I ran my 8K yesterday! I was actually pretty nervous before it started. What if I hurt my ankle part way through? What if I couldn’t run the whole way? What if I tripped and fell and everyone behind me ran me over? What if I really had to pee during the race? I mean, I had to drink a bunch of water the 24 hours beforehand so that I’d stay hydrated. I have a small bladder. Do I just dart into a Starbucks? This was by far my biggest concern. Luckily, I made it all the way without any problems.
My final time was 49.36, which was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. I didn’t have any major goals since it was my first race, I just really wanted to be able to run the whole way. And that goal was achieved! My friend and I ran most of the way together, which really helped keep us both on pace. But the last mile she was feeling mostly spent, and I was getting a burst of energy, so I went ahead and was waiting to give her high fives at the finish line.
I used to hate running so much, but this was by far one of the most fun things I’ve done this year. It was just amazing. The route was gorgeous, we started right by the White House and ran down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. Then we went up to Union Station, back south running right beside the Capitol, down into a less scenic part of the city, then back up and ran down the Mall, and then back onto Pennsylvania toward the White House to finish where we started. The crowd was huge, it was so much easier to run when surrounded by all that energy and excitement. And when you finish, there are lots of people lining the street cheering you on as you run under the big balloon arch. And then they give you free food to refuel!
I already excited to find another race to do. I’m thinking maybe a 5K, or I’d love to do 8 again, but I’m not sure I’m ready for 10 yet. I’d like to improve my pace at the shorter distance first. I think my goal will be to get down to a 9 minute mile next time.
For me, one of the best parts about running a race was that for the rest of the day, I felt totally justified in eating whatever I wanted. So I may have had two slices of this cake. And some pad thai, and a few cookies my roommate made, on top of the big brunch I had with my friends after we ran, at which mimosas were drunk.
Strawberries are my second favorite berry, right behind raspberries.
The idea for this cake came from a good friend from college, who was in DC this weekend to interview at a med school.
I said I’d make a cake while she was here, and she wanted something that was like a cheesecake brownie. So I settled on a rich chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, and for good measure, some mashed up strawberries.
Because this is a chocolate cake with a white frosting, you pretty much have to do a crumb layer of icing, or risk a very speckled frosting. This is pretty much the ugly duckling of cakes right now. But it gets better, I promise.
Oh yeah, and because we are super classy, we had pink cocktails served in my Scripps martini glasses.
Chocolate and Strawberries Cake
Cake recipe from Bon Appetit, Frosting from Pioneer Woman
½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
½ cup boiling water
½ cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Position rack in center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease two 8” cake pans, lining the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and greasing that as well.
Combine cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour ½ cup boiling water over cocoa powder and chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk. Set mixture aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl. In an electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Beat in dry ingredients and chocolate mixture.
Transfer to prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake until a tester comes out clean 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes, then cut around pan sides to loosen cakes before turning out onto racks. Peel off parchment paper and cool completely.
½ pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
2 lbs strawberries
6 tbsp granulated sugar
Reserve a few strawberries for garnish if you’d like. Stem strawberries and slice them in half. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 4 tbsp granulated sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. Divide the strawberries in half and mash up with a fork (you don’t have to make it a pulp, you can leave some pieces mostly whole). Sprinkle each bowl with 1 tbsp sugar and let sit for another 30 minutes.
Combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and a dash of salt in a mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy.
Place one layer of chocolate cake on serving platter or plate. Top with half of the mashed strawberries. Spread a little less than 1/3 of the icing over the strawberries. Place second layer on top. Put the rest of the strawberries on top of the cake. Add half of the remaining icing and spread over strawberries. Use the remaining frosting to ice the sides of the cake. If you kept some strawberries whole, you can slice them and use to garnish the cake.
Store cake in the fridge and serve slightly chilled.