Monthly Archives: November 2013

Taking a break

…from competing, at least. I went down to Bethnal Green last night, but my heart totally wasn’t in it. I was going to do maybe 3 x 5 squats at 60kg, but I was still so sore after grappling that 40kg felt heavy. So I did 5 x 5 @ 40kg, some good mornings + glute & ham raises, some light benching & went home.

I told my coach I don’t want to compete again until June, and he was fine with it. I feel a bit sad – almost everyone else I know who lifts is just getting into competing and is so excited by it; whereas I feel so very jaded and competing feels like a chore, nothing else. Sad times!

I also feel a bit sad coach agreed so readily that I shouldn’t compete for a while! I suppose I was hoping he’d be put out; however, he has bigger fish to fry in the gym now (e.g. other people who have very real prospects of competing internationally next year) so it’s not as if I’m – *sniff* – very important any more 😦

Ah well. I’m not going to train on Saturday. To be honest, I shouldn’t have gone last night! I will take the weekend off, train next week for our club competition on December 15th, do that comp (it’s only an informal one for fun) then probably not train much up to the end of the year. With Xmas celebrations + volunteering at Crisis (which I do every year) I won’t have much time to train anyhow.



As you may know, my secondary gym is Urban Kings in Kings Cross, where I go for conditioning and Pilates/Yoga. After having a half-hour PT session with Wendle Lewis there back when I joined, I’ve been meaning to go to his grappling sessions. I’ve been interested in wrestling for a while, as I reckon it’d suit my build (short, short limbs, big legs/bottom), so grappling with Wendle seemed like an ideal thing to try.

Unfortunately I’m often busy on Wednesdays, whether with Codebar or just with catching up with my boyfriend (I feel like I hardly ever see him!) but last night I made an effort to go, and I’m glad I did!

I had no idea what to expect, not really knowing much about MMA other than having seen a few bouts. For starters, I was the only lady there, and I’m not sure the men really knew what to do with me! Luckily I’m not a delicate flower & am not shy, so I didn’t mind getting (very!) up close & personal with a bunch of sweaty men 😉

But it was really fun – we started off learning pummelling, then moved on to a throw and a hold. It was very technical; I found myself having to rely more on what felt right, rather than overthinking what I was doing. In that way it was a bit like Olympic lifting – there’s so much to remember, that you’re almost better off not trying to remember it all!

I also found it a lot more aerobic than I thought it would be; I was exhausted by the end – my endurance is pretty poor. This morning I ache in whole new ways – my shoulders especially. I feel good, though, and I left the gym last night with a smile on my face!

Overall, I think it’d be an excellent thing to get into regularly, for both my overall strength & aerobic fitness. I just need to figure out when I can do it – I’ve committed myself to Codebar at least once a month. Wendle also runs a Friday class, but at the moment I’m doing conditioning on Friday lunchtimes, and that does impair my performance at Bethnal Green on Saturdays (I squat much better on Mondays than I do on Saturdays). If I did conditioning and grappling on Fridays, I’m not sure I’ll even be able to walk to the gym on Saturday morning 😉

GBPF Greater Londons

So, it’s done, and while I qualified for 2014’s British Classic, I’m not very happy with how I did. Spoiler: I came last, before you ask 😉

Firstly, I made weight! Thank deity. I was 72.5kg when I went to bed the night before, and I deliberately didn’t weigh myself at home before I left. I was 71.4kg at the official weigh-in.

Squats went fine – I got a new pb of 92.5kg, which is 2.5kg more than I got 6 weeks ago in the British. 2 pbs in 6 weeks is not bad going after lifting for as long as I have!

Bench was a bit of a disaster. I opened on 47.5kg which was easy. Second was 50kg, and the referee kept me waiting at the bottom of the lift for ages, and as a result I lost all power & couldn’t get the bar up. I went for 50kg on my 3rd attempt and got it up easily… but I’d jumped the press command by a millisecond, and therefore got 3 red sticks (no lights at the Greater Londons!)

Well fuck. That is the first time in over 3 years of competing that I’ve had a lift disallowed for commands. I should really know better.

On to deadlifts. I got my opener of 110kg up easily, no problems. Then I had a second & third attempt at 115kg disallowed for hitching. I’m really ashamed of myself. I know I hitch, and after the first attempt at 115kg I tried really hard not to hitch my second go; but the referees were specifically looking for a hitch & they saw one.

Everyone told me the judging was really harsh, and I guess it was a bit, but it was still right & proper to be harsh. After all, you can’t expect refs to make allowances, eh?

So, 250kg total & I’m qualified for next year. But I’m a bit sick of competing now; I’ve messed up in my last 3 competitions. I almost feel like I can’t call myself “a powerlifter” right now because I keep messing up. And yes yes, I know that’s silly!

I wish there was some way to go back to being a newbie, with my newbie gains and my freshness in competition. I feel so jaded right now!

After the club competition in December I might not aim to compete in the spring, to give myself a rest psychologically.

24 hours to go… and my next competition

24 hours until my next competition, and when I weighed myself on my home scales today (which I suspect are weighing me heavy) I was 72kg on the nose. So fingers crossed, assuming I don’t suddenly gain 1kg overnight (it happens!) I’m on target for tomorrow. And I haven’t had to sacrifice any of my favourite foods – I’ve had Oatibix, milk, Danio yogurts (which have – gasp – sugar in them) and even chocolate (not dark; I’ve been eating Butterfingers!) this week.

I think one of the reasons I may have been so heavy recently was because I’ve been suffering from a terrible cough for weeks and have been mainlining cough sweets. I tend to forget that they’re sweets, because obviously they’re medicine. I’m still coughing and probably will be for a couple of weeks yet. Unfortunately, when I get a cough it’s always bad and lasts for a long time; I suspect my lungs are a bit knackered (I used to get bronchitis all the time as a child).

My next competition after tomorrow’s is on 15th December BUT – hurray! – I don’t have to make weight for it. It’s the Bethnal Green club competition, and we’ll be working to a 4:1 ratio (i.e. for every extra 1kg of weight you carry, you need to lift 4kg more).

I’m a bit sad that I won’t be winning the club comp, so will never be club champion (both other ladies who’ll be taking part are much better than me, pound for pound). I could have won it last year, but I wasn’t lifting due to having had abdominal surgery. Oh well. I did get to referee that year, which was fun!

Competing 3-4 times a year is pretty tiring. I’m feeling quite burned out by it at the moment.

Talking about powerlifting

I’ve recently resolved to give speaking at meetups a try, inspired by two meetups for women in tech – 300 Seconds and Ladies Who Code. So I’ve pitched a lightning talk (i.e. a 5-minute talk on any subject) to the next Ladies Who Code meetup. I’m going to talk about powerlifting, because I’m enthusiastic about it and I’ll feel comfortable talking about it.

The working title for my talk is “How I went from desk-bound geek to British standard powerlifter [after 30 | in 4.5 years]*“. The regular-expression bit is because I can’t decide which ending to use, so hey – since everyone there will be a geek and presumably will get regexes, they might find it funny! Anyway. Moving on…

On the way home tonight I was feeling all self-doubty about lifting, again (see previous post) and I started to wonder if “in 4.5 years” is really something to be proud of. After all, all the other ladies who lift at my gym have qualified for the British championships at their first attempt (within  6 months of starting). Which is great, obviously, but… well, I suck in comparison.

And if I go do this talk, are the audience going to be thinking Geez, what took her so long? I know if it took me 4.5 years to reach that standard, I wouldn’t even bother! etc etc

(Sometimes I hate how my brain works!)

Maybe I should just stick to “How I went from desk-bound geek to British standard powerlifter after 30″, as I’m slightly less paranoid about that aspect of it!

Hmm, what do you think? Is 4.5 years a laughably long time to reach a standard that (it feels) all my gym compatriots reached so much more quickly? Should I hide it? Or should I be proud that I stick with lifting, despite being relatively mediocre? I guess I’m nothing if not tenacious.

Tonight was the final lifting session before Saturday’s competition. I did a fairly easy 3 x 3 squat @ 72.5kg (80%) and 3 x 3 bench with pauses @ 40kg (80%)

I weighed myself on the gym scales and – horror of horrors – I was 2.4kg over weight. Then I took off my knee sleeves & shoes, and was exactly 1kg over. Stupid shoes.

I’ve been feeling miserable about making weight tonight, and that’s translated into feeling miserable about always coming last when I compete and why do I bother powerlifting at all?

It sounds like the most horrible thing to say ever, but I think I enjoyed lifting more when I was the only lady who regularly attended the gym; now that we have loads of other ladies, I compare myself to them and feel utterly rotten about how mediocre I am. Don’t get me wrong – I love that we have loads of ladies, because I want to see more women lifting. I just don’t know how to handle the jealousy I feel 😦 And I can’t work any harder to catch up with them, because 1) I work hard already; and 2) they’re in their Newbie Gains phases, and I’m very, very much past that.

Maybe I need to haul myself off to the sports psych again.

Making weight (again)

I’m competing again on November 23rd in the Greater London divisionals, only 6 weeks after my last competition (phew!). That’s only 6 days away. I’m currently – once more – deep in pre-competition weight worries.

Like a lot of women I have a bit of a mental thing about food & trying to lose weight; the idea of doing it can make me a bit obsessive about what I’m eating, and my general hatred of diet culture makes me want to say Fuck you! and eat everything in sight. Sadly this isn’t feasible, as the next weight category above mine is 84kg, and I won’t qualify for the British championships in that category with my current total.

So, this week is going to be about trying to cut 1-2kg without exercising too much (as after Monday, I’m meant to be resting). Up until this Autumn I never had much trouble making weight, but I  think the onset of Winter + moving in with my boyfriend in September (= lots more cooking delicious food!) means my weight has got slightly out of hand.

Luckily (sort of!) my boyfriend is away on business this week, so I’ll be sticking to super-light lunches & dinners, without worrying what he’s eating.

Yesterday my weight was 73.2kg on my home scales first thing in the morning, and 73.2kg on the gym scales post-workout (these are the scales which we’ll be using for the competition). I used to trust my home scales, but not so much any more – I think they’re weighing me slightly heavy. But anyhow, I need to lose 1.5kg in 6 days to be comfortable. Thank goodness it’s only temporary!

If I don’t make weight it’s not the end of the world – this is only a divisional, after all.