Tag Archives: dogs

Finally a dog race

22 Jan

The really cold temperatures eased enough for us to have our first sprint mushing race of the season today. The Alaska Dog Mushers Association schedules five early races as their Challenge Series, which is sponsored by Annamaet Petfoods, a.k.a the good stuff I feed my dogs and cats 🙂 These are basically preliminary races for folks to test out their dogs and gear. The race series was supposed to start in December, but we didn’t have enough snow for a race trail, so they’ve been postponed multiple times. Once we finally got enough snow, it was either too cold or there were issues at the Mushers Hall. The Challenge Series races are canceled if the temperature that morning is -25°F or colder. Championship races have no cold temperature cutoff. This morning it was only about -5°F so the race was a go. However the warm temperatures brought pretty good winds with them, so instead of straight-up being cold, we had wind chills between -20°F and -30°F. Not only was wind chill an issue, but the winds were blowing in parts of the trail.

Most folks opted not to race today, but my training partner really wanted to run the dogs so we “raced.” My team won the 6-dog class and her team won the 10-dog class. It’s easy to win when everybody else stays home 🙂 Only two other adult teams (both in the open class) and six junior musher teams raced. The wind was brutal in open areas but much of the trail was in the trees, so we had a pretty nice training run. The temperatures are supposed to drop again this week, so this might be the last run we get for a while.

Here’s what’s happened with the 100 Days Challenge:

  • Day 20: a late 30 minute treadmill workout as I predicted.
  • Day 21: Zumba with Phoebe. I really love going to these Zumba classes. Wish I had time to go to more. I heard a rumor that she’s going to add some earlier evening classes soon. That would be awesome!
  • Day 22: raced dogs then did some outdoor chores.
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Running dogs is exercise for me too

8 Jan

Oops. I missed a couple of days of posting. Did you miss me? 😉

I have not, however, missed my daily 30 minutes for the 100 Days Challenge 🙂

  • Day 6: It finally warmed up enough to run dogs, so that was my exercise for the day.
  • Day 7: More Zumba with Phoebe! Wish I could fit in more of these classes. They’re fun and a great workout.
  • Day 8: Ran dogs again. We were supposed to race, but the race got cancelled.

I’m not sure if everyone would, but I’m counting running dogs as exercise for me as well as the dogs. Yes, the dogs are the true athletes, and amazing athletes at that. But anyone who has ever driven a dogsled knows that you’re not just standing on the runners; you’re driving that sled. Driving means steering around corners, twists and turns, obstacles, and dips in the trail. It means controlling (or attempting to control) the speed of the team. It also sometimes means stopping the team and jumping off the sled if a dog gets tangled on a line or needs to be moved around in the team. I will admit that us sprint mushers have easier sled driving than distance mushers, but that’s for another time 🙂

Piper in the cab of the truck at the Tok races.

Not all dogs get to ride in the cab. Those are the dog boxes behind the cab. Note the sled on top of the dog boxes.

When I say I’m running dogs on a day, it’s more than just jumping on the back of a sled and taking off. It’s loading dogs into their boxes on my truck, driving to where we’ll train or race, then letting the dogs out of their boxes. Some days they go back into their boxes to wait until it’s their turn to run. Some days I have to load and unload the sled on the top of the truck too. Often we’ll work up a sweat just harnessing and walking dogs up to get hooked into the team. After the run the dogs get unhooked from the team and returned to the truck (or their houses) for their post-run hydration. Finally all gets loaded back up onto or into the truck and we go home.

Calorie-counting apps and the like will calculate how many calories you burn doing a particular exercise. For an hour of Zumba, it’s pretty straightforward. But how do you estimate how many calories you burn running dogs? I haven’t figured that out yet, but I am convinced it is physical exercise and I burn calories doing it.

Extracting time

5 Jan

Day 5: Almost blew the 100 Days Challenge today, but was able to eek out 30 minutes of movement with a combination of outdoor chores and two short workouts with my new workout toys, er, tools.

I recently purchased a Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball kit. I had been wanted to get a stability ball to use for core work and other strengthening exercises, like the ones Coach Jenny described in her recent post about simple strength training for runners. This kit seemed like a decent deal and included a resistance band and DVD with two workout programs. One of the workout programs is actually several shorter workouts that you can do separately.

Today was a bit tricky time-wise as I worked into the early afternoon, but had to go pick up my dog from the veterinarian late in the afternoon. I ran home for a while, cleaned the dog yard and filled the bird feeders which gave me about 15 minutes of movement. Then I changed clothes and tried a couple of the short balance ball workouts. This was my first time using a balance ball, and I wasn’t sure how much space I’d need. Space to work out to a DVD or (other video source) is yet another challenge in my house. I cleared some space and did the best I could. Between space limitations and this being the first time using the ball, I think the workouts went pretty well. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.


Not related to my health and fitness, but since I mentioned it above, I thought I’d add a bit about today’s trips to the vet.

Piper on a new bed

Piper enjoying a new bed (Nov. 2010).

It’s been a rough past 12 months for our dog Piper. I won’t go into all the details here, but the short version is that we almost lost her in January 2011. Between our and the vet’s willingness to go the extra mile for her and Piper’s determination to survive, she’s still here and mostly doing well. For the past couple of months Piper has seemed depressed and not herself. We thought the cold was getting to her (because her fur hasn’t fully grown back from her ordeal last winter), but she’s been getting worse. We (us and a couple of veterinarians) hadn’t been able to figure out what was wrong, but something kept telling me it was related to her bad teeth. Her teeth didn’t appear to be infected or anything, but today she went for dental radiography. Sure enough, EIGHT teeth (or remaining parts of teeth) needed to come out. My poor, tough girl. Tonight she’s home recovering from a long day of surgery, and is still a bit wobbly and dysphoric. I’m sure she’ll feel better tomorrow (or maybe the next day).

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