The following recap is from my work blog. When I do sit down to write the “real deal” you will be lucky enough to get the details of the Kentucky deer…and why we were in Kentucky to begin with. You will get all those fun stories I am saving for my book. We all know the professional site is a little softer but I do have to say: I haven’t cried. I am not dwelling in “what I should have done”. And the things I have listed here as my learning opportunities don’t even begin to cover what I have learned. It truly was an amazing experience. Coach was the best, the absolute best. On that 15 hour drive home we laughed for 12 hours (hitting the deer helped) until he fell asleep. And I wouldn’t trade this experience for one that would include a PR for anything in the world.
“Inner excellence is a way of thinking and a way of acting. It is a quality of mind, a mentality that says no matter how difficult things become, you are responsible and accountable for your thoughts, feelings, and actions” -Elisabeth Akinwale
Coach and I loaded up the car and I said “…I am not proud of my performance today but I will be proud of how I conduct myself post-competition”. And so far I am.
I have been composing this post in my head since leaving the competition site. My original version was pretty good but after pulling into my driveway at 4AM after a previous 24 hours that included bombing out (for those not familiar with powerlifting rules: if you no rep a lift 3 times you can’t move on), a post-comp cheat meal that was awful, hitting a deer in Kentucky with my new car, and fog that slowly thickened from Milwaukee to Appleton…well, I don’t remember exactly what I planned to say. The post-comp stories are hysterical but I need to keep some for that autobiography I will write one day. For this post, I’ll stick to real-life lessons.
Let me start by thanking everyone that supported me and follow that with how much I can’t wait to take what I learned Saturday and begin developing those things Monday morning.
I won’t lie. I am disappointed. It is hard to wake up this morning knowing that I benched more weight during warm-up than was on the bar when I failed…3 times. It is hard to acknowledge that these 3 failures were all on me – I can be such an anxious thing that I forget how much I love the feeling I get when I hold a heavy, round, cold, silver bar in my hands. It was hard yesterday to walk past the experienced girls all eating together before their deadlift while I was getting in a car for a long ride home…I want to be one of the experienced girls. But the good news is: I am 3 failures and one meet closer to being one of them.
So what exactly happened? I panicked. This isn’t the first time and NOT panicking has been the cornerstone of my program for the last six months. I have made a lot of progress but come game time I forgot my training. I am glad I have video (though it will be while before I review it) because to do a play-by-play…well, I don’t remember anything about the actual lift as it was an out-of-body experience. But regardless of what the video shows, it was all in my head. My form is the best it has ever been, my recent training maxes are amazing, and (in training) my confidence in my lifts is solid. It was all in my head.
And what did I learn? I don’t know where to start.
Failure serves a purpose. I don’t like failing in private so to fail in front of 150 people, knowing I would have to publicly tell this story over and over to all the people who believed in me…well, I learned that failing isn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t tell many people Saturday of the result but I did message my big brother who said “don’t sweat it. 99% of people I know don’t try…so kudos to you” and Coach said “Well, at least we know the next one isn’t going to be worse”. And with those reactions I realized the world didn’t end. I’m in the top 1% and I can only get better.
I learned I need to practice patience (and maybe work on my trust and control issues but that’s for another story). In a last-minute decision I chose to have their loader load me instead of Coach. In the last 4 years, I have only had Coach or his brother do it and we have an unspoken system. We just work. On my first attempt, I laid down, set up and…took it off the rack myself. According to Coach the loader wasn’t even on the stand behind me yet. I didn’t even realize.
I learned that I am aces on waiting for the lift commands. I am proud of that.
I learned that competition benches and racks are different from anything I have ever been on and the way I set up needs to change. And while I may not be able to recreate these things, I can approach training as if I have them. I learned I need to practice adjusting quicker to unexpected situations.
I learned I need to stop making competition the most important day of training and break the day down to the bare bones. One of the mom’s of the experienced girls, who is well-practiced at assessing these things, said to me “if this is the first time you exposed your crotch to a room of over 100 people, nerves are expected and you were just great!” Basically, yes, that is bench pressing in public. And here I was so worried about making a fool of myself I didn’t even realize the comedy of competing. I learned that remembering to have fun makes all the difference. Another new girl, also named Elizabeth, remembered to have fun and while she failed her first reps of every lift, she recovered and always nailed the second. I never saw the smile come off her face. We exchanged e-mails and I can’t wait to hear how she finished.
And most importantly I learned I have the power to make the most of this. There are many ways that I can handle this failure which means I have been given a priceless opportunity to choose who I am becoming. I sometimes have questioned if I really am an “athlete”. It is a revered title in my opinion and I sometimes wonder if I am worthy of the term. I have been thinking of Elisabeth Akinwale (my favorite athlete) and Stacie Tovar (an amazing athlete) and how I have been blessed to watch both of them fail several times. They both have strength, grace, and gratitude in their failures and they both use failure to become better athletes. I have the power to choose to be that caliber of athlete, to follow in the footsteps of my role models. And I, myself, am a role model and I want to be the kind of role model that my role models are.
I am disappointed but I am chalking it up to experience and moving on with strength, grace, and gratitude. I have a workout come Monday morning, it is time to move on.