London 2017 - Ravens Runners London

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London Marathons
Virgin London Marathon
23 April 2017 - the 37th (started in 1981)

Thank you for the vocal support on Sunday and very well done to all the other Ravens competing. Unfortunately with my poor eyesight I had trouble spotting people but just hearing shouts of encouragement was a fantastic boost. I went into the race with as many positives as negatives in my head and really didn’t have a game plan at the start. In January, I thought if I manage the perfect training schedule I’d be ambitious and go for 2.44/45 but my training fell away in March, so on the day I downgraded my target to either a PB of under 2.48.01 or a London best of 2.51:25 or just get under 3. Regardless of my time, as long as I finished I’d at least achieve a V50 PB. After a slow first mile, I got into a comfortable 6.15/20 pace and pushed on at this pace until around mile 18 where I got a bit blocked in and there was also a bit of an incline and my pace increased to 6.40. I then over compensated to make up the time and run a 5.45 mile assisted by a decline. I then panicked because I thought picking the pace up this much was surely going to end in tears. I really concentrated on getting back into the 6.20 zone and other than mile 23 & 24 where I slowed a bit, I achieved this. With only 2 miles to go, I went for it and stepped up my pace to 6.00mm to finish with a PB of 2.46:13. Absolutely delighted with my time and immediately set myself a new target of sub 2.45 for my next marathon in 5 years’ time. Easy to do this when it’s 5 years away! I’ve now run 7 marathons and other than Manchester last year which I ran purely to get a GFA place for London, I have managed to maintain my record of obtaining a PB every time. Just goes to show, age is just a number!

My previous other London Marathon times -
1997 (30) 3.38:??
2007 (40) 2.59:29
2009 (42) 2.54:10
2011 (44) 2.51:25
2017 (50) 2.46:13

Berlin - 2011 2.48:01
Manchester - 2016 2.54:53
Stuart Fraser

I know I have gushed about this race before, but I love it. Dearly. It is just such a fantastic event, atmosphere, occasion. I am not on commission, but please, PLEASE, if you've not done it yet, DO IT! For me, I knew I had left some pace wrapped around a road sign in Hawaii with my accident out there, but my strategy was to see if I had any "muscle memory" and just get on and give it a go. Conditions were probably about as perfect as you could expect, so titanium reinforcements aside I just  cracked on. Sure it was a positive split, but I hung on in for 2:57:21 so "well chuffed"! Good to see the usual unkindness of Ravens out there - not that that collective noun does us any favours! As ever, I credit the result to the Raven's sessions and thanks too to the Raven's supporter's - much appreciated.
Dave Meller

Great effort today from all the Ravens, but in particular Stu, Dave and Robin. Three wise old heads churning out some brilliant times. Well done lads. Great to see so many Ravens out on the course cheering us on (the Phils, Simon P, Lee, Dave Miller, Vicky, Arif, Lee and son - possibly more, I might not have seen/heard you!). Thanks for the encouragement, genuinely helped a lot and gave a much needed boost. My time was 2:56:10 (35 secs slower than last year). I was aiming for 2:50 and at the very least a PB, so whilst that didn't go to plan, I'm still very pleased with sub-3. It's only my 3rd marathon and I've got a lot to learn! Based on recent runs, I should have ran a PB today but that is the cruelty of the marathon I guess. I held a very consistent pace for the first 20 miles (clock was on 2:11 at 20), but the pace was ultimately too quick and I was clinging on for the final 6 miles instead of pushing on like I planned. A GFA time means I'll be at it again next year and hopefully a year wiser for something closer to 2:50.
David Wilkinson

Once again some top runs from Ravens what a group to be part of! A few of you are aware but am splitting up with my wife, this along with not running on Dec (chest infection) and Jan (Achilles) has had massive impact on my training. I have done 2 runs over 13.1 since last London the round Ridley and Essex 20 (2.25), and recently have spent most weekends on the piss! Phil shamed me away from the fancy dress and I thank him for that, I thought if am going to go for it aim for sub 3, 21 min 5ks to 40 k 2.48 and then get home! I hit every 5k upto 35k then It went wrong. My legs really were gone and was trying to keep moving as quickly as I could. Just did not have it in me to go sub 3, ended up at 3.00.15 my overall feeling is I am gutted 16 secs quicke would be ecstatic! If I actually trained properly I could be good! I echo Daves comments that this has to be the best race around! Not sure if I imagined it but along lower thanes street were the Ravens signs saying don't let the club down!!??
Sid (Paul Newton)

The day started with a quick photocall for Marcus, Dave W, me and Sid.  Helena was stuck on a train and stressing somewhat! David, are you going to send the photo round? Got to the Green Start to find my baggage lorry had gone. Disaster! Luckily Bernt Hellman, who the mariners will know, was one of the baggage team and pointed me to the bad boys late baggage van. Phew! Lined up with a few of the Springfield Striders and off! My original plan had been to get to 20 in 2.10 and see what happened.  This plan was overruled by Phil with a voice message to run to 20 in 2.12 and see what happens.  The Green start is so slow – got  to 2 miles in 14.30 and couldn’t see either of these happening.  Stuck with it and threw in a few quicker miles to try and make up some time – I think the mile I ran past my family was a 6.10 – not in the textbook.  Great to see Matt, David W, Helena and the amazing Dave Meller on the course. Got to 20 in 2.11 which amazingly was the pace Phil gave me on Friday (Can’t have too many plans). Trundled on, Eamon Brown shouted out at about 21 miles, “2.53!” Which was the correct answer.  2.53.01 in a 1.27/1.26 negative split (for only the 2nd time).  Looking at the 5k splits, no real slowing down, just increasing pain.  Without such a slow first 5k I think I would have been closer to 2.51, but that’s marathoning for you! Great support on the course- from the Ravens - Phil, Phil Priest, Dave Miller, Vicky, Lee plus the ones I missed, Arif and Andy.
Robin McCoy

First of all CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who raced on Sunday and a bigger THANKYOU to all those who shouted, pushed and encouraged me (and everyone else) round. As was hinted at in the pre-race form guide I’ve not done much running this year, but in all honesty I knew this and it probably saved my race. My Marathon PB was achieved at Brighton last year (2:57:45) and despite being a lot more run fit back then the last 2 km (just over) taking 18 minutes due to a mechanical ankle injury meant that had I put the work in I should have been able to break this at London. However, I didn’t put the work in for a number of reasons (170miles run since turn of year) and was hoping that I could scrape a 3:05 and retain GFA. I am a banker (easy) I like to have some time spare to allow for the impending conditioning issues. After last year I knew they were going to come either through general lack of conditioning above 13miles or via the ankle issue, however I knew if the ankle went again I would not be making 3:05 as would have much less in the bank. My calf and quads started to tighten at around 14 miles and by 18 I was running with a much shorter stride length bordering on a run/walk. I ran with Chrissie Wellington for a bit, managed a second wind and pulled away for a mile or so only to be caught again at the end of Canary wharf where it was a matter of just ticking over and getting home. I did some calculations and worked out I could start a run/walk from 20 to save cramping and also protect my ankle as long as I kept my walking at a half decent pace but managed to keep ‘running’ until 35k where I had to resign myself to walking for a minute and I did the same at 37 and 41. At the 37 point I realised I may just get under the 3hrs if I pulled myself together and managed to tick the meters over and at 1km to go I had thoughts of nicking a PB and pushed home bang on 2:57 with a 45second saving. I am going to use this as a starting point to try and tick over some more mileage and get some conditioning back. I am trying to get an expert/elite Mountain Bike license this year so for the next few months the running will unfortunately still take a back seat but once Ive qualified I will be looking to push on and hit a good spring marathon in my 40th year (can’t believe I put that in writing!). Thanks again Ravens!
Matthew Ellis

How not to run the London Marathon. As some of you may know (I moaned about it a lot) my training did not go well, I started in pen 8 so it took a while to get across the start line and it was pretty congested for the first three miles. Then I caught the 4.30 pacer and it was carnage I saw a couple of people go down and got trodden on a couple of times but there was no way past so I rode it out.  At mile 10 I  had to leave the course for a Paula Radcliff type stop and it had thinned out a bit when I re-joined. I decided just to enjoy the experience saw Vicky at the water stop then watched out for Raven’s coming back the other way, I only saw Helena who looked totally focussed. Around 16 my previously healed blisters began to make themselves known and by mile 18 I could see blood on my trainers, so I sat down and took my trainer off to apply extra plasters provided by a very kind spectator. I continued on with a bit of a walk run strategy until I saw Phil who gave me some much needed encouragement to get into a stride. I started to feel sick around mile 21 which seemed to go off when I walked, so faced with the choice of running and being sick or walking I pretty much walked the last three. It was lovely to see Alex at the end , especially as I was a little disoriented and couldn’t match up the number attached to me with the numbers on the baggage lorry! Sid, I think the “don’t let your club down” were Ealing Eagle signs.
Donna Henry

I hate doing these reports post VLM on the Ravens emails! So many awesome performances. Feel quite inadequate in comparison! Great runs from those who have reported and, by the looks of it, everyone else as well. I was again chauffeured by Mr Tucker to the start which was wonderful and makes such a difference to the pre-race stress levels. I then parked my stuff in the green zone and went to find the others for the 9:15 photo-shoot. I then made the sensible decision to jog back (unlike Robin) and just managed to get my bag on without the need to resort to the bad boys lorry! This was the first time in the green start for me. Can't say I liked it much. So crowded! In fact I would say I found this year more crowded generally the whole way through the race. So many people barging as well. Really pee'd me off at some points. The patented McCoy elbows were deployed several times! In terms of the race itself, I went out with the intention of steady 7:20 pace and see how long I could maintain that. The answer was not very far! I knew at halfway that there was a niggling issue developing in my groin area and soon afterwards realised I was not going to get the 3:20 GFA this year, so I made the decision to dial down the pace and concentrate on just getting through the rest of the race. It was the right decision and, in fact, any time I tried to push on, the pain in the groin intensified, so I didn't have a lot of choice anyway. Then it was just a case of gutsing it out. Very painful, but I knew I would get round, so there as no real pressure. I came in 3:32:29 which was over 10 minutes slower than last year but still my second best marathon time and, given the lack of training this year, I cannot be too down about that. The support on course was brilliant. I saw Matt one on a switch back section and actually stopped to give him a shout out. I ran a bit with Rob Reid who was late entrant and also caught up with him at the end. Only other person I saw on the course was Dave Miller who was about the most encouraging person I have ever seen in a race! Really brilliant. Also got a big hug from Alex at the end, which was lovely! Hopefully I wasn't too much of a state!
Marcus Elwes

First ever Marathon for me, I'm so pleased that it was London, I've been to watch a couple of times before but running the race is completely different. It's phenomenal! Like Donna I started in blue pen 8 and didn't cross the start line until 9 minutes had passed. Aiming for 3hrs - 3hrs 15mins I had the difficult task of getting myself into the race and settling down at the planned race pace. I Finally managed to settle at 13 miles where I was on course for 3:05 GFA but hit the wall at 18 miles and slowed up over the last 8 miles. Phil guest my time spot on finishing in 3:14:09 - very pleased. Originally I said I'd do the London marathon and give up running but that is no longer an option. I might give the marathon a miss for a few years and concentrate on the short, faster stuff. Not running in a Ravens vest but have attended many Ravens sessions since the start of training and have benefited from everyone's knowledge and experience of running. Fantastic club!
Ryan Day

A late decision to run which resulted in a marathon PB - my fastest aged 48!! Travelled up with my neighbour who was running his first marathon, and having pointed him in the direction of the red start, I duly headed off to enjoy all the fun of the fair at the blue zone - basically the toilets! Whilst I'd like to have gone for a sub 3.30 time, given how things have been in recent months, I decided 3.40 was sensible and duly donned the appropriate pace band. Arriving at pen 3, I found myself standing next to a rather splendid example of St. George, who turned out to be none other than Andy Morcombe! Later watching the recorded coverage on the BBC, I was able to use the Cross of St. George Andy was carrying to locate myself making a somewhat sneaky appearance down the left-hand side of my TV screen (see, it's not just Mr. Priest who stars on TV!) so all thanks to Andy for carrying such a marker - rather him than me!! As for the race itself, I think this was probably the best for me in terms of enjoyment, weather and atmosphere.  The crowds were superb, particularly I thought on the stretch just before turning onto Tower Bridge - the course narrowed, the crowds felt really close - and the noise!  It's probably not the thing to do, but I confess that I had to keep a few tears in check at this point - a real emotional experience that is hard to explain - I guess it is just the goodwill of thousands of people cheering each and every runner on.  As ever, I lost count of the times people called my name, and I tried to acknowledge such support where I could (probably not so well in the last 3 or so miles!).  At some point I thanked one woman who called out my name and she appeared genuinely touched that I had responded, turning to her friend and saying "Ah, bless"(!) - these are the details you get from running at a slower pace 😊   Anyway, considering how irregular my training has been (I entered this on my lowest marathon training mileage since my first in 2007) everything held together relatively well, and the only other incident for me was a brief encounter with the lid of a cycling water bottle which resulted in me rolling my ankle - luckily I was able to run this additional discomfort off after a mile or so. Great to see other Ravens shouting encouragement from the crowd - Phil Priest, Dave Miller and Vicky Cooper (sorry I took the water bottle offered by your colleague Vicky!) and apologies if I missed others. I know I slowed for the final 3 miles but this was obviously just to ensure my wife and friend (resplendent in Ravens tops and waving a Charlton flag if anyone else saw them and wondered who they were!) would see me as I passed along Embankment. Crossed the line in 3.37.16, hobbled to get my medal and photo and was delighted to see Alex who gave me a great welcome and then very kindly headed off to get me a much needed bottle of water - thanks Alex - even better than a Royal greeting! A great day, and having run in the past for The Cutty Sark and Macmillan, as well as in the colours of my now first claim club, Wadhurst Runners, it was great this year to run in the black and white quarters of the club whose home is right in the midst of this iconic race. Thanks and well done to ALL Ravens.
Kevin Cockram

Firstly well done all the Ravens running, some amazing times. Ok the cats out of the bag, I ran what was my 10th London marathon on St George's day dressed as a St George crusader carrying a rather large St George's flag! It was very much a last minute decision to run having done very limited training followed by 2 and a half weeks eating junk food and laying on a sunbed in Florida only flying back the Wednesday before the marathon. Anyway to celebrate St George's day and to run around the streets of London in fancy dress to mark the occasion had a certain appeal. It was also good to run with no pressure on a time and to just enjoy the atmosphere. It was great to have a chat with Kevin at the start, and then we were off, after a couple of miles I started to wonder what the hell I was doing, the outfit turned out to be much warmer than I expected (I must confess the head gear came off a fair few times so I could cool down a bit from time to time). The crowd were great and I got so many cheers and shouts of well done St George. What did surprise me was quite a few comments of "oh yeah it's st George's day isn't it" as a nation surely well should know it's our patrons day! Thanks for the shout Phil, and yes I was surprised to see you but only because I didn't expect to see you still on the course so long after the Elite runners and the other Ravens had gone through. Just after seeing Phil at about mile 22 I was lucky enough to shake hands with the prince of Wales, Kate and Harry and to wish them all a happy St George's day. What a great day and what a great show the London Marathon is, its on my calendar every year to either run, Marshall or spectate. I crossed the line in a PW of 4:24 but had more fun than the other 9 London marathons. After my knee op last year and thanks to Nick C for all the Physio, I should now be out more regularly at lunchtimes. If I have recovered by Thursday I may even run at the back of the pack for the assembly league.
Andy MorcombeAndy Ferguson 3.55.53
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