Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cold comes back

Brrr! It's been cold the last few days, between -20F and -40F, so we didn't get the dogs out. However, the dogs seem to be getting over the nasty bug that they had, which is great! The temps are coming back up again to right around zero. These things mean that Manny will get right back into training tomorrow. He's going to run the Two Rivers 200, aka Chatanika Challenge. As such, he's figured out his game plan for the race, so it's time to train the dogs to execute it. He'll be doing lots of 50-100 mile runs with the dogs over the next month, prepping them and getting them ready to go. We're waiting to hear back from Bill Cotter, as he offered us a nice dog after the Cantwell 200. Can't wait to see him and plug this new guy into the team. He's a 3 yr old male, right out of the same lines as Ahab. Luke ran the Cantwell with Bill and finished, so the dog already has quality race miles and is ready to go with us. Right on! Bill has some very nice dogs whose trot just eats up the miles....and they have fantastic coats. Definitely something we want for the Yukon Quest.

Hilti seems to be recovering very well. His paw is healing and we're optimistic that his large pad will stay intact. We've already decided that he will be a house dog (what's one more, right?!?), which he is adjusting to quite nicely. Last night, after changing his bandage, I laid down with him on the living room floor. Hilti was just hilarious, rolling around, flopping on his back like a fish. Then, he'd roll over into me, lift his muzzle up to my face and raise a front leg, asking me to give him belly rubs. Of course, I'd oblige and then he'd sit up, wagging his tail...just to do it all over again. He had me laughing and giggling at his goofy grin and shining eyes. Very cool. He still prefers his kennel, but I'm slowly making him spend more time in the living room to get used to his new housemates.

I'm off to check on the Tusty. Judy Currier, a neighbor was leading for quite a bit of the race, but it looks like she, Lance and Bill Steyer are duking it out for the top spots. It's an exciting race to the finish! :o) In other news, the Quest has sent out trail updates...while we did get some good snow cover, there are LOTS of sections of big overflow out to Chena Hotsprings, then from there to Central...where ever there's a creek or water, there's overflow and they aren't little puddles either. Maybe it's not such a bad thing to have to bow out this go around, eh? Oh, and there are bare rocks, with pretty much bare ground on Eagle Summit. Bleh! I hope something comes through before the race, or Eagle is going to be a real bad ride this year.

-Were you a Rogue today?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Solstice 100

Since I will not be able to run the Quest 300 this year due to financial reasons, Manny realized how upset I was. So, he told me that he'd take sign-ups and make sure things ran smoothly and let me run the race. What a great husband, eh?? I was so thrilled! I really felt that the dogs would do well. After all, they'd just come off of the Cantwell the weekend before and really did a decent job. Therefore, the start found me on the runners, excited to be on the trail. For once, I wasn't all freaked out and nervous...I got a full night's sleep, ate breakfast...I was totally ready for some fun. It was SOO nice not to have the nerves fluttering, not have my stomach doing somersaults. Awesome! The dogs took off like maniacs! I had to stand on the drag all the way down Pleasant Valley Road. They did try to go through Swenson's gate, but listened to my 'on-bye' command. We took the sharp right turn onto Baseline quite nicely (I was worried I'd clip the tree on the inside of the turn) and I could see Jessica ahead of us in the distance (she'd started 1st, I was 2nd). That was the last I'd see of Jessica though! Ha ha ha! The dogs were cruising along in this order: Feather & Sunshine in lead, China & Chevy in swing, Zen & Just, Dusk & Ahab, Tricky & Jericho, then Rocket & Inu in wheel.

We were flying down the trail, and I was having a BLAST! til we made the turn onto the Rosser (the really sharp left off of the wintertrail). I had made it around most of the turn and the sled was starting to straighten out. I remember thinking, "Alright, Tammi! You're finally getting this sled handling stuff down" when the sled suddenly lurched sideways and the next thing I knew, I was tossed to the right side of the trail, face first into the powder. Hmph! What the...?!? There must have been a stump or something under the snow that I hit with the sled. Ok, I picked the sled up and off we went. Then, Sunshine (in lead with Feather) slowed way down. I stopped once we popped out onto the wood cutting road before the bridge that crosses Jenny M creek and leads to Mullin's Slough. I switched leaders, putting Dusk up front with Feather. That did alright...but not great. Abbie caught us by Sonny's place...then Jodi Bailey caught us after we passed Pleasant Valley road...then Molly caught us in the potato field by Hipas road, where I switched Chevy for Dusk. Well, that lasted all of about 1/4 mile, as when the swing dogs started to overrun Chevy, he abruptly sat down. Well, Shoot! I stopped once again while still on Hipas to switch Zen for Chevy...then Aliy caught us right before the bridge near the road crossing. It went downhill from there...the dogs had obviously picked up a bug from the Cantwell and were just "off". To make matters worse, the heat really zapped them. We slowed WAY down on the way to Angel Creek. I was getting really bummed out, then Sunshine and Tricky started pulling stupid stuff, stopping to pee and poop...dragging the whole team to a stop. I went through all of my leaders, before settling on Just and Dusk to take us into Angel Creek. The trail was bottomless...mashed potato consistency. I was irritable and got to calling Tricky & Sunshine some colorful names (they knew what they were doing too and had no compunctions...the boogers!!!). They are so big, that if they decide to stop and poop or pee, they yank the entire team to a halt. I ended up getting passed by Carol Blevins (we played leap frog for a while), then Greg Stoddard caught me at the rifle range...then Blake Matray caught us about 5 miles from Angel Creek with his gorgeous siberians. ARGHH!!! At this point, I was calling and coaxing the dogs, trying to get them to pick up...but it was no use. It took us 6 1/2 hours to do a 52 mile run. Pitiful.

The dogs ate & drank wonderfully, then rested great at Angel Creek. When we took off out of there, they were SCARY strong and fast! However, I was REALLY missing Dutchess and Torus...cause both coming and going, when we got to the open water that is always there by Angel Creek, the dogs bunched up and I had to drag them across the open water. Neither Dutchess or Torus ever hesitated over open water...they'd go through anything. Unfortunately, when I planted the hook to take the dogs across the water, there wasn't a whole lot of snow to hook into. The hook came loose and the sled went through the river on it's side. I leaped onto the overturned sled to stop the dogs, but they dragged me and the tipped sled into the deep snow. Wow, only 5 minutes into the return leg, and here I was wasting a good 10 minutes just trying to get out on the river and go!

Once we got going, the run to the finish started off great...the dogs were really loping along, all the way to the rifle range. Then, I stopped to snack and booty...and the bottom fell out on our speed again. It was so HOT! I was sweating...the dogs were plodding, and Blake caught up to us at that point (he'd left about 10 minutes after us). When we got through the overflow, about a mile or two from the road crossing, the dogs finally picked up again, loping all the way to the finish. Greg Stoddard left Angel Creek about 20 minutes ahead of me and we almost caught him, along with Blake. I saw their lights ahead of us before the road crossing and along CHSR...and I'd been poling like crazy for the last 10 miles of the race, trying to catch them (boy did my arms hurt the next day!). Both Blake & Greg beat us to the finish by just 4 minutes. We finished in 9th place. Not as well as I'd hoped or planned...but we finished none-the-less. The dogs ate and drank wonderfully at the finish (actually, the whole race)...but I could tell that the heat had really gotten to them. Makes sense, seeing that we'd just ran a 200 the weekend before in wind and -30F to -40F. That's a 60-70 degree difference! Amazing. Since then, the dogs have been sick...they are eating and drinking; but, they all have some nasty diarrhea. Bleh!! Luckily, the next race will be the Two Rivers 200 for Manny in March. This way, they'll have a week or two to recoup and not have to worry about going out on another race. After the 200, we are looking at the Taiga 300 at the beginning of April, so that one of us can still get a 300 qualifier. Don't know which one yet, or if we can even get the time off of work. We'll wait and see.

In other news, Hilti went in for surgery today. Dr. Olson was thinking that it would just be the middle toes & possibly one of the smaller toes. But, when she was performing the amputations, she was checking the other toes and to her dismay (and ours), she ended up having to take off all of Hilti's toes. Good news is that his large pad is still intact. She checked the blood flow and it appears ok. But, we won't know for sure for a little bit yet. Either way, Hilti is going to be a house dog from now on. He's recovering and though he's a bit groggy yet, he appears to be doing fine. Dr. O and another musher have shared stories with us about dogs they've had who had lost toes and went on to run and even race. But, I just don't know if that will happen with Hilti. If nothing else, he will definitely be a good stud dog for us and anyone else who is interested. After all, Hilti came from Lance Mackey...from VERY GOOD bloodlines. In fact, Lance bred Hilti and got some pups from him right before we brought Hilti to our kennel. Additionally, Hilti proved to us how good of a dog he is on the this spring, we'll breed Hilti and get some pups. Besides, we've been planning on starting our own breeding program, which is why we got Hilti from Lance in the first place. So, we'll go forward with that and see where it takes us. We won't be out to breed a lot of we don't believe in doing that. However, we are working to be competitive, so it's time.

Take care all and keep Hilti in your thoughts. We'll keep you posted on his recovery.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bad days...

Well, the last few days have been sad ones for us here at Rogue Summit. First off, while Hilti is making a good recovery, it looks like he'll lose a few toes and it looks like his racing days are over, just when he was getting started. This is very sad, as Hilti is a fantastic of our best and brightest. Then, yesterday morning, Manny went out to feed the horses their breakfast only to find that Sampson had gone down and couldn't get up. He called me and I rushed home, stopping first to grab Joe and Jodi. We all tried to get Sampson back on his feet; but, it was no use. He had lost the use of his entire right side...he'd had a stroke. Sadly, we lost Sampson, as there was just nothing that could be done. I try to take solace in the fact that he was an old horse and had a good life with us here. Still, it hurts.

They say things cycle in 3's and that looks to be true. With the vet bills we've incurred over the past few days, it was looking like I wouldn't be able to run the Quest 300. But, I'd spoken with a company and they said they'd help us out by sponsoring us with some food. Originally, I'd had the winter/races all planned financially. But, then my brother needed help, so we brought him here, helped him out, helped him get a job, etc. Even though we knew it would make the winter rough, we did this because it's family and he needed the help. Besides, he'd promised to pay us back, so I wasn't worried. Well, he's now not returning calls (on the cell phone we bought him), avoiding us, etc. It makes me sad to be used this way...particularly by my brother. We used to be real close. Guess time changes us all.

Anyway, today, we find out that the sponsor who was going to help with food has to back out. To make matters worse, another sponsor sold their business, so that financial backing is gone as well. Needless to say, without the sponsors, I won't be able to run in the Quest 300 this year. This is the one race that I was determined to finish and now I won't even make it to the starting line. And really, what stands between us and the start is about 10 bags of kibble and a couple blocks of meat. Doesn't seem like much, but at this point, it feels like a mountain. To say that I'm extremely down right now is an understatement. Sorry to unload my woes here...but it just breaks my heart to have all of these things culminate into not doing the one thing I'd been planning for all year long. Especially after soldiering through the Cantwell Classic this year.

Well, I'd better get. TRDMA is putting on the makeup 100 miler this weekend, so I have some stuff to do as I'm helping to put it on. I wish everyone out there the best.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cantwell Classic Rundown

The Cantwell Classic 200 started last Friday. Originally, we were supposed to start at 10am...but the start was changed to noon and was moved a bit further out on the Denali Highway, due to low snow and pavement showing. Ok, no worries. That just made our first leg a bit shorter. Team Rogue drew number 19 out of 32 teams...just about the middle of the field. I got a bit of sleep the night before...but we couldn't get a parking space near a plug in, so Jodi got up around 3am to start the truck. Morgan, one of Jodi's dogs, was staying with us in the room. When Jodi went to start the truck, Morgan jumped on me and I woke up to a dog snout and 45lb pitbull on my chest. Who said pits are vicious? Morgan?? She'd maybe kill you with kisses! Sheesh! Ha ha ha! I got back to sleep around 4am...but then someone clomping down the hallway woke me up around 5:30am. I tried to go back to sleep, but by then, I started thinking about who I was going to have lead out....who would I run with Zen? She's in she can't run with Chevy or Hilti....Just would be good..besides, he can be a bit shy, so I didn't want him in lead with all the people around. Ok, Dusk and Feather in lead, China & Ahab in swing, Zen & Just, Hilti & Chevy, Tricky & Jericho, then good ole' Rocket & Inu in wheel. Alright...that's what I went with.

Ten o'clock rolled around and we found ourselves in a caravan, trying to get to our parking spot. It was like a carnival out there...but we made it through and got parked. Jodi & Joe were my handlers, so they helped me get the sled out, get the drops out, etc. We left the dogs on the truck, since we'd just dropped them before we'd left the lodge. I wanted them resting as long as possible, as they tend to get amped up on the drops. Jodi & Joe sat in the truck, giving me my time to just pack my sled, go over my stuff, etc. I've found that I need that bit of "quiet time" to gather my thoughts, go over my plan and kind of get into a "zone". I have to do that to calm down, as I always get nervous before races. I hate the feeling too...those butterflies, flipping heart feeling like it's in my throat....ugh! I've been doing this for 4 years now...and still get nervous. So, that alone time lets me get a handle on it and this worked well. We dropped the dogs an hour before my start time...12:38pm. Susan got Jason out on time, he drew the 2nd she came and helped me. I had a pit crew! I put out the harnesses for each dog, dog coats, and booties. While I finished getting my gear on, headlamp, batteries, gloves, warmers, etc...they got the dogs ready. My sled was ready, gangline stretched...I looked at my watch...10 minutes. Ok, cool. We're right on time. Then, a timer comes up and yells, "You have 2 mins!" WHAT?!? "No, I have 10 minutes!" and I showed her my watch. Well, no one heard me. Next thing I know, all of these people started grabbing dogs, asking me where they go, etc. I mean, there were people everywhere, helping us hook up. Jodi yelled at Joe to jump on the sled...I sat on the sled to give more control. Someone was up front with my Jodi sat in front of me and we rode up to the start in style. I had about 30 seconds...Jodi went up and untangled a dog...can't tell you who, as it was just chaotic. I jumped on the runners, they counted down. Mike Santos was there holding my sled. He wished me luck, then off we went. Jodi and Joe yelled "Good Luck!" and I hollered "THANKS!" and we were flying. I rode the drag to slow them down and realized, "Holy cow! We've started!" I didn't even have time for those last minute nerves on the way to the line. Cool!!! :o)

The first leg went really well. The dogs were running smooth, chugging up the hills, coasting down. I stayed on the mat and kept them at an easy pace. This time, I'd learned. No blasting through the first leg for us! My plan was to do the first leg in 4-5 I kept them easy. We started seeing mushers ahead and slowly reeled a few in. What a RUSH to pass teams! Of course, we got passed here and there. A fellow Two Rivers musher, Judy Currier left behind me. She caught me about 30-45 minutes into the run, though I can't be sure of the time. A few others passed here and there...but that was ok. I expected Hans to catch me quickly, as he'd left right after Judy...but it was a while before I saw him. Right on! That made me feel pretty good. Aaron Burmeister passed me on an that point, I'd kept the dogs at a slower pace, so I decided to let them stretch a little. They hate being passed and love to chase, so I let them stay with Aaron for a few miles. It was fun to do that, as it showed me that my team had the speed. However, Aaron was going down hills faster than I wanted my dogs to go, so he did slip away after a while. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to get to the first checkpoint, Big Su. Good, right on schedule. I got the dogs bedded down, but the snow was deep and soft, making it hard to negotiate. I fell down a time or a beached whale trying to get on my feet with all that gear, big boots and soft snow. The dogs were resting until teams started pulling out. I was in the tent, trying to get my gloves dry and trying to get warm (I was freezing for some reason)...but first, there was a fight. Tricky & Jericho got into it, because Jeri is a 2 year old ex-sprinter who was on his first race. Of course, he wasn't resting and was bugging Tricky, the old veteran and Trick didn't like that at all. So, after a few times of this, I moved Tricky back to the sled. Ok, back into the tent, only to be called because my team had pulled loose from the tiny willows they'd been tied to (the hooks wouldn't hold in the soft snow). Ok, I got them tied back out again and went back inside. Started eating my bacon sandwich and was feeling warmer. Then, Ahab somehow got I had to go get him. CRAZINESS!

My headlamp was malfunctioning, turning off and on. Diddier was parked next to me. When he asked what was wrong, I told him that I needed a new bulb, but had the wrong ones with me. He had a bulb and was so kind. He worked on my headlamp and got the new one in. Wahla! He thought it might be the wire, but I'd insisted that Manny had just replaced the wire, so that couldn't be it. Well, I was out bootying the dogs, getting ready to go when the light went out again. Dang it! I'd had enough. I went to go get the back up petzel...not as good, but at least it worked....when I realize that the battery cord was unplugged. Duh! Well, it turned out that the headlamp has something wrong inside it...that's ok..I can take it back to the folks we got it from and they'll fix it.

Well, I'd hooked up tugs, a volunteer was on my brake while the vet was near my leaders. I was getting my parka on when the vet yelled "Hey!" Chevy and Hilti were fighting. By the time I turned, they'd stopped. So I jumped on the runners and off we went. We were FLYING out of that checkpoint. The dogs looked great, rippling and leaping as they charged up the first hill. Beautiful! We caught and passed a musher, then another musher caught us a bit later. Jason had left about 20-30 minutes ahead of me, but we caught him and passed on by. I was riding a high! The dogs were looking beautiful, moving as a unit. Snow was falling, but no wind. Very nice night. The only thing that would've made it better would've been a full moon & the northern lights. We cruised along, every once in a great while, we'd catch sight of a headlamp in the distance....slowly catching and them passing a team. Right on! I was thinking that we'd get into Maclaren in about 3 1/2- 4 hours...right on schedule. Then, I thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to finish with all 12 of my dogs?!?" Just a few minutes later, I saw Hilti dip and almost stumbled. His tail went up and I noticed a hitch in his gait. Oh no!! I stopped the team and went up to check him out. That's when I saw frozen blood on his right front leg. I freaked! I could've sworn there'd be a gash...but I couldn't see a wound. Well, in the sled for him. I took him back to the sled to get my vet wrap and gauze...but crap! they weren't there! I guess when I asked Jodi to put warmers in the vet bag to keep the liquids warm, she'd inadvertently forgot to put the baggy of gauze & vet wrap back. Well, so much for trying to wrap it...I didn't have anything else but wrist wraps and those might cut off circulation. Ok, we'll just put him in the sled. I moved some stuff (I didn't have to do much, I've gotten really good at packing the sled), and tried to put him in. Hilti had other ideas. He fought like a mad man! He splayed his legs out, twisting and kicking. I got blood all over his dog coat and my gloves. Don't know how I managed to keep it off my parka and sled bag. I got his back legs in and started to push him down when he leaped and tipped the whole sled, knocking me over. Ok, this was NOT working. I was so afraid that I was going to hurt him worse! Well, we can't put him on top....can't lead him next to the my only other option was to let him go along with the team. I was going to leave his tug unsnapped, but I worried about throwing him off balance. So, I hooked him in and kept the team at a slow trot, riding my drag to keep them slow. Feather and Dusk kept looking back at me, questioning me as to why we weren't hauling...but I just told them "Easy!" and talked to Hilti. We had about 10 miles to I was concentrating on getting them in. Rohn & Martin Buser caught us about 5-6 miles from Maclaren...I watched them float off like ghosts, without headlamps, in white wind anoraks. Feather & Dusk were clawing to give chase, but I wouldn't let them. We made the turn off to drop down to the Maclaren River....whew! a wild ride through soft snow, sharp turns, willow branches sticking up from the trail, from the sides, whipping the dogs and the sled as we went by. I didn't think about the trail, I just rode the sled, hitting the drag and the brake, alternating from one side to the other as the turns twisted first left, then right, then left again....down and down we flew. We dropped onto the river, then headed into the checkpoint. I immediately called for a vet and got the team parked. The vet came over and I babbled what had happened...I was so upset. I went over to take Hilti's harness off...when I picked up the injured leg, I saw that his paw looked weird. I grabbed it and pretty much lost it. His foot was frozen. OH MY GOD!!! I just freaked out! The vet, bless his heart, stayed calm and helped me get Hilti over to the vet tent. He cleaned up his leg...turns out that "gash" I could've sworn he had were only 2 small punctures...obviously from when Chevy & Hilti got into it at Big Su. He started working on the foot, warming it. I realized that I had to get my team taken care of...when another volunteer came and said that he'd help the vet so I could get to my team. I had totally broken down by this time..but going through my checkpoint routine helped me get a grip and calm down. The vet came over and told me that the wounds were small, and that it was just Hilti's toes. Not great, but better than the whole foot. Long story short, we took Hilti to our vet today and she said that it was probably better that I did run him, as it kept the blood circulating in the leg and had he'd been in the sled, that probably wouldn't have happened...but the booty on that foot probably restricted blood to the toes, creating the problem. Her words, I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn't. Besides that, she said that in the sled, he could've aspirated and I'd have arrived with a dead dog. Needless to say, even though everyone said it was a freak thing and that I did what I could...I still feel responsible. I know that we can't always find everything wrong....Kelly Griffin told me that even had I stopped them every 5 minutes, I'd probably not catch everything and that sometimes freaky things happen. However, he's my dog, my responsibility...period. Needless to say, the rest of the race had a shadow over it for me, and I was distracted, worrying about Hilti.

I didn't get any sleep, though I tried. Susie at Maclaren cooked a mean bowl of chili and gave me some delicious homemade bread with it. Yum! But, I could only eat half of it. I laid on the floor amongst all of the other snoring mushers, but soon enough, folks were stirring and lights came on. Oh'd be daylight soon anyway. I moped around a bit, upset about Hilti. Kelly, Anne Capistrant & Deb Hoover soon talked me out of my funk a bit. Kelly then told me something that I'll keep hearing over and over in my head. When she asked if I was leaving at my start time, I told her I should...but I'm so slow at bootying that I might just let everyone leave, then go. She said, "Don't do're just developing bad habits." Her words later rang through my head, as I was stalling about leaving Big Su later on that day. Well, I went out and gave my guys snacks, put there blankets away (yeah, I cover them with blankets once they've settled...along with their dogcoats and straw..they rest so much better that way), and started bootying. However, I'd only made it halfway through the team when my time came. That was ok...they told me I could go whenever I was ready. Good! Cause I was taking the time to massage wrists and shoulders as I went...which is what takes some time. I'm working on that get quicker at bootying. Well, I got finished, hooked tugs and took off about 40 minutes later (yeah, I'm REAL slow). The run to Big Su was alright...the dogs started off poky...but then smoothed into their traveling pace. We caught and passed 2 other mushers who'd left before us. Nice! After that, they started poking along again...pooping and peeing...just goofing off. What the heck?!? Well, ok....I didn't realize it at the time, but they were feeding off of my worry for Hilti and my self-recriminations. I tried to be a little more upbeat, but I don't think they bought it. We finally made it to Big Su...but it took us 4 1/2 hours! Sheesh! My plan was to leave at my designated time...1 1/2 hours...but the dogs all curled up tightly in the wind and settled in. I changed my mind and stayed for 4 hours. They all rested beautifully. I gave them fat snacks, along with their glyco/rice/beef snacks....then a feeding. I wrapped Tricky's wrist as a was a little puffy, but barely (per the vet) and covered him with another dog coat. Most of the dogs were shivering, as the wind was howling and the temps were dropping. COLD! I pushed straw around them, then covered them all with their blankets. Even Jericho was curled up, resting...the youngster had finally gotten the hang of this camping stuff. I went in and warmed up...I just couldn't seem to get warm. I had a gut feeling that the wind was really roaring on the way to Cantwell, and that thought had me dragging my feet. Wind...ugh! I hate wind...and ever since the 06 Quest 300, when I'd been stuck in 90 mph winds on top of Rosebud, it's grown into a kind of phobia for me. Still, I knew that I couldn't just sit there. So, I girded my proverbial loins and forced myself out to booty.

I'd been in the tent, and folks were talking about scratching. I panicked and thought, "Oh No! Not a repeat of last year!!" That was the impetus I needed to get my butt moving. I got the dogs bootied and hooked up, the vet was on my brake, when I realized I'd left my parka in the tent. Shoot! The dogs at first, weren't too thrilled that we were going again, but when I went to the tent, they started to bark and howl. That made me smile! I signed out, stepped on the runners, pulled the hook...and promptly slid off my slippery drag (it had been buried in the soft snow and got icy). The dogs were moving, but I was dragging on my face...not letting go. Folks grabbed the team, got em stopped. I unceremoniously got up, shook myself off, and with a red face (thank goodness no one could see due to my neck gaiter and hat), got situated and took off again. Or tried. The dogs came to the last straw beds on the way out and stopped to sift through the straw for "goodies." Man! A volunteer dragged the leaders out and we FINALLY got moving.

The wind was howling as we crossed the Big Susitna River bridge and continued to slash at us for 10 miles. We did get a reprieve for about 4 miles, when suddenly a vicious crosswind came out of the south. It whipped and howled at us for a good 5-7 miles. Feather and Dusk were superstars! Here I was, on the back of the sled, crouched down and pulling off to the left of the sled in an effort to keep it on the trail, and up ahead are my two heroes, crouched down, almost crawling through that wind, clawing to keep from getting blown over. At one point, the wind gusted really hard, pitching me and the sled off of the trail. Luckily, there wasn't a drop off, so I was able to manhandle the sled back onto the highway. SCARY! We made it through that doing about 2-3 mph...but hey, it was forward movement, so who was I to complain? I stopped the team in the first sheltered spot and snacked them all, loving on them and praising them. Right on! We began moving at a decent pace....not fast, but we were trotting along. Halfway up one of the never ending hills (my name for these hills that seem to climb forever), Feather & Dusk sat down and told me they'd like a break from leading, please. After all, she and Dusk had led the entire race. Well, I tried Chevy with Feather...but nope, Feather wasn't having it. Then, I saw Zen barking and lunging, wanting to go. I thought, "Hey! This girl knows where we are!" So, I tried Zen with Feather. We went about a mile...but Feather wanted a break. So, I put Dusk back up with Zen (Just was already too tired, and told me so by doing his prima donna act...ask me about it later). That was the perfect combination. Those two dug in and soon had the whole team moving smartly up the hills. I did start giving them little "rest breaks" by stopping the sled for a minute on particularly long climbs. I pedaled and pushed doing my part as well. But by then, the wind was coming at us straight was really taking it's toll on all of us. My saviour, Zen, kept the team rolling and before we knew it, we saw the lights of the finish line. We came loping in at 12:58am....taking us 6 1/2 hours to do that last leg. Phew!!! Jodi and Joe were there waiting, whisking us to the truck, unhooking, unharnessing, putting the sled away. I gave all the dogs one last glyco snack....then Jodi gave them a good feeding and watering. I was wiped, so once I'd saw that all the dogs were fed, I climbed in the truck. Later that night, Jodi and Joe drove the dogs home, as we just didn't want them to spend one more minute in that nasty wind. They'd earned their own houses filled with wonderful straw...their own beds.

We finished 27th overall out of 32 teams. Not a stellar performance by any means....but not bad either, all things considered. Hilti is resting in the house now, recovering nicely. Good prognosis that he'll be back in the team next that's GREAT news! A couple of the dogs are a bit sore, but their getting massages and rubs to help with that. Manny will be taking the team out next weekend to do the Solstice 100 makeup...he should be soooo set up for this race...the team in good condition, ready to go. Sorry for such a long winded post....but folks wanted the "low-down" and I hope I didn't disappoint. It's hard to talk about some of it...but needed to be said. I'm off for some much needed sleep. Take care all. I hope you enjoyed this little journey with us Rogues. More to come as we move forward with the season. Same Bat time, same Bat channel. Until next time....

-Were you a Rogue today?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Change of plans

The dog yard...resting athletes.

Well, so much for running a back to back today. We checked on the dogs today, and several of them are sore or dinged up. Booger was off on the last run, looking sore in his front end, though I can't find the culprit. He's not limping or anything...Jodi just felt he was "off" during the run. Sunshine had his tail chomped by looked nasty...but a call to the vet put me at ease and let me know what to do. China, Ahab and Zen are all limping...though again, I can't pinpoint the cause. So, today turned into a rest day. We brought these dogs inside, one-by-one, to work on them. They got Algyval rubdowns, massage, I did some physical therapy work on Zen's & China's shoulders and wrists. Sunshine got the hair trimmed from his tail, cut heal put on the wound, vet wrap lightly over that, and now is enjoying digs inside the garage near the heater. Along with the joint/tissue work, we trimmed nails and foot hair, along with vitamins. Tomorrow, we'll finish up the rest of the race team....doing all the normal stuff, like replacing collars, checking for flexibility (thank you Wes Rau for that AWESOME clinic!)....basic race prep stuff. Then, later in the afternoon, I'll take the team out for a short, 5 mile run around the loop to stretch them out and check for injuries. Jodi and I plan to take another long sled run on Sunday, so I want to make sure no one's seriously injured before we go. Looks like they are all just a bit stiff and sore...same as the musher! Man, do my shoulders and calves ache. You really forget how much you use those muscles when you go on long sled runs. Youch!

Tomorrow also means putting the dog boxes on the truck. So, it's up bright and early to get all this stuff done. Somewhere in there, I need to pack my drop bags, do laundry, clean the house, go back to work and begin a new to do before Thursday! Later all!

-Were you a Rogue today?

Sled run

We got our first sled run in with the dogs on Wednesday. My best friend, Jodi came over so that I could get all 14 of the dogs I'm looking at for the Cantwell race out for a long run. Knowing that snow conditions are kind of iffy in places, we opted to split the team up into two teams of 7. We'd planned to do a 50 miler, since the dogs have been doing 30s and 40s on the atv for the last few weeks. I took off first and took it real slow, as our outbound trail has a few sharp turns. I was doing great, til I hit the pond turn. Dummy me didn't let up on the drag quick enough, resulting in the sled pulling right up onto the banked turn, dumping me and sled. Stupid! The dogs, fresh from the yard (which is only about .5 miles from that point) yanked the sled out of my hands. Manny was right behind on the atv, so he stopped the dogs right on the pond. But, my snow hook had caught, so they weren't going anywhere. I shook it off and jumped right back on. No worries for the rest of the run...guess I had to get that dump in right away! Ha ha ha! Jodi thought it was comical, cause she had no idea what had happened. She'd stopped before the turn, then did it flawlessly. She and I had a good laugh over that one!! But hey, never said I wasn't a klutz at times. I tend to overanalyze paranoia kicking in. I have to learn things the hard way...and at times, the painful way. I was so worried about that turn (even Manny bites it on that one from time to time) that I had a negative outlook and that's what I got from it...exactly what I had programmed in my head would happen. This is something I'm truly working on.

We headed out towards the road crossing via the logging road...we'd had reports that the trail leading to the crossing was bad, so we ran on the road. Would've been great, but Feather decided to be bull headed and wouldn't take the trail just off the road, leading to the road crossing trail (safer to cross on the the road is VERY icy and you just can't hold a team for traffic). Dusk and Just decided that they weren't taking that trail straight ahead of them, marked with 2 markers on either side, either. Well, we spent a good 15-20 minutes circling the parking lot...It was actually hilarious, looked like a routine right out of the Three Stooges! But, Jodi figured out what to Feather and Sunshine (leading her team) off the side so she could hook down and get them turned the right way. At that point, Just and Dusk saw where I wanted them to go, so I coaxed them over and down to follow Jodi. Phew! I'm thinking...sheesh, what a fiasco! What's next? Ya should NEVER ask that question! Ha ha ha!

No problems for a while...but then we remembered that we'd have to take the trail right along CHSR, because a new subdivision is going in where the old trail crossed a field. Ok, no problem. But, I had Just in lead and when we got to Lynn O.'s outbound trail, he took that turn (one turn too early). I realized it too went on in figuring that I'd get them turned around. Luckily, Lynn, Swanny a few other folk were hooking up for a run. Lynn recognized Just and quickly figured out what happened. Bless her, she quickly grabbed the leaders and swung them around to another outbound trail, which let me get back on Pleasant Valley road and then turn on the correct turnoff. Just didn't want to leave though...he looked at me as if to say, "But, that WAS home!" (Just came over from Lynn to become a distance doggy, instead of a sprint doggy). The dogs ran great all the way out to the gravel pit/rifle range...which is where we turned and headed back. There really wasn't too much in the way of overflow...there was nice snowcover over most of it...Colorado Creek had it's normal amount, but it caused no problems whatsoever. Closer to the gravel pit, there's a hump of overflow...but even that was nothing to worry about. The trail doesn't look like it's getting much traffic at all.

We stopped to snack the dogs and upon checking feet, we noticed lots of ice balls, so had to booty most of the dogs. No worries though. After a stop of about 20 minutes or so, we were heading back. But, for some reason, my dogs ALWAYS poke along for about 20-30 minutes after a snack stop at the gravel pit. They hate to go back over the same trail and they let me know it...going slow...stopping to poop or pee...just a general "Hey Ma, we just went over this trail we gotta do it again??!?" kind of attitude. However, they soon stopped their fussing and picked back up again. While we weren't setting any records, they weren't too bad. It had started to snow by then...always welcome; but, my headlamp had a faulty wire or something and kept flickering in and out, sometimes turning completely off. I was beginning to wonder if running this trail was a jinx or something, as I had headlight issues with falling snow the last time we'd run it! I just laughed it off and dealt...after all...that's what we'd do on a race. Better to laugh about it than let it get to you.

Going was REAL slow though, once we crossed the road. The logging road was great fun going out...but coming home, it's all uphill. We poked along at like 5 miles an hour (yeah, probably more like 3 mph!). But, once on the home trail, the dogs picked up again nicely. We finally motored in at like 10pm. An 8 hour run! I was so down....I couldn't believe that we'd taken 8 hours to do a 50. Then, we started talking about it. Jodi was under the impression that our house was only 6 miles to the road crossing, when in actuality, it's about 10-11 miles. We did the math...turns out we did a solid 60 miler with the dogs. And, to top it off, we had bags of dog food in our sleds, with only 7 dog teams. All in all, the dogs really pulled off the run (yeah, we were slow for a while, but I don't really fault the dogs at all), going longer and farther than we have all season. Cool! I gotta give a HUGE thanks to Jodi for running with me...Manny had to pick up Conor from daycare, so we couldn't both go. Jodi, you're too awesome!

Tomorrow (guess I should say later today), Manny, Devlyn & I are going out to do a quick 30-some run with the dogs on sleds. Then, I'll rest them for 4 hours and go do another 20 get them back into the notion of running/resting/running. We'll do another run on Saturday, followed with rest and a couple more runs before the Cantwell race. While I aim at doing alright on the Cantwell...really, this is just a race that we're going to "run"...not really "race", as I'm using it to gear the dogs up for the Quest 300....which is just a month away. The main goal is to finish. On that note, I really should get off to bed. Have a good one!

-Have you been a Rogue today?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Rogue Summit Kennel!
May the new year be prosperous, provide happy times, safe travels
and swift trails to you and yours.