Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 Raw Nationals: Flipping the Switch

"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."

July 2, 2017 is when I finally returned home with my whole family from IPF Worlds piggy backed with family vacation. My first outing at as a National team member was a whirl wind of emotions. When I finally hit the couch in my living room, I felt like I was coming down off of one hell of a bender. I was so grateful for everything that I was able to do, so grateful to be home again with my babies and my man. However, I never did get that solitude I so desired and quite honestly required.

15 weeks. That was the turn around time from Worlds to Nationals. Training for Worlds, I was so focused, it was almost trance like. After I competed, it felt like I had finally come up for air. I had actually done it. I actually did the thing. But a part of the whole thing was missing for me so it was as if I were having the best dream ever, only to be woken up before the end. And now, I had to do it again.

I wanted to train. I wanted to get to that place. The zone. That trance like focus that I know I'm capable of. I wanted to flip the switch. In an effort to be transparent, I'm telling you, I couldn't get there.

I trained. I showed up. I put forth effort. I was even hitting some PR's in training. However, my mind just couldn't get absorbed in it like it had before. I've read that your mind only has so much "will power" or what I would call grit and once it's tapped out, it's tapped out. Burn out. I've seen athletes burn out, I've seen myself burn out and I knew this was what I was experiencing. So, I accept it.

I know this is temporary. I know all I need is a little time and I can build it again. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time. The good news for me, is that I don't have to have the best meet of my life to keep my National title. So I let the pressure release. I stop waiting for the fire to return, for the trance like focus to commence. It's not coming and I'm not trying to force it and risk permanent burn out.

I don't think I ever fully processed all the travel stress that happened for Worlds. I wasn't sleeping well and would have dreams of losing my family. I would wake up and go check everyone and make sure they were safe and sound in their beds. As Nationals drew closer, I felt anxiety creeping in about flying and leaving my family behind. Because of the time Michael took off for Worlds, he was not able to make it to Nationals. So needless to say, I wasn't worrying or focusing much on attempts or totals or making weight. I was just trying to make it one piece.  

So, going into the meet my expectation was to increase my total by a few kilos. I wasn't looking to make a huge splash, just a little bit better than the meet before. I thought if I could manage to go 9/9, that would set me up to have a shot at best lifter and of course win my weight class. Come hell or high water, I'm deadlifting more that 187.5kgs. 

My body weight this cycle was not as cooperative as it has been in the past. Much of that though was my own lack of focus and I think my stress level was a bit high which isn't good for anything. I didn't get extremely heavy but could not consistently get below 130lbs to save my life. Another thing I decide to accept and leave to the water manipulation gods.

Let's get to the lifting! So, warming up, I feel very ok. I'm feeling guilty about not having the intensity I know exists within me....which I believe has also rubbed off on Wade....but again, it's just not coming, so I try to ignore it and just accept things as they are and get the job done. Attempts one and two feel just as warm ups felt and I knew even a small PR was going to be a reach. We call for 175kgs, Wade tells me I'm gonna have to dig.....I know, I freakin know. I unrack and the actual unrack felt strong, but uneven. I'm so used to ignoring shit like this in an attempt to overcome I just go with it. I come up out of the hole and feel the dip to one side and I just can't stand up with it.

I actually feel really horrible about this. It is not very often that I feel a need to please anyone or like anyone ever even thinks about me very much, but in that moment, I felt like I let people down. At this point, I knew we'd have to be pretty conservative to hit the total PR. THIS is why missing a squat is THE WORST. Lost momentum and now playing catch up. Boo. Despite my pity party, I'm still in position to hit my PR total and win my class.

On to bench! Bench, was not friendly this training cycle. It was not picking up any momentum and I'm expecting to simply match my best meet bench (100kgs). Opener, fine. Second, freakin slow. Now I'm pissed. We only have one place to go and that is 100kgs. I absolutely refuse to be miss this 100kgs bench. 100 KILOS is mine forever and always.

On this third bench attempt, I flip the switch. I flipped it to that dark side that refuses to fail and doesn't give one flying fuck about how I feel, what the training cycle has been like, what people think, what happened at Worlds, what meet I'm doing....none of it matters. I'm getting this lift and I'm getting a PR total. The lift is super slow, and good. The feelings I've been waiting for rush over me. In this moment, I feel some redemption and hope.

Deadlifts. If there is one thing that motivates me to hit a PR on a specific lift, it's when it's overdue. I wanted a huge pull at Worlds. It so happened that 1) I wouldn't need it and that 2) I'd be red lighted. I was so very annoyed at my deadlift performances, that it was in the forefront of my mind to make it happen. I actually decided to lower my planned attempts a week or so out. I opened lower than I did at Worlds. This was strategic in that I knew I was going to at the very least make a third attempt and it likely was not going to determine placing so I was just saving up for it. 175kgs and 185kgs for one and two. Now, we have a decision to make. Go for the total PR or a stretch goal. I tend to learn towards the conservative route because pride won't let me total less than my previous total. I tell Wade, let's just hit the total PR and be done. 192.5kgs is what we put in. .5 kilos more than my current total. At the last minute, Wade changes the attempt to chip the American record to 193kgs. I make the lift. My American deadlift record stands for now. Wade is the master meet day manager and thinker and getter of records.

So, I sit here like an asshole, feeling bad about my 463kg total, which unofficially breaks my current world record total by one kilo. So I bested, the best meet of my life and I'm feeling like I let myself, coaches, friends, family, and followers down. And that is the twisted world of powerlifting.

While I am feeling luke warm about my performance at Nationals, I am feeling great overall about the experience. It was really great seeing all of you in internet land in real life. I was able to stay in the meet hotel, something I have not done in the past, which meant that I was able to catch a lot more sessions than I normally do and just being around seeing everyone in passing was nice too. Social PR's all around.

Being able to watch many sessions, and even commentate the 72kg women/93kgs men's primetime session, I quickly noticed a very obvious characteristic in lifters. I could literally see people flip the switch. I could see when top name lifters in prime time flipped the switch after a particular attempt. I could see some that flipped it before the meet even started. I could see some in the early sessions that flipped it too....bound for greatness.

I'm about to contradict myself. While I really believe that flipping switch is necessary for life, I do believe there are varying degrees. So it's more like a dimmer, which is contradictory of said switch that gets flipped. Perhaps getting into "the zone" works more like a dimmer. When the training cycle is set up and going well, the dimmer slowly dims until you are completely on the dark side for meet day. Other times, it's not as successful and the need to go immediately to the dark side arises...some can, at that point flip the switch, while others fumble with the dimmer.

From my very own, very anecdotal, very un-expert opinion, here are few that I either noticed had dimmed the lights to darkness or flipped the switch. In no particular order.

1) Marisa Inda. Marisa had been battling an injury since Worlds. Obviously that can put a damper on any meet prep. However, she showed up to do her job and defend her National title. Marisa missed her third bench attempt. I was in the crowd, and couldn't tell exactly what happened, but knew that was a weight that she could hit in her sleep. Chad challenged the call because the blocks she was using had slipped. Marisa doesn't typically use blocks but was doing so here to protect the injury. The call was overturned and she was able to take a 4th attempt. Marisa came back like a pro, and made easy work of that weight. It is truly a skill to come back from a missed lift and make it. I was so fired up to see Marisa make that lift. She went on to win her weight class and will be in Calgary to defend her World title.

2) Generally speaking, the 63kg women. They were all so incredible. Jennifer Thompson coming back from injury, where no one knew what to expect and quite honestly may have counted her out...walked onto the platform for business. I knew by the end of squats, she was here and here to win. She had dimmed the lights. Quite honestly though, it seemed to me that all the top 63kg women had dimmed the lights. It was great to watch and was one of my favorite sessions. It's gonna be a great session for years to come.

3) Muh girl, Erin Kyle. I met Erin, via the internet. She is part of the #1atperformance team and I was pumped to watch her lift. I feel an unreasonable amount of responsibility for her success. It is unreasonable and unfounded. She is smart and strong and perfectly capable of success on her own. She also works really hard, is sarcastic, dry, and funny, so I'm a softy. She took her 2nd attempt squat, and I was worried for her third quite honestly, BUT the spotters very obviously took her third too early. I am literally screaming like a maniac from the crowd for her coach (and fiance) to challenge it and he does. I feel immediate regret. Dammit. It's going to be a dig. Maybe it's not worth it? I don't know. She comes out, takes the forth attempt. I'LL BE DAMNED if she doesn't get the lift. It was one of the longest, grind-est lifts I've seen, but she stood up with it. She flipped the switch. Literally, my most favorite lift of Nationals.

4) The entire 72/93kg session. Kim Walford, much like Jennifer Thompson, came out for one thing and one thing only, to take care of business. When I watched Kim, I could see the darkness she had dimmed to. Every attempt, she was bringing it, she didn't break. What she did do was break several records, win best lifter and go 9/9......oh and dim the lights all the way to darkness. Honestly, I could see it from the first attempt, Kim was there to clean up.....and for the sake of being candid, I was envious I didn't bring the same intensity.

I saw several lifters in this session flip the switch and at least one other that dimmed to darkness. Kloie Dublin. She is young, and smart, and strong and has a dark side. She was there in the darkness the entire time.  Dave Ricks and LS McClain both flipped the switch when it came time. Watch the recording of the sessions, and tell me you don't see the difference in the lifters.

I had a great time at Nationals. Thank you all for indulging me and reading my blog and following along with my journey. Let's all freaking dim that switch.



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