pieathlon – or, how to bake 12 pies in 48 hours

About 6 months ago a friend of mine made a proposition to me.

“You should do a triathlon with me,” she said.

“Hey that sounds cool, no way!” I replied, quite set in my refusal.

“No really, you should. It’s no big deal at all, and we can train together. I did one this summer right after going to Burning Man, so I’m pretty sure you would be 100% fine.”

And that was that.

Over the next few months, I trained (not very diligently, I must admit), sometimes with her, sometimes solo, but always with the bemused feeling of denial that I could ever actually pull off a triathlon. It was the idea of swimming that killed me. After having experienced a few freak, terrifying encounters with unforgiving riptides in Southern California and rapids in Costa Rica, it was harder than I expected to shake the feeling of impending suffocation and doom every time I emerged myself in water. Open water, especially, is a doozie.

There are not a lot of options around San Francisco for swimming. There are even fewer options (read none) for swimming in open water that is not arctic temperature. Since the swim was going to be held in the Bay, it seemed wise to also train in the Bay, where water temperature hovers in the low 50s fahrenheit. Even with a wetsuit and the conviction of a badass, that is c o l d.

But being the intrepid (stupid?) {soon-to-be} triathlete that I was, I took the plunge.

As it would happen, the weekend of the triathlon brought with it a cold front that dropped the temperature of the water down to the 40s. The race directors, not wanting their entrants to experience hypothermic shock, cut the swim portion of the race, modifying it instead to a run-bike-run setup. You don’t have to be a math wizard to figure out that two types of physical activity is not three, and that this triathlon was not going to be a triathlon at all, but rather a duathlon.

Duathlons are fun and all, but I wanted to be a triathlete, dangit. I signed up for the Napa Valley Sprint Triathlon, to be held May 1st at Lake Berryessa. Race day came fast, and though the swim portion of the race felt a little bit like the final scenes in Titanic, with hundreds of gasping bodies struggling to stay afloat and keep warm (this imagery did not help my fear of open water), I survived! I had told myself my two goals for the day were not to drown or cry, so with that as a measure of success, it can be said that my first triathlon was a huge hit.

How could I ever hope to top such a feat of physical and mental endurance? A pieathlon, of course! May turned out to be a month of milestones in the form of athlons. A friend invited me on a Wednesday to be a food vendor at an event that Friday evening. I had never vended any of my edible wares before, but this has been a dream brewing inside me for awhile, so I jumped at the opportunity. I promptly requested the day off on Friday, and made a plan to buy ingredients, prepare pie crusts, and bake 12 pies in the 48 hours between Wednesday and Friday afternoon.

There were surprisingly few catastrophes. Just that one time when I accidentally hit the wooden spoon on the spinning blender blade, sending shards of splintered wood throughout the silken tofu I was preparing for the vegan chocolate cream pie. I could not in good conscience continue to use the splinter-ridden mixture (though I have to admit, for a split second I considered it).

48 hours and 4 varieties of pie later, I was at the event (a dance party/fundraiser called Bikes n Beats) standing behind a table in an apron accepting cash for slices of the pies I had lovingly (and a little frantically) slaved over. It was surreal to watch people get excited about pie that I had made, and then give me money for said pie. Even better was when they would come back later to tell me how delicious the pie was that they had eaten. True, most of them were on at least one type of stimulant or depressant, but I nonetheless took their enthusiasm and appreciation as some of the best compliments I could hope to receive.

And so it begins. The slow but sure realization of a dream to spend an increasing number of hours of my life baking pie, and getting paid to do it. Just as completing a triathlon seemed like an impossibility until very recently, so too did selling my pies. But Spring is a time for new beginnings (or something), so here’s to pie and here’s to making lots of money so I can make even more pie!

The Pies

Vegan apple
(adapted from this tried-and-true apple pie recipe, using vegan butter crust you can find here.)

Vegan Chocolate Cream
(rich and delicious, from a previous PSOP recipe here.)

(Candied pecan goodness, made with maple syrup and molasses instead of corn syrup. Recipe was already a hit in PSOP’s book, and you can find it here.)

Strawberry Rhubarb
(the biggest hit of the night. My first foray into baking with rhubarb; blog post and recipe coming soon!)

** Photographs by Alison Lambert **

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2 Responses to pieathlon – or, how to bake 12 pies in 48 hours

  1. Adri says:

    Triathlon and a pieathlon are just a few steps away from a marathon…just think about it 🙂

  2. jessi says:

    I would much rather eat three pies that do a triathlon, but more power to you, Freshie.

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