Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Run Thru Hell

Best. Notice. Ever.

This Saturday I did the Run Thru Hell, a race in Hell. Hell, Michigan that is (Yes, that is the name of the town). I wasn't planning on racing until last week when encouraged to do so by my wife. I'm sure that the main reason was to get the T-shirt and, it was a pretty good shirt to get. Too bad it is pink. "Real" men may wear pink, but I'm guessing many are not thrilled about it.

We (my wife and I) got there early (or so we thought), but there was already a good line for registration. While in line, I saw Ty from "This is How Ty Runs". We each equal about 25% of our respective blog readers. :) I was glad to meet her in person and also her friends Irina and Chris. After registry, we experienced a man only known to us as the "Bathroom Sargent" or the "Bathroom Nazi" (ala Seinfeld's Soup Nazi).

"You - its open right there! Get in there! Back there! One, two stalls open! You and you, get moving!" the Bathroom Nazi demanded. Actually, he and his minions kept the restroom line moving very well. I almost wanted to get a picture with the guy, but he was far too busy. That, and I was afraid of hearing "No Bathroom For You!". That would have been bad, as the notice said I could not PEE or DUMP on the course.

Both the 10 mile run and the 4.8 mile "Weenie" run started together. Early on, the rolling hills started and they weren't too bad. I got into a good rhythm and stayed on pace, no matter how many people I passed or was passed by. The light drizzle felt good and the temp in the mid 60's was about as good as could be expected in early August. The dirt roads were close to a perfect running surface with only some puddles and divots marring a soft running surface.

Once we got to Hell, I saw Satan handing out "Atomic Fireballs". Only an evil person would hand out hard candy to runners. I passed. Downtown Hell, Michigan consists of a casual restaurant with post office, a sit down restaurant, the old Ice Cream place which is now all souvenirs and a mini-golf course. After the downtown, the weenies headed back to Hell Creek Ranch, while the 10 milers turned further away.

I saw an elevation map which indicated that the hills stopped after about 4 miles. That elevation map was very wrong. The biggest hills were at the two "out and back" sections of the course at about the 5 mile and 7 mile marks.(I saw Ty going up the hills as I was coming down and we exchanged a high five and thumbs up). I handled the hills pretty well, but they did slow me (and undoubtedly almost everyone else) down a bit. The elevation gain / loss for this course was more in 10 miles than Brooksie Way Half Marathon in 13.1, so if one can handle this, any other course should feel flat by comparison.

Hell is hilly and cooler than reports would indicate.

While I slowed when going uphill and sped up going down, I was able to keep a fairly steady pace. I was racing, but not going "all out". As I hadn't run 10 miles in 3 months or so, I wanted to make sure I finished strong. I was pretty much by myself for the last mile, with a group a bit behind me and another a couple hundred yards ahead. I wanted to catch them, but still wanted not to "overdo" it. Near the end I did catch the straggler and had a nice, strong finish.

I finished in just under 1:27, which was right around what I was aiming for. The average pace for the run was 8:42. For Brooksie Way, I need to run about 20 seconds a mile faster for 3.1 miles longer to meet my 1:50 goal. Based on how I felt and knowing that I have a month and a half left to train, I have confidence that I can do it.

We went to get "brunch" with Ty, Chris and Irina and had a nice meal at the Picnkey Diner. Irina ordered flaming cheese - OPA! - for Chris, because he had never had it. I think I may have had it once. We shared and it was pretty good, as was the omelet I had (just needed a bit more Feta). I hope to see Ty at the Crim (another 10 miler) in a couple weeks.

 After brunch, we drove back to Hell to check out the town and get some pictures.

We visited the restaurant / post office and sent a postcard to my father-in-law. Apparently, this is the only post office that will lightly burn your mail, if requested, to give it that authentic Hell look. I think he will enjoy the card. We also visited the souvenir shop. Didn't get much, but they had some reasonably priced stuff. I know it's all in good fun, but I'm into good over evil and would have liked items that reflected that viewpoint.

I don't plan to go out of my way to return to Hell, but I would certainly consider this or another race here again.

Have you visited any strangely named towns or even run in one?

Do you do "intermediate" races to train for a "bigger" or "more important" one?

Would you run or not run a race based on terrain?


  1. Congrats on a great finish! I've heard good things about that race and hope to run it next year. Isn't Ty fabulous - we run together in a group and she cracks me up.

  2. It looks like it was a fun race! I'm sure you will get that 1:50 at brooksie. Glad u got to meet Ty! Shes great!

  3. I feel famous! Good idea on going back to Hell for pictures. I didn't even notice that there was a town/post-office/etc!! All I saw were hills. And that devil dude.