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The girls and I we were up early and over to meet up with Shelli and her girls at an ungodly hour for a Sunday morning, getting there some time shortly after 8am! Why the early start? The Blenheim Palace 10K!

Much like the way the London Bupa 10K has become a yearly thing, the Blenheim Palace 10K also seems to be going that way. It’s a lovely course but a little bit challenging at it has quite a few hills…it’s not flat by any stretch of the imagination!

Originally, as it’s a weekend Shelli and I have our girls, Val and Tony were going to come along to the race and look after them all for us as we ran the course.

Unfortunately, after our Spire to Spire trek last month which ruined Shelli’s poor feet, she wasn’t able to get out and do any training at all so she opted not to run so she looked after the girls while I took part in the run.

So, we all met up early and drove up to Blenheim Palace, hitting the traffic on the final round-a-bout again – always a bad spot that is! We’d left with plenty of time to spare so it wasn’t a problem as the race itself didn’t start until 11:15am.

Once we’d parked up and sorted ourselves out we headed in. As Shelli and the girls were watching they had to pay for a ticket to enter the grounds. Now, in the information they’d sent it clearly stated that everyone watching would need to buy a ticket. You could order these online and the night before the race I was sorely tempted to order them, to save time on the day. I’m glad I didn’t as that would have wasted money as Shelli only had to pay for herself and one of the girls on the day. Must remember this next year!

We made our way near to where the start was and, much to the girls’ excitement, there was a play bus there. Even better, it was free! They all clambered on and had a great time painting and sticking. The sticking part wasn’t a problem as they could be bagged up straight away but the paining? The paper wasn’t the best – it looked like spare running number sheets you pin on your t-shirt – and the paint wasn’t going to dry any time soon, so we left the paintings slightly under the bus to be picked up after I’d finished my run.

It didn’t seem long before it was time to make our way to the start. Unlike our late start last year I was going to start with the rest of the pack so to try and stop myself from getting too hemmed in I waited pretty much right at the back, getting a big cuddle from the girls and Shelli before they headed off to the start straight to watch the beginning of the race.

I was a little nervous about the run as I was still suffering from a cold. I was just getting over one when another kicked in last week. Not good. I had some strepsils with me to suck on on my way round to try and keep my nose clear and my throat from hurting too much, which seemed to work on the few training runs I managed to fit in on the run up to the race.

The race started and just after crossing the start line I saw Shelli and the girls on the side, big smiles all round.

Pre-occupied with making sure I spotted the girls I completely forgot to start my stopwatch, remember to do it part way down the start straight. Bang went my chance to get an accurate unofficial time while I waited for the official results to be posted online – doh!

The course was packed for the first couple of kilometres and I found it tough getting past everyone. I was pretty sure I was running at my normal pace but I seemed to be catching up and overtaking lots of people?

Fortunately the day was quite cool and in direct comparison to last year’s heatwave. This made the running a little easier and by the time I’d made it round to the field section – around 4.7Km mark – I was still going pretty well, and by this point last year the heat had gotten to me and I’d walked a bit. Not this time though, although the long wet grass made the going tough, but I suspect it was easier than running on the churned up muddy grass I suppose?

The field section took quite a lot out of me so my pace slowed for a bit once I was back on the road but not knowing when the girls might be waiting next on the course, and knowing that my legs were fine and not hurting at all, I told my mind to shut up and just get on with it!

Shelli and the girls were waiting on the side of the road around the 8Km mark and I can’t tell you how much of a boost it was seeing their smiling faces.

Spurred on I gritted my teeth for the final couple of kilometres. These aren’t the easiest part of the course as there is a steep downward section – it did my knee in last year – and then there are a number of upward sections too, ending in the final hill up to the finish line.

I was still going strong and looking at my watch after I’d passed the 9Km mark I had about five minutes to go to come in under the hour – this having added thirty seconds to my time to [hopefully] make up for the bit I missed at the beginning of the race.

The only time I’d recorded a sub one hour 10Km time before was at the Bath half marathon. Since then I’d come in over the hour every time. I was determined for that not to happen this time.

As I neared the finish line I put my head down and sprinted the last twenty to thirty metres. I was so focused on getting to the line I completely missed the girls and Shelli waving and cheering me on, crossing the line and stopping my watch at 59:22, hoping that the bit I missed came in under 38 seconds. Only time would tell, if you excuse the pun.

The final sprint really took it out of me but it wasn’t long before I’d recovered and I was having cuddles and photos with all the girls.

On Monday the official times were posted and I’m very pleased to say that my official time was 59:55, just inside the hour! And, from starting at the back of the pack I came in at position 388 out of a total of 758, overtaking almost half of the field as I made my way round the course

You can see a map of which you can see here. There was a slight change in the course this year with an additional bit on the field section.

Considering how little training I’d den because of the colds, and that I was still suffering quite badly, to record my quickest official 10Km result was just amazing! I’d be lying if I told you that having the girls there to see me didn’t spur me on to do the best I could. Having them all there with Shelli to watch me was fantastic and I hope they enjoyed it too.

As ever, I took my little camera with me and snapped away before, during and after the race. I’ve posted the photos in the photo section so go and check them out if you want fancy. There are a few official photos at the end of the gallery too.

They’ve already posted the date for next year’s race, which again falls on a weekend we’ve got the girls. As part of the racing schedule for the day there’s a family fun run – a 2Km run – and we all agreed that next year we’d all sign up for that on the day too. Madness? Maybe. I think the girls would have fun doing it though 🙂

Great day and really proud of myself for achieving an official best time over that distance!