I'm cutting back to 2 big races that I'm going to let my entire fall success ride on. I was going to be running the St George Marathon in 2 1/2 weeks, but I decided after Cascade Crest that I'm not ready for it. I'd been doing fairly consistent speed/tempo work through July, but didn't really do any in August, so I'm going to want to rebuild a bit of that top-of-the-line speed and add even more on before I run another marathon. I've decided to do the Las Vegas Marathon in early December. That gives me 2 1/2 months to peak, which is precisely what I'll need to hit it perfectly. The course is flat instead of downhill like St George, but since it's basically right at sea level compared to the 2000-5000 feet that St George is at, it shouldn't be much slower.
I'm still going to be running the Helen Klein 50 miler on Halloween, but it's not really a typical ultra. Based on the heart rate I was able to sustain for 50 miles at Mt Disappointment (~160 average), I should be able to hold a little over 160 bpm average at HK50 since it's a faster course that will require less time at any given level of effort. On a flat course at very nearly sea level, 160 will put me well under 8:00/mile, so figuring maybe 10 minutes in for water bottle refills, very quick 30 second breaks to pound down high calorie foods, and an almost certain bathroom break, I think i should be able to run somewhere around the 6:30:00 range (6:40:00 would be 8:00/mile if I never stopped). 6:30 sounds somewhat ambitious, but I split the halfway point at American River 50 (which runs on the same bike path as HK50 for the first 27 miles) in 3:17 and I was able to hold a pretty similar effort for the second half (only it was on much slower trails, which took a lot longer to run). Also, my fitness will certainly be much better going into this race than going into American River, so I think I should be able to have a better performance.
As for training, I've been kicking up the speed. On the easy days that Karl gives me, I'm trying to find the flattest ways to run that I can so even if my effort is low, my pace will still be pretty fast. My long runs are mostly mountain runs right now where the pace is slow, but the intensity and time taken to complete the run are both pretty high due to very long strenuous climbs, etc. I'm also going to be consistently hitting tempo-range track workouts at least once a week pretty much every week between now and December. My cardiovascular system is definitely much more efficient than it was at the beginning of the summer, so my VO2 max has certainly improved, which gives me room to raise my lactate threshold, and therefore drop my racing times a fair amount.