Friday, January 30, 2009

8 - Dog Powder Day

With a nice fall of new snow last night I awoke to about 4 inches of fresh powder on top of the trails. The dogs have had several days off, so today was the day to put on a longer gangline and give as many as I dared a good, long run on fresh powder.

I tossed a second bag of water-softener salt into the sled bag for a bit more ballast and to increase the intensity of the workout. I selected my team, leaving two older, mellow dogs behind. They'll be fresh and ready to run with puppies this weekend. The photo below shows a small section of the trail in one of the more narrow sections, a section of trail I really enjoy running. There is something about winding through the trees that really tweaks my fancy.

Here is today's entry from my training journal:

January 30th, Friday: 14.2 miles in 2 hour. Only stopped for 3 minutes total the entire run. Home to Firebreak Trailhead and return. -5 degrees (F) start and finish. 4” powder on packed, mostly groomed trails. Toboggan sled with 80# weight.

Max speed 14.6 mph

Moving average 7.2 mph

Overall average 7.0 mph

8 dogs:

Grace & Torus (Lead)

Just & Beau (swing)

Rose & Nels (team)

Sheenjek and Seamus (wheel)

Harnessing and hook up I worked from the rear forward, and by the time I got to Grace she was fit to be tied. Very hard to get her harness on her, to the point where I was tempted to just leave her behind on the drop line. We finally got the job done, but it wasn’t pretty by any stretch. Once I did get her harnessed and hooked in she lined out beside Torus very nicely.

I let the dogs wait while I donned my coat and started the GPS. Perhaps I taxed their patience too much, but I don’t really think so. They won’t learn to stand and wait if I rush through the process. Rose and Nels weren’t nearly so difficult as they have been in the past. I think they’ve figured out that spinning only gets them tangled in the harness and delays things even more. I sure hope so.

I see that I forgot to record my speeds for Monday’s run. Today we launched faster than Monday, though I was hard on the brake and drag coming out of the yard. I doubt I could have stopped them on the feeder trail, so didn’t try. Once on the powerline and main trails it wasn’t a problem.

Very fast start on launch, the dogs were all very excited and happy to be running. They did very well even though breaking trail through a good 4 inches of snow. They maintained a fast past well past the public trailhead. They needed a little help on the steep slope up to the wood cutting road.

On the way up they maintained a pace of about 8 miles per hour, but dropped the pace a bit on the return. I understand that is pretty common when doing “in and back” runs. Seamus was getting pretty tired about half way back, though. He was pacing, and off his tug quite a bit. I stopped long enough to smoke a cigarette, and he did his ‘cheerleader thing’ barking and pounding to go, but within 200 yards we slowed back down and he was pacing again.

The whole team nonetheless gave me a nice sprint on the feeder trail and back into the yard, but I don’t think they had a whole lot left in them. They were all quite content to go back into their housing areas after a nice meatball snack.

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