Fri 1-19-13 “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

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Fri 1-19-13 “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”
Writing my last entry, I joked about this statement in referring to my last week of training before our race. It isn’t a joke anymore…

Exhaustion was catching up with me again, so I decided to spend a bit more time with Mike before we’d be apart (due to different travel schedules) and take the later ferry over. On the ferry, we were treated to a glimpse of a pod of orcas outside of Anacortes! It’s been years since we’ve seen orcas on the ferry! What a special little gift to bring a smile to my face! I drove to work to pick up my sled and do a bit of paperwork, and walked all the dogs, finally getting on the road to the trails. The drive was uneventful, and I initially drove to the Airport SnoPark Parking Lot where I would be camping to make SURE it was accessible and safe, which it was, so we headed to Fish Lake to get in a run, hoping to launch while it was still light. Everything went smoothly until it was time to put Kanoo in the dog box to keep her safe while we were running. Kanoo is now 11, but I still can’t trust her to not chew things, especially when she’s bored or wants to get my attention, so I decided it was wisest to not leave her in the truck cab surrounded by “temptations”. She has loaded into Tkope’s box numerous times without incident, but this particular time she decided at the last second to twist to the left, avoiding the opening into the box. I immediately got stubborn and fought to keep her in my arms, instead of letting her to the ground and regrouping, which would have been a MUCH SMARTER MOVE in retrospect.

I felt something pull in my lower left back, but had a bit of comfort in knowing that at least “I won” and she went into the box. Yeah… that was stupid. I gave her a cookie and started putting dogs on the gangline to go. They were pretty amped up, which caused me to be extra careful with the steps of getting away from the truck and onto the trails, especially because we were the only ones there. The last two snow machines came off the trail as I was getting ready to go. There was only a small RV that showed up right after I had all the dogs on the line screaming to go, that I had to watch out for. They stopped the RV at a spot that blocked the right side of the trail, but there was plenty of room to go around on the left side, and since it looked like they were going to sit there for a minute and my team was going, well, a bit crazy, I pulled the snub line and we took off up the icy road. At that exact moment, I see the RV backing up and jumped on the mega brake to stop my team, but the RV didn’t stop… it kept backing up closer and closer to my leaders, who had noticed it and were starting to look as worried as I felt. I did the only thing I could, screamed at the top of my lungs at the driver to “WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA”, who may have heard me because they stopped just in time. I stood on the brake, unsure of their next move. I decided by the time they figured out what they were doing we could be past them, so we took off down the trail, safely past them, by the grace of God.

The trail was smooth and FAST, and the temps were COLD (low 20s when we took off), so the team was running faster than I like them to go. I was on the drag mat and brake pretty much the whole time (except when we were headed up hill), to keep them as slow as possible to make sure my little Cicely had enough gas in her tank for later. I could tell these speeds and trying to keep the team controlled were hard on my sore back, but it was holding steady, so I was doing okay. The run was beautiful, with lots of snow still on the trees from the “Snopocalypse” when we were here last. It was shocking to see all the trees that had come down since we left here last. I was so thankful the Lord kept us safe while stuck in that parking lot. Falling trees had landed all around us, and yet not one of them caused any damage or injury to our teams or rigs. The sun set while we were on the trail tonight, and I was getting colder and colder, especially my fingers since I did not bring the right gloves. So, I decided to go ahead and stop after 9 miles, even though they were having so much fun. We got back safely to the truck and I warmed up quickly as I took care of the team. My back was sore and stiff, but I was able to do everything I needed to as long as I moved slowly and carefully.

I went to get Kanoo out of the box so I could load Tkope and she absolutely refused to come out! I thought maybe she buried her cookie and was guarding it, so I searched as best as I could but couldn’t find anything, so kept walking away, trying to bribe her by showing her another cookie on the outside, trying it again, pulling as hard as I could, slipping her collar several times, borrowing Galena’s limited slip collar, and when all else failed, I screamed at her. Of course none of these ridiculous attempts worked, as she was looking away and trying to get away from me each time I approached her with more and more frustration… what did I expect? She finally got close enough to the opening that I could get her front feet onto the flip down board on the side of the truck, and I was able to get her all the way out. I praised her for coming out, giving her the cookie I had tried to bribe her with earlier. I was very disappointed with my lack of patience and anger with her, and could tell that it probably hadn’t helped my sore back any to try and pull her out numerous times. (If I could change one thing in my dog box it would be to get rid of the 2” lip at the bottom of the boxes, that totally prevents me from being able to slide them out… they use it to barricade themselves inside and there’s nothing I can do about it) So, I packed everything up to head back to the campsite and get some rest. I could tell I was exhausted, which typically adds to my impatience like gasoline to a fire. I hoped to sleep well tonight… I knew I needed it.

Unfortunately, my back was quite sore once I finally got into my sleeping bag in the truck and it was very hard to get comfortable. Once I finally got settled, Kanoo started whining, even though she had been on a long line outside to give her the chance to potty before putting her in the truck for the night. I tried to ignore her (not a very loving thing to do, because I wondered if her tummy was bothering her like last time we camped here, but I was having SUCH a difficult time moving that I just wanted her to go to sleep and let me do the same). Ignoring her didn’t work, so I finally worked my way sitting up and got out of the truck to walk her. Sure enough, she had needed to go potty and I felt bad about making her wait. My selfishness was going hand-in-hand with my impatience tonight where Kanoo was concerned. Oh Lord, please change my heart and make me more like Christ…. I have so very very very far to go.

I slept quite poorly and woke up early, deciding to get up (instead of trying to go back to sleep) and see how my back was feeling. I was hoping to go for a LONG run on Thursday and Friday, something we hadn’t done for weeks, but doubted the wisdom of sticking to that plan. When running dogs, it’s much more than just pushing through the pain. You have to know that you can take care of your team, even if things don’t go smoothly on the trail. But I HAD TO TRY to at least get on the trail today. Our race starts in one week, so I really needed to do some more back-to-back long runs to make sure they remembered how to do that and were both physically and mentally up for the task. I took a couple anti-inflammatories and fed the dogs and myself, moving slowly and carefully. I took Kanoo for a long walk and was thankfully feeling better. I thought I would probably be okay to at least do a medium run, so packed up the truck again and decided to change boots so my feet would stay warm in the cold temps of the morning. I tied one boot and was bent over tying my second one when I felt something “shift” at the same spot the soreness had been. I had excruciating pain like I’ve never felt before and I literally could not bend over to reach my boot. I tried not to panic and walked (rather hobbled) slowly around the truck looking for something to prop my foot up on so I could tie my boot. It took probably 5 minutes, but I finally managed to tie it. I went to get in the truck and needed several more minutes to get onto the seat and then found I couldn’t reach out to close the door without the pain hitting me hard, so had to scoot out again, grab the door, and then scoot back around in front of the wheel. My breathing was heavy and my legs were shaking. I couldn’t believe how much this hurt. I thought about just driving home, but was trying to be reasonable and went ahead and drove slowly to Fish Lake to see if my back would settle down. Man, if only I hadn’t been so stubborn with Kanoo last night and just let her down! What a mistake that was.

So I got Kanoo out of the cab, dropped all the dogs as slowly and carefully as I could (which included not being able to control several of them very well as they came out, but thankfully no one was injured jumping down), and took Kanoo for another walk to try and warm my back up and see how limiting the pain was. To my great disappointment, it wasn’t working itself out. The more I walked, the worse it got, and I eventually made the hard call to get home as soon as possible and deal with this injury. I planned to get on the road for the race on Monday, which gave me 4 days to get better…not a lot of time. The drive home was uneventful except for noticing I was feeling weak and exhausted from the pain. I have certainly taken a life virtually free from severe pain for granted. I got home and didn’t even have the energy to ice my back or finish my glass of wine, falling asleep quickly.

Friday morning I called my Chiropractor and they got me right in for an adjustment, and a diagnosis of S.I. Joint inflammation. My hips were completely uneven, and the rest of my back had tightened up from the long drive home and my natural attempts to avoid the positions that caused me the stabbing pain. I felt a bit better after the adjustment, but he gently told me I really needed to think about how important it was to run this race. I heard myself weakly say, “but we’ve been working so hard to get here.” He gave me great instructions of icing every 45-60 minutes and babying it. I watched the clock all and well into the night, iced obediently, and ate comfort food and chocolate, trying to not let my mind think about what this might mean for our season. I told myself I’d wait until Saturday to start thinking about whether I thought I should try to race or pull out of the Eagle Cap Extreme and concentrate on the Cascade Quest in another two weeks. As I thought a bit more, I realized that if I can’t run dogs this next week, I don’t think I’ll stay signed up for the 75 mile, 3 day class, which puts even more pressure on to, as my Chiropractor put it, “be stubborn and push through” for this race.

So here I sit, midday Saturday, wondering what on earth is happening to me. I consider the option that maybe the Lord does NOT want me to run this race after all, and that I’ve been training all season for nothing (instead of just enjoying my team and running when I can, allowing things to just happen naturally, like I typically do). I know He’s been teaching me a whole variety of things through setting these goals and working as hard as I’ve ever worked to meet them, and can’t imagine that He would want me to give up at this point. I have to admit that I haven’t learned the “patience lesson” nearly as completely as I had hoped to by now, as evidenced from the cause of this injury staring me in the face.

The other option is that He is testing my faith. I don’t typically have trouble realizing that the Lord is Sovereignly controlling the details in my life, and I find huge comfort from this knowledge, but I don’t typically allow myself to get “hopeful” for the good that can happen in my life. I tend to naturally prepare myself for disappointment that I think is probably coming instead of allowing myself to “go out on a limb” and think that something good is going to happen. I’ve always been that way, at least since losing my mom at such a young age (I was 11 when she died). I’m not a depressed person, but am just realistic in knowing that life comes complete with lots of trials to be endured and learned from, and I don’t have any reason to assume that my blessings are going to come to me in this life. I KNOW that my eternity is set and will be OVERFLOWING with Joy, but Scripture teaches us to be patient for them. The Lord uses trials to get our minds on eternity, so I’m not surprised when difficulties come into my life. I also know the Lord will see me through each of them, so I don’t panic when they hit. But today, I’m confused… I am clueless what the Lord is doing right now and what He wants me to do. I trust Him, but feel my faith in the possibility of Him bringing my team to the finish lines of the upcoming races wavering wildly. No matter what else He is doing, I find it obvious that He has led me into a huge test of faith.

What do I REALLY believe about His attitude towards me? Do I think deep down inside that He is punishing me for my stubbornness and impatience with Kanoo? Do I think I deserve to be disappointed because of my sins? Or do I truly BELIEVE that HE LOVES ME? That He sees His Son when He looks at me? That He has put my sin far from Him, and doesn’t remember it, instead viewing me through the righteousness of Christ? Do I Believe that His Grace is for me too, not just other believers? Grace is never deserved… I know for sure that I don’t deserve His love or His blessings, but that doesn’t limit His Mercy and Joy in blessing me and forgiving me and loving me! I had to laugh (through some tears) as I was watching a taped episode of American Idol while icing my back today, and hearing some guy sing a song I’ve never heard before with the words repeated over and over again, “He is Able!”. Just like a sign in front of a country church has been used to bless friends who are themselves in the middle of a huge test of faith with the life of their little boy, I actually saw the Lord use American Idol to bless my heart today! He IS Able! He LOVES to bless His people, and what a blessing it would be, especially after injuring myself at this “11th hour”, to actually be able to complete the two upcoming races we’ve been trying so hard to train for, ESPECIALLY with all the obstacles that keep rising up in the journey!  If it happens, and at this point I’m totally unsure of whether I should even attempt it, ALL THE GLORY will go to the Lord!  Our training is so far below what I had hoped for at this point and feels like it’s slipping further away each day, and my body feels so weak from my sickness and now this silly injury… but My Lord is Able to see us all through!  I can allow myself to have hope that He may yet allow us, enable us, to run this race.  I can trust in the health He has built into my dog team, even if they don’t have as many miles on them as I have hoped for and worked so hard to get.  They can certainly surprise me as they run “On By His Grace” ! Reading the sign I have posted right now in my bathroom, I have hope that He may yet bless my health too.  Here is what it says:

“His strength is made Perfect in our weakness… ‘He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength’… God has promised; Expect Fulfillment!  Be of Good Courage!  Joshua 1:9”

We’ll see… I certainly will not put my dogs in a situation that I don’t think they’re ready for. We may start the race and not finish the race if they’re not looking strong and happy and healthy. My first priority is to take great care of them, and that I will seek to do. Time will tell. I’m praying for His direction.

Stay tuned for “the next chapter”… I don’t have a clue what it will be!

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