This is all very new, this speed work thing. To be honest, I'm wishing I'd started it a long time ago.
Ever since my first marathon, in 2003, my goal has been primarily to finish. Sure, I was pretty stoked when I broke 5 hours for the first and, so far, only time. I came close to doing it again in the next three marathons I ran, but, no cigar.
Last year I set myself the goal of finishing 12 marathons in 12 months. It was a challenge designed to keep me running. I had gotten bored with the 3-4 marathons I had been doing per year...even though I'd gone to Ireland, Spain, Hungary, and Scotland to do some of them. Now, having completed the 12-in-12, I have set myself a new target for October. A 4:30 marathon. When I do that, it will be a 27 minute PR. Notice the "when" is not an "if."
To that end I have adopted a structured training plan, contained in a book called 4 Months to a 4 Hour Marathon, by Dave Kuehls. I'm not nutty enough now to go for four. Maybe one day.
Yesterday I did my third speed session. The goal was 8X400 @ 2:15-2:25. Nailed it with 2:16, 2:16, 2:24, 2:19, 2:20, 2:14 (!!), 2:20, and 2:20. Pretty pleased with the way this is going. Unbelievable how sore my muscles were this morning...after only running two miles! Apparently there's some stuff going on in there that wasn't happening during my long slow runs.
Right now I am signed up to run San Francisco next month. I will admit to being concerned that I am under-trained for that event. I have to step things up over the next four weeks. I am also signed up for the Athens Classic Marathon in Greece in October. My heart is still committed to that adventure, although Mr. Checkbook is currently not on board. Waiting for my ship to come in.