Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Argh, the gory details of my 10 minute (technically), I mean 9 minute 12kg jerk set

I'm spoiled.  I was spoiled.  I was quickly spanked.

It's been 5 days since my weekend competition and I'm a completely different person today than I was, oh about 4 days and 10 hours ago.  Something so unpredictable happened to me in my first set of the morning that left me blindsided.  Of course it's never happened to me before because I've never been a competitive athlete before! Long story short...okay, long story long....

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'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, 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!


John Wild Buckley said...

I had not thought about the clicker lol. I us it so often I don't even know when I hold it anymore. Actually, when I was watching the video with Mark I started clicking your reps :-)

You are finding it Tracy. Huge. Step. Forward.

Jen said...

You are such an inspiration! And, no, it didn't look that bad...122 is a lot of reps, jeez! Next time....

Tracy Reifkind said...


I'm just trying to be a good storyteller! Nothing personal taken, but body language can be interesting!

Thanks for everything.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Really? I didn't look "that bad"? LOL! It's fine! Hey, I'm putting myself out there! And you are right! 122 reps is a lot! Jeez! Next time it'll be with the 16kg! Fingers crossed!

Thanks for commenting!

Maribel said...

After reading your recap, I was expecting some sort of disaster video...not the case at all!

Right side looked good, strong! The pause after the switch wasn't long, but I can see how it would feel that way.

I don't know Tracy, from over here, you're still a huge inspiration. You're a fighter and this is proof...not that we needed it.

See you bright and early tomorrow!

Fireman Tom said...


I thought I was just proud of you for sticking it out for the whole ten minutes, but I am even more proud of this post! It takes a lot of guts to face all the issues you write about, and sharing them with others is going to be a great inspiration to people.

You are learning what it is like to be an "athlete", not just an exerciser. One is not better or worse than the other- they are very different. The stage, the judges, the crowd, the parameters, the build-up, the "one time only" situation and the competitiveness of an athletic event are a lot of things for a newcomer to process. You will learn tons of things at each meet. Just be sure to always keep it positive - NO ONE is perfect, and even the best can get better.

Can't wait for the next post! ;-)

Tom Corrigan

Jen said...

LOL, Tracy! Well, the way you described it after the hand switch, I was expecting you to just stand there or something, lol!! That was hardly the case - it's abundantly clear you fought hard! I know I can't do that yet! I bet you'll be setting records soon! :-) You're awesome!

Will Parker - Strength/Conditioning Coach said...

You continue to inspire me with your journey from Hardstyle roots to Girevoy Sport. Thank you for sharing your story. Your courage is contagious!

Keep the goods coming ;)

Judit Lantos said...

as Maribel said.
My respect for you has grown even more when I saw your struggle. Besides, the left arm jerks didn't look bad at all! Except for the last ones, but I think this is what makes a fighter.
Yeah, this was awesome! Keep calm and continue kicking ass :)

shortnginger said...

great report and video tracy - despite what your telling us and yourself - that is one fabulous effort and as you say (and the rest of know) you will be back stronger and more dialled in than ever next time - good luck!

Diana said...

The video was great...shows a true athlete learning.
The most prolific days of your life won't be easy. It's not in the serenity of your comfort zone or the inactivity of a lazy day that drives greatness. Great demands drive the growth of great virtues.

Debbie said...

you are amazing! Like others, I was expecting a disaster...not the case at all.! You did great!!! Try not to be so hard on yourself. You give so much!! THank you!!

John Beamon said...

Good score, Tracy. In my last meet with double 20 long cycle, I lost control of a drop from the rack. The bells went straight down, and I nearly dropped one. That was rep #2. It was all mental at that point, and I finished with an 8 rep PR and the full 10:00. You remember it, you forget it, and you move on. Welcome to the sport. You got a remarkable score; don't ever discount that.

Hanneke said...

Respect, really great respect. It's not easy to show your weaker moments. And because of that I don't think it's a weaker moment at all. I am curious about your potential, the sky is the limit!

This does remind me a little bit about of course a race (running). So many, and I have made that mistake too go out too fast. Just because of the excitement, the anticipation and the adrenaline. But it ALWAYS catches up with you somewhere along the line. You just have to have done it as a beginner to know that you have to really pace yourself. You can't control the outcome, only every step (rep) that leads to that outcome.
It's a mind game, and I love it!!!

You rock!! :)))

chrystad72 said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story and I want to start out by by saying you did absolutely amazing!! Not only did you body look strong but that takes some serious mental strength as well to push thru when the body is under stress like that. So way to go! You should be proud. =)

Mike Moran said...

When I had to take my Green belt test I had to fight a really good Black Belt. I had a similar situation where after a few rounds I locked up. Nerves. I got over it but it was humiliating. Now I myself am a 2nd Degree Blackbelt. I never gave up and I know you won't give up! Good job! Time to whoop that 16kg!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I can't wait until it's your turn! 10 minutes, one hand switch! You can do it!

Tracy Reifkind said...

Fireman Tom,

Thank you for your comments here on my blog! I remember when I was getting ready for the last meet and your comment about observing the transition from an exerciser to sport, and how that would play out.

Obviously it's just starting for me, but I was happy that John recognized that this exerciser might be suited for this sport and invited me to play a could have gone the other way for sure!

"even the best can get better"....I like that!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you. At first I thought I would forget my Hardstyle "style"! Learning new movement patterns that would take over the old. In fact I asked Tricia Dong (RKC SFG and a ranking GS althete) how she does it and she told me that some of her clients gravitate towards one or the other. She never had a hard time separating them.

I'm now experiencing the same thing. I can go back and forth without thinking too much of it. It's like learning tow different swimming style, the breast stroke and maybe freestyle, when you are performing one you don't revert back into the other, you just swim a different way! You can do both, but maybe you are better at one than the other, more "natural" (maybe that's not a good analogy, but you get my point)

Anyway...I'm having fun, and I really don't know what the big deal was ever about. I never had anything against GS style or the athletes. But now I have an even higher respect.

Fireman Tom said...


so glad you better understand where I was coming from with my "exerciser" comment a while ago.

And JWB wasn't the only one who saw your potential. But the person has to be "ready" to learn a new language with their body. It is not something you can talk or push someone into successfully, IMHO.

So glad you decided to "stay and play"!

Aaron Friday said...

Hi Tracy. This was a fantastic effort. The internet is full of people posting videos of themselves at their best ~ whenever it happened. When you compete, you have to do it right then and there, in front of judges, after making weight. Now that you've been through it, you can prepare for it in advance and do even better next time.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you! I've got a lot of training to do on my left side and this made it even more apparent that one can only ignore weakness for so long!

I hear you've been doing some other lifting too! How's that going?

Tracy Reifkind said...

S and G,

I'm just glad I've got until August! Exciting times for me.

Thank you!

Tracy Reifkind said...


"Great demands drive the growth of great virtues."

This is a demanding sport...aren't they all though?

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you, but I think if I had just been able get another rep or two in the whole last minute I would not have felt like a wasted so much precious time.

oh well, next time!

Tracy Reifkind said...

John Beamon,

It was a good score! Thank you! I'm sure I've got lots more fun times coming and that's what makes competition so special. Everything has changed for me in a good way.

Tracy Reifkind said...


That whole weekend was mental! Silliness, not seriousness....or at least not enough seriousness...and I don't mean that as if there was some kind of medal or title at stake.

Pacing is definitely something I'm going to be working on and is at the forefront of this practice. Anytime you have to perform for an extended period of time, endurance, you just can't afford to run out of gas. Yes, rep count is the goal, but as I'm learning, lasting the entire 10 minutes may be more honorable. Skill, and honor!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I got my numbers. I did my best 'that' day. Thanks for the support!

Tracy Reifkind said...


yep, that's exactly how I felt! Funny thing...I should have posted my first competition video next to this one! There is no way I should not be proud of this set compared to what I could do just 3 months ago!


Tracy Reifkind said...


Wow, what nice things to say! And lots of things became much more clear about competitive sport after my first meet. All of the points you make can only be understood, really understood by someone that goes through it.

Of course I often think about Fawn and her drive to compete and now I know why. I just had never found 'my' sport. It may have been obvious that GS would suite me, but there had been so much criticism in the Hardstyle community about it (although I never disrespected it), and all I can say is "get on the platform and try it!"

Thanks a lot for commenting, it made my day!

Russ Moon said...

You have the courage to put yourself out there all the way, no one can ever take that away from you.

You learned things you will never do again, the key being you learned.

There is nothing but honor and strength in your performance.

I aspire to handle suffering the way you did.

You and Mark are both absolute gems and gold standards.

Yes, it makes all the difference when your spouse supports your practice. The two of you are a team.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you for all of that and especially the last part about having the support of the most important person in you life, your spouse.

Back when mark was powerlifting I was not interested in any of it BUT I also never came in between any kind of training or competition he wanted to do, ever. I never asked him to miss a workout or that he couldn't go to a meet/comp anywhere in the country or the world.

But he always would ask me to come. He would always tell me how the other wives were there. I was too embarrassed about myself and how I looked at the time, not to mention that sitting around all day watching something I didn't really understand was not my kind of fun.

It wasn't supposed to be about me though! It was about him and his passion, drive and expression of his strength and commitment. Looking back it was a big mistake to not be there, but I can't change it and now here we are (Mark and I), in a great place together.

I'm very lucky indeed. Mark and I live and breath this together. Not the competition, but the lifestyle, I'm very lucky indeed.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy, I met you a few years ago doing RKC in Hungary. I was in Mark's group. I 'm really interested to read you are taking part in GS. I've been competing for just under a year now. Gaining some success over here in the UK.
Like you I've been working on the 12kg - won silver for my weight class in Manchester. Now, like you I'm about to take on the 16kg challenge. I'll follow you with interest. Good luck and have fun