In theory, running only requires a pair of shoes, clothes, and a place to run. The reality for longer runs is that there is all kinds of nutritional guesswork and gear.
I now have two runs of +-20 miles in the books, both in the last 10-14 days. The first one anchored the only week in my training for Baltimore where I actually ran three days, which is the training regimen.
The first run was from my house to the Oxford Market and back, and was to encompass 23-ish miles. Mike Keene joined me for stellar weather, and a fantastic 11-12 mile run to Oxford. Just past Trippe Creek and Spring Road, we caught up to Talbot County's top bench-pressing runner, Jon Fox, and ran and chatted for 4-5 miles. Mike and I then saddled up to the Market, grabbed more Gatorade, water, and a sandwich. Whether the sandwich (which was tasty) or my lack of long runs was my undoing, I'm not sure. I started in with some stomach problems at probably mile 15, gutted it out with a couple walk breaks, and then completely hit a wall at roughly mile 20, or Kings Woods Road toward Easton. By this point my legs were cramping and I had accomplished everything positive that I could out of the run, and walked the remaining 3.5 miles back to my house. No pain post-run, cut the grass, fine to run the next day.
My other two runs that week were a 4.5 mile lunch run, then an 8-mile run in 68 minutes, which felt great. My next run came this past Saturday morning as Mike K., Team Claiborne charter member Jim Richardson, and I went to Wye Island for a 19.4 mile stroll.
"Super Jim" (with his trademark cape/bib) set the pace for the first 9.7 miles. There are many great things about running at Wye Island. The first is the mostly dirt roads and scenery. The second are the trails available and scenery. And a third is that you can park your vehicle such that you can pass it a number of times and refuel.
After my samich scare last long run, I opted to stick with more traditional/synthetic fuel for marathon distances. To squeeze some protein in, I tried a new drink called Accelerade, which throws carbs and protein at you. I cycled that with water, pretzels, and a Power Gel. And I drank more fluids than I normally do. Something worked, because my legs never cramped (they often do on long runs) and my energy level stayed fairly consistent.
After our first full loop, Mike, Jim, and I hit our own strides and spaced out a bit from each other, ultimately collecting ourselves at Mike's truck, a.k.a. "The Mother Ship." My 19.4-mile time ended up being 3 hours, 28 minutes, 44 seconds. I could have pushed some speed, but was content for a long SLOW distance. Post-run weather, conversation, and vittles, the latter thanks to Mike "Captain Picnic" (also Wood Frog) Keene, were excellent and rejuvenating. I got home, dug up a stump, and planted a crepe myrtle, among other things.
I have been averaging about one run per week, sometimes two, and only once the prescribed three. I am not in marathon good time shape, but could argue that I am smarter than when I ran my two other marathons. I am hoping I can ramp up a consistent string of runs, and run smart during the race, to pull off a PR (both other marathons had snags).
As for the JFK, I am not there, and don't know that I have time/drive/schedule to get there. It's a mental and psychological struggle, but I think I could let it go this year and be okay with it. One thing is for sure, you create some time to think during long runs.