2014 Arnold Sports Festival StartingStrength.com Pro Raw Challenge – Silver, Satisfaction, and Gum

2014 Arnold Sports Festival StartingStrength.com Pro Raw Challenge – Silver, Satisfaction, and Gum

Mar 6, 2014

I have to say, the Arnolds might be my favorite meet at this point.  Like States, it’s pretty low stress for me since it doesn’t qualify for anything else.  It might even be the most low stress meet since I knew going in that there was no way I was going to be in the top 3 by wilks.  So it really just turns into a chance to lift on a big stage and see (or meet for the first time) a mess of teammates and fellow powerlifters.  And like last year, the energy in at the meet overall was fantastic.

Getting There

We drove to Columbus.   Some of this is just that it was going to be cheaper but I’m also starting to wonder if something about getting on a plane screws up my lifting mojo.  Six and a half hours of driving is probably just about my limit on how far I’m willing to drive to get to a meet though.  It’s just long enough for me to become that annoying person that starts asking “Are we there yet?” like every 20 minutes.  Yes, it happens even if I’m  the one driving.

I was looking forward to a nice, uneventful drive this year.  Not like the freezing rain and snow we had for most of the drive last year.  But no…….  This year we had sun, wind, clouds, WIND, sun, SNOW (like full blown blizzard for 15 minutes or so), sun, more snow, sun and clouds.  As my co-pilot pointed out, Mother Nature is clearly off her meds.

But we got there in good time and all in one piece so that’s the important bit.

The Meet

I never sleep well the night before meets.  There are too many strange sounds in hotels that wake me up and then I have a small freak out that I’ve slept through my alarm and missed weigh in which makes it harder to go back to sleep.  So when the alarm finally did go off, I was really relieved.

So we got to the Convention Center without any real drama.  Checked-in, weighed-in, got rack heights, peed for like the 3rd time in the hour and a half I’d been awake, and started getting loose and planning for my warm-ups.  I absolutely believe that this is the hardest part of any meet for me.  All the chaos of getting the administrative stuff done and then the waiting.

I still get incredibly nervous.  Every meet I’m sure that this is going to be the meet where I throw up on the head judge.  I sit there wondering why I put myself through this.  Why I need to compete instead of just hanging at the gym and being as strong as possible.  But I also know that’s just the nerves talking and I can’t imagine not competing.


So warm-ups done, we headed off to wait for my first attempt.  I noticed that they’ve thoughtfully moved the head judge to the side.  I’m sure it was just so the audience could see better but it’s safer for him over there so that’s good.  I opened at 175kg (385lbs) and it felt great.  Way better than my warm-ups and …….  three red lights for depth.  Hmmmmm…….  That’s never happened before.  I mean I’ve gotten red lit for depth but not from ALL the judges.  Ok.  (I also have to say, looking at the video, I was definitely a little high.)  We decided to go up anyway.  We know from experience that my first squat is always a little ugly because of the nerves.  I’ve taken  to looking at it one of two ways:  1) If I make it than I’m in the meet and we can just move on.  2) If I miss it then the worst thing that can happen has happened.  Might as well move on and get over it.  It’s pretty convenient that both of these outlooks have the same end result for me.  We move on.

My second attempt was at 185kg (407lbs).  Three white lights.

And finally…..the 192.5kg (424) I missed at Nats.

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKih6ggvKKQ[/pro-player]

I have to say, I’m pretty damn happy with this.  It was a little slow once I got out of the hole but it felt great.  We’re pretty sure this wasn’t really my max and I’m looking forward to see how much more I can get over the next couple of months.


After the squats, I was pretty much settled in.  Bench was good and didn’t have any real drama.  I went 85kg (187lbs), 92.5kg (203lbs) and 100kg (200lbs).

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgP1jtDqMZw[/pro-player]

My second attempt was the only one that was a little weird.  I felt a little rushed getting my wrist wraps on for my first attempt so I starting putting them on a little bit earlier for my second.  But I started too soon and by the time I walked to the bench, both my pinkies were starting to go numb.  It didn’t stop me from getting it but it was a little distracting and it wasn’t as clean as I would have liked.  And just like with my squat, my last attempt felt really good and not really like a max.


I was pretty highly caffeinated by the time we got to deadlift.  Like so caffeinated that I could almost feel my hair growing.  So it’s probably a good thing that someone spilled the last half a bottle of my pre-workout (which was actually my pre-deadlift pre-workout since I’d already had a whole bottle of it during my squats).  Warm-ups were super quick and felt good.

Attempts were 175kg (385lbs), 182.5kg (403lbs) and 190kg(419lbs)….

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p7UROzh4yY[/pro-player]

I’m almost as happy about this as I am about my squat.  But it was a good bit uglier.  Looking at the video, I totally understand why I got the red light that I did.  A friend sitting in the front row actually said she could see the “oh shit” look on my face when it slowed down after the bar passed my knees.  So we know where we need to focus some of the training going forward.

And if you want to see my whole meet all in one place (minus my first bench where we had technical difficulties):

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/edit?video_referrer=watch&video_id=na4iJ2XebDY[/pro-player]

On the whole, this is probably the most satisfied I’ve been with a meet in a long time.  I went 8/9 and ended up with a 482.5kg/1063.25 total.  I went into it healthy (unlike Maryland States), I hit all the numbers I wanted/planned and didn’t come out with any more body weird than I went in with.

The podium

Other Randomness

My co-pilot is appalled by the lack of Classic Rock and general Hair Band and on my iPhone. I have been informed that there will be no further road trips until this is corrected. (No, I don’t know how I’ve managed to not have any Queen, Rush or Kansas.  I have been properly shamed…..)

I chew an unreasonable amount of gum when I lift.  Figuring out what I’m going to do with the gum while I’m lifting so I don’t choke on it is tiny little distraction that keeps me from thinking too hard when I lift (because if it were to ever happen, I know like 4 people that would totally post the video of it and I would become “that girl”.)  This meet, I chewed so much my jaw hurt the next day.  I’m obviously going to have to work on my endurance.

Powerlifting meets are probably the only place where you can check people out (and be checked out) and not have it be creepy.  And their reason for checking you out is completely different than the usual.  Comments overheard that prove that:  ”  Dude, look at her back!  I bet her bench is huge.”  And “His ass is huge.  If my ass was that big, my squat would be awesome!”

The Cap City Diner is fantastic!  If you’re in Columbus, GO!  Especially if you’re staying at the meet hotel.  Everything we’ve ordered has been fantastic (and ginormous) and the waitstaff is great.

And speaking of that……  There is an unreasonable amount of dietary debauchery when I travel for meets.  I should probably work on that.

Thank You!

And now for the really important bit (and in no particular order because the ADD is bad today)……

Thank you to Iron Authority for continuing to sponsor me and for bringing some great teammates into my life.  Competing is way more fun when you’re surrounded by a team like this.  I’ve even mostly forgiven Jack DiBenedetto for the nonsense at the end of his meet video.  Mostly……….

Thank you to to Crossfit BWI for giving me a great place to train and people to train with.  It’s hard to believe how fast the last 4 years have gone.

Thank you to Coach Ryan for putting up with most my BS and coming all the way to Ohio to keep me out of trouble (because I still need adult supervision) and Coach Jared for putting up with the rest of my BS and making sure I don’t die while I’m benching.

Thanks you to TriSept Corporation for continuing to sponsor me.  I can’t say how much it means to me to work for a company that cares so much for their employees.

Thank you to my co-pilot and videographer who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.  The drive wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining without you and I wouldn’t have all the pretty video.

Thank you to my husband who toughed out the flu by himself so I could go to the meet.  I love you and I couldn’t do all of this without your support.

And last but not least…..  Thank you to all the StartingStrength.com, Rogue, Titan, SSPT, Brown’s Gym and all the sponsors and volunteers that made the Arnolds possible.  We all get to show off the sport we love because of you.





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