My US Strongwoman: Raquel Walters Defies Pundits. Wins Pro Status!

November 6, 2016

She's too girly for strongman; I remember hearing that the first time I set foot in a strongman gym a little over a year ago. “People like her don't have the rage and drive needed to excel in this sport.” Always judged by appearance, if they only knew the pain and struggles that I have overcome in my life. Maybe then they'd understand why I refuse to give up. 


The nervous jitters, the rapid heart rate and so much adrenaline pumping and I hadn't even made weight yet. Three more pounds to go after the water load, bringing me back to memories of the painful cut I did for nationals. Seventeen pounds in two weeks; eight should have been a piece of cake. Some cardio and hotel bathroom steam later I did it, 132.2.  Now the race to refeed and rehydrate for deadlifts the next day. 



 Every competition I go through a rollercoaster of emotions but this one has been by far the most dramatic. I've waited and trained for four months for this one weekend. It was finally time to prove how bad I wanted this. I felt impelled to prove it to myself, and to all those who have doubted me. My coach, Chad Canter, has guided me though some tough months of training, injuries & hard work. I've worked on all my weaknesses, pushed through my mental and physical limits, cried so many tears…will it all be worth it? 


I literally force fed myself, with all the nervousness I had zero appetite but I knew my intake was crucial at this point. Pedialyte, pancakes, cereal, and Mexican food later.. It was approaching 6 o clock and deadlifts were scheduled to start soon. Deadlifts being my most psychological lift I had to make sure I was mentally there and confident in the numbers I was about to attempt to pull. The plan was 365,385,405 but 365 went up a bit slow so I gave 380 as the number for my next pull.


 380 felt easy, slight hitch but not so much of a struggle; I knew I had to make up for going lighter and selected 405 as my last lift. It didn’t move off the ground much but I know with the hunger I have inside it will happen soon enough. My deadlift max has already went up over 50lbs in less than a year, I had to stop being so hard on myself and prepare my mind and body for the big day tomorrow.


Six in the morning and I was wide awake with my mind racing, I was already starting off the day in third, how was I going to fight my way up to first? Viking press was one of my favorite events and was first in the lineup! Tied for second that event, when I knew I needed to be first. The competitor who was in first I remember from nationals. I was a weight class below her and remembered being inspired by her speed, strength and drive…now we were competing side by side.


Next was my least favorite event, which I hated even more when they swapped the husafel that I loved during training to a heavier keg. Two kegs, two of my least favorite implement in strongman for 120 feet each. I knew it was my weakness so I practiced and practiced, for months... But when the most important day came to prove how ready I was I literally forgot how to pick it up. It’s rarely the heavy load that breaks us down; it’s how we carry it, I kept telling myself that.  I was broken after that event, my hamstring felt like it snapped towards the end of the carry and I just felt mentally crushed. I knew I trained it so much faster at my home gym and had so much more in me to let myself fail. I did finish that event, probably 20 seconds slower than first place.


There was no time to pity myself, I had to bounce back and give the farmers walk my all. This was one of my strengths and favorite events. I kept telling myself, it’s light just run, don’t give up now, faster, faster, and I remember hearing my boyfriend and team cheer me on towards the end and helped give me the ability to push through the pain in my hamstring and run. Nevertheless, I still managed to fall short at that event. I was disappointed in my performance and knew I had more fight in me. When the scores were posted and I saw that there was just half of a point separating third and fourth I knew I had to give stones everything I had left if I wanted that pro status. 


I put all self-doubt aside and felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest as I waited for them to say start. I one motioned the first 2 as I could see the fourth place competitor moving along to the 3rd stone and slowing down a bit, I ripped the next one off the ground and loaded it to the platform, then the glory of hitting the heaviest stone, flawless, without any struggle, just as practiced and I knew it all paid off. 


 I now know that the battle wasn't about proving people wrong, it was about proving it to myself that I was strong enough. I put in the hard work, the hours and the effort. I have a full time job as a nurse and juggling training, work and sleep has always been a challenge for me but getting stronger and better at this sport was always a top priority and will continue to be for me. Competing in other sports prior to strongman and the 4 competitions I’ve done since starting strongman I must say that this was one of the most organized and well ran competitions I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you Willie, Mike, and all of you guys at United States Strongman!! I started in this awesome federation and will stay loyal to it!


We are lucky to have you on board! You are an amazing athlete, a fierce competitor and "girly" is just a BONUS!!! ~ USS Team!

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