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"Different" pre-race food - and celebration rhubarb crisp
Saturday night: we were sitting in a travel trailer belonging to friends of friends - having some "sustenance" a few hours prior to running our post-midnight stages of the Cabot Trail Relay Race.
"This is a different lunch," my husband remarked.
I was wondering how long it would be before he'd say something. I too thought it was atypical pre-race food but wasn't going to be the first to say so, as I had put the "meal" together.
- salad of greens and grated carrots and celery with a dressing I concocted from chia seeds mixed with water
- some apple slices dipped in peanut butter
- bread and a muffin with more peanut butter and strawberry jam
- water and a homemade granola bar for dessert.
Different - no?
I had to agree with him - but feeling comfortably satisfied - we crawled into bed to get some sleep before having to register at 1:00 A.M before my "ready-set-go" race time. Amazing - we zonked out for a couple hours - until our hydrated bodies woke us up. After getting up to relieve ourselves, I laid in bed an hour and a half, trying to relax. It was a fitful rest, between anxiety about not setting my watch alarm (my husband had assured me he'd wake up - he always does!) and reviewing what I'd eaten - or not eaten that day.
Pretty sure I had got it right, but the day's eating regime had been discombobulated, to say the least.
The day earlier, on Friday, we'd travelled to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, close to where the race started. We had brought our (sparsely stocked) cooler with us; I knew the options in restaurants and stores along the trail were going to be limited. That night we opted to join a community pre-race pasta supper - I chose the veggie sauce which was satisfactory - complete with salad and rolls with a dessert of ice cream and homemade brownies for those who so wished. All for $10.00.
Saturday breakfast we ate in our room:
- my homemade granola
- sliced bananas
- chia seeds
- organic soy milk.
Excellent. Before leaving Baddeck to join up with the race that had already started, at a bakery we picked up a full-bodied cup of coffee (much better than what we brewed in our hotel room) and caved to the temptation of some other offerings - two morning glory muffins and a fruit-crisp sort of square for each of us.
During the morning we shared a muffin, ate some homemade granola/power bars, peanuts and pistachios, and drank water as we cheered our teammates as they ground their way up and down the Cabot Trail mountains. At a little market I was able to buy ingredients to round out our lunch of:
- canned salmon
- wholewheat flatbreads and seed bread
- hard-boiled eggs
- a few carrot sticks and an apple
- a few bites of our fruit-desserts - I had been looking forward to my first rhubarb taste of the season, and though it was better than the bumble berry neither was as good as they looked. (Surprise, surprise.)
After our picnic, more cheering for our team on-the-move, then it was time to drive ahead and prepare for our turn to run. First another stop for supper food - eureka - we found salads in a bag! And more fruit and water.
I have to interject here that there were restaurants along the route - I'm certain some options on the menu would have been acceptable. But we didn't feel ready to eat when we drove past one, and we've never run at 2:02 and 3:55 A.M. before - so knowing what to eat and when, and anticipating how our body rhythm-metabolism would be functioning, were all a mystery.
The "guest-room" holiday trailer was close to Cheticamp. N.S. where my leg started. It was about 6:30 P.M. when we rested for about an hour and then got up for the "different" lunch as described above. There was no period during the day that we ever felt really hungry - we just sort of grazed on food as the day progressed - and it was the same when we got up about 11:30 P.M. After getting into our gear before driving to the race start, we enjoyed a repeat of the morning's breakfast: granola, banana and soy milk.
Stepping outside the trailer, I thought, "it's dark out here and I'm going to be running?!" Thankfully I could see a few stars, there was no wind, and the temperature a balmy plus 8C. Marvellous running weather. We had time to join the multitudes at the local Tim Horton's to pick up some caffeine before race registration and the start.
Now I just wanted to get on with it.
I felt strong from the get-go.
Judging my time and distance covered was challenging (the light on my aging basic sports watch doesn't work), but it helped that the water-aid stations were postitioned at the 5 and 10 km distances. After the second water stop I was familiar with the experience of running by the light of my headlamp - a.k.a. not so paranoid about wiping out - and felt I had lots of "jam" left. Time to push it up a couple notches for the last 8km. Shortly after the second water station I ate about a tablespoon's worth of one of my home made gels - and felt powered the whole way.
There are so many contributing factors in a physical test like this. Sleep, the fuel I'd had on the days prior to the race, hydration, mental attitude - which was my real issue because the previous 24 hours had been anything but my normal race food routine - but everything had been right for that day.
The picture says it all. I had a great run. I am still so grateful.
The "different" lunch, and the eating "plan", was okay for my husband's run too - although his limited training showed up at the final 5km to say "hello - you're gonna have to pay now."
A celebration treat was in order. Once we were back home, the following rhubarb-strawberry crisp passed the taste treat we'd been looking for.
Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp - with Almond Topping
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups thickly sliced strawberries
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/4 cup whole cane sugar (or organic sugar)
1/4 cup softened virgin coconut oil (or organic butter)
1/2 - 3/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place all fruit mixture ingredients into medium-sized bowl and gently mix to combine. Place mixture into lightly greased 9x13-inch pan or round deep-dish pan (about 11-inches across).
Make the topping by placing all the ingredients into the bowl you just used for the fruit mixture and mix well until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over top of the fruit.
Bake in preheated oven 45-55 minutes (will depend on the size of the fruit chunks), until the juices are gurgling up nicely from the middle.
Serve with almond milk, a dollop of thick yogurt, or is good all on its own.
(Recipe can also be made using apples and cranberries, the original option from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.)