Why We Ride

Team IRON EAGLES is a group of friends and family dedicated to fighting Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We join forces to raise money for the NATIONAL MS SOCIETY to support the great PROGRAMS they have available to help members of the community and to support the exciting RESEARCH being done in the field. We blog about why we ride, our experiences at fundraising events, our fundraisers and training tips. We also have links to information on MS and MS research. JOIN US!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Marathon Experience (Article for Rocky Mountain Running Magazine)

Choosing to Fly
By Marianne Hales Harding

I’m used to runners passing me like I’m standing still—it happens on every training run—but it’s an entirely different feeling to have thousands of runners pass you like you’re standing still.

Aerial footage of the start line of the St George Marathon must have looked like salmon swimming upstream around a large rock. A slow runner at my first marathon, all I wanted to do was swim upstream with the rest of the salmon but I knew I could never keep up. Not for 26.2 miles. So I plodded along until the 5 hour pacer approached from behind. I waited for the group to pass, but they kept plodding alongside me. For a few minutes I thought I would actually run a 5 hour marathon, but then they started inching ahead of me. Instinctively I pushed forward to keep up but, again, I knew I couldn’t maintain that. I went back to my pace and watched them creep slowly into the horizon. Farewell, chatty pacer. Farewell, 79 year old woman who ran Boston twice. Farewell, lady wearing a stuffed fox on her head. It was nice knowing you.

I have learned what my body can and can’t do, though, and a 5 hour marathon is the latter. I started learning my limits 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In those days my marathon was getting from the couch to the bathroom. It took all of my energy and determination to cross those few feet of carpet. Inevitably I would pace myself too fast and run out of energy halfway. I was overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of symptoms. The entire left side of my body was numb. I could hardly walk. The stairs were as unconquerable as Mt. Everest. Not understanding the disease, I mistakenly thought I’d never walk normally again. But MS is an unpredictable disease. Crippling symptoms can stay or go, seemingly on a whim. Eventually I learned to take a slower pace but at the time I was always running at full capacity and burning out quickly.

On marathon day my pace was even slower than usual because I decided, at the base of Veyo Hill, to walk all of the inclines. This became less and less indulgent as the temperature in the desert climbed. The heat intensified all of my complaints. I started feeling it in my feet at mile 8. I felt my hips at mile 10, my knees at mile 13 and my Ibuprofen at mile 15. I acknowledged each like children on a long trip. “Are we there yet?” Not yet. Eventually they stopped clamoring for my attention—evidence of the large percentage of a marathon that is purely mental.

When I was diagnosed with MS I had a horrible fear of needles, which was a problem because all of the treatments involve needles. I decided I needed to overcome this fear. For a month, I practiced. I forced myself to look when given shots and I gave practice shots to random inanimate objects. Finally I decided to just do it. I sat down on the bathroom floor and prepared a spot on my thigh. I took a deep breath and slowly lowered the needle, but as soon as it pierced my skin I pulled it back, leaving a little prick of blood as evidence. I tried again with the same results. For 45 minutes I did this, leaving a quarter-sized spot entirely covered with tiny prick marks. When I finally kept the needle in long enough to push the plunger down I wept from sheer emotional exhaustion. Over 3000 shots later, it is no longer a big deal but that isn’t because I have overcome my fear of needles. I simply stopped indulging the fear. I couldn’t spend 45 minutes of every day in terror so I skipped straight to shooting up and going on with my day.

It was that mental fortitude that kept me going mile after mile and I decided the secret to endurance must be simply not indulging in the desire to stop. The reward was the most amazing vistas. At one point a runner said to me, “The best part of a marathon is the finish line!” I said, “Are you kidding? This is the best part of the marathon!” The St George Marathon runs through a breathtaking section of southern Utah’s desert. About halfway through I looked at the red rock towering in the distance, felt the soul-feeding solitude, and considered myself incredibly lucky to be able to be in this moment, to have run the last three hours and to be able to run three hours more.

I am not an athlete. Even before the MS diagnosis I wasn’t one to push myself physically. When I lift heavy objects it is to bring them from the trunk to the pantry. When I swim it is to rescue the beach ball. When I run it is to capture the escaping dog. Serious athleticism was never something that seemed within my realm of possibilities. But I found that you don’t have to be the winner of the race to get something out of it. Emotionally, it felt so good to pound the problems of the day into the pavement. And, physically, I have never felt better. I have fewer MS episodes and recover quicker from the ones I do have. This realization got me excited about athletics. I completed several short triathlons, a half marathon and two 75 mile bike rides.

From those experiences I thought I knew what race day would be like, but I was entirely unprepared for the power of that midpoint in the marathon--for how amazing it would be to feel so in control of my own destiny. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “Why Walk When You Can Fly?” played on my iPod and I wept. “In this world there’s a whole lot of trouble; In this world there’s a whole lot of pain; In this world there’s a whole lot of trouble but a whole lot of ground to gain. Why take when you could be giving, why watch as the world goes by?; It’s a hard enough life to be living, why walk when you can fly?”

The finish line was nowhere near as emotional as that moment. Later my nephew asked facetiously if crossing the finish line made me feel empowered. It didn’t. When you a run a 6 hour marathon, the party at the finish line is over. 96% of the runners have already crossed and gone home. Crossing the finish line seemed anticlimactic, perhaps because I was too tired to think about what it meant. Back in the red rock at the midpoint, though, I remembered every step of the journey from the unconquerable stairs to the conquered desert landscape. I remembered feeling beaten down by life and then feeling powerful. I remembered choosing to fly.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Old Yeller, our gum ball machine, is now officially a Jawbreaker machine!  And it has found a home for the holidays at the Water Gardens theater in Pleasant Grove. Yahoo!  Thank you Water Gardens!!  So go watch a movie and look for Old Yeller near the front door.  The Jawbreakers are really yummy and I love that they are long-lasting.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A new challenge!

It's official! Michelle, Bill & I are going to Adventure Race for Africa! We have formed a team for this unique race which is a triathlon but instead of swim/bike/run it is.....CANOE/bike/run. Along the way we get to complete challenges that help us learn more about the charity we are supporting. Look for us on July 14th out at Utah Lake! Better yet, form a team and race with us!!!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Marathon!

Well, it has been a month since the big marathon (October 1) and I'm definitely still feeling it. The general soreness was gone by Tuesday but my feet are still sore(ish) and my toes are still numb (off and on). Of course, my hand is always numb for weeks after the BikeMS ride too! It's interesting to compare these two events. Both are amazing, but the marathon (for me) was a much more soul-searching solitary event. BikeMS is a total party. Maybe that's because my sister rides with me but she didn't run with me. Michelle makes any event a total party!

Shortly after the marathon I had the opportunity to write about it for the Rocky Mountain Running Magazine (I will post a link when the November issue comes out) and it was great to be able to try to figure out how to convey the experience in 1000 words. It was also very hard! There are so many stories involved with how I came to run the marathon and how I was able to finish the marathon. The magazine article focuses on the MS journey but there were so many other journeys too. I think that's part of what is so attractive about this kind of physical exertion: having a physical reminder of our unconquerable spirit.

I'm now a marathon missionary. I want everyone to have as cool an experience as I had! I can't imagine living life without ever having experienced that! It was one of those experiences that truly feeds your soul. Plus I built up some really strong legs. I love that! Can't wait to run it again!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gumball Machine

UPDATE (January 2012):  Old Yeller is now a Jawbreaker machine :-)  We have placed it at the Water Gardens movie theater in Pleasant Grove.  They have been very generous to allow us to keep the machine at their theater.  Water Gardens theater is a great place to see a movie.  $3 movies.  $1, $2 and $3 candy/popcorn.  Great movie selection.  Family-oriented.  Good people.  Go see a movie, get a jawbreaker and tell the management you love the yellow jawbreaker machine :-)

This is Old Yeller.  Our faithful gumball machine.  We acquired it at a garage sale a few years ago.
In the past it has been placed at The Water Gardens movie theater in Pleasant Grove and at Monkey Island in Lehi.  Currently it is in our garage.  Even though it is still making some money (from our kids and the neighbor kids :-) we would love to see it placed in a business again.  Here are some pictures of the gumball machine and a record of how much we've made with it so far.

Money Earned
Placed at the Water Gardens just before Thanksgiving 2008
Dec. 3, 2008 $65.31
Jan. 6, 2009 $80.28
Feb. 3, 2009 $43.50
Mar. 6, 2009 $10.25
April 3, 2009 $22.00
May 19, 2009 $29.50
Sep. 4, 2009 $90.00 
Dec. 10, 2009 $27.27
Jan. 9, 2010 $22.56
Mar. 16, 2010 $32.00
Placed at Monkey Island second week in December 2010
Dec. 30, 2010  $54.80
Mar. 15, 2011 $84.11
June 2011 $91.76
July 16, 2011   $24.30
Sept. 15, 2011 $58.77
Placed at Water Gardens theater Nov. 23, 2011
Jan. 12, 2012 $135.21

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeling The Love :-)

I just got the sweetest reply to my letter to the Bad Ass Coffee Company regarding how much we LOVED their volunteers at the Bike MS ride in June. I'll try to get it scanned so you can see the pictures but here is what they said:

"Dear Marianne

Thank you so much for the wonderful letter and pictures. Alex Kim and his wife Cathy were rest stop captains in Weston that day. When Tim returned after scouting the route with an update of your status, no one was going anywhere until you made it back to Weston.

I was told about your group by Alex that evening after the ride. What you may not know is the tremendous impact you had on our volunteers. It was a fantastic event, an amazing ride and a lot of fun but the reason for being there is to support those who need it most. I scanned your letter and shared it with the team. I want to thank you for your courage and persistence and giving special meaning that day to an entire group of people. You are the true Bad Ass and honorary member of the team.

With Best Regards,

Ann Hoffman"

Maybe this is my Blue/White personality coming out, but connections like this are what makes Bike MS so much more than just a fun event. I love it!!! Thank you, Michelle, for starting us on this crazy fun journey 7 years ago!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I was talking with my fellow marathoner neighbor (who has run 7 or 8 of these things!) and she said that she was getting a little burned out, which she noted was normal for this stage of training (7 weeks until race day). I let out a huge sigh of relief. I am so burned out! I thought perhaps it meant that running wasn't for me after all. I've already discovered I'm considerably slower than the entire human race and I began to wonder if the universe wasn't trying to send me a message when my triumphal finish at the last two races I ran was somewhat less than triumphal.

So, anyhow, 4 days a week of running has made me a bit burned out. My plan to combat that is to replace one run with a swim and weights day (love swimming laps!) and to do a lot more visualization about race day as I run. That's what we're all doing this for, right? That adrenaline filled day of exertion! Oh, I'm also going to run a couple of courses that I've never run before.

What do you do to combat burnout?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary Kay for MS

MK for MS!

Here it is!  MK for MS (a.k.a Mary Kay for Multiple Sclerosis)  For the month of August (MK for MS ends Aug. 30, 2011), every order I place I will donate all the proceeds to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.   That's up to 50% of the retail price of any Mary Kay item!  Already have a Mary Kay consultant?  No problem.  Ask your MK consultant if he/she would like to participate in the MK for MS campaign.  He/she can donate part or all of the profits from your sale right here on the blog (click the fundraising center links on the right to donate).

So what do you need to do?  Simply choose some Mary Kay products that you would like to buy (either for yourself or for others -- there are great items for birthdays, anniversaries, christmas etc.) and then email me (mdolinar@marykay.com) or call.

Here are a few of the great products Mary Kay has to offer.

TimeWise Replenshing Serum +C.  Nicknamed the "facelift in a bottle" :-)  This stuff is great.  I hear nothing but good about this from my customers who use it.   Learn more by following this link:  http://www.marykay.com/skincare/agefighting/10031103/10031103/default.aspx

TimeWise Night Restore and Recover Complex.  Awaken the age-fighting potential of your skin at night.  This advanced age fighter works with your skin's natural cycle to recover from the day's damage. So you can wake up to younger-looking skin.  Learn more by following the link below.

TimeWise Microdermabrasion Set.  Fight fine lines, refine pores and achieve beautifully smooth skin -- immediately -- with this simple two-step set.  Learn more by following this link:  http://www.marykay.com/skincare/agefighting/timewisemicrodermabrasionset/default.aspx

Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara.  Learn more by following this link:  http://www.marykay.com/color/eyes/marykayultimatemascara/10017657/default.aspx

The new TimeWise luminous-wear liquid foundation.  23 different shades.  Very light feeling on the face.  A little goes a very long way.  I love this foundation.  It really looks good on my customers and I love the feel (or the lack of feel -- it's really light).  If you would like to try a sample of this foundation email me.  To see the different shades follow this link:  http://www.marykay.com/color/foundations/luminouswearliquidfoundation/default.aspx

Check out this link for gift ideas: http://www.marykay.com/whatsnew/giftideas/default.aspx

Check out this link for men's products:  http://www.marykay.com/mens/default.aspx

Check out this link for body care products, including pedicure sets, Satin Hands, hydrating lotion etc.: http://www.marykay.com/spabody//bodycare/default.aspx

And last but not least is the Miracle Set.  This set includes TimeWise cleanser, moisturizer, Night Solution and Day Solution with SPF 25.  A great way to keep your skin looking and feeling wonderful!  Follow this link for more information (including before and after shots!): http://www.marykay.com/skincare/agefighting/MiracleSetStep1/default.aspx

All Mary Kay products come with a 100% money back guarantee.  Return or exchange product if it isn't exactly what you expected.

If you'd like to try any product samplers just let me know.  I'd be glad to help.  If you can't find what you are looking for on the Mary Kay website (www.marykay.com), let me know.  If I can't find it I know several Mary Kay consultants and directors.  Between all of us I'm sure we can come up with something to help!

Happy Shopping!  Be sure and tell your friends and family!  The MK for MS campaign ends August 30, 2011.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pictures from the car wash

Here are some pictures from the July 30th car wash fundraiser.

Check out this car!  That's one big car!  I didn't realize cars could be so big!  A lot of them I couldn't reach the middle of the hood.  It took two people with one big towel to dry the hoods of some of these bigger cars.

Marianne with the "I love clean cars!" sign :-)  Hyabusa!

Working the car wash with the LPH Drill team.

Car washing after LPH left.  The girls were so excited to finally be allowed to come and wash :-)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Car Wash Adventure

Big thanks to Texaco and Fresh Market for helping out with our car wash fundraiser!!  Marianne worked with the Texaco people.  I never met them.  I'm sure they are really cool though :-)  I did meet Dennis Jensen at Fresh Market though and he is AWESOME!  Everyone should run to Fresh Market and buy something.  Anything.  Dennis was great to provide balloons for our signs and even offered to give us soap for the car wash.  Really nice guy.  And, as a bonus, he's a runner.  Athletic people are really cool.

And a special thanks to our surprise "sponsor" Lone Peak High School Drill team!  Special note:  I know that many of you that read this blog live and breathe Caveman.  I have to give a little shout-out to Lone Peak though.  They were really nice to work with us at the car wash.  Turns out the car wash spot got double-booked.  Even though we booked first they had pre-sold tickets and were much bigger and better organized (not to mention they started their car wash earlier than we had planned to start :-).  They could have easily just blown us off.  They didn't though.  They let us pass out our fliers, solicit their pre-sold customers for donations and wash cars with them.  So, even though they are the rival of the High School my neighbors' kids go to (and the one Bill went to!) they are still pretty dang cool!  Thanks Lone Peak High Drill Team!  YOU ROCK!!  And I'm sorry that some of you got harassed by some die-hard AF drive-by fans.

Well, Marianne wrote a great blog about the event so I won't go into it too much.  I wanted to mention though that car washes are a LOT of work and we learned a lot!!  Friday night I bought some great micro-fiber sponges and towels and soap specific for car washing.  I thought we were set.  We learned a lot from Lone Peak High though.  They had special spray for the tires and windex for the windows.  They had working spray nozzles for the hoses :-)  In the end I wished we had gotten our car washed when Lone Peak was there to help us :-)

Here are some things we learned about car wash fundraisers (in case you are considering doing one :-)

Start early.  It gets hot in the afternoon.

Bring hoses.  For some reason I thought the hoses were provided by Texaco.  Silly me.  And make sure the nozzles for the hoses work!  I brought nozzles but didn't check first to see if they worked well.  Luckily LPH had working nozzles.

Pre-sell tickets.  Most of the cars that came through were pre-sold tickets.  One of the drill team girls told me that they were required to sell 10 tickets each.  There were at least 20 or so drill team members at the wash so they must have pre-sold at least $1000 worth of tickets.  We had less than 100 cars come through during the day -- although it seemed like a million cars!  Ohhhh my back is aching! LOL  So if LPH hadn't pre-sold tickets the take would have been less than half of what they ended up getting.  A lot less than half actually.

We need bigger sturdier signs and more people to dance and hold the signs.  We just needed more people in general.

So.... the million dollar question --- was it worth it?  Yes!  In terms of bringing awareness to the general public.  Maybe we'll get one more person to read the blog.  Maybe they will help spread the word.  Maybe we'll get some virtual car wash donations (much easier on the back! :-).  Who knows.  Marianne spoke with a bunch of people that had an MS connection.  One lady was tested for MS just last week.  Marianne said we should partner with the drill teams of America and see if we can just have a solicitor at all their car washes :-)  Raising awareness one car wash at a time! :-)  We made almost $200 ($196 -- actually pretty dang good considering the numbers discussed in the final paragraph of this blog and the fact that we didn't pre-sell.  Pre-sell.  Pre-sell.  Pre-sell.  Must.  Pre-sell!).  I still think there has to be a better way though.


How much money can you make at a car wash?  Is it a good source of fundraising?  I've been thinking about this.  Best case scenario -- wash a car every 5 minutes.  No, let's say you wash 3 cars every five minutes consistently for 4 hours.  That's 144 cars.  Each car pays $5 each.  That's $720.  In order to wash 3 cars every five minutes (assuming you can get that kind of traffic randomly) you would need at least a million workers.  Ok.  I'm exaggerating.  Let's take a look at today.  We had up to 20 or so drill team members and six of us (five, Marianne did the soliciting) and we worked our tails off!  We constantly had cars.  At times we had lines up to 10 cars long and we were there for almost 4 hours.  We had 100 fliers copied and we gave out less than 70 of those.  I don't have exact figures.  Each car got a flier.  So with 20-30 workers we physically did about 70 cars.  $5 each car -- that's $350.  Yep.  Lots of people.  Little money.  Pre-sell tickets!  Even pre-selling though is a lot of work.  They pre-sold at least $1000 worth of tickets but they also had 20 or so girls ($50 each = $1000) to canvas neighborhoods, and solicit 40 sets of grandparents :-).  For a fundraising bike team of seven (all in the same family :-) I don't know that car washes are the most effect use of time and money.  Too bad because I have about $40 worth of really nice car wash sponges, towels and soap :-)  Anybody need a car wash? :-)

Post Script:  I've decided that we could use the 20/50 principle above to possibly make the car wash thing work.  Pre-sell 50 cars at $20 each.  Offer both a good outside wash and a vacuum/dash conditioner etc. for the inside.  Give each person a specific time to come so we don't have lines.  It would still take work (both in washing and selling) but it could be done in a few Saturdays at home and we could, theoretically, raise $1000. Anybody up for more car washing?  Ok.... maybe I'll ask again next summer after our muscles have had some time to recuperate :-)

Raising Awareness & Money

Well, we just finished one of this year's fundraisers: a car wash in American Fork. We started the day with a jolt because we got to our spot and realized that the spot had been double booked. Yikes! We conferred with the other group (Lone Peak Drill Team) and decided to combine forces. It ended up being good for everyone. They got 7 more hard workers and we got a chance to solicit funds from all the cars that came through (both the ones who heard about it through our advertizing and the ones who heard about it through their advertizing). Many of the cars had already purchased their car wash through the Drill Team's pre-sale efforts but they were generous enough to donate to our cause too. We were able to talk to lots of people about MS, the National MS Society and Bike MS. A lot of people asked questions about MS itself and several folks were interested in riding in June. Hopefully some of the great people we talked to are reading this blog right now and will become involved with our team! Every little bit helps!

A big thank you to Texaco for the space and the water and to Fresh Market for soap and balloons!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Where does the money I donate go?

Here is a breakdown of where the money you donate goes.  To donate click the Fundraising Center links on the right side of this blog.  Choose anyone's fundraising center.  It all goes to the same place!

Administration -- 3%
Fundraising -- 10%
Research and National Programs -- 33%
Community -- 9%
Client Programs -- 20%
Education -- 25%

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pay-What-You-Can Car Wash (and virtual car wash)

What:  CAR WASH fundraiser

When: July 30th Saturday 10am - whenever

Who: YOU!!  Everybody Welcome!

Where: Texaco in American Fork 100 East and Main (across from the AF public library)

Why: National Multiple Sclerosis Society Fundraiser

Get your car washed, buy a soda, get a spontaneous haiku, and strike a blow against Multiple Sclerosis all at the same time!

If you can't make it to American Fork on Saturday but still want to help out, get a virtual car wash.  Curious?  Donate via the Fundraising Center links on the right and see what happens :-)  Be sure to leave an email address in the notes section when you donate and indicate that you would like a virtual car wash so we can send you your virtual car wash.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Born to Run

This is both a training post and a book review.  Strengthening the legs and cardio is a great way to train for the MS150.  Here's a book review of a book on running a friend recommended.  It also has an MS connection.  Scott Jurek's mother had MS.  Scott is one of the ultra-marathoners highlighted in the book.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Ok.  First of all let me say -- I like this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to be athletic in any way.  The "secrets" the author reveals about running can easily be transferred to other sports, even to life in general.  It's a good book.  That said let me say there were a few parts where I just thought -- what in the world?  That's crazy?!  Ok.  Maybe lots of parts but the author was able to defend his positions and in most cases make me want to believe.  Other times though I just thought he was off his rocker LOL  For instance:

Page 241
"... caring for kids on the fly isn't that hard, as American ultra-runner Kami Semick demonstrates; she likes to run mountain trails around Bend Oregon, with her four-year-old daughter, Baronie, riding along in a backpack."

Ha!  There is NO way I'm going to be strapping my 45-pound 4-year-old to my back and running (even walking) anywhere!  That's why I go to Weight Watchers -- so I DON'T have to carry extra weight around!  In his next breath he writes -- "Emily Baer beat ninety other men and women to finish eighth overall while stopping at every aid station to breast-feed her infant son."  Good for you Emily.  Not happening any time soon with me!  LOL

Most things in the book though excited and inspired me.  Barefoot running.  Lighter, smaller, meatless meals.  Running quick and light as if running on hot coals.  Japanese monks running marathons daily for seven years.  It made me -- someone who still struggles to run more than two or three miles -- feel like I could run 10 or 20 miles no problem!  Fifty miles?  Piece of cake!  It made running seem fun and effortless and even natural!  When Marianne said she needed a running partner this week I eagerly volunteered.  "I'm running 14.5 miles," she said as she looked at me with that "are you crazy?  there is no way you can do this" look.  I only hesitated a little.  Then I went home and ran three miles.  Hmmmmm.... hesitation started brewing.  It does that after a run when I nurse my aching legs but then I remember the book, the inspirational stories, the "secrets" and I again start thinking of doing crazy things like running 50 miles in hills and canyons, past dead snakes and through raging rivers! :-)

The author starts the book talking about his experience with running.  While he was far more injury prone than I tend to be, his journey sounded very familiar.  He was running two or three miles every other day.  In his words he was "barely running at all."  He was tall and heavy.  Taller and heavier than me but I relate to the spirit-animal name he was given in Mexico -- Oso, Bear.   Yep.  I felt heavy and big as a runner.  In fact as a teenager I was out running once and a car actually pulled over to ask me if I was alright!  I must have looked pathetic.  That experience made me stop running for over two decades!  I didn't start running again until I was 40.  Yep.  And still I will oftentimes opt to run on the treadmill alone because I don't like to run in public.  Crazy, eh?   Anyhow.  By the end of the book this same guy is running a 50-mile ultra-marathon race in the canyons of Mexico.  Of course it took him a year or two to get there but still!  That's incredible!

The author reveals the secrets of ultra-marathon running while telling the stories of a tribe of runners in Mexico (the Tarahumara) and a handful of ultra-marathon runners.  Very interesting characters.  Very compelling story.  As he introduces new characters he introduces new running "secrets."

One character is named Barefoot Ted.  He actually ran the 50-mile Mexico ultra-marathon barefoot.  He's always wearing some shoes called Vibram Five Fingers.  I looked them up.  They look cool!  There is at least one chapter dedicated to barefoot running.  The author talks about why it's good and gives great success stories of runners that used barefoot running to build strength in their feet and legs.  It has inspired me so much that I run the first bit of my runs barefoot now.  Well, in socks that is.  The treadmill can be a bit brutal on naked feet!  I love running barefoot though.  It makes it much easier to run light and easy and it feels much more natural.  When I put my shoes back on after a mile it takes a bit to get adjusted.  It feels heavy and not so as good.  There's no way I could run outside barefoot though! 

Two other characters are Jenn and Billy.  A California surfing couple.  They decided to try running but decided that if it ever became less fun than surfing than they would stop.  They would run at midnight and quote their favorite authors.  They had fun running.  "When I'm on a long run," the books quotes Jenn as saying, "the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run.  For once, my brain isn't going blehblehbleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow.  It's just me and the movement and the motion."  It's things like that, quotes from people about running -- how it makes them feel -- that gets me excited about running (that and stories about people running fast! :-).  Basically Billy and Jenn loved running.  They had fun with it.  Kind of like the Tarahumara runners.  

The author talks about when the Tarahumara runners came to Colorado to run in the Leadville 100 ultra-marathon.  They were scrambling up hills and smiling -- even after going for several miles.  They enjoyed what they were doing.  Makes sense.  If you are going to run for that long it better be fun!  That made me think of the following quote from the book:  P. 211 "'The Tarahumara aren't great runners.... They're great athletes'.... Runners are assembly-line workers; they become good at one thing -- moving straight ahead at a steady speed -- and repeat that motion until overuse fritzes out the machinery.  Athletes are Tarzans.  Tarzan swims and wrestles and jumps and swings on vines.  He's strong and explosive.  You never know what Tarzan will do next, which is why he never gets hurt."  Interesting, eh?  I guess I need to overcome my pride and start running off of the injury causing treadmill!  

Another character is Scott Jurek.  Ultra-marathon legend.  Not a flashy kind of a guy.  The secret of running that he had mastered is running with others in mind.  He takes time to think of others even in the midst of running hard and breaking world records.  He is a nice guy.  He isn't buried within himself as he ran.  He runs for the love of running and is gracious when he loses (which isn't very often!).  Incidentally, he also eats a Vegan diet.  Very similar to the Tarahumara diet.  

According to the book, the Tarahumara diet is basically pinto beans, squash, chili peppers, wild greens, pinole and lots of chia (p. 209).  Not a lot of meat -- even though there is hefty part of the book dedicated to persistence hunting (basically running after antelope etc. until they fall over exhausted.)  It's interested me enough to look up chia and pinole.  We will be having less meat for a while.  Maybe even some chia :-)  We'll see how that goes.  Bill has already told me he's not terribly excited about this part of the runner's journey :-)

Technique?  Think light and easy, knees bent and driving forward, back straight.  This made sense to me.  I read Chi Running about a year ago.  Good book.  Posture and technique definitely make for a nicer run.  The other thing I found interesting was the idea of running at 180 beats per minute (p. 205).  Apparently Kenyan barefoot runners run like they are running on hot coals.  Short, quick, light strides --- and fast!  Speed is something that would definitely make running a lot more fun :-)  

All in all this was a good book.  I read it really quickly, could hardly put it down.  Very inspiring.  Two thumbs up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some People Ride Cadillacs

This section of the blog is labeled "Why we ride."  This is an essay I wrote after my second MS150 ride and for me it sums up why I ride.

Some People Ride Cadillacs

Before the bike tour Bill needed a bike. He didn't have one. So he bought a road bike at Mike's Bike Barn in Lehi. A Cadillac. Very very nice bike. Smooth, sleek, light. Very very light. With it he got a cool new helmet with a visor and matching bike gloves. He also got bike shoes that fit into cool little pedal clips. Nice bike. He asked me if I was going to get a new bike. After all, we were planning on riding 75 miles. I told him I was ok. I had my trusty Murray 10-speed. I'd had it since I was a kid. It was a little bit small for me now but not bad. 

About a week before the tour my bike chain started slipping and actually slipped completely off a couple of times. No problem. I took it in to a local bike shop and they fixed it.  $7.50. A bargain I thought. Much better than spending the big bucks on a new bike. 

The day of the MS150 came. Mile 30 my trusty chain jammed. I thought that was the end of my ride. Bill however was able to wrench the chain free. After that though I wasn't able to shift to the lowest gears without hearing an ominous "clunk, clunk, clunk" as I rode. Fearing that this clunking might lead to a broken chain I avoided low gears for the rest of my ride -- including "Killer Hill." Killer Hill is a very long, albeit gradual, hill. As I rode up Killer Hill I thought I might actually make it this year without getting off my bike. I was doing pretty good. About 50 paces from the top though I just couldn't go on. I got off my bike and started to walk. Two or three steps later even this was too much and so I crossed the road to get out of the way of other riders and sat down. I was in pain. Lots and lots of pain. How could I go on? Bill noticed me and
rode back to where I was. Was I ok? He asked. I put on a brave face. "I'm ok," I replied. "OK. I'll meet you at the top," he said as he casually turned around and made his way back up the hill. 

Eventually I picked myself up and walked to the top. We then coasted down to rest stop #6. Rest stop number six was at mile marker 53. Fifty-three miles. Only about 20 more miles to go. I was in so much pain though. Laying on the grass looking up at the sky I cried and cried. Was this the end? I fell short on my fundraising goal and now I wasn't even going to make my biking goal! I had failed miserably. How could I face my friends and family? There was no way I could get back on my bike though. We talked about switching bikes but Bill is five inches taller than me. He would never fit my bike. I barely fit it myself!  Bill was very supportive. He sat and listened to me. He offered what moral support he could. I knew I had to call the SAG truck. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally I decided to say a prayer. I knew I didn't have to actually finish the tour. The donations were raised and they weren't dependent in any way on how far I rode. It was simply a pride issue :-) We have a very loving Heavenly Father though. Pride issue or not he heard my prayer. 

I somehow was able to get back on my bike. Bill rode ahead of me in an attempt to block the wind and make my ride a little bit easier. As I rode I vowed that next year I would have a decent bike!

Looking ahead I saw Bill on his Cadillac. The gears switched smoothly, effortlessly. The bike looked cool. Other riders would ride past me, ignoring me and ride next to Bill.  They would casually chat with Bill. Laughter would ring through the air and then the they would be off. I was alone. Alone with the squeaking of my pedals. Alone with the "chitty chitty bang bang" that accompanied every gear shift. Alone with my thoughts. And then it occurred to me that in life I
actually do have a Cadillac. A Cadillac body. Smooth, sleek, stealth. I have higher gears that can reach high speeds. I have lower gears that can climb hills seemingly effortlessly. I get up in the morning and run all day.

Then I thought of all the people that we were riding for. People with MS.  People that have been given Murray 10-speeds for bodies. People who sometime wake up in pain. Pain so horrible that they wonder if they can go on or how they can take another step. Bravely they put on a stoic face. "I'm ok," they say. "I'll meet you at the top of the hill." And we go on.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Marathon Training -- 1st Half Marathon Race

In my training for October's marathon (which is also training for next year's Bike MS!), I decided it would be fun to run a half marathon. The Hobbler Half in Springville fell about in my training schedule where I would need to run 13 miles so I signed up. It was a great experience. I was totally nervous (having never run a half marathon before and, indeed, having only run 9.5 miles previously). I'm very glad I did it. It was cool to experience a marathon race morning prior to the Big Day and it helped me stay on track in my training. I know if I had been doing a training run this morning there would have been more walking at the end but I knew I didn't want my Fan Club's first view of me when I approached the finish line to be me walking. I wanted a strong finish.

I have decided something, though. I need to run faster. I hate struggling to the finish line while the majority of the athletes are walking to their cars! It was nice to be one of the last ones on the trail (no lines at the portapotties) but it is awful to be one of the last ones at the finish line!!!!! This is definitely true for Bike MS too. I think next year we need to aim to be back by 3:30 so we can eat and enjoy the village. 75 miles will be my goal for next year, but it will hopefully be a faster 75.

We started this race up the canyon and I was so cold. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, but it was a pretty cold start. I doubted my choice of a sleeveless shirt. A mile into it, though, I was glad for my wardrobe choices and by the end I was dying of heat! I was able to keep a good, steady pace (just a SLOW pace), which helped me endure to the end. The problem, though, was that I was so slow that I was back with the speed walkers. Actually, the speed walkers were beating me. At one point my only goal was to pass the Old Man Speed Walker...and I never did... I really liked my hydration belt (so I didn't have to stop at the water stops unless I needed a break) and I loved the Vanilla Bean Gu. Very nice taste (for that sort of thing).

Overall, a very good experience (esp my Fan Club cheering at the end!). Everyone who wants to have a better ride next June should start running regularly (or at least start doing some sort of exercise that strengthens your legs). I'm definitely doing this race again next year (recruiting Shelly to run it with me). Beautiful run with free massage, snow cones, Magelby's breakfast, etc. at the end (and face painting and a bounce house for the kids while they wait for your triumphal entry).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

15 Ways for the Under 15 Crowd to Fundraise

I know sometimes it's hard for our younglings to get out there and raise funds so here are a few ways you can collect some cash for your ride. (Old Folks are welcome to try these techniques too)

1. Wear a tshirt advertizing your goal :-) New for this year: you should have donors sign your shirt when they write the new goal on the back. Jacob said he was going to have next year's donors sign his MS shirt from this year. Cool memories!

2. Collect spare change in a jar. You will be surprised at how fast it adds up!

3. Offer to do odd jobs for your neighbors for donations. Don't specify a price--just ask for a donation. Hopefully they will give more than you would have asked for!

4. Work hard at team fundraisers such as the upcoming car wash.

5. Is there a business that you frequent? Ask the owner if they would be willing to donate something. Money is the easiest but if they are willing to donate product then we can try to sell it.

6. Make something to sell. I have an etsy shop for my handmade items and if we have enough interest I can make a Team Iron Eagles etsy shop. Anything you make would go to your ride (minus etsy fees).

7. Save your babysitting money.

8. Sell Mary Kay for MS via Aunt Shelly.

9. Set aside part of your allowance.

10. Sell a "lucky penny" for $1 (this is Aunt Shelly's idea)

11. Offer to write a haiku for a donation. (5-7-5)

12. Ask your parents what job they would be willing to pay you to do (note: do NOT ask for money for regular chores or for jobs you should do just because you are part of the family and living in the house...paid jobs should be extra hard and done extra well).

13. Sing Danny Boy (or similarly hilarious (to me) song) in the Food Court at the Mall. Get it on video. This is worth $10 to any team member who does it. You can only do it once. You must get permission from a parent. Void where prohibited.

14. [see comments below for whatever great idea you add to the mix]

15. [see comments below for whatever great idea you add to the mix...because "13 ways for the Under 15 Crowd to Fundraise" doesn't sound as cool but I'm a little tapped out....]

MS150 2010

Here are some pictures from last year's MS150 ride (2010).


NOTE: As of Dec. 29, 2016 the CureMS app is free. We are hoping that people will use the links in the app to donate directly any amount they would care to donate. 


One of our fundraisers is an iPhone/iPad app called CureMS.

A few years ago when iPhone applications first launched, Bill, like thousands of other programmers, decided to try his hand at iPhone programming. It was a lot of fun! I still remember the thrill of seeing people from all over the world downloading his ShakeItUp app. It was very cool. I immediately thought of making millions and retiring early LOL Bill's first thought however was of creating a fundraising app. What a great idea, eh? And that's how the idea for CureMS came to be.

CureMS is a simple tab-based application containing facts about Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and links to websites with information about MS and MS research. There is a tab with a Join us! button which links you to this blog where you can find links to either join team Iron Eagles or donate directly to the National MS Society. Another tab has an animation that visually represents what people can do to help others who have been touched by MS.

CureMS is available for 99 cents at the app store (CureMS in the App Store).

Here's a tally of what we've earned from CureMS so far:

July (1st paycheck!): $166.47
Aug: $26.71
Sep: $36.07
Oct: $23.08
Nov: $18.33
Dec: $15.52

Jan: $34.83
Feb: $32.01
Mar: $31.25
Apr: $29.77
May: $24.38
June: $42.27
July: $29.05
Aug: $29.54
Oct: $43.70
Dec: $22.79

April: $17.94
June: $26.08
August: $24.68
October: $13.71

Jan: $15.86
April: $25.59
June: $22.23
October: $20.13

Jan: $27.89
April: $12.29
July: $12.01


June: $33

Tell a friend!  Buy the app!  Spread the word!  Thanks!

Monday, June 27, 2011

MS150 Thoughts -- Michelle (2011)

Here are some pictures from the MS150 we just did in Logan.

Part I: Getting Started

This is us before the ride. 6:45ish. Do we look tired? Maybe a little :-) Some stayed up the night before to watch the movie I am Number Four :-) Bill and I opted to skip the movie but neither of us could sleep really well. We ended up getting up before the alarm -- and we still weren't first in the bathroom! LOL I guess we were all a little excited for the day. Marianne made us Cream of Wheat for breakfast. We were ready to go ride!

First though, the team pep talk :-) We had never done that before but a thought came to me in the wee morning hours as I listened to PenDog snoring ever so softly in her cage next to me. I knew it was inspiration and what Heavenly Father wanted the team to know. I told the team simply that I was thinking of the parable of the talents in the bible. Three servants were given talents. Two doubled their talents and one buried his talent. I truly feel like the team had been like the servants that had doubled their talents. They were using the gifts God had given them -- health, strength, ingenuity etc. -- to do a really really good thing. To give people HOPE. Riders ranging in ages from 12 to 46 got out of their comfort zones and did a wonderful job of fundraising to get the money necessary to ride. They had earned this day. It was time to have fun! And fun it was. A friend texted me on the way to Logan and wished me luck on my ride. I texted her back "Thanks! I love this ride. It's the best day of the year!" And it is. The people at the National MS Society and the great sponsors of the event make it really really fun.

Here we are unloading the bikes.

This is Jacob. He's our youngest rider. His shirt says "I'm wearing this until I reach my goal. Help Me! I stink at fundraising!" Isn't that a great fundraising idea? Aunt Marianne's idea :-) He wore this to our traditional team carbo-load dinner at Olive Garden the night before the ride and got two $5 bills from a couple of servers :-) Way to go Jacob!

Reid and the 17-and-younger crowd opted to skip the start line and off they went! Their goal was to do 50 miles so Jacob could get his cycling merit badge. They ended up going 75! Yahoo!

Here they are yelling Bonzai! Last year we were looking for a name for my bike. It's a Fuji. We decided we needed a Japanese name. We found out there is a bird called a Hyabusa that's kind of like the American Eagle. Since we are Team Iron Eagles we thought it would be appropriate to use the name Hyabusa. Marianne named her bike Senor Hyabusa. Kind of a Japanese/Brazilian twist. Her bike has brazilian stickers on it :-) Anyhow. With Japanese names for our bikes we started yelling Bonzai when we approached the hills and it soon became our team rallying cry :-)

So we went to the starting line and almost turned around and started a few blocks away (like Reid and the kids) instead. Lots and lots of riders! We waited through two waves just to get started. It was fun to be in the crowd though and listen to the music, see the others there waiting and realize that there were almost 3000 people there that had fundraised at least $250 for the NMSS! That's one of the neatest things about this ride. Meeting the people and hearing their stories. When we were registering I met a team that rode in memory of Marissa. She died Sept. 2010. She had MS. Marissa's sister was diagnosed with MS 2 years ago. She was there riding.

We were finally off and going around 7:30ish. We figured we could catch up to the kids. After all, they were young and on mountain bikes. We were triathletes. Women of Steel. Surely we could catch them. When a young boy (looked to be about 12) passed us on a mountain bike I had to laugh :-) Maybe we wouldn't catch them. We were however rewarded for starting at the officially start though. If we hadn't have done that we would never have met Mr Harmon himself! Yep. Thanks to the bingo card :-) We could earn extra raffle tickets by filling out the bingo card. One of the spots was for a member of the Harmon's team. The Harmon's team is the biggest team. They are the biggest sponsor. There were yellow Harmon's jerseys everywhere! I walked up to the first person I saw with a Harmon's jersey and asked for a signature. He didn't looked phased at all. In fact he looked quite natural taking the card and signing his name. Like some kind of celebrity and then it dawned on me -- this was THE Harmon guy. Mr. Harmon himself! So of course, we had to ask for a picture :-) Nice guy. Met his daughter too.

So why do Bingo? The bike. Yep. Each year a Specialized Bike is raffled off. Each year we hold out hope that this is indeed the year that the heavens will smile down upon us and let us win the much coveted bike. We dream of it as we ride. It keeps me pedaling! Must make it to the finish by 6pm! In fact, we gave up doing the 100 miles this year just to make it back in time to listen to them call those magic numbers. I held my tickets so tight that they had a permanent thumb crease in them. My daughter kept asking to look at them. These precious things. What made them so special that mommy couldn't let them out of her sight? The bike. Must win the bike. As you have probably already guessed, we didn't win the bike. If we had it would have been all over Facebook! :-)

On our bingo quest we met Team Heidi and Team Kirstin. We got our bikes checked. Thanked a lot of volunteers and sponsors. It was a lot of fun.

We met up with Papa Bird (Reid) and his little flock at rest stop two. Not because we were so much faster than them. I'm sure it was because they must have taken longer at the rest stops! Here is a picture on the way to rest stop three. A guy wanted to ride through the picture so we took a second picture just for him :-)

And now it is time to go finish the laundry and make sure the kids aren't killing each other. Not that the tale ends here. Oh no. There is more to come -- including Earth's Edge, dead gps running watches, Alien Cows, Neighborhood watch, the candyman, the deserted lunch stop and the abandoned water hole. The fun has just begun!! :-) The 100 mile route is full of adventure (as I dreamed it would be :-). I will be back to blog about it soon. Meanwhile read the other team members' blogs about the event.

Part II: Earth's Edge and Beyond

Marianne, my sister with MS, and I have a dream. That dream is to do the Ironman in Kona. Yep. Pretty crazy. I know. I can't even run a full 5k without walking! Anyhow. Slowly but surely, eh? To do an Ironman you have to be able to bike 112 miles and afterwards run a marathon. You do that after swimming for a couple miles in the ocean. So we decided we wanted to do the 100 mile route at the MS150 in preparation for eventually doing the Ironman someday. I was excited to go on the elusive 100 mile route. Bill and Reid did it two years ago. This year was Bill's third year doing the 100 mile route. Go Bill! I had heard of the mysterious sounding "loop" that only the 100 milers go on. The water stop at the top of the last big hill. It was something I wanted to conquer! And it didn't disappoint!

Just after rest stop three (a great rest stop btw -- complete with cheering volunteers, mists of water and a great bike mechanic!). We reached the cross-roads. The 75/100 split. Turn left and get to lunch at a decent hour. Go straight and head for.... "the loop." Reid and the kids considered going on the 100 route and then finally ended up heading for lunch. One of our team members, Beth, had taken the SAG vehicle to lunch from rest stop two. She wasn't feeling well. I love all the SAG support at the MS150 ride. Reid decided they better head to lunch to be with Beth. We said our goodbyes and off we went. Unchartered territory for me and Marianne. We did the 75 mile route last year.

Soon we were in Weston at the rest stop. I was confused. I thought there was only a water stop and then I realized that we hadn't yet even begun the loop. We had a choice. We could turn around there at the rest stop and be to lunch in 10 miles or we could do the 15 mile loop and *then* do the 10 miles to lunch. Very tempting to turn around. 85 miles is a very respectable little ride. Hmmmmm. Very tempting indeed.

We loved the Weston rest stop. It was sponsored by Bad Ass Coffee. The theme was tropical/Hawaiian. It was great. They cleaned our sunglasses, gave us little plastic leis and even had a place for tattoos :-) Here's a picture of us in Paradise. It's Bill and my 10th wedding anniversary this year. We originally honeymooned in Hawaii. At the beginning of the year I had grand dreams of returning to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary. As the year has progressed though I've been starting to brace myself for the inevitable reality of my practical self. We aren't going to go to Hawaii anytime soon. So it was wonderful to find Paradise in Weston :-)

Tempting as it was to turn around we decided to head for the loop. Of course we did. How could we not? A few miles into the ride Marianne's GPS running watch died. Out of batteries. We had been riding since 7am and it was about 2pm when it died. RIP. Shortly after that her bike computer died. Doo do do do do do do do (twilight zone theme music -- sing it with me!). Very strange indeed. Bill didn't have a bike computer and mine was dead at the start line. No more calling out the mileage every once in a while or tracking our speed (I use that term loosely. we were very slow! :-) We had to start estimating when we reached our 10 mile markers so we could cheer (One Hyabusa! for 10 miles, 2 for 20 and so on :-) and then we saw it. The last big hill. Ironically it was on this hill that we were passed by a couple of bikers. We didn't know it then but we were now officially the last riders on the road. Yea us! :-) At the top of the hill we stopped in the shade of a big tree in someone's front yard. When we looked at the mailbox I had to laugh. It read "Earth's Edge." How appropriate! We had made to the edge of the earth. I love it! The loop did not disappoint :-)

Here's a picture. If you look really close you can read the sign. Ok. Maybe you can't. Trust me. It's there. I think Bill has a close-up of it. I'll try and post that later.

Just maybe a tenth of a mile down from Earth's Edge we saw it. The water stop. THE water stop. The one only the 100 milers go to. We made it! We were part of the club. The 100 miler exclusive get to see the water stop club! So cool. As we got closer though I sensed something was not right. It was awfully quiet. Where were the cheering volunteers? Glasses cleaners? Leis? Picture a western movie. The hero rides into the deserted town. So quiet (except for the eery whistling :-). I half-expected to see a tumbleweed roll across the road. I saw signs taped to the doors of the port-a-potties. I thought for sure they must read "Out of order." Ok. I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised. We were a little later than most. We weren't the fastest riders on the course. That's ok. We had made it and they even left us a big pile of ice :-)

The abandoned water stop.

Marianne and I made good use of the ice :-)

At this point Marianne's head was pounding. Earlier in the week she had had some MS-related problems with the right-side of her head. It was really starting to hurt at this point. We tried to decide which way would be faster to the rest stop. Should we turn around or keep going. Were we truly in the middle of the loop? Not sure. We decided to keep going. We turned left and there was another hill! Hey wait a minute! I thought we were done with hills. I guess not. Welcome to Dayton. We regrouped at the top of the hill and as we did a wonderful thing happened. A guy from the Weston rest stop, the Bad Ass Coffee rest stop, came riding up on his motorcycle. He asked if we were ok. We immediately asked for drugs. He didn't have any but told us he would find some and bring it back. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Sing it with me! His name was Tim. We nicknamed him the Candyman :-) BAC really bent over backwards for us and this was only part of it.

It was here at Dayton that I saw the alien cows. Three black cows that just stared at us in a really eery way LOL I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Wish I had taken a picture. There were so many pictures I wish I had taken. I think next year we need to rig a camera for the helmet so we can take pictures without stopping. We saw this really fun slide at a grade school in Dayton. It was huge! It looked like a spider with several slides coming off this enormous hill. Ok. It was maybe 3 or 4 slides but it was still really cool and definitely higher than your normal park slide. I wanted to try it! We couldn't stop though. Had to keep going. It was getting later. We needed to get to the lunch stop before they ran out of food! The only thing we stopped for was sprinklers (thank you to the person in Dayton who was watering their front lawn in the heat of the afternoon sun! I love you!).

Back in Weston! Yahoo! That's a picture I had to stop and take :-)

When we finally got back to Weston we were received with welcome arms. The rest stop was completely taken down but they again bent over backwards to get us food and water. They even insisted on cleaning our glasses one more time :-) One of the workers told us we were the last ones on the course but not to worry we were still well within the time frame of the ride. Take our time they told us. They even assigned a car to drive behind us on the way to lunch. That's another picture I wish I had taken. An older couple in a white truck. They would drive about a quarter mile ahead of us and then stop on the side of the road and wait. We would pass them and then they would pass us and stop again about a quarter mile up the road. Slowly but surely we made it the 10 miles to lunch.

When we got to lunch, again I was a bit surprised. I expected at least a couple of volunteers. There were always volunteers to cheer us on even when we were the very last riders (which we quite often were :-). This was the scene we found when we got there.

Nada. Nuttin. Nobody. Seriously. Of course what did we expect? It was 4:30pm! LOL I guess lunch was over :-) That's ok. We weren't necessarily hungry. The rest stops along the way had some great food. Marianne really was looking forward to a cookie though! And I was hoping that somehow magically that there would still be a few people milling around eating, talking etc. The first year I rode there was a massage table at the lunch stop. Free massage. yep. Love this ride! That's what enticed Bill to ride the following year. Now the massage table is at the fairgrounds. Still a great massage though :-)

Minutes after rolling into the lunch stop (should we still call it that? The abandoned lunch spot :-) guess who rolled in. Yep. Bad Ass Coffee Candyman. Mr. Tim. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. He told us he would even go get a Subway sandwich for us while we waited for a SAG vehicle that had room for both of us. Our white truck SAG vehicle, the one with the really nice elderly couple that shadowed/stalked us for the 10 miles to lunch didn't have room to take us back to the fairgrounds but they got on the radio and got another vehicle there for us. We had decided 75 miles was plenty and besides we needed to get back by 6pm to win the bike, right?! Food did not sound so good at that point. I wish I had thought to send him for a cookie for Marianne though. Oh well. He chatted with us for a while and then we said goodbye. Almost thou persuadest me to be a coffee drinker, BAC! If I was I would be a loyal BAC customer forever more. They really went out of their way to make sure we had a great ride! Thank you!

Bill made sure we were ok and then he took off. He still had time to finish the 100 and get back by 6pm. My new nickname for him -- Speedy Gonzales! He did the last 25 miles in an hour and a half. That's after crawling behind us in the heat of the day for 75 miles in almost 10 hours! He is a very patient and loving guy! Thank you Bill! We love you! :-) It was fun to listen to the support people talk about him on the radio. The lone rider. He indeed was the last one to cross the finish line :-) Way to go Bill!

Here's a picture of the SAG wagon guy.

Ok. We are soooo close to the end now. It's almost midnight though and I really really need to sleep so..... I'll continue this later. In Part III look for the triumphal entry (a.k.a. Where's Bill?), Frank the 25-year VIP man (very inspirational), the fairgrounds/raffle drawing, the tent etc.

Part III: Graduation

Ok. I'm back. The SAG wagon dropped us off about 1/2 mile from the finish line. We were ready for our triumphal arrival. Two blocks away the phone rings. Where are you?! my sister Betsy demands. I'm riding my bike! I reply. Let me ride! She had been calling on and off for about 20 minutes. Later, as we waited for Bill I began to understand her impatience :-) Earlier when she called I was careful not to let on that I was in the comfort of the SAG vehicle. I still wanted to keep up appearances :-) Now though I could honestly tell her I was riding my bike. We would almost be there. I could see the finish line. Both Marianne and I agreed that it would be strange not to have mom and dad at the finish line. They had been there for every year that I remembered. This year they had made other plans. Next year we won't let them off that easily. As we neared the finish line I raised both hands in victory and rode my bike in whooping and hollering! Betsy was there with her camera. The family crowded around us. Where's Bill? At that point we had to admit that we had taken the SAG wagon. Bill was still biking. He refused to SAG :-) Bill rode in about 30 minutes later.

We had just enough time to scarf down some food (dinner provided for riders) and get comfortable for the program. Each year they do a program where, among other things, they raffle off a bike. A very cool bike. A light bike. Speedy bike. Someday... sigh. One of the highlights of the program was the introduction of a man that had ridden in every MS150 since it started 25 years ago. What impressed me most was that he not only rode in each ride he also rode as a VIP. yep. To be a VIP you have to be one of the top 150 fundraisers. Since I've been riding (7 years now) that has meant he needed to raise at least $1200. That's not an easy feat. I was very impressed. He still had each of his t-shirts from all 25 rides. He brought them and displayed them. Next in the program was Jacob. Remember Jacob? At 12 years old he's our youngest team member. They highlighted his cool fundraising shirt and challenged him to keep riding. Way to go Jacob! A guy from the crowd even came up and handed Jacob $50 for his ride next year. Right now he has the most money of any Iron Eagles team member for his ride next year! I think about how daunting it is to raise $250 as an adult. I can't imagine doing it as a kid. Next year he plans to go door-to-door offering his services to raise money to ride. Pretty cool.

Final Thoughts

I am thinking of something Bill told me after the ride. We were talking about drafting. I told him that I just couldn't get the hang of drafting. It never seemed to work. Occasionally it would but mostly it didn't seem to make a difference. He simply said, "You have to be going at least a certain speed for drafting to be effective." Ahhhhhhh. The speed thing again. Must. Work. On. Speed. Of course there is something to be said about slow and steady or taking time to smell the roses. If we had been rolling through at 20 miles per would we have seen the alien cows? Or the monster slide? Or taken the time to run through the sprinklers? Would we have seen Earth's Edge? A lot of 100 milers skip the first rest stop. If we had done that we would have missed Mr. Harmon and his daughter. Yep. I'm glad we were able to enjoy the roses. That's what makes this the best day of the year! Of course there is also something to be said for getting back to the Team Village in time to enjoy it! :-) Next year we will do it better (said every year, btw :-). We will have a helmet camera. We will go fast enough to work the whole drafting thing. We will get our 100 miler patch! And we will get a cookie at lunch. No bread. Just cookie. Pure sugar. We will be there when they call our name for the money grab. Oh yeah. One more thing. We will win that darn bike!!