Saturday, December 24, 2011


I celebrate the winter solstice, but I have friends who celebrate Hanakku, some who celebrate Kwanzaa, some who celebrate everything and even a few who celebrate nothing much at all (any ol' excuse for a party, eh?).  Of course living in Alaska, U.S.A., most of my friends celebrate Christmas, even friends who aren't particularly Christian.  To each and all, I wish a very merry celebration, regardless of what you wish to call it.

Yesterday I ran two small teams, both of them relatively low miles.  My goal for the day was to give some of my young leaders some gee / haw work, and to give 1 year old Innoko a nice, fun run with the team.  I think I was able to accomplish both goals pretty nicely.

 The local trail I refer to as the Swamp Trail is now open and can be run quite easily on sleds, which allows me to do some short runs with more gee/haw work that otherwise is feasible.  The first team, with the overgrown puppy, did a 4 mile run.  For the second team I did a loop that incorporates a new, Borough constructed cross-over trail, that extends the run by 1 mile, and offers some nice gee/haw possibilities.  Since both teams were breaking trail through several inches of new snow, it was a good workout for all of the dogs.

Here is some video with highlights from our runs.  A few things of note - Cassiopeia (aka "Cassie") ran lead beside Just and Innoko was in the single team position of the first team I ran.  Innoko worked very well throughout the run, so I'm confident I can bump up his mileage a little bit and not have to worry about burning him out.  The second team also did a nice job, considering that neither Orion nor Capella, my young leaders, have fully learned their gee from their haw.  What they DO that's important is they offer to go the opposite directing, giving me a behavior I can reinforce with the opportunity to run some more.  That second team had a devil of a time with a head-on pass (also in the video), which tells me I need to do a lot more training that requires passing other teams.

Here are the entries in my training journal for yesterday's runs:

Date, Day, &c:
12/23/11, Friday.
Mileage & Speed: 
4.0 miles.  Max speed 13.2 mph, average speed 8.2 mph
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Home to 2 Rivers Road Tr to Swamp Trail to Rod and Julie's feeder trail to home.  Toboggan sled on several inches fresh powder over hard-pack.  Trail breaker run.
Overcast, light snow mist.  15 degrees at start, 16 degrees at finish.
Just & Cassie (leaders)
Midnight & Selene (Swing)
Innoko (single team)
Nels & Denali (wheel)
Intended to be a basically a "puppy run" for Innoko.

Innoka was all "in your face" with Midnight during harnessing and hookup.  Midnight had no interest in backing down, which caused a harness tangle during hook up.  One I got he and Selene untangled Midnight lined out nicely enough.

Fast launch, especially considering conditions.  Damned near pitched me off the sled. 

Just and Cassie set a pretty fast pace.  They hit all of their directional cues on the run without any hesitation at all.  Even the "straight ahead" across the driveway, and the 'haw' onto the very obscured 'return' trail.

All of the dogs worked pretty well on this run.  Selene was a star, keeping a tight tug line the entire run.  Innoko did a nice job of keeping up and only rarely had a loose tugline. 

A nice little training run to get young Innoko out on the trail.  I was overall very pleased.

Date, Day, &c:
12-23-11, Friday
Mileage & Speed: 
5 miles.  14.0 mph max speed, 8.3 mph average speed
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Home, Two Rivers Rd tr., Swamp tr., haw onto Little Chena River ridge tr., gee past Rod and Julies, gee onto new Borough cross over trail, gee onto Money tr., gee onto Little Chena River ridge tr., gee past swamp trail, haw onto Rod and Julie's feeder, and on into home.  Breaking new snow over hardpack, especially in section over new trail. 
16 degrees start, 15 degrees finish.  Overcast, but starting to clear a little.
Orion & Capella (lead)
Seamus (single swing)
Grace (single team)
Beau and Rose (wheel)
Narrative:  I chose this route, slightly longer than the first run, to give my very young leaders some gee/haw work and for the whole team to have to work together to break out some relatively steep trail. 

Better behavior on hook-up than before, so I think they'll come along nicely with that.  Orion and Capella set a very fast pace, and I pretty much let them do so, knowing they would get a really good workout when we got into the unbroken snow.  I think I was right about that.

Orion and Capella had some issues with some of the directional cues, but they corrected and responded to the correct cue in due time, showing me they are thinking about it which is great.  It won't take them long to better learn their left from their right.

1 pass with an oncoming team that didn't go terribly well.  I ended up stopped in the trail while his team moved on by, which they did quite nicely, by the way.  That's something we REALLY need to work on with these young leaders.

Grace was grabbing lines again at start.  I'm really vexed as to what to do about that.  Otherwise her behavior on the trail was fine, but of course she doesn't have a running mate to snark at. 

Overall, a good training run with a pretty decent little team of sled dogs. 

Today I've stayed home and been "Mr. Domestic", doing a bit of housekeeping and enjoying a peaceful afternoon. 

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