Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 USAW Senior National Championships

My awesome coaches @ I at weightlifting Nationals 2014!

Two weeks ago I competed in the 2014 USA Weightlifting Senior National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The competition was at the Grand America Hotel, which is pretty much the best hotel in SLC and a HUGE upgrade from last year's roller rink venue.  More than 400 athletes competed at Nationals, making 2014 the largest weightlifting nationals ever!  There were two platforms running simultaneously and weight classes had multiple sessions.  

It was my second time at Nationals and this year, Catalyst Athletics sent 10 lifters: a full women's team and almost a men's team!  The National Catalyst lifters were: me (48kg), Danielle Welihozkiy (53kg), Jessica Salvaggio (58kg), Alyssa Sulay (63kg), Chelsea Ryan (69kg), Tamara Solari (75+), Blake Barnes (69kg), Zack Height (85kg), our coach: Greg Everett (105kg), and Brian Wilhelm (105+).

This Nationals trip was especially fun!  We had a lot to look forward to.  My really good friends: Hillary Hegener (75kg) and Sarah Hopping (75kg) from Arena Ready also lifted at Nationals, so when were done, we explored SLC a bit, drove down and hiked the Narrows at Zion National Park, and then spent a night in Vegas.  Also, as an added bonus, we got upgraded to the Grand Parlour suite at the Grand America.  The suite was larger than our house in the Bay Area and probably the nicest hotel room I've stayed in to date.

Training Away from Catalyst and My Coach.
Leading up to this meet, I had a pretty rough schedule.  I'm a technical consultant by day and I had a client who bought all my hours in Q2.  I spent 45 week nights living in a hotel (and yes, I became SPG Platinum) for 10 out of the 12 weeks in my Nationals training cycle.  I slept in my own bed less than five times per month.  That meant that I was not around to train with my teammates and not around for Greg to watch and critique my lifts.  I was at Catalyst at most two times a week.  Lucky for me, my friends at San Rafael Barbell/Tamalpais CrossFit were extremely supportive and let me train there for most of the cycle, and I'm extremely grateful for that.  They provided me everything I needed, but training there was tough due to external factors.  The only time I could train given my work schedule was at 5am.  No one's lifting at that time, so it was ten weeks of lifting alone with no coach.  I must have built some mental toughness from that as oddly enough, I had one of my best and most consistent training cycles.  Every week I was snatching my best for waves and clean and jerking at most 2kg off from my best.  Given the numbers I was lifting consistently in training week after week, you would think I could easily do that at the meet.  

Leading Up to Nationals
Work did not put me in a good position leading up to Nationals.  I was traveling so much I was worried about making weight since that meant all I could do was eat out.  Lucky for me, I was in Marin county and Sol Food is quite tasty and not that bad for you.  I had no consistency in my life and really no "home".  My schedule for July, before Nationals was pretty crazy:
  • 6/30 - 7/3: San Rafael for work
  • 7/3 - 7/7: Portland
  • 7/7 - 7/9: San Rafael for work, red-eye on 7/9 to New York
  • 7/9 - 7/12: New York for work
  • 7/13 - 7/16: San Rafael for work, last flight to SLC for Nationals
  • 7/17: supposed to be PTO, but had fires to put out at work
  • 7/18: my turn to shine @ Nationals.  immediately after lifting, more fires to put out at work
I was so stressed out, but I guess at least my lifestyle has been consistent with the past 12 weeks.  I also had the best support group: I was in touch with my team members, Greg was always available, my friends Liz and Hillary drove our stuff to SLC, and Colin was so sweet and came up to San Rafael to keep me company the week of Nationals.  

My Experience at the Meet
Unlike previous national meets, I was in the B session this year.  At first, I was kind of bummed out about it but then I came to my senses.  Who cares what session you lift in?  At the end of the day, it's the total you put up that matters.  Plus, the sooner I lift, the sooner I can eat!  I lifted on Friday in the 48kg B session.  Like at Americans, coming into my session, I felt like I had everything going for me.  I took my learnings from previous meets and made sure I had enough to hydrate and eat with before lifting.  My friends flew in to support, the entire team was there, my coaches were there, we had the best room in the venue hotel, I was injury-free, room service was ordered for after weigh-ins, cupcakes were purchased, and I had all the food I wanted.  As for weight, I weighed in at 46.76kg.  I gotta stop doing that.  Compared to other meets, I was relatively calm and excited to lift big.

Also unlike other meets, I really made sure I was hydrated.  After downing two bottles of Cytomax, I could not stop peeing during warm ups.  I guess at least I was super hydrated.  Snatch warm ups felt and looked really good.  I was feeling pretty saucy.  However, for some reason the session ran way slower than usual.  Because of this, Greg had me do snatch waves in the back, which is something I'm terrible at.  I missed my last warm up in the back before showtime  That must have screwed with my mind as I missed my first two attempts at 53kg, a relatively easy weight for me and a weight I could make consistently.  I've never been in the position where I missed my first two attempts and when that happened, all I could think of was WTF.  Given how well my snatches have gone this cycle, I could not believe this was happening.  The plan was 53-55-57.  My coach and I both thought I was going to go 3/3 for snatches.  After digesting all that had happened, I knew I had to forget the last two misses, reset, and go out there and make this lift.  I haven't missed 53kg for the past two months and I can do this weight for doubles.  That was all I could think about: baby weight.  Coming out on stage, my friends said they've never seen me with so much determination.  I easily made my last snatch attempt at 53kg.  After making that weight, I was so relieved that I did not bomb out.  What a roller coaster of emotions all in like less than ten minutes.

In the past, I often got winded for clean and jerks.  I could live without clean and jerks, or maybe specifically just the jerk, but I had to get those thoughts and what happened with snatches out of my head.  This year, I tried something new to distract me and fire me up for my least favorite lift.  My goal was not to end up winded for the jerk.  In between snatches and clean and jerks, I basically double fisted a Justin's Snicker-like bar and a red velvet cupcake, and then chased it down with some Spark.  Holy crap it worked.  We took my opener down to 67kg because of snatches.  I made 67, missed the jerk at 69 and then came back and made 69kg.  That was a competition PR clean and jerk and also a 1kg PR total of 122kg.  

Final Thoughts
Even though I PRed my total and had a competition PR clean and jerk, I was extremely bummed out about how the meet went.  It was a terrible lifting day for me and the lowest total I made for the past ten weeks.  I went into Nationals expecting consistency and a lot from myself and when I failed to make what I had set out to do, all I could feel in the moment and for the rest of the day was disappointment.  After all my emotions settled down, I feel a lot better about my performance at Nationals.  I could have easily missed that final snatch, bomb out, and not even post a total.  To come back after missing my first two snatch attempts is an accomplishment in itself.  Plus clean and jerks did not go so badly.. for any day.  A PR by 1kg in the competition clean and jerk and total, is still a PR!  I also learned that Cytomax for hydration, Spark for caffeine, and cupcakes and Justin's "snickers-like bar for clean and jerks work for me.  And most importantly, I had so much support from Greg, Aimee and Matt, my teammates, my friends who attended live, and friends who watched the webcast.  All and all, a good meet for me and a lot learned.

If I take a step back even further, and compare this to Nationals last year, I totaled almost 10kg more.  For both snatch and clean and jerk, I opened at weights I could not do at the same time last year!  64kg in the clean and jerk was a huge PR for me at Nationals last year.  After one full year on the Catalyst team and being coached by Greg, I've learned so much, gotten a lot stronger, and improved on my technique and consistency.  If I compare this to my first weightlifting meet two years ago (38kg/56kg/94kg total as a fat 48), I'm shocked by how much progress I made.  

The Catalyst Lifters:  
As a team, this was a great meet for us!  Everyone made it to Salt Lake.  People got upgraded rooms.  No one bombed out.  A few people PRed.  Brian even went 6 for 6!  Tamara got bronze and Brian got silver.  Team competition went up a notch this year but our ladies team still managed a bronze medal for the second year in a row!  Pretty spiffy!  I'm so proud of our teammates for kicking booty out there!

All the top lifts from team Catalyst at the 2014 weightlifting Nationals

Determined to make my final snatch, 53kg.

Making the most out of Nationals, stoked to make 69kg for the clean and jerk

Danielle, 67kg snatch @ 53kg BW

Jessica (58kg), silver medal clean and jerk and bronze total!

Alyssa, 75kg snatch @ 63kg BW

Chelsea, 100kg clean and jerk with a smile @ as light 69kg

Tamara (75+), bronze clean and jerk and bronze total!

Blake (69kg), 4 for 6, awesome job!  didn't get pictures of him since I was lifting on the other platform!

Zack (85kg), 145kg clean and jerk.

Our coach, Greg (105kg), PR snatch @ 141kg and a 5th place finish overall!

Brian, 6 for 6 and three silver medals in the 105kg+ weight class!

Registration.  Huge upgrade from last year.

Cytomax for hydration

Preparation for clean and jerks

My awesome coaches: Greg and Aimee!

My friends also lifted at Nationals: Sarah Hopping and Hillary Hegener from Arena Ready!

Best support group ever @ Nationals!

Post Nationals eating @ High West in Park City!

Post Nationals canyon hiking @ Zion National Park.  The Narrows!

2014 USAW Senior National Championships: Results 20142014 Info
Greg Everett's 2014 USAW Nationals Recap

As always, my overall experience at Nationals was awesome because of the support crew I had: my coach: Greg, the other coaches that helped out: Aimee, Matt and Aaron; Meshelle, Michael and Griff at San Rafael Barbell/Tamalpais Crossfit for letting me do almost my entire Nationals cycle at their gym, my teammates, my sponsors: PurePharma and Strengthlete, my friends who were at the event and everyone who watched on the webcast, sent me texts/emails/posted on my FB wall.  Even when I'm down, these people make me feel better and I'm so lucky and thankful for all their support.  

Also, hats off to the volunteers and USAW for a well-run event in a fabulous venue!  It actually felt like the "National" championships this year.  No broken platforms, on-time sessions, food options and a large warm up area.  There were even platform banners, a curtain to separate the two platforms and spotlights.  What an upgrade from last year!   

Lastly, great job to all the competitors!  Regardless of how well or terribly you think you did, it's still a huge accomplishment to lift with our country's best lifters at Nationals!  Now that I'm back from my post nationals mini vacation, it's time to get back to work and train for Americans in December!

Other Olympic Weightlifting Competitions: 2014 Cal Strength Meet | 2014 Hassle Free Open & Invitational | 2013 American Open |  Ensign Grey Invitational | 2013 Senior National Championships | 2013 Fall Classic | 2013 PWA Senior Open2012 Redwood Empire
Other Comps I Participated In: Occupy Strength NorCal | 2013 CrossFit Games Open | 2013 Sac Town Throwdown | NorCal Regionals -Team | 2012 CrossFit Games Open2012 Sac Town Throwdown | 2011 OktoberFit