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GP Runners | Great Performances


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by GP Family

Needless to say, members of the GP family have been known to eat; in fact, it's quite a significant portion of many of our jobs, whether it be testing recipes in the kitchen or participating in a tasting for a wedding. This knowledge of food (and consuming it) comes in handy outside of work too - sometimes in surprising ways. As walks and races, such as the NYC Marathon, quickly approach, we caught up with some GPers who will be participating this year to hear their food-related insight on preparing for these active days. 

Cynthia Yang, Avid Spartan Racer

-How long have you been doing Spartan Races? What piqued your interest in them? 

My first Spartan Race was the first one they did in the tri-state area in 2011. It was the Super-level race, which are approximately 8 miles, held at (the blessedly flat) Wolfe’s Pond State Island. I was invited to join members of my boxing class as they raced in honor of our instructor’s 50th birthday.

-Do you have a special “Spartan Race” diet weeks/months in advance of the race? If so, what is it?

After getting debilitating cramps at last year’s Super (the tri-state races are now held on ski mountains), I’ve taken to loading up on both carbs and sodium in the days before the race. But it’s not like it’s an ultramarathon, so I mostly use it as an excuse to indulge in bread and pasta more than I usually do.

-What do you eat the night before the race? The morning of? 

The normally-avoided bread + pasta combination is a special treat for the night before. I just saw this recipe for Kenyan Ugali in Outside Magazine and I kind of want to try it, though the treat of garlic bread and pasta is such a delight!

The morning of, I have my daily grapefruit and black coffee. I then look to something light that will provide long-lasting energy (e.g. sweet potatoes, coconut). I finally down a big container of coconut water right before the race starts.

-What do you eat/drink during the race?

Water + electrolyte tabs if needed (depending on the humidity, temperature, and how much I’ve been sweating).

I then have 100 – 200 calories in energy chews (either Clif Shot Blocks or Probar Bolt chews) throughout the race, depending on arduous the race has been.

-Most importantly, what is your first post-race meal? 

The banana and whatever else that they hand out at the finish line. And, like, 2 sips of beer.

This year my post-race meal was probably a pound and a half of food from the buffet at Woorijip in K-Town: baked mackerel, kimchi fried rice, lots of greens, and some egg-free kimchi pancakes.

Rob Valencia, Executive Pastry Chef 

Do you run with anyone?

Yes, my girlfriend Erin. We have a great system going because Erin motivates me to start running, and I'm there to keep her going when she starts to get tired during the race. 

Do you have any pre-run rituals?

We always stop for hot chocolate and coffee before running in the morning and map out our route for the day.

-Do you have a special “Marathon” diet weeks/months in advance of the race? If so, what is it?

Not diet but exercise plan. We follow a 20 week exercise regime prior to races to build up our endurance. We run six days a week and and the mileage increases every week. So, we'll run eight miles one week and then 12 miles the next until we finally power walk 20 miles right before the race.  I also try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night in the weeks leading up to the race, but this can be quite difficult at times. 

-What do you eat the night before the race? The morning of? 

I used to eat meals with lots of protein before the races but it was killing me - too heavy. Now Erin and I eat a vegetarian meal the night before, like quinoa mixed with our Kathckie Farm CSA veggies. Then, we'll have steak frites and a bottle of wine - or a big plate of BBQ - after the race. 

What was the most recent race you did? 

It was actually a walk: the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, which raises funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its goal to overcome cancer. This mission is close to our hearts and Erin and I created a fundraising page to raise money for the Institute. We will certainly do it again next year. The only race advice I have for myself is to wear a knee brace because I blew my knee out this year in the 21st mile and had to limp the last four miles. Nevertheless, it was a blast! 

Lauren Welles, Participating in Her First NYC Marathon This Year 

Do you run with anyone?

I mostly run with my dad – we have always been very close, but running has become our favorite bonding activity. We have gotten into road racing and obstacle racing together. Often, my brother (21 years old) will join us, and sometimes my sister (24 years old) as well. We have also done a few overnight team relay races with family and friends, and always have a blast.

-Do you have a special “Marathon” diet weeks/months in advance of the race? If so, what is it?

I follow the marathon diet of ‘eat everything in sight’! When I am in intense exercise phases, I will eat up to about 3,000 calories a day (I have never counted, but  that would be an interesting experiment!) I don’t restrict my diet, and I don’t do any real meal planning. I try to eat less dairy and less sugar when I’m trying to exercise with high efficiency. During the week or so before a race, I will eat fruit and protein in the morning, then vegetables and protein throughout the rest of the day.

-What do you eat the night before the race? The morning of? Any horror/funny stories here?

The morning before, I will eat some pasta and some protein, but I am not a heavy carbo-loader; I hate waking up full! I drink a lot of water the night before, but never alcohol. 

The morning of, my go-to snack/meal before a run is:

Hot or iced coffee

A piece/serving of fruit

A slice of German pumpernickel bread (the really dense kind) with peanut butter on one-third and mashed avocado, salt and pepper on the other two-thirds.

-What do you eat/drink during the race?

I stop and hydrate at almost every water station along the route. I also carry energy gels (my favorite brand is Gu) with me, and will eat one of those every hour as suggested. At big races, there are always people along the route giving out pieces of banana, freeze pops, and random other foods like bacon! No matter what the item is, I will take it if I’m hungry.

-What is your first post-race meal? 

The first thing handed to me!! Ha ha, just kidding…sort of.

Last year, my first meal was shepherd’s pie and beer. This year, I’m thinking an entire watermelon. Delicious and hydrating…and also beer.

-Anything else food and running related you think would be interesting to include?

Fun fact: those people you see hopping from one foot to the other on the corner of the sidewalk waiting for the light to change are actually not doing anything productive at all. That has been shown to have no effect on anything! I always giggle at those people now.

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