Agility Marathon 2013

Cynosport, in it’s current format, is a 5-day marathon on it’s own. I’ve found I don’t mind the long days as much as I mind the number of days. As you may know by now, neither of my dogs made the finals and while some were confused that I could leave early, skipping my “fancy standard” run, and not cheering my friends in finals in person, it was so the right choice. As soon as I was on the road I couldn’t believe the relief I felt. Being away from the noise and the dust and the conversation. I’m an introvert, that’s no secret, but I think it’s more than that… so many days, my senses were all overloaded.

And instead of doing the sensible thing and just heading home, I went to work in downtown Atlanta for 4 days and then drove to mountains in NC and did it all over again. 🙂

Nice way to spend a #Mondayafternoon #beardies #bc #aussie #hyenadog

This trip was over 2000 miles and 15 days on the road. At the end, I could barely muster words and I slept for 16 hours. A nail was removed from a tire, a battery was almost exploded, a blown fuse, a van towed, a fuse replaced. A potential catalytic converter catastrophe. Two dogs, 6 states, 8 stops for gas. I’m horrified of the thought of ever doing it again. I can’t wait until the next adventure.

Kate couldn't care less that our van is being towed away. #sadday

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”
Wilma Rudolph

Cynosport was cold and dusty, but if I had my way all agility would be done in temperate, bare-feet friendly, weather and surface. It was well run, organized. To all who were involved in making that thing go – thank you. It is massive and I can’t believe I enjoy participating in that madness. Something really electric about getting that many dogs and people in a building. George’s morning walkthrough music is better than my iPod sometimes. So many new friends and old friends, internet friends, friends of friends. And truthfully, a lot of Border Collie stalking… shopping. Turns out I like the same dogs I liked before Cynosport. Ha.

Back in ATL from #cynosport2013 my girls were perfect. Kate had a wonderful "almost" for both finals but some really lovely runs and lessons for next time. Onto US Open next weekend. Java was perfect for her probably last cynosport. Earning 40th place tea

Java first, since she’s easy, and much less revelatory. She was good. Didn’t E any of her team runs. Good in STD and Jumpers both with 1 refusal. Decent Snooker and Gamble score, though those runs were pretty painful stress-wise. 40th place in team, thanks to our friends Maddie and Gabe for teaming with us. She did alright in Steeplechase, one refusal there as well. Everything was super scary for Bean, but I’m proud of her for pulling through. That will be her last national event, she’s just not cut out for it. And it’s too hard for me to focus on them both since they need very different energy from me.

Kate, well, she was EXCITED. Like: OMG THIS IS CRAZY FUN! I wish I could’ve been better for her. I learned more than I can write about in words. It’s amazing the lessons these two weeks competing with Kate taught me, that I haven’t yet learned in 2 years of competing with her. My friend Jen posted this on Facebook and it’s so true:

Have you ever done something that you failed miserably at, yet still felt successful? Felt overwhelmed, yet inspired? Felt out of place, yet still comfortable? Felt weak, yet somehow stronger than before? Felt exhausted, yet rejuvenated? … as I continue to be reminded, the best things cannot be measured – only felt.

One thing I felt: failure like I never have before at Cynosport. On the first day of team, I managed to E jumpers and score a 1 point Snooker run. Essentially single-handedly taking my team out of relay. They were very supportive, and frankly wonderful about it. Still. That is not a happy feeling, or one that I would like to experience again.

On the second day, we had a blazing Steeplechase run, with a bar. Her time was 25.56, which would have placed 3rd (or 4th if you count the other 5 fault run that was faster – which I do). 4th in that field of dogs is incredible. Unbelievable, really, as I see lots of room for improvement in that video. I was bummed. Later she had Gamblers, 21st place, which was pretty nice, and “fancy jumpers” which we E’d pretty shortly in, had two more bars, making the day total 5 bars. She hasn’t had 5 bars in 5 months. 5, 5, 5. 25. Sorry, my head works in numbers, not in feelings so much, and the disappointment was frustrating.

By the third day, I vowed to make it right, I donned my cool blue-green Grand Prix semi-finalist polo, my third ever earned polo from agility… We ran clean in Grand Prix semis. We ran clean in Team Standard. I knew upon seeing her time at the end of our GP run that it would be close. I hate myself for being disappointed in my amazing, little partner then. I wish I could take that feeling back.

So we didn’t make any finals at Cynosport. We certainly didn’t stand on any boxes or even earn a single ribbon. I was disappointed more in running clean and not making finals than I was in having a bar but knowing we put it all out there. I learned something about myself there.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou

I was exhausted and totally drained, but I studied my videos, discovered that Kate was high as a fucking kite and that caused some of our errors, bars and lack of concentration on her part. I could see that I was not as free as I could have been. Tense. Team scares the shit out of me. Why do I love something so scary?

One last #hike before leave for the US Open. #katerade #agility

I knew the right thing for Kate was to go on with the marathon and head to the UKI US Open. Kate would have to jump 26″, after having only briefly practiced at that height, but I knew she could handle it. Her jumping is truly better, even if it’s not perfect. I knew the next event would be good for us to get ourselves back, and I felt we would learn even more important lessons.

I was right.

Kate's all about the river. Even if it is cold.

The US Open was a wonderful experience for me. It was also well run and thanks to the team that put that event together. I’m glad it was such a fun time, and I know next year will be twice as big. For us: Almost equally as disappointing as Cynosport, but in a strange way, better. By Sunday, I realized I would never be the same person I once was.

To explain: when I first started agility, with Trin, way back when. I had originally intended for Gary to run her. That I would just train her. But Gary has this way of always forcing me to grow up, be independent, and while it irritates me, I have allowed it to shape me. So I ended up running Trin, and we got Bayer for him to run. A part of me still wishes it were the way I envisioned it. Being in the spotlight is so… odd. Are you supposed to look straight at the light?

Pretty #fallcolors at the UKI US Open.

I submitted a form for WAO, to tryout for the team. I took that pretty seriously and really debated doing that or just running the event for practice. There is an unwritten rule in agility when it comes to “world teams”, that most unoblivious people know; if you are a young team and/or unknown you probably need to win your way on. Coming off of my 22″ Cynosport, um, achievements, I wasn’t feeling very confident to win my way onto anything.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
-Thomas A. Edison

Don’t you know Kate though, she won the first class of the weekend, gamblers. I was mighty proud of my slippery, smooth-coated friend. Then she ran almost clean in Biathlon Agility, one silly bar. We E’d the next round, the nationals round 1, which we had a bye for anyway. That E should have taught me something, to which I ignored and had the same fault in nationals round 2. Kate, I swear, I got it now.

We placed third in the Masters Heat the following day, also with one bar as a fault, for 5 seconds added to our total time. Though it didn’t matter as that was something we also had a bye for. Lastly we ran snooker. I knew if I got through with 2 7’s and a 5 we would win the games. I decided to do 3 7’s, as I felt the 5 was chickening out. A brief moment of panic over having a bar was calmed by reminding myself that Kate was young and sometimes shit happens. Kate was awesome though, brilliant weave entry and all. We won the games! We got to stand on a box. It was as awkward as it always is.

Kate got to stand on a box! Biathlon games 26" champion.

The last day we ran Biathlon Jumping first, the most tame of all the courses. Our best run of the weekend, even though we placed 6th. An odd thing happened here, which I am uncomfortable writing about in full openness. But a series of events made me realize just how close I had come to actually making the team. However, in my mind, I was still aged 19 and pretending my boyfriend was going to stand in the spotlight for me. Panic station. I actually laughed -out loud- at the final Master Heat course maps. Relief. They were the trickiest yet, not totally out of our realm of ability, but unlikely. The jumping highlighted our weaknesses, and we E’d by #4. I wanted to be one of those people that just packs it up right there and heads out, but I couldn’t so we prolonged that train wreck for 16 more obstacles. By agility that night I was exhausted, brain dead and feeling pretty comfortable with having messed up enough not making the team. Not being responsible. Not having to travel to a different time zone and be counted on to do well. Our E this time was just a momentary pause in an otherwise very nice run.

Sunrise at my friends home in the mountains. Such a lovely place, a good excuse to find a show so I can visit again. Very thankful to have such wonderful people in my life.

I’m glad I made the trip though and I’m pleased with the lessons I’ve learned. Like I said, I am new now. I have a very long list of things to train for the rest of Kate’s career. I’m terrified of the prospect of actually being taken seriously as a competitor, and of taking this sport more seriously. Maybe. Maybe it’s not right for me to be serious about anything. We will see what the future holds.

I am beyond proud of Kate. She was wonderful, and incredible. She continues to inspire and train me to be the very best I can be. For that, I am forever grateful. She has single-handedly changed my life. I will try to be more of the competitor she needs me to be in the future, I have a feeling that she is too special to let me hide behind her light forever.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
― Dr. Seuss

Congrats to the members of both IFCS and WAO teams. I had a blast competing against you these past two weeks. You are all phenomenal measuring sticks of success with your dogs, I am in awe of you, inspired by you, and astonished of how brilliant you all already are. Kate and I, maybe? The future is very bright for my little star.

Sleepy girl after a long day of agility.

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11 responses to “Agility Marathon 2013

  1. As always, I love reading your words. You lay it all out there and I can feel your emotions like I was there. The future is so bright for you and that amazing dog! We will continue to cheer you on from afar and maybe get to see you some day at some nationals!

    • Yes, I certainly do hope we get to meet one day Michelle. 🙂 Thanks for the note the other night, sorry I was so brain dead!

  2. If I had your runs, I would be the happiest person around. No one would be able to tolerate my big head. Lol I know you didn’t get what you came for but your runs were awesome. The competition in your jump height was tough. It was so exciting to watch all of you run and just blow me away with you handling. Everyone’ times being so close. Tough, tough tough. Plus, I’ve never seen courses that hard. They looked harder than USDAA nationals in my opinion. Congrats on you games win!!

    • Thank you. 🙂 The funny thing was I didn’t really know what I was there for. I was very pleased with almost all of Kate’s runs (yes, some were bad) what I needed to do better had to do with myself and my ability to deal with agility being meaningful. I have a lot to learn.

  3. I am leaving my first comment since I too am an introvert  I have been a long time secret fan of Kate’s which is huge for this ardent terrier lover. I am so glad that you stuck with Kate after the 4th jump. It showed your commitment and your strength to support your teammate, to push past all of the little things that can (and sometimes do) go off track.

    Print this out and put it on your fridge or write it on a little piece of paper or your hand at trials.

    “She is too special to let me hide behind her light forever”

    Your light is equally as bright, you just not know it yet. It is a pleasure to watch you two run. Looking forward to your next adventure…

    Kate’s West Coast fan

    • Thank you. I will do that. I sincerely appreciate the comment, it’s sometimes hard to write this kind of stuff, but I’m glad that you have pointed it back out to me.

  4. The future IS very bright for you two. I know I over use the word amazing, but that’s still what I think when I watch her run. 🙂

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