Monday, June 18, 2012

Agility Retrospect...(part 2b)

In part2b of the retrospective post of our March 17-18 agility trial, we pick up where we left off in part 2a (duh-really?). Z and I are back at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds competing in our third agility trial. We failed to qualify in Jackpot on Saturday morning which meant moving up to level two was out of the cards for that weekend. However, we still had three more courses to run that day and another three the next. Oy vey - that seemed like a lot to complete (in between a LOT of sitting around) when my hopes for the weekend had just been smashed like a yam on Thanksgiving. ...

Trial Order, Our Runs, and Sitting Around
This grid from the trial catalog shows the order that the trial would being running. They run synchronized rings which means that anywhere you see a line that goes all the way across the grid, neither ring will proceed to the next event until both rings are ready. So even in the instances when you are running 'back to back' courses as we did on both days, you still have to wait for all the other dogs within your level to run, any course changes, and possibly a break, while the other ring 'catches up'. These are the times when you exercise your dog, read, play a game on your phone, or just hang with your agility compadres.

Our Courses and My Lessons
The courses we ran are shaded in yellow and the little red faces indicate whether we qualified (Q) or not (NQ). It was a tough weekend for me; we hadn't gotten a single NQ since the very first course of our first trial. When we started trialing last October, I had two very simple goals - have Z measured by a complete stranger without eating said person's face and have her actually run a course outside of our usual class and practice facilities without some sort of disaster. Both of those goals were met, I was completely relieved, and ever since then, unbeknownst to me, I'd gradually developed some high (and unrealistic) expectations of the both of us. Yes, it's 'only' level 1 and the courses are not outside of our capabilities, but we are still very new,  and I am still learning the games and how to work a course. It was unrealistic of me to expect to not have bad days and NQ's just because of the level we were in - the level a team is competing in should both match and challenge the teams current level of knowledge and ability. I just didn't really 'get' any of that before that weekend.
Confession time... this is the first time in my life that I've taken part in any kind of competition sport at all, of any kind, ever (unless you count Pictionary). Confession time again - I got a little teary. I started doubting whether we had any right to be competing, if I just didn't know what I was doing, or ...I don't know exactly what was going through my head - just self doubt. Thank goodness my wonderful, dear, kind friend and trainer Susanne was there to help me shake it off. What I was experiencing was normal. She kindly reminded me that NQ's are a regular and expected part of agility. Zainey regularly shakes off stress and upset (literally - as all dogs do), I just need to remember to follow her lead on occasion.

Our Results:
Saturday Jackpot L1 - NQ, 1st place for our height category (see part 2a for more on this run)
(It helped me to understand things a bit more clearly when I saw that only 1 of 8 dogs in our level qualified)
Saturday Standard L1 - Q, 2nd place, 5 faults
(We had a back-jump, almost missed another, and I called out 'walk-it' for the Aframe [wrong])
Saturday Snooker L1 - NQ, 1st place for our height category
(Zero dogs in our level qualified - okay, I am now seeing very clearly that we are not alone in our 'failure')
Saturday Colors L2 - Q, 2nd, 0 flts
(Meh, not bad. We were one of few who took the shorter course - Yea, good suggestion Susanne! Oh, and our first level 2 run! Same course as level 1, but less time and more experienced competitors. Yea us!)

Sunday Standard L1 - Q, 2nd, 0 flts
(Good enough. I rotated my shoulder way too soon which is why she pulled away from that jump - my bad.)
Sunday Snooker L1 - Q, 1st, 47 points! (more below)
Sunday Wildcard L2 - NQ, 15 flts
(My bad positioning = 4 paws on the dog-walk when we needed the tunnel=15 pt NQ)

The above links will take you to the corresponding videos. I purchase (and share) all of our runs so I can learn from the bad and brag about the good. I'm not hidin' from nothin'! None of our runs, with the exception of one, were very smooth at all. Things were just 'off' and I took one bad weekend and turned it into our new 'reality'. Shame on me - someone roll up a newspaper and smack me with it!

                                                                                               So, to end on a good note ...

It's time for Sunday Snooker! Here's the course map with all of my doodles. Don't try and follow it - I know I can't. I do know 'fc' means I did (or at least planned for) a front cross at that point and 'th' means I needed (or chose) to perform a threadle.
Thank you to my training partner Patty who looked at the course I planned and saw a better route that would earn us more points. (Remember: this is a points game and the first half has you 'designing' your own course before you run the numbered sequence). We got 47 points! That's HUGE! 51 is the max, so yeah, I was happppppy!


           Just watch the dang video!...

(not sure why my opposite arm is swinging like a pendulum) 

Wrap it up already! 
In the first part of this post I said that apparently failure is an option and the 3rd time was not the charm for this, our third trial. I wondered if that was true; did we fail?...Yes, no, and I hope so. Yes, we failed to qualify for 3 out of 7 runs. No, the weekend was not a failure in that we did have some positive experiences and accomplishments. I hope that we will continue to experience some amount of failure. If we aren't failing some of the time, maybe we aren't stretching far enough outside of our comfort zone and that space is where a lot of good learning can happen.

BTW - The highlights for me had nothing to do with Q's and ribbons. In both Jackpot and Saturday's Standard, Zainey decided to blow off the course and go up to someone working in the ring. Curious and Happy. My dog. Zainey. The dog who does not like strangers. Yea Z! 

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