I'm not saying I have a natural talent or anything like that. Mostly, I just follow the instructions in my Betty Crocker cookbook line for line and do my best not to forget that I've got something in the oven. Still, I find that there is nothing quite like taking a coffee cake or cobbler out of the oven and knowing that you made it from scratch.
Honestly, I've never had that much interest in cooking on the whole. With the exception of macaroni and cheese, I preferred to make dinners that required no heat and little time. This mostly consisted of sandwiches and various sides like potato chips. Nothing special.
Then we bought a house, and in this house, we have an incredible kitchen with an island that has more surface area than our first apartment had kitchen floor. We've got all the appliances and tools that we need, and plenty of room to work, so it seems a shame to waste it on sandwiches. I pulled out the cookbook and started making efforts, and for the most part, they've turned out pretty well. Of course, this is more credit to the author of the book than me, but you really shouldn't undervalue someone who knows how to follow directions.
My favorite cooking instruction is the one at the end. Usually something to the effect of, "Let sit for fifteen minutes before serving." They do this because if they didn't, someone would immediately reach his hand into the casserole and throw a hunk of food in his mouth, burning it horribly, and in his moment of agony, he would blame Betty Crocker. She can't have that kind of bad press, so she tells you to leave it alone until it's safe for human consumption. Common sense cannot be trusted to do this.
As for runners, we don't have much common sense in the first place. As I am constantly reminded by those who do not run, our entire sport borders on insanity. Why would you want to go out and pound the pavement for miles on end only to end up back where you started? With so little forethought and logic to our passion, it's only natural that someone has to state the obvious to us as well, which is why every marathon training program has a careful description of the taper.
Cutting your mileage leaves you with more energy, saves your legs, and will make your race day faster. It's obvious, but not easy. Many worry about a loss of fitness in that time, which would have the opposite effect on the objective in the race, but this is simply not so. The fitness has been built. The next three weeks will still have standard speed throughout, but the mileage will be dramatically less. In that time, energy will be banked and injury will be avoided, and everything else stays the same. Whatever your level of fitness is now, that's where you'll be on race day three weeks from today, and if you're happy with that, then you're in good shape.
I'm very happy with where I am, especially after today's 20-miler. With a pace over 45 seconds faster than last week, I still wasn't breathing hard, and I actually felt stronger at the end than I have ever felt after besting 20 miles. My speed times are there. My endurance is there. I'm ready. I'm cooked.
And now I get to wait. And cool.