I signed up for two competitions this month. One at my gym, Travis County Strength, and the other AFM FITTEST at Camp Mabry. I am doing both ‘for fun’.
The TCS Friday Night SWOD was last night. This is the same competition that I wrote about in January but for women-only because the men got so intimidated by us last time. In spite of my stupid doctor’s refusal to give me any testosterone shots, I decided to go RX rather than scaled. RX means competing against all the freakishly strong women from my LIFT class and other gyms. Not that I was trying to compete with them because I only do this for ‘fun’ remember (and frankly at 48 going on 84 and riddled with arthritis it’s a miracle I can even make it out of bed in the morning).
To summarise for those not interested in reading on, I did not win the Friday Night SWOD. However, my LIFT coach did just post on Facebook that I displayed a ‘good attitude’. This rather reminds me of the rosette I won in school sports day where the word ‘winner’ was crossed out with felt pen and replaced with ‘jolly good sport’. If only they had written bad-arse-mo-fo.
Having psyched myself out by watching scary looking women from other gyms warm up by punching each other in the face (I did not see this but suspect it to be true) we go into event number 1.
The log press. The log is a hideous metal thing which was first used in medieval jousting competitions until they decided it was too dangerous and went with the pointy sticks instead. It supposedly weighs 65 pounds, until you pick up it and realize that it’s actually double that. To lift it you grab the handles inside –if you’re not wearing wrist wraps you will end up with a ring of violet bruises that look like you’ve been handcuffed for a couple of weeks. And not the padded sex handcuff type. Of which I have no knowledge. On the scale of potential for catastrophic injury, this one is off the charts. The log and I have loathed each other for a few years now, but in the last few weeks we have reached some sort of truce whereby I can get it the big ugly bastard overhead once in every 10 or so attempts. My goal for this 3 minute workout was to get 6.
As with all heavy things that go overhead, the secret is to ‘get under the bar’. Not a workout goes by without my being told this. This is very sound advice, but highly counter intuitive to a fearful 48 year-old who is wise enough to realize that getting UNDER the bar puts your head directly in the path of said bar when you drop it. Not that you’re supposed to drop it, but the crushed skull scenario has played out enough times in my fragile brain for this to be inevitable. However, the TCS coaches would clearly prefer for this to happen because we were very sternly warned that if we dropped the log on the ground we would be disqualified from the whole competition. About a minute and half into the workout I was very tempted.
Here I am pleading with the log gods for my third (and final) successful log press. This was followed by half a dozen or so attempts where I stumbled around with it in a dangerous fashion. This prompted TCS co-owner Travis to come over for a word. It was thanks to Travis that I got the log overhead for the very first time about a year ago. When all his coaching tips failed to have an effect he insulted my womanhood which worked perfectly. Sadly on this occasion he just gave me some helpful hints on technique which didn’t help at all. Next time Travis please just tell me it’s a ‘Ladies Log’.
I’m pretty confident that everyone else got at least 20 reps in the 3 minutes but the great thing about me is that you can rely on me to show just how difficult this bloody stuff really is. I mean look at this photo. Really Tina? Not only does she look stunning, but it’s like the whole log thing is no big deal. I’m the official counterbalance, the common woman of LIFT. By being the poster girl for ‘this shit is hard’ I make everyone else look even more bad-arse.
No time for a wee because I’m in the first heat of the next event, keg cleans and goblet squats. It’s a real keg and it weighs 60 pounds. You thrust it from the ground onto your shoulder. Apparently it’s good practice for when you have a child. The workout is sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 keg to shoulder with the same number of goblet squats in between. We do not have any goblets, despite our coach being sommelier certified, so we used 24kg kettlebells. I somehow managed to get through my first set of 10 and was getting into a good rhythm of failing on my 8’s when oh look, here’s Travis again with some more handy hints for the remedial lifter. No clue what he said but I suspect it was along the lines of ‘just get under the keg’. I nodded enthusiastically and then went back to failing. Just before he popped by I had managed to jam my thumb in the handle of the keg and had that horrible eye-sting-about-to-cry feeling. Fortunately my bad-arse judge was Scottish and there’s no way I was going to be a cry-baby sassenach. After all the heats were over I joined everyone talking about how hard the sets of goblet squats got after the first round of 10. Having not even completed the next set of 8, I kept my mouth shut and hoped no-one would ask me what round I got to.
And on to the final workout, max 2-rep deadlift in 8 minutes. I love the deadlift as the risk of catastrophic injury is low and you physically cannot get under the bar but you can still get impressive sounding numbers. I started at 185 pounds and added from there. I got to around 215 and was about to—oh hello again Travis, yes I’m sorry one of my weights just rolled off the bar and into the crowd, was hoping you hadn’t seen that, yes I’ll tighten them all up with my broken thumb. I am not particularly good at adding numbers to other numbers, even less so when I’m distracted by runaway weights so I’m still not 100 percent sure whether I got 225 or 230 pounds, but I’m claiming the latter. My deadlift goal for the year is double my bodyweight so now all I need to do is lose 10 pounds.
And that was it. Competition number 1 done. It was as excellently run as ever by Jen Shaw and Travis ‘handy hints’ Holley, the two best coaches and all around brill people in the city. If that plus fact that they also are also owners of Darwin, the most adorable corgi in the city doesn’t get you over to TCS then forget it, we are not the gym for you.
(fantastic photos all taken by Sheila Wadley)
Next up, in 28 days is Austin Fit Magazine’s AFM FITTEST. This is a series of 10 events, none of which involve throwing heavy weight over your head but do require a lot of sprinting. In my head I am a brilliantly fast sprinter and will crush my competition. At some point very soon I will begin my training. Fortunately AFM is organized by age division which means I’ll be competing with a bunch of other 40–49 year olds. On the negative side, this age group is annoyingly strong, I think it’s because their kids are almost grown up and they therefore have nothing to do except spend their whole day in workout clothes doing one arm pull-ups and practicing sprints in the aisles of the HEB. But I may be generalizing. Personally I am looking forward to being 50 so that in two years I can compete in AFM against the 58 year olds who desperately wish they were 60. The other benefit of being 50 is that in reverse years I will be 05 years old and can therefore act as childishly and badly as I wish. And then the year after that I’ll be 15 and can start having sex again. If I can just survive 94 all will be brilliant.
I am worn to a frazzle just reading about all this.