This weekend I ran in the Blenheim Palace 10k, the last race before my ‘A’ race – the Oxford half. Last week was an eventful week for me (not in a good way either). I managed to tear my calf muscle and pull my Achilles running to work on the Wednesday (oh the irony!) so I got an emergency physio appointment booked who confirmed that I had injured it, but they weren’t too concerned. They prescribed lots of foam rollering, ibuprofen, ice, elevation, rest and hydration! I’ve been doing all of this like a mo fo!
I woke up on race day (having had a bad night’s sleep!) and thought I’d experiment a few things – firstly, I drank a glass of beetroot juice 2 hours before the race start, I had porridge with chia seeds and a slice of toast with avocado. I also took a caffeine and glucose tablet about 20 mins before the race.
I’ve read quite bad reviews in the past about Blenheim Palace half and 10k, one of which commented that the half marathon course was actually more like 10 miles so I my expectations were very low. I have to say, when I finally got within spitting distance of Blenheim Palace and had to wait in queues of traffic to get parked, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Once we got parked though, it all seemed fairly well organised (although the signage to the start was pretty bad!).
We arrived at the start, which was literally just outside the palace itself. I pushed myself towards the front as I knew at these charity events you get a lot of walkers or people who haven’t trained properly who sprint for the first 1k and then stop. Despite my nasty injury, I was feeling remarkably perky and was running the first k at around 5 min/k pace, although stupidly I’d forgotten to actually hit ‘start’ on my Garmin!! I hit start at the 1k marker though, which was at the base of the first up hill section. I ran up it strongly though and sprinted down all the down hill sections.
Between 3 and 4k, I was thinking ‘hmm, this feels a bit uncomfortable’ – I looked at my Garmin and I was running at 4.45 min/pace, which is probably why! I had a woman behind me breathing down my neck who was obviously using me as her pacer, which irritated me a bit – all I could hear was her ridiculously laboured breathing in my ear. I let her go past in the end figuring I’d probably overtake her at some stage (clearly she was pushing herself too hard!).
I hit the 5k point at around 25 mins, which is my 5k pace. ‘Oops, maybe I should slow down?’ This is the point when we hit the grass and a few hairpin turns, which inadvertently slowed me down to around 5.30 min/k pace (it’s hard to run fast on longish grass!). By 7k, I looked at my Garmin and I thought it could be a fast one actually weirdly, despite my injury. I’ll just keep going and see. I started to speed up again for the last 2k, which both came in around the 5 min/k pace – the last k was actually 4.10 min/k! My leg felt a bit stiff so I chose not to do a sprint finish and took it steady. I was amazed at how many people I overtook for the last couple of k though.
All in all, despite my injury, the fact that I’ve had a cold for about 10 days and not trained, I felt like death due to lack of sleep, and course was undulating, I smashed it with a PB of 52.32 and was the 38th woman!! The boyfriend (who is quite new to running) also managed a PB of 53.12.
Diva rating: 4/5
- Really good course – undulating, but varied terrain and enjoyable. For PB hunters, it is doable as there were as many up hill sections as down hill.
- Well marked out course with lots of marshals.
- Beautiful location.
- Loved the start and the finish.
- Not too crowded for a PB.
- Traffic was really bad so leave early to avoid rushing.
- The signage at the start wasn’t that great.
- The medal could have been less generic or even had an engraving of Blenheim Palace on it.
I would do again, but next year I will leave earlier and drive the back roads to get there. In fact, next year I might have a go at the half marathon.
I seriously think the beetroot helped – my breathing was far less laboured than normal and even though I was exhausted (from lack of sleep), I felt strong. It may be a placebo effect, but I’ll take it! Am I feeling confident about the Oxford half? Not sure – it all depends on the day and how stiff my leg feels, but I’m going to give it my all.