It was a beautiful fall day, with temperatures hovering right around the freezing mark. There isn't much snow left on the trails, and in some places it is downright dusty, There were quite a few other teams out, which led to some great training opportunities. Passing and being passed is just a fact of life when running popular trails such as ours in Two Rivers, and every pass teaches the dogs (and the mushers) something more. Clean passes build on previous successes, and not-so-clean passes show us what we need to work on.
So, I ran my "main team" and increased the distance considerably over the little 1 mile runs we've been able to do from our own yard. Stephanie ran two small teams (four dogs in each team) and reported some great runs, and then I put Torus and Casey in a team with 6 of Casie's dogs for a shorter 2.8 mile run. My goal was to see how well Torus tolerated the increase in mileage - he's 11 years old and had an injured shoulder earlier in the year, so I wanted to push him a little, but only a little. Here is my entry into the training journal.
Main team, consisting of:
Rose and Grace in lead
Just and Capella in swing
Orion and Nels in team
Cassiopeia and Beau in wheel
4 wheeler, very little snow on dirt trails. Temperature near freezing. Little Wolf / James home to baseline to Pheasant Farm Road to Munson slough turn-around and return.
12.1 mph max speed
7.9 mph average speed
Grace and Rose were a bit confused by launching with a hard left from where they'd been lined out, but once they figured out what we wanted we were off and running. Grace scotched at Rosie for a few yards, and then they settled down to run.
There was hesitation taking the gee on to baseline but they "got it" without help from us. We hadn't gone 100 yards before coming up on a slow moving dog team. I don't think my team has ever had to pass a team going the same way before, but they gave it a good try before Grace couldn't contain herself and just had to go visit. The other musher's handler helped Grace and Rose figure out what we were asking and we moved on out again.
My leaders were running right on the edge of the trail through most of the run. I think they like the feel of loose snow under their feet better than the hard packed crust on dirt. In any event we made it down to the turn-around in good time.
Coming back up the hill from the slough Beau started "neck-lining", so we stopped a bit beyond the hill and gave them a good, long blow. That was about 3 ½ miles into the run.
Now my leaders were running on the left edge of the roadway when we encountered an oncoming team. Grace took the team hard right to pass very cleanly and I was quite proud of them, even though Capella and Orion tried to 'visit'. Rose and Grace powered on by, taking the team with them.
The remainder of the run was pretty much unremarkable. It was just a good, solid training run that extended the mileage a little bit – pretty much as planned.
Speeds not recorded
Little Wolf / James residence to baseline to 2nd field past Aliy's, gee to "quarter" the field, and return. 3 miles.
8 dog team.
Torus in lead with Casey's dog
Seamus in wheel beside Casey's dog
All the other dogs in the team belong to Casey.
With Torus being recently injured and 11 years of age (and showing it), and it being the first run of the season for Casey's team, we decided to run short. Almost immediately after turning onto baseline we had a head-on pass with another team. Being the old pro- Torus powered the team past the others without any issue at all.
The rest of the run was remarkably unremarkable. Casey's leader did a good job working beside Torus. He had a couple of dogs that weren't working very hard, but running with strange dogs and having little experience this season pretty much accounts for that.
As I unharnessed Torus I gave him a thorough physical exam. He had no problem with either shoulder through full range of motion, though the old boy doesn't have the full extension that he had as a young dog. Nonetheless, we increased the miles on him with no sign of reinjury.