I'm spoiled. I was spoiled. I was quickly spanked.
First set, 3rd flight, 10:30am, 10 minute jerk, 12kg. No problem. I wasn't at all afraid of lasting the ten minutes like I was the first time, I've put in enough practice, and with my all of the training I've done and handling of the bell for the past 7 years the 12kg is entry level. But, like everybody else I had to complete Level 1 in order to advance to a heavier bell. As my coach John Wild Buckley says it, I had to "put the 12kg to bed." I had a certain number in my head of 130 reps (my first ever total was 90 reps almost 3 months ago) just under and based on Galina Denzels total, a friend I had competed alongside to in February. I had practiced a 24 RPM pace enough to know that in competition, with added benefit of adrenaline, the outcome could be even better!
The set starts. Feeling great. Feeling more than great. The bell felt light. I had already decided to go over the 5 minute half way mark with my "stronger" starting side (R) because in practice it was always my "strong" L side that petered out in the last 30 seconds, just after the 4 minutes of continuous reps. Fine, no problem. Great plan, although I had never tested it that way.
Smokin' pace, in fact over 30 reps per minute! At the 6 minute mark, where I pre decided I would switch to my L, I had 92 reps! 2 reps more at 6 minutes with only one hand, my right, than my last entire total! I was unstoppable. Next to me a seasoned veteran of whom I have the highest respect for, Rebecca Taylor Riggs, same bell size (one weight class under). At one point I was matching her rep for rep and then the hand switch.....
Of all the things I was worried about going into the competition it was dropping the bell during the transfer from R to L. But a it was a seamless and smooth transition. Uh oh....it's now firmly and safely in my left hand, but I'm not moving. I froze. My nervous system shut down and I was paralyzed. What the heck just happened? I couldn't move. I could not make my body move in the way I knew it needed to in order to complete one jerk. Not one rep. I kept thinking that all I had to do was to catch my breath....but it wasn't my breath, it wasn't my strength, it was that my body and my brain were completely disconnected.
Mark explains that I probably went over 100% effort on my stronger side, creating a huge load on my nervous system from the opposite side of my body (my right side), and that resulted in my left hip just shutting off. Panic started to set in. All I could think about was that with only one hand switch I could not go back to my R side, to the groove I had so effortlessly found just seconds before. In fact, looking back at it I felt as if I could have done the whole ten minutes without ever switching, WHY DID I SWITCH, WHY? Because I had to, and that was not the problem! 6 minutes with 4 minutes remaining is a long time, and I would have most likely crashed and burned even worse!
Okay, so there I was paralyzed, and I'm not kidding! It seemed an eternity.....I could only try and focus on the task at hand. In my head I went down the list, repeating the order to the technique as I know it, starting with the very first step, "set up...elbow on hip..." When you get there, "drop your knees under your hips, load your quads, explode out of the stretch, jump under the bell and lock out..." Nope, I couldn't budge. I repeated, "Set up, elbow on hip......drop your knees under your hips, load your quads, explode out of the stretch, jump under the bell, lock out..." Nothing.
Between feeling devastated and trying to pull my head out of my ass somehow I managed to move my body and gut out one rep. It was the "old" hardstyle type of jerk that I knew would take me no where. I loaded my hips instead of my quads and squatted the bell into the air. Well, that was ugly! Okay, okay...here goes again I can't give up...this is impossible, this can not be happening.... Yes, finally, omg, am I really getting some reps? It can't be. I was feeling so out of communication with my movement, but keep going. It's a freakin' miracle once I looked at the video because I truly do not remember one good rep from this point on before I feel it start to fade again. My body and mind disconnected, it just won't do what I want it to do.
Here's the thing. I know "Hardstyle" jerks will only get me so far. Even though I knew how to execute GS jerks I could not move my body through the sequence. I could hear it in my head, but maybe this is where my amateur brain did not think to visualize it strong enough to relax and trust...and feel. I had been blindsided, never knowing about this kind of possibile experience. But I do now!
To be honest I'm not all that excited to post the video and let me warn you the last minute is R rated.
The last minute. The last MINUTE? Good God! As I approached the nine minute mark a couple of my reps were not good, and and I knew it. The reps were called as such, "No count, push press." After the last meager attempt just before the 9 minute mark I never gave up hope. I knew I had kicked some serious ass before the switch, and I never gave up hope of the 130 rep count I had dreamed about. Just one more, just one more....I'm getting teary now just recounting it. But still I couldn't move correctly, I just couldn't make it happen.
"ONE MINUTE!" remaining.
Out of the blue Rebecca, kicking and hauling ass of her own during her own set on the platform to the left of me, shouts out, "C'mon Tracy!"
I kept praying, "One more rep, shit, just one? Please? Damn, fuck, I can't believe it! You are so much better than this, just one more. Please, get it together, you can do it...feel it...nope, damn. Shit." I hear Mark in the background, "Calm down!" Whoops...fuck it I don't care, I'm pissed!
I can feel John, my coach, get up from his sitting position behind me. For some crazy reason I found this comforting. Of course he couldn't rescue me, but at least he could see that his efforts now just needed to be that of reassurance. "Don't put the bell down! C'mon, just a few more seconds, you got it!"
I wasn't planning on putting the bell down ever! It was not my strength that was gone. It was not my will that was gone. It was not the belief in myself that was gone. As John would say it was not my heart that was gone. None of it ever left me. If anything I was embarrassed, and 130 never seemed impossible.
Bottom line, end of story. I did not complete one more rep for over an entire minute. I completed 92 rep on my R side before switching to my L. Somehow I pulled another 30 reps out of my ass in 3 of the 4 minutes remaining on my L side. Total 122, eight reps under my own secret ambition.
This is only the recount of my jerk set! So many things lead up to this outcome and so many lessoned learned. I'm not blaming any other one event prior to this result, but looking back on the entire experience there is a long list of things I will never ever do the same again!
At the end of the day, if I expect to share the platform with extraordinary athletes that live and breath this sport, then I better put my big girl pants on and bring my best. What is my best? I promise from this point forward she will be at the next meet and every one afterwards!
More to come! After all I still had a 10 minute 12kg snatch set to do!
Thanks for listening!
PS The most painful part of this video is after John stands up and twirls the rep counter around his fingers into his hand, almost "wrapping it up" knowing he would not need it to count another rep. :( sad face! Personally I've only watched it in it's entirely one time. I'm trusting any of you that are motivated to sit through the 10 minutes of video to comfort me by telling me that it wasn't that bad! In the last minute I do my share of cursing and I apologize. I really couldn't believe what was happening, but I never gave up.
A very deep special thanks to Rebecca who kicked serious ass! To John, of course. To Sara Lightfoot, super bad ass 16kg snatcher that I can dream of being like! (Juno rocks!) To Tom Corrigan, of whom you might meet in my next blog post about my snatch set, and all the new strong friends that I met during this very special GS adventure!
And of course, my loving and supportive husband to whom none of this could ever possibly have happened. Who flew in Saturday morning and took a $70 cab ride to get to my see my first set in time! He's the best, and always there when I need him!