My first national meet – maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year

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(yes, the title is a lyric from an All Time Low song. No, I’m not embarrassed)

Wednesday: “Oh shoot, maybe I should pack now”

The best thing about being chronically overscheduled is that you don’t have time to worry about the future. Instead of stressing about nationals all week, I was too busy trying to tie up loose ends before I left. After hastily throwing some clean laundry into a bag, I went to the gym and tried to pretend I wasn’t antsy.

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Support from the big brother from across the country

Thursday: I did not get lost/stolen/detained

My coach wanted me to lift in the morning before my flight… which involved me going to the gym at five am. On the bright side, I was too anxious to sleep the night before, so I rolled out of bed at 4:50 wide awake and ready. It was my first time flying alone and I made it all the way to the host hotel without any major incidents! After two naps, I attended a meeting for new athletes and coaches. I didn’t learn anything particularly useful, but it was fun listening to stories of other coaches and athletes who didn’t know the rules and blew their first big meet.

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I may not have had the biggest numbers, but I had the best headshot

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Friday: “I get to lift things today!”

We started the day by checking out the competition venue, then doing some light complexes and back squats. That afternoon, I dragged my poor coach around the Ogden Dinosaur Park (pubic service announcement: do not visit a pre-historic life museum with me unless you want your ear talked off). Later, we went back to the gym to hit some heavier lifts. I was feeling slow and tired and missing (what felt like) more lifts than I made. It was terrifying, but I tried not to think about it. I wasn’t ready to panic.

I get carsick very easily, and we had to take shuttles everywhere, so I was having a hard time eating enough because I felt so yucky. The only thing I could stomach that night was sushi (Danielle you are so Asian) so I ate what I could manage, said a prayer to the barbell gods, and went to sleep.

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Hello Weber State University!

Saturday: “OMG I’m competing at a national meet?”

I woke up before the sun to do a super light morning session. I felt fantastic. After the best nap of my life, I did my hair and makeup, packed my bag, and tied my rhinestoned hair bow.

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My view from the warm up area (sitting on the floor, as always)

I don’t remember most of the rest of the day, to be honest. No idea what happened during my warm up lifts. I just lifted whatever my coach told me to. Before I knew it, I was walking onto the platform – where I missed my opener by throwing it behind me (that’s weird).

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My “damn it I missed my opener” face

I made it on my second attempt, and then had a heartbreaking no-lift on my last snatch.

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Chasing 63

Clean and jerks went fairly smoothly (okay, that’s a lie, but I’ll discuss later). Opener felt easy, 78kg felt fine. I cleaned 80kg without a problem, and wanted the lift so baldy. I locked out the jerk…

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and I missed.

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And just like that, it’s over. After two years of learning and months of preparation, it’s all over after six short attempts. I missed both the lifts I had wanted, and didn’t hit my goal total… and I was crushed. I cried into my backpack, tried to pull myself together, but cried again in the bathroom after a stranger said I was a beautiful lifter (darn you, kind stranger). After sulking on the shuttle back to the hotel, I wrapped up the waterworks in the shower (shower crying is the best).

But good beer puts everything back into perspective, and I realized I had nothing to be upset about. I touched a barbell for the first time barely two years ago, and have only been competing for a few months. Not only did I post a total at my first national meet, but I tied my meet PRs (despite belt drama and travel fatigue). I opened heavier than my qualifying total and fought harder for lifts than I ever have. It wasn’t the meet I wanted, but that is okay.

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What I learned:

1: Your belt can only be 12 cm wide. I learned this as I was walking onto the platform for my first clean and jerk with my 60 seconds already counting down when an official stopped me with a tape measurer.

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My “what do you mean my belt is illegal” face

2: When you’re really freaking mad that your belt got taken away, 75 kgs feels like 75 lbs. Anger PR.

3: Sometimes strangers are nice. Thank you to the nice blonde girl with cute makeup who lent me her belt for my first lift.

4: Officials do not like to be sassed. After I killed my first and second clean and jerks, I flashed Mr. Tape Measurer my best pageant girl smile. He was not amused.

Sassily walks away from official

Sassily walks away from official

5: Weightlifting has a fickle heart. I’ve been chasing a 63 kg snatch on the platform for a while. On my last attempt, I finally stood it up. And got three red lights. As I stood the bar up, my left elbow bobbled half an inch, resulting in a no-lift. See you on October 10th, 63kg.

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6: After a long week, sometimes your body just gives up. I should have made my last clean and jerk at 80kg, but my legs just gave out and my back knee slammed into the floor during the jerk (it hurt FYI). Fickle sport, fickle body.

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7: Utah is dry, literally and metaphorically. Some lifters intentionally dehydrate themselves to make weight. Why bother when it’s -29834% humidity? Also, I am not inspired by rocks.

8: I have the best gym mom ever. It’s easy to stand at a distance and evaluate someone’s progress. People prefer to attribute someone’s success to luck or the fact that “you’re naturally flexible.” What people don’t see are the early hours and late nights at the gym. Nobody sees the anxious nights when you talk yourself out of your dream, or the lonely 5 am drives to the gym when your peers are walking home from parties. When we say “blood, sweat, and tears,” we’re not kidding. My gym mom is the hardest working person I know, and she understands how hard I worked to make it to nationals. When I wanted to give up in the fall semester because my numbers and progress were regressing, she reminded me it was worth it. When I couldn’t sleep the night before my meet because I didn’t think I belonged there, she reminded me I earned it. Thanks mom.

9: I have the most wonderful coach ever. It takes someone special to turn a ballerina into a weightlifter, and takes infinite patience to deal with me. I am so very thankful to have found someone who sees potential in me, lets me take as many naps as I want, and doesn’t get too annoyed when I whine nonstop about working out. Thank you.

10: I am so motivated and so ready for the next year of training and improving. 

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