NJ Marathon Eats: Gluten-Free Pre- , During- and Post-Race Fare

Getting to run a race so close to home means I have plenty of opportunities to carb-load MY way with very little fear of cross-contamination or going against the norm in terms of my usual fare, so it made for a very seamless and incident-free weekend!

Pre-Race Dinner

The night before the race I was fortunate enough to carb-load on my usual pre-race dinner of pizza and French fries. I made dough in advance using my favorite Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pizza crust, and loaded it with marinara, spinach, Portobello mushrooms and zucchini. There was a Five Guys less than 5 miles from the hotel, so an order of small Cajun fries was MINE, all MINE! And a small order of fries from Five Guys is usually, oh,  3 – 5 servings’ worth of small fries, depending on the generosity of the establishment. They won’t only fill the cup, but they’ll dump in a ton of extra fries into the bottom of the bag, which I dub “the bag o’ grease”.  I assure you I had plenty, and the massive salt overload is perfect for water retention to avoid dehydration and cramping on race morning. Oh, and I had two Strongbows…that counts as carb-loading in my mind.

Pre-race Breakfast

Race morning I was a little against the grain. I had my usual coffee and Silk creamer, but also had leftover pancakes from the morning before and brought a couple with me. I made them using Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pancake mix, bananas, pecans, cinnamon and cooked quinoa. They are easy enough to make vegan with a flaxseed meal “egg” (1 TB flaxseed meal and 3 TB water, mix and let sit for a couple minutes so it congeals) as well as almond milk and a little oil. I smothered one with some Peanut Butter and Company Mighty Maple and had some unsweetened applesauce on the side. The part of me that obsesses about balancing my meals insists on having fruit or a vegetable with every meal or snack!  One pancake ended up being plenty for me, and definitely carried me though the morning until I could start fueling with gels.

Race Course Support

Atlantic City’s marathon has a lot of out and back sections to the course, so there really never seemed to be any lack of support whatsoever. They provided Gatorade and water at every stop, and lots of tables after Mile 9 had Powerbar Energy Gels and Powerbars. I obviously avoided the Powerbars (the idea of stomaching a whole Powerbar, even without having celiac, seemed ludicrous), and snagged three gels, the first being chocolate (blech) and the second two were Wild Berry. I’m not a Power Gel fan usually but it did the trick when I needed a quick energy burst.

Finish Line Fare

In true Jersey Shore style, the AC Marathon really delivered! Besides the usual water, Gatorade, orange slices and banana halves, they also had soft pretzels and rolls, hot seafood chowder, beer, caramel popcorn, and my favorite treat: Rita’s lemon water ice! I pounced on that like Mojo with one of his toy mice. And it was SO worth it. I ended up getting a second one because the first was so incredibly refreshing. So yes, quite a few strike outs in terms of food I could eat, but the water ice was perfect for what my body craved…all I wanted was fluids, fluids and more fluids.

Post Race Meal

I got to try a brand new establishment on my way home; a friend who wanted to spectate but was unable to make it really wanted to celebrate my finish, and kept telling me about a great place in Collingswood, NJ, called The Tortilla Press. This place really did a great job  great job accommodating all of my needs, and I definitely can’t wait to go back. They truly knew about cross-contamination and gluten free food preparation, which is not something I can say about many establishments. They made me a freshly-baked basket of corn chips and freshly prepped guacamole and salsa that was separate from the other chips and salsa that they bring for the table, not to mention a pitcher of virgin margaritas which we could de-virginize with our own tequila. I assure you that we did so with gusto! They also made me a special gluten-free veggie taco platter filled with seasonal veggies as well as a side of beans and rice. It was all so good I thought I would cry, and I actually had ample leftovers since I had loaded up so substantially on fluids. I was so content and happy to be relaxing with good food, drink and friends…I don’t think it could have gotten any better, but there was even a sweet reward on the radar as well.

My friend told me she scoped out the local cupcake place a block over called My Little Kupcake, and they had gluten-free cupcakes! So yup, you can bet we stopped in! I grabbed a gluten-free pumpkin cupcake in honor of the season (Chris got his favorite, coconut) and I enjoyed half of it later that evening. It was so incredibly delicious it took a LOT of willpower to avoid eating the entire thing in one bite.

I made sure to drink no more alcohol for the rest of the day after my celebratory lunch to ensure I had little muscle soreness and that my muscles stayed well-hydrated. I’ll be honest, if every weekend could be as good as this one in terms of my food experiences, I can’t wait to run my next race simply for all the treats! It was definitely one of the best I had experienced for a long time!

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