Dawn of the Dunes Half Marathon – My First Half Marathon… I DID IT!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

It’s taken me a week to get the recap written up but I’ve had time to digest (and be less sore) so here it goes! I’ve been training for approximately 4 months for the Dawn of the Dunes half marathon.

The Dawn Of The Dunes

The half marathon is run throughout some streets near the Indiana Dunes. Those who are running the full marathon will run the half loop twice. To be honest, more power to those guys. I probably would’ve bawled my eyes out having to do the entire thing a second time!

Dawn of the Dunes Half Marathon Finish

I ran the half with three of my friends. We picked this particular one for two reasons.

  1. There was a Groupon
  2. It was advertised as a flat course with two hills

Our Entry Was Cheap, But They Lied About The Hills

Ask anyone who was there that day and you’ll know 2 was 100% false! Based on looking at the elevation map for the course it didn’t look too bad. It was kind of up and down but this was where my inexperience for reading maps came into play.

The first three miles of the race were all rolling hills. We went up and down up and down for about 2 miles then straight up. Ouch. I had trained my long runs with one or two hills in them but was not prepared for that many of them at all.

My first three miles were my fastest paced miles. I attribute most of that to the hills because I would be slow on the up but pick up the pace on the down.

I also loved having people out to cheer. This part was run through a residential area and it was so much fun having people almost the whole 3ish miles cheering us on. Hats off to the guys with their beer as they sat in an alley and watched us. They gave me a good laugh.

Dawn Of The Dunes Half Marathon

When The Spectators Died Off, It Became a Mental Game

At mile four I started to hit the mental wall already. That surprised me more than anything. I thought for sure I would easily get to mile 6 before that would happen. Four miles is a light run for me. Looking back I think the hills played a big part in my mental block. It really took my energy & my knee was starting to act up. I saw my family right about mile 4.5 so that was a huge boost for me. After seeing them, I was able to pick it up, smile and keep going with no problem for awhile.

Mile 6ish hit a straight away where you run two miles out and turn around for two miles back. The first part of this was kind of fun. Around this time the first marathoner and pace car were coming on the straight away back and everyone was cheering. There were no spectators for this 4 mile section of the half marathon. Again, the mental game came back to haunt me so it was up to the other runners to keep everyone going.

Once I passed the mile 7 marker it became quiet again. Other runners were out there but the cheering had died down and I started to struggle big time. I had been maintaining almost exactly at a 9:30 pace for most of the last 4 miles. I pushed through and JUST about the time I hit the mile 9 marker something popped in my knee. I took a short break to walk for about 10 seconds and picked it up again.

An awesome girl stopped and ran with me for a bit. At this point my pace slowed to about 10:25 just trying to stretch out. She had a few words of encouragement and then told me she questioned why she decided to run a half, and took off. It was awesome to see her at the end though. Every little bit of motivation helped and after a 4 mile stretch of no spectators it was much needed!

So Close To The Finish

Right around mile 11 I knew my family was going to be out again soon so I kept pushing through. I hit the bottom of what was probably the 15th hill at this point and looked up and they were all there including some who came out to surprise me! That was a big boost of motivation!

Mile 12 was by far the hardest mile. No spectators, no cheering….and more hills. Seriously. I struggled my way through and it was my slowest mile at 11:25.

13.1 brought along the LAST hill of the race (yup, the race ended going up hill) but I DID IT!!!!!

I Finished!
I Finished!

Gun Time: 2:14:25
Chip Time: 2:14:01
Age Group 20-29: 9th out of 29th Place

Let’s Do It Again…After a Break

Immediately after I finished I knew I wanted to do another half. I don’t know which one yet but I know there will be another (much flatter) half in my future. For now I’m taking a bit of a break until a race on Thanksgiving. My knee is still hurting on and off a week later so I’m giving myself some time to rest it.

Tomorrow I’m starting T25 as a winter workout program but still plan to run a few days a week (after the next few weeks) to keep up. After Thanksgiving my next race probably won’t be until March but who knows what will happen between now and then!

Things I Would Change About Dawn of the Dunes

1. The expo. I know it’s the second year so I have no doubt that it will continue to get better year after year. There seemed to be a lot of false advertising going on though. At least that is how I interpreted it! In our email there was an expo that was supposed to start during packet pick-up. When we got there nothing was going on other than packet pickup.

2. I mentioned this already but the advertising of the flat course. Maybe my true inexperience shows but I did not at all consider that to be a flat course. I have no actual problems with the course, it was fun to run the hills but I feel like better advertising of what runners should expect would’ve changed my training plans a lot.

3. The food/drinks at the end. I finished at 2 hours and 14 minutes and there were about 10 halves of banana’s left. Luckily I had grabbed two half’s so I was able to share with one of my friends who finished about 10 minutes later as they were all out. Everything but water was out at that point too. I felt bad for those who ran the marathon!

4. The photos. I got super lucky and one of the local news websites actually had a photo of me during the race. That was not the case for anyone else I ran with. We saw three photographers on the course wearing volunteer shirts so we thought more photos would be available. Unfortunately the only ones that we’ve found so far was the ones from local news organizations and nothing was ever posted about a photo. I was extremely happy my brother in law got my finish photos with his cell phone. As much as I hate cell quality pictures I was really happy to have some!

Overall I think there is room for improvement. Personally I wouldn’t run this one again mainly because of the hills, not the organization. It was a pretty well run event and I think will continue to improve each year!

Plus, it was a beautiful day and the Chicago skyline was in full effect!

Chicago Skyline After Dawn of the Dunes

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Comments (5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge