Monday, February 18, 2013


I can't believe it's been a week since one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in fact a potentially life changing experience of competing at a Kettlebell Sport meet.  I'm not meaning to sound so dramatic, but there are many reasons why I feel this way, but for now I'm going to share what I learned about having fun and smiling!

Yes, I train and practice a lot!  But I don't train and practice this sport.  I've handled a kettlebell millions of times and that obviously helped me even be in a position to participate, but there is one big huge difference between the way I train and practice and the rules of the sport.  In Kettlebell Sport the events, the "test", the competition is done in one 10 minute long "set", either a snatch or a jerk (both are overhead skills), but you are only allowed to switch or change hands, right and left, one time! So, as soon as one side tires and you switch hands, that's it! You have to finish, if you can!  And that my friends was my first and only finish the entire 10 minute set, 5 min R, 5 min L.  Rep count was irrelevant!

I had never done this with a 12kg, ever before, although I have done something similar w/8kg and 10kg, but only a few times.  I have been playing with strength endurance of my overhead skill for years now, including long work sets without switching hands, and I have always included pacing work in my training, so I knew how hard this skill was.  But that's not all of it. To be able to train this way there are other techniques and skills involved, none of which I've ever practiced....ever!  So maybe now you can imagine what kind of pressure (and pride) I was feeling, especially considering I had 10 days to practice, 3 of those days I was traveling and unable away from my own workouts and comp bell.

Competition Day

Mark and I left for Orange County Saturday early morning and the competition started at 11:00am.  The day before I had decided that part on my visualization was to imagine the word "FUN" on a banner hung across whatever my mind was focused on.  Whatever was going to happen was going to happen and having fun was what it was all about....that and lasting the 10 minutes!  I was scheduled to compete in two events. The 5 minute "hardstyle" snatch test, of which I could choose any weight and use as many hand switches as I wanted to, and at the last minute (10 days earlier) I agreed to try my luck, and skill, at the single jerk for 10 minutes.  Up until that morning I had only completed two 4 minutes sets and one 6 minute set.

Lucky me I had a lot of support and confidence fr0m many many new friends, two of which, Roland and Galina Denzel I had only met one other time, last year when they both came to swing with me in San Clemente.  Galina has competed KB Sport for some time and was also scheduled to compete the single 10 min jerk.  She was in the 9th flight (I think) while I was in the 14th.....again luck was on my side that I got to watch Galina test first!

Throughout the entire 10 minutes Galina smiled.  It was obvious she was having fun and happy.  Didn't anyone tell her how hard this was?  Didn't anyone tell her that competition was about gutting it out, suffering through?  Which it is, but I forgot that, if it does in fact come down to gutting it out and suffering through, that's my kind of fun!

While I watched Galina effortlessly perform her set it became more and more clear that all I needed to do was smile!  Just smile!  Literally lift the corners of my mouth and smile. Smile if and when it started to feel hard because if for some reason I couldn't finish, at least I could feel happy, and look happy about whatever it was I did finish. I am truly convinced that this last bit, this last lesson in attitude, was the key to the success I felt before, during, and after I stepped on and off that platform.

To be honest I really did not know if I could do it, luckily I remembered to start the set with a smile! (you'll see it as the clock read 10 seconds before the start in top video!). I didn't look at the clock until 2 min 40 sec, and it didn't feel that hard, at this point there was no doubt I was going to go the distance.  Breathe and smile, breathe and smile, breathe and smile!  Every time I forced a smile it made me fell like nothing could stop me.  With every smile I felt a little laugher inside about the whole thing!

I did it!  And it was FUN!  Yes, it was hard too, but the kind of "hard" I like!  Afterwards I made sure to take Galina aside when she came over to congratulate me to tell her that it was her, her smile, that made all the difference to me during those ten minutes.(at 11:20 minutes in the top video you can see thanking her!)  It will be something I will take with me onto every platform I ever get the honor to stand on again.  It will be something I take with me in any situation I feel myself fear or doubt. It's just life.  Life is supposed to be good, and life is supposed to be fun.  Smile.

PS a little history about me and smiling.  As a young girl I had always been embarrassed, and even a little ashamed, about the gap between my two front teeth.  For that reason I spent most of my childhood, and adult years hiding my teeth (smile). It really wasn't until I approached my 40's I decided to "get over it" and choose to start feeling proud of myself, my teeth and my smile!  Erasing decades of my habit of hiding my teeth/smile has become a conscious effort, but one I'm proud to say I've recognized the importance of changing.  And every time I choose to smile it feels like a small victory towards creating the happiness, the lightness and the luck in my life.


Susan Hula B. said...

Oh my gosh Tracy this gives me goosebumps watching it!! How exciting for you! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the videos. It is almost like being there - well at least for a few minutes. You have so much to smile about. And a beautiful smile at that! Congratulations :)

Hanneke said...

Love this post ALOT!

Smiling is so important. It relaxes the body. I smile a lot during my races and it makes a big difference.

Did you read Running Within and/or Mind Gym? I love those books and they apply to all sports.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and strong! So proud of you, lady. Can I be like you when I grow up? :)

Tracy Reifkind said...


So much changed me that day! I almost wish I could do it over!

Thank you!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I will check out those books you recommend because just like my new practice in sport I've got a new practice in smiling!

Oh, and GS is a lot about knowing when to relax!

Tracy Reifkind said...


You don't have to grow up! I think that's the key! I refuse to grow up (that's what I have a husband for, lol....he's going to kill me for saying that!)

Juci RKC said...

Amazingly and mind blowingly awesome!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Amazing and mind blowing awesome is going to be my next competition! That one I'll train for!


Marla said...

I was smiling the whole time I read this and watched you compete.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Ah, thanks!