New Coach. New PR. New Partner?

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New Coach began the squat re-build on Monday. Repeatedly he said “I know you can squat more, you know you can squat more, we don’t care about the number. We only care about pain levels.” He doesn’t have to convince me. We spend the hour with 130 on the bar and playing with stances, pauses and hip position. Something in the hip twinged early on but once we got everything settled the hip was good.

The Athletic Trainer wanted to see me that afternoon to evaluate the hip and good news for once: nothing shifted. I no longer need him twice a week and will even tempt fate and wait 10 days between therapy appointments.

My solo benching days weren’t notable except they were fun and productive. I like writing my own program and choosing accessories day-by-day.

Wednesday was max deadlift. At 255# New Coach said “ya know, some max days just need to be spent on working sets. This is one of those days”. He took me down to 135# and spent 45 minutes working form. During my second workout I felt my hip going and thought “I could try to fix this and mess up my hip or I could do something else and hope my hip is good to squat on Saturday”. I decided to do other accessory work and live to see another day.

New Coach’s training partner, a Strongman and Powerlifter of some note, told a lifter he wants to do a competition with me in April. “He knows I bombed out, right?” “Yes and he thinks it will be good for you to get back to it as soon as possible, have support from another lifter, be part of a team. He’s been telling New Coach to get you to do it”. New Coach hasn’t mentioned it except if his “A wants me to lift with him at night. I hate lifting at night. How are you with late workouts?” is his way of arranging it. But he isn’t an obtuse kind of person and besides, I made an ugly face at the question. I’ll think about it – the competition and the training.

Thursday New Coach sent me an e-mail stating he wanted me to do band pulls Friday morning and instructions on how to set up my platform. Another trainer was glaring at me throughout my sets. Everyone has been banned from New Coach’s room and his toys except me. I learned this as I overheard him sternly explaining this to the other trainer. His clients, his partner, his brother aren’t allowed back there without him but I have full access whenever I want. That’s pretty cool.

And then he came over and asked how my week has been since Wednesday. He told me, again, I need to communicate more but I can’t forget Coach telling me “You’re a PITA and New Coach won’t put up with you”. I don’t want to mess up this opportunity. The Husband said “New Coach isn’t Coach. You wanted someone who was interested in your work and he is.” He really is too. Sending me workouts I didn’t request, checking in, giving me extra time when I am more than willing to run when my hour is up. I have always been someone who was “in the way” and Coach’s last words to me…well as my doctor said “did he ever remind you of your dad?” Every single day.

Ending today with still a lot of fight in me, and all these weeks later I am finally feeling my anger towards Coach, I went back for sandbag carries. I was hoping for 4 laps to beat my old PR. When I get 5 I can move up from 90# to 120#. First attempt 4. Whoo hoo. The pressure was off, fun can ensue. Then 5 laps. What?! That wasnt even on my radar. May I stay angry with Coach for many years! Last attempt 3. I was exhausted. And free of stress.
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I messaged The Husband I was on my way home and I opened the door to a plate of salmon, green beans and a hug. What a great end to this week.

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I Did Not Die

New Coach wants to rebuild my confidence? Not dying and not injuring myself was a good step.

But that was today. Let me catch you up on the past week first. Those 40 minutes of box jumps caught up with me. By Friday I could barely move. My sleeping meds would put an elephant out for days and even with a full dose the pain woke me up throughout the night. So…while I can jump pain-free the post-jumping consequences aren’t worth it!

A friend came up with the idea that I need to lift in front of people I know and trust before my next competition in order to work on my stage fright. He was the first. On Friday he rolled out of bed extremely early for an unemployed twentysomething just to watch me deadlift. Lots of fun for me. It was my first time using a Texas deadlift bar which has a lot of give in it so even on warm-ups it bent like there was 1,000 pounds on it. M already thought I was a superhero and the bar bend only helped reinforce that idea. I hit 275# and the hip flexor would not allow one more pull. M was the best and between sets, to help my nerves, he discussed Dragon Age strategy and we debated the choices and consequences. He is one of my closest friends and here I was terrified of lifting in front of him…so the weakest spot in my program is noted. I have recruited more viewers and have had several people request to come watch me.

And as people are so willing to do this for me, I am overcome with gratitude at how people want me to succeed. How they are willing to give up their time to help me. I am a fuck up in so many ways, lived so many years without an ally, there must be something redeeming about me to be so loved.

Having been in the “I hurt but I have goals” position before, and having that end in real injury, I was smart and took the weekend off. Monday was day one of New Coach working on my squat and I wanted to be 100%. It was the right choice. Monday my hips were like new, I was well rested, and I learned a lot.

Yesterday New Coach walked in and said “We’re keeping it light. I know you’re strong enough to do more. You know you are strong enough to do more. But our goal isn’t the weight it is to be pain-free”. I am squatting to a 12 inch box, rocking back and standing back up. This forces my hips to release and I have no choice but to activate my glutes if I want to stand back up. The “rock back” isn’t even an inch of movement but for someone so trained in good solid form, it takes a while to get used to. We work up from the bar to 130# before my hip catches. We drop the weight and build up to 125#. Again he stresses the goal isn’t the weight, it is to be pain-free. I look at him and say “It’s more weight than I have done in 2 years. I have no expectations when it comes to squatting so you don’t have to convince me”.

After squatting I had kineseotherapy and The Athletic Trainer was happy to note my hips didn’t shift while squatting.

But today. Max effort bench press solo. I can’t bring myself to bench heavy with a normal grip for a number of reasons but mostly because of last weeks conversation. As I was setting up my area (an event in itself as I am all of 5 feet tall and have to “rig” the equipment here) I decide to use a wide grip and go for a 2 rep max. I worked up to 130#, power out rep 1, fail rep 2. Now that New Coach taught me how to rig the bench, all I have to do is release my tension and the bar sits on the safeties. But, as no one here has seen this trick and the gym was abnormally busy, 5 people start rushing to Warrior Girls aid. But I am a Warrior Girl (with knowledge) I got this. I slip out an re-rack everything.

I did not die, I did a good weight for wide grip, and I can do it independently.

A friend stopped by and said “You look amazing. I can’t believe how much your body has changed”. Honestly, I am not eating that clean and I still am not sure about my program. I think it is probably the way I am carrying myself with my re-found confidence, my Warrior Girl attitude having returned, and probably that I am smiling. I am not sure she has ever seen me genuinely smile. But whatever…I’m stronger than I was 6 weeks ago. That’s all I care about.

Well, that and not dying.

New Coach Gets Creative

The video I mention won’t allow me to post. WordPress says I need some sort of add-on. I don’t know. I will say this: I walked into the gym and heard several “New Coach showed me the video” and it was awesome. I realize he was showing of his invention, but it did Warrior Girl’s spirit good to know I was the inspiration for it!

My day started at 4 am. Needless to say I am getting ready for bed at the late hour of 7:30 pm.

Several times on Monday New Coach said “you need a training partner…” “you can’t do (several things) without a good partner”. I don’t have one and after my experiences with Coach I have no interest in having one again. So we rigged a way to do what I can on bench but essentially,  I will never max again on it. It is what it is. I will do what I can.

Today was much more positive. I had a nap after training New Mother and then took a decent dose of pre-workout. Thankfully. New Coach’s 2pm cancelled ao this girl got 2 hours of training.

Speed deadlift day. Reps are supposed to be less than a second. Pull 1 was .7501, pull 2 was .7501. New Coach laughed and said he’s never seen consistency like that.  Pull 3 .7401, pull 4 .7401. I am an anomoly…again. Then he asked what I’ve been doing for band pulls. “I’ve been dying to do them for years but…”. Oh, they are essential he says and shows me how he rigs them. He’s been looking into platforms but I’m the only one that would get regular use out of them. And he pauses…

He rigged a new platform for me. “Want to be a guinee pig?” He doesn’t need to ask. After a couple of pulls and added bands he says “you just saved me $800”. Glad I could help.

IF the video works, I realize my butt is too high, there are minor issues, but not bad for the end of 2 hours of deadlifting.

After it was over the gym owner said “it’s good to see you happy again. In fact, I’ve never seen you happier”. I smiled and thought “it’s not hard to be happy when you aren’t constantly being told what a f#^&-up you are”.

I miss Coach like crazy but I’m beginning to think my little brother is too much like…family. I finally see what everyone has been telling me. I wish my heart would catch up a little faster.

What is good for my heart are all of these accomplishments, this great opportunity with a highly sought after coach, heading towards another goal. I am too excited moving ahead that I can’t stop and mourn my loss. But it lingers in the back of my mind, my heart.

Monday I tried box jumping. No hip problems. I tried seated box jumps. No problem. I set up obstacle courses with the boxes and did them for 40 minutes. 2 days later, no inflammation. This is good news. My hip flexors aren’t loving me today but I haven’t lost my touch. So much fun but I won’t be overdoing them again.

A day later: The Athletic Trainer pounded on my glute twice and hips are reset. Yet another experiment awaits me. He hired a PT for his gym and he uses a fancy program for rehab.  I will be hooked up to all kinds of electrodes to measure the percentage of muscle activation as I lift. It will be “on the house” since I will be a tester. Seems, for now, I am an exciting person to know.

Does anyone know how long it will be before I stop wanting Coach to be a part of all these moments? I guess the heart is like my hip: it takes entirely too long to heal.

Hard Work Beats Talent…

I almost blogged a third time yesterday but it seemed too self-indulgent.  Please be patient with me as I am returning to my awesome Warrior Girl status. I haven’t been myself for so long that every step towards becoming her again is too exciting.

I ended yesterday with a 2nd PR. New Coach came up on his break and asked if I wanted to do some sand bag carries with him. I sat silent.

“You don’t have to but if you don’t have a client until 5:15 you have time”. “I want to but…I was told you…I don’t want to be a pain in the ass”.

The last words Coach said to me were “You’re a pain in the ass and New Coach won’t put up with your bullshit”. All I ever wanted was to work and learn. I don’t really know what my bullshit was so just in case it was participating in extra fun, I don’t want to do it.

New Coach laughed and said “this will be a pain in your ass.”

The sandbag was a wobbly mess of 90#. My first attempt was 1.5 laps. My second attempt was 2.5 laps. My 3rd attempt was 3 laps. I dropped the bag and said between gasps “this is the BEST thing ever”! New Coach replied “I’ve never heard that before. Everyone thinks they are the worst thing ever. I think I have you figured out now”. Once I get 5 laps I get to carry the 120# bag…my current body weight! And today I do have a very sore tush.

Today was speed bench 9×3, 105#. Oddly enough as I got closer to set 9 the speed got better. And then a ton of tricep work. New Coach came over and asked about my hip, the new stretches he showed me, how I’m holding up without a training partner. Good. Awesome. I’m doing the best I can.

After my workout my Scholarship Girl arrived. She is amazing! It’s rare to meet adults with her composure and she is all of 16. Having been given offers to Division 1 schools, she chose D2 because 1) she wouldn’t do well in big class sizes and 2) she wants to play as a freshman. At a D1 school she wouldn’t start until her junior year.

The way her eyes light up when she talks about her sport…she loves it. She has the same sparkle in her eye that I get when I talk about lifting. If anyone understands that kind of passion, I do.

She asked me about another girl and I told some of her story, how hard she worked to make her school’s volleyball team, how much I admire her, and how heartbroken she was when she didn’t make it. My Scholarship Girl had genuine sadness in her face for Miss C.

I am typically not a fan of the “hard work beats talent…” saying. I’m the hardest worker I know and too often get beaten by talented people that don’t work hard. But this young lady, who has been gifted with talent and hard work, would choose Miss C and myself – 2 people who too often just miss the cut – because of our heart. Sometimes, maybe not often enough but sometines, hard work beats talent.

How did I get so lucky to get on New Coach’s team and have this girl join mine all in the same month?

And New Coach Said…

I walked into New Coach’s office and he asked how my lifting has been.

“Depends…do you let people be excited about PRs or do you like to take people down a peg or two?”

He laughed (this man I’ve been afraid of for years actually laughs) and says “Athletes should celebrate their accomplishments and after 2 years of working without a PR, you should be pretty damn excited”.

Yep!

We worked on stretching and mobility for my hip, then variations of lower back, hamstring and glute excercises. And now that accessory education week is complete, we return to doing “The Big Lifts” next week.

PRs, VIPs, and New Adventures

Every month of 2013 I said “Next month can only be better” and every month turned out to be worse. December 31, 2013 I said “2014 can only get better” and it was by leaps and bounds but still filled with physical pain, a failed competition, and losing the most important person in my world. I dared not make a prediction for 2015. I dared not even hope. I decided I would just wait and see what adventures unfold.

I may have lost the most important person in my world but New Coach is well on his way to repairing this beat up athlete. I am lifting without pain, my confidence is returning, and for the first time in 2 years I have a new PR. Deadlift: 275#.

My old PR was 265# set in February 2013. Since hip rehab I have repeatedly hit 215, I hit 235 a few months ago, but mostly I’ve been hanging out at 215. Last week New Coach had me up to 235# and called it due to time saying I easily had 20# left in me. Guess he was wrong. I had 40#.

And add to all of this, 3 weeks into 2015 I am the strength and conditioning coach for an NCAA Div 2 athlete. Everyone knows my professional passion lies with ladies athletics in high school and college. I have been working ever so diligently to build my reputation in this direction and this us yet another step.

It’s bittersweet for me. After my PR this morning I was so proud and then I thought “Coach should have been here. He should have witnessed my comeback.” But I also know if he hadn’t ditched this Warrior Girl, I wouldn’t have gotten that PR. The adventure is unfolding as it should. And as for my big client: Instead of running to Coach to share in the excitement, I did something that I still can’t believe. The first person I called was my dad. And after a long pause he said “I don’t understand why you do this but…I’m happy for you.” After an even longer pause he said “I am going to take you out for coffee next week to celebrate.”

Big Brother says “don’t expect too much from him” but he has already given me more than I could have imagined when he said he was happy for me.

2015 is looking to be one pretty big adventure!

Checking In

I love that when you make connections in the internet world – a world filled with billions of people – you make real connections. It is nice to know that when you go missing, someone will come looking for you. My whole life I have been able to go missing without anyone checking. If you’ve never seen “Without a Trace”, it always opened with the person that the FBI is looking for living their life and vanishing mid-day, mid-crowd. Rarely did anyone notice. That has been my life. It is also my worst fear.

So occassionally when too much time passes here I forget that people notice…until they check-up. I realized a few minutes ago it’s been almost a week, almost time. And when you care about people as much as they care about you, you owe it to them to say “hi, it’s all good. No need to worry and thanks for caring. Noticing my absence”.

Here is my week in summary: I am learning so much (have forgotten more than I remember!) from new coach. Today he was changing my form on several lifts and said “I’m not saying you were taught wrong, I’m just saying for powerlifting…”. I finally said “I don’t envy being the coach to follow Coach, knowing how I feel about him. You don’t  have to justify the changes, I came to you wanting these changes”. And changing almost everything – some minor, some major – we are.

Instead of blogging all these changes I  have been busy researching & developing a program for a local high schools lady athletes. This is where my passion lies and all the networking and connecting I have done is finally paying off. I at least have an “in” now, it is just a matter of putting together a solid program to pitch. There is still a lot to do and, most terrifying, parents to convince. Lady athletes are not exactly a priority for schools or parents here in The Middle of Nowhere. Having an “in” and my first audience tomorrow is a massive step.

And Sunday I took a nap. It was amazing!!

It’s feels nice to know that people are out there and interested. And I’m happy to know I reported in before you had to check on me!