RE - there's definitely no bias towards larger big city Marathons. The only issue you may have re White Peak is that it's net downhill and is trail. BUT it's a certified Marathon, so seems fair enough to me. I also know that a friend who ran 3'06ish at WP last year applied for GFA and got in no probs. So in your boat I'd apply and not even query the eligibility. Just apply as if you'd ran the time at Edinburgh or Berlin or whatever.
The process usually is that you have to write to VLM requesting a GFA place. You have to send proof of your time - so I print out a copy of the results and highlight my name/time. Once they've received this and verified the time they send you a GFA application form (which actually has your race number on it!) Fill that in and send it back with your entry fee and you're in. I think the deadline for getting the GFA applications in is usually late June/early July.
However, they've not released details of how it will work this year so just hang fire. There are rumours the application process will be online this year, but nobody actually knows yet!
I read Running with the Kenyans - quite enjoyed that.
Not sure if you're into your cycling but the Tyler Hamilton book is very good.
And one that I'm not sure I class as 'holiday reading', and something that's not normally my thing. But I can very strongly recommend 'Boy in the River' by Richard Hoskins. Said author is 'Home Run' on the sub 3 thread (hence why i bought it, supporting a mate etc), But it is very VERY good. As the reviews on Amazon will testify -
It's actually quite disturbing in places (quite a lot of places actually), but is one of those books that I genuinely couldn't put down. It would be fair comment to say I'm biased based on who's written it, but I genuinely would say the same things if I'd read it and had no idea who the author was.
Oh and meant to say - hello to carter. Good luck getting the ITB sorted. But once it does then you can't go wrong with P+D. Following their plans took me from 3'12 to 2'57 to 2'49 in 2 years.
All I'd say is do the sessions properly - especially the tempo runs. They're really REALLY tough, but it's this that gives you the biggest bang for your buck. That and the MP stuff in your long runs. Not sure if you use a HRM but if so use this for those - it'll stop you running your MP too hard (you end up 'racing' it rather than running controlled). Sticking to the correct HR zone will ensure you do the session properly, and get the best return on your investment.
For Autumn Maras I think you're at a slight advantage re Tempos/MP runs actually - cos I've used midweek races to do these sessions before. I've not 'raced' the races, but have done say a 10k at the correct pace/HR and it's far easier than doing it on your own. Just tag a few on either side as a warm-up/cool down and you've nailed the sesh. Again though, discipline is key. If you can't do the sessions at the right intensity in a race situation cos you end up chasing folk down, then just do it on your own. Stick to the plan and have faith - it DOES work, very much so.
RE - superb run!! Massive well done to you, you absolutely nailed it! Last week would have taken a lot of discipline not to run Sheffield, but I honestly do think it was worth it now. Very few people nail their first Mara like you've managed. Really cracking effort!
Also I seem to think you're older than 40? If so you've now ran a time that guarantees you an entry to the next 2 London Marathons (should you want to run them) - via a 'Good For Age' grading. You can't actually apply for this yet (I think you can at the end of May - awaiting confirmation). And you need to get your application reasonably quickly. If you're potentially interested in this let me know and I'll give you the details.
Well done again though - enjoy a few beers tonight and toast your success!
padams - yes my mate is pretty decent. Sub-34'00 10k man etc. TBH though I don't really think running with the dog slows him down that much (water stop aside obviously). Apparently last night there was a bloke on the start line moaning that 'I hope that dog doesn't get in my way' - after an opening mile of 5'27 I think it's fair to say it didn't!