First Three Sled Runs

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Friday 12-7-12  Frustration set in and digs in with sharp claws… I am thrilled the snow is falling but as I skipped another night of training so I can pack, I fall further behind in my sleep… I check the roads at 4 a.m. and they look pretty bad, so I decide (incorrectly, it turns out!) to wait until the 11 a.m. boat so I can assure the dogs will have a safe and comfortable drive (instead of getting caught on bumpy roads because of the use of chains that were required).  I get to the mainland after noon and am tense, stressed, unhappy.  I still am not sure where I am headed… am I going to Cle Elum to the trails that always feel “safe” to me and to be able to spend some time with my good friends, or am I headed to Fish Lake to camp alone by trails that I think will enable me to get more miles on the dogs?  I decide (after much deliberation) to go to Fish Lake, and check the road conditions one last time.  Chains required.  Snowing Hard.  Dang!  It wasn’t that bad earlier today… I call Tim for an update and he says the pass is pretty slick.  I change my plans to go ahead to Cle Elum (with a possible drive over Blewett Pass to Fish Lake later in the weekend) and check the roads… raining on the pass; raining in Cle Elum.  Really?  Well, I guess I’ll just have another sloppy run.  I drive toward Bellevue and talk to Mike who says it’s now lightly snowing on Snoqualmie.  I check again in a short time and now they’re requiring chains (on non AWD) and it’s snowing hard!  Really?  Wow…. This seems to be a never-ending struggle to make the right decision, and another error in my judgment.  I am now extra tense and stressed.  I can’t get Lance out of his box to pee and stop two times after leaving work to no avail.  I buy some Pringles and munch my way down the road… stress crunching as I drive.  I’m listening to reports of “heavy snow up ahead” and crunching louder.  The traffic slows, which is fine with me, as the semi’s and non AWD vehicles chain up.  It’s a steady crawl over the pass and I try and keep my fists from clenching and my shoulders from tightening any more.  We are driving about 30 to 40 MPH most of the way with snow off and on.  Thankfully the heavy snow is ahead of us and I fall in behind the snow plow brigade so the road is pretty good, as long as we’re all driving slowly.  I exit at Cle Elum and get to Pam’s with stress now leaking out of my ears.  WHEW.  That’s all… just WHEW.  Thank You Lord for keeping us safe.  Oh how I already dread having to drive in those conditions the next time.

 

10.1 Miles Saturday 12-8-12  First Sled Run with Team Wulik

I am still stressed and afraid this morning… which is silly because I’ve been on my sled many times before, but not with this 6 dog team.  It’s new which usually means for me that it’s scary.  I hate that about myself.  I am trying to be methodical, but really I just want to go back to bed.  I am exhausted, even more than before I left home.  But, I Need Miles, so push on.  The snow was WET and STICKY and we didn’t even get out of the RV area before we had stopped several times, getting caught up with snow packing under the drag mat and keeping the mega brake from even going down far enough to be useful.  I have a fleeting thought, “Just quit… go back to the truck… this is too hard…” but we keep going.  We’re running slow and everyone is working hard and getting warm already.  Much to my relief we are not out of control going down the trail.  It’s only 6 dogs!  I’m not sure why I thought it would be so different from when I had 5?  My little team is pretty good about standing when I have them stopped, even when the snow hooks don’t hold (like today), so I was thankful for that.  We ran with Pam and Dave, and it was pretty uneventful aside from Tkope pushing his limits of socializing (or poor socializing) with other dogs… he seems to get better after making a mistake (and being yelled at… there I go again…ugh) but I’ve seen him respond to calm and encouraging talking too.  I pray that I can use that all the time with him and get the results I want, him to be comfortable with other dogs on the trail and get to the point that he pretty much ignores them.  As we’re coming back down toward the power lines it’s snowing really hard and it’s hard to see or breathe!  We were getting wet, and my sled bag was soaking through.  This is a problem that I need to fix before the race.  Pam and I talked and she helped me figure out a plan… I’ll try it next week. We get back to the truck with sore arms and a sore back and more exhaustion and look at the GPS saying we ran 10.1 miles.  Seriously?  Is that all?  It felt like 25 at least!  Well, there’s always tomorrow!

 

12.9 Miles Sunday 12-9-12 

Michael graciously groomed the trails for us this morning and the conditions were much much much better.  The dogs, however, looked tired out.  Before we even got down Cougar Loop they were trotting slower than when we finished our 20 mile ATV run last week.  The pace gradually picked up (maybe they were sore? I should have massaged them before launching) and I took Pam up and over the ridge on my favorite trail.  Under the power lines we met a family out cutting their Christmas tree with their pet dog, who thankfully was in the car.  Both teams tried to go visit.  I hooked down my team and pulled Pam’s leaders back onto the trail, and finally mine followed.  The dogs did great moving up the hills (even the “Best Hill Ever”!) and I smiled (at least inside!) watching Galena “racing” Pam’s team.  She can’t stand to follow another team and I can see her strategize on catching up with them and taking advantage of various conditions to pass them.  She is such a great little leader, and I just don’t give her enough credit!  We then went to the Horse Corral/Lollipop and came upon another pet dog on the trail.  Thankfully its owners were very responsible and had me stop while they put it back on leash.  My team REALLY REALLY wanted to go visit (Tozi was vocalizing like crazy, so he probably wanted to do more than just visit), but I finally got them to Haw.  We met up with Michael when we came up “Connie’s Hill” who was grooming the 4 dog loop, so we turned in there to run on some very freshly groomed trails.  The dogs were not listening very well for the last few miles, I expect because they were tired.  We got back to the truck and see that today we only ran 12.9 miles.  Man, I thought the snow was going to be a LOT easier!  I plan to go back out for a short run in the morning before heading back to work Monday afternoon.  We went back to Pam’s and I tried melting snow in my cooker for the first time.  It worked fine, but only burned about half as long (30 minutes) as when we heated water at home with the pressed log slice added to the fuel.  Next time I’ll bring several slices, because it seemed to burn a LOT hotter with it.  Not sure how much bearing the temperature had on it, but we’ll see.

 

8.1 Miles Monday 12-10-12 

Woke up on time but on the trail a bit behind schedule (again!).  Cicely kept getting tangled today, no matter what I tried with her neckline (even removing it at one point).  The team started out GREAT (averaged 11.8 MPH after ½ mile) but we soon were in trot mode with me finding it difficult to keep the line tight.  We did the 4 dog loop (up the hill first) and found the snow again very soft, since it never got to freezing overnight.  Then up towards the Horse Corral.  We were averaging ~ 7 MPH and once past the Y, Cicely put the brakes on and lowered her head and just stood there.  I got off to check her and she seemed fine, just tired.  We decided to turn around at that point, which was good because time was flying and we now should have already been back to the truck for me to leave on time according to my plan to get to work with plenty of time to spare before our client assessment.  After a brief stop, Cicely was fine and ran/pulled fine on the way back to the truck.  I think it was just too fast for her, and she needed a rest stop.  She’s done that before, and then seems rearing to go after a short break.  Hopefully she can keep up with those tiny little legs of hers!  She is CERTAINLY enjoying her time on the team and typically jumps and pulls and vocalizes first to get the team moving again.  I love that little girl!  I wish I had that kind of heart, where she doesn’t think about or know all the reasons why she shouldn’t be able to do what she’s doing!  We get back to the truck and Tkope launches into his Snow Angel Finale Routine!  He’s so funny!  He flops down on the snow, rolls around on his back, jumps up and repeats it!  He then just laid there on his side…until I went to try and get his harness off, when he started kicking/pushing with his legs and spinning himself around on the snow again!  I left him there to enjoy himself and took everyone else off.  I loaded as fast as I could, but ended up pulling out 30 min behind schedule.  Thankfully there was no traffic to speak of and I got to work with time to get my sled down and prepare for work.  I was a mess… stressed, hat hair, snow clothes still on, and did I mention stressed?!  This weekend, with all of the GREAT things that happened, didn’t feel like a success and it didn’t feel fun.  Wow…. I need an attitude adjustment!  I am so embarrassed with the fact that I’m so overwhelmed that I’m not even enjoying preparing for the race!  What is wrong with me?  The same old sin that grabs me and shakes me on a continual basis… taking my eyes off of my Lord and putting them onto myself, where nothing good resides.   No wonder I’m stressed…

 

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