Monthly Archives: July 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge 2011

For the past two years, I have taken on the North Face Endurance Challenge, and it has become one of my favorite races. I absolutely love trail running, and the Madison race provides a beautiful and challenging course.

In 2009 I did the half marathon.

I didn’t really race it because it was a month after Ironman WI, but I absolutely loved it. In 2010 I decided to take on the 50k, and you can read about it here.

This race resulted in my favorite finisher photo of all time.

Yikes. I am really bummed that this year’s race takes place one week after Ironman WI. I am thinking of doing the half marathon as a fun run just because I love it so much. I have big plans for the 50 miler in 2012.

The North Face put together a great little video about the race. The Madison course is specifically featured around the 2 minute mark.

North Face Endurance Challenge

If you are interested in the race, you can register here:

Hope to see you on the trails!


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Filed under Races, The run

Biking, biking, and more biking

Today Steve, our friend James and I drove out to Madison to bike on the Ironman course. The course is sort of a lollypop, where you head out in the beginning, do two loops, and head back. Today we did the red loop twice, for about 80 miles in 4 hrs 28 mins.

Here is the elevation:

If you are thinking “wow, that looks hilly,” you are correct. We did the section from approximately mile 16 to mile 96. Though it is an extremely challenging course, it is also really fun. It is beautiful, with lots of farms and red silos and cows and hills in every direction. Though the up-hills are tough, you can absolutely fly downhill, which is awesome. I actually cracked 40 mph today. I didn’t carry my camera on the ride because there was a chance of storms, but we did stop after the first loop to refuel.

I’m sorry I am such a dork, I can’t help it. Overall it was a great ride, though the second loop went slightly slower than the first on tired legs. By the time we finished I was beat.

This was a big training week. I ended up with 179 miles biking, 16 miles running, 2 swims, and all this after racing a half ironman last Sunday and taking Monday off. I am tired, my legs are tired, and I am so happy that this next week is a step-back week in training. One more huge build and then a three week taper before Ironman. I am so ready for this race to be here already!


Filed under The bike, Triathlon

Door County photos & winner

Swim start from the water:

Coming out of the swim:

The bike:

And…the run:


Finished. Thank goodness!


And the winner of the Gotein is:

Congrats Sarah! Email me at lunachickruns [at] gmail [dot] com with your address and I’ll send out your Gotein!


Filed under Giveaway, Races, Triathlon

Door County Half Iron Triathlon

Steve, James and I headed up to Door County, WI on Saturday to race in the half iron distance triathlon on Sunday. I was excited for this mostly because Door County is one of my favorite places on earth. As soon as we got into town, we headed to the race site to pick up our packets. Everything was well-organized, and there were a few tents set up selling clothing and gear. We walked down to the water to check out the swim start.

I’ve never seen a start line out in the water like that, but it was only about thigh-deep out there. We drove up to the town of Fish Creek where we were staying and checked in to our motel. After a quick trip to the bike shop across the street for CO2 cartridges, it was already time for dinner. We headed to a little Italian restaurant called Villagio’s. They boast about their famous marinara sauce, so I went for the spaghetti.

The sauce was very tasty, even though I am not too much of a pasta fan. After dinner we headed back to the motel to relax. Steve and I hung out on the swinging bench in the courtyard.

I was hydrating as much as possible in preparation for the extreme heat the next day.

Race morning I woke up at 5am and had to make my Starbucks via packet with hot tap water. The motel was lacking slightly in amenities (it didn’t even have a hair dryer), but it was cheap and in a perfect location, so I can’t complain. We loaded up the bikes and were on the road by 6:10. We pulled in to the race parking lot about 20 minutes later, and it was already hot and muggy. We picked up our timing chips and headed over to transition to get set up.

After that it was a lot of waiting around. The race started at 8am, but I was in wave 13 and wasn’t scheduled to start until 8:43. Steve and James were in wave 8, so they had almost a 20 min head start. The start was organized very well. One wave would wade in to the start line, and they would line up the next wave on the beach. Before I knew it, my wave was on deck. I entered the water with 68 other women in my age group, and we were off.

Swim – 1.2 miles – 43:12

I was a little nervous going into the swim because my shoulder has been bothering me a lot lately, and I haven’t been swimming as much as I should. Things were a little crowded out to the first turn, and then I found a rhythm. I felt like I was gliding through the water, and I knew that we had to be swimming with the current. Sure enough, when we turned for the back stretch of the course I was immediately hit in the face with some chop and almost choked. I tried to find my rhythm again, but it was tough. I felt like I was going nowhere, and I started to get passed a lot. It felt like I had been out there forever by the time I saw the last turn buoy. This was the most well-marked swim course I have ever seen, with plenty of buoys so sighting was never a problem. I was so glad when I reached the shore, and relieved that the swim was over. I got my wetsuit stripped by the great volunteers, and ran to my bike.

T1 – 2:48

Socks and bike shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, bib number on. I have no idea what took me so long with this. I remember having trouble with the straps on my left shoe. Velcro is hard, you know.

Bike – 56.3 miles – 2:58:48 – 18.8 mph average

I really enjoyed the bike course. The first 10 miles seemed like a gradual uphill, but the roads were smooth and I was feeling pretty good. I made sure to start taking in my nutrition right away, and plenty of water. It was starting to really heat up out there. I saw James and then Steve coming the other way when I was around mile 16, which was fun. I would say I passed a fair amount of people, probably because I am such a slow swimmer and had some ground to make up. I didn’t check my time once during the bike, but I thought I was moving pretty good. The last 10 miles I felt great, and was passing more and more people. I finally checked my time during the last half mile, and I have to admit I was disappointed. I thought I rode faster than that. I reminded myself that I was not working with fresh legs coming into this race, and I was doing my best.

T2 – 1:54

Bike on rack, helmet off, shoes changed, running hat on, gels in pocket. This time I had trouble with my shoelaces,  because tying is hard. Maybe I should look into those quick-yank laces.

Run – 13.1 miles – 2:00:58 – 9:14/mile average

By the time I started running it was around 12:30pm and oppressively hot. Temperatures were in the 90’s with a heat index over 100 degrees. I decided to run without my garmin, because I didn’t even want to know. I started plodding along, passing many people who were already walking the first mile. I took a gel around mile one, and drank as much water and gatorade as I could stomach throughout the run. My legs felt fine, but the heat was killer. I stopped at every aide station and poured water over my head and dumped ice in my shirt when it was available. The built-in sports bra in my tri top was perfect for this, because it would hold the ice cubes right on my chest and back.

There were shaded areas here and there throughout a lot of the run which was nice. There was a pretty steep hill at mile 6 that I walked up, and then “the bluff” just before mile 10. The bluff was no joke. It was so steep I’m not even sure it was possible to run up. I walked that entire hill as well, and stopped at the aide station at the top. Miles 10-13 were brutal. We were out in an open farm field, no shade, blazing sun. Most people were walking. I kept running along because I just wanted to finish the damn race. Given the amount of times that I stopped at aide stations and walked up the hills, I think my pace was actually pretty decent. The last quarter mile was a steep down hill to the finish line. I passed a woman in the finisher’s shoot and crossed the line with plenty of energy. I felt like I could have given so much more in this run, but it was just impossible with the heat.

Total time – 5:47:41

214/1087 overall

38/329 females

13/69 age group (F30-34)

I am happy with the race overall, but it definitely showed where my weaknesses are (ahem, swim and bike, ahem). Out of my age group, I was 46/69 in the swim, 23/69 on the bike, and 5/69 in the run. Out of all females I was 162/329 in the swim, 76/329 on the bike, and 21/329 in the run. See a pattern here? I wish I liked biking more, because that is the area where a big improvement would matter the most. I have a lot of riding to do before Ironman, so hopefully I can work hard and gain some speed.

I would like to give major props to the race staff and volunteers, who worked their butts off to make sure there was enough water, ice, gatorade, and dunk tanks in the extreme conditions. There was a 91% finishing rate, which I think is amazing. Nothing beat the ice cold dunk tanks at the finish line. I hopped right in and instantly felt so much better.

After hanging out at the finish area for a while and drinking some beer, we grabbed our stuff out of transition and loaded up the car.

I made Steve turn on the car and blast the A/C while we were loading the bikes so it would be nice and cool when we got in. I didn’t want to feel the sun again for a long time. After getting cleaned up, we enjoyed a few local Door County beers in the gazebo at the motel.

It took a while for a table to open up at the restaurant across the street, and by the time we sat down to eat, I was ravenous and a little tipsy. We started with some sangria.

What I really felt like:

For dinner we chowed down on some delicious salad and pizza. I had the veggie pizza, which had artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and goat cheese. So good.

Please check out my bicep in the above picture. Either that pizza was really heavy, or I am totally ripped.

After dinner, we did what anyone would do.

Frozen custard, duh.

Look at how concerned the lady behind me is. Don’t worry lady, I will finish it. I got the “Door County Inferno Snowball” sundae, which had tart cherries on the bottom, vanilla custard in a chocolate shell, and whipped cream. It was a totally random thing that I wouldn’t usually order, and to be honest it wasn’t that great. By now the rain had moved in, so we enjoyed our custard under the gazebo. I am sad to admit that I did not in fact finish my sundae, but not because I couldn’t have. It just wasn’t that stellar.

One day later, and the good news is that I am not really sore at all. Because of the heat, I wasn’t able to push it on the run, so my legs feel fine, just slightly tired. I am ready for a big training week starting tomorrow with tons of biking. It is going to be in the 90’s all week, but I guess I am ready for that now!


PS. If you want to have a really good chance of winning some Gotein, enter my giveaway here. It seems nobody wants it, so your odds are good Smile


Filed under Dessert, Food, Friends, Fun, The bike, The run, The swim, Triathlon

Door County Race Weekend

Steve and I are headed to Door Co, WI tomorrow to race a half-ironman on Sunday. This race is sort of a test on the road to Ironman. There was no taper, in fact we are at the end of two build weeks and I am feeling the fatigue.

It is going to be hot on Sunday, high around 90 I think, so it will be interesting. Mostly I am excited to get away in Door County for the weekend, because it’s one of my favorite places on earth.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I’ll be back early next week with a full report and lots of pictures!

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Filed under Races, Travel, Triathlon

Gotein Review & Giveaway


By now most all of blog land has heard of Gotein, the protein supplement that you simply add to a water bottle, shake, and enjoy. I tried to win some multiple times on various blogs with no luck, so I was psyched when I was contacted by Gotein to do a review.

I was a little disappointed when I opened the package and saw that all three flavors of Gotein that were sent to me contained “natural and artificial flavors.” I am not big on anything artificial in my food, but I looked past that for the sake of trying it out. The nutritionals are great. Each packet has 100-110 calories, 16-17 grams of protein, and 5-6 grams of carbs.

I decided to try my first packet after Steve and I came home from a long run in the heat. I was in a time crunch to get to an appointment, and this is where Gotein is very convenient. The directions say to drink 1/3 of a 16.9 oz bottle of water, add the Gotein, and shake it up. I am not a fan of disposable water bottles, so I used a bike bottle.

The flavor I tried first was chocolate (obviously), and it was actually really tasty. It reminded me of the little Swiss Miss hot chocolate packets. I think it would have been better with a little less water than I used, but it was still good.

For another unbiased opinion, I has Steve try the strawberry flavor. He will never think I am normal for photo-documenting every moment.

His verdict? He really liked the flavor. I didn’t care for the strawberry as much, it was just ok.

I also used some of the Gotein packets in smoothies, which I think was my favorite way to enjoy them.

Both the vanilla and strawberry flavors were delicious this way.

Pros: Convenient way to add some protein to your diet, could keep it in the car, your purse, or gym bag in case of snacking emergency, tasty, not chalky, great in smoothies

Cons: Artificial flavors, whey protein (I normally prefer plant-based proteins if I am adding them in powder form, but not a big deal if you don’t care about that)

Want to win some Gotein?

Here’s how to enter, do one of them or all of them:

1. Leave me a comment telling me your favorite protein smoothie, or your favorite way to get protein.

2. Like Gotein on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did

3. Spread the word! Link back to this giveaway and tell me in a separate comment

That’s it! I will pick a winner at random on Wednesday 7/20

Disclaimer: I was provided with Gotein in exchange for an honest review and was not compensated in any other way.


Filed under Giveaway, Nutrition, Product Reviews


Lately I have been lacking a little bit of mojo in my training. Namely, it’s the biking that’s getting me down. I am a runner through and through, and sometimes I question my decision to sign up for Ironman again. The Sunday rides are getting long, like 5-6 hours long. Steve and I did a 30 mile hilly ride  last night, and I was up bright and early this morning for a 16 mile run. When I got home I crashed for a bit, and then decided I needed to find some motivation. I love watching Ironman clips on YouTube and after watching a few, I started to get excited again. This is the video they show during the athlete’s dinner two nights before the race, and it really gets everyone pumped up.

Ironman–You Will Do This

Then I dug through my computer and found a video of me about to cross the finish line in 2009. Steve took this from the bleachers at the finish line, and I had no idea where he was.

Ironman WI Finish 2009

You can hear Mike Riley say my name at the end, but the video cut out before he said “You are an Ironman!!”

What is it about watching these that gives me the chills and gets me a little choked up? What’s the big deal?

It’s the fact that after months and months of hard work, you have one day to put it all out there. You sacrifice during training. You give up sleep, late night drinks, a clean house, and sometimes your sanity. You train like it’s your part time job, because that’s how much time it takes. You work out twice a day because you have to. You get up at 5:25 and head to the pool to swim endless laps before work. You set your alarm for 6am on a Saturday to go on your long run before the heat tries to kill you. You give up your entire Sunday because you will be out riding all.freakin’.day. You give up a lot and for what?

Dare I say that what you gain actually outweighs all of it. It’s a chance to learn what you are made of, and what you are capable of. When you cross that finish line, you are not just finishing that race on that one day. You have come to the starting line ready, prepared, because of all you have given up and all of the work that you have done. When you cross that line you are finishing what took months or even years to build up to. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to go on this journey. It’s not always smooth and there are highs and lows, but the outcome is worth it. I try to remember that.

We are capable of more than we think.



Filed under The bike, The run, The swim, Triathlon, Workouts