I did packet pick up for Pumpkins in the Park at Fleet Feet on Friday. It was a quick and painless pick up and I was out in no time flat. I had forgotten my CTA pass so I wound up walking home. In doing so I happened to catch all the emergency vehicles heading towards a 3-alarm fire occurring in Wrigleyville. Nothing like seeing tons of billowing smoke in the direction of your apartment and thinking to yourself - Did I turn the oven off after lunch? Once I got closer I could see that the smoke was coming from further down the street. Turns out a hookah bar and Roadhouse 66 went up in flames. When I got home I checked out the no frills packet. The shirt was black long sleeve with a nice logo. Probably not a good idea to run in this shirt at night.
After the race I headed over to the massage tent to inquire if they did injury screenings - and they did, score! I had to wait though since the physical therapist had ran the race herself and was getting refreshed. Once she came over and we started talking about what was going on with my knee she suspected that I had patellofemoral pain syndrome aka Runner's knee. Those were not words I wanted to hear. After a few quick tests, it was confirmed. She gave me a recommendation for treatment, a doctor to see, and some exercises to take care of the muscles causing the issue - weak hips. I suspect fatigue from the marathon, etc. probably contributed to bad form and my issues are just compounding now. After getting the news I met up with my friends again and headed to Twin Anchors for some tasty ribs.
I awoke Sunday morning and started prepping for Muddy Monk's Thriller in Schiller Trail 5K. I was a little stiff so I knew extra stretching and warm up would be needed. I didn't want to back out of things since I was the driver for Chris and his brother Jim who was running his first ever race after I'd been trying to convince him to run one for months. Soon Chris showed up and we drove over to get his brother and off we went. Thankfully Schiller is just down Irving Park Rd so it wasn't a very long drive. We arrived, got our packets with bright yellow shirts (these will be awesome for night running), and went back to the car to prep and hang out a bit. We were a bit early so we chilled and observed people in their costumes. About 25 minutes before race time we started warming up and stretching out. This was my first test of the knee brace I was trying out. Dr Google said that knee braces with a patella window could help with tracking of the patella and aid in runner's knee. Luckily I happened to have a brace from back in my high school track days. The warm up run wasn't promising, but I was going to go with it anyways knowing that the trails are softer than pavement and I would line up in a spot where I could run slow.
Soon it became time to line up and so we did. Jim, Chris, and I stuck together somewhere near the middle. Art made some announcements, put on Thriller, and sounded the air horn. The beginning of the race was a bit crowded and slow. The early single track made things a little difficult, but soon hit a spot of wider trail. At this point Jim takes off up the side to get around some of the slower runners. I tried to keep up with him while being careful of the knee. Things are actually going pretty well and I'm doing alright. I soon find myself picking up the pace and leaving Jim and Chris behind. I wasn't flying or anything, but just running a nice, comfortable up-tempo pace. Soon I started to feel a bit of soreness in the hip like I felt at Monster Dash. I didn't let it phase me this time though, it wasn't nearly as bad and once again it was a short race. My knee was holding up just fine and wasn't causing any discomfort. There was a drawback to wearing the knee brace though- the one I had was cumbersome and not meant for running- well not trail running anyways. I wasn't getting the lift of my feet that I normally would. About 2 miles in I stubbed my toe hard on a tree root and went crashing down on my left side. I wasn't really hurt - just more of a "did that really just happen?" kind of feeling. The guy behind me stopped to check on me and helped me get up. A quick inventory check showed that I was fine, but my toe stung a bit from where it made impact. No big deal I was still good to go. Not long after I hit another tree root with the same toe. I stumbled but stayed upright. Pain shot through my toe and I winced big time. I kept going, but now the toe was very tender and I had to be very careful with it. Not long after I came to a spot where you had to dodge under a tree branch and over tree roots. There was a walker in front and he let the guy in front of me around him and I thought he was going to let me by as well, but instead he crossed into my path causing me to adjust - and yes I stubbed my toe in the same spot yet again. This time it was blinding pain and then some temporary numbness. I knew I did some serious damage to the toe, but just wanted to finish. I hobbled the rest of the course, slowed by a toe that I couldn't put weight on. Once we reached the clearing for the finish line I saw Jim fly past me. I tried to speed up to catch him, but knew I couldn't hit those speeds with the condition I was in. Instead I tried to keep pace with Chris as he also sped up. We managed to cross the finish line at exactly the same time.
After we crossed we got our Thriller pint glasses and a free Finch's beer. I chose the Fascist Pig Red Ale and the brothers chose Secret Stache Stout. We chilled for a bit before deciding to get in line for food. I told Chris and Jim about my mishaps. They said that I had gotten pretty far ahead of them during the race and they didn't see my fall. Jim said he could see why Chris and I like racing so much. He's in for next year's race. After Jim and I got our hot dogs - they ran out of veggie before Chris could get his - we headed back home. Once I got home I finally got my shoes and socks off to see the damage done.