News Service.

When Gillian Thomas drives down Biscayne Boulevard, she looks past AmericanAirlines Arena and checks on the progress of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, set to open in 2015.

“You can see it growing day by day, getting higher and higher,” said Thomas, the museum’s president and chief executive. “We are nearly up to the roof on one of the four buildings.”

The $275 million project will transform the museum into a state-of-the art facility, complete with a planetarium, aquarium and a center dedicated to scientific innovation, including engineering and technology.

To reflect the future, the museum and the Ryder Charitable Foundation are hosting a festival called NEXT: From Nano to Macro, Innovation at Every Scale, taking place next weekend at the science museum’s Coconut Grove location, near Vizcaya. Visitors will learn how technology is rapidly adapting to accommodate society’s demand for the next big thing — from the epic to the tiny nanoscale.

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