Fueling Up the Night Before the Half Marathon

Hello my friends! As you know, I was in Pittsburgh this weekend for the half marathon with Matt and my brother! I’ll be back tomorrow with a full recap of the race, but for now, I wanted to share some pictures from our big pre-race dinner at Matt’s parent’s place on Saturday night.

what to eat the night before a half marathon

How cute is that menu that Matt’s dad made? Matt’s parents hosted a huge group of our friends and their families at their place – nearly 25 people – the night before the Pittsburgh half marathon for a fueling up feast to end all feasts. I worked with his dad to come up with the menu, making sure we had our nutritional bases covered! The plan: some good protein (salmon + chicken) and lots of carbohydrates (pasta bar + quinoa salads + garlic bread). Plus some veggies for good measure, of course, and nothing too heavy or greasy (didn’t want GI issues the day of)!

It was such a fun dinner – a big group of our DC friends that are also from Pittsburgh (Matt grew up there) were also home for the race, so we had quite the crew, and my brother joined us, too! I neglected a big group shot but got one with my two main men. :)


Everyone came over around 6 for some appetizers and Kentucky Derby watching. Plus fun cocktails for the non-runners, water for the runners!




Meanwhile, Matt’s dad prepped the food. How beautiful is this salmon?

cedar plank salmon

He marinated one piece of salmon in a lemon juice/oil/garlic/parsley mixture, and the other got a dijon mustard + brown sugar topping. A little while later, they went onto the grill!

cedar plank salmon

Have you guys ever made cedar plank salmon before? I haven’t, but I’d heard of it. Essentially, you cook the salmon on a grill on a piece of cedar, and the wood imparts a nice smoky flavor to the fish since it basically catches on fire. It was SO good!

cedar plank salmon

Also on the menu was some grilled chicken, which was also delicious:


Plus some salads and roasted veggies!


On the quinoa front, we had a spring quinoa salad (which was like this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad) and a quinoa trail mix salad (based off the Quinoa Salad with Pecans & Cranberries that was served at our wedding).


One of the guests brought two yummy green salads, too. Delicious!


Can’t forget about the pasta bar! There were two options – spaghetti or penne. I went penne. :) I prefer the chewy texture!


As for the sauce options, there was a basic marinara and a Bolognese. I <3 Bolognese.


I’m kind of surprised the table didn’t collapse! We also had some garlic bread in the mix, which you can see on the bottom right.


I decided to have a little bit of everything! Here was my plate. Everything was SO good!


As for dessert, Matt’s mom made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! I forgot to get a photo of them but don’t worry, I remembered to eat one. ;) Such a fun evening! All the guests left with full bellies and glycogen stores for the race, that’s for sure.

As for today, Matt is finishing up a work call and then we’re hitting the road back to DC. Catch you tomorrow from our Nation’s Capital!

What do you eat the night before a big race?


  1. 1

    What a fun and delicious-looking meal! I always eat pasta before a race because it’s tradition!

  2. 2
    Elizabeth says:

    Love your blog! You have the most gorgeous hair – would love a blog post sometime on how you get those amazing curls!

    • 3

      Aw thank you, and thank you for reading! :) I’ve been getting some requests on Instagram for a hair tutorial too – stay tuned! :)

  3. 4

    Wow that is an amazing spread!!! The salmon looks divine!!! I don’t really race but before anything big, physical or otherwise I always eat food I know I can digest easily…different for everyone but I just don’t mess with anything new..just in case! :)

  4. 5

    Yumm… I love everything here. You just have me the idea to have a friend over to make a like spread before our next half marathon! :) Its nice you had a homemade meal before your half marathon, instead of having to go out to dinner. :)

  5. 6

    that bbq salmon looks incredible — what a feast!

  6. 7

    So much fun that his parents did this!! :) I love a little salad and then a few slices of pizza and finish it off with some Greek yogurt!

  7. 8

    Oh my goodness what a spread! Everything looks so delicious and even if I wasn’t running I would have been a happy camper. I love that idea of holding a dinner. I have made the rookie mistake in the past of winging it or eating out (Mexican!) before a half marathon and I learned my lesson quickly lol. Next time I decide to race I am going to follow your advice! :)

  8. 9

    That menu is amazing – what a fantastic idea!! Good luck with the race!

  9. 10

    Seriously, Matt’s dad should open a restaurant. His menus always amaze me! Food looks incredible!

  10. 11

    That looks like an amazing pre-race dinner! I especially like how the grilled salmon looks!

  11. 12

    I love this idea! So fun and perfect for the day before a race. I eat the same thing before every race- whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce….sometimes meat sauce or meat balls. And all the water.

  12. 13

    Wow! That is incredible! How wonderful you were able to be a part of that, and enjoy it! I am so jealous!!!!! I have had a lot of stomach issues in the past, so I tend t stay very plain with pasta, but the night before Cherry Blossom, we went to a big fancy VIP dinner and they had a lot of stuff….and not very plain either. As olympians were eating the food happy as can be, I figured I should make the most of it, and enjoy it too. I actually did not have any stomach problems surprisingly!

    Thanks for sharing, this is a pretty important post :)

  13. 14

    Can’t wait to read your recap later today! As a Pittsburgh native I’d love an in depth look at the course. The food looks amazingggg… it looks like you guys were fueled up.

  14. 15

    What a run prerace idea!! This food and menu looks super tasty :)

  15. 16

    Oh that food all looks so amazing. Making me hungry just looking at it. I like to have gluten free pizza and potato the night before. Nothing too spicy or greasy as i have a sensitive stomach. I always have oats and banana for breakfast. Good luck for you half marathon :)

  16. 17

    What an amazing spread! I would want one of everything as well! And must try that salmon idea–so simple, but I’m sure so delicious!
    I would probably go with oatmeal mixed with flax, a little maple syrup, cinnamon, almonds, and almond milk and perhaps some yogurt with chocolate chips for dinner. That’s the safest thing for my belly.

  17. 18

    I usually have plain pasta, or pizza. But wow! Every aspect of that meal looks like perfection.

  18. 19

    That is too cute of an idea! I need to think about doing this at my house for the MCM this year : )

  19. 20

    This is amazing. With this + Thanksgiving, I feel like Matt’s dad is basically the best dinner party host ever!

  20. 22
    Roadrunner says:

    Wow! Awesome pre-race fuel! Really impressive…

  21. 23

    Wow! Your pre-race meal looks great! I am thinking that I don’t eat enough before my big runs. I am currently training for my first half marathon at the end of the month so this is all so Greek to me yet. The fresh green salads look yummy–can you share those ingredients/recipes please? I have been on a real spinach kick lately so I’d love to try them. As a rookie I need details/recipes, if you are willing!

    • 24

      Unfortunately I don’t have the salad recipes from the weekend, but I have a bunch of salad recipes here on the blog if you want to check them out! Just check out my recipe tab. :)


  1. […] our epic pre-race feast on Saturday night, Matt, Steve, and I were up ridiculously early on Sunday morning to head downtown to the starting […]

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