My first strongman competition is in the bag and I can definitely say, it was one of the most fun and awesome experiences, ever. I recommend grabbing some coffee – it’s going to be a long one.
I weighed in the night before (about 5lbs under my weight class cut-off) so I wasn’t worrying about getting to the competition venue too early. I woke up early enough to make sure I had time to eat something, drink coffee, and warm up a little before I had to head to athlete’s rule meeting at the competition gym at 9:30. I went over to my gym (which is just a few blocks away from the competition venue) to practice a few things with my coach and warm up and found out that the atlas stone event involved loading the first stone to a 60 inch platform – meaning, the platform was as tall as I was – making it super difficult. We practiced for a few minutes and then it was time to go to the rules briefing. After heading over to the competition gym, getting settled, and the rules meeting, my husband and I just hung out for awhile. I met my other competitors who were all SUPER nice and spent some time saying hi to everyone who came to watch (again, THANK YOU. Seriously, you guys made the day 1000x better. I definitely had the best fan section, ever) and then it was go time. The competition ran from 11-6 including awards ceremonies so let’s start at the beginning:
Max axle clean & press: This event was run auction-style on two platforms (novice men + women & open men). So there would be a loaded axle bar (a big fat hollow bar) on the platform, the weight would be called out, and then if you wanted to lift it, you stepped on the platform, told them your name, and had 60 seconds to attempt to make the lift. If you failed, you were out. You got an opportunity to put up a max of three successful attempts. Once a bar sat for 30 seconds, the weight was moved up in 20 pound increments. No one touched the 80 pound bar so the 100# was put on. I lifted the 100# first with a successful continental clean & jerk. I attempted 120#, cleaned it three times, but couldn’t make the jerk. By the time my third attempt at 120# (in 60 seconds) came around, I was pretty gassed. I was a bit disappointed by this – I KNOW I could do 120# but I didn’t fully commit to the jerk.
Farmer’s walk for max distance: I was REALLY worried about this event simply because I had never been able to pick up 160# in each hand. I had done 135# in training and had no issues with that but last time I tried to pick up just 150#, I couldn’t get it off the ground. I pretty much HAD to make this pick up so I just focused on that. We went against another person from our division and I was up first again. The pick up was much easier than I anticipated and I started walking. I felt one handle start slipping out of my right hand and knew I was going to lose it much earlier than I was capable of, so I just walked until it fell out of my hand. I made it about 65 feet when I know I could have made it to at least 80, if not more. I think my grip was a little off and I should have chalked up more (it was pretty humid) so I was a bit disappointed with that but overall, I PR’ed the heck out of this event.
Max 18 inch deadlift: This was run auction-style like the clean & press event, except the weights moved up by 50 pound jumps. The bar started at 200 for the novice & women’s platform – none took that so we moved on to 250. I took 250# and made it easily – this was a guaranteed lift for me so I wasn’t concerned. Next up was 300#, which I had never made before. I made 300# without too much difficulty, about 90 seconds after pulling 250# and I was super happy about that. I couldn’t get 350# though but overall, I was glad I PR’ed it. That 350# is right there though, it will happen soon – just wasn’t there after a 320# farmer’s walk and pulling 250# and 300# a few minutes before.
Tire flip/sled medley: This event. Ugh. The event was to flip a 450# tire three times then drag a heavy sled, all in 60 seconds. I’ve struggled with the tire flip in training and knew it was going to be difficult. I ended up DNF’ing this event because I couldn’t flip the tire. I just couldn’t get under it. Weight wise, it was heavy, but I felt like my technique was off more than anything. I was pretty pissed about it but there was nothing I could do after my 60 seconds was up except get ready for the next event.
Atlas stones: This event had athletes loading stones on a graduated platform with the lightest stone going to the highest platform and the heaviest stone going to the lowest platform. My weight class division started with 100# stone, which is a VERY easy stone for me to load. It’s really light and small and I’m extremely confident with it. Again, we had 60 seconds to load as many as possible. I ended up DNF’ing this event and being so painfully close to loading that 100# stone (see the photo!). The starting platform was 60 inches high – I’m 5’5. I just couldn’t get it over the lip of the platform – I tried several times and nearly had it the last time but couldn’t do it. At one point, the stone was just on my face and apparently, you can’t really push press a stone with your face. I wasn’t happy about not doing well on this event either – I’ve practiced stones for weeks and weeks but I’ve never done them to that high of platform, besides practicing a few times that morning. A lot of the shorter men had a tough time getting their starting stone to the 60 or 64 inch platform as well – it ended up being a tough event for most people.
As far as how I felt, I really wasn’t nervous at all. I was a bit nervous the night before when I was packing everything up, but on the day of, I was pretty calm. I was actually a bit surprised by how NOT nervous I was since I had anticipated being a ball of nerves. I also felt fairly energized the majority of the day – towards the end, my body was definitely getting tired but I still felt surprisingly good. The women had a good chunk of rest time between events while the novice and open men competed so there was lots of foam rolling, eating, hydrating, and talking with people. I made sure to eat between every event which really helped me keep my energy levels up. I’ve got a whole post about this – so more on that later. My fellow competitors all knew it was my first competition and were extremely nice, supportive, and encouraging which helped keep the day fun. Also, the entire event was VERY well run and everyone there had a great time. My parents came out and ended up having a blast watching everyone – they were totally into it! The way the event was structured was really great and it gave athletes enough rest time while keeping spectators engaged and keeping things moving along at a nice pace. Plus, it was AMAZING to watch everyone else compete – there were some seriously mind-blowing feats of strength that occurred.
Obviously, I came in 4th of 4 since I did DNF two events. I wasn’t aiming to win, just to go out and do my best. Did I perform up to my potential on everything? No, I definitely didn’t. The jerks and tire flips are an issue of me being mentally committed to the movement and telling my head to shut up. The atlas stones, well, I think that was just an issue of technique, being a newbie, and not having a chance to practice on such a high platform since we didn’t know about it until the morning of the event. I was secretly hoping there would be another girl or two that was inexperienced that I could easily compete against but I’m glad there wasn’t. I competed against girls who all either exclusively train strongman or get regular implement practice – one girl has even qualified for nationals already. Overall, I’m glad I had a bunch of very strong and experienced ladies to compete with – it really made it that much more of a learning experience. Plus, it was really fun to talk to with them and get tips for next time!
After eating the most epic of post-competition meals, getting a full night of good sleep, and waking up covered in bruises, scrapes, and being pretty sore (which I’m sure will only increase as the day goes on), I can safely say – I’m totally ready to do this again. Plus, I need my revenge on that damn 450# tire.
There will be a few more posts related to this including a full write-up about what I packed, what I used, etc. If there is anything else you want to know about – ask! There isn’t a ton of stuff out there about strongman competitions, especially for women, so ask away Also, if I get some better photos (instead of all phone photos like these) expect to see some of those as well!
P.S. THANK YOU to everyone who wished me luck! You all are awesome