Strongman Nationals 2016: Learning to Work

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my coaches, gym buddies, friends, family, and everyone who wished me well and offered their endless support. I was absolutely blown away by the amount of support I received before and during the entire weekend. From my friends and family, to everyone who bought shirts, to members from my gym who made the entire experience so much fun, my fellow competitors, to everyone who offered their time and advice on competition weekend….THANK YOU. My heart is so so so full with gratitude and seeing that level of support is a such a humbling experience.

Two weeks ago, I participated in my first Strongman Corporation Nationals and it was an incredible experience. The whole weekend was humbling, motivating as hell, exhausting, and an absolute blast.

I spent the week of Nationals getting everything together and cutting a little weight since I was only 2lbs over my weight class. We had to weigh in with clothes on (I usually do anyways) and only got one shot at weigh is so I did a small water cut to ensure I would be good to go. I actually made weight Sunday, two days into my water loading, and then the next day, gained 4lbs overnight (thank you hormones). I never dropped it, even after cutting back my water so I ended up having to be a little more aggressive than I had planned. I ended up dropping all of my carbs on Wednesday and resorted to wearing two trash bags and a hoodie and sweats, and sweating in my car for a few hours. Totally normal things. 

I flew out to Quad Cities, Iowa suuuuper early on Thursday morning to ensure I had time to get to the first weigh in session on Thursday afternoon. Minus the unexpected cut issues, travel was totally fine. I got to weigh ins and weighed in at 138.8 and immediately had some liquids and snacks, settled in to the hotel, and just tried to eat and relax before the rules meeting that night. This was also my first time doing a two day competition, which was definitely a different experience. There were a lot of additional things to take into consideration, recovery wise, and I learned a toooon from this experience.

 

Day 1:

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

Circus Dumbbell, clean and press, max reps in 60 seconds, 70# - I ended up getting 3 reps on this event (I jumped a down command, which is very unlike me, but I was pretty nervous) which was technically a PR. I’ve been battling some shoulder issues and my shoulder didn’t feel great that morning so I was a little overly cautious and left some reps on the table. I was just glad this event was done since I really liked the rest of the events that day.

 

Yoke, 60 feet, 375# - This was my best event of the weekend with a time of 14:46 (or something like that). I don’t think that time was  PR by any means and I actually felt pretty slow. I’ve got a decent knee injury that made training yoke pretty painful so again, I was a little overly cautious. Also, those are some sliiiick floors!

 

Axle Tire Deadlift, max reps in 60 seconds, 300# - I ended up getting 3 reps here and had at least 2 more in the tank. We had to start behind a line and then run to strap in, which I didn’t practice, and I had some issues with my straps that cost me a few reps. I was really happy with this since I had never pulled 300# from that position more than once in training.

 

I was a little disappointed with my day 1 performance. I knew that I was going to be cautious going in because my knee and shoulder (but knee especially) were not in great shape. I spent the better part of the two weeks before nationals wearing an ace bandage everywhere, getting laser therapy, graston, ART, and icing my knee religiously to keep it together for the event. I jokingly said that I was being held together by kinesiotape buuuut it was sort of true. I tried to be smart in training and not push it too hard and reminded myself to be smart on competition day - I wasn’t going to qualify for the Arnold or place so I tried to not push it too far. I think I played it a little too safe so I need to learn to find a better balance in a competitive setting.

 

Day 2:

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

Tombstone carry, 200#, max distance - This event just broke me. I had done really well on this in training and then I just completely messed up my set up so I dropped it after only 30 feet. I was devastated. That event should have been a great one for me so I was just heartbroken. I went and cried in a corner for basically 20 minutes - I was so upset for not putting my best out there. I knew I just had to leave everything on the floor for the last event so I just sat with my headphones in for most of the time and tried to rally.

 

Carry & load medley, 130 keg from 60 feet, 130 keg from 40 feet, 130# stone of steel from 20 feet - I love, love, love medleys and keg and stone carries so this was right in my wheelhouse. My plan was to be fast and be efficient (#dontfuckaround) and I did exactly that. I was so happy to be done with the day and the event overall and glad I ended it on a high note.

The entire weekend was an incredible learning experience. My only goals coming into the weekend were to walk away uninjured (or rather, not injure myself more), not zero anything, and try to not place last. I accomplished all of those things and learned so so much.

 

photo by: Michele Wozniak

photo by: Michele Wozniak

 

I could type out a novel on what little things I learned. It could list out things like, “be smart and don’t injure yourself even more” or “take your recovery seriously” or “spray tacky, rice krispie treats, and biofreeze are the real MVPs of strongman” but truthfully, those aren’t the major things I learned.The whole thing was pretty overwhelming and I had a lot of “what am I doing here?! I don’t belong here!” thoughts while I was on the competition floor. And that is an incredibly humbling, motivating, and necessary experience. 

Over this entire competition season, I have accomplished a lot of things that I didn’t think were possible. My coaches have high expectations of me and I have even higher expectations of myself. This season, I have competed at the national level in two sports. I set PRs that I honestly thought were out of my reach. I have grinded harder than I ever have before. There has been more blood, sweat, and tears (so, so many tears) spilled than I even knew I had in me. This year has been one of transition, goal setting, and learning how to work… I mean really work. There were so many days when the last thing I wanted to do was go to gym after being at work for 9 hours and then coaching clients or I didn’t want to meal prep or spend nearly my entire Saturday in the gym, but I did it anyways. I did it because strength is choice and competing is privilege and because you learn the most about yourself when you’re thisclose to throwing in the (tacky) towel.  And I loved every second of it.

Now...it's time to work.