Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First 10K: FifthThird River Bank Run

On Saturday May 11, 2013, I ran my first 10K race: The Fifth Third RiverBank Run.

I've been running for a while now. I really starting to get into it last fall. I had done a few 5K's and was ready to try something a little longer. Though, there was a running hiatus because of winter's fury and time needed for studying. So this spring, I basically had to start from scratch.

Anyways, I had spent about the last 8 weeks training for the race, slowly building up my miles. Things were on track, and I was confident I would be able to finish the 10K strong. Then two weeks ago, during a training run, I hurt my knee. I'm not exactly sure what caused it. I think it was a combination of a couple factors. One: that was the farthest I had ever run; Two: the first mile of that run was on a fairly uneven rutted up dirt road. I think the stress and extra twisting from uneven footfalls followed by another 4 miles was too much for me left knee. By the time I finished, I was hobbling. I should have stopped much sooner, but I was stupidly determined to finish that days quota. Then to top it off, I went for about a 3 mile hike that afternoon. Pretty dumb, probably made it much worse than it needed to be.

So I spent the two weeks before the race on the couch. About a week after I hurt my knee, I went on a quick test run. I made it about a half mile before it started to hurt again. Crap! A few days after that (it had started feeling better by this point) I went for another test run. I made it about three quarters of a mile this time. It wasn't hurting, but it didn't exactly feel right either. I decided to not test it at all again before the race, just resting and icing my knee. So needless to say, I was pretty nervous about being able to even finish the race.

The day of the race arrived, and I  made our way to the starting line.

This was much larger race than I had been in before. There was a ton of people running. It was definitely a cool experience. I had to wait for about 20 minutes, but finally the start horn sounded. And we were off, sort of. The start of the race was such a bottle neck. It took almost a minute to even get to the official starting line. But eventually, the mob started moving and everybody spaced out. The start and end were really cool because you were running through downtown GR.

The first two miles felt like some of the longest of my life. It wasn't because I was going any slower than normal (please note I am not a fast runner). It just felt like time was dragging on. But eventually, I hit the two mile mark near John Ball Zoo. So far my knee had held up. I was being much more aware of my form, which I think helped.

Keeping on, I hit the halfway point. A little bit later, right before the four mile mark, there was the second aid station of the race. I decided to get some water at this point. Hadn't ever tried running and drinking from a cup at the same time before. It was more difficult than anticipated. I probably got about 1 sip from a cup full of water. Oh well, about 2/3rd done, and my knee was still holding on. We ran past Grand Valley and past the Grand Rapids Museum. Then past the Bridgewater place, there was a long hill. I made it up it fine, actually passed a few people, but going down was rough on the knee. Everybody I passed going up, passed me going down. At the bottom there was another aid station, where I grabbed some gatorade on the go.

We crossed the river and made the turn onto Division to head back into downtown Grand Rapids. This section too was a long gradual hill. At this point, I was getting pretty tired. I could tell I was slowing down, and my form was going to crap. On the slow grade down the hill, my knee started to give out.

But I only had about a half mile to go. No matter what ( or how slow) I was going to make it. I made the last two turns toward the finish line. I felt like I was limping, but I was still moving. The pregnant lady who was behind me the whole race made her move and passed me. (No Joke).

With a little hitch in my giddyup, I made it across the finish line. My goal was to finish in less than an hour. My time: 1 hour and 33 seconds. Soooooo close.

On the picture below, the look on my face is pretty much how I felt.

To all those in or preparing to enter the medical profession ( I know there are at least two who read this blog), I'm wondering if you could point me to what it could be. As I mentioned, it started hurting on a longer run for me after I had run on a rough/uneven surface. It is my left knee, and only hurts on the outside of the knee. It doesn't hurt at all in the joint or around the knee cap. It doesn't hurt to put weight on it, but it would hurt to bend the knee. Going up stairs is bad, going down stairs is really bad. I've got a hunch at what it is, but wondering if it could be something else.


  1. Congratulations on finishing! As for the cause of your pain, I'll first say I'm not a doctor (yet), so this is not "expert" conjecture. SEE A DOCTOR.

    That being said, given that the pain mostly happens when your form deteriorates, it doesn't involve the articulating structures of the knee joint or patella, and the pain is mostly localized to the outer surface of your knee, I'm betting that you're straining/irritating the lateral collateral ligament. This ligament basically connects your fibula to the side of your femur. Strain of this tendon could happen if your feet land with the soles slightly internally rotated (supinated) when running on uneven terrain (say, loose rocks or bumpy ground), or if your gait is unsteady, causing you to sort of "catch" and steady yourself, making miniature side-to-side lunges rather than following a constant, smooth front-to-back pattern. Either case would result in more strain being put on the lateral collateral ligament to keep the leg from bowing outward at the knee. It's just a guess, but without examining your knee, it seems to fit the symptoms...

    1. After a quick google search for common running injuries, I came across something called iliotibial band syndrome, which sounds like what you described and fits my symptoms. But as you said, without going to a doctor I can't be sure. Anyways, the prescribed treatment for most running injuries were ice, rest, and ibuprofin. So I'm going to try that for a bit, and I'll go from there.