Two weeks from today (holy crap!), I’m running my first marathon, so I really had to force myself to just take it easy today, and remember that this race is supposed to be a training run. But I really loved this race last year, so I was looking forward to running it again.

The old ball & chain (OB&C? Is that a better or worse nickname than The Sailor?), er, husband and I got up to Great Lakes last night. Being a sailor and all, we were able to book a “suite” on base for a pretty decent price. We even had a “lake view” … if these damn trees weren’t in our way.

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Who put those trees there?!!?!

I love being on base because it’s one of the only places in the world where I have exclusive access and most of you don’t. I will probably never belong to a country club or any other kind of members-only thing, but I can enter military bases, even without my husband, and you can’t. Nah nah nah boo boo. All for the low low price of 6 years of my husband being in the Navy reserve and the looming possibility of deployment. TOTES WORTH IT.

Anyway. I also love being on base and seeing all  of the cute young men in uniform, and I also love access to the NEX. Someday when we buy a house or something, we can get a flat screen TV and appliances tax-free. For now, I can buy cute Navy Pride sweatpants.

Ready to run 10 nautical miles tomorrow
Both shirts are in my size because he never wears his race shirts

Our Saturday night activities included picking up our bibs at Running Away Multisport in Deerfield (cute burb) and eating some delicious pizza at The Silo in Lake Bluff. Seriously, he’s been in the Navy for three years and we are only just now checking out this place? It was sooo good. That’s my expert review.

The race started at 7am, and with shuttle busses we had to be up and at ’em by 4:50am for the usual routine of coffee, bread & PB, get dressed, let coffee do it’s work, shove contacts in my eyes. (My husband’s routine: put band-aids on nipples, get dressed, get back into bed until I say it’s time to leave.) We left our room around 5:15am to walk across base to catch a shuttle that took us to the main race parking at Rosalind Franklin University, for another shuttle to Fort Sheridan for the start of the 10 nautical mile race.

It was COLD. I know that come January-February, temps around 40 will feel downright balmy, but on the second official day of fall, it felt COLD. I wore an extra layer and checked it in my bag right before the race started (but not before standing in a 30-minute port-o-potty line … good thing our shuttle got us to the start 40 minutes before race time).

My husband usually starts races in the way back, and I don’t, so with a kiss (awww) we parted ways. I lined up near the 10-minute pacers. During the race I wore a mock-neck long sleeve with a short-sleeve on top (the Fort2Base Brooks tech shirt I got for being an ambassador), capris and a Fort2Base Bondi Band to keep my ears warm. I never overheated, and once I warmed up, I felt fine, a little chilly if there was a breeze, but otherwise perfect.

My “strategy” was to not race. This was a training run. I wanted to keep my heart rate in the easy zone for at least the first 4 miles, and then maybe go just over easy zone. And that’s pretty much what I did. I figured this was a dress rehearsal for the first 10 miles of the marathon, because I’ll probably run at the same effort for those miles. (I’ll admit my heart rate got a little bit higher for the last mile and a half, especially going up the big hill near the end, but it’s a race! I’m through forcing myself to make races boring and not fun. I may have sprinted to avoid getting duded at the end.)

I love the course for this race. First half mile at Fort Sheridan, then onto the North Shore Bike Path, which is nice and shady, until mile 8, when you enter Great Lakes and do 3.5 miles through the base, around buildings, down to the beach, along Lake Michigan for a little bit before running up a pretty serious hill (serious for Chicagoland) and finishing next to Ross Field.

10 nautical miles = 11.5 land miles.

I’m 30!!! So old.

An 8 1/2-minute PR over last year. Which is saying a lot, because I raced this last year. Average heart rate today was 148; last year was 162. The temps last year were in the 60s, so it was warmer, but not hot.

In the finishers area, I loaded up on Larabars and other goodies (and when I saw my husband finish, made him grab more Larabars), and met up with some other bloggers to chat and take a pic of course.

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Lauren, Kelly, Sara, me.

Later on we had a quick ambassador photo (and I got even more Larabars).

Uh, we ran together and finished in 3:16

The medal for this race is similar to last year’s but this time comes on a chain and has a little stained glass thing going on.

2012 Fort2Base Medal 2012 Fort2Base Medal

I’m not just saying this because I’m a race ambassador, but I highly recommend this race. It’s very well-done (even last year, in it’s inaugural year, it was very well done), the course is great (mostly shady), you get to be on an active military base (which normally you can’t access), the shirt and medal are both great, it’s not a huge race (it’s on a narrow bike path, but I never felt crowded or stuck in congestion). And I’m starting to become a sucker for unique race distances. I also think my preferred race distance is 15K-13.1miles. Long enough that you don’t run at puke speed, but short enough that you can run fast-ish (if you’re racing it). And it’s long enough that you have to do some training, so it’s still an impressive distance, but not so long that your training takes over your life.