Last night was our final training run before the big race this Friday (the Midnight Run). I ran 10 dogs: Zoey & Cowgirl in lead, then Odessa, Star, Lilly, Fender, Tefa, Jackson, Gibson and Boston on a 19.5 mile run to be sure who I am taking as my final 8 this weekend. It was a magical run!! It was cold, the dogs were just awesome! I rode the brake almost the whole run to protect the team and try to keep them at a slower pace, but they were on fire. We came back just as fast as we went out. Usually the team slows down on our way back down Manistee River Rd., this straight, boring county road we travel before the final 3 miles home. I actually had to be on the brake for the entire time to keep them slowed down. It was so much fun seeing the team run how I've known they can perform, I actually got butterflies in my stomach out there watching them!! We had 4 short stops and still averaged 13.44 mph. I was so proud of the team. Maybe this is a sign of good things to come this weekend. Or, maybe I'll be hanging on for dear life on those trecherous Marquette Mountain trails. I am already getting nervous about the race and it is still 3 days away! My team that I chose is: Zoey, Cowgirl, Star, Odessa, Fender, Lilly, Boston & Gibson. I will have 3 yearlings in my team (Fender, Boston & Gibson) that have been doing super all year, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the second leg after the checkpoint. The race starts at 6:00 pm and the first leg is about 49 miles, then we take a 5 hour layover where the dogs get bedded on straw and I get to sleep in the truck. Then, the 2nd leg, where I am usually very sleepy for the first few miles, is about 42 miles. For any that want to know, dog care is key to success in a race where there is a layover. So, here is what we do: When I pull into the checkpoint, Larry is waiting there to help the team. We water and snack the dogs in line right away. Larry has already spread the straw around the dog trailer. Dogs are not allowed to be boxed at all during this time, making it easier for the vets to check them out. Then, we rub Accede (a liniment made by Ten Squared Racing that helps keep their muscles warm and soothes any soreness) into their shoulders and wrists (the parts of the dog that you really have to protect), then we put dog coats and wrist wraps on every dog to keep muscles warm. We then hook them each to their spot around the trailer where we feed them a warm meal. We then leave them alone to sleep curled up on the straw for as long as possible during the layover. I then get to eat something, which is usually hard because I always get a queezy stomach during this race for not drinking enough water during the first leg from running up all those darn hills. Then, I get as much sleep as I can. About an hour before we depart on the 2nd leg, we give the dogs more baited water (we bait it to get them to drink it so they stay hydrated), walk them around to see if anyone has any stiffness, algyval a few shoulders again to warm them up, then harness, bootie feet if necessary, hook them back into the line and off I go into the darkness again. By the time I finish the race it will be around 10:00 am Saturday morning. I will update everyone on the race after this weekend. Hopefully we have a safe run this year!!