Crackie, I too find that if I try to do a negative split it never quite works out. Then again if you go out too quick you pay the price and end up running even slower than the negative split approach. I think a compromise is the best approach. For example, if your goal time averages to 8:33 miles, try running as many miles as you can in the upper 8:20s, but certainly don't go below 8:25! This will allow some leeway for those last few miles which inevitably seem to be slow, but it shouldn't cause you to crash.
The biggest danger points, for me anyway, are the first few miles when everyone seems to be sprinting past and somewhere between 13 and 18 miles when the "I just want to be done with this" itch mixes with the "I feel good now, I surely won't crash this time" belief. During those miles you'll have to maintain discipline and hold back. Leave the kick for the last 3 miles!
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