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What to Eat Before Running 53 Miles?

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I have been told that I have a problem saying no. Case in point, when my running partner asked me to do a 53-mile trail race in Pittsfield, Vermont, this weekend I eventually said yes (despite having to sign a waiver saying “you may die running this race”). So what does one eat before running 53 miles? Probably everything and anything, but I calculated that we could make a slight detour on our drive up and carbo-load at Osteria Pane e Salute in Woodstock, Vermont. F&W declared the tiny restaurant tucked away on Central Street one of the 50 most amazing wine experiences in the country. But they also make insanely delicious thin-crust pizzas and awesome pasta.

Sadly, they stop serving at 8:30 p.m., and with NYC traffic, we had only just reached Albany by then. I phoned to let them know we wouldn’t be making it and asked if they could suggest a place to get a decent meal, as we were running a race the next day. Caleb Barber, one of the owners, explained we were heading into a culinary dead zone and that our best bet was a Chinese place in Rutland, Vermont. My stomach turned at the thought of running with a belly full of General Tso’s chicken. But minutes later, my phone rang. It was Caleb calling back. After thinking over our dilemma, he told us to ring him when we got to the top of Killington so he could heat up two pizzas. “I can’t let you run on empty,” he said. I was relieved to discover that someone other than me had a hard time saying no.

When we finally arrived at around 10 p.m., I expected a box of pizza for us to take on the road, but a table was waiting. They’d kept the restaurant open just for us. Caleb had prepared a duck consommé for “runner’s protein” and two gorgeous pizzas—a black-olive-and-sausage and a mushroom-and-pancetta. It was exactly what we needed, and probably the only reason we survived our race.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.