I can’t remember the last time I felt as nervous as I did last Sunday morning. They were proper stomach churning, can’t eat anything, think I might be sick nerves. I’d had a restless night’s sleep and couldn’t stomach much breakfast so as I made my way to the Bridge Road Barbell Club I wasn’t feeling very confident about how I would do at all.
Arriving at the venue didn’t make me feel any better to begin with. I registered, weighed in and got changed into my T-shirt and started looking around the room at the other women who were in my weight class. That made me feel even more nervous!
But as I got talking to a couple of the women my nerves started to ease a bit. For most it was also their first competition and most of them were worried about at least one of the events. Not just me then.
The event that was worrying me the most was first up. A 120kg deadlift as many times as possible in a minute. My one rep max going into the competition was 120kg – I’d managed it once. I had reconciled myself to being happy with equaling that and being delighted if I managed more than one rep. I’d decided that it was good that the event was first, get it out of the way and then forget about it.
The order in which we were going to lift had been chosen at random for the first event. I was drawn third. I was happy with that – I did not want to be first. Soon it was time to begin and the first woman was up on the platform. I was quite surprised/relieved when she didn’t manage to lift the bar at all. I relaxed a little bit – if I only managed one rep it was going to be OK. The next competitor was on the platform and she too failed to lift the bar. I was now feeling even more surprised, there were 5 of us in the category so as long as I lifted one rep I was going to place 3rd in this first event.
The time between me walking onto the platform and coming off again is all a bit of a blur. We were told to start and I lifted the bar – it felt a lot easier than when I’d previously lifted the weight so I lifted it again, and then again. I lifted until I thought I couldn’t lift anymore and was about to walk away from the bar when someone shouted “you’ve got 15 seconds left, time for another rep” and I somehow managed to lift the bar again. I can’t really explain what happened on the platform – a combination of being well rested and full of adrenaline I suspect – but I somehow managed to complete 7 reps. Absolutely above and beyond my expectations. I was delighted and elated.
One of the things I hadn’t really thought about much was how I’d feel after each event and how much time we’d have in-between. Next up was the overhead medley but my heart was racing and I was quite shaky so I had to calm myself down and prepare. Luckily we got to watch all the women in the under 75kg category first which gave me a bit more time to recover. I was up first in my category for this event and was soon walking towards the line of implements for my turn.
The 20kg kettlebell went up no problem. Next up was the keg. Me and the kegs have had a bit of a turbulent relationship its fair to say and 45kg was going to be a new PB. I really struggled with it and failed a few times to get it overhead. I was running out of time when someone shouted “get aggressive with it” and that’s what I did. It took pretty much all my strength to get that keg overhead, but overhead it went. I had just enough time for an attempt on the 45kg axle but it wasn’t going to happen.
I walked away quite disappointed. I knew I could do the axle and dumbbell that came next and would have had a good go at the 55kg log but I didn’t get to try as I spent so long battling with that keg. As it turned out that keg got the better of all but one of the other women – so I placed second in the event despite only lifting two implements.
Next up was the loaded carries. A 170kg yoke into 70kg in each hand farmers walk. I knew I could do both of these so was feeling pretty good. I was 4th to go this time around so I got to watch the others go first – two ladies failed to complete the yoke but the third did both parts of the event – I needed to be quick. And that’s what I was. The yoke is heavy, there’s no getting away from that but I’d done it several times in training and as soon as I lifted it off the floor I knew I was going to be OK. The farmers handles actually felt quite easy and I felt like I was nearly running with them. I was really pleased when I realised that I’d won.
The final two events definitely weren’t my best. The sandbag medley was first. I managed the 50 and 60kg and I got the 70kg one off the floor and moved it a couple of inches. I timed out and didn’t get to the sled drag of the duck walk, both of which I know I could have done.
Last up was the atlas stones. I’ve only ever tried these once before so had no real expectations of how I’d do. So I was pretty pleased to get the 50kg onto the platform but the 60kg stone wouldn’t budge off the floor. One of the other competitors had got some reverse duct tape wound around her arms, which having checked with the judges was allowed – something for me to think about the next time!
I’d sort of been keeping an eye on the scores as the events had unfolded and had a feeling that I’d done OK. I had one public goal coming into the day and that was to lift as well as I could. Despite feeling frustrated about the keg, it was still a personal best and to deadlift 7 reps at 120kg was bordering on miraculous, so I’d well and truly achieved that one. I’d also set a couple of goals that I’d not told anyone about. The first was to not come last and the ‘stretch’ goal was to place. When the scores were added up I was in third place and only one point away from second. I was absolutely delighted.
I absolutely loved my first strongwoman competition and I think it’s safe to say that I’m hooked on the sport. I want to say a massive thank you to my PT Jess Wolny (pictured above) who was the person who suggested I tried strongwoman training and has trained me for the event since January. Also a big thank to her husband Joel for being official cameraman on the day and for the awesome video (see below). To James at Skorpion Fitness where I train on a Saturday morning – those yoke and farmers sessions in the cold and rain definitely paid off. I was so grateful for the support I had on the day – thanks to Sue and Deb for coming along, it meant a lot to have you there cheering me on. And a huge thanks to all the other competitors that I met on the day – everyone was lovely and so supportive, cheering each other on even if it meant someone doing better than you. Strong women indeed.
And finally a massive thank you to Phil and his team at Bridge Road Barbell club for a really well organised competition – I would never have guessed it was your first. Great atmosphere, loads of support from your crew, excellent judging and really well organised. I wish I lived closer as I’d definitely pop in to train!
To finish here’s a video of my highlights from the day.