I competed in my first Highland Games last weekend in Charleston. Had a blast, learned some things, met some good folks. Did about as well as I expected, except on the 56# weight-for-distance. Now I have some numbers to beat for next time. I'll compete again in Jacksonville in February.
Lessons I took home from the event:
1) Size matters: I weigh about 178lbs. This event had only one Amateur Class, and on the East coast there is no "lightweight" or "Under 200" division. Everyone else weighed 220 and up. Several of the other competitors told me I'd do great in HG out west, where there's a lightweight class. Oh well.
2) I'm in a tough region: I didn't realize just how competitive HG is in the Southeast. There were only 12 amateurs competing at this event, but one of them set a new world amateur record in the heavy hammer, and came close to a new record on the 56# weight for height.
3) Competing all day is tiring: I've never before competed in an event that lasted a full day. Even though the total number of throws is not particularly high, stretching them out throughout the day was tiring.
4) Dance with the girl you came with: I knew this already, and ignored it for some reason. Several people gave me very good tips to improve my techniques. I should not have tried to implement these tips until after the competition. Trying to change technique in the middle of competition led me to really blow a couple of throws. Similarly, I discovered I had been practicing my weight-for-distance throws with too much room behind the trig, so I had to change my footwork slightly in competition, which really threw off my 56-pound throw.
5) Practice, practice, practice: I need to improve technique in all events. What I lack in size, I'd best make up for with solid twchnique. Fortunately, I met someone at the event who trains in my area.
6) Don't loan out your cleats before a competition, because you might not get them back in time, and competing in Chuck Taylors isn't the best strategy. ('Nuff said.)
7) The hammer is my best event.