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British London 10K

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Guest post written by Sarah Crouch (@SarahCrouch90)

Dan and I finally woke up on the morning of the London 10K; something that we had been waiting months for! Dan had been excited about this since the day he signed us up. He had been looking forward to viewing all of London's beautiful scenery, running through the supportive crowds and with people who share the same passion for running that he does.

On the flip-side you have me; nervous as anything. I mentioned at the beginning that we woke up on the morning of the 10K, well Dan did - I was already awake. In hindsight, I can tell you that there was no need to be nervous. Nerves are just silly emotions that warp our perspective, but at the time, my perspective was warping to another dimension.

We left Vauxhall and caught the Victoria line north to change at Green Park. Being kitted in running gear and London 10K shirts on the tube was a strange experience, especially as we saw no one else with the kit on, but we still felt quite positive and excited about what we were doing.

The London Tube is a wonderful thing, you see all kinds of life on there, and the 'half-drunk from the night before' life-forms that we saw only acted to motivate us further. 'We are buzzing and you are feeling rotten', was one of the devious thoughts that ran through my mind. Any thought that allowed me to avoid my nerves was truly welcome at this point.

The closer we got to Piccadilly, the more people we saw with running attire on. We arrived in the red baggage zone, dropped our bags off, made the obligatory stop at the port-a-loos, and then set off on our one mile walk to the start line. The temperature was teetering on 30 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The weather was BEAUTIFUL, but incredibly hot for running. At this point, we weren't too phased because our pace was no quicker than a walk and we had some kick-ass scenery to look at.

We advanced up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace with hundreds if not thousands of other runners, everyone smiling, laughing and joking their way to the start. We then hung a right, and became sheltered in the delightful shade of trees in the Royal Parks. In front of us, and soon behind too, were crowds of static runners, warming and psyching themselves up. We were quite well placed as it turned out, next to the Bomber Command Memorial which is just to the right of Wellington Arch. I could hear a variety of accents, could see a multitude of nationalities and felt proud that we were all to complete this feat together with no sense of disharmony whatsoever.

Like Emperor Penguins, we waddled forward.

It took quite a while to get to the starting line (understandable when you consider that there were about twenty thousand runners in total), but when we did make the start it felt like a sprint! Many runners were shooting past us, obviously die-hard competitors that were making up the time they lost when waddling with us mere mortals.

The first two miles were amazing; crowds covered the footpaths and were shouting incredibly motivational messages, we were relatively shaded by the buildings around St. James' Palace and it felt as if I was running faster than I had ever been capable of doing before - as if I had some ultimate power. I had always wanted to be the pink power ranger in my childhood and had imagined the feeling that came with that power. I was feeling it!

However, after two miles the similarities I had with that enchanting childhood reminiscence dissipated at a rapid rate. To carry on with the childhood metaphors, I now felt as active as Homer Simpson.

Having Dan running with me was an incredible help though. I think he was feeling the heat as well and later said that if he hadn't have ran with me, he wouldn't have been able to improve massively on our time. The cute thing is though, even if it had been perfect running conditions he would have still stuck with me to get me through. What a darling!!!

The middle part of the run alternated from walking to running to grabbing tonnes of water and drinking it as if we had been walking for days in a water-less desert. It was so tough! Although we made sure that we ran for the important bits; Trafalgar Square and most of Victoria Embankment.

On the latter, we saw the first racers coming back on themselves and running the opposite way. I had no idea how far in front of us they were, but in hindsight I can tell you that it was a long way ahead. Danny Russell, the winner, completed the 10K in thirty one minutes and nine seconds. I cannot imagine what was going on inside his body... he must be an absolute machine! Well done to him.

On our way back down Victoria Embankment, my emotions were in paradox. I was so hot, I truly felt as if I was both hung-over AND melting at the same time... but contrasting to this, both Dan and I were surrounded by so much beauty, natural and manmade. We were running in between exquisite old trees and next to the glistening river Thames, with a towering Big Ben directly ahead. On our left we could see the London Eye and soon we would be running over Westminster Bridge. No matter how horrendous I felt, I loved every second of this stretch. Dan did too.

I have to mention that he was absolutely fine throughout the race. He didn't hit one wall compared to the ten that I counted. Everyone has a word for their boyfriend/girlfriend who is ace-ing something that you are struggling on - 'll let you use your imagination ;)

Yes it was annoying, but underneath all of that useless and petty negativity (fuelled by the pain felt in every cell of my body), I felt an incredible respect for his ability to be so blasé about the conditions we were running in. It just shows that in the last few months, he has worked so hard to run the miles he does and all for an amazing cause.

A close up of Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey followed. We circumnavigated the large roundabout outside with ease, and the pace started picking up. I noticed the bystanders shouting to us again. To my relief, they were saying, 'The finish line is just around the corner!'

We ran side by side towards the finish line, noticing photographers in all directions. It was such a great feeling to cross that line, and even better at the time to drink the free Gatorade that the organisers had provided for us.

We knew the best feeling would be when we picked our medals up, but instead of rushing, we stretched, soaked in the atmosphere and casually strolled back to our designated baggage zone along the Mall. Don't dispute me; this casual stroll was well deserved.

On arrival, we received our medals. This was the best feeling of the day for both of us. Dan had completed his first large scale and London based race, and I had overcome the mental and physical obstacles that Dennis had felt in Run Fatboy Run (minus the broken leg!).

We loved this race and will definitely do this race again next year... maybe you will want to join us?

Hildenborough 5 Mile

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Hildenborough 5 Mile

May day bank holiday brought about quite a choice of local races, initially I was leaning towards running the 'Baileys Nissan Whitstable 10k Road Race' but after consideration of the 10am start combined with bank holiday coast traffic I quickly decided against that and went for the closer Hildenborough 5 mile road race.

As it's approaching the end of the university year some of my local friends have returned from their universities and one of those decided he'd like to join me and also take part in this race. I'd also tried to prompt Sarah into joining again but she was sadly confined to exam revision.

On the day it was lovely weather, we (pretty much the whole family) set off with the air con blasting away in the car and began the short journey to Hildenborough, upon arrival it was clear the turnout was very good as there were cars everywhere, it didn't take too long find a space and park the car though.

I'd left registration for this event a little late which meant there wasn't enough time to post my number out, instead I had to pick it up from the scout hut, a hut which was actually quite impressive considering it was solely the scouts, when I was a scout we just shared the local school hall but this 'hut' had all the necessities.

After picking my number up I noticed a a framed news story on the wall of the hut, it seemed to be about (I may be wrong) but the old scout hut being burnt down in a bonfire ... this reminded me of my days as a scout, I once got told off by the leader for burning a hole in his sons brand new sleeping bag ... ooops.

As I walked out my running friend appeared, closely followed by another friend who'd joined to watch and support us, we now had a record support turnout of seven people!!

We made our way over to the start line in time to see Gold medal winning Olympic athlete Dame Kelly Holmes present medals to the young runners who'd competed in the earlier race, thankfully she wasn't competing in our race!

Typical of the weather, the clouds parted just in time for the start of the race and we began in blazing sun.

We headed along the route that neither of us knew anything about, I'd presumed/hoped it would be quite a flat run but how wrong was I! The first 2.5 miles were very undulating and to me it felt like we were running up and down mountains. I think my pace was a little optimistic and combined with the sun this first half of the race took it out of me, on multiple occasions I had to stop and walk little sections just to regain my breath, not something I usually do.

At the water stations I was very tempted to just throw the water over myself to cool down but managed to resist that urge. After I'd got to the 3K point I knew the worst was over and just concentrated on keeping a steady pace and reaching the finish line. The marshalls on the route were also providing positive encouragement which helped me along.

After what felt like a half marathon distance I reached the end in 49 minutes, a pretty disappointing time for a 5 mile run but I can now concentrate more on hill training and getting used to running more undulated courses.

My friend finished a couple of minutes before and we met up with our medals at the finish, we'd planned to get a photo with Dame Kelly Holmes but just as we were heading over to have a chat she ran off to join one of the 10 milers who was struggling on their second lap.

Overall it was a tough but pleasant race day, one that I'll be much more prepared for this time next year! I think I'd possibly even say that for me personally this race was even more of a challenge than the Sevenoaks 10k, I think it was just one of those days.

500 Mile Wristbands

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When I started this challenge I thought of many ways to try and spread the word about what it is I'm doing, one of the methods was to get these custom wristbands made.

500 Mile Running Wristbands

I've been giving them out to everyone that's shown support in me and/or the cause, many family and friends are now wearing them and showing them off to others which has certainly helped raise interest.

Last week I decided to give a few out to people on twitter that retweeted a certain tweet the fastest, I ended up posting out about 10 and happily these have been greatly received by those tweeters and some have even sent me photos of themselves wearing them, here's a few:

Running Wristband

Running Wristband

Running Wristband

Running Wristband

If you haven't received a wristband or would like some, please contact me via facebook, twitter or the contact page!

Goudhurst 10K

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Running Goudhurst 10K Race

Is there a better way to wake yourself up on a sunny Sunday morning than with a 10K race in a local country village? If so, I'm yet to find it and that's why we headed out to Goudhurst today to compete in their annual 10 and 5 Kilometer races.

This time it wasn't just me running, Sarah had decided / been persuaded to sign up for the 5K. We've been doing more running together in the evenings recently and she felt this race was a perfect start to help prepare herself for the London 10K in July.

After a nice drive down to Goudhurst we eventually found the event after taking a wrong turning in the village; luckily though we drove past some marshals who were able to redirect us the correct way where the TomTom had failed!

Upon arrival we were quite surprised at the turn out, there were cars and people everywhere! A nice touch was the car parking on the field, even if a thousand people had turned up there would've still been space for a thousand more (possibly).

After the excitement of our off road safari parking we made our way into the mass of people to collect and pin on our race numbers, to the delight of the official who gave us our numbers we'd brought plenty of safety pins so didn't have to beg them for any.

Once the essentials had been taken care of we lined up at the start and awaited the horn, it sounded and we began our way around the course.

A few days before the race I'd taken a glance over the supposed route to try and plot it on a Garmin Connect course, on the day this threw me somewhat as the course was originally planned to be an 'out and back' route. This means you run to a location and back, slightly different from doing laps of a course. After 15 minutes or so of running I was expecting Sarah to reach the 2.5K and have to turn around, this never happened and it turned out the course was changed into a two lap 5K. This was actually nice for me and Sarah because it meant we could run the whole 5K together and support each other along the way!

The undulating hills made us both run harder than we've done in recent training and that combined with the heat turned it into quite a tough course. Thankfully though when encouragement was really needed to keep us going we reached a field full of sheep that 'baaaaa'd' us on along, a feature I think all races should now have!

After one lap Sarah went off to cross the finish line and I had to continue on to face the course once more, at this point I tried to up the tempo a bit, this went well for one to two miles but then I felt exhausted and had to slow down. It's possible if I'd paced it better I could've achieved my first sub 1 hour 10K race but instead I finished in 1 hour and 47 seconds, so frustratingly close... but there's always next time.

Overall it was a perfect race day for both of us, a great event, friendly people, superb location and lovely weather, I hope very much that we'll return for next years Goudhurst race!

Return to Running

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After two weeks of looking after my girlfriend during her tonsillectomy recovery I've now finally been able to resume my 500 mile run challenge.

Even though it's only been two weeks of no running there's been one big change, the arrival of Spring! Unfortunately though it seems the winter weather is still lingering; during last nights run it was zero degrees Celsius and the snow was being blown into my face ... brrrrr.

Although on the plus side, we're now in British Summer Time and the evenings are lighter and I no longer have to run into uncut tree branches in the dark.

As my runs are now quite long distance it makes sense to drive to nicer places to enjoy the scenery and have a change, possibly more visits to places like Knole Park and Bewl Water will be on the cards during the summer, a plus at Bewl is that I'm a member of the sailing club so should be able to make use of the showers to freshen up in the summer.

On another topic, Sarah and I received emails from RunCoach today reminding us both that it's only 14 weeks until the British 10K London Run. Due to her tonsillectomy it's not been possible for her to do any sort of high intensity exercise for the last two weeks but she's planning on starting training very soon, I think I'll convince her to come running with me, 5K is a good distance to start with having not run for months right .. ?!

Girlfriend's Tonsillectomy Recovery

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Over the last two weeks running has been on the back burner as I've been helping my girlfriend recover from her tonsillectomy. I'd planned to take part in the Canterbury 10K on the 24th March but Sarah kept me busy, so this wasn't possible.

Therefore, I've not really had too much running to blog about... but to prevent you all from thinking I've been slacking these last two weeks, I'll blog about what I've been upto instead, Queue excuse...

Well ten days ago my girlfriend went into hospital to have an operation to remove her tonsils, they'd been giving her problems for a while so it made sense to have them out. I had the same issue when I was younger and had mine taken out around the age of 8. It wasn't as bad for me at that age because apparently you aren't as aware of the pain and they're smaller.

The operation went very well, she was out of hospital and back at home the same day without much pain, (most likely to do with the high levels of morphine she was given during the operation).

Now all she had to do was rest in bed for a few days and let me take care of her whilst her throat healed up.

This meant I had to stay well and try, like her, to avoid any germs or people with colds. As it's still very cold in the south of England, averaging 0-5 degrees Celsius in the evenings, it wasn't very wise to go running whilst caring for Sarah.

The other risk apart from inducing infections after a tonsillectomy is that of bleeding. If you're throat becomes too dry or you swallow something that catches the healing skin then it's possible to have a serious bleeding situation which can sometimes but rarely become life threatening. This meant Sarah needed 24/7 support in case that were to happen and meant hour longs runs just weren't possible.

Unfortunately we did have two bleeding situations whilst Sarah was recovering, the first of these called for a trip to Maidstone A&E where we waited in a que of 64 people for hours only to have a doctor advise us to simply wait for the bleeding to stop. If it didn't, we then had to go to Pembury and speak specifically to the ears, nose and throat doctors who could give better advice. Thankfully the bleeding did stop but a few days later we noticed it had started again and back off to hospital we went. This time we decided to go to Pembury for a more thorough check-up which turned out to be the right decision - the ENT doctor condemed Maidstone A&E for sending Sarah home the last time this time and admitted her straight away. The main reason for admittance was a small clot that would need overnight monitoring and a strengthened dose of antibiotics. This was all straightforward, but then we then had issues in trying to get a blood test completed. For some reason the doctors and nurses just couldn't get any blood and Sarah was in an extreme amount of pain. I had to listen in horror as they tried on 14 separate times - It sounded like torture! After being given a drip and antibiotics her liquid levels went up and everything was then simple and pain free.

As Sarah was in hospital overnight I went and stayed back at home to get some rest and be ready to go and pick her up in the morning, all was okay in the morning and the hospital discharged her with new stronger tablets so she could finish the rest of her recovery at home again.

At last, we are now on the path to recovery! Sarah is feeling a lot better and soon she will be able to eat normal foods again.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips:
If you are ever helping someone going through a tonsillectomy and want them to experience a speedy, pain free tonsillectomy recovery then I recommend the following ...

  • Buy a humidifier, this will add water to the air and prevent their throat from drying up.
  • Bulk purchase strepsils, these numb the throat a little and have been very useful when painkillers have been maxed out.
  • Make sure to stock up on foods such as sorbet, jelly and anything that's soft. Avoid eating anything dairy as it will make your body produce more phlegm which is the last thing your throat needs.
  • Take your medications at regular intervals and do not miss any doses.
  • Go straight to a throat specialist doctor if you have any bleeding as they're the only ones who can assess it correctly.

Apart from the few sleepless nights it's been relatively easy looking after her as she's been recovering. Hopefully over the next week or so I'll now be able to get back into running. I have a around 23 miles to catch up on so there's a fair bit to do! The plan is to run longer distances more frequently now and as it is getting much lighter in the evenings as summer approaches so I'll be more eager to get out and run!

Off to run now, have a good Easter weekend everyone!

Signed, newly qualified ENT specialist Dr. Thorpe.

Sevenoaks Rotary 10K

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On the 17th March 2013 I took part in my very first 10K race at the scenic Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent.

In the days running up to the event I'd actually changed my mind about whether to take part or not multiple times, mainly due to the very wet and windy weather we'd been having. I've been to Knole Park many times and know very well there are some big hills and with added strong winds and heavy rain this was never going to be an easy 10K, however I decided to just get on with it and battle my way through!

The morning of the race was an early start, 8:15am on a Sunday is never an easy task but after some toast and searching for safety pins we were in the car and on our way to Sevenoaks. We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare so I went and collected my racing chip and made use of the free leisure centre facilities which were filed to the brim with runners.

As the start time approached we made our way down to the start line, for myself wearing high traction running shoes this was a simple walk but Sarah and my Mum found the mud a little trickier. After a few pre-race photos I took my place in the starting line-up and awaited the starting claxon with all 340 other runners.

Sevenoaks rotary 10k starting line

The claxon sounded and we began the run up the slippery wet grass, it was almost immediately obvious this was not going to be an easy race. The first 2K of lap one consists of a climb of 36 metres which then turns into a very steep 10 metre hill followed by a final gradual 21 metre climb, upon reaching the top of the 67 metre climb I was exhausted but the water station helped me recover.

At this point I had mixed emotions, thankfully the last half of the lap was mainly downhill but I knew I still had to repeat the hill on lap two, not something I could look forward to! However the second half of the lap is mainly gravel so much easier on the legs, feet and ankles than very slippery wet mud. This section went quite quickly and I was soon approaching lap two but first had to pose for the following photo ...

Running Photo

Lap two began as did the second occurance of the battle to climb the 67 metre hill, it was even harder this time though as the rain had picked up and 340 people had already run over this ground creating lots more mud. I did have to take a few brief breathers on the way up which impacted my time but my sole aim was to just finish this race.

Eventually I made it back up to the top and was able to grab and down a quick cup of water. At this point I was utterly exhausted from the climb and just focused on reaching the finish line, from here it was quite a plane last lap, the only real point worth mentioning was the steward at around 8K who had the song "Eye of the Tiger" as used in the Rocky films playing aloud on his phone, just the final spur I needed to make it to that 10K finish line!

I kept going and made my way across the finish line in 1 hour and 5 minutes, a time that considering the rain, mud and steep hills, I was pretty happy with, certainly not a course to break personal bests but I can now try to improve on my first 10K race time.

race finish race finish

On reflection I'm glad I entered the Sevenoaks Rotary 10K, the wind, rain, mud and hills definitely made it that bit more challenging but the reward of completion and receiving the medal was very worthwhile and I'll most probably be back again next year to give it another go.

Full photo gallery of the Sevenoaks Rotary 10K can be viewed here.

Post Race Aches and Man Flu

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Unfortunately since my last run in the Tenterden 5 Mile I've been unable to log anymore miles, there's been two reasons behind this ...

The first reason was down to leg muscles aches after my first race. When you run on a race day something inside you gives you that little bit more push and increases your pace, this is good because it helps improve your time but when you're not used to it, it can really takes it's toll on your muscles. For a good few days after the race my legs had a lot more aches than usual as they recovered, this meant it probably wasn't the best idea to run so I instead rested to let them fully repair.

My legs were fine after a few days but then I contracted a bout of the dreaded man flu! For those not familiar with the term, this is an extreme form of cold contractible only by males, the sufferer has to stop all activities to lay in bed and watch TV for, at the very least a few days whilst they recover from exaggerated flu like symptoms, most eventually make a full recovery but the TV schedule may have an affect upon the duration. Thankfully I'm almost fighting fit again now so running will recommence very soon.

Man Flu Symptoms

I think I'm around 8 miles behind where I should be at this point so I'll have to run a little more over the next few weeks, this will be good though because I've got two 10k runs coming up in March and I need to be in good speedy shape for those!

The Tenterden 5 Mile

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Tenterden 5 Mile Race Photo

Last weekend I took part in The Tenterden 5 Mile, a running race located in the village of Wittersham. The race was in aid of raising funds to support the local village hall and there was a great turn out of around 140 entrants.

We arrived in Wittersham quite early on the Sunday morning, it was a lovely sunny start to the day with a temperature of around 9 degrees Celsius, perfect heat for running. On arrival we made our way up to the village hall which was full of people doing stretches and attaching race numbers, We mingled for a short while before everyone made their way to the start line. After posing for a few photos the starter horn sounded and we all set off on the run.

The first mile or so felt a lot longer than it normally does, I think this might have been down to a lack of properly warming up and stretching, something I'm usually quite thorough with but the anticipation of actually being in a race may have distracted a little, I kept on though and my muscles seemed to relax a little. As Wittersham is a small Kent village the surroundings were mostly green fields, it made a nice change to running alongside dark roads a few inches away from lorries and their fumes. The course was quite deceiving as from the start the area seemed quite flat, this wasn't that case and the course was quite undulating, although the top of the hills did give nice views of the Kent countryside so it was kind of worth it.

Whilst running I seemed to find myself get into a gap between the faster runners and those behind me, I ran for at least 5 minutes without being able to see anyone which was a little strange, I soon caught up with a few in front though. It's amazing how you can push your body that little bit more when you're running with other people, I could see from my Garmin that my time at the halfway stage was better than any of my training so that gave me a little motivation boost to just keep going, them small cup of water I grabbed at the 3 mile refreshment point also helped me on. I think the hardest part of the race was the third mile, it's a tricky mile because you're just over halfway but there's still another 15-20 minutes of running to go and most of your body is yelling at you to just stop and walk by this point. I pushed on though and got to the last mile of the race, at this point I was feeling great and upped my pace a little allowing me to overtake quite a few people on the way to the finish, eventhough my sole aim was not to finish above others but concentrate on just finishing in a good personal time it's always a slight positive mental boost when you pass someone.

As I crossed the finish line and picked up my first ever running medal I was extremely pleased with myself, I'd set out to achieve something and had managed to do it. I also finished the race in 48 minutes which was 6 minutes faster than I'd previously managed so what was another positive for me.

Race Medal Photo

I met up with my family before going to collect my complimentary hot soup, which is given to all race entrants as a small thank you for taking part, formerly the race had been known as 'The Isle of Oxney 5 Mile Hot Soup Dash' for this reason.

Overall I was very happy to complete my first race in what for me was a good time and I can now hopefully go on to improve this in the future. I'd highly recommend 'The Tenterden 5 mile' race to anyone as it was a good friendly start to my racing events.

February March Races

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Last night I was thinking that even though I do all of this running I've never really entered too many public events/races, the only one I've ever actually done was the Canterbury 5k Sport Relief in 2010.

I decided it was time to get more involved in that aspect and have signed up for three events over the next two months to get me started, they're as follows:

I found all of the races in the events section at Runners World, there's actually quite a few locally but a lot are further distances of half marathon plus, a little out of my comfort zone at the moment.

If anyone else wishes to come along and join in then feel free, they're all public events and you just have to pay the entry fee of £12ish, if you want the details just click the event name above or contact me!


Welcome to Dan Thorpe's running blog.

My aim for this year is to run a minimum of 500 miles in aid of raising funds for Cancer Research UK.

I'll be tracking my runs with the Garmin Forerunner 410 and displaying information about my progress via the statistics produced.