Hello beautiful people! Today on the blog I’m reviewing a race I did at the very beginning of October.
So, you know by now, I’m marathon training – yada yada yada. This was one of a few races I’ve lined up with my training schedule so that I can actually manage to complete my marathon. (Pro tip: signing up to races is a great way to motivate you to train – especially for the longer distances!).
So: Blenheim Palace. 10k. Let’s go!
I’m not sure how many people ran the 10k, but it was so busy that I didn’t even know there were pacer flags up ahead until I saw a photo of them after the race. Despite the busyness, it seemed pretty well organised – everyone got through the funnel in probably about 10-15 minutes max.
And then we were off. I had taken a quick glance at the course map before beginning but I wasn’t too bothered about where I was going (big events are usually marshalled pretty well and this was no exception). My main concern was just getting round, running the 10k and then snuggling up on the sofa with a duvet for the afternoon. (That is exactly what I did).
As we turned around the first bend into the course, I spotted an ‘8km’ sign. Assuming I had not managed to run 8km in about a minute, I realised we would be lapping a little bit. I actually really like lapped races, it’s much easier to work out how I’m doing and be able to pick up on where I will do best. In hindsight, this makes me think I should really scope out races before I run them for that extra advantage.
The next thing I noticed was that I was running downhill. I was pretty happy with that, until I noticed that what goes down must come up. Cue the second time that I thought I should really have scoped out the course before running it. The course split into two just before the finish line but luckily this was early enough not to tempt me to give up then and there!
Just after this moment, my phone started ringing. My mum was running too, so I picked up just in case it was important. It was Beth Roach Photography calling about getting tickets for the Blogosphere Christmas Festival (which I would argue is important), but it was actually quite a nice distraction from the fact I was running – after ending the call I spent the next five minutes or so running along smoothly feeling positive about the race.
My good mood dwindled a little when I realised that I hadn’t passed the 3km marker yet. It felt like the longest kilometre of my life, not to mention that the whole ‘downs must come up’ thing was really happening. Right now. I struggled through, refusing to walk, creeping past a few others who had given in to it. I did get defeated by another hill shortly afterwards, but let’s not talk about that! (Read: yes, I did walk a bit).
And then I spotted a 4km sign up ahead. I don’t know if I’d missed the 3 or if it didn’t exist but I’ve never been so pleased to see the number 4. This is probably quite premature when you consider that you’re less than halfway through a 10km run, but for me it was great. It was so great, in fact, that the next kilometre and a half felt like they flew by. When I looked at the splits afterwards I saw that it was my fastest kilometre too, so I must have been flying!
After I hit 7km I basically convinced myself there wasn’t far to go now and that I could breeze through the rest. This theory worked well for a little while, but before long I was hit by the only real criticism I have about the organisation of the race. As we approached the 8km point, we followed a path that ran parallel to the car park and headed towards the start/finish line area. With the half marathon runners already finishing their run (I believe they started a couple of hours before the 10k), I was met with hoards of people walking directly across the pathway in front of me towards the car park. These people were not considerate. I basically had to weave through them to continue running. I guess this was partly due to a lack of barrier or signs to warn them that it was part of the course, but it would have been nice to have marshals there to help people cross (and more importantly, stop them when a runner was coming).
After that was over, we came back to my favourite downhill section of the race. I breezed down, passed some really enthusiastic marshals and quickly consoled an injured half marathon runner as I crept on by. By this point I was in total ‘I’m about to finish mode’, but I wanted to reserve as much energy as I could for a sprint finish.
The Final Stretch
Hitting 9km was a wonderful moment, as the last kilometre always seems to last about 2 minutes – I’m just so focused on nearly finishing. I piled on the pace as I went through it and then I saw what I had failed to see when I’d passed in the first lap. The Hill. It was steep and it was never-ending. At that moment I realised my sprint finish would just be managing to run up the thing rather than crawl, but I stuck to my guns and even grinned for the camera as I crossed the finish line.
It was really great to hear cheering and a guy with a mic commentating as I came in – with a less-than-desirable time (1:21:22), I’d expected most people to be gone by the time I got there.
Despite the many horrible hills and a time that was more than 6 minutes slower than my personal best on the road, I quite enjoyed the run. So much so that I’m thinking about entering next year – and maybe doing the hilly half!