Friday, August 19, 2011

GU and Other Sticky Stuff

Do these look familiar?  Yeah, they do to me, too.  I buy this stuff by the case.  What's your favorite flavor?  Mine is vanilla.  I like the chocolate flavor (of course!) and can sometimes tolerate strawberry-banana.   Shot Bloks?  Gotta say, they're mighty tasty; they remind me of Dots, those yummy, chewy candies that are a staple at movie theaters.   But I'm not sure I could get them chewed and swallowed while running.
Pretzel sticks - the little ones - work for me on really long runs.  I put a handful into a snack-sized self-seal bag and tuck them into the waistband of my running shorts.  The crunchy saltiness just somehow satisfies a craving. On one of my really long runs, I found myself sharing my pretzel sticks with another gal whom I'd fallen in with along the route.  She was quickly won over by the "just rightness" of the salt, the small size, the way they dissolved in her mouth with very little chewing effort.

But for that over-the-top "WONDERFUL," let me share with you what a friend did for me a few years ago.  He and I were talking about my upcoming marathon and the subject came around to what I ate to sustain me over those 26 miles.  I told him about GU and about my pretzel sticks, and he asked me the most unexpected question: "Yes, but when you're at mile 18 or 20, what do you really crave?"  I thought about that for a few moments, and then it struck me.  Fresh.. White.. Bread.   The gummier and softer, the better.   Just saying that out loud to my friend made my mouth water. 

This person is one of my biggest supporters.  He's not a runner himself, but always asks about my running, my races, my training.  He wanted to come out to the race route to cheer me on that year, so I gave him directions and suggestions for several places along the route.   I wasn't sure where to expect him, and he wasn't sure where exactly he'd be, but he told me to be looking for him as I passed those locations. 

On race day there he stood, at the top of Westpark bridge at mile 15, wildly waving his arms over his head and shouting my name.  He was afraid I wouldn't see him and run right by.  No chance of that happening!   Greeting each other at the top, he ran down the backside of the bridge along with me, chanting, "Go, Barb!  Go, Barb!"
The next time I saw him that day, he was at the top of the Memorial Parkway hill at mile 21.  This time he was holding something in his hands, something that looked like...could it be?  It was a loaf of bread, freshly baked, still warm!  He tore it in half just as I approached and held it out to me.  I reached over, dug my fingers into that soft, wonderful center and scooped out a big chunk of heavenly soft, gorgeously fluffy freshly baked white bread.  It was absolutely, stunningly perfect! 

I ran the next two miles clutching that giant chunk of fresh white bread, tearing off bite-sized pieces and popping them into my mouth.  They literally melted on my tongue.  Oh, my!

Now, this is my idea of the perfect race food!

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