Sincerely Carolina

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Race Prep: Gluten-Free Style.

by caroline

Today we're off to my hometown for tomorrow's Pittsburgh Marathon! As I've mentioned before, I am running the marathon relay with my sister and her fiance, my dad, and my brother, Luke. I'll be running the 6.2-mile leg of the relay.

While I've had a few setbacks, like tooth drama and the plague, that have interfered with reaching my full training potential, I feel confident I'll be A-OK. The truth is, running is in my bones and, while I might not be in peak condition, I know I'll get this shit done.

Mmm-k?

Anyway, there are a few items I like to rely on before, during and after a race. I've had to make some adjustments since my Celiac disease diagnosis, but I've also found I've been able to keep many of my favorites on board.

Regardless, here are my top five race mainstays — all, of course, gluten-free:

1. Gatorade: Yep, the tried-and-true classic is gluten-free and thank goodness it is! I'm a water gal, but sometimes you need a bit o' Gatorade after a tough run. And research shows that nothing replaces electrolytes like this king of sports drinks. You don't need to guzzle it: All it takes is about 8 oz. to replace important "lytes", like sodium, that are lost while sweating it out during a run.

2. Bananas: Naturally gluten-free and good for you too, bananas contain a dose of potassium that helps keep muscle cramping in check and they're considered a safe pre-run food because their unlikely to cause gastrointestinal issues.

3. Gu Chomps: I have used these before and just tested out this flavor a few days ago on my last long run. (I liked 'em!) I was not always one to use performance products, like these energy chews, but I've found they give me a nice little boost when I'm out there working my butt off. They also come in watermelon, peach tea and blueberry pomegranate flavors.

4. Picky Bars: Sure, there are a lot of great gluten-free bars out there (LARABAR, Raw Revolution, KIND bars, etc.), but have you seen the kids who developed Picky Bars? Yeah, well, they're kind of a-freaking-mazing runners. Lauren graduated from Stanford as one if ithe most decorated American distance runners of all time, Jesse earned himself an All-American title and Steph is a pro-marathoner. Why wouldn't I choose this as my bar of choice before hitting the pavement? Hey, they're vegan too!

5. Gluten-Free Pasta: If you're a runner or like to workout in general, then you've heard of carbo-loading before a race. I don't believe in going crazy, but I do think a big bowl of pasta does ya just right. As for gluten-free pasta, my go-to guy on any day is Tinkyada, and I wouldn't choose anything but the best before a race. This is Fusilli pasta, but I think I'm going for shells tonight. (I love how the sauce gets stuck in the little nooks.)

Today's all about taking care of my body and packing in the feel-good pre-race foods, like the peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich I packed for the car. Once we arrive in Pittsburgh, I'll go for a light walk, stretch and then head to The GNC Live Well Pittsburgh Health and Fitness Expo to pick up my race packet.

Then, it's early to bed for this gal — looking forward to tomorrow!

I'm curious: What's your pre-race strategy?

Tomorrow: Highlights from the race and my favorite running tips!