I have to say, this is the most grounded I have ever been coming into a meet. There were some “returning to the platform butterflies,” but I had realistic expectations and literally even if I had gone 3 for 9 would have been ok with it (not happy, but ok). I originally hadn’t planned on competing again until mid-April, but my lifting was going well enough this January that I decided lifting with the IPA in Ithaca in March would be a good way to re-enter into competition. Mentally I was exactly where I needed to be- striving for the best, but prepared for the worst and ready to accept whatever happened since I knew I had trained well, planned out reasonable attempts, and that the major purpose of this meet was to help me dial in for the Women’s Pro-Am 5 weeks away.
A couple of my clients were competing as well and one thing I had not planned on was us being in different flights. I’ve never experienced trying to time my warm-ups while also trying to make sure I was at the platform for each of their lifts. It changed things up, and added a little stress, but I’m glad I was able to experience it because you never know what’s going to happen at a meet. Both of my clients squatted well and I was happy and focused, albeit admittedly nervous, going into my opening squat attempt.
I have never previously competed in knee wraps, but In the IPA the raw division allows them, so I decided to try them in training 8 weeks out from the meet and, if I liked them, incorporate them into training and see how things went. Needless to say, I like knee wraps and knee wraps like me, so I used them in the meet. The last two weeks leading up to the meet my squat set-up was spot on. Foot placement was excellent, my back was tight, I just felt good all around. At the meet, I just wasn’t able to get my back tight the way I had been in training. I don’t know if it was a matter of not warming up enough, sitting in the car too long, a mental issue, or what. But whatever the issue was, no matter how much I adjusted I wasn’t getting the feeling a wanted- nothing catastrophic, but just, “off.”
My set up continued to be an issue on the platform, but my opener at 230 was solid enough that I was confident selecting 250, a potential PR, as my second attempt. I hit my second attempt. It felt really slow to me and my left shoulder felt a bit beat up after it, but people told me it looked good, so I decided to go for 265 on my third. I’ll interject for a moment (I’ve got to build suspense somehow) and say that timing on my knee wrapping was perfect. I am still getting used to wraps and don’t feel in control if they’re too tight, and my squat training partner, Dom, has been awesome about doing the wraps the way I like them- aka, a “Delicate Lady Wrap.” We also coordinated really well on when he started wrapping me. He was literally finishing my wraps as they called me so I was never in them too long and we were also never holding up the platform. So, back to my third attempt. I got under the bar, still not totally on with my back tightness, walked it out, squatted, and hit a hard sticking point about half way up. I’ve had the same sticking point throughout my career and, normally, if I keep driving hard I get through it and can accelerate to lockout. This was no exception, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for how fast I would come up once I got through the sticking point and I ended up taking a couple of steps back due to the momentum and missed the lift as a result. Too bad the 265 wasn’t going to count towards my total, but from a planning perspective, I know I can squat it and know what to work on to make sure I nail it in my next meet.
On to bench. My bench did not peak for this meet so I opted to open at a relatively heavy weight that I still knew I could hit, but take very small jumps afterwards. I got through my warm-ups, while still trying to run over to the platform every few minutes to cheer on clients and friends, and was ready for my opener. The bar was feeling heavier than I wanted it to. My opener at 155 was much, much slower than I would have liked. I un-rack the weight without a hand off and I realized while lifting my opener that the rack was too low so I had wasted some energy/strength bringing the weight out. For my second attempt at 160 I had them bring the rack height up slightly. My un-rack was better, but I touched high on my chest and had a rough and out of the groove, but successful, press to lock-out. I didn’t know if I had anything more in me, but I also didn’t want to count myself out, so I made a very conservative jump to 163.3 for my third attempt (don’t ask about the weight, they were using pound plates, but the little plates were in kilos, so it worked out to a funky number since I wasn’t going up a full 5 pounds). I had the same issue on my third attempt that I had on my second and this time I wasn’t able to push through the mess. My bench needs some serious work and I know once I address some form issues that I have the strength to put up some much bigger numbers.
Out of all of my lifts, the deadlift has been taking the longest to come back. I used to always pull sumo and since I started lifting again I have switched over to conventional for a variety of reasons. I have also been training my deadlift beltless , so I knew I would be nowhere near an all time deadlift PR at this meet since my best sumo pull was 315. I was truly prepared to possibly only get my opener of 275 because deadlifting really just hasn’t felt great in training. It has been progressing, but I lacked the consistency in training to realistically expect a lot at this meet. Fortunately, we had a much longer break between bench and deadlift so I was able to eat (something I didn’t have time to do between squat and bench), relax a little, and watch some of the bigger guys lifting, which is always fun. With the longer break, I also had the time to do a nice, long warm-up and really space things out while still being able to watch others lift and help a fellow gym member with his bench shirt. All of my warm-ups were moving well, so I felt very good about my opener and, since that is all I came into the meet absolutely knowing I would get, I was happy stepping onto the platform. Everything fell into place and 275 came right up. I went to 290 for my second attempt, and it moved well, too. At that point, my total was already at 700, a number I secretly would have been disappointed not to hit, and I had the choice of being aggressive on my 3rd attempt or picking a number I thought I could hit. I was getting encouragement to make a big jump, but in that moment 300 just sounded right to me. I also wanted to end the meet with a good lift instead of going heavier and potentially missing the weight and wondering if I would have gotten something just a little bit lower. I got the 300 which is a 15 pound conventional PR and puts me pretty darn close to hitting a new all time PR in the not so distant future. I may have been able to pull more, but I was exceptionally happy with my choice as I finished the meet feeling strong.
Congratulations to Anthony Campo, Brian Espino, Casey Drader, Jennifer Piazza, Justin DeMara, Matt Rice, Meaghan Colleran, Steve Grosso, and everyone else in my “lifting family” who competed; the camaraderie in this sport is unparalleled in any other. Thank you to everyone from Ironworks Gym and Riverwalk Athletic Club- Amir Aslamkhan, Anthony George, Ben Cabot, Chris Emmons, Dom Costantino, Gina George, Jaime Hurlbut, Kristina Martemucci, Robert Hall, Tina Hall, and Yvonne DeMara (lord, I hope I didn’t miss anyone)- who came to support us via cheering, knee wrapping, and photographing all of us who were lifting. And, of course, thank you to Jim Howell, Ellen and Mark Chaillet, and everyone who spotted/loaded, judged, and ran the table. This meet ran fast and unless you have ever run a meet, it is hard to appreciate just how much effort and energy goes into making one run well.
To sum up this far from succinct recap, a successful meet isn’t necessarily about going 9 for 9. Success is being able to hit lifts despite things not all being perfect. Success is strategizing so even with some missed lifts, PRs are still possible. Success is about taking something away from every missed lift, heck, every imperfect lift, and using it in training to come back better next time. And, for me, my success at this meet was mostly about living in the moment and absorbing the positive energy from everyone lifting. I feel proud and fortunate to be a part of this sport.