When the Going Gets Tough

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Here we are stopping one night and getting the fire going, so I could feed my dogs. Then I got my sleeping bag out, laid it down beside my sled and dogs, at 10°F below zero, and I took a 45-minute nap. Now why didn’t I sleep longer? Because after 45 minutes, I was frozen! The cold woke me up and it was time to go again.
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An Alaskan whiteout—when you can’t see ahead, quitting feels like a good idea. There I was going across that one big lake—I don’t remember the name of it; just a little way out of Willow—and fog settled in. A light wind was blowing that frozen, crystallized snow; and white was all I could see. I couldn’t even clearly see my wheel dogs, which are my first two dogs—and I had 10 more ahead of them that I couldn’t see. Then I heard Mary’s voice, “Honey, you don’t have to do this. There are other things you could be doing.”
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Folks, you’re going to be in that space. You’ll be saying to yourself, “Uh, no, I could go get a job at McDonald’s, and I know there’d be a paycheck from there every two weeks.” “No, I could get a job as a computer programmer; I could get a job as an attorney helping Matt.” You could say and do all kinds of things that would convince you not to do it.
I heard those voices. I was into my second race, my fourth day with basically no sleep. I was frozen. I felt like a popsicle standing there riding with my dogs. I would get off at different times and run beside the sled until I felt my heart would just about give out. I needed to try to get the circulation going, so I could get warm enough because I thought I was going to freeze.

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