Besides learning that my stomach is, in fact, smaller than my eyes (or my desire to smash about 5,000 calories in one sitting after a meet) I walked away from Raw Nationals with a deeper sense of gratitude, appreciation, and drive to continue bettering myself both in the sport of powerlifting and beyond. I caught myself multiple times during the week walking around the venue and to and from our hotel just thinking, “Wow, I got this opportunity to do this. I got the opportunity to be here with all these amazing athletes and share this platform with them. I got this opportunity to show the world what I have been training so long and hard for. And I didn’t just get this opportunity handed to me I earned this opportunity.”
And I think that was the biggest thing I took away from Nationals—not everyone earned this opportunity and even though I wasn’t anywhere near the strongest, I still earned my spot there like everyone else. And just like everyone else we were in this together. It didn’t matter if one girl’s Wilks score (ratio of body weight to weight lifted to compare all lifters despite weight class) was 100 points higher than mine. She was lifting on the same platform I was and we were all cheering each other on one attempt at a time.
I’d like to think the highlight of Nationals was my lifting, but it really wasn’t. I did my best and ended up placing 5th out of the 57kg juniors (which I’m so proud of) but it was the culmination of the entire experience. Meeting so many people who share the same passion and drive for something as me was comforting, seeing incredible lifting and sportsmanship the whole week was inspiring, and making lasting friendships and connections with people in the sport was priceless. It’s comforting to know that, in a sport that’s so misunderstood, we’ve got each other because none of us are questioning why your back is arched like a rainbow when you bench or why the bar sits so low during a squat.
My lifting went as well as Derek and I could have hoped for and I couldn’t have even gotten to this point without his coaching, programming and guidance. Opening up with squats is always so nerve wrecking for me because it’s probably my worst lift and they had been feeling like trash for almost two weeks before the comp. Nothing was going up as fast as I wanted it to and my opener felt so slow I thought I was going to have to bail it a week prior. We opened conservatively at 100kg (which still went up slow) and my second attempt was at 105kg (which went up even slower) so my third attempt we went for 107.5kg knowing that I probably didn’t have 110kg (to match my all-time PR) or to even go for what I wanted (112.5kg). 107.5kg was probably the ugliest thing I’ve ever done in my life and watching it back was slightly embarrassing which was frustrating because I had been repping 107.5kg in training. My knees caved hard but I stuck with it until I couldn’t stick with it any longer. Frustration and envy could have consumed me as I watched other girls squatting numbers I would be so ecstatic to hit but it only gives me more things to work on. Squats ended with a 105kg towards my total.
Bench was solid. For such a finicky lift, bench has always been pretty solid. About two weeks prior to the competition I hit an all time speedy PR at 61kg so I was happy to go 55kg, 60kg and then we went for 62.5kg but I just didn’t have it. Ending with a platform PR of 60kg was pretty rad—I just can’t wait until I can get the big red plates for that lift though!
I think my mind was focused on deadlifts from the very first lift (which I don’t ever recommend because each lift matters) but I wanted to pull something big and I wanted the junior deadlift record for the state of Ohio. It’s all I could think about and I was pulling some pretty big numbers for me during training. Nothing makes me feel stronger than standing up with 300+ pounds in my hands. I ended up going 127.5kg, 135kg, and 142.5kg (platform PR) to take the Ohio state record by 2.5kg. Looking back, I probably had more in the tank and could have gone for something higher but I wanted to end the day on white lights and I ended with three.
I think back to the lifting, and to the experience, and the lifting isn’t even what I remember—it’s everything else: the people, the atmosphere, the feeling of belonging to something greater than myself. I can’t even remember how I felt on the platform because time goes by so fast. One minute you’re gearing up for your first squat and the next you’re packing up your billions of snacks you didn’t end up eating because the meet is over and it’s time to get a real meal. If Nationals taught me one thing it’s to relish in your accomplishments. Getting to that level, in such a short amount of time, is an accomplishment in itself and to let your performance (either good or bad) consume you isn’t worth it because whether you did good or bad there is always room to get better. Nationals was just a pit stop along the way and it helped me to even further embrace my strength—something I think we’re all discovering every day.
**Such an enormous thanks to all the people who sent me messages of good luck and congratulations last week. It meant the absolute world and it meant even more to have my family travel from Ohio, Tennessee and various places in Florida to come watch me lift. Their support meant so much, especially when I know how boring and long meets can be. As always, huge thanks to Derek for the coaching, programming, and unconditional support**