Friday before the rules meeting, Mike is flipping through channels while we kill a little bit of time relaxing before the US Strongman Nationals competition on Saturday. A couple standouts on TV were the Muhammad Ali funeral going on at the YUM center within sight of our hotel room. Another standout was the ESPN Special Catching Kayla about a young woman who despite having MS is one of the best distance runners in the country. Inspiration comes from all walks of life; Passion, a desire to succeed, to bring hope into our lives. This competition brought together over 300 strength athletes of various backgrounds, skills, shapes, sizes to do their best, a culmination of tremendous focus, training, and preparation.
At the rules meeting we were asked to raise our hands if we had started competing during certain years. I was one of few to raise their hand for the year 2000, perhaps one of the only women to raise her hand at that moment? Pre-Facebook, and with very limited Internet coverage, I started this sport because I had the opportunity to compete (although I was not at all competitive in the open women’s class in the beginning). I had the opportunity to travel and meet great athletes (such as WSM competitors at the Beauty and the Beast in Hawaii). And after I had my children, I had the opportunity to refocus my health on a challenging sport and be inspired and connected with the strongman community. Going into the contest I felt the best I had since having my toddler, and I hoped to do well. To quote the Catching Kayla special, “And then what happened”…? “I won.”
The first event was a 140lb Log Clean & Press, I got 6 reps and this was certainly a PR for me. The last couple reps were pretty ugly, my knee got pissed at me, so those reps were gritted out strict press style. This was good for a tie for first with Jordanne Beach.
The second event was a 325lb Wagon Wheel Deadlift for reps. I was a little rushed getting strapped in, and was so off center I thought I was misloaded for a moment. I caught my groove and gritted out 16 reps, good for a second place finish.
The third event was a 300lb Fingals Finger. I wasn’t sure how this event would play out. I had only tried the Fingals Finger once before a few weeks prior at Amy Wattles gym Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center in Idaho. I was able to get 2 reps fairly quickly to secure a 2nd place finish, tried for a 3rd flip, but wasn’t able to get under it enough to press overhead. This was a fun event, I hope to do this again in the future (but dang, it was heavy!).
The fourth event was a 350lb Conan’s Wheel. I did this event once before but don’t have hardly any experience with it. We had 60 seconds to get as far as we could go walking in a circle. I ended up with 3 turns plus 4 feet, 8 inches, good for third place. This event was extremely painful for the forearms. Quarters were pretty tight for this event, and unfortunately you had to keep an eye out for people wandering into your path. I had to yell at one person to watch out. Others weren’t as lucky as me keeping people out of the way.
The fifth and final event was a 4 stone series to 2 46” platforms about 20 feet apart from each other, 155-230lbs. I get a little anxious when it comes to doing Atlas Stones, so I was trying not to over think it, and just GO. I didn’t know if I would get the heavier stones, I hadn’t done a 200lb stone in 5 years. I managed to get all 4 stones in 24.7 seconds, a GINORMOUS PR for me. Left me giddy with excitement, it felt so amazing.
I wasn’t sure how I placed after the contest since I was pretty focused on staying calm and hydrated throughout the day, but found out soon enough that I had won the 2016 United States Strongman National championship Middleweight 148lb weight class. Unreal. Time to reconnect with family and friends after traveling, do a little celebrating, and recuperate. Next up, I’ll be going back to Louisville, KY in October for the USS Pro Women’s Worlds competition.
I want to thank the promoters of this contest, judges, and volunteers for making this show happen. This was a task of monumental proportions, the largest strongman show to date. Thank you for such an enjoyable experience. Thank you for the competitors for being so friendly and having such great sportsmanship. Special shout out to Trish Footit for being my bleacher neighbor and keeping me encouraged and informed about the events, and also to Jessica Kite for being so friendly and easy to talk with. Competition was fierce. The weights don’t lie. This was a quality group of women to share the field with. Thank you also to my support network back home - Roger & Ally at RAB Fitness, Cerise Sovern, Thad Sturtevant, Michelle Fahrendorf, my sponsor GenXLabs, New England Women of Strength, my coworkers who surprised me with a celebratory potluck and autograph signing session (☺?!?), Matheson Chiropractic, and especially to my family and my coach/hubby/best friend/personal trainer for life – Mike Kromer.