Rookie Iditarod Training: Log 4

I have a confession. More of an admittance of a bad habit, really. I need to fall asleep with some sort of background noise. Movie, podcast, music, something that can lull me to sleep like a bed time story. It’s really not an addiction, if I don’t have the option available, I don’t lose sleep over it. My stimuli of choice lately, are the Iditarod Insider race documentaries that they put out every year. I have access to a few of them, and have watched each of them hundreds of times probably, none of which are odd years showing the southern route that we’re (hopefully, paws crossed) going to get to see this March! I have also stumbled upon a gem of a resource on the Yukon Quest site. They post the audio files from their rookie meetings on the website for public access, so while I’m massaging dogs or cutting nails or cooking drop bag food or trying to fall asleep, I can listen to Mike Ellis talk about dog care on 1000 mile races. BLESSINGS! Thanks Mike.

Things are really getting close now, we’re actually about to run the flipping Iditarod in like 38 days! Thanks in LARGE part to the generosity and kindness and well wishes from all of the folks who have sent their support our way. It is going to take all of it, the contributions that you all have provide are literally going to get us to Nome, andddd help get us all back from Nome. I was asked to participate in a podcast series that a group of kids are doing for a school project on the race, by the way what a neat school project!, and one of the questions they asked was, “What do you like to do with your free time?” That is a fair enough question, but kind of a trick question, or maybe just a trick answer. What is this 'free time’ that you speak of? The genuine truth, is that there is no free time to be had currently. We’re training, or packing, or cooking, or planning, or falling asleep to dog race documentaries. The end of this winter will show my pockets emptied and my energy levels depleted, but the energy and resources that it takes to complete such a task will swell the heart and soul of the dogs and I. THAT is the experience of life! No one wants to be nearing the end of their lives with a whole bunch of energy that they saved up due to past up experiences and adventure. Well, at least we don’t.

Another question from the podcast was about our goals for the race, and I think this is a very important topic to discuss and clarify. There may be a tendency, from an outside perspective, to view this as strictly a race. So a top finish, placement wise, is a good race, and a back of the pack finish is a bad race. It is just not that simple, and really not that fair. My GOAL is to have the greatest possible learning experience for the young dog team that I will be driving. To show them the trail, show them that Nome is the finish line, and to show them that it is fun. The outlook for this group of dogs is long term. We want longevity out of them, so that they’re still sled dogs and loving it when they’re ten years old, not blow up at 6 years old because they were pushed to hard at a younger age. We are going to take our time, enjoy ourselves, lots of dog care, and get happy dogs to the finish line with fuel left in the tank. Everybody and their grandma will announce at the banquet, “I want a happy healthy dog team at the finish.”, they won’t all end that way. So, more than aiming to win place or show, because i don’t care where we finish, it would be more accurate to say that we’re going for red lantern. Not literally, of course, but the point of this race is bigger than just this race. The point is to have these dogs learn so much, that they can be superstars in a few years. Okay, were packing up today to launch on a camping trip tomorrow morning. Keep your eyes peeled for photos and stories from the trail!

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