Saturday, August 29, 2015

fort2base race recap

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry into Fort2Base to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

Pre-race ritual: laying out flat Heather to make sure I have
everything ready for the morning, some compression
with Zensah and rolling with Addaday.

When I was asked to race Fort2Base, I was pretty excited. It would be a new race and a new distance for me, plus, it looked like a really cool race. When asking about it on Twitter, there was a very positive response from other runners who had previously done it. (You can read my shorter review on BibRave.)

Fort2Base offers both a 3 Nautical Miles and 10 Nautical Miles race. 3NM equals 3.45 miles, and 10NM is 11.5 miles.

Working out the logistics of the race was more time consuming than a lot of other races, but now that the race is over, I'd say it was most definitely worth it. I was able to convince Angie and Josh to run it by suggesting we split a hotel room. With a 7am race start, and having to be shuttled over to that location (with a 30 minute transportation time), I knew that I wouldn't want to wake up at 3am in order to make it there on time.

Booking a hotel room was an excellent idea, and you'll see why. Included with the hotel room was packet pickup at check-in, runner's breakfast starting at 3:30, shuttles to the shuttles to the race, and a late check-out at 1pm. 

Angie and Josh had two other races on Saturday, so they wouldn't be in until late Saturday evening (ended up being around 11:45), so I told them I would get their packets. When I registered and learned that you could get packets at check-in, I emailed the race to make sure that all three of our packets would be there. I figured they would know to have mine, since I was the one that registered through the race hotel link, but they wouldn't know about Angie and Josh's. Even if it was just me, I would have emailed to confirm that my name was on the list for packet pickup at the hotel, since I knew I wouldn't be making it to any of the other packet pickup dates/times, and I wouldn't get to the hotel in time to run to the packet pickup on Saturday if my packet wasn't at the hotel. I got a quick email response back that our names were added to the list. I'm not sure how it worked out for everyone else that did the hotel room, but it worked for me.

I got to the hotel at about 7pm Saturday evening, had a quick and easy check-in, and received the three packets for the race. The hotel worker knew my name from check-in, so just had to give the other two. She found all three easily, and gave me some pins. Inside the bags were our bibs, shirts, race guide book, and a little goody bag with candy and smiley stickers. I really like the shirt, but unfortunately, it was a bit large, and I didn't know how to go about exchanging it – I couldn't find any info about it in the guide book, and never received an answer on Facebook about it. I feared I could only do it after the race, and so I would either have to do gear check, or carry the shirt with me while I ran. I already have so much stuff to worry about on race day, I decided I would just keep it and wear it around the house/about town rather than for running (unless I can figure out how to shrink it a little haha). 

They had a shuttle sign-up sheet at the front desk, and the only time slot with three spots left was at 4:15. I wrote our names down in case, but after some discussion with Angie, we decided to get some extra sleep and drive ourselves to the university parking lot to catch the buses to the start line. So, I ended up going back to the front desk to whiteout our names, so they wouldn't be waiting for us in the am and others could sign up if they wanted. It seemed like the first shuttles was at 4, and then the last one at 5:45ish. They seemed to leave in 15 minute increments, but I can't be sure. The hotel also had signs up all over the lobby cheering on the runners – it was fantastic.

While waiting for Angie and Josh to arrive, I got all of my gear ready for the next morning: clothes, shoes, BodyGlide, charged my Plantronics Backbeat FIT (excited to take them out for their first race), Clif Shot Bloks, FlipBelt, chapstick, OrangeMud Backpack and bottles, Nuun, watch, SparklySoul Headband, RunGoo, ID wallet, Road ID... is that it? Like I said... I have a lot of stuff haha. I laid everything out so I didn't have to do much thinking come our 5am wake up call. 

After Angie and Josh arrived, we chatted a bit and finished our race morning logistics, deciding to wake up at 5 and try to leave by 5:45 to get to the parking lot for the bus (they ran from 5am–6:15am). After a little more chit chat, we went to bed around 12:15/12:30.

And runners love Courtyard!

5am came way too soon, as I didn't sleep very well (which is the usual for me on race nights and when I'm at hotels – I think I get anxious and there just isn;t enough white noise for me to get a good nights sleep.). We all stumbled about as we got ready to go, and somehow we were all able to be ready to leave the room at 5:30. Go us. We stopped in the lobby to grab a bite  – they had provided coffee, mini bagels, and mini muffins. I had half the mini bagel, as that's all I was able to handle so early in the morning. As we were leaving, we saw a shuttle pull up, so we ran to the car so we could just follow them to the drop off.

Photo courtesy of Angie.
This is my 'we got less than 5 hours of sleep' face ;)

The university was about 4 miles from the hotel, and it ended up taking about 15 minutes to get there, with some back up of cars all going to the same place. Parking was a bit of a jumble, as no one was really directing cars where to go. We mentioned how it would have been nice if they were doing stadium parking — as in, someone directs the cars to the farthest spot down the aisle, and then cars follow in parking in the spots next to it, going down the line, until the lane is full. Then on to the next one. Unfortunately, we were just scrambling about trying to find an empty spot. Luckily we snagged one and were off to hop on the bus. There were two lines – one to get on buses to the 3NM and the other for the 10NM (they started at different points). There were volunteers there letting us know which was which, so no problems with messing that up.

While getting in line for the bus, we ran into fellow BibRavePro Tom. Yay! I had a seat mate now! We all chatted the whole way there, so the 30 minute bus ride went by quickly.

Photo courtesy of Angie.

We got there at about 6:45ish I think, and then met up with other BibRave Pro running the race, Kati. We snapped some quick photos, and then she was off to do gear check and then a mile warm up. The remaining four chatted until it was time to line up. I stood with the fast group for a while, and then about 3 minutes before starting, I went to the back where my pace belonged. I was so happy to see that they had pacers, but not only for the quicker people, but up to 16 minute mile pace. That is rare, and so awesome, especially since they promoted the race as walker and runner friendly – the 10NM race had a 16:10 mile pace cut off, which is 10 secs slower than most other races, if not more. 

BibRave Pros!

I had been having some knee problems, but when we started, I was feeling good. I ran the first few minutes, and then began my run/walk intervals (which I noticed a lot of others doing as well). I went with 45 secs running and 2 minutes walking. I loved the change of scenery, and that the race was a point to point instead of an out and back or a loop. I was feeling good (albeit uncomfortable thanks to 80% humidity) until about mile 4. Then the knee pain started, though not as bad as it had been previous weekends. It's strange, since it only hits a few miles in on my long runs, and I don't have pain on my short runs during the week. Doing some more research, I'm starting to think it might be my IT band. Further review will be taken with my physical therapist. 

Anyway, I slowed down a bit, but still stuck with the intervals. I had been staying near the 14:00 min/mile pacer, and my goal was to try and stay that way. As long as she was in my sights, I was happy. I think around mile 5 we hit some rain – it started slow, then poured, but it was all in about a minute span. I didn't mind, since it felt nice. The weather would have been perfect if the humidity had stayed away – it was low/mid 60s and cloudy with a breeze. Lovely. After running around the Fort, we were onto the trail that would take us to the Base. I thought the trail was nice, and most cyclists gave warning when they were coming, which was helpful. I didn't notice any issues with congestion.

At about mile 6 or 7 there was a DJ encouraging runners, saying their names and helping morale when people were starting to get tired. He told me to keep up the great work, and then said that he loved my outfit – and then proceeded to tell everyone around to give me a cheer for it haha. It made me laugh.

There were also a group of three friends that were on similar intervals as me, but opposite. So they would catch up to me and walk, and right about when they stopped to walk, my beeper went off for my run. It went on like that for a while, but they eventually passed me when I slowed down. I had another goal to keep them in my sights and not let them get too far. Doing things like that keeps me motivated, plus, helps the miles tick on by. I was shocked when I got to mile 8, because normally by then I am tired and have been slowly ticking off the miles, but not that day – they went by so quickly (but not really quickly because I'm a slow runner haha).

Anyway, eventually we were turning onto the naval base. It was cool to see so many active military members out cheering for us. Their encouraging words really helped keep me going. The woman at the last water stop (I think it was the last one) had hilarious rhymes for her water stop cheers – I loved it. 

I ran past Angie, Tom, and Josh as they cheered me on (they had just finished and walked over to catch me). Yay! Angie got some really great photos of me here. HA. I complained about my knee, but continued on, telling them I'd see them in an hour ;)


And then, after going by the lake for a bit, Hero Hill was in my sights. Whoa. I had heard that there was a hill (thank goodness for the warning, because if I hadn't known about this bad boy near the end of the race, I think I might have collapsed and cried). It was SO STEEP and long haha. Luckily, they had motivational signs leading up to it, and then military men and women were there running up and down with the racers to encourage them and push them up. The one guy asked the person in front of me (surprisingly enough two of the friends that I had been playing tag with) if they wanted to run up with him. I laughed to myself, because I knew there was no way I'd be able to run up that thing and still finish the race... so, I walked. (By the way, even my pacer who I chatted with briefly had said we walk the hill no matter what haha). 

Didn't even realize till after the race that my skirt matched
my socks and KT Tape.

My thoughts exactly. I put all my efforts into just putting each foot in front of the other, but everyone cheering us on was quite helpful. The guy in front of me just kept saying it doesn't matter how we get up – run, walk, or crawl – just get up that hill. And then, at the top, there's a banner you run under that says 'Hero Hill'. After what seemed like forever, and enough time to slow my average pace considerably, we were up the hill and I was running my intervals again.

It started raining again, about a mile or so from the finish. No bother. Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to go down the finisher's chute and cross the finish line. The gang was there cheering me on, as were some other spectators and runners. An active military man placed a medal around my neck, and then I got a towel from a little boy handing them out. What a cutie. I then got some bottled water and bottled SoBe Life Water, and then headed to the food tent. There, I grabbed a banana, pita chips, popcorn, a Clif Bar, and Cracker Jacks.

Oh, before I forget, my pacer was at the finish line with some other pacers. I just had to go up to her and thank her for her encouraging words on the course. Anytime she passed me, or I passed her, she would say motivating things that put a smile on my face. She got away from me around mile 9/10ish. I had her in my sights until Hero Hill, and then she disappeared, but having someone to keep my sights on really kept me motivated and entertained during the race. I gave her a hug and said thank you, and we chatted a bit. It was my first time even attempting to stay near a pacer, so it was cool for me. I knew I couldn't stick with her completely, since I didn't want to change the intervals I had been working with, but keeping her in my area helped out. Anyway, I didn't catch her name, and I doubt she'd read this, but I appreciated her awesomeness.

And later realized that my post-race outfit matched my race outfit.

The BRP gang chatted a bit more, and then Tom was on his way. We stopped briefly at the merchandise tent and then stopped for samples of PowerBar. We walked over to the bus line, which was quite long, but moved pretty quickly. If we weren't so tired, I'd say we could have walked to the parking lot, I think it was only about a mile or so away.

A sad little note about Fort2Base was that once you were at the Base, no photography was allowed – so I have no photos of Hero Hill (the event photographer wasn't even taking any photos when I was going up), the finish line, or anything like that. I was attempting to take a photo right before entering of the entrance sign, but heard a military dude tell a guy a little in front of me no photos, so I put my phone away. Also when entering, I saw a sign of all the 'dont's' inside the base, and photos was one of them. I totally understand it, but really wish I had a few photos from the course or finish. Anyway, that's why I have no photos to show for that portion of the course.

Another thing of note was that I couldn't tell weather the mile markers were for Nautical Miles or regular miles. My watch is always a bit off (as they tend to be if you don't run the tangents exactly, which I most certainly don't/can't haha), so I was confused the whole race until I got to 10 and it wasn't the finish line haha. Not a big deal for me, as the miles ticked off pretty quickly, but I'm sure it could have been disheartening for some. Perhaps there was clarification or word about it somewhere, but I didn't see it, and one of the pacers wasn't sure either (or if I had looked at the map more closely, but I have a hard time remember where the mile markers are anyway unless I write it down haha). Anyway, sorry that's a bit out of sorts... I sometimes ramble on ;)

We got back to the car, and then went on our way back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for donuts and warm drinks (chai tea for me, coffee for the others). We were pretty cold after being all sweaty and in the rain, so it was nice to drink something warm. We got back to the hotel, took our turns showering and rested/chatted until checkout at 1. 

Because, well... donuts! Another Angie collage.

We went for lunch at buffalo wild wings before parting ways. It was so fantastic to hang out with Angie and Josh again – they are so fun to be around.

I had a great time at this race. It was nice not to be on the lakefront path, as nice as that is, for the millionth race – new scenery was welcomed. It was also very humbling to be running with members of the navy and army, as well as having them cheer us on. I think it was a well organized race, and would definitely do it again. The only 'problem' was the logistics, as far as needing to get a hotel, figure out how to get to the buses, figuring out packet pickup, etc... but getting the hotel was definitely a great idea, especially being able to split it with someone. 

After long before parting ways. One last photo was needed.

The swag was top notch, though I would go down a size next year if they used the same shirts. The medal was a pretty decent size, and it had Fort Sheridan on one side, and the Great Lakes Naval Base on the other. I would definitely consider doing this race again next year.

Read what Angie and Tom had to say.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Looks like you guys had so much fun, it makes me want to run this next year!


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