It’s been ONE WEEK

So, it’s been one week since the USAPL Raw Nationals and I haven’t posted anything at all? What’s up with that? Seems kind of odd, what with the premise of this blog and all. Well, let me tell you a little story, starting and ending with the results below.

Summary: Weigh In: 82.8 kg (182.54) Squat 125 kg (275.58 lb); Bench 75 kg (165.35 lb), Deadlift 152.5 kg (336.20 lb); Total 352.5 kg (777.13 lb); Wilks 316.65

  • I came in 6th out of 10 lifters in my age/weight class.
  • I broke 3 of the 5 MN state records (Squat, Deadlift, Total)
  • I am currently ranked 12th in my age/weight class – IN THE COUNTRY
  • Pound for pound I lifted more weight here than I have in the past

In my first EVER national competition I did a few new things: I cut weight from 90.8 kg to 82.8 kg (8 kg or 17.6 lb). I finished with a respectable total. I increased my Wilks score by 4.5 points. And I didn’t let mishaps get me down (for too long).

BUT, it has taken me TIME to gain this perspective. Precious, precious time. You see, I was slightly disappointed with myself during competition, letting things like raw numbers and previous meets and results get to me. I mean, since most of you have followed my journey here for the past seven months you know what I’ve done to get here.

In my qualifying meet (2016 Twin Ports Raw Open) my weights were impressive at a bodyweight of 90.8 kg (200.18 lb): Squat 140 kg (308.65 lb), Bench 72.5 kg (159.83 lb), Deadlift 150 kg (330.69 lb), Total 362.5 (799.18 lb), Wilks 312.08. And then two weeks post-Twin Ports I pulled my gym PR deadlift of 350 pounds. And all I wanted when I started training for Raw Nationals was to best ALL my personal records. Even if it was just by 2.5 kg (the smallest incremental increase).

The two numbers that scared me the most were the Squat (who the hell can lift 308 pounds?) and the Deadlift. I love both of these lifts and I think I’m pretty good at them. But those numbers freaked me out. I wanted to make sure I could hit them repeatedly at the gym – and I’m pretty sure I messed up at least some of my training by trying (and not talking to Coach JVB about my feelings – stoopid feelings).

So, when it came time to lift at nationals I was already feeling the burden of hitting those numbers. The RAW numbers. My attempts were aggressive in the sense that I knew I could lift the first two, with the third being just beyond what I had done before. And instead of focusing on the lift at hand I think I was focusing on the LAST lift a little too much.

My squats were my weakest lift this round: I hit my 275 opener pretty easy. It really felt good. So going up to 297 was not such a big deal. Really. But in my head I was thinking about what my last attempt should be – 308 to tie or 314 to beat my PR. So I bombed that attempt. I lost my focus and my tightness and couldn’t stand out of the bottom. I knew what had happened – I was lifting my last attempt rather than my current attempt. So I sat down and breathed, calmed myself, texted JVB and worked on getting mentally set for my next attempt at the same weight. And you know what, I was able to squat that 297, albeit with a technical call so it didn’t count. But mentally my head was back in the game.

My bench press went exactly as planned. No, really. See what I can do when I focus? Have things go exactly as planned – 148, 160, 165. I probably had something left in the tank and could have pushed for more but I went into the meet just wanting to beat that damn 160 that had been haunting me for over a year. And I did.

My deadlift. This is where I was going to shine. I was going to get that 350 pound deadlift and be so proud. I was going to make up for the technical call on my squat. Because this is my lift. My first attempt at 308 was good – a little heavier than I wanted but it moved quick. Yup, let’s go up and get this party started! And then I missed that second attempt. At 336. I have hit this in the gym many times – and especially on my way to 350. What happened? Concentration. I was concentrating on the wrong thing (when I put my belt on the tongue was not flush with the rest of the belt so it was digging uncomfortably into my side). I couldn’t get past my thoughts. And here is where things took a turn: I decided I needed to change my perspective.

And how does one do this at a powerlifting meet? The only way one knows how: find a piece of carpet and do a tripod. Get upside down, let the blood rush to your head and see the world (and competition) from a new angle. And you know what, it worked. Just like it always does for me. My third attempt (still at 336) went up. I had to fight a little for it but I had cleared my head, straightened my belt and gone out to do what I had to: I lifted the barbell that weighed 336 pounds.


The ultimate change in perspective

This still left me feeling a little disappointed – I mean, I had just completed a National meet so I was happy. But I hadn’t met all my goals going into the meet. I missed what should have been easy lifts and didn’t come out with the total I wanted.

BUT, and here’s that perspective thing again, I DID come out ahead. I did all of the above (including setting TWO meet PRs) at a LOWER BODYWEIGHT than ever before. So, pound for pound I actually lifted MORE based on my bodyweight than I had ever lifted before. And that Wilks score of 316.65 is proof. Even without the 297 pound squat I increased my score by 4.5 points. So, for raw numbers I may not have hit my goal but I certainly hit them based on percentages. And for that I am grateful. Perspective is a good thing.

Check out this link to see video, scroll down to: Sunday 1A | Sunday, October 16th | Session 1 | Stream A (Platforms 1-2) | 9:00AM | Women’s 84 & 84+ kg & Men’s 120 & 120+ kg weight classes fun/usa-powerlifting.html

  • Squat: My first two squats weren’t captured, my 3rd: 37:13 for 297 (I actually didn’t get credit for this because of my knee bounce at the beginning of the lift); I was credited for my first squat 275 squat
  • Bench: 2:11 for 148; 2:22 for 160; 2:32 for 165
  • Deadlift: 3:58 for 308; 4:05 for 336 (missed); 4:13 for 336





It’s in ONE WEEK…

You know it. One week from today is the eve of my first ever Raw Nationals powerlifting competition. I will most likely be in a hotel room in Atlanta with my lovely parents (because EVERY Masters 1 lifter needs her mom and dad present) nervously awaiting morning. And apparently peeing. All.The.Time.

This is heavy shit. I’ve never competed at this level in ANYTHING before. And now I’m going to Raw Nationals and competing with the best. Literally the best. I’m alternately thrilled and excited to go and feeling like a fraud and I shouldn’t be going because I’m not strong enough. I’m nervous as hell because what if I can’t do it? But I’m also so damned excited because I’m doing this! I guess this is what it is like to feel ALL the feels – the good and bad at the same time.

This past week in training (my last for before nationals – YIKES!!) has been a boost to my confidence: I hit above my first attempt on each of my lifts (as permitted by my AWESOME coach, JVB) and everything felt wonderful. Before my final workout I sat with JVB and discussed strategy – lift attempts, warmups, water cut, how to pack shit for the plane ride, everything I had questions about. And she answered every one of them. This has been the best experience – knowing that I have a coach (and friend) like her watching out for me and helping me get over myself. Thanks, Coach. I know you are Unapologetically Powerful and you have helped me get there, too.

One of the things I love most about being affiliated with The Movement Minneapolis Barbell Club is that everything is so well-thought out and easy to follow – and gives every lifter the chance to be the best lifter they can be. For example, this article by gym-owner David Dellanave is the BEST source for figuring out your lift attempts – especially when you are a newbie lifter (like me). To put it briefly, be smart about it and don’t make it harder than you have to. There is enough stress on competition days without worrying too much about the weights you are lifting. Go in with a plan and stick with it as much as possible – but of course things can change on game day. That’s what I’m doing.

Another reason I love being affiliated with The Movement Minneapolis? The support and love from the entire gym community. I walked into the gym last night and prepared for my final deadlift workout before the meet and this is what I saw on the board:

How cool is that? I mean really. And after my final successful deadlift at well above my opener, the Women’s Only class gave me a shout out and applause for effort. Such support and love. I’ve got a lot to live up to but they’ll all accept my best and be happy for me no matter what.

So, I think I’m prepared. I’ve got coach JVB on speed dial. Ok, maybe not speed dial but I’ve got her number and instructions to facetime and text her whenever I need to while in Atlanta but especially Sunday: before and after weigh-in (here’s to hoping that water cut works), during warm ups, and whenever I can during my lifting attempts. This is both of our inaugural Raw Nationals and we’re both nervous AF. As she said last night: I’ve never competed in nationals and she’s never coached someone competing in nationals. We’re in this together even if we’re separated by a few states. I’ve got my community all around me cheering me on and I’m excited and ready to go.

Is it October 17th, yet?

Happy birthday to me!

Monday was my birthday. I turned 44 years old at 6:29 pm and I feel fine!

Last Saturday I spent the day volunteering at and watching the Solcana Novice Powerlifting Meet and saw the light beginning to shine in the eyes of newly minted powerlifters. I was moved by the emotions of each of the lifters as they walked out onto the platform for the first time did things they weren’t expecting. I was there to cheer on one of The Movement Minneapolis own lifters but as with every meet I attend I was cheering for everyone putting their skill and love of the sport on the line. I will say that my early birthday present was that Dani Saubert had a great meet and PR’d her deadlift! What fun to see.

And afterwards I had lunch and a long conversation with my favorite coach Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake. We talked about many things including the past several weeks of what I considered lackluster performance in the gym, my own expectations of myself and how I should be doing in training (which oddly enough translates to the rest of my life), and how to finish prepping for USAPL Raw Nationals in two weeks. Apparently my expectations were waaay out of whack and she set me straight. Expectations that may have been true as a novice lifter are no longer realistic since I’ve graduated to the intermediate realm – especially with my training cycles so close together. So I had to reset my brain (once again) to focus on what feels right in the gym rather than what I expect should happen in the gym.

What led me to this point (again)? I’m fairly certain it was my misguided expectation that I needed to prove that I can lift heavy things at the same level as my last competition during training for my next meet. I don’t trust a one time deal – my job as a software tester has taught me that until it’s been tested at least three times it could just be a fluke. In my mind setting a PR once is not proof that I am strong and can recreate it in my next meet. I need to hit that weight again and again to feel that I’ve earned the right to say I can lift it. And to me I should be able to hit the weight (or close to it) with relative ease during my training cycle or it was a fluke. I was having a hard time trusting the training and therefore a hard time with training.

This week has been a relative breeze with this mind shift. And I’m hoping it finally sticks. I was able to get through bench, squat, and deadlift days with ease – working up to a weight that was challenging, about an 8 RPE, and staying there. I inched up in each for a final set just to see what happened and even those reps felt good. And because I didn’t try to start too high I finished the sets with my head on straight. I started “comfortable” and inched up a smidge to check on my gainz. Spoiler: I’ve still got it.

I’m going into my last week of training with a fresher mindset and a comfortable plan for USAPL Raw Nationals. I’m treating this as a chance to see how far I’ve come since I began lifting competitively last year and to see where I’ve come since the Twin Ports Raw Open in June. I’ve put in the training, I’ve been consistent. I’ve learned to trust my coach and other trainers. I’ve got two weeks until I compete and I’m going to try to use them wisely. There will be long talks with JVB, recovery, and plenty of quiet time. All of this is will help me lift better, be stronger, and destroy my old expectations.

Oh, and how did I spend my birthday week? Playing dress up, of course! (Bear courtesy of office move).