Saturday, November 26, 2011

A thirst for miles

Whether a musher runs mid-distance races or the Iditarod, mushers all train their teams with a few main hallmarks in mind. One of those hallmarks competitive mushers gauge their team's readiness and conditioning by is miles.

It's a lot like a person training for a marathon. Building up a dog team to run the 30, 40, 50+ miles needed to either finish a race or a checkpoint starts in early September with baby steps of two-mile runs, building over several months in the fall to end with longer runs. Throughout the fall, we add up those miles with an ultimate mileage goal in mind. The goal changes depending on the length of your first race. So, for example, I started training my core team with the goal of having 700 miles on them by January. 

It seems, however, every year by Thanksgiving, I feel the pressure of miles weighing on me. It really is very difficult for me to get more than twelve to fifteen mile training runs out of my driveway without looping back around to do the same route twice over, and my dogs are rapidly becoming so friggin bored.

Like kids, they look forward to the excitement of not knowing what's around an unfamiliar corner. After all, our training runs are like field trips to them. And, like kids, they act up when they become bored. 

Yeti, my main leader, stopped my entire team the other night after I looped around the trail for the second time just to look at me.

His wide brown eyes gazed down the line over all eight of his teammates and into mine, and if he could talk, he would have said in the popular vernacular phrase,

"W.T.F. mom!"

He has also been spontaneously dragging the entire team into ditches for long watering breaks where he will lay fully submerged (except for his head) and outstretched on his belly, like a hippo wading in the African heat, only to emerge, dripping and muddy with the cold water.

Copyright Zoological Society of London

Nevermind that I just washed all of the dogs' harnesses.

We are leaving on Tuesday for a much-needed U.P. training reprieve, and I am hoping to do lots of camping/checkpoint practice runs with the team. The dogs and I can't wait. I am officially on the Midnight Run web site, and though this is only a 90 mile race, it will be my first checkpoint race, so I'm excited and nervous.

Yeti will be happy to welcome new corners and miles and miles of new trail. The dogs are more than ready for 20+ mile runs.

Keep an eye out for us in the Akron Beacon Journal soon as our favorite roving reporter, Jim Carney, recently came out to the kennels to write a story on us! Thank you, Jim!

Until next time...and as always...

1 comment:

  1. Jealous of your UP trip. I've one more week of classes, then grades due. Maybe, if the weather gods allow I'll get out down here. It was 60 degrees yesterday! My poor old muts have approximately zero miles. Sad but true. I'm a bad dad, and I wish I could "retire" for my dogs.



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