I think the key to running a good race and -maybe more importantly- training well is being able to maintain focus throughout the whole period of time your exercising.
My example is this- for the past few months I've been working pretty hard on base training- a lot of easy miles at a relaxed pace, letting my body build the infrastructure necessary for peak training. Blood perfusion, mitrochondria, efficient fat burning- these are all things that I'm told increase during base training stress upon the body. And I've been pretty good at doing this: "I'm going to run at 60-70% max effort for as long as it seems a good idea" type thing.
Yesterday, however, i tried my first tempo run in a while, and it felt really good. I shot for a certain RPE, and I was able to stick with it- for the most part. I found myself sort of swinging back into my relaxed speed from time to time, mostly out of habit. I wasn't maintaining mental focus. I'd catch myself, and speed up, but I'd have been happier if I didn't have to remind myself to speed up.
But it's good training. And I'm sure I'll get better at it. :)
As an aside, smoothies are a very nice recovery drink! I especially like how the simplest one- four ingredients and a blender- can be done quickly and easily. And I beginning to wonder how they might taste with alcohol...