I've just been reading through the February and March blog posts I wrote in 2010 and 2011.....
Although I feel like I am currently enjoying the best fitness I have had since 2004/5, my training and rep pace/times are actually very similar to those I was achieving in my last two London Marathon buildups. For example - 63-64 minutes for the 10 mile circuit doing 11 minute reps, 11:30 for two mile reps and 5:45 pace for one mile reps.
Just to recap those last two years results -
2010 - 2hrs 47mins (faded second half)
2011 - Over 3 hours (ran with a stitch from mile 1 and gave up at mile 14 walk/jogged home)
I note that in 2010 when I trained mostly with Milly, we ran inside 6:20 for the marathon effort runs. Very similar to this year then, although I don't ever recall running beyond 12-14 miles together at that pace and this year I have done several of 12-20 miles at between 6:13 pace (best for 16) to 6:25 pace (worst for 18)
I also know for a certain fact that I have never (not even in 2004) ran so many 60+ mile weeks as I have this year. And finally, I remember running at 7:00 - 7:20 pace on the early long runs (of 14-20 miles) in 2010 and them being a bit tough at times. Whereas this year I have done every run inside 7:00 pace and they have all felt well within my ability. (OK, yes, the 26 miles hilly was 3:08 - give me a break though - it was 2000ft climbing included)
Maybe the weekly mileage and faster pace long-slow Sunday runs will just have made me more tired instead of fitter? Then again, I did do a PB at the 21 mile Buttermere race and my speed at the recent 12 stage relays was certainly the fastest I have ran in a couple of years.
On reflection I think I am right to be aiming to beat 2:45 next week. But not by much at all, and if I do 2:46 then that'll still be faster than when I was two years younger.