Wed 1-23-13 Vet Check and a “Fun Run”

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Making Tracks

I woke up almost shaking I was so nervous this morning!  I knew I had to get out on the trail to prove to myself I remembered how to drive a sled and dog team.  It felt like it had been a month since I was behind my team and I was beginning to think we had made a mistake thinking we could do something like this.

I made my plan of when I wanted to leave for our appointed Vet Check time but got out about 30 minutes behind schedule.  I had built in plenty of extra time so made it to downtown Joseph with plenty of time to spare.  I had loaded Lance in the cab because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get him to come out of his box with all the strangers and cars and trucks and chaos that would be associated with Vet Check.  I was really glad I did that because when we got to town I saw several big groups of school kids moving through the dog trucks parked in the road.  I knew there would be no way to get him out of his box (since it’s got the 2” lip along the bottom that he can push against).  I just prayed that the Lord would provide for my dogs, knowing this was going to be stressful for several of them.   I prepared to move the truck to the appropriate area for Vet Check and looked up to see all the school children had left, and there weren’t nearly as many people as there had been when I initially got to town.  I was so relieved.  I went around the corner, coming in one block too soon, so had to sit at the intersection and wait for someone to move the barricade for us.  I asked them where to park and they said I should turn right and park along the street, which was outside of the official area (the most chaotic place) that Vet check was taking place.  We were led to the quietest spot on the street!  I knew the Lord’s Hand was in this and He was with us! 


Team Wulik made it through Vet check with flying colors.  Lance earned the “highest resting heart rate award” with a 152… poor little man was SO STRESSD. But it was behind us now and we made it over our first hurdle of the race!  Now we would head to the trail for a nice confidence-building “fun run” and to check out the parking situation and start chute for tomorrow.

We pulled up into the ski area and my nerves were building again.  We met several more organizers who were all as positive and welcoming as the Vet Check volunteers had been.  Joseph sure is a beautiful and friendly town.  We were directed to the SnoPark just down the road to run out of, and drove back out to the parking lot.  This was the same spot Laura had launched her team from last night and warned us about the first corner.  I was more concerned about Pam’s team launching because she had a sprint sled and I was planning on weighing mine down, and I figured if she went out first (she only had 4 dogs to hook up), my team would obviously follow them, as they ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS DO.  I slowly and methodically readied the sled and team, knowing I was nervous and that’s when steps get skipped and problems creep in.  Looking back now I can’t quite remember where I hooked my GPS… I remember setting it on top of my bag while I finished attaching all the straps of to the sled frame, but I thought I hooked it to the normal spot I always hook it to.  I start putting dogs on the line and see that Pam is already out with her team.  My dogs are acting like they haven’t run in a month… they are crazy to go.  I parked my truck behind Pam’s rig and was planning out my approach to the first turn so as not to scrape alongside.  I thought I would just keep the team over on the right and swing vey wide to the left to get on the trail.  We could do that.  We ALWAYS do that well.  The dogs are all on the line and I pull the snub and we take off…fast.  I stand on the mega brake (can’t do any more than that!) and it’s not stopping them at all.  To my relief they were all the way over on the right like I had hoped, but I soon saw how short-lived my relief was.  I held on tight to the handlebar and prepared for the wide turn left, but Galena and Tana, my “trustworthy” leaders had other plans they evidently had been hashing out as I was harnessing everyone up, or perhaps they made up this plan sometime earlier in the season.  One thing was for sure, they were NOT listening to their musher!  They started out on the right and continued on toward the right up to the point that we reached the intersection with the trail and a very icy berm alongside the corner.  I slowed them just enough to have the sled “sucked” right into the berm, up onto the left runner (with the right runner going over the berm and into the air) and flipped the sled.  I was glad I hadn’t let go, but not so happy to see where they were taking me, down the icy road we had driven up earlier.  This is the first time I’ve ever had my team not stop when the sled has flipped.  They usually stop and look back as if to ask me what in the world I’m doing on the ground.  Today, however, there was no resistance whatsoever from the sled being off the runners and on its side, and they looked back at me as if to say, “This is gonna be SO FUN and FAST!  Better hang on tight, Mom!  We’re going DOWN THE ROAD!”  Just last night I had partially bragged about how I had gotten better at controlling my voice when I’m scared and can manage an “Easy” or “Whoa” with the calmest tone ever…and then I said, “Oh no…I should have never said that out loud.”  This morning I heard myself escalating to a little girl screaming, “WHOA!  GALENA!  WHOA!” over and over again.  How embarrassing!  I not only had dumped my sled but was out of control screaming for my team to stop!  They finally stopped, turned around and looked at me and I swear I heard them say, “You ready to go again?  Okay GREAT!  HERE WE GO!!!!”  We went about a quarter of a mile before they stopped long enough for me to get the sled righted and turn them around and head them back up the road.  I’ve never been drug by my team before and never really thought they’d “do that to me”!  When you’re on ice and it’s fast, it’s a new game I found!  We finally made it back to the trailhead and got started on SNOW, leaving the ice behind.  My sled felt very “different” after scraping the road on its side for so long, and I thought I broke something initially.  I stopped and checked everything out and didn’t see a thing wrong, so continued up the trail.  It was about 42 degrees when we left the truck, much too warm for thickly coated sled dogs, so we were just going to go a little ways to allow them to stretch out after the week off and long drive.  I was struggling to steer the sled with the new “flexibility” and I noticed the dogs dipping a bit of snow, which wasn’t abnormal at all.  What was abnormal was when I noticed a few drops of blood on the snow.  I thought maybe it was from Laura or Pam’s teams’ feet.  I stopped the team to go up and switch Tkope to the other side of the line and looked at Tozi who had blood coming out of his mouth.  I restrained my initial reaction to panic and looked in his mouth to find some “thing” that looked like it was stuck in between his lower front teeth.  I grasped the “thing” and gently pulled but it didn’t move.  It was big enough to be just higher than the incisor surface of his teeth and I think he must have bit it.  I couldn’t figure out what in the world it was and realized that the Vet hadn’t seen it either this morning.  It’s an odd place and usually exams focus on the back teeth for cracks or tarter.  I planned to take him to the Driver’s Meeting that night and let them look at it again.  He was really bleeding a lot from it, all of a sudden, and blood was on his face, chest and feet.  It literally had just started, and I was afraid if I kept running him with a pounding heart it would have a more difficult time stopping bleeding, so we turned around after maybe 1 mile (including the ice road drag distance) and went back to the truck.  Everyone was hot and they listened and even followed my GEE command instead of going back down the ice road again, which was a good thing!  I got everybody water, looked at the silly tracks we had left scraping across the parking lot at take off (and saw there was only about ½” of ice that we had for the mega brake to dig into, explaining why we weren’t able to stop) and wondered just how fast we had drug down the hill.  I walked around to look down the road and saw something laying in the road right after the corner… my GPS.  I picked it up and the screen was smashed.  BUMMER.  I guess I didn’t have to ask the question of whether they’re allowed in the Driver’s Meeting since mine is dead now  : (


Confidence building run?  Fun run?  Uh, not exactly… I was proud to have not let go of the sled (however had their been a tree coming close to my head, I was going to!) but not exactly feeling ready for a race the next day!

We went to the Driver’s Meeting and my nerves were just sky rocketing.  I was so thankful I hadn’t signed up for the 100 miler!  I only had to do two days of 31 miles… it would be FINE, or so I tried to tell myself.  I was really nervous about this “growth thingy” in Tozi’s mouth and anxious for the meeting to end so I could get the Vet to look at his mouth.   I didn’t even look at the map… just paid attention to the trail marker discussion and hoped it would get me where I needed to go. 

Randy looked at Tozi again, who was the same Vet from the morning, and didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but suggested I drop him if it bleeds too much tomorrow, and have it removed as soon as we get home.  I was concerned about even trying to run him with the bleeding I had seen today, but decided to give it a whirl, thinking I could always bag him on the trail if needed.

We finally got back to the cabin to rest and prepare and plan for tomorrow.  I talked with Pam some about the trail she had seen in the afternoon, since she went farther than we did, and she cautioned me about one spot that had a slant towards a steep cliff, hoping to prepare me before I got there.  It only made me more nervous and afraid.  I tried to focus on what the Lord has been teaching me about fear and trusting in His Protection and Provision, and got ready for bed.  We would soon know what the trail looked like, as our race was now tomorrow!!!

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