The last six weeks has not just been about getting the dogs back into the ring, it has also been about me getting back into competition condition. The downside of having a reputation as a massive sweet tooth meant that I got more boxes of chocolates for Christmas presents than any normal person should ever need. Naturally I ate them all but then realised that my waist line had expanded to accommodate my bodies new found sugar supply. Drastic action had to be taken and I logged back into the My Fitness Pal app for the first time in a couple of years. Without the opportunity to get out and run at lunchtimes as much as I'd like it was time to cut the calories so I cut back to a daily max of 1200 calories per day. I log everything that makes it past my mouth in the app to make sure I know exactly what I'm eating each day. Otherwise it's too easy to lose track. Sweet snacks are allowed but at no point am I to go over my calorie max. They say that losing weight is 80% what you put in your mouth and 20% exercise and sure enough within five weeks I've lost three and a half kgs. And feeling much better! I'm back to doing at least one 3km run a week to Jacobs Ladder but ideally I want to add in an extra day once things calm down at work. But we'll get there. Getting those few kilos off has already made a big difference to the way I feel.
We've had our first trial of the year, the 2017 Western Classic. It was a horrible hot weekend but fortunately the evenings weren't too bad once it got to 6pm. Pretty exciting lining up with Veto. I was hanging out to see if all our training was paying off. His first run was Novice Jumping. The course was OK with some challenging angles. Unfortunately we didn't go clear with Veto running past a jump. He was driving down a line really well but when I needed him to turn he just didn't turn soon enough to make the corner. What was positive was that there was no slipping and sliding, his foot placement was great and he was totally focused. His speed was a big improvement on last year and he was about three seconds faster than the winner even with a big bobble where I got in his way and he had to go around me. His agility run was only so-so and I was a bit disappointed with it. He totally lost focus half way through and we made a total mess of the handling section. With how well he has been doing in training I really had hoped for a better performance. The positives were that his weavers, A-Frame and dog walk were perfect.
I was a bit worried that Cassie would find it too hot and not want to do anything because she doesn't cope that well in the heat. The Masters Agility class was on first and the course was hard. Lots of obstacle discrimination and minimal flow between obstacles for a dog that is lacking in skills. In the end I made the call to scratch her. She just isn't ready for that sort of challenge yet and I didn't want to risk ruining all the progress we've made when she was never going to get around it. Masters Jumping was on later and the course was the total opposite. It was huge with lots of room and a flow I could work with. Cassie seemed happy when we were warming up and was merrily playing outside of the ring. Then when we got started and she was off like the clappers. Our team work needs a lot of work as does the skill work but she was flying. So happy and so awesome to see. It is hard to care about Q's when she is running like that. It really is so much fun and for me what agility is all about.
The next night we had teams. There was no real plan for the team to do anything special, it was really just a chance to put our dogs in the ring. And I'm glad we did because Veto was much, much better. His focus was improved and it showed in his runs. He went clear in agility minus the last jump where the lead steward was putting the leads just to the right of the last jump. So he went straight past it to his lead. I watched more than one experienced dog also do this so he was in good company. But everything else was great. Jumping he also ran clear on what was at least an excellent level course. Cassie didn't want to run in the agility round. I have a feeling it was because we were waiting too long. The 200's were on first and when the judge realised that he didn't actually know all the team rules we were waiting around for ages before we got started. So when Cassie got into the ring she only did a couple of jumps before she went and hid in the tunnel. I did the usual and we ran out to her jackpot with no pressure. We only had about 15 minutes before our next run. This time I revved her up more and played some chasey games before we went in. She was much happier this time and while I mucked her up a bit with bad handling she did a great job on course and was fast and happy. Good lesson for me with her future ring prep.
So a bit of a break until our next trial. I'm judging this weekend and I won't normally run my dogs if I'm judging because I find it way too stressful. We haven't done a lot since the Classic because the weather stayed warm but thankfully now it's cooled off again. So I should be able to get back out and do some more training. Still mainly focusing on improving handling skills and continue with exercises to build speed off the ground. Veto got the tick of approval from physio with some new exercises to build his hamstrings up more. I'm also continuing with physio work for Cassie. Leigh keeps telling me that Cassie will get faster once we build up her muscles in certain areas. I'm not sure how I feel about that because I can't get anywhere near her now! I'll have to employ a sprint coach...at the moment when I watch my runs with her I feel like I'm sprinting but when I watch it back it looks like I've barely gotten out of a jog!