The sound of the roaring crowd. The music. The smoke and mirrors. The loud announcer. These are all things you think of when you envision an athlete becoming a pro. While a strongman competitor might still have a loud announcer calling their name much of the success and hype comes from within.
For months leading up to a competition you draw your inner strength to push yourself when no one is watching. All the soreness, bruises and exhaustion just to improve your time by 1 second or pull 1 more rep. All the self-doubt wondering if you are strong enough or fast enough to take the win. Have you trained harder than everyone else? Leave no doubt. Train your heart out.
My decision to compete at Pro Women’s Worlds wasn’t about proving to everyone else that I was strong enough or fast enough. It was about proving to myself that I was good enough to compete with all the women I looked up to in the strongman world. To be one of the strongest.
Before I could even compete I had to focus on making the cut to 132 pounds. 8 weeks away and I was sitting at 153 pounds. I had used a few different nutrition coaches and I knew I needed some serious guidance to make this cut perfect. Maintaining strength was so critical. I turned to Kim Baum and Adam Derks. Kim was coming back into the strongman world after becoming an IFBB physique pro. Adam Derks is pound for pound one of the best strongman competitors out there. It only made sense to pick the best to get the results I needed. I was not disappointed. They spent more time than I could ask for communicating with me exactly what to do. It was absolutely perfect. I made weight a few hours before I arrived with minimal amounts of sweating. This alone allowed me to keep my strength and feel ready to go the next day.
One of the hardest things for a competitor to do is to figure out exactly how to train for a competition. Unlike most sports there is no written cookie cutter program out there that you can just use and expect to be completely ready. For this reason, it is important to learn from other strongman and also allow experienced people to guide you. Enter Matt Mills owner of Lightning Fitness. If anyone knows me they know I always ask a million questions (Mike Johnston), so naturally communication was important. In June Matt took the initiative to introduce himself to me. This was an exemplary move for someone interested in your success. Matt had the pleasure of answering all my questions during prep and soothing all of my self-doubts. His training was diverse and had the ability to push me outside of my comfort zone. One thing that stands out in my mind is the husafell/keg medley. Due to an equipment malfunction the husafell stone was replaced with a keg. This made the medley heavier overall. I never even flinched about the weight increase. Why? Because Matt had me training sets above competition weight for weeks. Even heavier than what I would now be carrying. I came out on top with a time of 36seconds, 7 seconds faster than the 2nd place finisher.
Earlier in my training cycle I had suffered an SI joint sprain causing me to back off on my deadlifts tremendously and work my way back. This alone was a huge set back. Again Matt programmed around my injury and closer to competition soothed my self-doubt. I hadn’t pulled heavy for almost 3 months and I hadn’t touched anything close to what I had hoped to hit. Things became a lot clearer when 3 weeks out I hit a pr on deadlift in my warmups. Suddenly I was peaking just in time to pull what I had hoped for. I opened with 365 which was a match to my previous personal best. That alone seemed absolutely crazy to me. I went on to hit 385 and have one hell of a fight with 405. I may not have locked it out, but I can see that number on the horizon.
This competition was a series of adrenaline rushes, nervous waiting and all-out effort. I remember Brian Shaw saying you have to know when and how to turn it on and shut it off. Besides being a giant nervous wreck on deadlift the last 4 events were spent calming myself until go time. Taking the in between time to sit and relax. Save my energy.
Farmer’s Walk was the event that would determine if I could win the competition. I needed to win this event to stay ahead. I sat in my seat waiting to go, telling myself this was it…. You either move as fast you can or you don’t do it at all. You either win this or go home. When Mike yelled lift there was no stopping me. I took off yelling in my head, “faster, faster, faster!” I waited anxiously to find out the results of the event. I won the event. I was in contention to win this competition. Inside I knew they saved the best for last…my favorite event, Stones.
Only 1 point separated 1st and 2nd place. In order for me to hang on to the lead I had to Win the event. We waited for what seemed like an eternity. I doubted myself. I played up my opponent. I reeled myself back in to focus and remember. I am good at this event.
I received some encouraging words from a friend who reminded me I worked hard for this. No luck. Just training.
In the video you can see Willie Wessels throw his hands down when they yell lift. In my head when I see that I see the word FIGHT! The stones became a blur. I literally one motioned and threw each stone up on the platform. It instantly became clear why I loved stones. On the fourth stone I could see out of the corner of my eye that this was it... I had won. I turned to watch my opponent load the last stone. I couldn’t believe I had won. I jumped in the air and threw my hands up out of sheer happiness.
I DID IT!!!!
This wasn’t luck. This wasn’t coincidence. This was hard work. This was support from friends, training partners and coaches. This was commitment. I was fully committed to becoming a Pro Strongwoman.
In the end I took away from Louisville a badass belt, a few bumps and bruises, a ton of new friends and the same respect for United States Strongman that keeps me coming back.
Thank you, Champ! We appreciate you! You keep asking questions and keep coming back, we are proud to have you!!!