We’re already hatching plans for next year… I can’t wait!
Our first year of raising happy puppies has been a success, thanks in no small part to all of you who have followed and supported us along the way. We are so grateful to our Founding Members. Our seminal year officially closes this June– That’s when current Founders can look for our Founding gift for the year. I’m excited about what we’re sending out! I hope you love it.
If you’re a reader or fan and want to get into the Founding Member program, you still have time! We’re accepting Founding Members up to June, and would love to have you on our team. Founders will keep a really special place in our heart as long as ATAO is mushing. That means you get some pretty kick-ass perks every year, including inside scoops, a welcome into the starting chute of our races, dog booties from the trail, and a special Founders-only gift at the end of each season. Check out the Founding Membership program here to learn more! [Later Edit: Founding Membership is closed, but you can support ATAO in our quest to race in the Copper Basin 300 for 2019!]
Our building year has been all about fostering a happy environment for our pups, learning their silly personalities, and getting grounded up here in Alaska. There have been some twists and turns– and some unexpected lessons, to be sure!– but overall I think the first official year of ATAO has been a huge success. As sunlight increases, it’s time to start considering everything going into our second official year as a sled dog kennel.
Now is when we get to dip into the beginning of athletic training. That means we’ll be doing a full year of building up to at least one big race. This will give the yearlings a foundation of what a training year looks like: the discipline and regularity of a schedule, increasing miles and confidence in what everyone can accomplish. The dogs love this. Dogs are creatures of habit. Once they know to expect that now we are going on another run, they have not only that explosive happiness that comes at hookup, but also the deep satisfaction of doing what their bodies are meant to do. There is nothing that pleases me more than a content dog napping hard after a good run. This will also give me an awesome chance to get to learn each of my teammates that much better, to appreciate their strengths and see where I can help them grow, and to get my own routine down to a focused point.
The first part of this year (starting now!) is going to be my own training. In the last year, with a lot of balls in the air, I let running fall away for myself. But I believe that a dog team’s weakest link is the two legger in back– and that I have a big obligation to be as fit as I can in order to hold the team back as little as possible. And, if I can’t find a good schedule of training for myself, how can I ask it of my best friends?
That means I’ll be entering into a training schedule and getting my own feet on the ground. Some of my running will definitely be side by side with my furry friends– including some free running I’m looking forward to, as well as omnijouring– and some will be on my own. I’m also going to try to go back to some of my boxing training. I don’t have a heavy bag to work on, but I can accomplish a lot of training with jump rope and light weights.
If I’m perfectly honest, finding the motivation for that kind of self care (the hard, less fun kind) is pretty tough. It’s something I’ve done better at at some times and worse at at others– including now. I have to keep in mind what I am doing this for, and the bigger goal. I also have to allow myself to focus on small goals to accomplish one at a time. Like, “Today I put on running shoes!” That’s a big part of coping with mental health issues, in my experience. Using that structure of small, accomplishable tasks to reach an athletic goal makes doing the same for mental health goals seem attainable. And for me, the two go hand in hand, since when I am moving my body, my brain is in a much better place.
So this is my accountability portion! And my excitement. Because even with that resistance to putting on those running shoes, there is that thrill of going out and getting moving. The endorphin release, and the satisfaction of going a bit further, and a bit further. And, the connection with the dogs who can do that and so much more. I will never be the kind of athlete my friends are, but I can strive to be like them in my own way. And I can find and recognize that same sense of boundless joy they have every time they get to run full out.
We are still outlining our race plan for the year. There are some various factors, including the cost of the races, that will enter into our choices. We’ll give a good rundown of our schedule this summer once we have it finalized. For now, here is generally what we are looking at for races this year:
This summer: Mari will run at least one half marathon in Alaska
This fall: If the Two Rivers Dog Mushing Association holds another canicross race, we’ll participate in that!
Early winter: Two Rivers 50 (ideally beating our “red lantern” status!)
January: 300 mile race, run on a “puppy” schedule (meaning lots of rest and taking our time to enjoy the run and accomplish the goal!)
Thanks as always for following along. There is no way we would even be where we’re at now without the support of everyone who has cheered us on so far. We’ll be doing some fundraising to get us to the start line of our big 300 miler this coming year. I’m hoping to possibly host another 5k this summer (perhaps a virtual one, since we have so many fans across so many parts of the country and the world even!). If you have any other brilliant fundraising ideas, let us know for sure!
As always… Onward!