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, October 23, 2012

What is MS?

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a lot of great information about MS.   Click Here to view their What is MS page. I especially love the video towards the top of the page. It explains MS in a very simple easy to understand way.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Tortoise and the Hare

The Tortoise and the Hare

A couple of months ago my son came home from kindergarten with a picture of a tortoise and a hare.  They had obviously discussed the famous fable in school that day.  He said he couldn't draw either a tortoise or a hare so he had some friends draw those for him.  He draws owls :-)  This is his picture.  He drew the road.

Matthew has been obsessed with the story of the tortoise and the hare ever since.  I thought a lot about the Tortoise and the Hare right after I ran my first marathon.  Slow and steady.  How appropriate.  Of course in the case of the marathon slow and steady doesn't necessarily win the race (unless of course you are over 65 and you are running with me :) but -- wait a second! -- I'm getting ahead of the story.  Slow and steady doesn't necessarily win the race but slow and steady can finish the race!  And in the marathon of life, amidst chronic illness etc., that can be just as important as winning, eh?  That's what I discovered once I started marathon running.

How does a person go from extremely loathing running to running a marathon?  Pride.  Inspiration and pride.  My sister Marianne ran a marathon last year.  Those of you who follow this blog have probably read her blog post about her training and the actual event.  She ran the St. George marathon and she did it in just over 6 hours.  I was so impressed.  Here was my sister, my younger sister, my sister with multiple sclerosis, running in the heat of St. George.  Running a marathon of all things.  I remember the day of the marathon as we waited to cheer her on.  I remember getting really worried around noon.  It was a hot day.  A really really hot day.  People with MS don't do well with heat.  I know it affects my sister.  Where was she?  The route is closed to spectators up until about mile 23.  We all waited anxiously and then we saw her.  She was running.  Seriously.  Now that I've run/walked a marathon I appreciate that so much more.  She was running, in the heat of the day, in St. George, after having gone 23 miles.  Wow.  And she didn't stop!  She kept going and ran every step of the last 3 miles.  Amazing.  I was inspired.  Slowly and steadily she got the job done.  And because she did it I had to try.  And because I tried I came to meet some of the coolest and most inspirational tortoises I've ever known.

In September Marianne and I ran the Top of Utah marathon.  My first marathon.  I wasn't thinking about time.  I was only thinking about finishing.  I figured that I could run at least a 4mph average over the 26.2 miles.  I was able to average a little over 4mph on my long training runs so I figured it wouldn't be a problem.  I guessed I could be done no later than 6 hours 30 minutes.  Marianne, the seasoned marathoner was aiming a little higher.  She figured we could do it under 6 hours.  An average of 4.4mph or better.  It was downhill.  It was marathon day.  I decided maybe we could beat the 6 hour mark.  When we got to the half-way point of the marathon though we had our first jolt of reality.  3 hrs. 5min. is what the clock read.  Uh oh!  Wait a minute!  That clock must be wrong!  Reminds me of the denial I had when I first saw pictures after the marathon (Those pictures can't be right!  My hips aren't that wide!  My form isn't that bad! LOL :-)  Were we going to make it under six hours?  

Now we needed to run a faster second half in order to make our 6 hour goal.  The ominous negative split.  Ugh!  Just then a lady spoke up.  Grandma.  Sixty-nine year old woman in a bright pink running shirt.  She told us not to worry.  We would make the next half in 3 hours.  Marianne felt confident that we would.  Neither of us thought Grandma would.  She was going awfully slow.  Slower than even us and we are really really slow! LOL

Well, as you have probably already guessed, Grandma ran with us for about five miles and then we lost her.  Gone.  She left us in her dust at mile 18!  We didn't see her again until the finish line.  I can still see her bright pink running shirt way off in the distance ahead of us.  I wanted to catch her but I couldn't.  It just wasn't happening.  Of course it's not about the time, right?  It's not about beating elderly ladies in pink running shirts.  It's about running your own race and finishing strong.  Still it would have been nice to have finished around the time that grandma did :-)

We finally did finish.  One foot in front of the other.  Slowly and steadily.  6 hours 55 minutes give or take a minute.  

What was grandma's time you ask?

Afterwards I became obsessed.  I wished I had asked grandma what her time was.  Why didn't I take note of her bib number or ask her name?  Then I realized that we did know a couple of key facts.  She was 69 and she probably finished between 6 hours and 7 hours.  With those few facts I was able to find someone I believed to be her in the results.  Zazoosh photography confirmed it.  I found grandma!  6 hours 33 minutes.  Almost a perfect average of 4mph.  Slow and steady.  

I've run a couple of long races and in both of them I've been passed up by elderly runners who slowly and steadily run their race.  One foot in front of the other.  And they win.  They finish.  They get the job done.  I'm grateful for their examples.  

I love the story of the Tortoise and the Hare -- not only for marathons but also for life.  Now when things start to get hard I will think of grandma in her bright pink running shirt.  And I'll think of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Slow and Steady.  Winning the race one step at a time!  Go Grandma!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

False Flats

A few days ago I went for a bike ride.  I've only been on a few, literally maybe three, bike rides this year (one being the MS150 :-).  I've been concentrating on the marathon coming up in September.  I need to get out and bike more.  I miss biking.  Especially the downhills :-)

As I was biking I was thinking and thought I'd put my thoughts on "paper" for all the world to read because of course you all love to hear the ramblings (or is that rattlings? :-) that come out of my head when I ride :-)

As I mentioned above, I haven't done a lot biking this year.  As I was riding I felt like I was a little bit out of shape.  That didn't surprise me :-)  At one point I was riding on a nice flat road (or what I thought was a nice flat road!) and on the other side a group of three older gentlemen going the opposite direction whizzed past me.  At that point I was feeling really out of shape!  Were they on the same road I was struggling with?  Soon the road I was on got close to a fairly busy road so I turned around and went back the way I came (the same direction I saw the older guys whiz by)  I was amazed!  The road I had been on was actually a false flat!  Now that I was going a different direction I hardly had to pedal!  No wonder those guys were going so fast!  Of course, I don't doubt they were actually in really good shape too but that's beside the point :-)

False Flats/Invisible Struggles

I thought about false flats in life.  We think we are on a nice flat road and we wonder why we are struggling.  Why do the guys on the other side seem to being going so fast, so effortlessly, on apparently the same road?  Or maybe I see someone struggling with something that seems like it's not that difficult.  Why are they struggling?  Doesn't always make sense.

Recently a friend of mine told me about her daughter who is dyslexic.  I had no idea.  She struggles every day and you would never know it.  I called another friend.  As we talked she broke down in tears and told me that her husband had just moved out.  I had no idea.  False Flats.  Invisible struggles.  At the finish line in Logan we met a guy and asked him his connection to MS, why he was riding.  After telling us he asked us the same question and we told him we ride for Marianne.  She was sitting there in her biking gear and he asked her about her MS.  What were her symptoms?  How did she handle it?  As she was explaining her symptoms to him she said something interesting.  She said that if someone didn't know she had MS they would probably just think she was lazy because she has to rest a lot to deal with her MS symptoms.

All of this thinking was a good reminder to me.  First of all, I need to be easier on myself.  No comparisons.  Even if two roads look very similar chances are they aren't.  And second, I need to be easier on those around me (my kids, family etc.).  I may never know what false flats someone is struggling with.

So there you have it.  Some of the thoughts that rattle around in my head when I bike :-)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gratitude 2012

Just finished the 2012 Harmon's Best Dam bike ride MS150 in Logan.  So much fun!!  I love that ride. So many wonderful people gathered together in a common cause.

As I was sitting at the award presentation thingy the evening after the ride I had this overwhelming desire to get up and just say THANK YOU! to everybody there.  So I thought I'd just "take the microphone" here on the blog and say some THANK YOUs :-)

These aren't in any particular order.

Mother of boy with MS/Volunteers
THANK YOU volunteers!  One of the people that spoke at the event Saturday night was a mother of a boy who was just diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last year.  The boy is 16 years old.  His mom got up and told about how they had found the National MS Society and decided to become involved as volunteers at the MS150 event.  Their whole family was there volunteering at the MS150 that day.  How cool is that!?

I LOVE volunteers!  I feel like a celebrity when I ride in the MS150.  The rest stops are particularly fun.  I've had my bike valet parked, been misted with cold water, served cold drinks, had my sunglasses cleaned, gotten tattooed and massaged.  Volunteers are the best!

Thank you volunteers!  Riding is fun.  Volunteering seems like work LOL  I'm so grateful for people who want to volunteer!  You make the ride so much fun!  THANK YOU!

UHP tattoos at Rest Stop #2

Speaking of volunteers...

Rest stop #3
We got off to a late start Saturday morning.  And we were not the fastest bikers on the course.  At rest stop one I found out that Bethany, my sister Lisa's daughter, wasn't feeling very well.  As the morning progressed she felt worse and worse.  By rest stop number three she was ready to call a Support vehicle (SAG).

I thought about how we had missed lunch last year.  Our goal this year was to make it to lunch!  We were a little over half-way to the lunch stop.  At our pace we'd get there at 1pm and probably miss lunch.  I have to admit, I was a little sad.  It wasn't even noon yet and our ride was ending right before the ride starts to get really interesting!  Rest Stop 3 was closed down.  That's how late we were!  The volunteers were all eating their box lunches.  As we were waiting for the SAG vehicle a volunteer approached us.  Dixie.  She brought four extra lunches that they had.  I thought it was making it to the lunch stop that I wanted.  No.  It was LUNCH!  And here it was.  THANK YOU Dixie.  And THANK YOU Richards Brandt Miller Nelson, the sponsors of Rest Stop 3.

Mmmmmmm.  Lunch!! :-)
LtoR: Bethany, Lisa, Dixie, Marianne, Me

Mountain America Credit Union
THANK YOU Mountain America Credit Union (MACU)!  This year we got back to the Village earlier than we normally do.  Lucky for us!  We got back just in time for the MACU afternoon drawing.  Bethany's name was drawn out as a participant in the money grab game.  This is where you step into a thing.... what's the right word? .... a tent/tube thingy (it's like a plastic phone booth) and they turn on a fan which blows money all around you.  Seriously.  You grab what you can and you actually get to keep the money!  Bethany was able to grab $32!  Now she only needs to raise $218 for next year's ride :-)  

MACU also sponsors a BINGO game.  You take a bingo card on the ride and get signatures for things like "person with yellow socks," "person in the top 75 of the 150 club," "someone from team Harmon's."  Things like that.  We've done the bingo in the past but we've never won.  This year two of us on the team won!  Yep.  We stayed to the bitter end Saturday night and finally our name was called :-)  Lisa won $50 and I won $100.  With that $100 we can purchase 1700 jawbreakers for our jawbreaker machine at the Water Gardens theater in Pleasant Grove and raise $425!  How cool is that!?  THANK YOU Mountain America!

Bethany in the money booth grabbing money :-)

THANK YOU Bethany!  As I mentioned above, Bethany wasn't feeling too well.  After lunch at Rest Stop 3 though and a little yoga with Aunt Marianne, she decided she would try and go one more rest stop. We told her about the really fun rolling hills between Rest Stop 3 and Rest Stop 4.  One of the funnest parts of the route in my opinion.  We are so proud of Bethany!  She made it to Rest Stop 4 and can now officially say she has biked from Logan to Idaho!  Thank You Bethany for riding to Franklin with us!  Bethany is also one of our top fundraisers.  She raised the money for her mom, Lisa, to ride with us this year!  Thank you Bethany! :-)

Lisa and Bethany in Idaho :-)

The Rookies
THANK YOU Lisa!  THANK YOU Craig!  As we were riding, both Marianne and I discussed how this year seemed different.  We just didn't seem as pumped and excited to be there.  Something was missing.  Luckily we had Lisa with us!  This was Lisa's first year.  She was one of two Rookies on our team.  As we plodded along, Lisa sailed on ahead of us.  I can still see her smiling face.  She was loving it!  She didn't complain at the hills.  In fact she tackled each one deftly without even getting off her bike once!  Quite often we'd look around -- Where's Lisa? we'd ask.  Inevitably she was way ahead of us, oblivious to the fact that we were trailing behind.  Thank you Lisa for bringing some energy to a group of not so energetic riders!  

And Thank you Craig!  He pulled the 100 mile team along.  We met Craig the day before the MS150.  Apparently Craig bikes A LOT!  He was in really good shape and was able to help the 100 milers tackle the windy conditions.

Hills?  Ha!  I eat hills for breakfast!  Bring it on!!

THANK YOU Bill!  Bill is my husband.  He's our bike mechanic and team support.  He was also team captain this year.  Thank you Bill for remembering that Marianne's bike last year had lots of problems and that she ended up finishing the ride last year on my bike!  Because Bill remembered this we were able to fix up my bike for Marianne to ride and get another bike ready for me.  This made for a much more pleasant ride!  So nice to have a decent bike to ride on, eh?  Bill switched bike seats and adjusted bikes the morning before the ride so that we could each have a good bike to ride.

Superman!!  Cyclist, Team Captain, Master Mechanic and so much more!

Jacob and Reid
THANK YOU Jacob and Reid.  Jacob was a good sport.  We all painted our fingernails orange for the ride.  Jacob was the only manly man among the men :-)  He painted one hand's nails :-)  Thanks for playing with us Jacob and Thanks for riding even after having two flat tires!  Thanks to Reid for helping with the flat tires!  Reid and Jacob rode 75 miles!!  Way to go!

Friends and Family
THANK YOU Friends and Family!  For the past couple of years Bill and I have relied on money from the gum ball machine and CureMS, the iPhone/iPad app, to have enough to ride.  This year I was hoping to get into the 150 club (top 150 fundraisers).  I was quite a bit short though but thought I still might be able to pull off $600 to get a jersey.  As the race approached I was still about $70 short of my goal.  I decided to call Bill's mom.  Bill's mom always donates $50 to the ride each year.  This year however she was on her honeymoon.  It was Friday.  I was desperate.  I called.  I know.  I got a lot of flack from the family for that one.  But it was Grandma!  She loves to donate, right?  Anyhow.  I got the answering machine.  Dang.  The first year I rode I sent out an email and raised money that way.  In recent years however email pleas had gone unanswered.  So I decided to try a less-than-subtle Facebook status.  "Yahoo!  On my way to the MS150!  So excited and only $50 short of my goal!"  I added a link to our fundraising website :-)  THANK YOU to my cousin Staci for seeing that status update and donating the much needed/wanted $50 :-)  And THANK YOU to Aunt Charlotte for donating the other $20!  And THANK YOU to all the friends and family that support us in so many different ways (including reading this blog :-)!  It means a lot to us.  We love you!

THANK YOU Marianne!  Thank you for suggesting years ago that we fundraise as a family.  Thank you for having such fun ideas and making everything so fun!  Marianne suggested we paint our fingernails orange this year.  Great idea!  That was a ton of fun.  She also encouraged us and led us onto BINGO victory! :-)  Also it was with Marianne that we brainstormed the "Crush MS" campaign on one of our runs.  Being with Marianne turns on the creative juices!  THANK YOU!

Crush MS!

Yoga at Rest Stop 3

THANK YOU to Water Gardens theater in PG for hosting our jawbreaker machine and to Apple for creating the App Store and the iPhone/iPad so we could make CureMS (and to Bill for the idea :-).  THANK YOU to Scott, Jenni and Jeff for watching the kids while we rode.  THANK YOU to you for reading this :-)  


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bike MS 2012

The weekend we all look forward to all year is here!  We arrived on Friday afternoon and had our traditional carboload dinner at Olive Garden.  This year we had two rookie riders (our sister Lisa and our dad's friend Craig).  We gave the rookies a little green cactus with a bright orange (MS Orange!) flower to signify that even though they are "green" they are hearty and will grow a beautiful orange flower if they nourish their fundraising efforts!  We gave the entire team a can of orange Crush soda because we are attempting to "crush" MS.  The next morning after our team picture we took our now empty cans of Crush and yelled "CRUSH MS!" as we crushed our cans and stomped them.  Go team!

After our Go Team! moment we broke off into three groups--the 100 milers, the 75 milers, and the rest of us.  This year it was incredibly hot (much hotter than in years past) and we had one of our rookies and a young rider so we rode until we made it to lunch and then sagged back to the fairgrounds.  We wanted to make sure we hit the fun part, which is on the 75 mile route.  Our young rider (Bethany) confirms that the fun part was worth it!  I was really impressed with our rookie (Lisa) because this was the longest bike ride she's ever been on but she rode up EVERY hill and looked like she could have kept going for another 25 miles at least.  Due to the thoughtfulness of my brother-in-law, Bill, I was able to ride a superlite bike this year rather than Senor Hyabusa (who is fairly heavy and whose gears are less than optimal).  He took the bike they had turned into a stationary bike (Big Red Hyabusa) and made it into a regular bike for my sister to ride so I could ride hers (Mt Fuji Hyabusa).  I had ridden this bike for a few miles last year but riding it from the beginning showed me how much I was missing by riding an older bike with bad gears!  Watching a recumbant bike ride by, though, made me want to get a cool, non-traditional bike so that along with the good gears I could also avoid the shoulder soreness, tush soreness, and numb hands that are par for the course on a long bike ride.  Anyone want to be my bike sponsor???  The only problem with the recumbant is that I couldn't ride it in triathlons.  We aren't sure, though, if the prohibition means that I couldn't ride in the race or that I would be ineligible for the top prizes.  Since I'm never in the running for the top prizes that wouldn't be a problem! :-)

Back to this year's ride, though.  We were at a fairly slow pace due to the heat and the overall experience level of our little group and so, yet again, it was looking like we were going to miss lunch.  We made it to Rest Stop 3 as they were closing up and eating lunch themselves.  The folks at Richards Brandt Miller Nelson were so lovely that they told us they had 4 extra lunches that we could have!  So this year we finally got lunch!!!!  And we ate it at lunch time!!!  This has been our goal for many years.  It was good to finally achieve it :-)  This year we made it back to the fairgrounds at about 2:30 or 3 and came in to a big crowd (usually the only people still hanging at the finish line when we come in are in our family).  We also had more time to hang out the fairgrounds and enjoy all of the events there (I think our kids spent at least 3 hours in the bounce house and bouncey slide).  This year Bethany got to go into the flying money booth and snatched $32 and both Lisa and Michelle won the bingo prize ($50 and $100 respectively).  Unfortunately we did not win a cool new bike this year.  Usually this is due to our general bad luck in raffles but this year it was due to the fact that they made the bikes a silent auction item instead of a raffle item.  That was a little disappointing but I had to remind myself that the outcome was the same--we were filled with desire but ultimately left the fairgrounds without a cool new bike!  Again, does anyone want to be my bike sponsor? 

Well, we also left the fairgrounds with lots of great ideas for next year's ride and fundraising.  I'm excited to start on that and to have just as much fun next year!  Come ride with us!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gumball/Jawbreaker Machine Earnings

Our best fundraiser to date is our gumball/jawbreaker machine, Old Yeller.  Currently it resides at Water Gardens Theater in Pleasant Grove, Utah (across from Macey's).  Here is a picture of it in it's current home and a list of it's earnings.  This list will be updated at the beginning of each month when we collect the jawbreaker money.  Big THANKS again to WATER GARDENS THEATER in PG!!  A great place to watch movies!  $3 movie ticket and concessions for $1, $2 and $3.  Seriously.  Order tickets online without an online service fee.  Reserve seating.  LOVE IT!  And, as an added bonus, you can buy a yummy jawbreaker for a mere 25 cents and help people afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis :-)  Yahoo!

Money Earned

Placed at the Pleasant Grove Water Gardens Theater 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 in Lehi second week in Dec. 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
November 2011: (-$46.98)
Jan. 12, 2012 $135.21
Jan. 2012: (-$93.96)
Feb. 2012: $69.03
March 2012: $58.97
April 2012: $86.25
June 21, 2012: $161.07
July 20, 2012: $64.55
August 10, 2012: $100.78
Sept. 21, 2012: $93.50
Nov. 20, 2012: $143.87
Nov. 20, 2012: (-$93.96)
Jan. 20, 2013: $171.52
March 2013: $151.33
May 2013: $101.08
July 2013: $126.43
July 2013: (-$176.85)
Sept. 2013: $35.45
Nov. 2013: $90.11
Dec. 2013: $40.81
March 2014: $111.71
July 2014: $121.00
August 2014: $67.59 and $91.76
December 2014: $91
January 2015: $50.69
November 2015: $190
December 2015: $34
January 2016: $46.69
March 2016: $50.00
June 2016: $55.00
October 2016: $151.00
May 2017: $35.00
July 2017: $36.00

Note: In November 2011 Old Yeller became a jawbreaker machine.  When it was a gumball machine the gumballs were donated.  Now we buy our own jawbreakers.  It costs us $93.96 for 1700 jawbreakers.  At 25 cents per jawbreaker we will still be able to raise $331.04 for every 1700 jawbreakers sold.  To keep things completely transparent we will mark, on the list above, the money spent on jawbreakers in red.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Free training plan for the MS150

A friend recently asked me about training for the MS150.  I'm not one to follow a training schedule very strictly.  I didn't know what to tell her.  I decided to google "training for the MS150" and see if anything came up.  Google did not let me down :-)  It never does!  What did we do without Google (and YouTube how-to-videos)?  :-)  I found this site about a free training plan for people registered for the MS150.  Here's the link.  Check it out!


You can also find other training plans that people have posted.  Most of them seem a lot more intense than anything I've ever done!  The people who follow those plans probably finish faster and are less sore than me too LOL  Either way, it's a lot of fun!  Remember, there are rest stops about every 10 miles and there are support vehicles and cell phones everywhere!  It's all good.  Oh yeah, and did I mention the massage at the end?  Yep.  I love this event :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Yahoo!  Our latest eBay fundraising auction was a huge success!  Thank you to everyone who spread the word or bid on the ornament. And a big thanks to Uncle Blaine for donating the ornament!!

When all was said and done we had six bidders and twelve bids.  The winning bid was $45.  After shipping, eBay fees and PayPal fees we have $40.30 left to donate to the National MS Society!  Yahoo!!

Selling on eBay is a bit addictive.  It's very fun to see the clock tick down and the final bids come in.  If anyone has anything they want to donate I'd love to do another eBay fundraiser :-)

Here is a picture of the eBay ornament Uncle Blaine donated.  It's a spinning top.  Below the picture is a video of Blaine in his garage making a similar ornament.