20.2 Miles Friday 11-30-12

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5.6 MPH avg, 5.15 Total Time, 3:37 Moving Time

The Weakest Link overslept this morning…8:15 I finally rolled out of bed to go let the kids out and get moving.  Pam was almost loaded and ready to go.  Shelby had arrived around 2am this morning (she’s so hard core!) and I was trying to move quickly so I didn’t hold them up too long.  I could tell I was still pretty exhausted as I was dizzy and my brain was not engaged yet, but I slowly got myself together, fed the pups and headed to Camp K for what I hoped to be our longest run yet.  Michael J GRACIOUSLY agreed to meet us (after offering me the use of Doreen’s motorized ATV for today), tightened my brakes as much as possible, and led us out to a trail I hadn’t been on before.  I ended up leading, telling everyone I knew where we would be meeting Michael on the trail, and, of course, got turned around and Pam had to help me get to where we were going.  We went DOWN the scariest hill ever, as I did not have enough braking power to slow the team as slow as I felt safe, plus there was a monster gulley across the road halfway down… and a drop off that was taunting me as I approached!  I realized I was only going to skid more if I CLAMPED DOWN on the brakes like I wanted to, so I let up a bit and just road it down, keeping it as slow as I could.  The dogs listened and slowed beautifully for me… I’m so proud of them… did I say that yet today? 

After about 3.5 miles, Pam and Shelby went back, and Michael continued to lead my team down this new trail, at several points riding ahead to check it out and coming back to say it was either blocked or too steep so we should stop and turn around there, which we thankfully did.  We climbed some pretty steep hills and the dogs REALLY DID GREAT!  I got off and jogged as much as possible to get some needed training myself, and pushed myself pretty hard.  I am so thankful that I’m in as good of shape as I’ve been in for as long as I can remember, or there’s no way I could keep up with my pups.  I’m learning to keep my ab muscles tight when on the ATV so my lower back is better protected, and I’m having far fewer back issues now.  My knees are doing very well and my asthma is gone, by the grace of God.  These two things have been present for quite some time, and were either one of them to intensify, I couldn’t do this race.  Again, the Lord is enabling, strengthening, teaching and leading us onward, and words don’t exist to say how THANKFUL I am. 

Once we went as far as Michael thought we should (as the road steepened even more up ahead), we turned around and started heading back.  I told Michael we would cross the river this time, and would be fine on our own, so he kindly marked the trail that was different from coming out with shotgun shells he found on the road that he stood on end and made me laugh when I saw them.  He then laid out my  rope he had used to tie off to the back of my ATV when I was coming down a dangerously steep hill to keep us from, well, crashing (!) and it led us right to the water.  We crossed this river a few years ago but it was a bit warmer and more shallow.  How do I know that, you ask?  Well, Miss Galena and Tana were in lead (Galena is my main leader, but Tana fills in beautifully when needed, i.e. when Galena isn’t taking a command correctly or isn’t running lead) and I led them to the edge of the water and Galena turned around and looked at me as if to say, “Are You CRAZY????  It’s DEEP out there and it’s SWIFTLY RUNNING WATER and there’s SLIPPERY ROCKS on the bottom and it’s COLD and I’M SMALL!!!” and promptly turned the team around!  I had to walk her out in the water a little ways (I was really hoping to keep my feet dry because we had only gone about 12 miles at this point and I hoped to do at least 20) but she and the rest of the dogs really didn’t believe that this was a great idea I had to cross this river!  So, I bravely walked out a bit further and suddenly I felt the water come in over the top of my boots and  my legs/feet were WET and COLD.  I continued to lead them out further because I could tell she still wasn’t convinced we were absolutely going to cross here.  I was already wet, so what was another 30 seconds in the river to me?!  I got back on the ATV and called them up and my little team trudged right across that rushing river!  I was so proud of them, and I could tell they were really proud of themselves too!  Especially Lance, who just couldn’t stop screaming when we were on the opposite bank!  They all shook off and I took a little video to show them and the river, but it looked way more shallow from the edge than it was in the middle.  I suppose I could have walked back out in it to document how deep it was, but you’re just going to have to take my word for it!  LOL!

At that point they all trudged effortlessly and proudly right up the same scary hill with the gulley, and we continued on towards the Horse Corral/Lollipop to get some more miles.  In retrospect, I supposed I could have removed my boots and dumped out the water that was still in them, but it actually felt like it was warming up and keeping my feet warmer than if I didn’t have a pint of water still in my boots.  (…and I know there was that much because when I finally got back to Pam’s LATER, I dumped it out!). 

The rest of the run was just wonderful.  I bootied Tkope to help protect his pads (most of the trail was soft dirt or soft gravel) and realized the stiff booties I made just don’t look very comfortable for him.  I roughly designed some improvements I’ll work on when I get home.  I gave up on the booties a while later and hoped his pads would be okay (which they were, by God’s grace).  We went a pretty good ways, across a frozen deep puddle (frozen, that was, until I drove over it and “crashed” into 1 1/5’ of freezing water!), and stopped at the top of another steep downhill that had about 2” of snow on it.  We had done too well to have a crash at this point!  We went back towards camp through the open gate and across the bridge when my phone rang.  It was Michael checking on our safety.  He and Doreen are so supportive and encouraging and the best mentors a person could hope for.  They are also the best ambassadors for the sport and for terrific dog care (and rescuing dogs) possible.  (THANK YOU, YOU TWO!!!)  I had the team stopped to take a few quick pictures before heading up our last hill (I’ve seen my dogs plenty DIRTY before, but they were BEYOND DIRTY today!) so was able to talk on the phone pretty easily, for about 30 seconds until they decided they were ready to roll again!  We were at 18 miles at this point and they were anxious to get up the hill!  (Did I mention how PROUD I am of them?!)  I quickly hung up and jumped on and up we went.  I jogged up as much of it as I could, but had to jump on towards the top because I couldn’t keep up with them.  They definitely still had gas in their tanks!  I kept looking at the GPS and knew we needed to do a couple more loops to make my goal of 20 miles, so we Gee’d onto the 4 dog loop, then back onto Camp K property, and finally on to Cougar Loop.  It was SO BEAUTIFUL there… there was light coming through the fog at the base of the trees, so I took a few pictures of them zooming down the trail.  Most were blurry because of the “zoom factor” but I captured enough of the beauty to help me remember it.  We pulled into camp at a very nice speed, and up to the truck.  I was SO PROUD OF THEM!  They just stood there like, “are we done now?”… no one flopped down exhausted or even looked tired!  We had made it!  20.2 miles on an ATV and not on an easy trail!  There were HILLS and HILLS and a RIVER and more HILLS and THEY DID GREAT!!!!!!!  (And yes, there were ROCKS and TREES and more WATER TOO!!!!)  I think we all felt quite satisfied in the work we had just done.  They sure looked happy to me!  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR YOUR PROTECTION AND ENABLING US TO GO THIS DISTANCE!  This was what I was so hoping to see today…they ARE DOING GREAT!!!!!!!!  We have another 5 weeks of training before the race… I’m feeling more and more encouraged about what this little team is capable of.  How could I have doubted them?  ; )

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