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Half Marathon Racing: From Survival To Success

What did I do to turn the potential PB advertised by the race organisers at the Run Through Goodwood Running Grand Prix into a reality?

After running this race back in July 2021 as my first postpartum half marathon, I was eager to see how much my fitness and race strategy had improved in the last few months. It was only my second time ever returning to a race I’d previously run, and although I love to try different races in different locations, it’s also been great to get more involved with the local running community.

Although many aspects of this race remained the same as before, such as the flat, five lap course with a short out and back at the beginning, and the free race photos, there were some key differences too. This time I brought my marathon running buddy along with me and it was actually a training race as part of our build up to the Brighton marathon in April. I really did feel bad to run off ahead from her before the end of the first lap, as in previous races we’d stuck together for some chat and encouragement for at least the first half. I can’t lie though, I did (not so secretly) want to chase down a new PB on race day.

Another big difference was that in the week leading up to the race the weather forecast was not looking very pleasant. The course is particularly exposed and high winds were predicted, so I thought that my goal time might be off the cards before I’d even crossed the start line. Perhaps I didn’t consider the potential difference in weather between July and February enough before signing up! In the end it wasn’t as bad as we’d feared, but within minutes of us crossing the finish line the cold and torrential rain arrived!

One really positive difference between my experiences in July and in February was the amount of runners out on the course. Thanks to further easing of lockdown restrictions there was a much bigger crowd at the start, and it really did create that race day atmosphere that I’d missed out on last summer. It was so lovely to chat to a few more people as I counted down the miles, and even better to connect with so many people who were also using the race as a training run for Brighton marathon. It made me question my training plan a little as some of them were doing the 20 mile distance instead of the half marathon but they did admit they thought it was a bit early! They were just making the most of the relatively rare opportunity to run a 20 mile race and get an extra medal for their collection. Not only were there more runners taking part but there was also a much bigger crowd of supporters cheering everyone on as we counted down the laps. Most were gathered close to the finish line and it definitely gave me a boost each time I passed.

Although these differences might have been factors in helping me secure my half marathon PB, there were some specific changes I made to my own racing strategy compared to my ‘survival mode’ half marathon attempt last July. Firstly, I used a tried and tested fuelling technique, after practising with the particular brand and flavour of energy gels (High 5 - Apple) in my long runs in the lead up to the race. I also thought carefully about a realistic race pace and didn’t go out just that little bit too fast and struggle through the second half like I had done in July. I took the wind into account and allowed my pace to slow down or speed up at certain sections of the circuit and it all evened out in the end. Finally, I really focused on breaking down the race into chunks and focusing on each mile, each lap, each 10k instead of being overwhelmed by the mileage. I was much more mentally prepared for the 5 lap course.

My ultimate goal for a half marathon is to finish in under 2 hours, and I can’t believe just how close I got to that target at Goodwood, finishing in 2:00:55. There was a brief moment that I thought I might be able to get that elusive sub-2 but it wasn’t to be this time. I could easily let the fact that I missed out by such a small margin mar my joy, but instead I am focusing on that hugely positive result. I smashed not only my previous postpartum PB, but I also beat my previous lifetime personal best by more than two minutes! I am so proud of how far I’ve come on my postnatal running journey so far.

Coming so close to my dream finish time has only given me more motivation to keep improving and building my strength and fitness so that I can have another attempt at a half marathon race in the not too distant future - hopefully in slightly nicer weather conditions too!

To read more posts about my previous races, including half marathons, click here. Or if you want to know more about my postpartum running journey, click here. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to know about any news and updates, just enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

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