This morning I did an 8-mile tempo run. My favorite way to do these is to just listen to a well selected playlist of songs that have really strong choruses, a plus if they also have subdued verses to help recovery. Most are inspired from spinning classes, since they use music to encourage pace and resistance. I do a hard run during the choruses and take it back to comfortable during the verses. I also added the memorial bridge stairs, which I usually do to one or two songs. Today, I got out a bit late (damn snooze button) and only did one song, Black Eyed Peas' I Got a Feeling. This is a great song to start a run out with, since it has a great beat and its intensity grows throughout the song.
I posted a question on a Runner's World forum about stairs. Can they make up for a lack of hills in training? I have one hill in my run (Capitol Hill) and today I sprinted up it to work on speed. Apparently, stairs do help a lot. The only drawbacks are: (1) your feet aren't at an incline and so your body won't be used to it during the race, and (2) most people (at least not me and the responder) don't run hard down stairs. I'm always afraid I'll miss a step and fall, if you know me this is pretty likely, but its crucial that a runner is used to the downhill. I'm going to look to add more hills to my running, especially so I can tackle the Marine Corps Marathon's biggest drawback: a steep hill as the last .2 miles of the race.
The first time I ran it, it was actually Britney Spears' Gimmie More that helped me through it (don't judge me for using a song as coaching! Or for cheating and sneaking my iPod onto the course!). I remember putting it as loud as possible and thinking "more... more... this is the end..." as I worked my way to the finish line.