Sunday, November 24, 2013

USDAA Nationals in Tennessee!

On October 22, Fin and I started a great adventure.  We weren't alone.  My best bud also was traveling with her two red boyz.  In addition, a few more brave soles were making the journey and meeting up with us there. 
The week before we left (I will not lie), I was a nervous wreck.  Doubts plagued me and I wondered, "Why do I do this to myself!"  Sometime during the week, I let it all go.  I felt I was driving myself crazy with all the worry.  I made the very difficult decision to "enjoy myself."
I know that some of you are laughing right now.  Only because you understand.  "Why go mostly across the country if you are going to be stressed?" is such a great question.  Letting go of that stress was harder than it sounds.  At the airport, all went very smoothly.  We had the dogs out for the pain free process of checking in (thanks to the awesome help of the skycaps).  Once we put the dogs into their crates and the skycaps took them away I looked at Laura and she said, "If you cry I will slap you."  I knew she meant it so I put a smile on my face and went and ate some dinner instead.

Truly, once we got to Atlanta and picked up the dogs, my stress was gone.  We got a van, put all the seats down, loaded the dogs up and started our drive up to Murfreesboro.  Neither Laura nor I slept on our red eye flight.  I remember sitting on the plane thinking, "I have to sleep...sleep darn it...this can't be happening....go to sleep."  I did doze, but as Laura pulled out of the rental car parking lot and I started my job as the navigator, I was suggesting that we just find a hotel and stop for some sleep.  As usual, saner heads prevailed (that would be Laura), and we were on our way. 

Making it into Murfreesboro with only a couple stops, we tried to check in at our hotel.  When that didn't work we went shopping and then lunch.  Still no hotel.  Drove out to the site of the 2013 Nationals and were able to set up in our lovely out door accommodations.  We walked around and loved the venue, but not the red dirt that was sticking to everything because it was a little drizzly that day.

Sometime during the day while I was dreaming of taking a nap, our friends called and asked us to a practice session.  At that point I realized there was no hope for a nap anytime soon and we headed west on roads never traveled to an incredible property with an indoor practice area.  Not only were we able to get a little confidence that our dogs remembered how to do agility, we were able to walk the fields with our dogs off leash playing.  I felt that the ability to just let the dogs play truly started our week off on the right foot. 

We met for an early dinner before heading back to our hotel.  I was sound asleep before 8pm (that is 6pm PST!).  I slept the entire night until Laura woke me at 5:15 to get to the show site for our walk throughs starting at 6:15am!!  I was so freak'n excited!  Okay...okay...I was a little grumpy, but once I woke up I was excited!!!

Each morning we would have to walk all of our courses very early.  Then we ran in groups throughout the day.  Sometimes not running until 5 or 6pm.  Imagine walking a Steeplechase Quarter Final at 6:30am, but not running that until 6:15pm.  Welcome to our world of National Champions...just how we roll.
I was looking all over the place for the practice jump areas.  When I found it I was glad I didn't have Tazz.  The practice area was jump after jump lined up in an area with each jump no more than 20 feet from each other as close as 10 feet.  No way if your dog is reactive can you do those practice jumps.  After nearly having a BC land on us, Fin and I decided we didn't need no practice jumps...we'd go to the field and play instead.
The warm up was supposed to be a nice calm practice where Fin and I would work on our contacts.  I got all adrenaline junkie and instead of giving Fin clear contact cues of, "Point" followed by a breath and a "Good Girly" followed by a "Fish!" release cue, I was screaming, "Go! Go! Go! Go!"  Ummm...Vici (WTF!!!).  I guess I have a little work to do on controlling my emotions.  Our only other run on day one was really important.  Steeplechase Quarters. I really wanted to make it into the Semi's.  We NAILED it!!!!  yee ha!
Regretfully, both Laura and I not packed enough warm stuff for the dogs.  Just didn't imagine that it would be as cold as it was.  Darn it, we had to go shopping.  I'm not even admitting to how much we spent.  I will say that as we walked back to our crating area there was much laughter and whispers about the two gals carrying so much stuff!


Much of the weekend we sat in a the arena watching agility and screaming for our friends, but Fin and I spent a bunch of time running agility.  We had two runs each day.

We also played a ton out in the wonderful fields.  Walking our dogs more than we actually ran agility and playing Frisbee, tug, and catch me if you can.

We also did a bit of celebrating.

Overall, Fin and I did what we did with gusto, humor, and joy.  I accomplished my goals of having fun, not letting the stress bring me down, and going out there with confidence and boldness. 
Some highlights:
  • Got through the Quarter Finals of Steeple and ran in the Semi' off course tunnel got in our way...
  • Ran clean in Grand Prix Semi's for a 14th place finish!  Not too shabby.  They took 11 competitors so no finals, but "WOW!!!" what feeling to know we were "that" close.
  • Ran hard in all of the team events.  Snooker was pretty short, but we did ok in everything thing else. 
  • Smiled bunches.  Really, truly enjoyed myself!
  • Got to watch my friends have amazing runs! 
  • Rachel and Kubby MC Biathlon champions!
  • Got to watch Laura and her red boyz in all THREE Finals!!! Stat, you are a machine!  Fires, you carried your weight in Team and it paid off! 
The last competition of the Nationals were the Grand Prix Finals.  What a thrill is was to watch the best of the best and to know that Laura was right there with them!
The week flew by.  Almost didn't miss Olive...but yes, she was on my mind once or twice.  She was enjoying life at Jeanine's, while Tazz and Maddie got daddy all to themselves.  I can't thank Kel and Jeanine enough for taking care of my babies so Fin and I could have this adventure!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FaceBook is Killing My Blog

There it is.  I post on Facebook because it is easy and fast and I've been super busy (and sick) since I got back from Tennessee.  Another problem is I've been waiting for those fabulous photos so I could write a complete summary of my USDAA Nationals experience.  Finally got the Videos, but the photos have yet to arrive.  So the entire summary will wait and this will have to do to wet your whistle.  A complete summary of the trip is forth coming...I promise.
Olive stayed at home with a friend for my week in Murfreesboro.  It was really tough packing and super tough giving her to Jeanine to keep for the week.  But it was best and I was super busy getting away for the trip.   When I got home, she and I were so happy to see each other.  She had loads of stories that involved cats and kittens and skeletons.  She had a super week!  Thank you Jeanine.

I made these super stickers for the Airline crates for all three dogs.  I wanted the airline workers to know that we love our dogs and hope they are well taken care of.  All the dogs survived the fight and Fin was voted most excellent traveler.

Had a fun time at a super venue.   Really glad it didn't rain though.  First day there was a little drizzle.  Dogs and people were red with the dirt.  Once that drizzle cleared everything dried up and we were free of the red dirt.

There was much to celebrate with Fin getting into both Semi's (had to work to get into Steeplechase).  And doing well despite the stress.  Laura made it into all THREE finals with Fireball on team and Stat in Steeple and GP. 

For me Flying to Tennessee and not only surviving, but thriving on the trip, has opened new possibilities.  I'll be posting some of the videos soon.  But suffice to say, my trip was awesome.