Saturday, January 5, 2008

Running At Night

Tonight, Tom and I watched Eight Below. It is literally about eight degrees outside. A storm blew in, dropping several more inches of snow.

I took a team of four dogs out alone late this afternoon, and before I knew it, it was dark and I still had about five miles to go back to camp. The snow was coming down, blinding me in the beam of my headlamp. When it got too dark to see, I turned the team around because I wasn’t sure which way to turn on the trail. They got tangled, and I tied them off to a tree, sorted everyone out, and headed back.

But if the white covered trees are disorienting in daytime, those same trees at night are impossible. I knew where I was, and that I was on the right track. But at a point, I had to rely on Jughead to take over.

“Let’s go home, Jughead,” I coaxed, and the dogs sped up their pace.

I meant that in more ways that one.

Yesterday, I called home and spoke to my mom. My dad wanted to know how much snow there was, what the temperature was, etc. But when my mom got on the phone, she welcomed me to the New Year with a tongue lashing.

“You need to come home! Don’t leave your kids here during Christmas break again, you hear me?!”

Luckily, my phone signal cut out.

But later, when I called home to check in, my three-year-old, Elise, got on the phone. She started crying, saying “mommy, are you coming home today?”

My love for dogs and this sport is strong – a passion unlike anything I’ve known. But my love and longing to be with my children is stronger.

A lone dog howls, sending the yard into the lonely night time serenade. I’ve made a tough decision. I am leaving camp tomorrow, heading for home. I will not race on Saturday.
So many things are telling me that now is not the year for me to race. Mandy’s paws, my (probably fractured, keeping me up at night) shoulder injury, losing my team and getting lost, not to mention about a half a dozen things I’ve not written about, including getting stuck in the snow with my truck the first night I arrived and getting a speeding ticket in downtown Newberry!

My little girl’s longing on the phone was the final straw.

I will likely cry when I pull out of camp tomorrow. Will I regret missing the race on Saturday?

There’s always next year. And February, when I will be back. And, there’s always Alaska, where I will drive with Tom for the March 1 Iditarod.

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