"Hello my name is Nicole Lawrence I live in Erie PA and this is my fitness journey into Strongman.
I am definitely not your typical athlete. I was born with a hole in my aortic valve, and I have survived two heart surgeries. I was three weeks old for my first surgery, the first surgery was Coarctation of aorta. They went through my ribs. Not open heart. The Second I was three years old and has a sub aortic ridge. That was open heart. And I had VSD as of Which is the hole in my heart, which of this year healed on its own!! My doctor thinks I am nuts, because I am
always coming to him at my yearly checkups with the next " so doc I was thinking I wanna try..."
My journey into fitness has been a long one. In middle school I battled depression from big life changes. And It wasn't until 7th grade I knew I needed to change my lifestyle I started doing taebo on my own 5 days a week and got myself back into better health.
In college I tried BJJ and boxing along with kettlebell training and fell in love!! I was hooked, I became a gym rat! Ever since then I wanted to challenge my body and try different sports. I got into crossfit and realized I really love lifting, and I'm actually pretty decent at it.
But my journey with strongman started when I was photographing a fitness event, and I saw a girl my size doing Dwight Faits strongman event in Erie PA. She was killing it!! And I thought wow, I want to try that. I called Dwight after the show and I met him in Pittsburgh and we started training. He knew about my heart problem and knew we'd have to motify, but he was patient with me. He introduced my to Bill Harris and we trained with him as well. I was hooked after the first time I tried the log. I decided I wanted to compete. My thought process is, God gave my a second and third chance at life: do I sit on a couch and live in fear of the next heart surgery, or do I go out and make the best of the life I have now?
I competed in the USS Pennsylvania record setting show June 26, 2016 as a lightweight open. Which I had to cut for. I was at 142lbs and had to get down to 132lbs in a month. I found this to be a challenge I wanted to take on as well. It was definitely challenging!! But I learned so much about my body, and watching the transformation was amaZing!! I weighed in Saturday afternoon before the competition at 131.6! I made it!!!
I went in with a positive attitude and a whole lot of support from family and friends. My mom even made signs for my boyfriend and I. This was my first lifting competition ever, and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. The first event was the deadlift. It was 3 attempts to max. My lifts were 275lbs, 350lbs, and 375lbs, my previous PR before the event for rack pull was 335lbs. A friend of mine in the competition Kim Walker pushed me to go for the big numbers, and I thank God she did, because I crushed them! The next event was the log, my favorite!! My lifts were 100lbs, 120lbs, and 140lbs, I did the first two lifts no problem, but failed on the 140. My PR going in was 125lb, but I knew I could have got the 130lb log, so I risked it for the 140lb. Even though I failed in my press I am happy, because I will train harder and come back wanting it even more!
I ended up winning my weight class, setting two USS Pennsylvania State records, and qualifying for USS 2017 Nationals!! I was blown away!!
I can't wait to see where my journey into Strongman will go next. I just want to spread the word to others that nothing is too big to accomplish. Your mind, body, and spirit can get you through any goal you set!!
*This all wouldn't be possible without my family, especially my mom, dad, and brothers who have been there for me through it all. Also my amazing friends that always support my crazy fitness goals, even if it means they won't see me for a month, because I am in the gym. Thank you to everyone on Facebook and Instagram for all your kind words and support. And a huge thank you to my boyfriend who supported me through hangry carbzilla nights and even did the event by my side! Also none of my strongman training would be possible without Dwight Fait, Bill Harris, and Jeff Gibbens. Last but not least thank you for your support in the competition Sabrina (team funsized) and Kim!! We will be supporting each other all the way to Nationals!"