A Very, Very, Too-Long, YOLO Tale

Guess what I did this past weekend?

Ran a marathon, that’s what.

The story is long, painful, and longer, but if you must know I will explain just how it happened. You might want to scroll to the bottom for a great recipe and skip all the blah-blah-blah. This post is long, long, and long. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Back in January when the air was freezing, the ground was snow-covered, and people were spewing resolutions left and right, my friend and I decided we would run our first (and last) marathon this year. Our unofficial theme would be: 26.2 before age 26. Yes, all hardcore marathoners have a theme. And yes, I am under the age of 26.

It seemed like a good idea, right? In my mind, if 45,000 people can line up every year to run the Chicago Marathon, than certainly I could join the masses. YOLO, right? (To anyone out there who isn’t up on trendy acronyms- YOLO means You Only Live Once … and yes, I hate it… and I would probably give you a moderately hard punch in the stomach if you ever used this acronym in front of me in a non-joking manner). But YOLO, so I signed up for my first (and last) marathon.

In all fairness, I am a bit of a runner. I fell in love at a young age when I would run laps around my house (no joke) in elementary school to ‘train’ for soccer and ballet. Indeed, some 4th grade ballerinas run to improve their dancing. My love for running grew when I successfully petitioned to compete with the boys cross country team in middle school, flourished in high school when I ran track and cross country, and only grew deeper when I joined a running club in college. One could argue that I needed to run at least one marathon in my lifetime to join the ranks of other runners who have crossed that same finish line. But truth be told, my truly competitive running days are long gone. These days, I mostly run for fun, for exercise, and for stress relief. In high school, we used to call runners with headphones and fancy athletic clothes ‘joggers.’ In recent years, I’ve evolved into a ‘jogger’ as I have grown addicted to my iPod and my matchy-matchy, dry-fit running outfits.

But, I digresss.

YOLO. We signed up for the Chicago Marathon. But then something happened. It started with a nagging foot injury that turned into a 6 week break in May-June. It seemed like my marathon dream was over. But leave it to my trusty running partner to lie to my face by telling me that taking six weeks off mid-training wasn’t a bad thing. An okay friend will tell you to give up, a real good friend will remind you that there is no mountain too high to climb. I’m forever indebted to her for her lies that led me to think that marathon running was still in my future. So we persisted after my short running break. But the pain returned with a vengeance in mid August. My achilles just didn’t want to run (or walk for that matter). This time my marathon dream was surely over. Correction: my marathon dream probably should have been over. But again, I’ve got quite a few very good friends who told me I wasn’t crazy for thinking the marathon was still within reach. Lies. Lies. Lies. But seriously, I am so thankful to all of them.

So I decided to lay low, skip runs left and right — and just keep telling myself, “YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, I will run this marathon.” I iced, I heated, I iced, I heated. I took more ibuprofen than recommended. I watched inspirational commercials on youtube and read quotes about people achieving goals. Does that make me lame?  I even took the elevator at work in an attempt to be nice to my poor achilles. To me, the elevator was the ultimate sacrifice I made in training (or not-training) for this race. I hate elevators.

Then came the big day. I’m not going to lie and tell you it felt great.  In truth, it felt mostly terrible. I don’t think I will ever understand how some people run marathons year after year. Props to all of them. There was certainly tears, sweat, and blisters – lots of blisters. There was a few hundred moments where I was pretty sure that I should quit. But with every step I ran, I knew the end was one step closer.

And then came the finish line. Seeing that finish line at the end of a 26.2 mile race is a feeling I really can’t put into words: pure joy.

For those interested in my training plan: 101 miles in July, 98 miles in August, and 26 miles in September. The farthest I ran was 16 miles and that run took place 7 weeks before my marathon. Then I ran the race. 26 miles in September. 26.2 miles in one day in October. This makes me LOL and ROFLOL, but mostly it reminds me YOLO. (Am I annoying you yet with all the YOLO? Don’t worry. There is more to come.) 

I’m sore today. I’ll be more sore tomorrow, the next day, and the next day after that.  I don’t think my feet will be blister-free for quite a few days. My achilles is irrationally mad at me and just the thought of climbing stairs hurts my muscles.

But, I’m done. And it feels good. Real good.

YOLO. YOLO. YOLO.

Speaking of YOLO, I think these cupcakes qualify as YOLO cupcakes. Chocolate chip cupcakes filled with eggless cookie dough filling and topped with cookie dough brown sugar frosting? YOLO for sure. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the inside.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Source: Annie’s Eats (Original Sources: Hello, Baker, The Cupcake Bakeshop, The Cupcake Review, and How to Eat a Cupcake)
Printable Recipe

Cupcakes:
3 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2C light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 2/3C AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1C milk
2tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

Filling:
4T unsalted butter, room temperature
6T light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/4C mini semisweet chocolate chips

Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2C light brown sugar, packed
2 1/3C powdered sugar
2/3C AP flour
1/2tsp salt
2T milk
2tsp vanilla extract

Garnish: extra chocolate chips

Start by making the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with paper liners (24). Combine butter and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients in small amount to the wet ingredients, but alternating with the milk. Ex: a scoop of flour mixture, blend, a glug or two of milk, repeat.
Blend in the vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide batter into tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they pass the ‘toothpick test.’ Cool slightly in pan – about 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool thoroughly.

While the cupcake cool – make the filling. Combine butter and sugar. Cream until fluffy. Beat in flour, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Add chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, until slightly firm.
Once filling has been refrigerated, remove from fridge. Cut a cone-shaped area out of each cupcake. Fill the hole with a piece of cookie dough mixture. Place cupcake top back on top of cupcake. (you may need to trim the bottom of the cone so it fits – I recommend you eat the scraps)

For the frosting, beat butter and brown sugar, until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, until smooth. Beat in flour and salt. Add in milk and vanilla, until well-blended.
Frost filled cupcakes. Decorate with mini chips. Enjoy!

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