I knew at the start of the year that I wanted to fit in at least 2 meets with 100% RAW before the national team selection process in September. I also knew that I was competing in the Crossfit Open again this year, and would need a bit of time to recover after those 5 gruelling weeks before I dashed off to another competition. In order to get a meet under my belt (powerlifting pun, huehuehue) as early in the year as possible, I wound up making a pretty quick call to register for the Vernon Classic back in February. I say pretty quick, because I’m pretty sure the meet filled up in a couple of hours! Crazy!
The physical training of this meet was pretty straight forward for me. At the end of last year I had swapped over to a more volume-focused style of strength training, as I had been on Wendler for almost 8 months straight, and my volume capacity needed a bit of work. I kept going with this programming (increasing weights every cycle of course), and then swapped back to a lower volume, higher weight program for the last month to prep for the meet itself. Overall I’d say this was a pretty good gameplan, in spite of how much and how often I cursed my volume training. (Sh*t’s tough, man).
I think the most challenging part of this prep was the weight cut I had to do. After competing last year in the 67.5kg class, I knew that in order to move ahead in the sport I would either have to do some serious strength gaining, and fast, or drop down to the lower 60kg class to remain competitive. After some serious discussion with my coach, we both concluded that dropping down to 60kg would be the better option for me. 60kg on my frame (I’m 5’6”) is a reasonable weight, and the fact that powerlifting utilizes an 18 hour weigh-in, meaning you step on the scale 18 hours before the competition begins, meant that I didn’t necessarily have to stay at that 60kg weight. That being said, in February I was hovering at around 152lbs (69kgs, thanks winter/ Christmas) so needless to say I had my work cut out for me.
I’ll be totally honest with you – the biggest stressor of this whole weekend was the weigh-in for me. I had to drop around 20lbs bodyweight total, and combined with the fact that the first few months of this year was a gong show for me personally (health problems, work being crazy, personal issues, you name it) I had more moments when I thought this was all impossible than moments where I genuinely believed in myself.
Thankfully, with the help and support from my coach, training team, and amazing friends, I managed to get my act together in time. This meant strict macro control, watching my water intake, being crazy anal about my training, and learning to stop freaking out so much and just trust my training process. All that, and a pretty intense water/ glycogen cut the week leading up to the meet, but more on that later.
Weigh In finally rolled around. I had been stepping on a scale periodically throughout the day (yes, I even travelled to BC with my own scale) and I knew I was OK, but I was still so freaking nervous! Even when my weight was read out – 59.5kg (131.2lbs), it took a second for that to register. I was 6.7kgs lighter than I was at provincials last year. More importantly – I had actually made weight! Eeek! I was on a joy high for the rest of the evening. I texted everyone I could think of with the (slightly weird) news, and then proceeded to eat everything in sight. Oh, and lots and lots of water with electrolytes for my poor super dehydrated self. Shout out to Skratch Labs for making an amazing rescue rehydration mix, and to Greg and the team at RaceDay Fuel for emergency shipping some out to me before this weekend. That stuff was a game changer.
Once the weigh-in/ eat all the things craziness was out of the way, man was I ready to lift some weights. I love competing; the atmosphere, the pressure, stepping out onto that platform, I can’t get enough of it. That morning I got to Crossfit Vernon and warmed up a bit, and then we had our morning athlete briefing. The briefing went a little long, and then I had to power through the fastest squat warm up ever since I was in the first flight! It was all good though; if anything I have a tendency to warm up too much so not having too much time to think about it was a good thing.
First up, squats. At provincials last year I wasn’t used to lifting in a competition environment and kinda got too nervous and just rushed through my attempts. Learning from that, I made a point of taking my sweet time setting up for each attempt. I opened with 85kg, and it felt easy! 3 white lights! Second attempt at 90kg; stuck a bit coming out of the bottom, but also went up pretty easy. Good lift again! At 95kg for my third attempt, my chest came down a bit and my knees weren’t pushing out enough while coming up, so I failed that attempt. That being said, a successful lift at 90kg is a 5kg competition PR! Great start to the day, on to the bench.
Next, my nemesis – the bench press. I’ve put a lot of work into my bench since last season, but it’s still definitely the weakest of my 3 lifts. Opened with 52.5kg, and it flew up! Not nearly as sticky/ borderline a lift as my bench was last year. Did what was probably too big a jump for attempts 2 and 3 – both were at 57.5kg, and unfortunately I failed both. On attempt 2 my elbows flared out too much and I stuck at my usual elbows at 90* sticking point, and on my last attempt I didn’t drive hard enough out of the bottom. Bummer. That being said, one successful bench at 52.5kg ain’t bad!
Finally, my favourite part of any meet/ any workout ever; deadlifts! I wound up dropping my opener from 130kg to 125kg just to be super safe. I was feeling a bit sluggish while warming up for deads, and wanted to open with a weight I was 100% sure of. The plan paid off in the end – opener at 125 was all good. Second attempt at 135kg – also good. Third attempt, and last lift of the day, was at 140kg (my original plan was for 145kg but I chickened out. Next time). 308lb deadlift at 131.2lb bodyweight – well over double bodyweight! I was just so excited for this lift it was all a bit of a blur – but a successful blur! 3 white lights to end the day, and with both a competition and personal PR on deadlift! I then proceeded to tackle my Mum in the parking lot since I was so happy with how the day went. Oh, did I mention how she flew out from Toronto to coach me since my trainer couldn’t make it? Yeah, she’s kind of amazing.
The rest of the day was spent cheering on everyone else competing, getting my back worked on (competitions with free physio = THE. BEST.), and hanging out with my awesome cheer squad that came out from Calgary. Successfully dropped a weight class, PRed 2 lifts and my total, had a 316kg Wilks, and wound up with a Class 1 total for my new weight class. This is the first step in the qualification process for the national team, so I’m THRILLED that I was able to accomplish this so early in the season. It’s such an amazing feeling to have all the hard work from the past few months come together to make this past weekend such a success. I’ll be enjoying this joy high (and the several bottles of wine I picked up that weekend from Okanagan Wine Country) for a while, that’s for sure!