I fought a constant battle when I was lifting with whether or not it was about the numbers. And though I finally learned it wasn’t, my chase of higher numbers ultimately led to my injury. We all know about hindsight and 20/20, and if I were to do it again I’d do it safer even if that meant slower (I’d like to think so, at least) but I’m still damn proud of what I accomplished in little more than a year — meeting all of my goals makes the heartbreak of leaving powerlifting a little more bearable. (Although I never got to find my true max on some of the lifts, and I’ll always wonder what I had in me.)
So on the eve of surgery and the next chapter, I want to look back at what this “last cheerleader to learn the steps of a routine, the last kid picked for dodgeball, and generally the puniest kid in class growing up” (as I described myself in my first post on this blog) managed to achieve by flinging myself full-force into training. If I get discouraged in the weeks of rest following surgery, and lose faith that I will ever be a badass again, I will look back at this and remind myself that if I had the power to do this, I can do something else that will feel just as incredible. I don’t have skillz to make a montage (oh, how cool that would be) but I’m so happy to have a collection of a few of the moments I’m most proud of.
I wanted more than anything to do an unassisted chin-up in the beginning. By the end, I could do one — with 30 pounds strapped to me. (Or 10 without weight)
From barely being able to bench the bar, I wanted a true bodyweight bench press — with competition style pause. I got it in November last year at 105, and was doing sets of five at 100 in January. My last workout (injured, no less!) I floor-pressed 110 for two, so I wonder what my true bench max was at the end? Bench is the one lift I can continue, so I look forward to getting back under the bar for that (ironic that I get to keep the lift with the smallest number).
I wanted to deadlift 200 pounds in 2011 and I got to 205 just in a regular workout one day. I was lifting on the minute, adding weight each time and not counting plates until my coach told me I was done. I was blown away to find I’d done 205, and I knew I had plenty left. We didn’t get a video, but did get one of 201 for two reps. Looking back I think this was at the beginning of the injury, so I at least had the sense not to try for the third I was meant to do. I’d really like to think I at least had a double bodyweight lift in me.
I couldn’t so a single strict push-up when I started. I loved the one-armed push-up scene in GI Jane, and one day for kicks tried it. And got it! I did two (but just caught the first on video – the second was even uglier than the first so that’s ok;) I also made my 2011 goal of 30 push-ups.
Then of course was the biggie. The monster. The goal that I dreamed about, fought for, and even if I can never squat again, will never be taken from me. The 200lb squat. Although the pain and despair I’ve felt because of this injury are equally intense as the joy and elation I felt at completing that lift, I know the memories of the pain will fade, but I will always be the woman in the lightest weight class who grew strong enough to squat 200 pounds.
There was also a 150 pound front squat, and I will always be grateful that on my last squat workout I hit a PR. I’m so terribly sad that I don’t have access to the video, but it was a 4×8 progressive set of squats, and on my last set I did 8 beautiful, to depth squats at 165 pounds. I have never done anything half-halfheartedly, and I’m so glad I went out big.
I don’t know what my next video-worthy accomplishment will be, but for now I look forward to getting on the road to recovery. Being able to go for a walk with my husband and dogs, breaking into dance in the living room if the mood strikes me, and knowing that I have the freedom and ability to try so many new things is all I need for now.