9 Lifts / 26.2 Miles / 36 Hours: Part Two

The Meet Recap

Read Part One here for the lead up.

I’ll get into how I trained for this insanity in Part Three, but suffice it to say training went about as well as it could have. On Friday, Nov 21, I got in a minivan with my best friend and my dog and started the drive to York. Let me just say here: I was extremely lucky to be doing all of this with Casey’s support. He drove us all the way across the state, handled me at the meet, forced me to eat when I didn’t want to, and was there with my parents at the finish line of the race, coffee in hand, like a dream. I could not be more grateful for him.

Friday, November 21 – Weigh-ins

We dropped my dog off with my parents (also champs, who watched him all weekend while I competed), and immediately went to weigh-in. I made the decision to do a light water cut heading into the meet to comfortably make my weight class of 132. That was unnecessary (and a decision I can see now was coming from my disordered thinking, and that I wouldn’t make again), and I came in light. It was time to eat. We found a decent-looking diner fairly close to the hotel and ordered allllll the breakfast food. While we were eating, three Pittsburgh friends rolled up to meet us, which was a complete surprise to me! That’s a 4 hours drive! 

We finished up and headed back to the hotel, where we met up with a fourth friend, who would also be helping out at the meet. I managed to get to bed early and got quite a bit of rest. I was going into that meet prepared.

Saturday, November 22 – IPA Nationals

When we got to York Barbell the next morning, I was surprised by friends (again). In total, SEVEN people from Pittsburgh came out to support me. I cannot adequately express in words how much it meant to have you all there. This was truly the highlight of the entire weekend for me. I love you guys.

The meet started at 9:00am, and I was in the second flight, so had awhile to get warmed up and in a good headspace. I was nervous – it had been over a year since I’d last competed. As always, my squat warm-ups felt heavy, and I was nervous stepping on the platform for the first time. I got out there and made my first squat at 260, and it felt easy (as it should have). Casey put in my next attempt at 280, and that moved well despite me letting my hips get too loose in the hole. 

I had an ultimate goal of an 800lb total at this meet, and I told him I wanted to chip away at it instead of going for a big PR. I took 290 on my third, but as soon as I hit the bottom of the squat, felt everything unravel. My chest sank, my hips shot back, and I knew that it wouldn’t be worth it to try to grind something out. Looking back, this may have been the moment that I injured my hip (which I’m rehabbing now, 3 months later). I wasn’t in any pain. I was pretty bummed, because ultimately this was a technique error, but I was ready to move on and my spirits were up considerably because the worst part was over. 

Eating was my number two priority after lifting at the meet. I NEEDED to keep my glycogen stores high if I was going to have a good race the next day. There would be at least two hours until I started benching, so we decided to step out for some Chipotle. I ate a burrito for the first time in YEARS. It was amazing – both in that it was delicious and that I was allowing myself to eat a food that I’d considered “bad” for so long.

If you’re not familiar with powerlifting meets, they can sometimes run long. Very long. Way longer than they should. This was one of those meets. I started squatting around 10am, and we didn’t start benching until 2-3pm. I was not prepared for this.

My bench attempts were perfect. Typically when I lose weight, my bench suffers. At my last meet, I weighed in at around 142lbs. At this meet, I came in at 129lbs. Despite that, my bench attempt went PERFECTLY. I opened at 155 and it flew. Then jumped up to 170, which moved smoothly and relatively fast. Again, I was chipping away at that 800lb total, and KNEW I could make 175. We put that on the bar for my third, and I was able to grind it through my sticking point. 

I was happy and feeling great. I knew I would need a 345 deadlift to make my 800lb total, which typically would not have been a problem for me. Typically. I’d pulled 355 in the gym and felt fine.

We had another very, very long break. I ate some snacks, but was struggling to get food down. I was starting to get some cramps – my glutes (hello, sign number two of hip injury), my lats, some soreness in my hips. Not a great sign, but I was having so much fun at this meet with my friends that I really wasn’t thinking that much about it. Cayt massaged some of it out and I got ready to deadlift. At this point it was nearing 5pm.

My deadlift warm-ups moved okay, but definitely felt a bit off. At the time, I was thinking the bars seemed really stiff, so I was having a harder time getting into position. I can look back and watch video now and see it wasn’t a bar issue, but a hip issue holding me back. Despite this, I opened with a 325 deadlift, expecting it to fly off the floor (as openers are meant to). When I walked out there and started my pull, I IMMEDIATELY knew something was wrong. It moved, but it was ugly and painful. I walked off and asked Casey to put 345 on the bar for my second. I was planning on getting up there, making that lift, and passing on my third. That didn’t happen.

I sat in the lifters’ area, visualizing myself moving that bar. I won’t lie, I had doubts. My opener felt insanely heavy. I put my belt on, sniffed some ammonia like a good powerlifter, and stepped up to the bar. I couldn’t budge it at all. I was angry. I wanted to be done.

We kept 345 on the bar for my third. At this point, I’m sitting, waiting for my name to be called with my headphones in, angry music playing, fuming, exhausted, focusing as best I could. I think in my head I might have already been checked out, ready to move on to the race. Casey did everything he could to pump me up; I saw my friends in the crowd, cheering. I walked up the bar, put everything I could into it, but still, no movement. As soon as I let go, I LET GO. 

Was the deadlift a disappointment? Hell yes it was. But as soon as the third attempt was over, I felt completely flooded with gratitude. For my friends for being there. For my body for tolerating so much stress. For the sweet people who ran such a fun meet. For the other competitors. For the prospect of sleep, which was coming soon. 

I did not make my 800lb total – it ended up being 780. In the past, I would have been stewing over this for days, replaying what I did wrong over and over until even the idea of lifting would make me angry. That was absent this time. I even realized that while this wasn’t a PR total for me, it was a pretty big bodyweight PR, and my first 400 Wilks (a coefficient used in powerlifting to rank lifters regardless of gender or weight class). That’s HUGE. And I was happy with it. I knew I could move forward with more information on how to do better next time. And honestly, it was time to change focus.

We got in the car around 7pm and started towards Philly. I ate a bit on the way, but not as much as I should have. We arrived at the Old City Hotel Monaco (seriously, how lucky am I) around 9pm. Ordered room service. Set out my packet, clothes, snacks, and cold weather gear for race day. And went to bed. It was a 5am wakeup call, so I needed all the sleep I could manage. 

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