Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It ain't always easy: a word about discipline

"Discipline is remembering what you want." David Campbell

Okay, I admit it: some days, I don't want to run dogs.

Some days, I would rather curl up with a book and a cup of coffee and just watch the sun set like any normal person.

There's a cavernous ocean of space between the romantic image of a team of huskies gliding effortlessly across a frozen white landscape and the discipline and determination it takes to get to that point. Many, many people do not realize what it takes to get to that beautiful image of a team of huskies.

It takes countless hours of conditioning the dogs, a lot of not-so-beautiful training runs, potential balls of huskies tangled, bleary eyed mushers desperate for sleep, and hours of training beginning as early as late summer.

And it ain't always easy.

To have the discipline to go out in the cold, often in the dark, for hours on end takes a huge amount of motivation. Most people I know spend easily three hours or more straddling a four-wheeler at this time of year to gain the kind of mileage needed to compete in races - races that aren't even happening until January.

It's not just the dogs who must have endurance.

Tak after a 12 mile run, still ready for more

From the outside, it's probably not immediately clear the amount of time, sacrifice and determination that goes into this sport. You have to remember what you want, and remember it often.

Some of my dogs on a training run. Because of my schedule and temps, we train in the pitch black more times than not

It's hours and hours behind dog butts, watching each tug line to make sure it's tight, watching to ensure each dog is on its side of the centerline, watching to make sure no one is being grumpy or goofing off. Someone said to me once, it's like hooking a bunch of second graders to a line and taking them out to the zoo, hoping for the best. Some days, that sums it up!

And, add to that, the preparation that goes into this sport. I spent four hours yesterday with my good friend and fellow musher, Amanda, hacking up and grinding hundreds of pounds of deer, beef and beef tripe for the dogs. I spent an hour tonight before my run making new tug lines. The feeding, harnessing, hooking up, running, unhooking, unharnessing, feeding ...

This sport has a way of taking over your life. Because at the end of the day, it's not just a sport; it really is a way of life. A lifestyle.

Here is a snippet (just a snippet!) of a 12 mile run I did tonight with the dogs. Enjoy, and mush love!

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