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5 Places to Carbo-Load for the Houston Marathon

The best part of race prep is the pasta, pizza, bread, and rice.

By Joanna O'Leary January 14, 2019

Image: Julie Soefer

All right, marathon runners. Time to start planning where you’ll feast in order to fill up those glycogen stores so you can cross the finish line with strength and style (which for me during my time as a runner equaled not barfing). Recent studies on the utility of stuffing your face with carbohydrates—aka "carbo-loading"—suggest what you eat the 24 hours before a long-distance event is most impactful on the quality of your run. Thus, plan your major bread (or pasta) binge for Saturday. Here are my recommendations for where to go:

Spaghetti Western Italian Cafe

If you’re wary about gastrointestinal distress on race day, skip the posh pasta and fancy sauces in favor of a heaping platter of spaghetti. Spaghetti Western Italian Cafe’s rendition involves a generous mountain of al dente noodles smothered in a bright meat sauce (my favorite) or with pork and sausage meatballs, all covered in cheese ... should you so desire.


Pizza prepared in a traditional fashion (i.e., no cauliflower crust) is a good source of protein and carbohydrates, plus nutrients if you load up on veggies. And because a big race requires a big pizza, invest in one of Vinny’s monster pies to acquire ample fuel for you (and maybe even a few friends).

Common Bond Café & Bakery

There are few times in your life in which you survey Common Bond’s dazzling daily selection of treats and say, “I’ll take one of each, please,” without a trace of guilt. Take advantage of this opportunity and fill your tank by ordering (at minimum) one chocolate chip cookie, one scone, two croissants (plain and pistachio, natch), and, for good measure, a kouign-amman (fatty butter cake).

Image: Jenn Duncan


Easily digestible and convertible to energy, rice will help power you through the marathon. Plain grains are fine and dandy; however, Himalaya’s biryanis are fragrant with mild seasoning and laced with mutton, beef, or chicken for an added protein boost. Warning: if you do decide to dine at Himalaya before your 26.2-mile journey, chef Kaiser Lashkari’s spicy daily curry specials will surely tempt you. Save those for your celebration dinner to avoid running the risk of the all-too-real and all-too-scary run runs.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge

I’ve written it once and and I'll write it again 1,000 times: If you want to master the marathon, eat like an elite runner from Ethiopia. The breakfast (and lunch and dinner) of these champions is not Wheaties but rather injera bread, whose main ingredient teff is insanely rich in iron and fiber and thought to assist in muscle performance and recovery.

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