It’s been a little over three weeks since I raced in Hawaii. Even though the race was a disappointment and I chose to not run and took the DNF’ed instead, the trip there was absolutely amazing. Kona is a unique experience and practically the only race I’ve ever done where amateur athletes feel like sporty rock stars. I love the week leading into race day—swimming off of “Dig Me” beach; reconnecting with race friends who live all over the world; the traditional Underpants Run; cruising around the Expo; and hanging with teammates. The following week, we headed over to Kau’ai where we kayaked, explored and ate (A lot of the latter).  So what if 3.5 hours of that race were absolutely one of the lowest points of my racing career……the rest of the time in Hawaii was magical.

One of the pre race get togethers with Enve Wheels and Betty Designs-Easy ride up the Queen K highway followed by breakfast at-where else……….Lava Java

 

The food was far better in Kauai than in Kona. Verde Restaurant in Kapa’a featured authentic Mexican food–a slow-cooked carne asada tostada with a margarita for good measure topped off our day of kayaking and exploring

I returned from Kau’ai and was ready to train. Because my race specifically lacked even an attempt of the run portion, I recovered quickly. Jene and I were actually trying to figure out what a I DNF’ed KONA MDOT tattoo would look like LOL….does anyone have any great ideas? Aside from a couple of hours attending my pity party for one,  I wasn’t completely broken up about the DNF BUT doing so did fuel my fire to race long course well next year. Is there an Ironman on the horizon? Today, I dunno and TBD. This marks the first end of the season since 2007 when I haven’t had any issues keeping me from me from stringing together 2 years of full race seasons. Running tends to be my strong suit and I used to do a fair amount of running races. I thought “what not a better time to return to a little more concentrated running?”, so on the flight home, fueled by a couple of glasses of wine, I decided that what would be best for me and my psyche would be to scratch out a run plan for  winter run racing slated to start ASAP.   I optimistically and cavalierly ran this by Coach Kurt.  Needless to say that I wasn’t met with enthusiasm but rather this:

KP You need an off season. You need to dial it back.

ME Yeah, I know (long pause) but I think I’m in a good place to train for a few running races (not super convincing, I’m sure)

KP You still need rest

ME But I didn’t run a  &%$@* marathon off the bike?!?!?!

KP Yes but you had a long and relatively successful season

ME But I feel good (just slept 10 hours the last 3 nights)

KP You won’t improve next year if you don’t rest now

ME But what about me doing well at winter running races?????????!!!!!!!!????? I’m healthy *&%$@

KP You need to rest. And you will still do well

As much as I wanted to jump into my maligned, pie-in-the-sky  somewhat aggressive plan of run training; I heeded to Kurt’s wisdom. I pay a coach for a reason and while I think it’s an endurance athlete’s nature to balk at conservative post season guidance, I forced an explanation (or six or eight) to his reasoning, complete with stories with other athletes he knows who didn’t take the right amount of rest and dug themselves into larger fatigue holes.  After hearing Kurt out; I felt that rejecting his guidance would just be remiss on my part.

Soooooo, I’ve been “resting” and “exercising” instead of training specifically for a sequence of races (Yoga anybody?) and therefore am finding myself with a little more time on my hands. In some weird way, I’ve been enjoying this unstructured 3 weeks (despite the fact that I feel a little out of shape).

And I’ve been cooking a fair amount.  One of the many reasons that Geoff loves the off-season, or, as he calls it, Spouse Season.  Meals are well thought out and there are no restrictions.  As much as I like delving into complicated recipes and cooking methods, I tend to repeat recipes that are quick, easy and don’t require a lot of equipment. Below is one such recipe for a decadent chocolate tart that I’ve been making for catering jobs, potlucks and an occasional thank you present. It’s chock full of rich dark chocolate and sweetened with maple syrup and it checks most of the boxes (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free).  Even though berries are still available in the San Diego area, I’ve been garnishing it with winter-ish fruit and color such as slices of Fuyu persimmons, pomegranate seeds and edible dried flowers. I use a food processor for the crust and blender for the filling.  It’s the kind of sweet and satisfying dessert indulgence where a little goes a long way.

This relatively healthy dark chocolate tart can be a finale to a winter dinner or sneak a forkful when the afternoon chocolate craving hits.

Rich Dark Chocolate Tart with Coconut Cream

Recipe

Special Equipment

  • 1 each 9” or 10” inch round tart pan with removable bottom OR rectangular 4 1/2″ x 13 3/4″ pan. You could also use a spring form pan but you will need to freeze tart before you unmold.
  • Blender
  • Food Processor

Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 Cup Raw or Roasted Walnuts and/or Pecans (single nut or mixture of both depending on your preference)
  • 2 Cups pitted Medjool Dates
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • Foil or parchement paper to line pan

Method

  • Pulse Nuts in Food Processor until somewhat chopped
  • Add Dates, Salt and Coconut Oil and pulse until mixture just starts to come together like cookie dough
  • Remove mixture and press into tart pan. You can press a small amount partially up the sides
  • Set aside and make the filling

Filling

  • 8 ounces Dark Chocolate (I like to use an 85% dark chocolate but anything from semi sweet to extra dark will work). You can use chips, morsels and/or chopped chocolate
  • 2/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Maple Syrup (please use the real stuff) or Agave Nectar
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ Cup Hot Coffee (I brew a bigger pot than usual in the morning and reheat the leftover in a microwave)
  • 1 Cup Cocoa Powder

Method

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave. It doesn’t have to be 100% melted as the friction from the blender plus the heat from the coffee will continue to melt it while it’s blending. Melt the coconut oil (I do this a glass measuring cup so I can see the measure the coconut oil melted with ease)

  • Combine all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth
  • Pour into tart shell
  • Cool in refrigerator until firm–I sometimes freeze mine so it sets faster.
  • To serve, cut into pieces with knife dipped into hot water and wiped dry after cutting each slice
  • Garnish with coconut whipped cream, pomegranate seeds and dried rose petals

Variation

Oh So Nutella Substitute Toasted Hazelnuts for the Nuts in the crust; add 2 Tbsp of Frangelico or another Hazelnut Liqueur to Base and replace the ¾ cup of Coffee with 2/3 Cup Water. Garnish with Chopped Roasted Hazelnuts and Chocolate Shavings

Cheers to the Off Season. I’m headed out for a run, errrr, I mean “JOG”.