Heading into the IUKL Grand Prix I was carrying a niggle. Yes another niggle 🙁
However unwise, I took the decision that after a hard twelve weeks of training I was going to carry on and see what I could do. Sadly, it interfered, and I went from knowing it was there to it causing issues at minute three of ten *sigh*. I managed to achieve a PB, and got a silver medal which I should (and will eventually) be very happy about despite the pain. However I wanted a few more reps. Not that it would have won me the gold medal but I am my own worst critic!
The Event – IUKL Grand Prix
The complete event was a two-day one, with the first day being IUKL World Cup Stage 4, and the second the Grand Prix. It was the professionals on the Saturday and us mere amateurs 😉 on the Sunday. I say that but Sergey Rachinskiy was competing on the Sunday and being awesome. More on him later…
There was a great atmosphere all the time, and everyone was friendly. The location was great and there was also a tiered seating section. I think that helped as everyone had a “base” on the seats so there was always someone around to have a chat to. The warmup area was separate, there was First 4 Protein selling protein drinks, and a coffee stand. I got to meet some new people, and catch up with people I’ve only been able to chat to online before.
I was able to see some awesome lifting at different points throughout the two days as well. Some of it was surely superhuman. Unless the cyborgs have already infiltrated us…
I got to try an interesting amino based concoction on the Sunday after my set from First 4 Protein, and I think I might seek some out for post training (lifting specifically). I quite enjoyed it, even if some of those I was with hated the smell. Hey, I was the one drinking it 😉
The judging was all by IUKL judges too which was new for me. I found it tough but fair, and great advice on what wasn’t a rep. Can’t ask for more than that to help you improve.
There were a couple of opportunities to weigh in, but thankfully I was able to get to the morning session. I prefer to weigh in at least twenty-four hours before lifting to allow me to carb load once I’ve weighed in. All competitions please take note 😉 It’s not ramming pasta down your neck as the runners would have you believe either, but it does affect weight due to the increased glycogen stores in the muscles and some extra water.
More than happy with my weigh in at the lowest weight yet 🙂
Some of the carb loading, based on a carb target from my nutrition coach…
I was lifting at 11:30am which is a bit earlier than in my previous competitions. As usual I was full of nervous energy beforehand. I went for a walk, and did a bit of jogging around, as well as stretching and some kettlebell moves. I’d made sure to have usual food beforehand; breakfast was a Sport Kitchen porridge, and then I added to the carbs using Skittles (my secret weapon 😉 ). I also made sure to keep hydrated, including with my BCAAs. I know some people think they are a waste but they work for me, ensure I drink more water, and as I train with them, it was keeping things usual.
I was in the first group of women long cycle lifters, so had nothing but personal targets to aim for (of which I definitely had one). The change overs were fairly rapid and I also asked my coach Anna to help me chalk the bell. I’d been screwing it up of late in training (no idea why) and it was one more thing to worry about messing up!
I ended up being announced really quickly in the end, and my set started quickly. Or that’s how it seemed anyway. Might have been better if someone wasn’t chalking a bell as I was trying to do my hands! I went off at target pace of 12 reps a minute, and was feeling OK for the first minute or so. However around minute three on the drop of the clean, when the bell weight plus gravity lands in your hand, I felt a pull between my shoulder blades. The niggle was not going to be nice to me. I got to four minutes on my left side, but felt I needed to change. I wasn’t used to the niggle that side; it was usually more on my right. I swapped over and whilst feeling every single clean and jerk was able to maintain good pace for another 4 minutes. The last three of the set were a physical and mental struggle.
Anna had gone to warm up for her set, but Helen, another kettlebell coach at BBF, was giving me advice all through the set which really helped. A few no counts later as I was tiring and she told me what to fix, and I managed to do it 🙂 Her coaching was really valuable in helping me continue to a PB. Thanks dude!
I eked out more reps but realised when I got to nine minutes my original target wasn’t going to be reached so was already disappointed. I carried on to a PB score, but ended up putting the bell down five or ten seconds earlier. I didn’t feel I had the extra last rep in me.
At the end I just stood hands on knees for a bit feeling queasy (high heart rate, and giving everything I was able to). The energy levels were fine and I was happy with my nutrition so it wasn’t really a stomach issue. Helen then came and got me sat down. I have to admit to being somewhat emotional as I felt I’d failed. We went out to the reception area of the building (by now it was raining outside and that seemed a bit much!) and Anna, Helen, and then Steve (hubby) talked a lot of sense in to me that I had got a PB, improved, and all with a lighter bodyweight, and with an injury for much of the set. Helen said I was just too strong; never had that said before! 😉 I was able to use muscle as much as the rest of my body as a lever. So there are things to work on there.
After I’d calmed down a bit, Steve and I headed back to the competition, and I en route I saw my judge (Sandra). A lovely women who later in the day cracked out a fantastic fast set of jerks in the Irish Team Relay. She gave me some excellent advice about using more of the swing, to help me with my cleans. (She also has an ace tattoo.)
She was so nice, as I was still quite upset. Then, Sergey Rachinskiy saw this upset and came up and gave me a hug 🙂 He asked how many competitions I’d done so I told him this was my third long cycle one. He said not to worry. It was a sport, and it’s not that important. And when I’d done 1000s like him then I could worry! Well, in broken English anyway. He was so kind, and how often can you say a nine time world champion in your sport comes up and consoles you!
I was suitable cheered, then Ad (Anna’s husband) appeared and said only I could beat myself up over a set like that and congratulations! (He’d been recording the set for me – thanks to him too for that. I’ll sort that out for the blog at some point.) So I nearly got upset again…
The BBF Team
There were four of us competing from BBF at this event. It was a great term performance, even if I couldn’t join in on the jerk relay due to my strain.
My coach Anna competed for the first time as a professional lifter (snatching) using the 24kg bell. First English woman to do so I believe too 🙂 Go my coach *proud face*. She then also cracked out another excellent long cycle set on the Sunday, gaining the gold medal in her weight category.
Cass, another long cycler, had moved up to the 16kg weight for the first time, and cracked out an excellent set. She had a balance mishap around nine minutes (the bell not her 😉 ) so had to end the set slightly earlier. She was initially disappointed, but like me, is now happier. Watching most of her set she looked good, smooth lifting, and a decent pace. Definitely able to get the ranking she wants next time out.
Sarah has started training at BBF after moving to the area from Irelend. She’d never competed before, but put in some hard work on Biathlon (Jerk and Snatch – 2 lifts), and came away with the gold medal for the 12kg bell and absolute biathlon champion 🙂
Steve, Ad, and Helen did an amazing job as support crew for us all. Mostly in moral support in my case 😀 Oh and Ad and I might have needed to check the Community Shield results later on in the day 🙂 Those of us lifting love having these guys with us. If only for a hug when needed.
Steve admitted to nerves for me this time; he knew what I wanted and how much I wanted it. I’m just glad he was there with me. He’s taken some of the photos in this post; those with me in them obviously!
An added bonus was the MIL and SIL and her new(ish) partner were able to come and watch. Their first kettlebell event. Probably a shock to their system! It was nice they could see what I spend my time doing though.
A team/supporter meal last night of myself, Steve, Anna, Ad, Cass, and Helen was great as well. Some good banter and chat to unwind with 🙂 Just a shame that Sarah had to leave early for work reasons.
In the time between me lifting and me writing this post (just over twelve hours), the reality of my result being good overall progress, a PB, and my jerks being so much better, along with a bunch of other positives have sunk in.
I’ve won another medal on merit; there were many more competing in < 68kg Women’s Long Cycle with the 16kg bell than medal places. (The bronze medal winner had already had to leave before the ceremony.) I was also competing against girls up to 7.5kg heavier than me this time as well. There was only over/under 68kg categories this time, but in my other large events I’ve only competed against those between 58 and 63kg. I’m still frustrated with not getting those extra reps but the stiffness I have today tells me my body wouldn’t have given any more given the slight tear I clearly have.
I’ve already started thinking about changing up the training a bit, and discussed options with Anna last night at dinner 🙂 I refuse to stop being so strong though! I have goals I want to achieve, and with hard work they will be. However I need to be patient and let my body adapt as well as improve things in my technique. Maybe the timeframe will have need to be longer than originally planned, but I will get there!
(Super) Sprint triathlons in the meanwhile for a bit of fun perhaps… 😉
PS IUKL please, please, please consider adding Long Cycle to professional events. I don’t want to compete in snatch, even if I got to the 24kg bell! Ta!
PPS I managed to get myself onto Look North (North East & Cumbria). If you can find the evening episode from August 10th, there is a section on the competition and I’m the one with the yellow kettlebell in the red t-shirt 🙂 Surreal moment getting a message at dinner last night from a friend who lives up here saying “Have I just seen you on the news?”. Thanks for letting me know Catherine!