It's hard to say how I felt during that first run. "Sublime" is the first word that comes to mind. There was no tension or awkwardness involved. Only calm and serenity. It was so peaceful that I could have run all day. Fear was something I never felt. Not when ride escalated to a bumpy frenzy, nor when I fell off the sled for the first time.
The more time you spend with people in this sport, you start to realize that sledders are very systematic and meticulous people, almost to the point that they are obsessive-compulsive. They have certain clothes and
shoes they wear for certain tasks. They pack their gear into their sleds in the same spot and manner every time. They fill the many pockets of their clothes the same way so often that, at any given time, you could ask
a sledder what's in any of those many pockets, and they could probably tell you everything, down to the last dog biscuit.
After having been on a few 50+-mile trails, I understand why now. You're out on the trail for so long that you become tired and dazed. You don't want to have to think about things. You don't want to have to wonder
where your gloves are after you've broken up a fight and you're now trying to ride along on a bumpy sled, trying to hold on. Way too much to think about. I'm sure it's even worse during long-distance races, when you have only five hours of sleep at a time. You want every task, as mundane as it may be, to be as mindless as possible.