I was incredibly proud to be able to go to the White Nights competition, and to lift in the homeland of kettlebells was something else. We also fell in love with Saint Petersburg itself, and I could quite happily go back many times to ЕвроФитнес. I may not always have been aware of what was going on during the competition as all announcements were in Russian, but our hosts had flight schedules on the wall and made sure we were where we needed to be. Very accommodating hosts. And for me, a chance to see some unbelievable lifting close up.
This post is a long overdue write-up, coming at the start of 2017. I wanted to sit on the experience for a while and then life overtook me. But even though it’s six months later I still have the same favourable views of it all and look back on the experience with fondness and a wish to revisit both the city and gym sooner rather than later.
The White Nights competition is always held towards the end of May, and it ties in with the period of the year in which the hours of daylight start to approach 24. Splitting the events (long cycle, biathlon, etc.) across days was a bit different to what I’m used to. I found this had two benefits. The first was that, as a long cycler, I got to lift a lot earlier than normal. I’ve decided I prefer that. Less time to get nervous, and it made nutrition easier. The second was that each day was not that long which I find helps both lifters and supporters by avoiding boredom or fatigue, and leaves plenty of time to do some tourism later in the day. Another huge benefit was the weigh in was before all days of lifting which left plenty of time to increase carbs slowly without overloading the digestive system.
My set, as already mentioned, was scheduled very early. The second flight of the day. So I pretty much got warmed up as soon as we arrived. Taking is slowly. Breaking only to chat with friends old and new. Oh, and I got to meet Arseny in person (Laboratory of Champions made my belt), and he helped to break it in ready for my first lift with it 🙂 That was pretty cool.
Before I knew it, I was lifting for real. Which was a little intimidating in a small venue with lots of amazing lifters around, include those who have been doing it for years and years and are already MSIC. Despite all that, it was very inspiring. I decided to go for it. If ever there was a time and place to left well, here it was. It worked. I managed to get 124 reps with the 16kg bell in the ten minutes. And a thumbs up and smile at the end of my set from Sergei Merkulin.
Not only had I managed to get a massive personal best, to exceed my coaches aim by four reps, but I had also gained CMS with the 16kg bell on the Ketacademy rankings. And praise from a Master of the discipline across the language barrier. I was so happy! I might not have won the 16kg category, but in all other regards, it was my best competition ever. Despite the veteran long cycle award later in the year at Harrogate!
As always I must thank my husband Steve for letting us make this be one of our holidays. Despite the faff of the visa application, it was well worth it. We both loved the city and found it a revelation having never been to Russia before. I also want to thank my coach Anna for watching many training videos and then writing shocking numbers into a training spreadsheet. Most of which I managed to achieve despite disbelief on my part 😉 I also really want to thank my nutrition coach Nicky who has managed, over the course of 2016, to sort out my various nutrition demands. Training, making weight for competitions, and yet still performing well. He’s also made improvements in my views towards foods, weighing in, and what progress means.
If you ever get the opportunity to lift at a White Nights kettlebell event do it! I would go back in an instant. Now I just need to learn more Russian 🙂
Top tip is to buy a local sim card. Seriously affordable, excellent coverage, and massive data allowance. Having connectivity makes using mapping apps to navigate so easy (as well as posting the necessary social media updates!). Tourist maps in English are useful and appreciated, but when all the road signs are in Cyrillic, it does get a little confusing trying to correlate the two.
Счастья и здоровья 2017!