I find the powerlifting meets especially nerve racking. I try to tell myself that it’s just like any other day at the gym…but it’s not. There are records and judges and an audience and that darn onesie. Every time before a meet I think to myself, “Why did I sign up for this again? This isn’t fun, it’s stressful!” This meet in particular, I was extremely worried. Less than two weeks before I stepped out on that platform, I had my worst lifting day to date. The squat had gotten the better of me and had robbed me of my confidence. I kept thinking to myself, “What if that happens again TODAY on meet day?”
Missy, Suzanne, Jen and Anne were all there with words of encouragement, reassuring me that I was going to kill the squat, not the other way around. I felt good in the warm-up, but got very jittery and nervous as they made the announcement that the first squat flight would start momentarily. I put my headphones in, sat down, and put my game face on. When I played soccer in college, we worked with a sports psychiatrist who emphasized the importance of being mentally prepared for your sport. He wanted you to visualize your performance. So that’s what I did. I sat there and visualized myself successfully squatting my opener, 2nd attempt and 3rd attempt. I imagined Jim saying, “Big breath, fill up your core. Knees out. Squeeze that bar!”
When they called my name I was ready to go and I knew if I gave it my all, I could do it. I DID. I completed all three attempts successfully. They looked good. They felt good. Since I was going for a record, I was given a fourth attempt. With that 4th attempt I broke my previous personal record and also surpassed the 200lb mark, a barrier I’ve been trying to overcome since my very first meet. I was so happy and relieved and honestly, felt slightly like a boss.
Over and over that day I kept saying “1, 2, 3. That’s all we have to do. 3 lifts, 3 attempts. That’s easy.”
OK, so it wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. Worth it to try even though it was a struggle. Worth it to be there doing something that I think is great with teammates that feel the same way. By the end of the meet everyone had snagged personal and national records in ALL THREE lifts. It was a great reminder of exactly why we competed. We were so proud of each other and so happy that our hard work had paid off.
So take that, squats. You no longer scare me.