Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not The Best of Days

...continued from yesterday...

On Saturday, I awoke exhausted. Physically tired from the muck and the straw and all that, and my knee rather sore, but also emotionally wiped out from a night of worrying the Q-or-no-Q question to death. I finally met up with my teammates, and we agreed to let the score table know that there had been an error, and that was that. I felt like sitting down in a corner and sobbing. I really wanted that Q, and I had been ready to accept that we hadn't gotten it, but then to find out that we DID get it--only to find out that we really DIDN'T get it and were misled only because of someone else's error--too much for my tired soul to take.

However, as the morning wore on, I felt better and better about having done the right thing and having gotten over it. The score table did confirm sometime in the late morning that indeed that E in the Team relay cost us the Q.

So now we have to do it all over again. At least we have opportunities to do so--the Bay Team trial in Sunnyvale the first weekend in May, with one of the same partners but a different third because the other had already committed to a different team, then back to the same three again for the Turlock trial in June. Then, if by some crappy rotten bit of luck we STILL haven't Qed, there's the Bay Team Labor Day trial. And there might be some in southern cal, too, but I really don't want to make that kind of long haul.

So I returned my lovely TM ribbon and my DAM qualifier patch. It was quite windy and it ripped the roof of my canopy. Not sure how I'm going to fix it (it's along the seam but no way it's going into the sewing machine--I don't think) and it's pricey to replace it.

Tika and her partner for Master Pairs Relay had nice smooth runs that looked pretty fast, and we were both completely clean; hoped we'd get a placement ribbon there, but no, it was good only for 16th out of 61 teams. At least it was *a* Qualifying run for the day.

We had our third Masters Standard run of the weekend and I don't recall exactly what we did wrong, my brain was too far gone to remember even long enough to write it down later that day, but it was two different faults for a total of 10 points rather than our traditional five, and then we had our next attempt at Masters Jumpers, where we managed to knock TWO bars AND get a runout when I pushed her past a jump for 15 dang faults.

I knew that 3 days of agility was too much for us.

Steeplechase


Then here was the other dilemma that I was trying not to argue with myself about until the issue actually arose. Round 1 of the Steeplechase qualifier was on Saturday, but the final/money round was on Sunday. I didn't sign up for Sunday. I wanted to go home at the end of the day Saturday and recover and have a nice Easter dinner with my family, which I've often missed in the past because of dog agility. But, if Tika qualified in Round 1, this was a huge trial, so the purse for the top 8 or 10 or so dogs would be much larger than usual. And Tika's speed could be good enough to place.

To qualify, though, we'd first have to place within 25% of the top 3 dogs in our height class. There were 63 dogs entered at our 26" jump height. The way the calculations work now is that the top 3 dogs' speeds are averaged, and scores that are 125% or less earn Qs and are eligible to go on to the second round. ...That is, "scores" being time plus faults. So, for example, if the top 3 dogs ran the course in 29, 30, and 31 seconds, their average would be 30 and dogs whose time plus faults were less than 37.5 (125% of 30) would qualify.

I decided to go for broke on the run, get her as revved as I could before the run and really push it all the way through. I knew that we'd have to be fast in that crowd, and I knew that we'd have to be exceptionally fast to make up for the real possibility of a knocked bar, which is 5 faults. I walked the course calmly but thoroughly. I felt that it was a course that we were fully capable of getting through flawlessly even at high speed, I felt that I had identified all the possible error areas and felt confident that we could handle them. But Tika does tend to knock bars sometimes a bit more once we really get hauling--possibly because she flattens out more as she blasts over jumps.

I watched quite a few people run it, and many of them had many problems, mostly in those problem areas that I had identified, plus of course knocked bars, slow dogs, missed contact, and so on.

So we finally ran it. Tika was revved. I was revved. We were in synch; we had no hesitations or confusions, our turns were tight, only one tiny tiny hesitation when she didn't stick the Aframe and she hesitated slightly but I had been planning on releasing her the instant she hit the ground anyway, so I told her GO!...and she went...and she knocked the next bar as she executed a perfect tight turn. Otherwise our run was a total joy. I love running Tika.

In fact, I pretty much always love running her. She's so good and so fast and she pays such good attention without ever slowing down for instructions or getting worried about it. I think it's something akin to the thrill of driving a race car. My adrenaline definitely flows. But--at that speed--all it takes is the slightest wrong twitch and you've got major repercussions.

So it turned out that the 3 fastest dogs averaged 29.56 seconds, so 125% was 36.95 seconds. Tika's time was 32.11 seconds--good enough for 7th place--IF she hadn't knocked that bar. Those 5 faults put our total score at 37.11, a whole .16 seconds away from qualifying. Crap crap crap crap crappy crap.

On the other hand, it meant that I could pack up and go home, and it was only 12:30!

Wrapping up


Somehow or other, between stopping to watch Sparkle's steeplechase run, and talking to Dee about Izzy and Dee's puppy, and getting some congratulatory cake for the new champion dogs, and of course packing and packing and packing and packing...among occasional light misty showers and hoping that the rain would hold off til I was done... I wasn't ready to go until 3:30, at which point our club's quarterly meeting was already starting, so I stayed for that, and sat for an hour and a quarter.

When I finally stood up, my right knee was so stiff that it didn't want to bend at first. I followed my friend out of the arena, the friend with a locking device on her knee post-surgery so the knee won't bend, both of us doing the half-frankenstein walk down the sidewalk. I didn't actually leave the parking lot until 5:30.

By the time I finally got home mid-evening, my knee was swollen enough to make my jeans tight. (Well, OK, they're already fairly tight, but I mean really tight.) Argh.

But, I'll tell ya, I went to bed and slept ALL the way through the night without being aware of even one moment of waking up due to shoulder or knee pain and didn't even have to get up once to visit the euphemism. I was TIRED and it was SO nice to be home in my bed. Had an Easter dinner with my family that couldn't be beat, went to sleep again and didn't get up til the next morning when I had to go to... wait... I'm beginning to feel like an Alice's Restaurant rerun.

So, anyway, what I came to talk about was--the next time you get a fortune cookie fortune like this, two days before a major agility trial...look out.


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