Quarry Crusher Run, 2013 | photo by Thomas Hammond
The sun slowly drags itself over the horizon, and hundreds of people are clad in shades of stretchy neon fabrics, numbers pinned to their midsections. A casual glance around the crowd will provide mild entertainment as the people jump up and down in place, perform contortions to limber their muscles, and stand in line at the portable bathrooms. As they are herded to a starting line with pumping music, it’s hard not to wonder what these people ate for breakfast to give them the energy to go the distance.
Next to baseball players, runners are some of the most superstitious athletes you’ll find. One of the most highly ritualized acts they perform is the delicate balance of what is consumed before a race, especially the night before. Once a runner finds out what combination of food, drink and timing works precisely to best fuel their bodies without creating a potential disaster on the race course, it becomes as important to the runner as the gear that they wear or the stretches they perform prior to lining up for the start.
Most runners agree that pre-hydrating and eating carbohydrates — known as carb-loading — the night before is important. Columbia attorney Suzanne Duff, a pavement pounder for nearly five years, runs everything from 5Ks to half marathons, doesn’t put much thought into her food ritual before shorter distances but always goes with the familiar.
“On the morning of, for all distances of races, I have green juice, coffee and peanut butter toast, which is pretty common” she says. “But for a half marathon, I do ultra hydration and carb-loading the day before.”
Carbs with a sugary component are a common theme among runners. The morning of a race, local runner Brie Turner-McGrievy has a small half bagel with almond butter and jam. And of course, coffee can’t be forgotten for the initial boost of caffeination. Turner-McGrievy adds a touch of nostalgia to hers by drinking out of the mug she received for running the Ray Tanner 12K in 2012.
What runners eat and drink the night before a race is just as important as what they eat the morning of.
“I love spaghetti, marinara sauce and veggie meatballs from Trader Joe’s paired with a salad and Italian bread,” Turner-McGrievy says. “I’ll also have a glass of wine to calm the pre-race jitters the night before.”
Beer, she adds, is too hard on her stomach and is something she avoids too close to race time. As an assistant professor in the University’s of South Carolina’s Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, with a passion for the 10K distance, understanding the behaviors that people put into their health habits is especially fascinating to her.
Sometimes it takes some mistakes to figure out what will and won’t work, as in the case of Julie Culclasure’s experience.
“I learned the hard way that a Big Mac at 3 a.m. will not be properly digested by the start of a 5-mile race at 8 a.m.,” she says. “I still indulge in ‘bad’ foods, but I try to avoid those things days before a run.”
Culclasure, who works at Blue Cactus Café, has also learned that timing is everything, and tries not to eat too late the night before a race, no matter the distance. She likes to go the carb route with a simple pasta dish that includes a bit of protein. Timing on the morning of is just as important, and her breakfast of a bagel with either goat cheese, hummus or peanut butter smeared on top, plus coffee, has to be consumed at least and hour and a half before the start.
“Nothing worse than the feeling of running with a full stomach,” she says.
And as those energetic runners cross the finish line with the sheen of sweat on their forehead and the taste of quickly consumed orange slices on their lips, the calories from last night’s dinner or the morning’s breakfast are all but burned off — and the next thought is, “OK, now what’s for lunch?”
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
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Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
CoMar Products Inc. Manufacturing quality surfaces for kitchens & baths since 1965. www.comarproducts.com
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com