Thursday, December 15, 2011

Farmpark Challenge and Some Lessons Learned

Had a great time again this year at the Farmpark Challenge in Ohio!  We didn't take the RV as there were more leaks than I could seal in the cold weather.  By the race, though, the weather warmed up too much after being severely cold the week before.  Makes for great hiking weather, but no so great for running dogs.  This race though, is one of the most fun, the people are great, the venue/track is pretty good, ahd everone is usually very friendly and helpful.  I enjoyed this race immensely last year and this year was no different, in fact probably even better.  I met back up with some great people whose company I enjoyed last year and had an even better time this year.  I must really congratulate our young friends who came last year looking to get in to the sport, and did so with a vengeance this year winning several trophies.  Way to go!

It was great to meet the Ditmars and Clyde Risdon as well!  So many wonderful folks!

My friend Kathy even got the chance to run my team on a demo run on Saturday afternoon around most of the track (even though they were only supposed to go down the hill and back up.. lol).

Thanks again to the Ohio chapter of the Trailblazers for putting on the race!  We had a blast!

On to lessons learned.

My team, though, did not do as well this year, but I'll put that down to a few lessons I learned, or hope I've learned.  Not having our powerhouse Bandit on the team was a big difference, and since I trained my team almost all for speed, I had not put enough time into strength training.  That and we only got to race on Saturday as the temperature was too high Sunday.  We made up a lot of time on Sunday last year once Freya was familiar with the trail.  I think in the future it will benefit us if I can get there early and walk her along the trail the day before I will do much better. (if that is allowed that is)

Our lack of strength training was apparent on the uphills.  I had even lost weight since last year, but our uphill progress nearly stalled each hill.  Princess is not the muscular equivalent to Bandit, and our lack of uphill strength training really showed without his help.  So I have had a while to rethink my training program and try to come up with better ways to ensure my team's success without Bandit.  I think perhaps having individual weight pulls might be the answer and a way to keep the pups fit in the summer without too much exposure to heat.  I've already been thinking of pulling rocks out of the stream to make a good foundation for a small grooming cabin, perhaps even making the whole thing out of local stone.  So I may combine training with my ambitious building plans, and have the dogs haul the rocks in the wagon to help tone and strengthen them.  Doing these pulls in the early/wee hours of the morning will be good for both them and me. 

The first few team hookups will also need to be pure strength exercises, and I will just have to have patience before experiencing the rush of excitement of a team at full speed.  I will need the ATV back in working order to do this, so I will have to buckle down and take it in for repairs once the savings get back on track.  (A series of setbacks have ambushed us this past month.)

I have also determined that I will need to get a second bike for my own strength/endurance training to help me be a better help to the dogs.  Unfortunately, I still need to save up money for a good rig.  It seems like every time I have the funds, something else comes up to spend it on.  Ah to be independantly wealthy and not have to worry about this stuff! 

We had also planned on attending the Land Between the Lakes Sled Dog Challenge this month, but Jim's father was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday night before the race (after we had already packed up the RV and were only waiting on Friday morning to leave).  Jim ended up leaving for Virginia instead to be with his mother and visit his father.  He was not in good shape, but was recovering as of yesterday.  He had a setback today while Jim has been driving back home though, so he may end up going back to Virginia after James' graduation.  So our future race plans are uncertain at this point.  I had hoped to attend the Mackinaw Mush, but not sure at this point what the future holds.