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Nicole Marie – Blew it at Nationals? No One Cares

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As I stared at the scoresheet all I could think about was what will I tell everyone back home? There it was, my name at the very bottom of the list, dead last. I turned to Mark Fives with heat in my face and tears in my eyes, unsure how to handle these emotions. I came to nationals with the intention of treating it as a learning experience and to PR my lifts, which I did. The weights were a little out of my comfort zone, and I am still relatively new to the sport, but I didn’t expect to be the worst. I’m paraphrasing, but our conversation went something like this:

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Me: I’m terrible at strongman!

Mark: You realize you just competed at NATIONALS right? 

Me: but what will I tell my co-workers? They will ask how I did.

Mark: didn’t they think it was an IronMan competition? They don’t even know what Strongman is.

Me: But what about at the gym? No one wants to be coached by a bad competitor

Mark: Didn’t you PR 4 out of 5 events? I think they’re going to be proud of you. 

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Thank goodness I dragged him to Iowa with me to be my voice of reason. Literally, no one cared the slightest bit about my rankings at Nationals, besides me. All of my fellow competitors cheered just as hard for me as the athletes who were winning. I think I heard my name the loudest when I kept missing the platform on the keg load. The post competition meal tasted just as delicious, and everyone back home was super excited to hear about my PRs. Even my co-workers were happy to hear I had fun at my “Iron Man” event.

Heres a quick recap of how the events went for me last weekend:

Weigh-Ins: Yes, I am counting this as an event because it seemed to be the most stressful part of the weekend for many athletes. We got in line around 7:30am for the 9am weigh in and there were probably 40 people in line already. I have weighed athletes in at powerlifting meets before, but this was something else. Saunas, sweat suits, diuretics, you name it, it was done. Some athletes brought their own personal scales to confirm that they were going to make weight. I had been using Renaissance Periodization coaching in order to make weight for this, so I was already under the weeks leading up to the competition. I weighted 118lbs the day prior, so I ate normally that day and only limited my water after 5pm to avoid accidently being over. I weighed in for nationals at 117lbs, well under the 120.4 limit. Success! Then it was time to eat and get ready for the actual events.

Day 1 Events:

  1. Circus DB: 70lbs- 1 minute max reps – this was probably my best event, which is amazing because I remember last October when I failed at the 65lb dumbbell at Maryland’s Strongest Man. I got 6 reps and just missed lockout on the 7th, so I was thrilled to see my progress here. The most I hit in training on this event was 4 reps, so this was a PR for me. I came in 6th in this event, which was directly in the middle of the LW 120s, so I was off to a good start and feeling confident.
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  2. Yoke Carry: 375lbs-  60 ft, for time – Yoke is one of my weaker events, so my goal was to just make it across the finish line without any drops. During warm ups the yoke felt terrible on my back. It always feels heavy, but it felt heavier than usual, which made me a little nervous. Fortunately, I had two awesome ladies on either side of me to calm my nerves. I moved at a snails pace, but I didn’t drop! I considered this to be a successful event. img_0926
  3. Axle Deadlift: 300lbs- 13in height, max reps in 1 minute- Considering my max deadlift off of the ground is currently 300lbs and I find pulling from the ground easier than this awkward height, my goal was to not zero out this event. We were required to strap in during the timed minute, which I was happy about considering I only anticipated pulling one or two reps. Warming up I hit 280 for a single and it felt great. I wound up pulling 3 reps in about 40 seconds and then the bar wouldn’t budge. I walked away with a few seconds remaining to avoid injury, knowing that I’d need my back for day two. I was disappointed after this event, but looking back I know that I literally could not have pulled any more reps, and I hit a PR, so I am satisfied with how it went. img_0927

Day 1 Recap: I walked away from day 1 feeling satisfied with my performance. While the competitive athlete in me always wants to win, realistically it was not in the cards for me at Nationals this year. I was in the bottom half and it was humbling to watch so many LW ladies throw around heavy weights, but I achieved my goals on all three events, so I considered this day to be a success.

Day 2 Events:

  1. Husafell Stone: 200lbs- max distance- walking into day two I was already exhausted, but this is one of my favorite events. I love mental events, and I usually do very well in them. Unfortunately, as soon as I picked up the stone, I knew it was not going to go as well as it had in training. I grabbed the corner of the stone instead of my usual hand placement around the front, which put my fingers in a weak position. I carried for as long as I could until my fingers gave out, but I was frustrated knowing that my back, legs, and brain could have held out a lot longer.
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  2. Keg/Stone of Steel Medley: 130lbs each- fastest time. By the time we started this event I was so tired that I wanted it to be over with. I definitely did not eat enough and relying in caffeine to give me energy was not working. While I was the first one in my heat to pick up my keg and get moving, I could not get that thing onto the platform. It seemed a foot taller than it was in training, and I had no explosiveness left in me. I came in last in this event, solidifying my place at the bottom of the scoresheet. img_0929

So to all of you who are bummed about your performance, I have good news! No one cares. I know, we all want to win. The competitive nature that drives us to train so hard also makes it difficult to cope with loss. I’ve now realized that at the end of the day, how I feel about my performance wont change my score. I am trying to focus on celebrating my personal accomplishments, instead of how I ranked against some if the strongest women in the nation.

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