I played JV soccer until the end of my sophomore year of high school when I decided to focus on playing violin instead because I was way better at it. I also stopped playing because I HATED running and in order to try out for varsity soccer in junior year, I’d have had to run 2 miles on the track without stopping in 18 minutes. I said, “HELL no,” and proceeded to spend the rest of my high school years as a proud member of the orchestra, which I loved.
From that point until about a year and a half ago, I didn’t run at all, but one day last year I woke up and decided I wanted to start running as a way to exercise more and to spend more time outdoors. I started sloooow. I remember running from 155th St. and Saint Nicholas Ave down Riverside Drive to 122nd St near Grant’s Tomb and after that distance, about a mile and a half, I was pissed, sweaty, angry, and totally bummed at how little stamina I had. Slowly, I began running farther and farther, and now, a year and a half later, I run the full Central Park loop without thinking twice.
A few days ago, after happily running the loop one morning, and after itching for the past several months to run more competitively, I knew it was time to go one step further so I signed up for a half marathon. It’ll take place the first weekend of May on Long Island. My first thought as I clicked “submit” and paid my fee was, “Woo hoo! I’m going to kick some butt!” and now I’m sort of scared, wondering why I’d do such a thing, and trying to figure out how I’m going to train properly while working full time, rehearsing for an opera, blogging, and having a life. We’ll make it happen.
Training for this half is going to be a step out of my running and life comfort zone, for sure, but I’m ready to work towards this new goal, which I never thought I’d have in a million years.
You know what else I’ve been doing these days besides signing up for this race? I’ve been making dulce de leche. I found the method for making it here and have been obsessed over how easy, cheap, and ridiculously amazing it is to turn a can of sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. It’s SO good! And practically effortless! This dulce de leche is perfect plopped into a cup of coffee, smeared onto an apple or just eaten right off a spoon (my preferred method of consumption), but after searching for desserts to make with it, I came up with the perfect solution: Alfajores!
Alfajores, cookies which you’re likely to find if you travel to Argentina or Peru, are essentially simple butter and sugar cookie sandwiches filled with dulce de leche. They may seem like cute, managable cookies as they sit on a platter looking clean cut and with a bit of confectioners’ sugar on top, but in reality they’re overwhelmingly sweet and creamy sandwich cookies that dance in your mouth and cause your taste buds to immediately want to reach for another once you’ve finished one. The outer cookies, which seem to be non-entities compared to the dulce de leche, are actually sturdy, flaky, buttery discs that yield perfectly to the filling. They are really, really good. Post run snack, anyone? Juuust kidding
I’ll keep you posted on the status of my new running adventure in addition to all my cooking ones. I’m a little scared at this point, but I have a few months to train, and even though I don’t know how the whole thing is going to turn out, I do know that I’m motivated by the challenge, and will leave the rest to training and my competitive personality. I know it’s in there somewhere.
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