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June 7, 2007

Ironcook

(Admin. note: despite what I say in the last paragraphs, my wife approved this post prior to publication.)

Every one of us – whether we realize it or not – is in training for something.

Around these parts of the blogosphere, when we speak of training, we’re usually referring to exercising and racing. We detail our workouts, discuss what races we’ve done, and what accomplishments we hope to achieve in the months and years ahead.

With endurance sports, the most successful training regimens consist of gradual progression. One workout builds upon another. A first 10K leads to a marathon; swim lessons lead to a sprint triathlon. Shorter distance races turn into ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons – but these accomplishments would be impossible without the building blocks that precede them.

Many aspects of life follow a similar progression. Grade school leads to high school and eventually to college. Professional skills and experience are developed on smaller projects, and later rewarded with promotions and increased responsibilities. Newlyweds adopt a cat to prepare for someday having a child (a situation that causes actual parents to simply laugh and shake their heads - but nevertheless, it’s pretty common).

All of which is a long introduction for this picture:


It’s a birthday cake that my wife made for our formerly 5-year-old daughter’s birthday party last week. It’s a replica of one of our daughter’s favorite experiences ever: Splash Mountain at Disneyland - complete with Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit - characters with whom our daughter happens to be fascinated (more on this in another post).

I’ve written before about how my wife makes the best birthday cakes in town, and how I always feel compelled to do a major workout before any of our kids’ parties, because I know the temptation of indulging will be too much to overcome. Luckily, I was able to roll about 70 miles on my bike on the morning of the party – because I probably consumed about 60 miles worth of cake that afternoon. (Throw in a few slices of pizza, and I’d be surprised if I broke even, calorie-wise. But you know what? … I don’t care. It’s my kid’s birthday - I’m celebrating.)

My wife has always been creative in the realm of cake design, but she started with much simpler schemes. As our children have grown, the creations gradually evolved to reflect her skill and confidence: 2-dimensional dump trucks and puppy dogs led to 3-D trains, ladybugs, and, sharks. And now she’s able to crank out this Ironman-caliber Splash Mountain.

But her talents didn’t develop overnight. All of those other cakes she’s done over the years were the building blocks – the 10Ks and half-IM events that gave her the courage to attempt something as bold as recreating an amusement park ride for her daughter’s sixth birthday.

(On a similar note … this cake wasn’t created overnight, either. It was at least a three-day project that included a couple of structural/design changes, many hours of brainstorming, and several trips to the local market for just the right ingredients. You think I’m kidding with this endurance sports analogy, but seriously – I got tired just watching her.)

If there were some kind of PhD program in cake baking, my wife has certainly earned it by now. The ironic thing is, she’s going to hate that I’m even writing about this – because she’ll feel a burden of expectation to match that accomplishment the next time, and the time after that, and on and on in the years to come. And really ... what ultramarathon or Ironman finisher can’t identify with those feelings?

So to avoid irritating her any further, I guess it’s time for me to stop talking about it.

19 comments:

Backofpack 6/7/07, 10:08 PM  

Spectacular! You have to click on the photo and get it big to really appreciate the details. The chocolate looks yummy!

Bruce 6/8/07, 2:48 AM  

Well we've heard about your kids running and artwork skills and now your wifes a champ in the kitchen, great stuff.

Hey just going back to the Bee for a minute, I was laughing to myself about your take on the kiwi accent. I still dont know how the judges could possibly mistake an E for an A, I for an E or a J for G. We're not that different.

Matt 6/8/07, 6:37 AM  

OMG! Get me some milk! I want to eat the summit.

stronger 6/8/07, 7:43 AM  

She's like the Ace of Cakes!

Deene 6/8/07, 8:03 AM  

she needs to enter one of those bake-off things at Foodnetwork! she's a birthday cake ironqueen.

rick 6/8/07, 11:22 AM  

I clicked on the image like "backofthepack" recommended. Wow, I have a major weakness for chocolate. How much cake equals 60 miles anyway, I'd like to know. Whew...already looking forward to the next cake. Tell her to go for a PR!

David 6/8/07, 4:50 PM  

The Army Corps of Engineers is on the phone. They want to talk to yuor wife.

Coach Tammy 6/8/07, 7:18 PM  

Nice! Yes "celebrating"... nice excuse. Blame the kids. Who can I blame for the 500 calories worth of Newman's Own Oreo cookies I just ate??? I better go adopt some kids. ;)

olga 6/8/07, 7:56 PM  

Sheesh! Your wife is a PRO! In my family I baked a banana bread - and everybody is supremely happy:) Can we borrow your wife for a kids' birthday?

Darrell 6/8/07, 9:47 PM  

Very creative.

Did you save me the icing? As I recall you are an eat the cake, skip the icing kind of guy.

Annette 6/9/07, 12:45 PM  

Your wife is quite the creative one! I'm impressed! It reminds me of my mom and the b-day cakes she would come up with for us. Although, I don't think she ever went to such heights! I'm guessing my mom is glad we don't require such feats anymore. :)

robtherunner 6/9/07, 6:30 PM  

Very impressive cake. I am going to show it to my wife and ask her why she never makes cakes like that for our kids. On second thought, maybe it's in my best interest to keep my mouth shut.

Megan 6/9/07, 8:45 PM  

um, my birthday is in exactly one month and I will bet my life that my cake won't look that good! Yummm!!!

angie's pink fuzzy 6/10/07, 12:12 PM  

pretty damn cool.

will she take special orders? :)

Phoenix 6/11/07, 8:27 AM  

She should go Pro! Get Betty Crocker on the phone!

E-Speed 6/12/07, 11:10 AM  

that cake is awesome! Ever since riding splash mountain in high school I have wanted to see Song of the South again. The music on that ride was so fun. Much better than "It's a small world" IMHO your daughter has great taste!

Makita 6/15/07, 3:12 PM  

That's awesome! I've only recently discovered your blog but I've come to love your sense of humor and writing style. And, to top that, you are an amazing athlete and an inspiration. Thank you. :)

Taryn 8/18/07, 8:13 PM  

I love the first line of this post... not realizing that we're constantly training for something... it really is true in so many ways!

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