Suze - I've drive that route and there is very little flat on it. There's also a bugger of a hill as you head into Inverness. From reading race reports I'm thinking it's the one at 18 miles and takes you up to nearly mile 20. It's far far hillier than Paris.
I'm taking a completely different approach to Loch Ness than I have for all my other marathons. There is no training plan! I'm going to run what I want, when I want. The only rule is I must run at least three times a week and get in a minimum of two 20 mile LSR's.
I have no time goal for Loch Ness. It's a race I've long wanted to do, but never done it as I thought it could be a tricky one to lay down a PB and I've always been chasing times. My plan is to just go out and enjoy this one and since there is a good lot of the fine people from here heading up (or down in Kaz's case) to Inverness I can't think of a better time to do it.
Plus I spectated at it previously and there was an awesome fudge stand at the finish area!
They've changed the entry system for next year. There is a ballot, but it's for cheaper entry places. The normal first come first served system will open up in September/October as normal, but the entry price is higher than the ballot places.
The race can sell out, but having ran it the last three years it's never sold out quickly. There were still places available as late as February for this years race.
NGUG - You should enjoy Amsterdam. Great city, great race.
Heroine - There's no doubt weight loss and better attention to training will see your times improve, and possibly based on some peoples experience improve quite dramatically.
On the whole sub-4 or die thing, as someone who almost went insane chasing that goal (not the die bit) and only ran his second sub 4 in his 12th marathon the other weekend I think sometimes we need to set our goals based on where we are as runners. There are people here I looking for that time that I believe have it in then if everything is good on the day and I'll support anyone here in chasing their goal. I do think we often pick random targets that have nothing tangible about them than a round number and that ends up causing all manner of issues.
Personally this year now with Paris done I'd love to nail a new half PB. My PB is 1:43 set back in August 2012. Mentally the thought is of sub 1:40, but I'm ignoring that thought to see what level I'm at over that distance just now. Once I have a better idea of current form I can plan what I can do from that. Its always worth aiming to improve, but sometimes we need to be more rational in selecting our targets.