Well, having completed the MCM, I'm now convinced I can get my time down below 4:30. My RB thinks we could do that just by starting in the 4-4:30 corral and getting through the water stops more expiditiously. I'm even thinking maybe below 4 hours by the next marathon. Ha! It might be possible, but I know I'll need to lose a couple more bowling balls from my waist. Hmm, how to train for that time.
In getting ready for the MCM, I would have said that the most important aspect of training was the long run, and I guess I still feel that way. After that, hill work for sure. Intervals and tempo runs third (though still important). I'm thinking that if I want to break 4 hours (a 9 minute pace), then I need run my long runs at a 9-minute pace or better.
I've started back in the training schedule at the point of doing the 10-12 mile distance run, though I'm doing those twice a week. And I try to do hill work during the distance run (something about marathons having hills in them, not around them?). I'm also doing intervals one day and tempo another. Sometimes they're all mixed up. And, of course, sometimes I miss some part of this (who ever heard of running on Christmas?).
As of now, I can do tempo runs of <10 miles at <9 minute pace. As for intervals, I've gotten up to 4 800's at 3:40. Working on more. That seems good pretty good, though more to go. So, the trick seems to be to maintain a 9 minute pace on the long runs, even as we push them further out. For me, success there depends on the heat and humidity. It's finally cooled off here (DC area), so I'm no longer overheating or having to carry a half-gallon of water with me. This might just be possible. Or, maybe 4:15? How about 4:30? Anyone?
Slogging onward (though faster)...