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2017 Capital City Open: My First Weightlifting Meet – Kayla Webb

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About Me

Hi Old Cityzens! My name is Kayla and for those who don’t know me, I’ve been a member at Old City for about two years. I joined in June 2015.

I moved back to D.C. that same year shortly after starting my first-post college job. I’ve always been fairly active with sports: I played basketball in high school. But during college, I gained quite a bit of weight.

Therefore, I cleaned up my diet (counted calories), started practicing Muay Thai/Mixed Martial arts and did some basic lifting on my own (squat, bench, deadlift, press) losing about 25 lbs in the process.

When I moved to D.C. I wanted to try CrossFit because of its “constantly varied” reputation. I was tired of doing my own programming at the regular gym, and I hit a plateau on the basic lifts.

At Old City, I tend to come in for the 6pm/7pm classes but you’ll occasionally see me bright and early at 5/6am if I have to work late.

What kept me coming back in those early days of joining was the atmosphere. Everyone — especially the coaches — was nice and welcoming. I was initially afraid because of the reputation CrossFit had (or has?) of being intimidating.

Within the first few months, I saw my body changing pretty quickly and I was getting stronger. I fell in love with the Olympic lifts — snatch and clean & jerk — mostly due to the fact that Old City added a one-day per week barbell/gainz club where we focused solely on perfecting those lifts. The barbell class initially started as a speciality 6-week program. (Fun fact: I hated — HATED!! — the snatch. But now it’s my favorite lift ^_^)

About USAW

On Sunday April 9, I completed in my first official, USAW-sanctioned weightlifting meet.

For those not too familiar, USA Weightlifting (USAW) is the national governing body for the sport of weightlifting in the United States. Top competitors are chosen to compete and represent the USA in major international events such as the Olympics and the World Championships.

Within USAW are state-oriented Local Weightlifting Committees (LWCs), and ours (the DC/MD/VA area) is the Maryland/Potomac Valley region. There are about 4 local meets per year in our region.

Meet Preparation

I’m usually not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but one of my resolutions was to sign up and compete in a weightlifting meet. So, honestly, that was the main reason I decided to do it. This particular meet opened registration in January, so it was perfect. I signed up as soon as registration opened, and I’m glad I did because it was sold out within an hour.

I had about 3 months to improve technique and get stronger. Our squat/press/deadlift cycle during the CrossFit classes were right on time. For barbell club, we focused on a eccentric and concentric muscle contractions by using pause and tempo techniques (i.e. 6-second descent on squat or 3 second pause in the bottom of the squat).

There was a also a lot of volume at high percentages, such as clean & jerk singles and doubles at 85%+++. One of the keys to proficiency at the Olympic lifts (if there is such a thing?) is to do it over… and over.. and over.. and again until every single rep feels the same.

The Meet

At 6 a.m., I arrived at Trident CrossFit and Jason, who was my coach, was already waiting for me. He’d also bought a bunch of goodies from Whole Foods for me to re-fuel on after weigh-ins. Nice!

I weighed in at 56.65kg/124.6lbs. For the 58kg weight class, you must weigh in at or under 127.68. I wasn’t too worried about making weight since I was very strict with my diet in the week leading up to the meet. I also weighed myself every morning to make sure I was on track. As for my diet, I kept protein and veggies high, and limited carbohydrates to grains and fruit. It was tough mentally, but I had an end-goal so I stuck to the plan.

The Snatch

After weighing in at 6 a.m., I had approximately 2 hours until first lift at 8 a.m. I ate a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and a superfood pouch, which is basically a blend of a bunch of organic carby-goodness (http://shineorganics.com/products/calm/). The goal here was to eat lots of carbs to replenish my depleted glycogen stores. I probably had two more of those before the first lift.

Jason had me do some rowing on the erg and dynamic stretches. Then we started warming up with the Thacker method (http://daily.barbellshrugged.com/thackermethod/) and some power snatches. I hit several reps just below my first attempt, 45kg/99lbs.

I was terrified.

Just before I was about the go up to the platform — maybe about 1-2 lifters away — I failed a power snatch at the opening attempt.

Devastating.

What if that happened out on the platform? The barbell was feeling heavier than usual. I was getting way in my head and doubting myself. There were other lifters watching. I look stupid in this singlet. They probably think I suck. Maybe I wasn’t as strong as I thought? I’m going to bomb all three of these snatches, I thought. In retrospect, those thoughts were completely ridiculous but that’s how I was feeling.

Jason knew it was ridiculous too. He told me to visualize executing the lift. I’ve done this hundreds of times during training. I got this. There was also about 18 of my closest friends — fellow Old Cityzens — who graciously woke up stupid early to watch me throw some barbells around. I had to get out of my head and do the damn thing.

I stepped up to the platform. It was bright. I took a deep breath. I purposely did not look out into the crowd. I got into position and power snatched. *Exhale*

I did that two more times at 48kg/105.6 lbs and 52kg/114.4 lbs. The last attempt was below my current 1 rep max of 59kg but I was fine to be conservative with the snatch. It’s much more technical than the clean & jerk.

The Clean & Jerk

After about a 5-10 minute intermission. We started clean & jerk attempts. The nerves and self-doubt were pretty much gone. In my mind, I had already won the day. I survived the snatch.

Unlike with the snatch, I warmed up the clean & jerk just few kilos above my opening weight. I was ready to crush it.

First attempt at 56kg/123lbs felt like butter. So smooth. I was getting comfortable up there. The second attempt felt the same at 64kg/140.8lbs. It was at this point that Jason asked if I wanted to go for a PR. I was already at 5/6 lifts. Not bad. Why not try to go for the PR? Why the hell not? Let’s do it! In training I remembered failing at jerk at 70kg/155lbs. The most recent PR was *barely* 68kg/150lbs. I say barely because I felt like I had pressed out the jerk. Pressing out is allowed in CrossFit but in weightlifting, it results in a “no-lift.”

My last attempt was 69kg/151.8lbs. Again, like butter. The lift felt really good. No struggle at all. I was ecstatic to go 6/6 at my first meet and set a PR. The goal wasn’t to win or make it on the podium, honestly. I did this for me, for me to be the best lifter that I can be and prove to myself that I can do it under pressure.

Final total: 121kg/266lbs

After the meet, a bunch of us headed back to H St. and got some grub at Whole Foods. I promptly ate like a pig: buffalo chicken pizza, a salad with all the fix-ins and a huge slice of pie with ice cream from Dangerously Delicious Pies. Yummy.

What’s next?

Many of the lifters at the meet were trying to qualify for the 2017 National Championships (http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Weightlifting/Events/2017/May/11/2017-USA-Weightlifting-National-Championships) scheduled to take place in May in Chicago, Ill., or the American Open Series. For the 58kg weight class, the qualifying total to register for that meet is 163kg/358lbs. My total is about 100lbs short. Needless to say, I have to get a lot stronger to make it to that level. I’m currently ranked 211 out of 492 women nationally in the 58kg weight class.

In closing, I’m not saying competing on a national level is a goal because I like to take it one day at a time and one training session at a time. It’s taken me two years to get to this point. I genuinely enjoy the process of training. Piece by piece, if that process allows me be good enough to compete on the national level someday, so be it.

For anyone looking to compete in a local meet, I say 100% go for it, even if it’s just to say you did it.
The best part of it, though, was the fact that my Old City family was there to support. It was absolutely amazing to feel that loved and supported, and it’s one of the many things I adore about our little community.