Friday, November 6, 2015

11.5 Miles, 1 rain storm, and an awesome medal!

I'm an awful person who completely forgets to post race recaps until months later. So enjoy my Fort2Base recap that's extremely delayed.

10 Nautical miles later and I can officially say I've been at Fort Sheridan and the Great Lakes Naval Base! On August 23rd, 2015 I ran the Fort2Base race, a 10 nautical mile (11.5 mile) race that starts at Fort Sheridan and ends at the Great Lakes Naval Base.

I got to the Rosalind Franklin University parking lot at around 5:30 am. Traffic was fairly steady but it moved and I was parked within a few minutes. I elected to sit in my car for a bit and debate about if I would need to bring a light jacket because of the rain that was expected. At around 6:00 am, I walked over and go on the bus to Fort Sheridan. The buses were well organized and the volunteers working the event were good about making sure that 10 NM participants got on the correct bus (the 5 NM participants were going to Great Lakes Naval Base instead).

Once at Fort Sheridan I hung around and warmed up. The atmosphere was fairly sedate but everyone was friendly and welcoming. Bag check was simple, and though the lines for the port-o-potties was long I felt like there were enough for an event of this size.

The race itself started on time and started in a slightly different path than what the original map had said. This added a bit of distance to the race that I did not expect and it ended up messing with my mental game.

At the start of the race you run through a neighborhood that had plenty of residents out cheering on the runners. I thought it was a nice place to start because it had space for everyone to spread out and find their pace, but it was marked well enough that there were no worries of getting lost.

Once we exited the neighborhood the race immediately entered the North Shore Bike Path. Miles 2 through just below 9 are on the Bike Path which allows runners to not worry about traffic or getting lost. There is only one spot that felt like you could potentially take a wrong turn at but there were enough people and markings to make sure that you stayed on course.

Once you hit mile 9 you are at the Great Lakes Naval Base. This was the worst part of the race for me. Somehow I had it in my head that I was about a mile further than I was actually at so I began to pick up my pace to try and really come in strong, I believed that I would be able to do under 2 hours. Once you're on the base you still have just under 3 miles until the finish. This might not seem like a lot but this is the section of the race where you hit a steep downhill (which was awesome for picking up speed and has a beautiful view of Lake Michigan), and what feels like, an event steeper uphill climb.

The downhill really helped my race, I focused on the view and just let my legs go into a "free run" pattern. It wasn't until someone commented that "what goes down must come up" that I realized the pretty view was probably not worth having that boost from the downhill.

The middle section between the downhill and "Heroes Hill" is nice and flat with a water stop that was well stocked and at the perfect location to rehydrate and take a bit of gel before the awful uphill climb.

When I reached Heroes Hill almost everyone was walking up it. To help encourage people the cadets (?) were there to run up the hill with you and "encourage" you. I ran up the whole darn hill thanks to one of the cadets who ran down to me and "encouraged" me by yelling that if he could do this all morning, then I could do it one time. I just had to thank him at the end, it was so tempting to walk up that hill but knowing that the service men probably run that hill on a regular basis was great encouragement to keep going.

At the top of the hill there is a photographer who tries to get pictures of everyone coming up the hill. Unfortunately I was not able to find a picture of myself from that moment.

Picture Credit:
Once you complete the hill there is still around a mile left of the race. This mile is flat and has a few water stops. Because I got confused about the distance I skipped a few of these which was a huge mistake. Towards the finish line I could feel a huge migraine starting and wasn't able to shake it for around an hour after the race.

Picture credit:
When you cross the finish line you are instantly handed your medal by one of the service men, and given a bottle of water, a towel, and a bottle of flavored water. There are several kiddie pools set up for runners to rinse off or cool down and there is an extremely impressive spread of food for the runners (chips, cookies, granola bars, cracker jacks....). My dad who had run the 5 NM told me that the organizers were not stopping the runners from coming back for seconds.

After the race I walked around for a bit and visited the various booths. Because it had rained earlier several booths had either not shown up or had taken their tables down.

What I loved about this race was that I could get my medal engraved for a small fee! I waited in line for about 30 minutes (and one lovely burst of rain) and it was worth every penny.

Pros: Great course, great atmosphere, plenty of water stops, option for medal engraving, awesome medal and t shirt.

Cons: It rained, the race photographers seemed to miss a lot of people, the distance was longer than advertised. I had about 12 miles and others were saying they recorded everything from 11.75 to 12.25.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at this race. I would love to run it again next year. Now that I know the distance is off from what is advertised I shouldn't get so upset with my progress and will be able to have a better plan.

Screenshot of my results from

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