2014 Massachusetts State Strong(wo)man Championships

I did it!!!! Twelve weeks of contest prep culminated in a BIG WIN Saturday, August 9th at the 2014 Massachusetts State Strong(wo)man Championships in the Women’s Lightweight Open Division.

While we often only see the competitor picking up the trophy, no one gets there without a team. Before my write-up, I’d like to thank each and every person for their support in this journey. First, to God > I may possess physical strength and prowess, but without God, none of this matters… period. To my hubby for his continual support of the pursuit of my dreams (and all my crazy experiments in the process!). To my coach for amazing programming and getting fantastic results with a limited training schedule. To my friends who continually lifted me up as I cut weight for the first time and helped me de-stress through lots and lots of walking therapy! 😉 To my AMAZING clients who have understood when I wasn’t as available a few times in prep for this contest. To Murph and TPS for providing great facilities to train and work in, and all the help I needed along the way.  To Amy Farrell for showing up strong this year (she won last year) and really bringing it!

It takes a village, folks, and I finally decided to work smarter, not harder, this year and leverage all of the resources at hand. I notoriously do everything myself and refuse to ask for help when I can technically perform a task on my own. Let’s just say I realized that strategy was no longer serving me (as I beat my face against a wall) and finally relented to an easier (but paradoxically harder) way – just ask for help. As you can see from the above list, everyone was happy to show up when I needed them in full force. So humbling and I am soooo grateful! I am truly floored by the generosity of people when we simply ask. Thanks y’all! 🙂 BIG HUG from me!

This post will cover the events in-detail, but I’ll take  few more posts to go in-depth to what I’ve learned in preparation for this contest. If you know me, you know I prize the mental game above all else. When we begin within, the external results flow naturally out of our internal mindset, health, and state of being. Otherwise, it all feels forced.

As a preview, I’ll cover:

  1. Cutting Weight – what works, what doesn’t, and my own wellness spin on the whole process of cutting weight for strength sports.
  2. Mindset Training – visualization, meditation, performance psychology, and biohacks to guarantee the mental game is there, no matter what.
  3.  Stress/Recovery – training, performance, and recovery before and during competition.
  4. The Sport of Strong(wo)man – tips and strategies for rockstar performance now and for years to come.

 

After weighing in at exactly 140 on Friday (I weighed 138.5 on my scale upon waking – here’s the proof), I weighed 141.5 Saturday morning before leaving my house. Not as much as I’d hoped, but Friday was a long day of work on my feet, so I definitely missed some rehydration opportunities.

Because I signed up months ago, I got to go last, which is a huge advantage from a strategy standpoint. You don’t get extra points for doing extra reps in strong(wo)man, but if you go first (because you signed up later), you have no idea what will happen and must go all out on every event.

The events, in order, for Lightweight Open Women (140 and below) were as follows:

  1. Log Clean & Press for reps in 60 seconds – 100#
  2. Car Deadlift for reps in 60 seconds with an ATV – heavy
  3. Tire Flip/Sled Drag Medley for 50′, 60 second time limit – 350# tire/315# sled
  4. Farmers’ Carries for 50′, fastest time wins – 140# in each hand
  5. Stone-to-Shoulder for reps in 60 seconds – 120# stone

 

Log Clean & Press – 100# – 60 sec. time limit – as many reps as possible

I… LOVE… overhead events! 🙂 There’s something about hearing the clang from the log when your elbows lock out overhead from a strong hip drive that is oh, so satisfying.

My strategy for overhead is super simple > when the log touches my shoulders, my elbows lock-out overhead.

I also like to warm-up with a much-heavier-than-contest weight so contest weight then feels light. We got up to 130 x 1 and cut it there.

>>> On a side note, I was hoping this bit of struggle with a heavier single would trigger me right into flow, but alas, it didn’t quite do the trick. More later.

Amy got 8 reps for this event, so I stopped at 11 in around 40 seconds. I’ll know for certain when scores are posted, but may have had a missed rep or two.

 

Car Deadlift – heavy ATV – 60 sec. time limit – as many reps as possible

The deadlift is my weakest lift and something I’ve been focusing on improving since the Lighting Fitness Couples Competition last December when my last woman standing deadlift PR’d at 275 and I couldn’t make the jump to 305. My first experience with the car deadlift was last October at the Battle of the Belles when we lifted a smart car. I got two reps and stopped because I’d rather live to lift another day than put that particular strain on my back at that time.

So this deadlift and I… we go way back…

I was fortunate to be at TPS about a month ago when the ATVs were brought over to test out on a Strongman Saturday. After watching my friend Dawn kill 14 reps in 60 seconds, I eeked out (a very happy) 10 in 45 seconds and felt much better about this upcoming contest.

Enter Gerilyn stage right yesterday, belted, strapped, ready for a warm-up, breathed, braced, lats locked, pushed…

… nothing.

Four attempted warm-up reps in two sets and absolutely nothing… not even close to a rep.

Ummmmmmmmm….

The goal was not to zero, but 10 in training to nothing!!! Oh dear… It’s easy to start blaming at this point. The implement is set up differently. Is the bar lower? etc., etc.

But that’s what I love about strong(wo)man. You can train as close to perfect contest conditions as you want and have almost anything thrown at you the day-of. The real question is, how flexible are you when it counts? How adaptable?

If I can only perform my best in 100% perfect conditions, is that really a test?

I typically don’t watch others compete who go before me but thankfully, I did watch others go and as my friends began banging out reps, I knew it was me, and I’d just have to suck it up and push… HARD. Forget 10 reps. Let’s break it down to one push cycle (btw, I believe the deadlift is actually a pushing, not a pulling movement). Then I can focus on the next one.

Amy KILLED this event with 16 reps!!! Soooooo strong and an amazing performance!

I think I got 4.

All I know is that I either felt a little off, or didn’t brace properly, or some combo. Not sure if my weight cut affected this, but after warming up with nothing… I was a happy girl with my 4. Also great was the fact that my back felt awesome afterwards.

DONE. Overcoming that initial failure during warm-ups and bringing success when it counted felt awesome for me. It’s not the initial mistake or failure that often matters most, but what we do next, so not letting that de-rail me meant more than 10 reps ever could. I am super grateful for this invaluable lesson.

 

Tire Flip (350#)/Sled Drag (315#) Medley – 60 sec. time limit – 50′ both ways – fastest time or furthest measured distance when time stopped. 

This event could have been the contest-decider, so we knew I had to show up strong and get the sled across by whatever means necessary. Because pulling a 315 sled on pavement just plain sucks no matter what we spent most of our time getting efficient and fast on the tire so that I’d have more time to fight with the sled.

This strategy worked well for me. We’d shaved a good 9-10 seconds off of my initial tire flip time throughout contest prep so that I probably finished my tire flip in around 20 seconds, leaving a good 30+ seconds for the sled drag.

I cannot stress how important cultivating quality movement is to performance. Any wasted energy is that much more energy you do not possess to push when it counts. I heart strongman big time, but it never surprises me when athletes are broken after only a few years at the sport and wondering why. It’s all about movement quality and efficiency… and joint health. Anyway, more on that in a future post.

I didn’t finish but I got my feet across the line. About 40ish feet, I think.

Amy got 10′ on the sled drag and big props to her. That sled was HEAV-y. I ended up squat thrusting it most of the way with guttural primal grunts to go with it. Didn’t quite make it across but made it 40′, enough to win and push myself.

 

Farmer’s Carries – 140# in each hand – fastest time – 50′

LOVE farmers’ too. Especially since we’d been training 140# + the implements instead of 140# total including the implements. You just never know with strongman (and often the weight of the implements don’t count), so it’s always better to train it harder than being surprised. Therefore, I’d been training with 150# in each hand and welcomed this nice decrease in weight.

We knew that whoever made the fastest, strongest pick would probably take the event, so that was my focus. I was also made to wear a belt to help with my pick (I don’t like belts and use them as little as possible. I understand their advantage but train 99%, contest or no, without one), so this would help.

>>> Here is where I really got into the zone. A fave song started playing and instantly triggered me into flow. At this point, I was unstoppable and could have done 4+ more events.

I don’t even know Amy’s or my time, but I think I won the event by a full second. Farmer’s are fun! 🙂

 

Stone-to-Shoulder – 120# – 60 sec. time limit – as many reps as possible

This is the event I most looked forward to all day. Last year, in novice, stones got me good and I left determined to never let a stone best me again. Thankfully, my last two contests included a stone-over-bar for height (last woman standing) event and a stone-to-shoulder event.

I first learned to shoulder the stone for the Battle of the Belles last October for stone-over-bar for height. Lemme’ tell ya, it takes some serious trust in yourself to let go of a 100+# stone in the air, but that’s what it takes to shoulder a stone > adjusting your hands from over top of the stone to almost a free throw position on your shoulder. And once I realized stone-to-shoulder is a much more efficient way to get the stone over a high bar, I was hooked. It’s basically a clean with a strong hip drive.

I don’t train with tacky either (mostly because I’m lazy), but my last experience with tacky on a stone for this event was a nightmare. Everyone had slathered on tacky like icing on a cake and the stone stuck to my shirt as it rolled up, creating a disadvantage in the process. Yesterday, however, there was just enough tacky to create a really fun set of circumstances.

Amy got 8 reps in 60 seconds. Suwheet. She killed it! 🙂 Such a strong competitor.

In training, I usually got 8-9 reps in 60 seconds and was so excited the day I got 10. Ten was my goal, but my coach said 12, so I thought why not? I was just ready to rail on some stones. Let it all out. Strategy-time was over anyway since this was the last event and I’d already won the contest.

Everything around me dimmed and I became one with that stone.

Because of the tacky and the boards under the mat, I was able to almost catch the stone on it’s bounce up from the mat and begin the next rep. I literally tossed it up to my lap, arms over, release, catch. Repeat.

Ten blew past, then 12, then 14 when time ran out. 14 reps!!!! What?!??!?!

I never saw that one coming and was so freakin’ excited about the flow experience and just plain killin’ it.

 

***************

Originally, I planned for this contest to be a preview to Nationals, but my best friend is getting married that weekend, so 2015 here I come!

I loved how I didn’t feel beat up and broken after a long competition. I was actually energized and ready to go. All the contest prep came together just right for me to perform my best in this instance.

Things I might do differently next time:

  • Pre-contest nutrition – will talk more about this in the nutrition post.
  • Between event time – I think I tried to control this too much and should’ve just let loose and cut up the whole time. I’m not a super serious person most of the time and instead laugh and have fun as much as possible, so why restrict my fun-ness on contest day? The moment I let the seriousness go, I instantly triggered into the zone.
  • Watch the events before me – again, relating to the above, I tried to control my environment too much in between events for the first half of the day and hampered my performance more than helped it because of this. It’s just a contest! Not life or death, so let it go and have fun, G! 🙂

 

 

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