Western European Cup – Borgaro Torinese

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Last Thursday I competed in my first ever international powerlifting competition and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. In terms of preparation and the competition itself I fear I won’t actually have that much to write about as everything went to plan and it was actually the most successful competition I’ve had to date.

In the run up to the competition I hardly suffered from nerves – feeling mostly excited at the fact that I was going to Italy. Thankfully I had nothing to really be nervous about – I was confident with all of my openers, my weight was in check and knew there was no reason I’d be any weaker than normal. I’d also been frequently told that people often don’t perform as well as normal at their first international, so didn’t feel that any pressure to perform. I was just glad to have been offered the chance to compete for my country on an international stage, and hoped to do the best that I could.

Sadly having to avoid delicious Italian food on the first night to be on the safe side – I weighed in at 51.7kg the following morning. A little heavier than I’d expected, and the heaviest in my weight class, but I think travelling affected this. I had still been able to eat some carbs the night before and drink some water before weigh in so I was in good shape to perform.

Squat warm-ups went as well as I would have hoped, and I hit 110kg as my final warm-up and first lift in wraps. Thankfully I had a coach to do my wraps, as although I have hit some big lifts doing my own wraps, it always helps to have one less stress to deal with. He was a fantastic wrapper and did it exactly how I liked it – and tight! I went onto the platform to do an easy 117.5kg, then followed this with 122.5kg. Both went up without a problem and I was so happy to have equalled what I had recently got at the All England I had nothing to lose with my 3rd squat. I went out to do 127.5kg which was a little slow and grinding, and I hunched over a little on the way up; but it went up! To finish on a new comp PB was fantastic and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

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I didn’t have very high hopes for the bench press as this lift has been stalling for some months now, but I am definitely pleased with what I managed. In the warm up I did 55kg and 60kg as my only two lifts in a shirt, before stepping onto the platform to do an easy opener of 62.5kg. I really focused on my set up as I find this really affects my bench performance. I also kept a particular focus on the ‘second hit’; where the aid of the bench shirt comes off half way, to anticipate this and drive the bar up! This definitely helped me as both my second attempt of 67.5kg and third of 70kg were quite comfortable. I opted to go for 70kg rather than 72.5kg on my third lift as I was more interested in getting my lifts in than increasing my total. The big contributions to my total came from my squat and deadlift anyway!

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Deadlifts went well but not entirely how I had hoped. I knew in the back of my mind that I wasn’t likely to achieve as much in competition as I had in training, as in the gym you haven’t just maxed out on squat and bench! I was a little surprised when my opener of 125kg felt harder than anticipated but took it in my stride and lowered my expectations a little. My second lift of 130kg felt a bit better as I think I went into it with a bit more conviction, knowing that my body was a little tired. Although it is what I ultimately had been striving for, I think going for 140kg on my third lift would have been unwise. So I finished off with 135kg which was slow but steady, and the largest deadlift in my group.

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I finished with a massive PB total of 332.kg – a whopping 12.5kg higher than anything I had previously achieved. To manage this and get all of my 9 lifts in was the best feeling- especially in an international competition. Perhaps even better though was that I managed to win a gold medal! My achievements surpassed all of my expectations and I am thrilled that all my hard work has paid off.

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Not only did I win my weight category, but a few other medals and great totals from the other GB women meant that the ladies team actually won the team event! This is an amazing achievement as there were some seriously strong ladies competing.

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Perhaps the best part of the trip was the fantastic company. Our coaches were brilliant and helped immeasurably in competition. They also happen to be really nice guys! I made some wonderful new friends and spent some quality time with some old friends. A fantastic and supportive group of people to lift and socialise with and I can’t wait to share more lifting experiences with them.

Overall I had an amazing time in Italy. The competition was smoothly and professionally run, the crowd was supportive, the weights went up and much fun was had!

I’m very much looking forward to the next few months of training – I’m craving a 12 rep set after so many months of preparing for competitions. Also, I have decided to move up a weight class. The British Classic will be my last competition as a 52kg lifter, then I plan to get jacked and seriously strong! As I am sitting just outside the 52kg class now, this seems like a logical choice as it allows me some growing room. I’m also looking forward to the amount of food I will be able to eat – as the people who came away with me know; I can put away a serious amount!

A massive thank you to the Italian Powerlifting Federation for such a fantastic and well-run competition and of course to our coaches, for helping me achieve all I did.


Crayfish Salad – (and some pretty exciting news!)

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Another interesting flavour combination to tickle your tastebuds!

Ingredients

  • 1 portion crayfish tails
  • 1/2 mango
  • Small amount of chopped chorizo
  • Salad leaves

I used half a pack of the crayfish tails you can get from Lidl, but I didn’t think to note down the pack size, hence the vagueness of my ingredients list! Also the chorizo I bought was a cheaper chorizo-type thing from Aldi of which I used two slices, but I know chorizo usually comes in different forms so I will leave it to you to deduce the amount to use. I found a little goes a long way.

I’m really enjoying combining fish and fruit at the moment, I think the fresh combination of sweet and salty works really well especially in these summer months. I have one more to try out before I move into a lower-carb phase (so no fruit) which I am very excited about, and will be sure to post!

Training of late has been a little frustrating, with my bench shirt difficulties and struggling to get to depth in my squat suit I have been feeling a little unprepared for the British. Sometimes all it takes though, is some outside perspective to remind me of my successes. Speaking to a friend of mine on Facebook I was reminded that although I have been struggling with these two lifts, my deadlift is sailing and the 130kg british standard is well within my reach.

I’ve also tried to remind myself that the weights I’ve been working with inn the region of my opener for squat and bench are still pretty darn heavy, and if I was repeatedly doing singles at an equivalent weight raw I’d be congratulating myself! Kit lifting is such a different game to raw and it definitely doesn’t always go right. I just need to trust that my coach is right when he says we’re just where we need to be at the moment, and the British will go as swimmingly as I need it to!

Which brings me to my next point, which I have somehow forgotten to mention in the past few days! Some very exciting news indeed! Following some email conference with one of the head honchos in the GBPF, I am delighted to announce that I have been nominated for selection for the World Junior Championships in Hungary. This doesn’t mean that I am definitely going, as my performance at the British will be assessed before I am officially selected, but I am definitely in the running. One step closer to my goal!

Although there is a lot of pressure for me to perform well at the British, I will have one less pressure on me in terms of my weight. I weighed myself at 52.0kg this morning, two weeks out and not even having done keto (though I have been restricting my carbs a little) I’m well on my way to being safely within my weight class. I’m going to let this be a lesson to me for future competitions; to start early and put less pressure on myself! It also means that the kit is fitting me more like it will actually fit me at the competition, as even a kilo can make a massive difference.

The frustrations I’ve been having with my kit, while putting me in a grump during training, have actually made me more determined to get things right and make sure I’m fully prepared and confident for the British. Looking forward to the next week or so of training and tuning up, of which I will keep you all updated.

A little update on my last few days…

Ended up not doing a full squat session on sunday,  I got to the bottom of a 100kg squat in kit and felt my lower back go ‘ping’. Decided it best to stop the squatting there as I’ve made a lot of progress recently with my squat so missing a session wasn’t the end of the world. Did a bit of bench with the shirt on but nothing too trying.
MMA on tuesday felt like a bit of a turning point in my fighting career so far. We started the session with various useful drills, then towards the end of the session we worked on guard passing. We had a continuous roll with 3 people, two people fighting and one watching, in the fighting pair the person on the bottom tried to keep the other in guard while trying to get sweeps and submissions, while the person in guard tried to pass the guard. Whoever succeeded stayed on the mat, while the observer replaced the other.
During this I never managed to pass the guard, but for once I really held my own against the two boys I was rolling with. I resisted well and put up quite a fight and for the first time since starting MMA I felt a real fire in my bones, almost a rage, but a controlled rage, which really spurred me to keep fighting and not let the boys get a submission just so I could rest.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get that feeling again during other sessions and use it to my advantage. I felt so powerful!

Lifting yesterday was a productive session; worked in the shirt just doing various heavy singles. Managed to get up to 70kg again but my line still needs a lot of work. Finished the session with 5,4,3,2,1 raw, going 40, 45, 47.5, 50, and 52.5. Then managed to get a PB 55kg touch-and-go! When going from equipped to raw I expected not to get much out of the final sets, but I tried to keep the feeling of ‘stretching’ the bar and I think it really helped my form as the sets felt really easy considering the work I’d already done.

I took my contact lenses out on Sunday after a boozy barbecue and threw them away, thinking I had next month’s pair ready, but alas I did not. So the last few days I’ve had to wear my glasses which regrettably really has an effect on my day-to-day life. Feeling like I have a shield around my persona makes me quieter and more insecure somehow, and made for a slightly uncomfortable bench session.
Though saying this, when I went to Bikram yesterday morning I couldn’t wear my glasses for sweat-related reasons, and I think it really helped me to concentrate on my own body and movements. Not being able to see where other people are looking and their facial expressions almost subconsciously reassures you that they’re not looking at you. I’m sure they’re not anyway, but there is always that little bit of self-consciousness in a room full of half-naked sweaty people! So any visually-impaired Bikram yogis out there struggling to keep focus, try a session without glasses and see where it gets you!