London 2016 - Ravens Runners London

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London Marathons
London Marathon
22 April 2016 - the 36th (started in 1981)

Andy Ferguson 3.55.53
Dave Meller 2.52.54
Dave Miller 3.09.56
David Wilkinson 2.55.35
Lucy Owen 3.12.48
Marcus Elwes 3.19.16
Olly Robinson 3.17.19
Robin McCoy 3.02.40
Sid Newton 2.56.59
Simon Phillips 3.04.45
Vicky Cooper 3.25.05
Helena Eastham 3.11.43
Stephen Jullien 2.59.29

My 20th London Marathon! And the novelty hasn't worn off yet.... I love this race! Yes, one of the colder ones, but none of the snow that was mentioned as a vague possibility. On balance actually the cold was good. It certainly helped get me off fast for my usual positive split tactic. I really, really really, don't want to start a debate on the subject but it works for me! Great to meet up with fellow Ravens at the start, although that was all we did. Didn't see another running one all race, but that's not to say I didn't see and hear the Ravens supporters . Thanks - it does make a difference, even though all you get back is a pretty expressionless gaze. Yes, so off too quick according to the negative split theorists, but off I cantered. Half way 1:23:36. OK, maybe I did have my foot on the gas a bit too heavily. I forgot I'm powered by a non-turbo diesel these days. No cramp, no blisters. No excuses for the latter stages  just a question of embracing the pain and keeping going. I'd had an elbow to my Garmin at one point which temporarily stopped it, and for the first year that I can remember in recent years, there weren't digital clocks at every mile so at some stages I wasn't actually sure of my pace. Anyway, Strava (bless 'em) gave me a 2:49:47 time for 26.2 miles apparently saying I'd run 26.7 miles before crossing the finishing line. TOSH I say - I'm a firm believer in only taking the official results. For me this year 2:52:54 which I'm happy with. Not a PB (that was when I had fuel injection) but two minutes quicker than last year so happy. For now. Will obviously be back next year to settle unfinished business. That's if I can think of any.
Dave Meller

After the 2014 VLM I doubted that I would run again, and certainly wasn’t planning on any more marathons.  In large part due to the support and encouragement of the Raven’s I was delighted to actually be in a condition to line up for the VLM, although I was concerned about how long my calf and Achilles would last.  Happy to run a steady just sub 7mm pace and see what happened.  The miles kept ticking off, and despite being tired I didn’t slow down and the last 6 were the most comfortable of any marathon I have done. The onset of pain in the calf in Birdcage Walk suggests race tactics were about right! Most of us met up for the team photo, and great to see Phil, Arif and Lee on the course. 6th best time out of 27 and in one piece – for once absolutely delighted!
Robin McCoy

As most of you know this was my first ever marathon. Training had gone well and was feeling confident and looking forward to the day. Great to meet up with the fellow Ravens at the start for the team photo. Plan was to run around 8:30 minute miles and this was going fine for first half as went through in 1:54. Got to the end of Narrow Street turned on to Isle of Dogs and just crashed. Suddenly no energy at all. Don’t know why it happened I had been fine past this distance in training. The whole Isle of Dogs was a real struggle but when I saw 19 mile marker seemed to give me a second wind and picked up again. All was going fine until 23 miles when hamstring cramped and had to stop to stretch it out. Slowed down from this point just to make sure I finished and had cramp about another 4 or 5 times in the run in. Can’t repeat what I said when I crossed the finish line not very polite! Very pleased to have finished the first marathon and to go sub 4 hours as well. Know I could go quicker as well so here’s to the next one!!
Andrew Ferguson

So, as some of you will know, I have a chequered history with London, having run it once in 2011 as a novice runner and again in 2013 shortly after joining the Ravens. I was not fit in 2013 and was carrying an Achilles injury. I should not have run, but did and duly crashed and burned, walking large parts of the second half of the course and limping home miserably in just under 4 hours. After that experience, I vowed not to run another marathon, unless I was properly fit and injury free. It was only last year that I got back anywhere near full fitness, whilst having regular work done on my injury. I decided London 2016 would be the one to aim for and set my sights on doing everything training wise I could to make the most of it and not injuring myself again. On the day, I felt good although ridiculously nervous, after being dropped off by Tucks, who kindly gave me and a club colleague a lift to the start. My ultimate aim of the race was to get GFA, but thought that, if things went well, 3:10/15 was achievable. As it happens, that wasn't achievable and, in fact, GFA very nearly slipped away as well at the end. My race strategy was to take it very easy for the first 5/6 miles, then push on a bit until 18/20 and see what I had left. I kept religiously to this early in particular, often by chatting with other runners, taking time at the water stops and generally slowing myself down if I got carried away. My splits for the first 5/6 were around 7:25 and after pushing on after that I got the average up to 7:20. I went through halfway in 1:36 so was on course. At mile 16, I popped in a slow one (8:00) and again at 19, when I had to stop in the Westferry underpass for a pee. After that, my pace really dropped away, as I could not get back to the rhythm and pace I had been and the pain began to kick in. I used Phil's strategy of targeting a runner ahead and tracking them down, which was as much as I could do, to vaguely stay in touch. Miles 22-26 were hellishly tough and my pace dropped to around 8 min miling consistently. This was a worry, as my average pace was now creeping up toward 7:35, which I realised was going to put my GFA time in jeopardy. Whilst coming through Birdcage Walk I was confident I was still on target but 600 metres out, I developed a crippling stitch, which took my breath away and made running just that little bit harder, but somehow I pushed on in quite a lot of pain and saw that, as I turned into the Mall, my watch was on 3:18. I attempted what I thought was a sprint but which was probably looked more like a briskish waddle and managed to cross the line with 45 seconds to spare. Phew.

A 35 minute PB. I spent the next 10 minutes in the medical tent, as my legs literally wouldn't work and then went off to meet my club mates for a well deserved beer. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed not to be closer to 3:10/15 and clearly I have more work to do. The last 5/6 miles were so tough. However, at least now I can hopefully have a run of attempts to get more practice at this marathon malarkey. I enjoyed the race for the most part, although there is clearly an art to keeping a good rhythm in a crowd of jostling and weaving runners (not to mention some ludicrous attempts by spectators to cross the road in front of us). Hopefully not being in the Mass start next time might help. Great to see a few of you beforehand, as well as Tim on the course (and think I may have heard one or two others of you) and well done all on some truly exceptional times. You all remain an absolute inspiration to me.
Marcus Elwes

Optimistically aiming for 3:02/3:03 so thought I might as well go off at sub3 pace, Sid breezed past early on and a while later so did Stephen Jullien (French guy who used to run with us till a year or so back) and we had a little chat, he was looking good for his first sub3. Quads started aching in Bermondsey, so I knew it was going to be an increasing struggle, but no point in voluntarily dropping pace, so fought them to carry on around 6:45 pace. Cheered on by Mrs McCoy in Rotherhithe and Rob Osborne just before Narrow Street, where I swear I saw David about 20yds ahead of me, wrongly wondered if he was flagging and tried to catch, but never saw him again. By the time I saw Chris I was starting to lose the battle with my quads and by the time I received Lee’s welcome & enthusiastic support my pace was over 7. I had forlorn hopes I could revive myself for the last 10k, but it was horrible. Managed a wave to Arif, and a hand through my daughter’s hair who would’ve missed me otherwise (I couldn’t muster a shout), continued slowing and grinding out the ground. Sure I could get 3:03 by busting my guts for the last mile - I did the second of those but not the first. Robin passed me early in the last full mile and beat me by two minutes, as I was probably at 8:30 pace by then. Disappointed to be 10 minutes slower than last time, but the best result was that I got through with no injury flare-ups, but I probably need a couple of weeks off (again). I can put the quads issue largely down to one ill advised run. Some really impressive debuts, pbs and GFAs by Team Ravens yesterday, none more so than The Mellor Machine ™ . PS I couldn’t resist wearing racing shoes for the first time in over a year, unfortunately they were brand new (as were my socks). Shiny new shoes = shiny new blisters.
Simon Phillips

As this was only my second marathon (and my first London marathon), I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I set myself a few targets:
(1) beat my previous marathon time (3:13),
(2) GFA (3:05)
(3) sub-3 hours.
I planned to track the 3 hour pacer for a couple of miles to make sure I didn’t set-off too quick, but as we got within 5 metres of the start, I realised I hadn’t switched my GPS watch on! So I stepped to one side while it loaded and let him go. I caught him at mille one however, which probably meant I set off quicker than I should have, but felt good and averaged just over 6:30/mile for the first 4 miles. Around that point the 3 routes merge and it becomes more congested. My pace dropped to 6:40/miles until half way as a result. I crossed half-way in 1:27:33 (a little slower than I was hoping). Over tower bridge the course opened up and I was able to push on and averaged 6:25/miles between 13-18 miles. At 18 miles however my hamstrings started to threaten to go into cramp, meaning I had to drop the pace again to something like 6:45/miles to avoid cramp completely settling in, which was frustrating as otherwise, I felt strong. I basically carried on at around this pace to the end, but my hamstrings were constantly twinging on every stride. Finished 2:55:35, meaning a split of 1:27:33/1:28:02. Despite feeling I could have gone a little quicker, I’m over the moon with my time. Huge thanks to all you guys. Running with Ravens for the past 12 months has been a massive learning curve. Despite being a regular runner for almost 15 years, I’ve never done it as part of a group and I’m certainly reaping the rewards. One thing I learnt from yesterday however, is that I need to do more than just running. My hamstrings just weren’t strong enough to keep the pace, but everything else was. Admittedly, I don’t do any other training other than running, so some leg strengthening is much needed. Congratulations to all the Ravens. Some excellent times. Good to see Robin, Helena, Lucy and Sid on the course, you guys all looked strong. Looking forward to reading the rest of the race reports. Thanks to Phil and Lee for the encouragement from the side-lines too – sorry, didn’t see anyone else!
David Wilkinson

This was my 4th London and my 16th marathon, main aim was to get under 3 hours  10 mins was not sure how it would go as I had to pull out of manchester 2 weeks ago due to a bad back.
Nice to see Vicky before start tired to meet up the others for photo shot but unable to cross road, aim was to stick around 7.03 pace until 22 miles and then see how I felt then try to hang on. Felt in a good place as I got to half way kept pushing the pace, nice to see at 20 miles then seeing Phil at 35k was great he gave me the push to keep going. Got to 23 and start to drop pace but still around 7.30 pace, the last mile has hell managed to cross line in just under 3.10 so good day at office. 1.34/1.35.58. Back held out. Btw forgot to say a 5 min pb from 2 years ago as my time at Manchester been cleared from PO10.
Dave Miller

Sunday was my 11th London Marathon and 14th in total nut my first as a Raven! It was good to meet up with fellow Ravens before the race for a quick photo. My target was sub 2.55 with my current pb being 2.57.46, (2 years ago). Too me the GFA section seemed a lot busier than normal so was a bit slow starting off decided to aim for at about 6.30 / 6.35 pace and managed to keep this going through the first half of race, when I saw Phil on the way out I felt quite good and in control and went through halfway in 1.25.47. Seemed to recognise a lot of the sights we see on our lunchtime runs, started to find things getting tougher from about 16 miles and between 17/18 had a pain in my right hamstring. I had managed to save a bit of time in the bank and slowed to approximately 7 min mile pace, the last 6 were painful with just trying to focus on getting the next mile completed as close to 7 mins as I could!  David W, passed me on the embankment and offered some encouragement to keep going and stick with him which I simply could not! Great running Dave. Having looked at my photos today I look in a lot of pain!! my target changed over the last couple of miles was to get to the finish under 2.57 so my pb could start 2.56 a sprint finish (doubt it looked like this) meant I came in at 2.56.59 so a pb by 47 seconds. Have mixed feelings as I feel I should have done better but still got a pb so have to be happy and looking for a marathon in October to have another go! I echo Daves comments about strength training and think I need to start adding this to my training (so if anyone has any good plans/advice let us know). Cheers for anyone who was out there supporting only saw Lee Martin who must get the award with his boys for the most vocal support and Arif when I was really struggling!
Sid (Paul Newton)

11th marathon, 5th London; I never doubted for a moment I would get a PB at London as I ran a very comfortable 3.28 last year.  This year I was looking for a 3.23 because prior to it being measured short, my PB was Manchester 3.25. My plan was to run at 7.45 and IF I had anything left in the latter stages (i.e. 23M onwards), I was going to up the pace.  As others have said, in the green GFA start, this year was far more crowded.  Took me over a minute to cross the start line.  The first 3 miles really were congested and it was difficult to get into a rhythm but I did try.  By the mile 4 we’d hit the masses but at the least the road was wider.  I tried to follow the blue line but again difficult with so many runners.  I was thinking about trying to find someone to run with to help me maintain pace but that plan quickly faded when anyone I thought might be running at my pace were either going for 3.30+ or had headphones in. I wasn’t particularly looking for spectators I might know as I’d forgotten where people said they would be and I just wanted to concentrate.  I did hear a yell at mile 9, one of my parkrun run directors, then just a few yards down the road, I heard Joanne yell at me (one of the Thursday improvers). I was regularly checking my watch to ensure even pacing and slowing as necessary when required.  Had a very emotional moment at the end of Tower Bridge as I was running in memory of my friend who died in a RTA three weeks ago and was due to run in his first ever marathon; he would have loved that part of the course.  Was surprised to see the far side of the bridge on the right hand side had no spectators, guess it had been closed off to them. Going through halfway at 1.42 was a bit confusing as I thought I was at about 1.41 but taking time to get over the line and my watch not being accurate with the mile markers threw things out. I still felt okay at this point so was concentrating on getting to mile 14 where my BRR buddies man the water station.  I saw Phil just before that point but had to shout somewhat to get his attention, then he realised it was me.  I also saw a marshal I knew at this point.  I grabbed a water from mile 14 water station, shouted at the gang and ran on.  Just after mile 15, I passed a mate who was going for 3.14, her legs had gone and she wasn’t having a good race.  The crowds were sparse from about 15 to about 20 compared to previous years. I saw Lee before the 20 mile marker and that was a huge boost.  It looked like I passed that stage in about 2.35 but must have been later than that.  I’ve never experienced it before but I know what people mean now when they say the real hard work starts at 20 miles! Having said that, I did notice I was starting to overtake a lot more people and to be honest, it was a pain as I was having to skirt round people and it’s really not helpful as you’re tired.  I saw some Dagenham 88s at mile 22 but as previously when I’d seen people I knew on the course, my brain just froze and I could not remember anyone’s name so I just waved as I passed. As we passed the Tower heading for Lower Thames St, I almost took a guy out; he was speeding up then slowing down and as I went round the back of him to the left, I clipped the back of his foot.  It all went into slow motion and as he tripped forward, I grabbed his arm to steady him and we seemed to run like that for ages, but I’m sure it was only a couple of seconds.  He was in pain for a short while and I apologised profusely. Then I was looking for the next Lucozade station; I’d taken a few sips of Lucozade at every station as I don’t do gels.  I grabbed a bottle, few sips then just battled to keep the splits even.  I saw the parkrun HQ lot at 37.5K but another brain freeze meant I could not remember anyone’s name and they saw me at the last minute and gave me a shout.
So onto the embankment and Big Ben looked a long way away!  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other I said to myself as I continued to overtake people.  Then we were turning right and I knew it really wasn’t going to be far.  By this stage I was totally disinterested in the crowd and it was a case of getting to the end.  800m, then round to the 600m sign and the marshals started trying to send us to the left hand side of the road as they moved the tape over.  Nooo I shouted as I managed to squeeze in.  I had no more energy for further manoeuvring!  And round the corner was the finishing line.  I had no idea of the time on the clock but I knew I hadn’t met my target.
Initially I was disappointed but in context:
I got a PB
My splits were very even
I don’t have any blisters
I don’t have any nails about to drop off or turning black
I didn’t get cramp
I didn’t hit “the wall”
I was lucky enough to be able to get a shower in the RAF club before going out for a bite to eat with some mates and talking all things running
Two of my female mates got their targets of 3 hours and 3 hours 20 which was thoroughly deserved
I’m walking today and even managed a lovely swim at lunchtime
There’s always Valencia in November to aim for
Things I discovered:
London is not as flat as you believe when you’re running just that bit quicker (a few lumps and bumps I’ve never really noticed before)
I need to do more tempo runs
I need to do more runs at “marathon pace” whatever that may be
More hill work on grass will benefit
I am capable of 3.20 – I just need to train smarter
Vicky Cooper
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