My Experience: Part Two - Olympic Weightlifting
After starting CrossFit at an affiliate, my strength just kept being the one thing that stood out as something that came easy to me. Even if my technique wasn't the best, I could still put up some bigger weights. I was 16, around 168lbs, and I had just recently snatched 165lbs and clean and jerked 200lbs.
People in my gym told me I should compete in a weightlifting meet just because I was really strong and would do well. Weightlifting as a sport wasn't as popular back then and I was still a junior. I didn't really want to compete just yet because I didn't feel like I was ready (news flash: you'll never feel ready), but my dad ever so kindly signed me up for a meet without telling me. :) :) :) :) :)
It was called the "Out Of Step Barbell Open" at Out Of Step Barbell/Out Of Step CrossFit! I didn't cut weight or anything since it was my first meet, and I ended up weighing in around 76kg. I think I snatched 66kg and c&j 85kg. I was 2nd in my weight class to Hannah Black that day and overall pretty pleased with my performance. My second meet was as a 69kg lifter which I did a little water cut for (thanks Hayden Bowe, my nutrition coach at the time). I was so excited to eat after those weigh ins, LOL. I didn't do too hot at this meet because the water cut took a lot out of me, BUT I didn't bomb out and I was still happy because that meet qualified me for USAW Junior Nationals!
Even though I competed as a 69kg, I was still on a trek to be a 63, so we kept a weight cut going for a little bit until a few weeks out from juniors, then Hayden increased my calories a little bit for a few weeks leading into juniors to keep my weight up a little bit. I weighed in at 66kg and some of my lifts got red lighted.. I think one of the judges actually fell asleep in my session and I'm blaming it on that hahaha. I think I only lifted 66/85.. again. BUT it was my first national meet and a great experience! I also got some major help in the back from Travis Mash because I was coach-less. After this, I hopped on Mash Mafia and started doing programming with him!
I was training primarily weightlifting and I don't really remember how much CrossFit I was doing at the time but I was probably doing a few metcons here and there. I was young so I could handle the volume from conditioning and weightlifting. My next meet was at CrossFit RVA for the RVA Open. I continued cutting for this meet after Junior Nationals to make it as a 63kg lifter and I did! I weighed in around 62kg and I had my best performance yet! 6/6 with 68/88. I was SO happy! I got first place in the junior division! Also I totally geeked out when Don McCauley congratulated me.
My next meet was another one in the fall of 2015 at the Out Of Step Barbell Open in the 63kg class. I had a PR total of 69/89 and was SO close to c&j 91kg which would have matched my all time PR and obviously set a meet PR. I went 5/6 at this meet but was extremely happy with it overall. Thanks Jamie Higham for the awesome photos!
Here's where the biiiiiig and awful weight cut comes into play. Junior Nationals was coming up in February and I had a good chance at medaling and/or potentially getting a spot on the Junior World team as a 58kg lifter, so of course I was going to drop a class. My weight was around 61.5kg at the time and I had been as light as 57kg that past summer.. so I thought I could do the cut safely without having to cut too much water weight the week of the meet. I was wrong. Very wrong. I got to around 59.5kg pretty easily just by manipulating my macros each week.. but once I got there, the weight would hardly budge anymore and I didn't want to drop my food more than I had to, so I thought I'd just leave the rest to the water cut. I water loaded the week of the meet. In a nutshell, this is when you drink a TON of water everyday so you pee a lot and as you taper the water down little by little each day, you keep peeing and you end up losing a lot of water weight. For the first time ever, even the water loading wasn't really helping me that much.
Friday of meet week, my weight was 130.6. I needed to be 127.8/58kg for weigh ins on Saturday. That's almost 3lbs that I needed to cut.. and I was already pretty lean and didn't have too much water weight to lose because I had been peeing SO much already and was dry as the Sahara. I limited my water intake a lot that day, almost didn't have ANY. I had some coffee in the morning because it's a diuretic and I was hoping it would help me #2 because hey that's extra weight that I don't need to have on me for weigh ins haha. The only thing I ate all day was a salad and I felt pretty crappy. It was around 7pm when we finally had access to a sauna at a local YMCA. My weight was still somehow in the low 130s even at the end of the day. I got in the sauna for only about 15min and almost passed out. I was so dehydrated and underfed, it was awful. I did meet a friend in there though who was also cutting weight (Hey Kira!)
Since the sauna didn't do anything for me, we had to resort to the infamous hot epsom salt baths aka the worst thing ever. I got back to the hotel room around 9pm (weigh ins were 11am next day) and we started the baths. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. My dad filled the bath tub with really hot water and we poured a bunch of epsom salt in it, I lay in it and the water is up to my neck. I spent 15min in the tub just sweating and it was miserable. The door to the bathroom was shut to keep the air as humid as possible, and when I got out of the tub, my dad would wipe me off super fast, tuck me under the bed covers, layer me with towels and blankets and then wrap my head with a towel so that my body would continue sweating even after getting out of the tub. I stayed "wrapped up" for about 10-12min and then my dad would basically rub me down with rubbing alcohol to soak up any excess water.
While I was cooling off from the bath, I was sucking on jolly ranchers or lemons/limes and spitting in a cup, once again to lose as many grams/ounces of water as I could. We went through that cycle about three times. I felt so miserable and definitely thought I was going to pass out at times, but I was so determined in the moment that I was going to make weight so I was doing everything I could. We kept doing the baths until I was 1lb over my weight class when I went to sleep because we figured I'd at least lose a pound overnight from sleeping. I didn't go to bed until 12:30-1am because we had been doing the baths for so long, but I slept okay and woke up literally RIGHT at weight. I still had a few hours til weigh ins so I just chilled and did some romwod in the hotel room and did some more jolly rancher spitting just to lose any extra weight if I could to have an advantage on other girls that might lift the same weight as me (this weight rule doesn't apply anymore in USAW).
I weighed in underweight, around 57.7 I think. Thank GOD. Right after weigh ins I pounded some deli meat, donut holes, reese cups, gatorade, and some other random stuff. I was so dang hungry and thirsty! During warm ups in the back, I felt SO weak. Mentally I felt great and my energy was good, but my muscles literally had nothing in them. I was missing weights in the back that I should easily be doing for a triple and we had to lower my openers a little bit because of that. I ended up finishing the day with 64/86. My third c&j had I made it would have given me a medal, and the totals were SO close to each other. I also got red lighted on a 67kg snatch for a little elbow press out unfortunately. My misses on c&j were because I could not stand up a clean to save my life. My legs took a huge hit from that water cut for sure and two hours just wasn't enough time to hydrate and recover. #24hourweighinspls
Below are some photos from the event! Big appreciation to Jerrod Ruhl for making a long trip to PA to be there for me and coach me alongside Travis Mash who was writing my programming at the time. & thanks to Courtney for coming to support me!! It was so nice seeing you again. <3 :)
Annnnnd last but not least, my weightlifting meet at the Arnold Classic! The only bad side to this competition was that it was during the second week of the CrossFit Open, so when I got back, I only had Monday to do the workout (16.2) which was stressful, but I pulled out a good score for me! Ok - back to the meet. I was competing in the junior category in this meet, but the cool thing was that there were no weight classes! It was all based off of sinclair AND there were cash prizes. Since just coming off of junior nationals, my weight was staying pretty low (around 59kg) soo it was nice not to have to cut weight for this or worry about weigh ins! Travis was there with his Mash Mafia team and he guided me through warm ups. I think I only snatched 63 but with a c&j at 89. Snatches didn't feel too hot for some reason, but my last save on clean and jerk was probably one of the most impressive saves I've ever done. See below (thx hookgrip) I ended up winning the junior category on sinclair which was awesome!
There ya have it! The Arnold Weightlifting Championship was my last olympic weightlifting meet. Stay tuned next week for Part 3 on my Powerlifting experience!