Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games

Well folks, the first games is under the belt...er, kilt.

I know it's been months since my last blog so let me help catch you up. In April I tosses around my first weights. Last weekend (July 12th) I competed in my first games up here in the Twin Cities. the journey in between those dates was a rocky one. I began with a great vigor practicing with a great group of folks and learning some of the technique needed. Brian Hare has been my primary coach, and that's a good thing since he's a VERY solid amateur. His wife, Jessica, also competes and she's only 5th in the WORLD! In addition to them, there's been other guys, like Jon Dahlin, who's been a rock star helping me with my posture (Reverse C) in the stone puts and my orbit (in the weight for distance).

A few weeks later tragedy struck and I broke my index finger playing softball.  I couldn't write, type, or nearly pull up my own pants. It was rough. No lifting, throwing or anything for like 4 weeks. It was a tough time, but as I came out of it, the guys encouraged me to follow through and try to do these games. In truth, I didn't want to give up on them, so I signed up knowing that I wasn't going to be at my best.

In the midst of that time, I realized that it was important for me to show my kids (who were watching and cheering me on in practices and in the games) that it is good to set a goal and follow through with it...even with some set backs.

Needless to say, I'm so glad I did participate in the games. So here's how things went down.
It was a pretty cool (high temp was like 71 degrees) and cloudy day with about a 50% chance of thunderstorms predicted. (Just like good ol' Scottish weather, eh?)  There were 5 in our B class of competitors. One other guy had never participated in the games, but he was scary athletic and didn't do too bad. Another guy, Dave H., was a former collegiate thrower who had trained under Brian for years. One guy I didn't know but could tell he had done some other games in the past, but his form was way outta wack. Strong like bull, but wild like...I don't know...something wild. And then there was the Hulk. the Hulk was a beast of a dude who came in from neighboring SD to beat our butts at the games. He's competed at like 9 other ones and was built like a tank. Muscles bulging out of his shirt like stupid body builders and male models, he completed the look with a full head of curly hair and a thick manly beard. Man, how I've always wanted to be like the Hulk.

Well, big surprise, the Hulk took our division followed by Dave H. I was lucky to walk off the field under my own strength. We participated in the traditional Scottish order of doing the games. S we began with the Stone Shot puts. The Braemar stone was 22 lbs and the light stone was 16 lbs. I didn't seem to fair any better on the light weights than the heavies. I think that has to do with practice and form. I threw the Heavy stone 25'9" and the open stone 27'4". Not great, but as I kept reminding myself--every throw was a Personal Record!

On to the weights for distance. I had probably practiced these the most, but my footwork really needs some help (as well as setting my orbit). With the heavy weight (56 lbs) I threw it 17'10" which was good enough for 2nd in our class (Hulk threw it 6 feet longer). But I was so jacked up from the good showing on the heavy weight that I faulted on my first throw with the light weight and then got around too fast on my spin so that there was slack in the chain. Needless to say it only went 23'9". Here's a pic from the heavy weight toss.

About this time my back went out on me (when I was whirling around like a bird in a tornado tossing the light WFD) so I was feeling some pain. No excuses, just giving you the facts. Then we had the hammer throws. I was excited about this because it had been my best event in practice. I had set a goal for 70 feet on the light hammer...but I didn't get close. I only had 51'4" on the heavy hammer (22 lbs) and 60'9" on the light hammer. I really gotta work on my technique!

That was it for me competing decently at all. The next was the caber, which was tough since it had started raining hard at this time. It was coming down so much that my own family left. It was tough to get a good grip on the caber (20 feet, 107 lbs) but I hoisted it up only to lose it before I had a shot at trying to flip it. I think I'm going to start practicing with any kind of heavy poles I see laying around. Weight for height wasn't much better as I couldn't get it over the 10 ft "qualifying" round. I"m not terribly disappointed since I had only practiced this event once. Same thing happened with the Sheaf toss. I had only practiced once and with a 16 lb bag--not the 20 lb bag that we were using for competition. The qualifying height was supposed to be 16 ft, but since they couldn't read the measuring tape correctly around 16 ft, it ended up being 17 ft. I was closest on my third attempt, but still about a foot and half short. Gotta get back to the farm it seems!

All in all, it was a great experience and definitely something I hadn't done before. Seeing as how my goal was to compete in the games next year at this time, and with only 3 months of training under my belt, I feel good about this time.

What's next? I'm shooting for the Celtic games in the Quad Cities (IA/IL border) on Sept. 20th. Since I just moved from that area, it'll be fun to go back and I know some folks from up here that are planning on making the trek down there. Here's to a healing back, stronger core, and longer throws! Thanks for reading...
Until next time, see you on the field!
DP

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