Hi Pipski, I ran my first marathon in April this year in 3.56 following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan. I tried not to get hung up on times, just to get round, but couldn't help secretly dreaming of sub 4!! I'd previously done a half in 1.46. My training runs were nearer the 10 minute mile, although I did do one 20 with the second half faster than the first, but that'll be a couple of months away yet. What I'd say is follow the advice in the book - it works, don't overtrain and, most importantly, stick to pace on the day. Oh, and I'm 52 so got myself a GFA for London this year - very chuffed! Good luck with your training.
Anthony Vaughn 5 - why not look at Manchester. It was my first marathon last year and I can recommend it - very well organised, great crowd support and flat as a pancake! I managed a GFA time and in for London 2014! Also, you pay and you're in - no waiting like London.
Madbee, I've just done my first marathon in Manchester and I loved it and would definitely recommend it. Firstly, it's flat!! Great crowd support, plenty of runners (6-7,000 I think) but not too busy you couldn't get going right from the start. I had run 3 halfs last year, my fastest half time was 1:46, and decided just before Christmas to enter a marathon in the Spring. I wanted a marathon with a fair few runners (we have one here on the Isle of Wight but with only about 100 runners, it's a bit exposed, and lonely!).
I bought Hal Higdon's book and followed the Novice 2 programme almost to the letter, so 2 x 20 miles runs before the marathon. Anyway, my race went exactly to plan, I ran a negative split and finished in 3:56 which was GFA for London for me, so I was very pleased.
I would say stick to your plan even though sometimes you might want to do more (I stayed injury free) and the best advice I was given for race day was to stick to pace. I was really worried about going off too soon so kept my eye on the 4 hour pacer until the last couple of miles when I had a little left to go on ahead slightly.
Good luck whichever marathon you choose, I'm sure you'll love it!
I've done nothing too. Drinking red wine and eating chocolate tonight, out tomorrow night for food and alcohol. Must run this weekend - could do with a running buddy though and the 2 friends I usually run with are busy, one's racing and one's cycling round the IOW (?). A solitary run will be nice though, maybe Sunday, then Tuesday back to my running club.