London 2019 - Ravens Runners London

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London Marathons
Virgin London Marathon
28 April 2019 - the 39th (started in 1981)

Tim Harman        2.54.17
Anna Crawley     3.55.31
Donna Henry      4.41.53
Rachel Lund        3.09.28
Alice Whiley        2.54.27
Chris Tuck            DNFDave Meller        3.03.59
James McDonald 2.31.06
Ian George          3.08.13
Dave Summers   3.31.44
Russ Beard          2.56.47
Tom Gwynn        3.00.20
Paul Lucas           2.50.59
Vicky Cooper      3.32.04

Looking at the results looks like most of you will be very happy . The ladies certainly did really well. Alice what a great run . Anne I know you were wearing your Ilford vest but that was a fantastic run and must give you so much confidence. Hopefully, you will agree my comments over two years ago were right . I think you have loads still to come. What a great run by Rachel as well.3hours must be on . A lot of great runs. Remember if you ain't got your predicted time but have a PB you should be very happy.
Hopefully you all agree that joining Ravens has been a good decision. Solid runs  by Ian George and Dave Meller our mr consistent awesome. Well done all
Phil Hernon

OK I’ll spare you my usual “you must do this race” exhortation. Just do it. For me, after deferring last year with suspected Morton’s neuroma, I looked them up to see if I could get a charity place with them, but no. You can’t run FOR Morton’s neuroma, just with it. I did all the sensible stuff, like adjust expectations, but with one omission (take note Robin).  Having done this race now 22 times, I followed my usual pre-race routine only to completely forget about muscle memory and so when the gun went off I set off at 2:50 pace. As you would. Obviously. In summary a negative x negative split and 2:63:59 so a very pleasing performance. It was all about grinning and bearing it, but the main thing is I’ve got my GFA time for 2020 so will be up for it again next year Morton and his neuroma permitting. As usual, superb atmosphere and superb support. Thanks for those that gave me a shout out - glad you could still remember what I look like! Good to see some others Ravens too, even if in disguise in different vests. I know we’ve got some sub-3 reports to look forward to...
Dave Meller

Thought I’d get this out the way early. So we can read the more positive reports. Ran to mile 17. Collapsed. Just been discharged from the medical centre. No idea what happened. Was not the plan obviously. Feeling a bit sorry for myself but I’ll get over it.
Chris Tuck

A brief report… I know the tradition is to say that I was expecting to run 5 hours, but that everything went perfectly on the day, and I surprised myself by beating Mo Farah. Well that’s not quite how it went for me yesterday. I was aiming at a GFA Boston qualifying time, which for me would have been 3:25. As anyone who is in London will know, the conditions yesterday were about as good as they get for a marathon, and my training had gone well, especially the long runs at the weekends. I was fortunate to be in Zone 1 for the start so there was not too much congestion over the start line, I had slept well the night before, and I felt really good on the day. I was about 1 minute inside the pace I needed up until mile 19, but age, together with general aches and pains got the better of me and I then slowed considerably. At one point I thought 3:30 was in my grasp, but realised that had gone too, so in a way that was good, because it took the pressure off having to try and sprint finish, which I didn’t think I could have done anyway. Very happy to have done it, 30 years after my first London marathon, and mostly enjoyed the day. Thank you for all the mid-week training with the Ravens – you have helped me get close to my target, despite the lack of cigar. Finished in 3:31+ some change.
Dave Summers

As others have mentioned it was perfect conditions for running. Having been 11 years since I last ran the LM, and first time in the GFA start, I was excited / nervous to see how it would go. When we were allowed over the line the pace was pretty high and after the first 3 miles I had to have a word with myself and force myself to go slower as although it felt comfortable at the time it was quicker than my normal pace. Following this I managed to settle into a good pace for the next 12-13 miles. It was great to get a shout out from Robin at 6 miles. As we turned for the stretch for home, I think it was around 18-19 miles it felt as though the wind was behind us which was certainly appreciated and led to a quick 5km from 30-35km (according to the tracker). After a slight gel mishap at 20 miles where it exploded over me it was time to soldier on to the finish. I was hoping to up the pace but at 22 miles I started feeling as though my right calf was cramping up. I had to reduce my stride length as that made it hurt less, which helped but certainly didn’t help the splits. I managed to get myself over the line in 2hr 54.17 which is a 3min pb so I’m pleased with that. Thanks to everyone who gave lots of encouragement as I certainly needed in the last few miles. The main way I can get a quicker time, if my watch is to be believed, is to run the shortest route as I managed to rack up 26.65 miles which doesn’t seem that clever. It felt as though the crowds have grown significantly in the last 11 years as there are large crowds for almost the entire route and it was an amazing experience. See whoever is racing on Thursday as I’ll be there but only for a beer.
Tim Harman

This is my 2nd VLM, the wheels fell off pretty badly on the first one so I was very happy to get a 2nd chance. So VLM Take 2.
Mile 1 - Manage not to get carried away despite several runners sprinting across the start line like the Duracell bunny on speed.
Mile 2 - Count men going for a wee in a bush, 12 in case you’re interested (not all in the same bush obviously)
Mile 3 - It’s really crowded but managing to stay on pace and pass a guy carrying an ironing board, a man in a huge dress and a couple of wombles
Mile 4 - See a sign saying “run like your ex is chasing you” Possibly a little early for that sort of pace
Mile 5 - The two starts have merged and it’s now so crowded it’s impossible to get into stride or stay on pace. A spectator crosses the road just in front of me causing a massive pile up which I narrowly avoid. I may or may not have shouted abuse at him
Mile 6 - The Cutty Sark and the noise is incredible.
Mile 7 - A man in the crowd shouts: “Keep going – you’re nearly there!” at 7 miles FFS.
Mile 8 - I approach one of the on course death traps but despite my caution I trip on a discarded drinks bottle and end up flat on my back in the gutter. It’s been a few years since I’ve ended up in the gutter and never sober
Mile 8 - I’m trying to run in a straight line and staying on pace but people keep cutting in front of me and my knee hurts
Mile 9 - I distract myself by listening into a couple of male runners having a conversation and wish I hadn’t. Apparently there’s such a thing as “runners willy”????!!
Mile 10 - Looking at runners names on their vests I spend several minutes wondering which country Gorun is from, seems my brain and my legs are already struggling
Mile 11 - I’m not expecting to find this so hard so early, not sure why it’s so much more difficult than the training runs, I see some friends in the crowd who wave a bottle of Prosecco at me, I don’t find it particularly helpful
Mile 12 - Make a last minute decision to raise my arms for the camera on Tower Bridge and inadvertently deliver an uppercut to a nearby runner
Mile 13 - Half way, check my watch, I could still make my target time but I’m really struggling
Mile 14 - Remind myself that people do this in scuba gear whilst blindfolded and juggling hamsters and decide to just get on with it.
Mile 15  - A spectator shouts “you can do it 24605” I look down to check if that’s me and nearly run into the back of a guy carry a snowboard
Mile 16 - I see a race volunteer in the middle of the road holding up Vaseline I practically knock her down grabbing it out of her hand.
Mile 17 - The argument between mind and body starts “stop”, “no”, “stop”, “no”, “ok slow down”, “no” etc etc
Mile 18 - I’ve lost track of miles, mile 24? Wait. Is the next mile marker 24? Or was the last one 24 and the next one is 25
Mile 19 - 19 seriously 19, did I take a wrong turn?
Mile 20 - Some rubbish about the race starts here
Mile 21 - Someone has put a fridge on my back
Mile 22 - And strapped a small child to each leg
Mile 23 - A real boost to run past my office and the knowledge that I’m in the final stretch
Mile 24 - Start trying to pick off runners I must be able to catch the guy dressed as a traffic cone
Mile 25 - Seriously considering calling an Uber
Mile 26 - Shouldn’t there be a finish line ahhhhh I forgot about the point 2
Finish - I stumble across the finish and St. John’s rush over but after a little sit down on the kerb I’m fine
Chip time 4.41 not what I was targeting but a pb of half hour. I saw Marcus and Dave, apologies to anyone I ignored!
Donna Henry

Wow! A day when everything finally clicked into place after years of trying and falling short. The first time I have felt in control throughout the whole 26.2. And the reward was a 2.56.47, with a negative split, which surpassed all expectations. I am well chuffed! I felt fit and confident but did not know how I would cope with the latter stages after just three months training and only a handful of longish runs. Well, clearly training less (but harder, courtesy of the Ravens) works for me. I started a little quicker than intended at 6.35s over the first 3 miles but reigned it in and then settled into 6.45/6.50 pace untill half way.  It felt like a jog. My head said "stick with it" but my heart said "you feel great, pick up the pace"; heart won and I gently upped it to late 6.30s.
Hit 20 knowing for once that the demoralising experience of being overtaken by the 3h pacers was not happening this year unlike every other.  Still felt great.  And onwards into new territory. I was tempted to go for it, but this time the head put its foot down: "don't screw it up; if you still feel good with 5k to go, then that's the time to push on". At 23 I decided to do just that, but a little alarmingly every time I tried to speed up my hamstrings threatened to cramp. Any slight deviation left or right suddenly had the same effect. I slowed down to late 6.50s but had the energy to do more. Plodding along Birdcage Walk at that pace, and so wanting to finish strongly, I spotted a guy in a giant bee costume a couple of hundred meters in front (crazy - sub-3 as a bee!?) and decided I didn't fancy being beaten by a bee so threw caution to the wind and charged off after him.  It felt like a sprint finish but the reality was probably very different to those watching in the grandstands. And so, across the line with the time still beginning with that magic 2.  Big smile; big relief; job done. Well done all those who ran - some great times - and thanks to those out to support. It was good to see some of you out on the course.  And most importantly of all, I hope Chris is recovering well from his ordeal.
Russ Beard

I was targeting 2.54 for a new pb. Training had gone pretty well so I thought it was doable especially with favourable conditions compared to last year. From about mile 2 i needed a pee but was reluctant to stop. Despite that I felt great for the first 15 miles at about 6.28 mile pace. Eventually had to use the facilities in the Rotherhithe tunnel (not recommended as you can’t see anything) but quickly settled back in. A few miles later I knew i would have to stop again this time for a longer stop! Again tried to hold out but had to give in in the 21st mile. Don’t know if I overdid breakfast or dinner the night before. The two stops cost me about 4 minutes which is a race wrecker. The last three miles were really hard and eventually finished in 3hrs and 20 seconds. Loo stops can’t really be helped but definitely need to work on the last 6 miles where I always seem to lose time. I’m doing Berlin in September so I’m planning a few weeks off, then tick over for a couple of months then hit it hard. By all account it’s a fast course so hope to be in good shape for a pb.
Tom Gwynn

Well done to everyone who ran yesterday, and everyone who supported too – thank you!!! I must say I really did struggle with this one.  In summary I did some really wacky pacing (if you can call it that), pipping my half marathon PB which either means my current PB is currently too slow or I am genuinely a moron.  The latter was confirmed by Mile 14, also my highly critical mother in the pub afterwards.  My quads seized up and I realised that I would be running in a lot of pain for another 12 miles.  I saw lots of Ravens out on the course and in the second half my face and hand gestures probably clarified that.  It was safely my least favourite marathon experience of all time (I really, really mean this).
Amongst the misery I have compiled a small but strong list of highlights for you:
-              Thinking the St John’s Ambulance volunteers were giving out jelly babies but actually it was lumps of Vaseline (yum!)
-              Snatching a Lucozade from John Crawley at his aid station in the arse end of nowhere in East London.  Thanks John.
-              Running some many miles with the aforementioned Bee from Russ’ race report.
-              Also Spiderman.
-              My friend lobbing an out of date Fruit Salad SIS gel at me around mile 25 as practiced in our living room the night before.  I’d forgotten this was going to happen so it bounced off my leg and someone probably slipped over it shortly afterwards.  The crowd was not debriefed and my friend was apparently told of by the neighbouring supporters.
-              Making it onto the marathon highlights (attached).
-              Later massaging crisps into Rachel Lund’s carpet after kindly helping her finish her champagne before she goes away on her travels (sob!)
My manager has just come over to tell me that my face looks sunburnt.  I don’t know how to tell him it’s probably from the excessive post-run gin consumption because it definitely wasn’t sunny yesterday. Peace out and see many of you on Thursday for the Assembly League! Thank you and kind regards,
Alice Whiley

I’ll try to keep this brief but another amazing day at the marathon yesterday. I thought I got the pacing spot on for the majority of the race by running to heart rate but unfortunately I really started to struggle over the last 2 or 3 miles with cramp. I felt pretty good at around mile 20 when I saw David Miller and even along the highway I felt I was still running strongly but it really hit me at around mile 24. To be frank if I am ever going to break 3 hours (3.01 is my best) I need to drop the swimming and the cycling and try to run 50 to 60 mile weeks with regular long runs over 20. To be honest I probably got what I deserved as my longest run was only 18 miles which I did just the once with most of my other long runs around 13 to 14 miles. I just don’t have the motivation to get out and run 20 miles plus on a regular basis. As much as a love to run the long runs do become a real chore. Nonetheless it is an honour to be able to run the London marathon again and something that you appreciate more as you get older. Great to read all the other races reports and well done to all the other Ravens. It was also good to see Vicky, Anna and Rachel at the start. A great run Rachel you must have been just behind me. A special mention must go to Russell. A stunning run and a big negative split which is something I can only dream off. Thanks also to Phil Priest for the big shout along the Highway. I also saw Mick coming back along the Highway other than that I didn’t see any of the other Ravens although Tim Sherman got a great photo of me near to Cutty Sark. Sorry to hear about your race Chris and I hope you are OK. I suspect it was just a nutritional issue. I was close to passing out myself not long after finishing the race whilst having lunch – not a nice experience but probably just a blood sugar issue. Anyway with a sub 3.10 I should be able to get another GFA place for 2020.
Ian George

Firstly, sorry Chris to hear things didn't go to plan.  I'm sure you'll have a better race next time you do a marathon. Some great race reports, obviously Donna's is the usual fantastic funny review we're so used to - mind, I think Alice has been taking some notes too.  BTW, Alice was second fastest Army lady and the ladies won the inter-services comp, so well done. As for my marathon, as I said before, it is definitely my last for a while; I'm rather tired and keen to get my short distance speeds down. Walked from Blackheath to the blue start with a lady from my former club Bath AC and ended up even going into the pen together.  I don’t like not starting in the green any longer, it took us over 7 minutes to get over the line, and I knew it was going to be painfully slow to get going – and it was. We found ourselves at the back of a group desperately hanging onto the 3.30 pacer and they were very annoying as we just wanted to run and not be tripped up or have bottles thrown at our feet.  I shouted to Robin at mile 6 but he was somewhat busy so didn’t hear/see me.  Over Tower Bridge we went and the congestion simply didn’t ease at all though the noise intensified.  Would have liked to have watched the elite’s coming in the opposite direction down the highway but I knew one glance away from the runners in front and it would have been like a domino effect – they were already starting to slow so it was a bit like playing dodgems. I grabbed a gel at mile 14 and stopped at the next water station to say hello to my BRR buddies and have a bit of a chat.  I got going again no problem and being as I wasn’t quite as close to the pacer, there was a little more room – but not a lot!  I caught up my pal again about mile 17 where she said she was starting to struggle.  I had two choices here; I could bugger off, leave her, and run a good race as I was feeling in fine form – or I could stay with her, help her, and enjoy it anyway, being as it’s going to be my last for a while.  So I decided on the latter and I just said, that’s fine, keep going for as long as you can at this pace and we’ll drop it when you need to.  So we did just that. Although we had been more or less keeping the 3.30 pacer in sight, I was running to feel and had my watch on stopwatch so that I could let Lisa know each time we passed a mile marker, how long we’d been running; my Gamin is always out of sync with the mile markers anyway.  At mile 19, I saw Ilford and said hello to a couple of people there, then a little further on to the left was Having 90J so a shout out there.  On we went, grabbed a handful of sweets and they kept us going.  I also saw Dave Miller and a couple of other people I knew.  Tim gave me a shout out and I saw him at the last minute.  Back along the highway and it was lovely to see Mick Bridgeland.  Lisa had started to drop back so I just advised her to keep her eye out for others slowing their pace and I would point either side to show where we would pass them.  By mile 22 she was really struggling but we did make it to the end and hand-in-hand we crossed the line in 3.32.04. Funny thing is, the one time I really felt I could have pushed on, but morally, that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. However, I am taking a break from marathons, so that’s going to have to keep.
Vicky Cooper

Apologies for taking so long to add my contribution to the VLM post-mortem; I spent most of the day trying to extract the crisps which Alice ground into my carpet last night :) In summary, my race went very much to plan, in fact so much so I (pleasantly) surprised myself with how even my pacing was, having fully expected to crash at some point.  I had settled on 3:10 as a target  last summer, having googled lots of "pace predictors" and drawn several charts in order to work out what might be a realistic objective for London. So very pleased to be almost bang on. I was determined to learn from my first marathon experience (at Berlin in 2017) and I promised myself I would: 1. Do more long runs: I went into Berlin off the back of the rowing season, where I'd done virtually no running. I had three months to get my legs used to a different sort of pain, which on reflection (and despite doing the traditional 18, 20, 22 mile long runs) was not enough having never previously run much more than 10 miles at a time. My legs and whole body really suffered in the last four miles of Berlin. So this time I started doing 15+ miles long runs before Christmas. I definitely think this helped, my quads did feel shot with 5 miles to go, but I felt I could run through it. 2. Drink and eat more during the race. In Berlin I was engulfed by nausea and crashed in the last few miles because I ate and drank very little. The temperature in Berlin was very much like Sunday and I just didn't feel like eating or drinking. This time, however, I made myself drink water or lucozade (which mostly went all over me). 3. Lose 4 kgs to get back down to lightweight (rowing) racing weight (57kg). I didn't get anywhere near doing this. Turns out I quite like eating :) Training for London certainly didn't all go to plan, after early gains, I over did it in January and picked up an injury to my adductor which put me out for a couple of weeks, which was followed by two weeks of skiing, cheese and heavy boozing. The result of which was crashing and burning at Reading half in March and running 6 mins slower than I had in January. That certainly made me nervous going into London, however, a heavy bout of googling allowed me to find at least one method of prediction that said 3:10 was a reasonable prediction despite my recent dilapidation. So I set off at that pace, cruising past big ben, xena warrior princess, and enough willies by the side of the road to make a girl blush, and held it (the pace that is) to the end, where I came in at  3:09.28, 5 seconds ahead of a friend of mine in and a PB of more than 10 mins. Overall I really enjoyed it (but then you always do when its going to plan) and really appreciated seeing people on the way -  Sid was actually the only raven I spotted! My favourite part was coming over Tower Bridge, the field was pretty thin at that point, so it really felt like people were cheering for you...and it feels like home turf. My takeaways for next time are: 1. Save the boozing until after the race (or at least do that and the skiing in January and not March) 2. More tempo - I think getting used to going hard for longer might have made me a bit more confident in pushing it. Anyway, I'm now out of the country for at least four months and maybe the rest of the year (except maybe doing the vitality 10k in May). But many thanks to you all for the training, its been a great help, and I'll be back in 2020 if not before! Over and out,
Rachel Lund

Great reading all the reports just now and I may nick a couple of the photos I’m in, cheers! I had the day off yesterday and thank god I did as I was aching from head to toe, which indicates a great day before. Delighted to run 2:31:06 which was a 4 minute PB, really felt good before and during the run at least for the first 17 miles,  for some reason 5:40 miles felt like jogging pace (that has never happened before). Went though half way in 1:14:14 which is only 3 seconds of a PB and held a similar pace for a few more miles. For some reason felt fine at 17 but then on 17.5 really had a wobble but got through Canary Wharf ok, moving out of Canary Wharf in theory I was still at sub 2.30 pace but felt this was unlikely as started to get cramp in left foot. Managed to hold it together almost hopping at times trying to stretch left foot toes and was so happy to finish sooner than I expected. The second half was just under 1:17 which is still by quickest second half of a marathon. The support as always was amazing, from people who know me shouting my name to those that didn’t shouting go on forest……I managed a second great session in the pub after the race which explains my aching head yesterday, the head is now clear but the legs might take a few more days...
James MacDonald

Hawk eye Alice spotted me on the platform at London Bridge and we met at Blackheath and wandered to the start area together.  It was nice to bump in to Ian and Rachel too as I got getting my ammunition (gel belt) sorted. I crossed the start line just before 10.30 and felt a bit emotional – not sure if that was simply down to being a girl, or because after a decent amount of training, it was finally happening.  I didn’t want to go off too quickly and the plan was to go through the first two miles at around 9:30 pace.  Of course I went a bit quicker and the first mile came in at 9:15, and the second mile at 9:09.  I then picked up the pace a tad, and the aim was to clock 8:50/9 min miles for the rest of the race (ideally), or failing this, as long as possible! I got to mile 6 and took a bottle of water from the friendliest face I could find and it happened to be Mr. McCoy’s!  Thanks Robin – and sorry for getting so excited when I saw you.  The miles ticked by pretty quickly and I was really enjoying myself and soaking in the atmosphere.  I had my name on my vest and really benefited from the shouts outs from the crowd – I think my fellow runners must have wondered if I was an extra from EastEnders!  As everyone says, it was amazing going past the Cutty Sark and crossing Tower Bridge.  I knew I would see my family at around mile 13-14 and loved getting some cheers from them.  I also got a saw Ruaridh just after mile 13, and must have looked as I jumped around and frantically waved back!  My next aim was to work towards mile 19 where John and my Ilford club mates would be.  I was feeling strong at mile 15 and (semi) unconsciously picked up the pace a little (this is too early in a marathon!) and went a bit quicker for the next 5 miles or so.  Shortly before reaching mile 19 I saw Marcus and received my 1000th high five of the day – yes I am that person!  It was great to see John and the Ilford posse at mile 19, although I didn’t recognise a lot of them due to the lovely blue Lucozade caps they were sporting!  I was pretty sure sub-4 was on the cards at mile 20 as I knew that I had over an hour to finish the last 10k, but I guess anything can happen in a marathon so the aim was to push on as much as possible.  I got to mile 21 and the quicker miles began to take their toll as my pace dropped a little.  Mile 23 was my slowest mile (9:47) but I saw Scott and Ryan just after this and that gave me the boost I needed.  I felt a bit dazed from miles 24-26 and missed John at the 600m to go point.  He didn’t see me either and thought I might be in trouble!  I managed to pick up the pace for the last 400m or so and was chuffed to come home in 3 hrs 55 mins. My splits were pretty consistent which I’m pleased with, although I think if my pacing was a bit more sensible from miles 15-20 I could have ran a negative split.  Saying that, the second half was only about 10-20 seconds slower than the first so I’ll take that! Because I like running stats, I thought I would bore you with some.  In the first half I passed 2193 people, and 612 people passed me.  In the second half I passed 3686 people, and 80 people passed me.  I honestly felt like soooo many people passed me from mile 21, but maybe I managed to catch them in the last couple of miles! This was my third marathon and (obviously) my favourite!  I managed to clock a 25 minute PB.  My previous best was my first marathon in Manchester in 2017 where I finished in 4.19.  I ran my second marathon about 5 months later in Nottingham and finished in 4.25.  I feel like my progress has been slow so it’s nice to have finally made a decent improvement!  This Raven is starting to believe in herself!  Thanks to everyone for their encouragement on the course (and prior to the marathon) and sorry to anyone I missed. Looking forward to catching up at the curry next week.
Anna Crawley

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