Wholly Hell: A Race Report

About two and a half years ago, I got tired of sitting around on the couch.  About 45 days before I turned 30, I made an agreement with myself that I would run a mile in 10 minutes or less before my birthday.  On my first attempt, I only made it 0.6 miles and I wanted to DIE.  But I came back the next day and made it the entire mile in a little under 12 minutes.  It was excruciating but felt amazing at the same time.  I did it!  I worked over the next couple weeks to get faster and faster at running that mile.  About 2 weeks before my birthday, I made my goal.  

Since then, I've enjoyed running longer distances and seeing how running can change my health dramatically.  Every time I go to the doctor they are impressed by my "numbers."  I've run a couple half marathons along with bunches of other shorter distance races.  I run year-round, both on the indoor track in winter and outside in the warmer months.  Lest I made it sound easy, it wasn't, but the challenge was worth every step.

This past weekend I ran an awesome 15K trail race, called Wholly Hell, in the southwest suburban woods of Chicago put on by Muddy Monk.

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This is my customized race bib.  I wanted to make sure everyone knew I'd be a little slow. 

Muddy Monk has the best deal in running.  First off, their trail races are well priced to begin with.  Second, if you volunteer at a race, you can get 50% when you run one (or 100% off if you volunteer twice!).  This is so cool.  Volunteering at a race is a lot of fun because you see people pushing through pain, achieving goals, maybe running their first race- it is very emotional!  I highly recommend it just in general.  Muddy Monk just happens to be very generous to their volunteers- they are awesome!

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So the race was just over 15K, about 9.4 miles, and took place in Swallow Cliff Woods near Palos Park outside Chicago.  The wooded trail had single track, multi-track and grass sections.  The single track was gorgeous and overlooked peaceful ravines.  There were downed trees, muddy pits, and lots of roots and rocks.  This stuff was pretty fun to run through.  Can't you tell all the fun I'm having in this picture?  I really tried to channel my energy into my arms here.  Please ignore my feet, I can't run straight for the life of me.

Source: Muddy Monk

Source: Muddy Monk

As the trail went on, it felt like I'd gone a lot longer than I actually had.  When I reached the halfway point (the end of the first of two loops), I thought for sure I'd gone at least 6 miles.  It was around that point that I felt a nagging sense of despair.  It stuck around for a while until I realized that the second loop was flying by faster than the first.  I had a renewed hope after a while and gave some people high fives.

After my FOURTH time through a horse pee/poo lake in an underpass we had to go through, I really felt like the end was near and was pretty excited that I had made it without any decent training.

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WOO!  Never was there a lovelier finish line.  I got this sweet glass to commemorate it.  I like getting practical things vs. a medal.

There was a hot dog bar (NOM- Chicago style hot dogs are just the ticket after a long run... nice and salty), gummy worms, M&Ms, Cheez-its, and BEER.  I was so hungry and I just scarfed it all down.   

All-in-all, it was a great day.  Every time I finish a race, I am amazed I can do it.  

 If you've ever thought about running or you're looking for a way to be more active, sign up for a 5K run/walk.  Use the Couch to 5K program to get up to speed.  Give it a try!  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  

Happy trails!