So we know I love lifting. I also love winning. I’ve loved winning a lot longer. Since I was old enough to compete in anything, I did. Summer reading program in elementary school? I read more than anyone else. Spelling bees, art, photography and writing contests, scholarships, you name it, if I entered I won. Get an A? Not enough – set the curve.
Why am I obsessed with winning? That’s not for me to figure out – maybe I’ll ask a psychologist sometime. But when people tell me winning isn’t everything, that I shouldn’t do things to win, I’m lost. They may as well be speaking Swahili. Telling me not to be competitive is like telling me not to be right-handed or not to have curly hair. I don’t know how to not care whether I win. I don’t understand not caring about winning.
Sometimes it’s winning over the weights. When I’m dragging that last rep of a deadlift up my legs and it seems there’s nothing left in me to get it that last three inches and Ben is yelling PULL and I don’t know how I possibly can move it another millimeter, I still do. And I’ve won. For now. There will always be a heavier weight, but for now I beat it.
But it’s not just winning over the weight. Records are a siren call for me. If the most anyone my size has ever done is [fill in the blank] I want to do five more pounds. They’re there to be broken, and I want to be the one to do it. Pushing to break the APA squat record fueled every workout leading up to the meet.
So when I saw the roster for the USAPL meet consisted of women who are all on record as lifting more than me — and I don’t mean a few measly pounds, these women are beasts — I was crushed. To someone who wants to win everything always, the idea of coming in last is heartbreaking. My logical mind gets that they’ve trained far longer than me — even the 18 year old (yes, I have to compete against bloody teenagers) has a head start on me. I’m outclassed and I know it, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to lose.
But here’s the thing. I still love lifting. Even if I can’t lift more than the other women who happen to be on stage the same day as I am, I can still try to beat the weights. I’ve fought an injury and haven’t trained nearly as much or as hard as I’d have liked, so even setting some personal records would be a huge accomplishment.
So when it comes down to it, if I have to pick winning, or lifting, I’m going with lifting. Winning feels amazing for a short time, but it fades. Continuing to face the weights, pushing myself past what I think I can do, celebrating tiny victories like getting to add weight to the bar for skullcrushers and completing 10 Turkish situps in a row without letting my feet leave the floor, that keeps me going every day.
But next year … then I plan to win.