I depart for another 10 day stint at the Sled Dog Lodge in two days. And, after submitting my entry fee two weeks ago, finally seeing my name on the musher listing for the Midnight Run is impetus for my nerves to start going batty. Suddenly it's mid-November. The snow is falling in Michigan already and time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking.... There's so much to prepare for! And in these moments, when my nerves start getting batty, those little doubting voices in my head pipe up.
"What do you think you're doing signing up for a race like the Midnight Run?"
"Isn't it a lofty goal to jump headlong into a season like this?"
"Are you ready for this?
Many would say no. I gained a reputation last year for losing my team, an error that Bob Shaw to this day teases me about. But, some lessons are best learned through experience.
You can hear many times, as I did, that the number one rule in mushing is "don't let go." But until you actually learn through experience what it means to watch your team dart away leaving you in five degree weather without provisions 10 miles from camp deep in the woods of Michigan, hearing that doesn't mean jack. Having had this happen, I guarantee I will NEVER let go of that sled again.
And there's still so much for me to learn.
Some have questioned already my readiness for a race such as the Midnight Run. There were so many set backs last year, but I can't look back. Those set backs served to help me learn a lot. This year, my focus is keen and my drive high. Things are going really well so far this year, so I'm going with it and jumping in. And I think it's precisely because time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking that I am determined to jump in and make the most of this.
My good friend Sherry, who is always the best person for bolstering me when I'm down, encouraged me saying "Just do your thing and follow the rules. You have just as much right to be out there as anyone else. You paid your entry fee."
Indeed. Thank you, Sherry, for helping to quell those nagging, doubting voices in my head and reminding me to keep focused and keep it simple. I am not "in it to win it."
I'm in it to enjoy the ride with happy huskies.
I am in it to connect with a long, rich history - a time and place when people utilized this ultimate teamwork between animal and man to achieve a pertinent goal.
The 1917 Sled Dog Derby from Winnepeg to St. Paul
I am in it because nothing has ever fulfilled me the way hearing dog teams clamoring for the trail has. Nothing makes me happier or gives me a rush like seeing huskies jumping three feet into the air slamming into their harnesses with such enthusiasm and drive to run, run, run.
And, until I find that something that fills me up like this crazy sport does, I'll be in it, despite the odds or challenges.
To hear the song running through my head right now, please go to http://www.myspace.com/spiralluna