This weekend marked the inaugural United States Strongman National Championships. While I have been involved in iron sports in some form or another for several years, I am relatively new to strongman. I was able to qualify for nationals at an event hosted by Kentucky State Rep Shawn Nevels in April. Let me paint a picture of that: a full day of lifting things in the rain between trips to the beer garden on the riverfront in Paducah, KY and bringing home a bitchin' Viking Helmet that now serves as a hat rack in my apartment and impromptu halloween/whenever-I-want costume. When asked if I wanted to do that on a bigger stage with more people, it was pretty much a no brainer.
Fast forward to Saturday morning: I woke up feeling great. I think most competitors experience varying amounts of nervousness throughout their entire prep for an event. My nervousness always hits the minute I step into the venue and pretty much takes the remainder of the morning to get a handle on and just start partying. Today, we start the party with a yoke.
475ish yoke: I would normally call this my worst event. The beauty of being a middleweight is I can grab last minute pointers/reminders from whichever class goes before me. This shit was heavy. I calmed down and focused on getting a good pick and making small steps and throwing any concern for speed in the flusher. I got a great stable starting position and began the slowest yoke run of my entire life, as I expected. A few steps in, I got into a decent rhythm and started totally feeling myself. So much that I started thinking (in error) that I am moving SO DAMN FAST that I can afford to take larger strides. WRONG. Drop. Got another good pick, got my head together, took a few more steps and gained juuuust enough confidence to blow it. Drop. There was a two drop limit, so where we landed is where we stayed. I do think that with unlimited drops and like a 10 minute cap, I would have made it the 60ft ;)
130 Log Overhead: I would normally call this a strong event for me. The logs we were able to work on were some of the most comfortable in terms of width and grip. My only downfall on this event was just how fast my heart was racing right before the initial clean. Ultimately this made me drop the log after six pretty solid push presses. I reset and hit a couple more and ended the event with 8. Lesson learned: there is an undersold benefit of being able to calm down before events. I may never take another stimulant prior to events outside of the caffiene I require to be functional.
400ish Car Deadlift: Throughout my entire training, I did not worry much about this event. I am a pretty solid deadlifter/squatter and had a car in an event before. I had loaded a car jack with a tire a couple times since April, but honestly not often enough. That bit me right in the ass. A deadlift =/= a car deadlift. A trap bar deadlift =/= a car deadlift. The only thing that = car deadlift..is a damn car deadlift. Wanna know why I know that? Because I straight ZERO'd this event. Note: I got to be on the platform next to Buffy "The Deadlift Slayer" Gordon who blew my MIND with her performance. When I grow up, I hope I am as strong as her. Lesson learned: train for specific events, and be cool when things dont go your way.
330 Frame carry 60ft: another very comfortable implement. To the competitors that got to walk home with these and add them to their gyms, I am incredibly jealous. We got to run these 4 at a time which was cool. I had surprisingly really stepped up my moving event game. I picked it up, grip felt great, and I ran like the wind. I believe I finished this in 9.2 seconds.
Stone load series: 125/150/175/200/225: Fashionably late as always, my second breath of life showed up for the last event. Right before the event started, President Willie Wessels said "Just snatch this first one up." Sometimes really simple advice goes really far. I one motioned the first four stones, before quickly lapping the 225 and finishing the day on a good note.
I managed to snag a third place, and I am really happy with that. Each event brought to light something I could have worked on and possibly improved my placing, but there will always be other shows. The truth is, the ladies I got to compete against were all incredible athletes and sharing a huge stage with them was a honor. I know everyone says that, but I really mean it. I have been lucky/dumb enough to compete in several iron sports multiple times. I have made lasting friendships at every event. The feeling of comradery from this group ranks up there as one of the most welcoming, positive environments I have ever competed in. From administration to execution, Willie Wessels, John Albrecht and Mike Johnston did a tremendous job. I look forward to the next competition. Until then, I have a car deadlift to iron out.
Annie Gunshow, HBIC at NBS Fitness M.S., CSCS