Let’s go back 4 weeks until before the competition. I am checking my weight on the scale every day and realizing I am over my weight class by about 4 pounds. Not terrible, but I have never been very good about focusing on losing weight. Because I really just want to eat. And restricting my diet meant feeling tired and crabby about it all the time. 2 weeks before the competition, I took myself to a lecture titled “Fueling the Female Athlete” by Dr. Susan M. Kleiner, a sports nutritionist. I wish I had happened upon this lecture sooner. I had spent the past few weeks training the wrong way in terms of nutrition, and it was eye-opening to hear her say things that didn’t make sense until she said it out loud for all of us to hear. It is the part of training that never really clicks into place until someone grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you into realization. Her biggest point was that female athletes are often under hydrated and under fueled, and therefore cannot perform at 100%. I had being training on empty, and without realizing it, I was hindering my performance because I was only working at partial capacity. The biggest problem? CARBS. I was trying to lose weight by cutting them out, but I was losing steam on my progress because I didn’t have them. That week I tweaked both my carb intake and my timing of when I needed to fuel for the day and noticed the shift immediately. It wasn’t until then I let go of the numbers on the scale. If I ended up in the 68kg weight category, so be it. It meant an additional 10 points, so less wiggle room on my numbers, but still attainable.
Fast forward to the night of the weigh in. I’m not that far off from 63kg even after I quit restricting, so why not try? We get in fairly early in the day, so a few of us on the team head to 24 Hour Fitness to do a little bit of cardio and mobility work. Then we hit the sauna. I am sitting there, trying to sweat out that last 2 pounds, but I feel like an idiot. I know this is the norm for athletes before weigh in, like MMA fighters, but damn. I sat their in this tiny sauna, which was unisex by the way, so there I am sitting next to a few older men, one who is grunting along to his Walkman (I’m in California, am I not? Someone still owns a Walkman?) another who is obviously staring at the extremely fit woman leaning against the wall and I am thoroughly wishing one of my teammates would walk in and save me from this awkwardness. I slide myself out and check my weight on the scale—for the third time. I can’t tell. It isn’t a digital scale so I am doing my best to remain motionless and not breathe and the counterweight wobbles up and down. I walk back out and talk to my teammate who thinks I can still get weight but in the end I call it quits. The last thing I want is to be completely dehydrated before the competition. Knowing myself it would hurt my chances of completing my sets, so I hit the showers.
Back to my Eliza Dushku moment. I am wandering around admiring the space and other lifters and make my way back to the check in table for weigh in. I pull as much clothing off as I can, step on the scale and weigh in at 63.4kg. I am a little more than a pound over. 1.48lbs to be exact. I kind of laugh about it and then all these crazy thoughts start running through my head about how to lose that 0.4 kilos in the next 30 minutes. I run over to my coach and he’s like, it’s a whole pound. So I shrug, run back over and give the weigh in one more try, but in the bathroom stall, stripped of all my clothes. No, I wasn’t wearing a pound of clothing. Now I really needed to accept my numbers and keep my reps as clean as possible with less wiggle room to spare.
Flight 11. Onto the Snatch. Allison and I had about an hour and some change in between, so I fueled up and spent some time cheering for my other teammates. As we get closer to our flight time, my mouth goes completely dry and I am feeling completely drained. I’ve felt complete exhaustion before, but nothing quite like this. Where my body wasn’t to the point of wanting to lay down, but if I were to sit, there would be a chance that the last bit of energy left would be spent on standing up. All of a sudden picking up a 12kg kettlebell sounded like a nightmare.
To me, the Snatch is less taxing than the double arm Jerk, but I have always had a problem with keeping a steady pace. I either start too fast and run out of gas early or fall behind when I am going too slow. My pace always fluctuates. As soon as I pick up the bell, I realize in the first minute I’ve already gone way too fast for a starting pace. I clocked in 20 reps when I really just wanted to start with around 14 to 16 reps. I try minute by minute to slow my pace down, trying to remember to count my breaths in between reps. Everything is feeling ok until I reach the 5 minute mark and as I get ready to switch, I fumble the bell. I nearly have a heart attack when I feel it shift awkwardly as I am switching hands and quickly try to grip it. I catch it, and take a nice long pause in the lockout of my first snatch of my left side to re-center myself. There is nothing like having a split-second panic attack right in the middle of a set.
Even though my left side is my dominant arm, I was still feeling all the weaknesses I had brought to the surface after my Jerk set. All I wanted to do was finish the set no matter how slow I had to go to keep the bell in my hand. Once again, Allison is crushing out reps beside me, and now is about to break 200! Again, our team is hovering in front of us, yelling so passionately for us to finish, just a few reps at a time. My grip is failing but all I can think of is not failing my team, so I hold on for dear life. My technique went out the door in the last minute. I swear I could see it waving at me as it walked out the door into the California sunshine. But I manage to finish my set, with 163 reps. I immediately squat down for a moment in case I should want to pass out and then take it all in. My teammate Adrian comes over and offers me his hand, helping me up and gives me a hug. Immediately after, I get another hug from Coach Nikolai and the rest is a bit blurry.
After the last flight of the morning was the awards ceremony. My points totaled to 156.5, which definitely gave me a Rank 1, but it wasn’t until they called my name that I realized I took 1st place in my weight category. 2nd place was awarded to my teammate Kristjan. Everyone on the team placed and hit some fantastic numbers and goals. I was so proud of everyone and happy to see each and every one of us on the team wearing a medal by the end of the weekend. I look back and reflect on all the training and all the support I received from my coach, my teammates, my friends and especially my boyfriend. I had called him immediately after finishing my Snatch set, barely able to hold the phone up to my ear with my numb and lifeless arm. He told me while he was watching the live stream he was yelling all alone in the apartment and was probably scaring the neighbors. When I arrived back home at the airport, he greeted me with a big bouquet and an even bigger hug. No matter how much work I put in, it wouldn’t of been possible without these positive people in my life. I thank them for their support and belief in me.