Monday, July 21, 2014

Death Day (aka: Strongman Competition)

As many of you know, the strongman competition at SportsFest was yesterday.  (I'm sure those who are friends with me on facebook were well aware!)  Let me start off by saying, I was terrified.  Seriously.  The whole way over to Allentown, I felt like I was going to puke.  I think my hands were shaking while I was filling out the info for my North American Strongman membership.  (Yep.  I'm now an official member.  Not yet card-carrying, but that'll come in the mail eventually.)  I knew no one.  Well, except for Paul and Heather, who I met at the strongman training I did a couple weeks ago.  But I didn't know any of the other competitors.  I didn't know if they were douches or cool.  Hell, I've never even been to a strongman competition before.

I was so far outta my comfort zone, I might as well have been on the frozen tundras of Russia.  (Does Russia have frozen tundras?  I think so.)

My personal theme up to the start of the competition was Death.  Because I was certain I would die.

Those of you who read my blog on the strongman training I attended, you know that I was pretty apprehensive about things.  I left the training feeling mildly defeated.  Sure, I got a lot of great tips from Paul and Heather, but well, I sucked.  So I was certain I was going to make an ass out of myself at the competition.

First Event:
Max Log Press - 30 second time limit, Wessles Rule: must make an attempt to get another, max 3 attempts, miss any attempt and you're done.  10lb jumps for women.

I had talked to my trainer at WarriorFit about this one after I went to the strongman training thing.  At the training, I got 80lbs, struggled with 90, and couldn't hit 100.  We decided that since I was doing this for fun, I should take the conservative approach. 

I opened at 80, and hit it easy.  Next up was 90....cake.  On my third attempt I hit 100 easy.  I was kicking myself.  I really should have opened at 80, skipped 90 and went right to 100, then tried 110.  But, well.....I had no strategy going into this.  (This is probably the only event I wish I would have tried harder in.  But, it was the very first event.  I was terrified.  I was actually the first gal to pick up the log and lift it....mainly b/c everyone else was waiting for the heavier weights.  But for me to step up, and be the first....well, that's a pretty big deal for me.)  

Getting ready to press the 100# purdy pink log.

Oh, and if you're wondering why everyone is wearing orange shirts, it's because we were all asked to wear the event shirt for the first four events.  (The tacky used in the last event would wreck them.)  70 people signed up to participate, so seeing all of us in orange was pretty cool.

Second Event:
Conan's Wheel - two foot buffer, max distance.  Women's novice: 230lbs.

I actually ended up being 250lbs.  The wheel itself weighed 50lbs, and they threw two 100lb plates on it.  I was kind of excited about this one.  It royally sucked at the strongman training, but since I had the log press out of the way, I just wanted to get this one over with too.  In the training, I made it one time around, and about died.  

I chalked up.  Yep, for the first time ever I used chalk.  Liberally.  Hands, forearms, shirt.  I got under the bar, lifted, and went around a little shy of 2 and 3/4 times.  I was freaking thrilled!  And now I have little bruises on my forearms to remind me of this sucker.

Third Event:
Farmer's Carry - 60 second time limit, no straps, unlimited drops, 50 feet straight, no turns.  Women's novice: 135#.

I chalked up my hands.  Those two bars were awkward!  I started on my merry way, and just about turfed it halfway through.  I had so much momentum going and ended up leaning too far forward that I dropped skidded the bars.  It took me 13 seconds and change.  

Fourth Event:
Tire Flip - Max reps in 60 seconds.  Women's novice: 450#.

I was more nervous about this one than I was Conan's Wheel.  (Go figure.)  I had flipped the tire twice in the training I went to, but screwed up my back on the second flip.  So I think I was more scared about something happening with my back.  Plus, like I said in my previous blog....flipping this beast was rough, and I needed to use a different technique than what I'm used to.  I did figure out that putting my chin on the top of the tire really helped me get low enough to drive into the tire with my shoulders.

I chalked up yet again.  (Thank you to those who shared chalk with me!)  I managed to get it flipped three times in a minute.  I really battled for a fourth flip, but couldn't quite get it.  

Fifth (and final!) Event:
Atlas Stone Over 48 Inch Bar - 60 second time limit.  Women's novice: 110#.

For some reason, I felt like I would do really well in this one.  Don't ask me why.  Aside from the strongman training, I had never picked up a 110# atlas stone, let alone drop them over a bar.  I've picked up 85 pounders and walked around with them.  That's about it.

But somehow, I felt good about this one.  

I was the second gal to go, which means I was in second-to-last place in the women's novice category.  But you know what....I didn't really care about where I was placed.  Because I had done better in every single category than what I had expected.  (Well, except for the log.  I still wish I would have been more aggressive in that.)

My new-found friends taped my shirt down (so the stone wouldn't get stuck to it and pull it up), taped up my arms, and let me borrow their tacky.  (Thank you, Allie, for the how-to's on takcy use!)  

I ended up rocking the stones!  I got it over the bar 12 times in a minute!  And I have to say, the crowd was huge in this one.  As the guy was counting down the time, the crowd kept cheering "one more time" and encouraging really made me push.  

I was really happy this was the last event, because I felt like such a beast!  It was great to end on such a high note.  

I think I ended up finishing in second last in the women's novice category (unless my stone performance pushed me up one spot, but I highly doubt it.)  

Overall, I loved the whole thing!  Training-wise, I'm now at a crossroads.  I know that WarriorFit doesn't have the proper implements for me to train with if I want to continue with this strongman stuff.  But leaving the comfort of working with a trainer kind of terrifies me.  I've never put together my own strength workouts before.  (I like to say I'm lazy.)  But working out on my own, at a gym that just charges a monthly fee, would save me a ton of money.  

Today, I'm taking it easy.  Tomorrow, back to the gym.  And in two weeks, I'm starting up my third season of Couch to 5k at work....and I have quite a few new people signed up!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Strongman Training

I was just gonna do a random facebook status, but realized I could go into much more detail here....

As most of you know, I entered a strongman(woman?) competition.  I kind of did it on a whim.  Some of my coworkers and I were talking about a powerlifting competition held each year at SportsFest.  While I was researching that, I discovered that a strongman comp is also held each year at SportsFest.  I figured a strongman comp would be tons more fun to train for.  If I suck at the comp, I'll least I'd be giving it a shot.

I've been going about my business at WarriorFit.  Lifting with my trainer, and trying to gear things towards this strongman thing.  But when you don't have a log to press, or a Conan's Wheel to practice on, can only do so much.

So last week, when I got a confirmation email about the strongman comp, and was told that we could join in a strongman workout at South Mountain Crossfit, I jumped on the chance.  I would at least have an idea if I was in completely over my head.

I got there today and was truly terrified.  What if the people were douches?  What if I sucked?  I mean, really....I haven't been training at any of the true competition weights at all.  I was super happy that one other girl showed up.  She's also in the novice category, but after watching her, she could easily move up to the women's open.  She was a beast!

I sucked.

I don't know if going today was a good thing or a bad thing.  I guess good, because Heather (the other chick) and Paul (one of the non-douchey guys there) took me under their wings and really helped me out.

Here's what I did today, in order.  (The first paragraph of each section explains what will be required of us in the actual competition.)

Max Log Press:
30 second time limit, Wessles Rule: must make an attempt to get another, max 3 attempts, miss any attempt and you are done.  10lb jumps for women.  (Log press video.  I have no clue who this is, but the video shows you what the log press is.)

The gals have a pretty pink log to work with.  It weighs 80#.  My new friend was able to get 130# easy.  That just added to my terror.  I can't overhead push press that.  Sheesh.  My max is like 115ish with a straight bar.

I tried it out empty, just to get the feel of it.  It's just really different to work with, when you're used to working with a straight bar.  The width of it throws off your balance a bit, and you have a neutral grip with it.  I got the 80# easy.  The 90# was a struggle, so I took a little break and then hit 90# easy.  100# was simply not happening.

So now I have to work on strategy.  I could start with 80#, b/c I know I can get that easy.  But then I could only max out at 100# (if I'm lucky).  Or, I could start out at 90# and hope I get it.  But if I don't get it on that first try, I'm done.  I do have to take into account the fact that I did lift yesterday, and we did a ton of overhead work.  Plus, I played four games of softball.  I'll have to mull it over in my head a bit, but I do think I'm leaning towards opening with the 90#.  On the bright side, I'm 5 out of 7 entrants in the novice division, so four will be lifting ahead of me.

Farmer's Carry:
60 second time limit, no straps, unlimited drops, 50 feet straight, no turns.  Women's novice: 135#.  (Another video of people I don't know.  But you get the idea.)

I thought I had this one in the bag.  I've done more than 135# for a farmer's carry before, but usually with a trap bar.  But damn, the implements we used today were awkward.  I'm pretty confident I'll be able to get the carry in within the minute time limit, but I'll probably have to put it down once or twice to re-set my grip.  (And we were warned to mind our toes!)

Tire Flip:
Max reps in 60 seconds.  Women's novice: 450#.  (I'm not gonna post a video.  Just imagine someone flipping a ginormously huge tire.)

I was only mildly apprehensive about this one.  I've flipped tires before.  I just didn't know how heavy they were.

Heather attempted it, but couldn't get her hands under it.  We both wanted to approach the tire in the same manner.....a sumo squat, get the hands under it, and then lift it up, get a knee under it, and flip it.  But we couldn't get our hands under it.

One of the dudes told us to dig our shoulders in, grab the treads, and use our shoulders to muscle it up.  I gave it a go.  It was a battle, but I flipped it!  I rested a bit, and then tried it again.  I got it over twice, and decided that was good enough.  (Plus, I had tweaked something in my low back on the last flip, and knew I still had Conan's Wheel coming up.....which is supposed to be brutal, plus the atlas stones.)

Conan's Wheel:
Two foot buffer, max distance.  Women's novice: 230#.  (Another video sample.  Again, I don't know who this is....but at least you get the idea.)

I could really die with this one.  The most I've done to replicate this were Zercher carries at 115#.  Yes.  That is HALF the amount for the wheel.  (I'm fucking crazy.)

For the sake of simplicity, we had a total of 250# on the wheel.  (The wheel itself weighs 50, and we had two 100# plates loaded.)  My friend Heather jacks it up and walks it around once, no sweat.  Me, I can't even pick the freaking thing up.  Mind you, this was my first attempt at this.  Ever.

So we strip it down, and I go at it with 140#.  I walked around three times, no prob.  We take a break, and I give it another go at the 250.  It wasn't pretty, but I got around once.  I need to try and get it higher up on my chest next whole carry was pretty low, and my forearms are gonna be all kinds of shades of purple over the next couple of days.

Even though I got one rotation in, I'm still really nervous about this one.  Because it was such a struggle, it really could go either way.  I do know that I will NOT be wearing a tech-style shirt.  I think the material is too slippery and may be a hindrance.

Atlas Stone Over 48-inch Bar:
60 second time limit.  Women's novice: 110#.  (Another video of someone I don't know.)

I was kind of excited to try this one.  I've never lifted a 110# stone before....the most I've carried was 84#.  But considering I could walk some decent distances with that 84# stone, I thought I'd do ok-ish.

Well.....I certainly had a bunch to learn.  The dudes were all wrapping their forearms in duct tape.  I was like, wtf?  Some had these lace-up leather forearm sleeve things.  And they used this stuff called tacky.  Paul explained to me that you wrap your forearms with duct tape with the sticky side facing out to help grip the atlas stone.  The tacky helps with the grips as well.  So he got some duct tape, wrapped up my arms, and I went at it.

Once I figured out my plan of attack, I got the stone over the bar quite a few times.  I wasn't counting, and I have no clue how long it took me, but I just wanted to get a feel for it.  Once I was done, Paul told me to try standing closer to the bar.  That way, I wouldn't have to change my grip and step to push it over the bar.  I'd be able to get it up and basically dump it.  I'm hoping to be able to try this technique at death gym before the actual comp, as I was pretty well taxed by this time.

We helped put the weights away, and brought some of the equipment out to load up the trailer.  Everything is now packed away for SportsFest in two weeks!  

Heather told me I could drop in at CrossFit Advanced next Sunday, which is where she trains.  Her and a couple others entered in the novice category have been doing strongman training on Sundays.  (If those girls can lift like her, I'll be in dead last!)  If I can get back from volunteering at Quadzilla in time, I just may go.  If not, well, I'll just have to give it my best on the 20th.

I may die.