It is a true fact that, at times, I bite off more than I can chew. There are times where plans seem like a very good idea and executing those plans are a nightmare that turns into exhaustive chaos. However, I tend to hang on to the idea that this is a good plan and let’s go for it and are then too stubborn to let it go. Pretty much me in a nutshell.
This is one of those times.
Last year when schedules came out for Masters Worlds in Weightlifting that were to be held in August and Masters Worlds for Highland Games that were being held in November (unusually late but advantageous for me) I had the great idea to qualify for both and go hard for two World titles in one year. I mean, it wouldn’t be easy but I’m a pretty good thrower and I can work to be a pretty good weightlifter and hey, let’s go for it!
And then National’s happened at the end of March and I realized that in order for me to even have a chance at a Weightlifting world title, I had to drop a weight class. For me, that meant going from 104kg down to 87kg. I started on April 1st and zig zagged my way down for a while and got some amazing help from my friend and teammate, Kathy Cromwell at the Athlete’s House who got me to the magical number of 86.4 for approximately the 7 minutes needed for a good weight in before I jumped right back up to 90. Yup, that fast.
Now if I were someone who wasn’t involved in my actual cutting of the weight, I would read the above paragraph with a perception that this person (me) lost a whole bunch of weight and good for her and wow she was successful doing it and isn’t that nice.
Reality is different. Much much different. The weight cut was one of the biggest roller coaster rides of my life (I’d say THE biggest but then three days ago happened and that takes the number one spot.) There were successful days and the other 90% of the time was me clawing my way down that fucking scale. I would have four, five, even six days stalled out. I would drop five pounds in a week and suddenly go back up 4 pounds and stay there for another week. It sucked. Absolutely sucked. Doesn’t that sound like a fun summer for Matt?
Oh by the way, I had to keep training as hard as I could for a World’s title ASSUMING I could make weight. Also, I had chosen to forego any kind of throwing until after Montreal. I couldn’t add that into the mix. I was already mentally fried and trying to figure out hammers would throw me right over the edge and I was teetering on that ledge on a good day.
While my original “good plan” involved working towards two World Championships, I added a huge weight cut to the equation and that’s where “good plans” go to “hang on through this shitshow.” Again, doesn’t that sound like so much fun for Matt?
I was fortunate enough that part I of the plan was executed. I did it. I made weight with my friend and coach by my side, and I won with my friend’s and coaches and husband by my side. I had sat in an excruciatingly hot sauna with Sheryl Cohen for hours upon hours to make weight which hugely affected my ability to lift anything over 70% and I was slightly mortified at the low total I put up but at the end of the day, I did what I had to do for the win and that needs to be enough. (Not gonna lie though, it still stings.)
I had a whole four days after returning from Montreal to switch gears to being a Highland Games athlete before jumping on a plane and celebrating my son’s Basic Training graduation down in South Carolina. I arrived completely exhausted and while tearing around SC and Virginia didn’t really help that, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Watching your children achieve their dreams and celebrate those moments is such a gift and I’m so thankful I was able to participate in them.
Once I got home from getting Oz settled at AIT, I had three weeks to practice throwing. My plan was to do drills to get acquainted with the mechanics and not drive myself into the ground with overtraining while still recovering from Montreal and everything it took for that success. Again, I believe this to be a really good plan! Mother nature had other ideas. It rained constantly in September and by the time we left for a weekend in Vegas at the end of the month, I had only been able to get out to the field a few times. I still wasn’t panicked…yet. The drills I was able to do felt pretty solid and though I hadn’t measured anything, I felt like I was on the right track.
Then Vegas happened. Our first 24 hours were fantastic. Amazing food and bevvies and plenty of sun for me while Matt went off to work at this trade show. I decided to run to Whole Foods to get some good food for the day along with some snacks, waters that didn’t cost $10 a bottle, and of course some wine. I made myself a salad and Matt a box of good food with many of the same ingredients without the lettuce of the salad.
By the afternoon I wasn’t feeling awesome and by midnight all hell had broken loose. Food poisoning. This is the 3rd time I’ve had food poisoning and it was the worst. In hindsight, I should have gone into Urgent care and gotten help. But I didn’t want to bother Matt with any of it because he was so busy at this trade show so I spent the nights puking and shitting and by the time I was finally able to trust that I would be okay on the plane, I was exhausted and even more sick.
It took over three weeks to finally feel like I could even hold a 21# weight much less throw it. That brought me to mid October. I had two and a half weeks to try to get my shit together to execute Part II of the plan and believe me, I was worried. Very; Worried. My distances were shit. I wasn’t getting my heavy weight past 32 feet (keep in mind, last year I threw it over 50 feet.) My hammers were low enough that I knew I was vulnerable to not only not win them, but not even take 2nd (while they did improve, I DID take 3rd in the Heavy Hammer last weekend;)
I was vulnerable in a way I hadn’t been in throwing for quite a few years. That’s not to say I had always won but I knew my strong events were strong and now I did not have that confidence. I also knew that the other competitors had seriously stepped up THEIR games and this one was going to be a fight. I was right.
Day one was stones, weights, and caber. My plan was to take one of the stones; both weights, and second on Caber (returning World Champion Edie Lindburg is the queen of caber. I consider her unbeatable not to say I wouldn’t try but she is flawless in her turning of sticks and I was correct.) I had to fight hard for those second place finishes and though my weights were a challenge, I got it done. Day one went according to plan but I was tight. It was harder than I’d imagined and I had imagined it’d be tough. I felt incredibly fortunate to be in first place by a point.
Day 2 were hammers and heights and I had hoped to take 1st in all but knew I could absorb a 2nd place in Sheaf if I needed to and executed hammers and WOB. Now, my hammers actually weren’t horrible. They just weren’t as good as I needed and it was a good thing I didn’t know until the very end of the day that I had taken 3rd in heavy hammer (I would have considered an overall win lost at that point so it’s hard to say if I’d have been as determined as I was to finish strong.)
Finish strong. Honestly, I have been in hard fought battles and failed to finish strong in the past and that annoys me. So while three of us were duking it out on 15′ on WOB and the other two women missed their 3rd attempt before my last chance, I looked myself in the mirror (not really but you get the picture) and said, YOU WILL FUCKING MAKE THIS HEIGHT. YOU WILL NOT FAIL. YOU NEED THIS AND YOU WILL GET IT. And I did; barely, but I did. The judge asked what height I wanted to go to next and I’m all, “nope, I’m done.” Thanks but no thanks. I did what I needed to do. I overcame my lack of self confidence and I was ready to move to sheaf.
Now, this was our last event and I believed points were such that I would have won with a solid second place. I was right but not for the reasons I thought but again, thankfully I didn’t know that until we were done throwing Sheaf. I unpacked my brand new fork from Michael Black that I had picked up in Las Vegas and away we went.
On a good day, my sheaf is unreliable. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don’t. Today, I had to hit it. I came in at the opening of 12′. Yup. 12′; 15′, and then 18′ were successful but at 21′ there were still four of us in. Uh oh. I needed 2nd or better and Edie is the sheaf whisperer so I was doubtful I could beat her. Our German friend went out at 22′ but overall bronze medal winner, Bonnie Hicks, was still in. Crap (no offense Bonnie;) That meant I had to hit 23′. And I did. There were enough attempts on my part that the bag literally sat on the bar and decided to go over. I joked that I was going to buy that bar a drink at the end of the day but I wasn’t joking. I had the sheaf gods on my side and made 23 which is where Bonnie went out. I had a moment of “holy shit, I just did this thing.” Briefly because when Bonnie told me she had taken 2nd in heavy hammer and I realized I had taken 3rd, I believed Edie and I were tied and she would have taken the overall win on countbacks going to Caber where Edie had won. Game over.
I went from elated to devastated. We finished watching Edie kick ass on Sheaf and I tried to put on a happy face knowing that not getting 3 inches more on heavy hammer cost me my 2nd World Championship of the year. Fok.
Because of the large number of throwers, the results took hours to be calculated. Hours. At one point, I almost left. I was hot; tired; dejected and had just had the most disgusting thing I’ve ever experienced happen to me back at our tent (a man I didn’t know was drinking with my hubs and friends at the tent. I had changed out of my kilt already and wanted to get out of my stinky Games shirt and didn’t think anything of changing right there to another shirt. I mean, we’re all athletes and I had a sports bra on when he says, in front of all these men whom I love and respect, “Could you do that again only this time in slow motion?” I was fucking flabbergasted. Literally I could have attacked him physically. I said, “I don’t know, ask my fucking husband” and stomped away where I had a few choice words for Matt not kicking his ass on the spot. When we came back, Matt told him to apologize and he did but I was on fire. Bad timing to be a misogynistic asshole to Juli Peterson dude, bad timing. I laid into him pretty good but I just wanted to punch his face. What the actual fuck? I had just let my goal slip through my hands and this asshole cocks off to me in front of my friends? By the way, it’d be best for this man never to cross my path again. I shook his hands for the sake of trying to have fun but I will not forget this moment. Bad news for him.)
Anyways, Rachel Smith saved me from leaving and I’m so glad she did. Even if I wouldn’t have won, I’m glad I was there. Thank you Rachel and Tim Timm, waiting with the two of you was the perfect stress reliever and I adore you both pretty hard.
The moment came where they started announcing our group. I grabbed Matt’s hand, hard, and started walking towards the crowd. Before announcing 2nd place, they said there was only 1.5 points separating the top two spots and they announced Edie’s name. I lost it. Completely. I buried myself into my husband’s arms and couldn’t stop crying.
By the time they announced my name as the World Champion I was pretty much hugging anyone who stepped in my path and when I got to Ruth Welding and Sue Hallen, I couldn’t stop crying. Lucky them, HA! The A.D. of the Games asked if this was my first Championship after giving HIM a hug and I said, “no, but this one means the most.” (I was off on my numbers overall before they were read. I still needed that 2nd place sheaf finish to win but I was mixed up on hammer results. Not a big deal but I didn’t want to leave that out there.)
And it does. It really does. Edie and Bonnie were right there to give more hugs and yes, they got crying Jules. Petra asked why I was crying and I was crying too hard to answer. Heeeheee. I guess I had some tension there.
That’s it. We did it. Me and Matt. We did it. Weight cut and two World Championships in two different strength sports against the best of the best. I told Matt last month that if this thing works, he’s in charge of setting up the celebration. I don’t know what it is yet but he’s in charge. Because this needs to be celebrated and I’m usually moving on to the next thing (weightlifting next weekend) without celebrating achievements. Not this time. This time gets some attention.
But not for at least 10 days because I fly to Seattle on Tuesday to have to make weight again and make a qualifying total of 106kg for 2020 Weightlifting worlds at the Howard Cohen American Championships. Perspective is nice. I was not impressed with my 120kg total in Montreal and all I want next week is my qualifying total of 106. I’m beat to shit. Snatching is painful with a crappy shoulder. My knee stops working if I hit a jerk wrong and I’ll have to work for that 106.
THEN, I’ll be ready to celebrate.
I need to thank so many people and I’m afraid to name them because I don’t want to miss anyone. My husband is the greatest. The absolute greatest. My children for their support. Olivia Tyler for her unselfishness in helping me. My fellow competitors and the 55-59 class ladies. Kevin Rogers, the AD in Tucson along with all of the volunteers and judges. Sue and Ruth for their unending love and support. My weightlifting family of the Cohen’s; Kathy; Lauren and Mel. Scott and Sally. Auntie and Uncle for sharing their day before we headed to Tucson.
Thank you all.
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.
And a little bit of luck. jp