Saturday, November 05, 2005

Raisinhater Favorites - Marathon "Food"

Saturdays are for Raisinhater favorites, but today is a special day – the day before the marathon! On this special day, marathoners are encouraged to eat the blandest, whitest foods they can get their hands on. Dry bagels, pasta with chicken broth, peanut butter and nothing sandwiches, blech. You don’t want to read about that, and I just cant bring myself to eat it, so my pre-marathon dinner (yes, tomorrow, for the first time, I will be running(?) the NYC marathon) will be Linguini with Sicilian Meatballs and Dad’s Marinara Sauce.

Marathoners are also encouraged to eat breakfast the morning of the race. Most eat a dry bagel or a powerbar, I’ll eat the leftover linguini and meatballs. I made up a theory about the garlic and the protein but really I just cant bear to eat something as pathetic as a dry bagel before going running for multiple hours.

But tomorrow, during the race, things will be different. I will eat a special crazy runner food that I squirt in my mouth from little foil packets. Sort of like what people in 1957 envisioned as the food of the future. And there are different brands and different flavors of these packets, and most runners have VERY STRONG preferences. And so my raisinhater favorite food for today involves a little taste test to select the least-awful of these little packets; one that will (hopefully) get me through 26.2 miles tomorrow.

First, my research methodology. Marathon training requires a lot of autumnal running; almost every weekend in September or October found me slogging around Central Park or up the Hudson River path for hours. During these training runs, I was able to sample almost all of the selections reviewed here today. The remainder of the testing was done at the NYC Marathon Expo on Thursday, where the GU folks helpfully set out a testing table for sampling the different flavors.

The brands:

GU – slightly thicker in texture, most pleasing and compact packaging.
Clif Shot – easy tear off top, pasty texture.
Powergel – thinner texture, larger portion, unwieldy golden package.

Each brand comes in multiple flavors:

GU Orange – tastes like creamsicles. A lot. Unless you LOVE creamsicles, stay away.
GU Vanilla – pleasant mild taste, inoffensive and seems like a good choice, until you try…
GU Chocolate – the tastiest of the GU by far, it has a mild chocolatey flavor and you can pretend you are eating chocolate frosting, delicious! This favorite is the first to sell out of running stores.

Clif Mocha Mocha – nutty coffee flavor, frankly, I expected more of a punch.
Clif Mmmm Chocolate – not as rich tasting as the GU chocolate, disappointing.

Powergel Tangerine – not like a creamsicle, more like an orange smoothie.
Powergel Vanilla – like the nastiest vanilla candle you’ve ever smelled.
Powergel LemonLime – like Gatorade in jelly form. Looks like snot though.
Powergel Chocolate – slightly artificial chocolate taste, gel texture rather than frosting.

Normally I would award top prizes to GU Chocolate. Taste-wise I think it’s a clear winner. It also gets tons of extra points for compact packaging. Most people prefer the GU texture, or even the Clif texture, to the more slimy Powergel, but Powergel has one thing the others don’t – caffeine! Most people don’t seem tremendously swayed by this fact, but it has achieved enormous proportions in my mind (not much to think about when you’re running for 3 hours) and now I feel that my running performance is dependant on a constant stream of the stuff. So my raisinhater favorite for today, and my food of choice tomorrow (until its time for beer) is Chocolate Powergel!


Blogger Mona said...

Ohmygod good luck! That's so exciting. Is it your first one? I ran the Big Sur Marathon a couple years ago, just haven't had the guts to do another one. I will be watching! Don't forget bandaids and non-chafing stuff!!
I kept my shoes from my first marathon, and I always felt like hanging 'em up a la ballet slippers in my room.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

how was the marathon?
how did you do?

1:38 PM  

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