Entering the Taper

Houston, we have lift-off.  “Really, Mama, with obstacles so primed for climbing, you’re making this way too easy for me…week 3-1and chewing on your shoes from the floor? Simple. I need a new vantage point.”

The pendulum is swinging in our house. I’m toning down my activity and Baby Boy is revving his engine more each day. Crawling is awesome; picking up every little speck of who-knows-what off the floor and putting it in the mouth, umm, not so much. Anyway, tapering can have a huge spectrum of definitions for people, and in the past I’ve approached the taper many ways myself. The marathon taper for me is how I train in the last three weeks before the race. It’s a slow easing off of the gas – or the foot-feed as many an Iowa farmer will refer to it – to let the legs/body recover from many weeks of hard training. Let the muscles take stock of all the miles run and sort of rebuild some muscle confidence. (This idea of muscle confidence relates to the mental-running bit I mentioned last week. I’m still working on that. To be continued…)

This week, week 3 ’til the marathon, was the first week of my taper. I ran two pretty hard workouts but with many fewer miles overall. Before looking at Week 3 in running, get a load of part of this week’s recipe:pear-1-2Capturing these cranberries and pear slices, I knew I needed to marry these fruits. So the egg came before the chicken in this case. Read on for the recipe; first, here is this week’s training…

Marathon Training Countdown, Week 3:

  • Monday: 4E
  • Tuesday: 9E
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: 11 (2E 4 x 2 miles @ T-6:19pace with 2 min rest between each, + 1E)  Although my legs were still feeling a little spent from 22 on Sunday, the 8 tempo miles were fine. I finished the 4th of the repeat 2 miles feeling tired, but like I could do a 5th if asked. That’s how a tempo or interval workout should end. Finishing feeling absolutely spent would not be ideal but asking for injury.
  • Friday: 4E
  • Saturday: 18 (2E 3 x 2 miles @ T-6:19pace with 2 min rest, + 10E) Running this on Sunday may have been better to give myself an extra several hours between this and Thursday’s run, but I needed to work around my husband’s work schedule. So this was an afternoon run. As you can see, the “hard” part was similar to Thursday’s workout with one less repetition. It felt about the same, tough but very manageable. The last two or three miles of the 18, my legs did fatigue but complied to finishing the long run without putting up much of a fit. Now, all going as planned, my last tempo run will be this coming Wednesday. That timing will give the legs a full week and a half to really soak in the last bit of recovery/taper and be ready to be tested in a race.
  • Sunday: 4E
  • Total: 50 miles

Chocolate Poached Pear-Cranberry Torte with Red Wine Reduction Sauce

The steps to this recipe are as long as the name. It’s all good.

Start with poaching three pears:pear-1

  • 3 pears, ripe but firm, peeled, halved, cored
  • 1 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 3/4 c brown sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 T vanilla extract)
  • 1 star anise or cinnamon stick (or use about 1 t. ground)
  • 1 c fresh cranberries

To a small saucepan bring wine, 1/2 c brown sugar, vanilla, and star anise to a  boil. Once at a boil, add pear halves and reduce to simmer. Parts of the pears will probably be sticking out of syrup, so it’s important to turn them occasionally. Poach pears until they are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool in syrup for about 10 minutes. Remove pears and arrange flat-side down in 9-10inch tart pan.

Put pear poaching wine sauce back on medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes to continue reducing it. Remove vanilla and star anise, and add 1 cup rinsed fresh cranberries and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the cranberries have popped open.

Strain out cranberries and arrange them around the poached pear halves.pear-1-4Return the wine reduction sauce to the saucepan one last time. Cook it until it’s reduced by about half once again. Remove from heat and set this aside to cool. This you will use to drizzle over the torte slices.

Between poaching your fruit, find space and time to concoct the chocolate torte. pear-1-5I like this chocolate but any dark chocolate will work.

  • 7 oz dark chocolate
  • 4 T butter or coconut oil
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 4 eggs separated

In double boiler, melt chocolate and butter or coconut oil. Separate egg whites and yolks. Whip egg whites until stiff and set aside. In another bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt. While stirring, add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in whites but don’t over-mix. Bake torte at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool for at least one hour. I prefer to serve this chilled out of the refrigerator. Serve with wine reduction.pear-1-3

Luscious.

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