Where to start. Phew, what an amazing experience! I want to do it all over again. And I knocked 10 minutes off my previous 10k time (though this run wasn't quite 10k according to my watch) and got 3 personal records. My splits were 7.11- 7.58- 8.36- 9.22- 7.55- 7.49- 9.10- 9.20- 8.22- 9.01- The chip time was 1.23.10. My fastest 10k before was 1.33, so I'm immensely pleased with that. I ran the whole way and didn't stop at all as I was carrying fluid so didn't pause at the water station.
Ok, back to the beginning. Having banished poor Mic to the spare room so he didn't disturb me snoring, I woke up at 4.30am anyway. I managed to doze a bit till 5.45 then gave in and had breakfast and dosed myself on fruit juice with an electrolyte tablet in. Then a bath, donned my Sturdy By Design Graffiti leggings and pink Saucony top, and my Cloudflyers, slung phone, energy bar, soya chocolate milk and various other bits and pieces in a rucksack, and we were off. I have to say here that I felt completely calm about the experience ahead, and that sense of calm stayed with me all the way round.
We arrived at Blenheim Palace grounds just after 8, parked, and discovered that my daughter, son in law and granddaughter had parked just in front of us and were getting out of their car, so we all walked up to the event village together, where Rosie ( ClarkeyCat ) and I collected our BHF t-shirts, then we all hung around in the freezing cold for the next hour and a half, making trips for coffee (Mic, Alan and Hope) and the loo, (me and Rosie and 5000+ other people) and making general conversation while trying to keep warm.
The sun came out, lighting a flare of autumn colour from the trees, and a blue sky, striated with white mackerel clouds and aircraft trails arched overhead. There were hundreds of runners milling around, the numbers went well over 5000. Then we all drifted down towards the start, where there was an absolutely lunatic warm-up routine going on, that involved kicks and lunges and flailing arms, all impossible for most of us without decapitating everyone else because we were packed so tightly together. Then, after fussing setting watches and trying to traverse the barriers, we were off, with totally no organisation as to who went first, who was faster etc, except for the 60 and 70 minute pacers.
What can I say about running in this beautiful place, on a glorious autumn day. In many ways, it's a blur, but certain highlights stand out, though i'm hazy as to sequence: The beauty of the lake, serene with lily pads and reflected clouds; the ancient oaks, some of them hundreds of years old, that haven't been managed in any way and so are growing twisted and hollow with massive trunks you could stand inside; the geese that flew over low and huge; the beautiful shades of russet and old gold painting the trees in places; the wide paths leading away on either side; the woman, also in Sturdy leggings, who ran alongside chatting to me about what fabulous leggings they are and how addictive; the Indian lady who struggled with the uppy bits and felt embarrassed about walking and was relieved when i said it was ok to walk, but who said I was putting her to shame - which shouldn't have pleased me but did, as I've always thought of myself as a very slow runner. I have to say that at least half the people taking part walked a lot of the way, so I'm dead chuffed that I didn't.
Everybody said how hilly the run is and what a tough course, but, honestly, thanks to Chipping Norton being my nursery slopes when I began running last year, it all seemed very easy and not steep at all.
I did start to flag a bit towards the end, despite my little bottle of electrolyte solution, then suddenly the finish line was ahead, though it was a slog up a slope to get to it, so no sprint to the finish. They called my name as i crossed the finish line, which I hadn't expected but was nice. Then I was collecting my medal and being photographed by my friend Kate, who had come over to take pictures.
I should have kept moving, as my resting heart rate is very low and my running heart rate is high, but I stopped to talk to Kate. Big mistake, as I ended up feeling incredibly faint and unable to breathe, briefly, till I took several puffs of my inhaler - it was like a block in my chest and throat, very scary but thankfully over in a couple of minutes. It was followed shortly by an endorphin rush!!!
Then posing for photos, and it was all over, though we saw the half marathon runners going round as we left the park, and i wondered how Clairecandothis was getting on. I'm pretty tired but I want to do it again!