I still haven't picked out my fall marathon yet but I have decided that I'm going to train as if I'm going to be running the Columbus Marathon, which is on Oct. 15th. I'll adjust my taper accordingly once I finally decide. The FIRST program called for the first of five 20-milers this weekend at a very agressive pace (7:30/mile). Lou is also doing the FIRST program so we teamed up to knock this one out.
I drove down to Lou's house and we started off just after 7AM. My fuel-belt was loaded up with two flasks of water, two flasks of orange Gatorade (full-strength) and two Hammer-Gels. About 3 miles in we landed on the canal towpath and followed it all the way to our turnaround point. A light rain kept us cool the entire time, which ended up being just about 2 hours 24 minutes (7:12/mile). I felt a little labored breathing most of the run, but was still at "conversation" pace (until the end). My mind is way ahead of my legs at this point and it's gonna take another month or two until things equilibrate. I found this course to be pretty challenging as there is a dandy of a hill at mile 18 and continues on a gradual incline to the finish. I emptied my fuel belt at the base of the hill and concluded that it's perfect for a 20-miler but probably isn't necessary for anything less than 12-15 miles.
Overall, everything felt great for this time of year. Thankfully, the weather cooled off for us and we didn't have to slow our pace to keep from overheating/dehydrating. I'm hoping for more of the same on the days of the remaining four 20-milers.