Live from Scranton, it's the night before the meet

It starts in 12 hours when I weigh in at 7 a.m. for the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals.

But really, it started when I walked into Derby City CrossFit last fall, just hoping to lose a few pounds and “tone up.” From the day I learned I could challenge my body and find and push through its limits I’ve craved that push. I haven’t found what I’m really capable of yet. And hopefully I won’t, because this is just the beginning.

“There is always more weight to add,” said a powerlifter in the documentary Power Unlimited. And that’s it in a nutshell. There’s always more. I had a great, shiny goal of a bodyweight squat from just about the time Ben first put a barbell on my back. I was the king of the world the first time I rose, shaking, with 112 pounds on my back (I was still losing weight then). Then I had a goal of 150, which terrified me when I made it. Then I dreamed of 180 to break the APA record and to my immense delight got that. Now I want 200. A number that would have seemed too ludicrous to even consider a year ago is within my reach. I’ve trained for it, I’ve rested, I’ve eaten right, I’ve skipped cocktail hour for the last month, and now for the hardest part of all, I wait for tomorrow at 9 a.m. when I go under the bar in front of three judges, an audience and a camera streaming the meet live online.

I go for 175 first. I need to crush it — bury it — and stand up tall. Then I go back for 190. I hit 190 two weeks ago and still felt strong. I just need to go deep, get my knees out and my chest up and come up strong. Then I go under the bar for 200. I’ve practiced unracking 200 before, know the feel of the weight on my back. It’s heavy. There’s no getting around that. But I know I have the strength and the training to go under that weight and bring it back up. So that’s just what I’ll do. My heart will be racing and my palms sweating and even if I’ve just gone I will feel most urgently like I need to hit the ladies’ room, but once I get under the bar none of that will exist. I’ve found that when I hit a PR I never remember the lift afterward. Something other than my rational mind takes over and when I rack the bar my hands will be trembling, I’ll be grinning ear to ear and I won’t be able to recall any of it. It’s the purest exhilaration I’ve known since growing up and I can’t wait to experience it tomorrow.

I have more goals tomorrow, of course. I want a bodyweight bench and if my day goes extraordinarily well, a 200 pound deadlift. At my last workout this week, Ben commented on my newfound deadlift set-up skills, “If you do it like that at the meet you will pull as much weight as I put on that bar.” So I’m going to trust in that, grab that bar, and rip it off the floor. And I will high five my coach and friends and go get a mimosa, watch Susan crush her weights to meet her goals, then celebrate, and start to plot my next goals. Because there’s always more weight to add.

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