Historically, the Boston Red Sox have played their home opener on the day of the Boston Marathon. The timing works perfectly: masses of baseball fans, jubilant with hope for the season ahead, stream out of Fenway Park just as marathoners begin to make their way past it.
I don’t know if that’s still the case, but either way I like the parallel: right now, as thousands of ball players prepare for the 2013 season of America’s favorite pastime, thousands of runners are preparing for the 2013 staging of America’s oldest marathon.
Considering all of this in hindsight, it seems delightfully fitting that a couple months ago I took my friend Meghann up on her idea of going to watch baseball’s Spring Training in Arizona this weekend – the last weekend before my marathon tapering starts. The whole notion has a fun, kind of All-American feel to it. Like pie.
Just a coincidence, then, that I was seized by the urge to make pie this past weekend? I made two: cherry (my first-ever cherry pie!) and Girl Scout Cookie Pie (very similar to pecan pie, only with coarsely-chopped Samoa and Tagalong cookies instead of pecans).
I don’t know about you, but unless I’m seriously pressed for time, I like making my own pie crust. I don’t claim to be an expert at it – my pies will probably never make the cover of Southern Living magazine – but there’s just something so satisfying about knowing a crust was shaped by my hands and not Sara Lee elves or whoever.
Anyway, it occurred to me, as I gingerly transferred lattice pieces from wax paper to pie, that making pie crust isn’t so different from marathon training. It takes focus and attention to detail. Tricks and nuances are learned with the gaining of experience. The process as a whole really isn’t terribly difficult; it just takes a little effort. And love. If you don’t love running, you probably won’t toe the starting line of any marathon, and if you aren’t willing to put love into that pie crust, you may as well just head straight for the freezer aisle at the grocery store.
With both marathon training and pie crust wrangling, it’s easy to get overly stressed. So, so easy. Doubts pop up: Have I run enough miles? Did I cut the dough enough before adding the liquid? Those intervals weren’t as fast as I wanted. WHY does this dough keep TEARING?? And so on, until you’ve worked yourself into a full-fledged, shall we say, state. I have been there. It’s not pretty. And it tends to frighten dogs and small children.
But it’s avoidable! It all comes back to the old theme of faith. We have to have faith in the finished product. Chances are, barring a catastrophe like an oven that suddenly decides to malfunction, or freakishly hot race-day weather, things will turn out fine. We have to keep breathing, shrug off that unpleasant run or stubborn lattice crust, and simply trust. Even if it means stepping away from the kitchen for a few moments, or taking a quick road trip to tread something other than that same old running path.
Me? I’m going to watch some baseball.