Over the past weeks and months we’ve been focused on making the Exile Open a reality and bringing Olympic Weightlifting back to Oklahoma in a big way. But, in the background, we’ve also been training like mad and preparing to compete in Dutch Lowy’s 1st annual Black Box Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. On February 25th, the judge became the judged; the director became the directed; and SCBC took a turn on the platform. Here’s how it all went down:
On the morning of the meet I woke up feeling rested, injury free, and strangely calm. I skipped breakfast because I was a little stressed about my weight. I’ve been hovering around 230 lbs for a while now and the last thing I want to do is train for 8 weeks, register to lift, drive to Dirtball, Texas, and be 3 lbs over weight because I didn’t have the discipline or foresight to control my bulk on one of those special four or five times a year when I actually care about my weight. I pulled into Ryan’s driveway around 9:30 in the a.m. and made a b-line directly to his scale. I was delighted to find myself 7 lbs under the weight limit. It’s pretty amazing what 24 hrs of no sodium and distilled water can do for your waistline, ladies.
After some chow and a change of clothes, we made our way back to the Box. It’s about an hour before show time. I was happy to see no less than three warm-up platforms stocked with quality bars and bumpers. The platform nearest the front door boasted Elieko steel and Pendlay rubber; both felt relatively new and extremely badass. I worked my way into a rotation here and snatched doubles and singles every few minutes until I reached a nice single at 95 kilos, 5 kilos shy of my opener. These all felt very good and the rhythm and smoothness I found in my warm-up reps did a lot for my nerves. The work I’ve done with Steve Miller over the past few months has really paid off, particularly in the snatch. Even still, I was absolutely jacked out of my gourd when it was time to take the stage. I caught a massive adrenaline dump when Ryan told me I was two out from my opening attempt. This is make or break time for me. Harnessing that nervous energy can propel you to uncharted heights; being overcome by it can leave you sitting in a corner shaking your head, fake-smiling at people who tell you “good effort” and “we’ll get ’em next time.”
My initial plan was to call for 100 kgs with the understanding that if warm-ups went well I would change my first attempt to 105, which would put me in position to make 5 kg jumps up to a 115 finisher. However, my nerves simply wouldn’t allow me to get that far out of my comfort zone with an opener. So, I stuck with 100 and when I was called up I did my best to stay calm and focused, and to revert back to some helpful training cues that keep me in good positions. I took my time chalking-up. I probably over-do it here, but this really helps me introvert and prepare for show time. I visualize the lift. I coach myself. I get into my own little world and prepare for the most exciting split-second in sports.
I stepped onto the large, all-wooden platform. It looked huge. I took a second or two to soak it all in and get comfortable up there. I shook the tension out of my legs and got into my pre-pull routine. Taking hold of the bar felt great. A chalky, hook grip on a beautiful, new Elieko is like holding Excalibur. You get the feeling that something amazing is about to happen. That, or you’re going to cut your own head off in front of 100 people with camera phones and end up on the news. Maybe some senator will name a bill after me that makes it illegal to snatch without parental consent and a license from the DHS. “What an asshole,” they’ll say; and they’ll be right.
The progression of grip adjustments, bar rolling, fidgeting, and snorting here is similar to the ritual you’ll see at the NBA free throw line where a careful series of dribbles, spins, and controlled breathing allows the athlete to focus on the sequence rather than the situation, and to execute skill movements under pressure in a consistent manner. As I set my back and prepare to pull, the entire room goes quiet and I feel that little lag in time where the intensity of the circumstance heightens your perceptions and makes everything feel like slow motion. My only thought now is to be smooth off the ground and to control the explosion in a vertical slot. And, I did. Right through the roof. I always open tight and this was certainly no exception. The result was a very fast, very tense power snatch of the most awkward order. I was quite thrilled to take it and get the hell out of there.
The sense of relief at hitting the opener is palpable. It really sets the tone for the day. It just puts you in an entirely different mindset where you are now able to settle in and go to work. I felt that relaxation immediately and called for a big, 10 kilo jump on my second attempt. This is a pretty aggressive move, but I had ground to make up for opening like a nancy. I hit 110 with ease. Probably still a power snatch, but much better technically and my focus and confidence were spot-on now. When you feel that way there’s only one thing to do: go for it.
I called for 114 on my final attempt. This would be a 1 kg PR and put me in a good spot to total 250 today, which was my primary goal for the meet. At this point all but three lifters had finished snatching, so the turnaround was going to be pretty quick. But, that’s how I like it. I’m hot, I’m confident, I’m 2-for-2, let’s keep this thing going. I was completely in the zone; laser focused with keen awareness of my body and the bar and the relationship thereof. All the second guessing and tension that I fought through with my opener was absent. I was alone in my mind with this lift, in this moment, and what I had to do to make it happen. I worked in a tight grip, I thought of nothing, rolled the bar back, filled my lungs, set my back, and began to pull.
The bar came off the ground smoothly. I stayed tight, patient, and poised. The steel gently exfoliated my shins on the way up. Everything was aligned and coiled as I passed my knees and slammed on the gas. I felt the explosion of the second pull accelerate the weight violently and I knew everything had gone perfectly to that point, but 251 lbs is still a lot to catch, control, and stand up with, and nothing is ever certain in the snatch. But, this one was certain, and easily one of the best snatches I’ve ever performed. It landed so directly in my center of control that the final portion of the lift was absolutely effortless. I stood up, waited for the “down” call, and let out a very satisfying yell as I dropped the weight to the platform amid a spattering of applause and congratulations from the other lifters. Let me tell you, that shit felt good.
I opened with 130 and handled it pretty easily. I decided to jump directly up to 136 which would achieve my other goal for the meet: a 250 total. Somehow I missed the clean. I know, I know, but it’s true. Even though I caught it high and snug in the rack position, when I rebounded at the bottom of the front squat it slid off my shoulders and onto the platform in front of me. I was pretty disgusted with this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because this is what I did with 137 in my last meet, and that’s the only reason I hadn’t already hit a 250 total. Secondly, because I would now have to repeat at 136 and thus lose my opportunity for a “free lift” up closer 140.
So, I did call for 136 again and this time I chalked my shoulders and chest, I concentrated on keeping my torso vertical after the second pull, and I went up there and kicked that thing’s ass. This tied my clean and jerk PR. And, it almost made the earlier miss worse because the way I hit 136 made me feel pretty confident about 138 or even 140 on a day like this. But, 5-for-6 with a PR, a tied PR, and a total PR is not something I’m going to do anything but celebrate. In fact, looking back over my last four meets, I’m now 12-for-12 in the snatch with four PRs. Here are my results from Black Box– click to view larger.
|Black Box Results for 94 kg and 105 kg Weight Classes|
Honestly, the meet was almost perfect. It went smoothly and with a good pace. It was well managed and officiated. All the lifters preformed well. I’m very happy with the way I competed and my lifts were good enough to win the 105 kg weight class. Dutch did not hand out medals, so I’m just letting you know. But, results of the Black Box Weightlifting Championships can be found on the Black Box Fort Worth website. And of course, USAW members can find all meet results on USAWeightlifting.org. Here’s some terrible, grainy highlights from the meet:
Stay tuned to SCBC for the game plan for Spring Training and some fun upcoming events in our region.