Sunday, October 28, 2012

I am a Strongwoman

Yep there it is.......I've said it and I believe it.

I've always had an interest in participating in the strongman/strongwoman events and late last year I attended a training session with my good mate Alli to try it out.  Lifting heavy things up is certainly something I enjoy. I’m never going to be the fastest or most agile but add in heavy things and I feel like I can be efficient.

I have been to watch Alli compete in an event earlier this year and it was very cool to watch these guys do their thing. Alli has always encouraged me to have a go at these events as she always believed I was strong enough. She has achieved a lot since she started competing late last year, including winning her very first event. 

 A few weeks ago she told me about an event and for the first time the dates worked and it looked like something I might manage, I was seriously considering having a go. I spoke to my coach James and he wasn’t overly positive about me entering. He had concerns around the weights and the movements which I had never done before and he was concerned about injury risk.  I completely understood what he said so I wanted to try have a practice run before I committed to entering so I could see if it was even possible.  However timing was not ideal and it didn't happen so I took the leap and entered. Let’s just be saying when I told him I had decided to enter he was less than excited. I explained that I wasn’t going to be dumb and if I couldn’t land a movement then I wouldn’t risk injury and just wouldn’t score for the event. It was all about seeing what I could do.

So James took me through some heavy lifts that included standing and walking with 120kg on my shoulders to see if I could hold the weight safely. I managed it quite well and he was a little more confident, which in turn made me more confident!!

Yesterday was the day. I was very nervous beyond  words and had no idea what would be in store for me.  When I arrived I met up with Alli who was going to take me through some technique as well as having a go with the various pieces of equipment.

First up was the yoke. This event required me to walk with a 150kg yoke for 15m for time.  We knew this would be my biggest challenge. I did some practice runs with the empty yoke (the frame alone weighs 110kg) and began to get comfortable with it. It was heavy and I wasn’t sure how I would go with an additional 40kg.

Once they loaded the yoke for the event I got underneath it and set up just to see if I could even get it off the ground.  I was more than a little relieved and surprised when I managed to stand up. Half the battle won.  Soon enough I was standing under my yoke and hearing the 3….2….1…..GO. With a deep breath and bracing my body I stood up and started to walk.  I focused my eyes on a spot in the distance and kept walking. About half way along I started to get the wobbles, with the yoke moving around but somehow I managed to stabilise it and kept going without having to stop.  Took me a bit over 20sec and I was the slowest of all the competitors in my division but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I did it. I never thought I had a chance to make it unbroken. When I crossed that line and dropped the weight it was almost like I was weightless for a moment or two.

Event 2 was the Farmers Carry – 25m walk for time with 60kg in each hand. Now my max deadlift is 120kg so this was in total the same weight and walking quickly with it. Again totally not sure.  This is another unique piece of equipment involving 2 long rails loaded with weight. I have done farmers carry before (max being 32kg in each hand and kettlebells).  The rails move and swing as you walk which make it hard to move quickly. 

Once they loaded the rails I again just simply tried to see if I could stand up and hold the weight as I felt like this was half the battle.  Go time, and I just picked it up and walked. I was really happy that I seemed to be moving fairly quickly and to be honest the weight didn’t seem as heavy as I feared.  I put it down once as my grip was giving out, but didn’t stop for more than a second or 2 before finishing off.   Once again finished 3rd in the event which I was more than happy with.

Next up we looked at the log press.  For this event I had to press a 40kg log overhead as many times as possible in 90secs.  This is a different element and grip than what I use on a conventional Olympic bar. It’s big and round and hands are in a neutral position. There is a real technique to getting this overhead and it’s tricky. I did a few reps with the 20kg log and felt ok. However just before the event started I tried it with 40kg and could not get one rep overhead. Not confidence inspiring.  So my turn arrived and I stepped up. Got it to my chest then failed getting it overhead. But rather than lower it to the ground I reset and attempted the dip & drive up again and got it. Bang!! I was slightly relieved.  I began to work through my reps and I chose to rest between each one as it was hard.  My PR overhead weight is 45kg so I was working close to my limit with a traditional bar let alone this log. I finished the event with 5 reps and I was stoked with that. I fought for every one of those reps.  Considering I couldn’t land one in the warm up I was beyond happy.  I finished 3rd in that event so I was happy about that. 

Time for the last event.  Carry a 50kg beer keg 10m then flip a 240kg tyre 5x for time. The tyre was the biggest I have ever attempted, both in size and weight. Also it was quite smooth and there wasn’t really any little grooves to dig your hands into for grip. When I practiced it with Alli I was happy to at least get it off the ground. The beer keg is something I have never tackled before. I know I’ve emptied a few in my time but never had to pick one up nor carry it 10m. Alli ran me through the technique and I managed to pick it up easier than I thought. The event started and I was able to move quickly with the keg and got up to a fast shuffle, covering the 10m quite quickly.  Then it was onto the tyre. I had received a text from my good friend Hoffy just prior and her advice for the tyre was to ‘get shitty with it’, so I did. I got as low as I could and just used all my force to get that damn tyre up and over. The first 3 flips went fairly well but the last 2 were hard as I was really getting tired. But I got it done and once again finished 3rd in the event


Overall I finished 4th but the day was about so much more than that for me.  To finish with a score in every single event was way beyond my expectations.  At the start of the day I had no expectations about not finishing them and that was fine by me. This was a massive achievement for me and it was waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone. It was a massive step up in weight and a completely unfamiliar environment.

One of the other girls in my division is a fellow CrossFitter and brought a large crew from her box to support her. Kez did awesomely finishing second overall. And it was very cool to hear her crew cheering for me as well in my events and I really appreciated it.

My mate Alli put the following comment on the photo’s I posted on FB

 ‘You stepped outside your comfort zone today. You stepped up. You showed spectators what determination is all about. You showed yourself that anything is possible. You walked away with your head held high and with a new found sense of achievement. You did yourself & your friends proud. I'm proud of you. Well done. Brilliant effort today’. 

And that really sums up for me how I feel. I did feel as though I just stepped up and did. I did something that for me was a big deal. I kinda feel like I can do anything now, I simply have to step up and do. Stop thinking or being afraid or doubting and just try, because I might just surprise myself.

I know that they are different modes, but without my CrossFit  training I would have not had a chance to do this. One of the philosophies of CrossFit is ‘general preparedness’ for anything. And that was reflected that I could take on this challenge.  The atmosphere was again similar to CrossFit with other competitor cheering everyone one and those who fought hardest for the rep got the biggest cheers.

I am grateful for all the support I received from my friends & coaches for this event. All the texts and comments really did make a difference.

It’s been a year of stepping outside my comfort zone and finding clean air past what I thought my limits were. I am capable of so much more if I just let myself go out and do it.  This is my last competitive event for the year but now I have a whole list of things I want to work on for 2013.  I once again have a new purpose and focus for my training. Getting myself in the best shape possible to once again test myself next year!!!

Below is a video montage of all my events for the day

1 comment:

  1. Well done Lisa that is awesome. You are amazing and stepping out of our comfort zone is something I have found to be extremely powerful and enriching of late.