Monday, September 22, 2008

The Final Countdown to Amsterdam

By Ross Forman


I don’t like pasta.  Never have and probably never will.  Though I certainly understand and appreciate the nutritional value of carbo-loading, usually anchored by a plate or two of pasta, for long runs.  Welcome to my world as a marathon runner.


I’ve eaten more pasta over the past 18 months or so since I’ve started training for marathons than, well, ever.  It’s usually plain pasta, no sauce, or maybe with a drop of parmesan cheese.  And I never truly enjoy it. It’s just food, necessary food, I know. Perhaps like a job you don’t like, but have to do.


How bad is my pasta problem?  I recently picked up Nancy Clark’s Food Guide For Marathoners, published by Meyer & Meyer Sport, if only to hopefully find some pasta alternatives or some suggestions for improving my must-eat pasta.  Nancy’s book definitely is a must for marathon runners as I’ve snagged multiple culinary tips from her as I head toward Amsterdam.)


Ah, yes, the Amsterdam Marathon, set for Sunday, Oct. 19.  It’s the home stretch now, and I’m ready following recent memorable runs over the past few weeks in downtown Toronto and downtown Seattle.  (Even when I’m out of town for work I have to find an area to run, which can be a chore unto itself.)


Take Toronto, for instance.  I spent Friday night, Sept. 12, at the Sheraton Centre Hotel on Queen Street West.  The following morning, I ran 23 miles along a path that runs adjacent to Queen’s Quay, enduring morning humidity that was evident from the moment I stepped outside.  Queen’s Quay is a prominent street that skirts along Toronto’s downtown waterfront area.   I ran about 90 minutes heading toward Toronto Pearson International Airport, turned around and ran back an hour, then went back that same hour stretch, and ultimately returned to the Sheraton in under five hours.  I felt fine afterward, though the lack of water fountains along the route grinded on me mentally at times.  And when I did see this one particular water fountain that I ran past multiple times, I felt like I was taking a shower in it with all of the water I splashed over me.  The Friday before the 23-miler, I ate at The Keg, a popular Canadian steakhouse.  Surprisingly, The Keg had absolutely no pasta, so I carb-loaded on a baked potato, a plate of garlic mashed potatoes and a plate of rice.  Can’t believe I’m admitting this, I kind of missed my pasta before this long run.


On Sept. 20, I ran 10.5 miles in downtown Seattle, thanks to a perfect route suggested by John, a concierge at the Seattle Hilton Hotel on 6th Street.  I ran along the Alaskan Way path, running for about 50 minutes until I turned around at the Palisade Restaurant … and, yes, I actually was curious if it offered pasta.  I ran around the Port of Seattle and, at one point, near some youth soccer fields with about three or four games being played.  As I watched the “yutes” kicking around, I had to think which one of these 5-, 6-, or 7-year-olds who now hates running would, in years, be a marathon runner.  I know I was once in their spikes: a soccer player who hated the extra running that coaches made us do.  Maybe that’s why I played goalie. 


Only a few more weeks of running before boarding my non-stop United Airlines flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, bound for Amsterdam.  I will, though, still be running in Orlando, Nashville and no doubt another city or two as well before Amsterdam … and no doubt still be complaining about pasta.


My training is through the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, which works to raise funds for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.  I’d be grateful if you’d consider donating.  Please go to my website ( and help the AIDS Foundation of Chicago while I moan about eating pasta.  Thanks,




Ross Forman (pictured above with pro wrestling stars Curry Man and Tiger Mask) can be reached at:

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