Have Some Heart: NC's Strongest Man/Woman 2016

*A huge, HUGE thank you to Annie Gunshow and Joy Victoria of Complete Human Performance for their endless guidance, encouragement, and help. I don’t think I would have survived the past two weeks without them!*


What I have named my “spring strongman YOLO” is over. 2 competitions, 2 weight cuts in 2 weeks. I’m sore (so sore), tired, and already registered for my next show (and another powerlifting meet). After each competition, I try to take a few days to reflect on what I did well, what I didn’t do well, what I can do better, and what I learned.

I had about 6 days to recover, cut weight again, and get ready to compete at North Carolina’s Strongest Platinum  Plus Show (here is last year’s recap!). This was my very first Platinum Plus show:  for non-strongman people, there are basically different “levels” of competition - level 1, level 2, and platinum plus. Platinum Plus shows are very difficult and very heavy - more akin to a national level competition than a local or regional show. As usual, this show was absolutely top notch. From the venue to the equipment to the judges and volunteers...this was some professional level stuff. THANK YOU to the entire Train Strongman crew for continually raising the bar. 


Here’s the play by play:  

Max Log Press: I only made my opener of 105# and narrowly missed 115# (my current PR) a few times.

A video posted by Gabby (@gabstrength) on


105# was my third attempt that I failed last year at this same contest so it felt good to get some redemption, particularly on my worst event.  I KNOW I have 125# in me and wanted a shot at it but my upper back felt pretty damn fatigued from my previous competition and I couldn’t pull it together.


Car deadlift: HOLY HEAVY. I zero’ed this. Car deadlift is not my speciality (my technique just sucks) and I really wanted to eek out one rep but I my SI joint said “nah gurl”.

THIS IS SO FLATTERING. #strongmanglamourshots

THIS IS SO FLATTERING. #strongmanglamourshots

Keg Press Series: This event broke my heart. I’ve pressed a 100# keg before, very easily, but I didn’t make it past the first 75# keg on this event. I went for the 90# and it slid down my legs a little and threw me off and I just couldn’t recover. I should have chalked my legs so that was my own mistake.

After this I just walked off the floor, changed my shoes, put my headphones in and went outside and walked around and cried for a good 20 minutes. I’m really hard on myself, REALLY hard, and I was so frustrated with my performance because I knew I was better than that.  I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong there, that I had no business being on a competition floor at a platinum plus show - and that felt horrible. I just tried to pull myself together, have a little snack, and get focused for the next event.

Husafell carry, 200# husafell, 60 second time limit: I’ve picked up and carried a 150# h-stone before but could not get the 200# when I tried it.

A video posted by Gabby (@gabstrength) on

I watched the girl before me, and several other women in other classes, fail while I was waiting to go. I basically covered my entire body in chalk and told myself that, no matter what, I was moving that thing an inch over the line. Zero’ing this event was not an option.

When it was my turn I picked it up, got it to my lap, got it on my chest and basically said to myself “Holy shit! Okay, now walk - WALK FAST! GO!”. I made it 181 feet in 60 seconds and blew my previous PR out of the water.

This event hurt - you can’t see at all, you have 200# on your chest, you’re walking as fast as you can while you’re leaning back, and every ounce of you just wants to stop. I needed this to go well in a big way and I’m really glad it did.

Stone flight 125-225#, 58” to 48” (maybe higher): I flew through the first two and then got stuck on the 175#. I just barely missed it the first time around and had to lap and load it two more times before it finally got up on that damn platform.

A video posted by Gabby (@gabstrength) on

The second time around, I smashed two of my fingers and thought I might have broken them (they’re fine, just really sore). Once I got to the 200#, I was completely smoked. I wanted a crack at the 225# - next time. This performance was good enough for an event win (according to my last viewing of the score sheet at the show - I'll update if that is incorrect!).

I took 5th (one point out from 4th!) in the 120-140 division (according to my last viewing of the score sheet at the end of show - will update with official scores once score sheet is out!), and I'm not sure where I was overall in the LW women’s class. I walked away from this show really unsure of how to feel - other than incredibly sore and tired and HUNGRY.

Pressing bitch face. It's a thing. 

Pressing bitch face. It's a thing. 

Two shows in two weeks is tough, physically and mentally. It was really hard for me feel happy or even remotely proud of my performance. But after it was all said and done with, I survived my first Platinum Plus show. And I actually didn’t do terrible. This contest, to me, was all about the mental game.  I learned that it is important to learn how to fight hard and keep fighting. It’s important to remember to trust your training and just do your job. It’s important to remember that you can do the task in front of you.

You just have to have some heart.
Chalk doesn’t hurt, either.

[all photo credits go to Raleigh Boutique Photography. Some editing done by me]