Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 IPF Worlds Recap

"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it"-Jordan Belfort

This is my bullshit story. 

Going into The Arnold, I'll admit I was pretty confident. After what I thought was a pretty conservative meet at Raw Nationals, I wanted to take some riskier attempts. After my less than stellar performance, totaling only 5kgs over my current total, my perspective on meet day execution came back into full focus. While I was disappointed in my performance at The Arnold, it was exactly what I needed going into training for Worlds. 

At The Arnold, I was flat. Super flat. Did not feel strong at all. After it was all said and done, I believe the flatness was from the weight cut. I got pretty heavy after Nationals and was bringing it down to the wire to make weight. I also weighed in really light (55.something) but the wilks carrot was dangling a little bit. 

So beginning my training for Worlds, I have a few strategies I've settled on. 

1) Body weight. I was determined not to get to any heavier than 130 pounds and not have to be in a caloric deficient the entire training cycle. While it wasn't as smooth sailing as I pictured in my mind, it was certainly better than the previous meet.

2) Deadlifts. I love the squat. It's my favorite lift and my best lift. After studying my competitors, I knew if I could stay within reach of them during squat and bench, I could take them on the deadlift. So much of my focus was to ensure I had a huge pull. Which in hindsight is ironic, but more on that later. 

3) Not showing all my cards. Once things started getting heavy, I decide not to post every detail of my training. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely wanted to post some of my big lifts. However, I didn't want my training videos to end up being the most exciting thing about Worlds. I wanted the platform to be where the work was displayed. 

(this is not about lifting, this is the bullshit story, feel free to skip to the actual lifting part)

I won't bore you with all the ridiculous details of making arrangements for this trip, but it seemed like there was a lot of red tape to get into Belarus. 

The day is here that we finally leave for Belarus. I've got my husband, my Mom, my Dad, and Wade in tow. While we aren't completely inexperienced with international travel, we aren't veterans by any means. So, the stress is a little high as we begin this journey. 

We board our first plane in Nashville to fly to Chicago. The seats are weird and for some reason I am not seated next to my husband. So I move to find my seat, leaving him in his. The plane isn't full and the fly attendant tells me I can sit where I like. I ask if my husband can sit next to me, she says yes, and Michael shuffling all his things comes back to sit with me. 

Long story short, Michael loses his passport between Nashville and Chicago. I considered seeing if a divorce were possible in the Chicago airport but we didn't have enough time between flights. I don't think I cried for the first hour because I was still holding onto hope it would magically reappear. No one in the airport seems to have any answers as to what steps to take next. 

Ultimately, a woman at the Finnair counter gave us some answers. I knew Michael wouldn't be getting on the flight with me, I just needed a plan. So, she helped us there and I have to leave him in the airport. I'm crying now, so is he, and I also need to find a water fountain because I'm in the middle of a water load. 

As bad as I feel, I know that I can't possibly feel as bad as he does. So, in an attempt to pull it together, I look at him (I may have shook him or hit him) and said, it's going fine.....just fix it....I'm still going to win.

I leave him there in the airport. Hands down, one of the most gut wrenching things I've ever had to do. When it comes to trauma and dealing with it, I'm reclusive. I prefer to go to a dark cave and be left alone until I figure it out, BY MYSELF, with no one. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to be touched, I don't want sympathy, I want solitude.     

I'm on the other side of security now, filling up my gallon jug of water because I've still got to make weight. The fountain is incredibly slow and not conducive to gallon jugs. There are people behind me waiting their turn. My mother is standing there, staring at me. WHERE IS MY CAVE?

I'm not great at travelling. Generally speaking, planes, trains, and automobiles, make me physically ill. My husband knows this about me, so he treats me like a queen during this part of life. So, this chunk was hands down the most difficult for me. I cried nearly the whole day. I cried when I thought of a joke I would make to him or him to I. I cried every time I saw a significant sign. I cried picking out a movie to watch on the plane. I cried watching the movie. I just kept crying. IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. So many people saw me crying.


I needed to get to my room so I could get it together. My room was far, far away. We finally make it to our hotel. However, the stress isn't over just yet. Michael works for The Hilton and gets a significant discount which is the ONLY reason we were able to book the rooms at this very nice hotel. We have three rooms booked under Michael's name who is lost in Chicago. 

Luckily, the hotel staff is quite nice and understanding. I explain to them what happened and that Michael would hopefully be here soon. This is Monday. I go up to my room, cry some more because the room and hotel are both so nice and we have an incredible view. Then I shower, get some clean clothes on, and meet Wade to go find some water and food. 

The hotel may have saved my life on this one. It was so nice and the food was so good that I at least took comfort in nice accommodations. Wade and I go to the store, a bit more overwhelming than I anticipated, but we manage. Then we go to the restaurant in the hotel. I'm a bit stressed about what I'm going to be able to eat and still make weight especially after the trip to the grocery. Beef tenderloin and roasted mushrooms. Glass of red wine. Praise the sweet baby Jesus for this meal. I have it every night until I compete. 

I go up to my room and take some Advil PM and sleep soundly. Wake up the next morning (Tuesday) and go down to the coffee shop and get a latte. Also, life changing. I finally feel stable enough to at least let people know I've made it to Belarus. Still no word on if/when Michael will be joining us. 

I Still Have to Compete.

I begin to see people from the team and from other countries. So it starts sinking in that I still have to compete! Though it's all still just a bit eerie, all of it. In this country, time is faster it seems like. It never gets dark. Every time I woke up, I felt like I had breakfast and suddenly it was 2pm. 

Tuesday. Wade and I have to go get our credentials. We are off to find the venue on foot and go the complete opposite direction. We eventually figure it out and make it to the office and venue. Now things are really sinking in as I walk through the warm up room seeing my competitors. I see some guys in USA garb and ask them if everyone is done for the day and if I will be able to train. They introduce themselves and tell me they are coaches. We chat a bit and they make mention of Canada being my major competitor. Now, the nerves start setting in.

I've got a light training session I need to get in, so I run back to my room, change my clothes and head back to the venue. I wish I could say that I wasn't a nervous frantic mess during this session but that would be a lie. Maria Htee is on the other side of the room training and quite honestly, I'm feeling like a train wreak. Marisa and Chad walk into the warm up room. I haven't told anyone what has happened with Michael. I tell Marisa almost immediately and it actually felt nice to just get it off my chest.   

Finish up the training session and check my weight on the competition scale. All good there, a little under. Time to eat. Go back to the restaurant and have the same meal only add bearnaise sauce. At this point Michael had booked another flight and was due to be there Wednesday afternoon. Only I noticed he booked through Russia which requires a transit visit, so he canceled that flight. In the mean time, I finally caved and emailed SiouxZ asking for help. There aren't many options as far as flights and what we can afford. I suggest he books to Lithuania and take the train in. I sleep terrible this night. Waking up at 1am and am not able to fall back asleep until 5am or so. 

Wednesday. Somewhere in here, SiouxZ tells me that Michael will not be able to enter the country via train without a freakin Visa. The Visa free travel is only valid when entering through the airport. SOMEBODY KILL ME PLEASE. At this point, I'm over it, my frustrations are quite high and I really just want to be a powerlifter and not a travel agent. 

My bodyweight is still well under and I compete the next day. I sip water all day, keeping it under a liter. I eat eggs and toast for breakfast annnnnnnnnnnd another latte. I head over to watch the 47's and 52's. In the break between the two, I grab some lunch. A grilled ham and cheese sandwich, a brownie thingy, and maybe another latte. I notice a major difference in countries when choosing attempts. I watch my teammates Heather and Marisa both take gold. The pressure is on. 

I'm feeling quite stiff and sore all over. I go to the fitness room and stretch, do some random dumbbell stuff and feel much much better. I go have dinner and have the same meal. Beef tenderloin, roasted mushrooms, bearnaise sauce. Pop some Advil PM around 9pm, because I don't want to risk not being able to sleep again. 

During the 47's and 52's there were a lot of dropped deadlifts. I am told not to use the chalk. Some rumors there was baby powder put in it, but who knows. I think it was gymnastic chalk, so a little more slippery than we are used to and not in block form. Wade suggests we get some rubbing alcohol to dry out my hands. Turns out, a first aid section does not exist in Belarus. So that's a no go. I eat a cookie and go to bed.

Competition Day

I slept great and wake up on my own at 5:55am. Check my body weight, well under at 55.6. I go down to breakfast and have some quiche and a latte. I can't stop drinking lattes. Go to my room and shower, stretch, and leisurely get ready. 8:30am, check my weight. 57.1. I done fucked it up. I freak out for about 7 minutes, but then go ahead and get completely naked and check again, 56.9. Panic is over now, but I still shoved about eight pieces of gum in my mouth and spit just in case.  

I Think, You Lift

Arrive at the venue at 9:30am to go through equipment check. SiouxZ arrives as well and immediately starts giving me all the information about where to go, what to do, etc. On meet day, for me anyway, my brain doesn't work much so it's nice when you have people there to tell you what to do. I'm one of the last ones to weigh in, maybe the last one, and have the lot number advantage. Weigh in at 56.14, the heaviest I've ever weighed in. 

Going into this meet, as I thought about attempts and my competitors, I knew winning would be about making attempts. Our numbers were so close (at least I knew they were even if no one else did), I knew one missed attempt would be EXTREMELY hard to come back from. When I first started training at Wade's gym, he said to me, "I think, you lift", and much like almost everything he has said, it just took me a while to get it. My plan for Worlds was to lift and to leave the thinking to the amazing coaching staff I had with me. 

From the moment I walked into that venue, Wade, Matt, and SiouxZ make a fuss over me which is something I'm typically uncomfortable with but I just do what I'm told. Which was great. They told me where to stand, when to walk somewhere, when to start warming up, when to pee, when to drink, when to stand up but then left me alone. Which was great, because remember, I'm reclusive. Literally, all I had to do was lift weights. I'm good at lifting weights. 

I start warming up for squats and hit two red plates. From here, I knew it was on. Aaron freakin Thomas, has nailed the peak even better than we've managed to do in the past. My squat warm ups have never felt this good and I am so cautiously enthusiastic. 

Based on opening attempts, I think I'm ranked fourth. I had a plan and that's exactly what I expected to happen so I'm not intimidated by that at all. I fully expected to be out squatted if myself, Htee, and Filimonova all go 3/3. While I'm not exactly sure of who missed what, I ended up closing out squats with the heaviest attempt. I knew going into to my third attempt that I absolutely had to have it to play the game. I had no idea what Wade and the coaching staff called until I was walking onto the platform.

When it comes to making lifts, I've learned that you must impose your will on the weight. Be as technical as possible, but if something goes wrong, just fix it and finish the lift. My opening attempt, the rack height was wrong. I don't care, I'm not rattled by that. I tell them (and myself), it's going to be fine....just fix it....I'm still going to win. 

Third attempt. World Record. Moves me to the number one spot. I mess up the walk out. It's going to be fine....just fix it....I'm still going to win. Three white lights. I'm in the lead going into bench. Not what I expected to happen but still have work to do.

Attempts were 157.5kgs, 167.5kgs, 174.5kgs. 

My bench has been temperamental and I haven't managed to show what I'm actually capable of so it's been very frustrating for me. This training cycle Aaron has walked the line of keeping my shoulders happy while also bringing the weights back up to par. We also widen my grip a bit and make that the competition grip. I believe going into bench I was 2kgs ahead. Not much. So it was absolutely imperative that I get every attempt. 

Warm ups feel good but not as good as squats. I've had some issues with the booty staying down and ask SiouxZ to tell me if it's up in the warm up room. It's not perfect but some cuing here and there and it's time to make it happen. Htee and I have the exact same attempts. I was pretty nervous after the second attempt and I loathe bench in meets because I can never seem to get it right. So I was doing some pretty intense self talk before the third attempt.

The third attempt bench may be my favorite lift from the entire meet. I know I have a pretty decent bench, I just haven't been able to prove it. I finally freakin proved it AND I got all white lights. Redemption has never felt so good or come at a better time. 

Attempts were 92.5kgs, 97.5kgs, and 100kgs. GAH, so pumped about typing those numbers. 

So far, we've done exactly what we set out to do. Going 6/6 into deads is PRECISELY what I planned. Now we pull. Opener is no problem. Wade calls 187.5kgs for the second attempt, which is slightly under what we had planned, but like I said, I'm just doing what I'm told. I make that lift no problem. Htee missed her 2nd attempt but she also missed her 2nd attempt squat and came back to get it, so I knew I couldn't count my chickens just yet. As I said earlier, I had the lot number advantage so all I had to do was make the third attempt if Htee made hers. However, it turned out that I wouldn't even need the third attempt to win. 

I wanted to go 9 for 9. I looked at Wade, having no idea what was called for my third attempt and said, I want to go 9 for 9. He said, we only put on there what we know you can get. So I walked onto the platform and pull. It was heavy but I just kept pulling. I should have emptied my bladder before the third attempt. A rookie mistake! The meet was moving so fast I just didn't think I had time. I do end up standing up with the weight and pee all over the platform (so embarrassing, I can't believe I'm even including it!) and get the down command. Two red lights for downward motion. We attempt to challenge but to no avail. It would have given me the deadlift world record and the wilks world record. But I suppose the gold medal, a world record squat, a world record total, and best female lifter will do....for now. 

Michael Millican is still globe trotting and not yet in Belarus. I go to room and chat with Aaron and family about the win, change my clothes and head to the hotel bar. I see some other lifters and get to chat with them a bit which was nice since my person is somewhere stuck in an airport and Wade was still drinking bourbon in his room.    

We continue the celebration and go to a super weird restaurant down the road. Get back to the hotel and Liz Craven and her friends allow me to crash their dinner and talk about the meet. I had the meet of my life and it was difficult not having Michael there so sitting with Liz and chatting about it was clutch.

Training and the process is important. Following the process and being consistent is imperative to getting better at this sport. That being said, none of that matters if you can't put it together on meet day. On this day, I was able to that. I don't know how things would have gone had Michael been able to be there. Did I achieve mental super compensation because of the over reaching at the airport?? Hahahaha..........maybe I did just that.

MY NAME is Jennifer Millican and I am an IPF World Champion. 

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