Monday, June 02, 2008

Bummed About the Weekend

SUMMARY: Results weren't what I'd hoped for. Not feeling good about agility at the moment.

I like running my dogs in agility. It is always a thrill to get past difficult places on the course, to try to keep up with them as they run confidently and with blazing speed across a sequence of obstacles, to observe where they have improved over time. I like being on course with them. I like my agility friends, and I did laugh this weekend--in fact, I realized late Saturday after the competition was over, as I sat quietly with my dogs and watched the sun go down, that mostly what I heard in scattered areas around the arena and camping areas was laughter, and it was almost constant from various quarters. Made me realize how much so many of us depend on our agility experiences for fun and how lucky I am to be around these people.


But I can't stand it when I screw up, and I have a hard time dealing with times when "it matters" and my dogs have problems. It's particularly awful in the Dog Agility Masters (DAM) Team event, because you have to hold it together for 5 entire classes, for the possiblity of one single Q, and so do both of your teammates. Perhaps oddly, I am fine with whatever my teammates do, whether it's great (which I'm very happy about), or badly (which is too bad but in fact both emotionally and intellectually I am not bothered by that; guess I have more understanding for other people's challenges than my own).

Here's what we competed in for Qs this weekend:
* Snooker
* Standard
* Jumpers
* Pairs Relay
* Steeplechase
* Grand Prix
* DAM Team (5 classes on Sunday)

Here's what Boost really needed:
* Steeplechase to be eligible for Nationals
* DAM to be eligible for Nationals
* Jumpers towards her MAD title
* Standard towards her MAD title

Here's what Boost Qed in:
* Snooker
* Grand Prix

Here's what Tika needed to add points towards her Lifetime Achievement Awards:
* Snooker
* Standard
* Jumpers
* Pairs Relay
* Grand Prix

Here's what Tika Qed in:
* Steeplechase
* DAM

So I was more than a little frustrated at my inability to get even one of the Qs that I "needed." And wayyyy too much of it was just plain my fault, and things that I should have known better, too! In fact, I'd say I was truly extremely frustrated and, finally, by midafternoon, ready to just crawl into the back of my van for a good cry. With it all set up for sleeping, it would have been a comfy place to feel sorry for myself, but by then I had already packed almost everything up and there was noplace to sit and feel sorry for myself.


So, instead, I went back to the score table and just whined to all my score table buddies for at least half an hour until we were all sick of listening to me. It's not like I was the only one making mistakes or not getting Qs that I wanted. But it's all about me, you know?

It didn't help that the weekend generally started badly. Nothing terrible, but sometimes things just add up, you know? Like, I almost headed out for 3 days of agility without my suitcase or any clothes. I was THAT close. And then with that and other things, I left an hour later than I had wanted to, so I ended up sitting in stop and go traffic for about 20 minutes on the way out, which sometimes I handle with equanimity but this time it gnawed on me, in part because I was annoyed at leaving late and so messed myself up, in part because of gas prices, in part because I was afraid it would keep up so long that I'd miss my first class of the evening that I had paid for and that's why I was going through all this anyway.

On the other hand (trying to be positive), it beat getting up at 4 in the morning. In some ways. Like, I can show you how odd it is, after driving for 30 or 40 miles of highway that looks somewhat like this:

To suddenly come upon this by the side of the road:


There were positive signs:

Boost did all of her weave poles perfectly all weekend. EXCEPT. In Steeplechase Round 1, where she hit the entry and skipped a pole. So I brought her around and restarted; while I tried to move away laterally, she popped out halfway through the poles. Then she was between me and the beginning, bouncing bouncing bouncing, so I told her to Down, and every time I took a step, she'd bounce right back in front of me. So it took a while to get her to stay down to calm her brain and so I could get around her to try the poles again. Then she popped out at #10 of 12 poles, and again I had to calm her and put her back into those last two poles.

The really frustrating thing was that every other bloody thing about that steeplechase run was picture perfect, including the second set of weave poles. And fast. No refusals or hesitations over jumps. Lovely Aframe. But we were way over time.

She had a beautiful Team Standard run, felt like a superfast masters dog, even got through the first really hard part that cost a lot of handlers an offcourse. But then she ran past a jump at a sharp angle and was immediately offcourse into the next obstacle. And that's dumb because I *know* that she still doesn't take those jumps automatically and that I really have to work them and we even TALKED about working every jump before the run.

Tika got quite revved up for Steeplechase Round 2 and had a very good time (for her), but knocked TWO bars AND hit the broad jump when I signalled a turn too early, and I anticipated that in the walkthrough, too, and yet still managed to screw it up.

So it's like every plus had a negative attached to it for me. And other things that didn't help were, while unloading the car and setting up on Friday I whacked the top of my head on my car hard enough to make me want to sit down, I whacked my forehead on my cart handle hard enough to have a standing bump that was still visible Saturday, ripped open the knuckle on one finger, causing it to bleed profusely, and whacked the side of my bad knee with the corner of a box enough that I thought for a few minutes I had just made it impossible for me to run. I felt that all weekend. The person camped next to me must have been greatly entertained by the number of "Ow!"s and expletives coming from my vehicle.

And then there were the just plain crappies. Boost earning 25 faults in Pairs Relay. Boost knocking 4 bars in Jumpers before going offcourse on a very technical course when I finally just lost my head and couldn't manage that speed and chaos any more. Tika having a lovely Team Gamblers run but then I blew it and gave away all my gamble points, for two reasons:

* First, for some reason while out there I discounted the fact that we weren't in exactly the right position when the horn blew (and usually I'm very good about taking that into account in my closing)--it wasn't until several minutes after the run that I remembered that fact.

* And the other part was that Boost had had so much time left at the end of her gamble, which I abandoned more points partway through because I was being cautious, that I thought for sure I had plenty of time with Tika. But it turns out that I had evaluated Boost's time based on the Performance time, not the Championship time, because the stupid score table person had written the Performance times on the accumulator sheet and not the Championship. And you know who that stupid score table person was. Right. Me. So I really beat myself up about that. Tika would have been near the top of the scores, but instead was almost dead last.

Tika blew pretty much all of her dogwalk down contacts this weekend, big-time. Usually she's close, and in the past we haven't missed many Qs or points because of dogwalk down contacts, but now she has apparently decided to just not bother.

It just kept going like that. The only run that went really well was Tika's Round 1 Steeplechase. She's never going to be a 1st-place winner, but she was solidly within Qing time even if you counted only the fastest dog's score, and her run was smooth.

We had some other minor victories: Boost's Team Gamblers was perfectly executed right up to the end, where I couldn't get her into a tunnel for enough extra points that might have earned us a first, but it was still a very good score. In fact, Boost's team placed 6th in Team Gamblers, and 7th in Team Relay, although those didn't help us with all of our other problems, placing a miserable 18th of 19th overall.

Tika's team placed 4th in Team Jumpers, but Tika knocked 2 bars on her run. And we placed 7th of 19th overall, for a Team Q that I didn't need particularly but I'm glad to have, I guess.

I just tried to spend as much time with these lovely critters as I could, and laugh at their antics, and snuggle them when they'd let me.



But in truth, coming home Sunday night, I realized that overall, most of the weekend I was unhappy, and the DAM Team stress didn't help that at all. And it was a bad comparison to the last week out on a road trip, having a wonderful time even in the face of adversity.

Titles and ribbons and qualifying for nationals ruin everything. Now I'm rethinking (again) when I want to try team again in July, or at the regionals in September, or even bother with Nationals. Bleah.

10 comments:

  1. Yanno, I think anytime there's a DAM event, it brings about so much stress that it's hard to enjoy yourself! At the last DAM event I entered, I was a serious grouch. I mean, downright pissy. I HATED the stress and HATED the whole team thing since I NEEDED that show to qualify. I stomped around in a funk all weekend and in the end, my team came in 2nd and the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders!

    I can certainly commiserate with you on bad weekends...but I truly think Team is to blame! :)

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  2. I can really identify with this post. Whether or not I qualify with my Masters dog seems to make such a difference in the amount of fun I have going to trials--epecially since I've been running this dog for about 6 years and not really improving my Q rate.
    After awhile I just don't feel like going to trials anymore but without testing yourself at trials it seems a little pointless to train and then you've got a viscious cycle going. Not to mention I'm a real bummer to have around.
    It's why I've decided to take some time off and just explore other fun things to do with my dogs. I'm not giving up, just taking a break.

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  3. Next time out will be better. From the getgo, it seems your head wasn't in the game...forgetting your clothes...come on. For me that would be a sign telling me I am mentally in no condition to be trying to show my dogs. With all the little oops that you had all weekend long, I would venture that it was just an off weekend in general and not particular to agility. I bet if you had been home, you would have f'd something else up...just because a few screws decided to loosen up for a few days. It happens to everyone.

    When it has happened to me (it was particularly bad during the worst of menopause) I always feel so guilty for having subjected my dogs and any friends to me during that time. I want to tell my dogs that they should find someone else to take care of them until I am back in one piece. It is never very serious. It just is life. We can't be 100% all the time or on demand. It just doesn't happen.

    So cut yourself some slack, honey and give those dogs an extra bone for putting up with you and next time, it will be better.

    Really.

    Amy

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  4. But I *WANT* to be 100% all the time! :-) OK, OK, I know that's not realistic. In fact I'm probably not even 100% ANY of the time. Just different parts of me are 100% while the rest of me is off on vacation in Fresno or somewhere.

    So maybe it just was my physical state this weekend--now that I think about it, just coming off missing a major migraine Thursday, which before I had the right meds would possibly have laid me up for 2 days, maybe I still suffer the lingering effects but without the actual head pain. I suppose that's a possibility, too.

    And throw in the contrast to my vacation and the previous two weekends of agility where I was so pleased with the way things went. And Team. It just sucks when you're standing there watching your friends compete and discussing among yourselves, "Not enough people are Eing." It's just such a downer.

    -ellen

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  5. Well, as an ADCh-free lifelong resident of the Masters ring, when I need to pull myself out of the pit of despair of why do I SUCK at this so bad when actually I believe I should be a huge rockstar of dog agility, I try to remember that happiness is a choice, just as crankiness is a choice, so I just give myself a choice of which one, (hopefully do not select cranky), try to stick with it, and remember that life is too short to Not have fun. So then just find a way to have fun, even if I am still out there (fill in the blank here) knocking bars, missing contacts, with a lame dog, with a dog that barks at the judge, haven't finished training my puppy, bailing teeter.

    I forget what those ways are now. But I'm still doing it so I guess I come up with something. I think I like to set bars and watch the dogs go around.

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  6. You need to read your own blog...look at your posting for Thursday the 27th. You were wiped out. You even took a picture of you with your head down on your desk. Did you recover miraculously on Friday?

    Amy

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  7. Well, that's what I'm saying in part: Thursday afternoon's when I realized that I was fighting the beginning of a migraine and, no, you're right, that might very well have been the main factor.

    -ellen

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  8. And the ultimate rebuttal to your woe is me post:

    http://failblog.org/page/1/

    You aren't even close.

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  9. Thanks, I'm laughing now. I've got this site bookmarked already, actually, but it's a nice reminder.

    -ellen

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  10. I'm sorry your weekend didn't go as you'd hoped. It's typical agility though, some weekends are fantabulous and some not so much.

    Aside from being tired yourself it's also possible that the dogs were a bit off because you were gone.

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