Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Ups and Downs of the Iditarod Trail

Blog Entry 4
March 14, 2010
The ups and downs of the trail

Once on the trail, Bruce has alluded to the fact that all worries and cares go away. For Bruce, I think being on the Iditarod Trail is one of the only times in his life, that for a long period of time he can be in a quiet, uninterrupted state and truly reflect on everything and anything in his life. In his day to day life at home, he chooses to have the cell phone in his pocket (pretty much 24/7) and is constantly making lists of things to do. Our household has always been a busy place, we both make it that way. But with this lifestyle comes more change, chaos and business than the average family might endure.

Bruce and I met over 8 years ago, and our journey together has been one of risk taking, adventure, and constant change. Just like working in a school, everyday is different and you never know how it is going to end before you lay your head down to rest. I would not change my life for anything. Even though we struggle to make ends-meet, waited to start a family and live in a small cabin, we are happy doing what we do. When he speaks about getting out of dogs, my response is “What else are we going to do? How could we not have dogs when we live in Alaska? I am sure if Brody could chime in, he would say the same – he loves the dogs and watches our Iditarod videos (or what he calls “EOS”) with attention and pure amazement. On several occasions throughout the video, Brody will answer the dogs back with an “AHOOOOHHHH” – his neck raised like he is howling towards the full moon on a clear night.

The ups and downs of the trail come with the race itself. I remember in 2006, Bruce’s first Iditarod, Jon Little, another well respected local musher he mentored Bruce in training to some degree and whose sold us Bruce’s prized lead dogs Kiwi and Maya when they were pups, pulled Nate (our handler and friend) and I aside to prep us for what the ups and downs of the trail. Bruce would have opportunities to call home, and when those came, you could expect emotional highs and lows. Jon warned us that the lows would be difficult to coach Bruce through, but the main thing to tell him was to get some rest, then make a decision about race strategy would be next. When Bruce called on an emotional high, I thought he was never going to come home.

For the last four years, these calls are in evitable and sometimes, I lie, to be honest (hmmm). As much as I would like to tell him to scratch and get off the stupid race, persuade him to rest, eat and then make a decision. In fact one year, he called my school while I was giving announcements on the loud speaker. Debbie, my secretary pulled my sleeve, pointed to the phone (as I was chanting the Pledge of Alliegance) and said “it is Bruce.” Bruce was crying and very down – he was beat up and could not decide what to do. In my principal tone, I told him “to get your ass back on the sled and get going! If you have to turn around, turn around, but at least try to leave!” Now, with that said, I rarely speak to him that way, but in this particular moment, that is what he needed to hear, in my opinion. Other times he just needs to know we are thinking about him and that everything at home was OK.
Bruce is not the only one who has ups and downs of the trail. I too experience high emotions during the race. This year has been particularly difficult because I have two little ones to take care of and cannot participate they way I used to. Merely finding the time to blog has been a challenge! My friends think I am crazy, carting around two kids to the starts and most likely to Nome. I think I am a little crazy – you have to be if you are married to Bruce J. Most folks don’t understand our decisions… Some though, who have the passion that both Bruce and I have for what we do and how we live, understand and know it is how we operate – they know there is no other way for us. Bruce and I are there for each other no matter what and we invited our kids into our lives, and they are along for the ride too. Thankfully, we have so many friends and supporters who help us get from point A to point B. My highs are more reflective – being thankful for what Bruce and I have made for ourselves – we have two gorgeous children, a nitch in an amazingly beautiful community, an important cause to support (diabetes education), and we have a special lifestyle to share with our children and others. We are blessed in many, many ways.

Anyway, I hear Shea, our 4 week squirming and my time to write is coming to an end. There is no time to edit – maybe later, but not now.

Happy Trails,


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