Any tips/advice for this VERY nervous first timer?
Breathe. Breeaaaattthhe. Breathe!
Remember that Beginner Novice is supposed to be just a fun learning experience for your dog and you
. Go out there and have fun. Try not to stress too much.
Also remember that everybody has been there! No one (at least no one worth caring about) is judging you; if they're watching at all, they are looking on in sympathy and maybe a little nostalgia. My first trial, I was so nervous that I had trouble sleeping for two weeks before the event. I couldn't eat breakfast that morning, and I had HUGE butterflies for five or six straight hours until our run.
That trial we scraped out an un-pretty Q.
The next time, I was even more
stressed (we had done juuuust well enough the first time to be in the running for an Award of Excellence for three consecutive high scores, which I really wanted and was super nervous about, whereas the first time I just was kinda-sorta hoping for a Q and had nothing to lose), and we BOMBED. Total disaster. Not my dog's fault, it was 100% on me for being tense and stressed out and making him wonder what strange space alien had taken over the person at the other end of his leash.
So I learned a painful lesson that I think everybody has to learn at some point, namely: if you
get nervous, your dog will get nervous, and then nothing good happens. And this is supposed to be fun!
Anyway, after blowing through a bazillion NQs over the course of the past year-and-change, I'm pretty much over the stress. You fail enough, it loses its sting. And now we do much better. So, if nothing else, maybe it would help to go out there expecting nothing other than "this is gonna help build up our failure calluses so we can get that out of the way and be awesome later." It helps me sometimes to think that, so I'll throw it out there. YMMV, of course!
I think Jakoda and Andaka covered most of your questions, so I'll just add:
My personal preference is to drive to the trial facility every morning even when I'm doing back-to-back trials on a weekend, because my dog can't relax in a hotel so he would get no rest at all if we didn't go home in between. Your dog may be different. The only way to find out is to do it and, whatever the result, treat it as a learning experience.
Good luck! Have fun! Breathe!