11 January 2018

Behind the Scenes - Getting to the Starting Line

Päivä kilpailuissa on jäävuoren huippu. Suurin työ tehdään kotona. 

Tomorrow I am going to a mid distance sled dog race. Driving the race is a top of an iceberg. Here I want to tell some of the things that have to happen behind the scenes, before my team can reach the starting line. 

DOG TRAINING starts early in autumn. First intervals with ATW, then longer runs with sledge, hill climbing and so on. A combination of long slow runs and short fast ones - hoping  to find a mixture that would magically turn in to speed and endurance on the race. 

Uusi jarrumatto ja koko perheen voimin remontoitu reki. 

GEAR: A few weeks before the race we fixed my lighter sledge. I had all my family involved in it. My son made new gang lines for my dogs. My husband made a new kind of brakes (to go by the rules) and we changed the runners. Then I had to go and drive it, to see how it works.  I think the sledge is better than before. I hope I can drive it so that we stay intact on the race. 
Ensin lumityöt ja sitten traileria korjaamaan.  

Making the trailer ready was an other long night or two in the garage for my poor husband. You know how the electricity of the lights can sometimes be tricky. Not to even mention maintaining the kennel and the cars - and all this in between the 'normal' job and a huge amount of snow ploughing. 

Treenin jälkeen ohjelmassa on palautusjuomaa ja hierontaa.
(Valitettavasti vain koirille. Ei minulle :))

DOG CARE: When the training gets harder,  I start giving small recovery drinks  to my dogs after training.  I also add a bit of oil to dog food in the evening. A week or two before the race I start giving extra drinks during the day to make sure they stay hydrated. I also massage my dogs and take them to short walks, so that they can stretch and run free in the snow. All this means I spend more and more of the day in the dog yard, and my son has to wash all the dishes. 

Entäs sitten kun luottojohtaja alkaa ontumaan vähän ennen kisaa? 

DEALING WITH WORRIES: At the moment I have only 5 adult dogs. I try to keep them all in good shape, but two of them, Miilu and Mora, are getting old. And it doesn't come alone. Just before Xmas Miilu started limping her right front leg after longer runs. It seem there is something wrong with the biceps, probably the string. After some painkillers and a 10 day rest the limping was gone, and she could do short loops with no problems. Still I don't think I can take Miilu to my team. And that was the only thing I was sure of! I thought that Miilu will lead my racing team. She has always been the strongest, but of course now she has had a rough year bringing up the puppies. Well, lucky for me, all my dogs do run in the lead. But now I have to take to the team one dog that is not very good at pulling in the uphills. 

Koirien viereen pakataan ruuat, siivousvälineet, takit tossut ja steikit.

PACKING: A few days before the race I start packing. Fist cleaning and then packing the dog boxes in the trailer. Dog food, jackets, stake outs, leashes and shovels go in there. Then the sledge, and all the mandatory equipment in it. Tonight I cleaned the car and packed it tt with all the stuff we need to sleep in it: mattresses, sleeping backs, cookers, water, some porridge and coffee for the morning. 

Yövymme autossa. Patjat ja makuupussit valmiina. 

THE TRAVELING DAY is tomorrow. After work I grab the clothes, papers,  maps, loaded lamps and phones, put the dogs in the trailer and then we go. It is only a couple of hours drive to Paljakka, where we first have to stretch and care the dogs and then go to the musher meeting is at nine o'clock in the evening. And then, hopefully, on Saturday morning, me and my little four-dog team will stand on the starting line. 

Robur Sprintin lähdössä 2017, Make handlerina,

MENTAL ASPECT: Is all this worth it? UItimately, I guess, it all comes to this: Why do I go to the race? They say there some compete to win themselves and some compete to win. I'd like to think there is something in between, and that is where I stand: I compete to be a better musher  - mainly wiser than I was before, but also a little bit better in the results. I compete because I believe, in life you should reach for the things you dream of, and work to make them happen. Standing in the starting line is a small miracle. and a team work that makes me feel grateful.  

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