And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Training Week 2 and a Virtual Powerlifting Meet

A couple weeks ago was about getting back into the swing of powerlifting training, learning how to eat my macros for a successful cut, and a virtual powerlifting meet to test my current strengths and areas for improvement. All in all it was a successful week for all three, though some more so than others.

Getting back into the swing of training is pretty easy though I do sometimes forget what I need to put in my bag on a given day – good thing I mostly remember the important stuff! I can do without socks and extra underwear, and even sometimes my sports bra, but it would suck without the right pants (or shorts) and tops. The other thing is figuring out what my working weights should be to keep increasing my strength – I try to push myself but sometimes I forget and go way too light (no more 16k kettlebell swings for me). But that’s what I have coaches for, right?

The next thing is my diet. Cutting is hard work. I actually have to pay close attention to what I eat and when. And track it. I’m working hard on this one – I really want to be in the 84k weight class by October. But I don’t know how well I’m succeeding. Again, it’s good that I’ve got a coach (Julia Ladewski) out there I can ask the questions to: what about meal spacing and timing? How does one eat 6 meals a day? What?!?!? And so on. And she comes back with answers to all my questions and suggestions to help me along. And then we go through the next week and start all over again. It’s definitely a process.

The fun part of the week was incorporating a virtual powerlifting meet into my workout. When my coach JVB hosts an online powerlifting meet to cap off her 12-week Unapologetically Powerful coaching program the second week of training I can’t help but enter and see how I do. I decided to come into the week using the lifts for two things: 1) baseline for my strength in that lift and 2) a means to learn what I need to focus on during the remainder of this training cycle. And it was good for both. A little humbling, too.

I’ll critique my lifts in the order they appear in competition even though I did them in the order they matched my training days and on vastly different days.

First up, as always, was the Squat. It’s a favorite and I surprised myself with a PR of 308 in the last meet so I was feeling fine. I was totally thinking (OK, hoping) to hit 310, just because I could. First attempt at 265 was totally fine. No problemo. Second at 285 was good for me, too. But that third attempt at 310? Nope. Not happening. I admit to be a little down BUT I had a couple things going for me: 1) a GREAT spotter in Mark and 2) the video that helped identify my problem area – not staying braced through the whole lift. So yay! takeaways are awesome.

285 attempt is so good.

310 attempt – not so good but I’m caught by Mark. Failure teaches a lot.

I’ve been having problems with my bench and asked JVB to help me get a stronger bench by programming my training to help build my back and upper body strength. My goal for my meet lift was to hit 165 pounds – what I had missed at my Twin Ports meet a month earlier for not waiting for commands. My first lift was 155 and it was good – hard, but good. So here is where I need to start working on attempt selection and getting consistently stronger with the bench: I thought I could get that 165 up so I increased bench to that amount. Well, I was wrong. Twice. But I didn’t give up or go home out of anger. Instead I analyzed the stick (a little shoulder positioning, a little too heavy) and now I have goals to work toward.

My 155 bench is good.

My 165 bench? Not so much…

And last, the deadlift. Ah, the deadlift. There is no lift that looks so easy and cause so much joy and heartache. I missed a attempt at Twin Ports – 360 pounds just wouldn’t come off the ground. Why? It was heavy! Or it could have been mental. I’ll never quite know but for this virtual meet I redeemed myself. I pulled 330, 340, and finally! 350 pounds for a tough but fair deadlift. What a way for me to end the meet. Was it perfect? Hell no. Was it lovely for me? Hell yes! I know I have work to do and pounds to before I reach my current goal of a 400 pound lift, but this 350 sure felt good.

My 350 dead? You bet it’s good! (By the way – look at that arm!)

And now I’m off to the races, training those weak spots and getting better every day.

When I was a girl…

Thursday night was historic. Whether you agree with the politics or not it was an historic night – or rather an HERSTORIC night. And quite literally it is the night I have been waiting for since I was a twelve year old girl. And I realized how incredibly lucky MY nieces (ages 7-12 and 26) are to be living through this moment in time. Now that there is no ceiling, the sky’s the limit for them and all the young girls and women to come.

These posts by my sister Janine made me realize just how important Thursday was:

Responses of two of my nieces to Hillary’s speech.

But let’s look back to 12 year old Donna and why this moment is so important to me, so impactful.

I was very lucky to be raised by parents who instilled the virtue of “civic duty” and the idea that you could do whatever you wanted, no matter who you were. They followed politics because they knew that even though it happens thousands of miles away it has very real impacts on our daily lives. Because of this I was introduced to the political process early – my earliest political memories are of Jimmy Carter, though only vaguely, I was only 8 when he lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. I think it was the Reagan assassination attempt that made me realize that politics were here and now.

It was the election of 1984 that really caught brought my attention to politics and the feminism (I think I was a 12 year old feminist, even before I knew what that meant). I was a smart, bookish dreamer with a love of history and a desire to make the world a better place. Enter Walter Mondale, Democrat from Minnesota (this is important – that’s my home, too) as the Democratic party’s nominee. Now this was a man running against a VERY popular president. I mean, Reagan WAS a movie star. And who did Mondale choose to run with him? Senator Geraldine Ferraro. A woman. My 12 year old brain and heart nearly exploded. This really meant I could do anything.

Up until that moment I don’t know that I had thought about politics and the President as anything other than in an historical context. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who had one of the BEST political spouses – Eleanor). But now there was someone who looked like me, someone I could relate to (even if I was only 12) running for vice president – picked because she was smart and qualified and AWESOME. (That’s how 12 year old girls think, right?) I was in love. She was so strong, so wonderful. So historic. I loved catching glimpses of her on the evening news (I’m really dating myself, aren’t I?). Poised. Articulate. Respectful. It wasn’t meant to be, however. As progressive as I thought we were in 1984 the country chose to stick with Reagan. After the loss (yes, I remember) I was a little heartbroken.

But I was paying attention for the first time to Senators from other states – Olympia Snowe (who always makes me think of Olympia Dukakis) and Barbara Boxer are the two who stand out. They were there, in the Senate, fighting for me. They had power and people listened to them. I had a new dream: Senator.

Why Senator? I always said it was because that is where the real power lies, that the President can’t get things done without them. And while this is true I now think it was because I had never seen someone like me embraced as Presidential. I mean, Eleanor Roosevelt was wonderful and smart and had all the qualities I want in a President but even she had to settle for being “First Lady.” That was the highest office a woman could achieve – being the wife of the President. And I certainly didn’t want to be anyone’s wife.

I didn’t realize how long I had been waiting for another woman to be passed the torch Geraldine Ferraro had lit until 1992 when a man from Hope, Arkansas introduced the country to his wife. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary Rodham Clinton. So progressive. So liberal. So real. So much her own woman. No, she didn’t have time to bake cookies. She had shit to do and much to accomplish in her own life. I had found a new love. She was tough, smart, and said what she wanted. She couldn’t be “handled.” And I wanted HER as my president. I settled for her husband.

In the intervening 20-odd years (and I mean odd) I have waited and hoped and gotten excited and heartbroken each time a smart, articulate woman came close to matching the fire lit by Geraldine and Hillary. When Minnesota finally elected Amy Klobuchar I was over the moon. We joined the progressive states who needed and wanted women in power. (I’m still waiting for one to fill the Governor’s office.) There were several female candidates during the 90’s and early 2000’s but the country still hadn’t found the one.

Then it happened. In 2008 my second love decided to run for the Democratic nomination. Hillary.Rodham.Clinton. My fire was re-lit and my excitement for the race was high. She was fierce. She fought hard. But it wasn’t meant to be – though if she had to lose, losing to Barack Obama was alright. And I thought it would be many decades (if it even happened in my lifetime) before I would have the opportunity to see my dream of a female President. It seemed to me that the patriarchy (took me long enough to get to them, didn’t it?) would never allow a woman into that most exclusive, exclusionary of clubs: President of the United States of America. So many other successful countries had benefited from female leaders and yet we, the progressive country that we are, couldn’t make it happen.

Until Thursday night. When we came one step closer to shattering the highest of glass ceilings. And I am so proud to be part of it, to have nieces as excited as I about this moment in herstory.

What does this story have to do with powerlifting? Mostly nothing. Except this: if you don’t try you won’t know how far you can go. And I’m trying so the sky’s the limit.


The brains for the brawn

It’s finally happening. My life is about to be turned upside down in the best of ways. It’s a mere 13 weeks until USAPL Raw Nationals and my training is about to begin. I’ve got me a couple awesome coaches for the journey: JVB for strength and lifting and Julia Lawdewski for the hardest thing – nutrition. Yup, I’ve committed to an eating style that will be VERY new to me. But I’ve got a plan and this is part of it.

I’ve always  loved talking goals and making plans. I do it all the time (hellooo retirement in France). But it never seems real until I’m in that moment, the proverbial night-before-school-starts moment. All the jitters and worries and fears come out to play “what if I can’t?” “what if it sucks?” “what if I don’t succeed?” “what if…”

But this time I’m doing it right and I’ve got a team behind me. Yes, I’ve hired the brains to help me gain my brawn (I just thought of that and I love it! I’m changing the title of this post right now!) and cut weight to compete in the heavyweight division. Yikes! Cutting weight!  With the help of the right people and the right tools I’m committing to be the very best Masters I Female heavyweight (if the cut works) that I can be and turn in the performance of my lifetime. And I’m so excited to begin this stage of journey.

So, as you may have guessed by the fact that I’ve never tried to leave the super heavyweight division before, I love food. All food. All the time. And adult beverages (though not usually as much as food) so this whole cut thing has me worried. I’ve never really done a diet before and have definitely never done a cut. A cut for the laymen out there is the practice of losing weight prior to a sports competition (for me, Raw Nationals). And it means carefully watching what I eat and when, and not drinking adult beverages while I’m training to lift heavy. It kind of means that for the next 12 weeks leading up to Raw Nationals I don’t get to have fun in my usual ways. But I know it will be worth it!

How will I get through this? Well that’s why I hired my coaches – they’ll help keep me on track. I mean, they won’t be doing the work for me but they will be there in the back of my mind when times get tough and I just really, really  want that popcorn. Or chocolate. Or adult beverage. I’m counting on them acting upon my sense of guilt (which is quite advanced, I must say) and making me think twice before I do something that could affect the outcome of this cycle negatively.

And to all the food and adult beverages out there (I’m looking at you tequila): This is not goodbye, only “see you later.”

Twelve weeks will go by in the blink of an eye and I’ll be standing on the platform leaner and stronger than ever before. And I will be thinking of only one thing: lifting as heavy as I can.

But what do you do for fun?

I’d like to say a lot of things but lately I’ve been working more than funning. And between work and training there isn’t a lot of energy left for funning. But on the weekends I can be a little looser with my time and tackle some of those fun things. 

This long weekend I’m tackling things like enjoying nature, bicycling, and painting my garage door trim. Yup, that’s the kind of funning I do. But I do them with gusto and enjoy every minute!

Saturday was a blast – spent most of the day at the Minnesota Landsacpe Arboretum and didn’t see enough. I visited some old friends and made some new. There are so many wonderful plants to explore within 100 yards of the main building that you get absorbed and don’t wander into the excitement that is the 3-mile loop. And once you get to the 3-mile loop you can spend time getting lost in the trails and looking for that certain “Norwegian” maple tree. And then there is the sculpture garden. I know, right?!?! A sculpture garden – art at the arboretum. Not to mention the carnivorous plant and giant bugs exhibits! So.Much.Fun. 

Sunday was full of activities. I have an awesome recumbent bicycle and went for a long for me bicycle ride – 23 miles. It started and ended at a regional park (Coon Rapids Dam for those of you in the know), along a nice regional trail (Rush Creek Trail) and then around another regional park (Elm Creek Park). It was good to stretch my legs in a way I normally don’t – sadly this was the first bicycle ride I’ve been on this season. I really have to remedy that! 

Then it was home to a 45 minute nap. It wasn’t so much a nap as lying down quietly with my eye closed. And it was so refreshing. Sometimes that just needs to be done. 

After my nap it time to sand and paint the garage door trim – both the car doors and the people door. And while we were at it we sanded and painted the (small) front porch railings. It was a long, hot job but so satisfying. Everything is so fresh looking it makes me feel good. Now if only I felt up to washing the deck…

And finally we end up on Monday. Today I woke up early – 6 am for those keeping track. Instead of going back to bed (as I am wont to do on days I don’t have to work) I got up, checked some news, made coffee and headed for the deck (yes, the one that is in need of washing). And here I sit, planning my day in the cool morning shade listening to the birds and enjoying my coffee. 

There is nothing that says a person has to be perpetually busy to be happy and that busy is the only way to have fun. Sometimes the most fun I have is sitting quietly on my deck, listening. Mourning doves. Crows. Jays. Chickadees. Cars in the distance. Nature in the ‘burbs. This is going to be a good day, whatever I end up doing.