I've had only one marathon where I haven't crashed; that was my last one. I hit mile 20 in 2:44:30, and took 53:30 for the last 6.2 miles.
What helped: running with a heart rate monitor. It is so easy to let the pace sneak up on you, especially after the first 3-4 miles. Those first 10 miles have to feel like a walk in the park!
In terms of prep, I found the following helpful: 1) long runs to 22 miles (all done very easily (10 mpm) 2) half marathon races (sometimes followed by a 4 mile walk/jog cool down) 3) a short race/tempo run which was preceeded by a long (10 mile!) warm-up
Good luck on that 4 hours!
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