Some Days the Weight Wins

It occurred to me the other day that I hadn’t written my story of World Masters Weightlifting Championships (otherwise known as, Worlds;) back in December. What now seems like a lifetime ago. I hadn’t even thought about it and my reaction to what transpired until the other night as a bunch from the WanAt crew were out for Pizza after celebrating our Buscia’s 95th birthday when my well intentioned brother-in-law asked how that “one meet in Florida” went. Whoops, too soon Steven, too soon.

I’m going to back up a bit first. 2022 had specific goals in specific timing. Get as strong and proficient at the lifts as humanly possible at 55. I was in a new age group and I had the ability to do some damage to standing records, both National and World. Yeehaw, let’s go! Nationals at the end of April found me without my coaches due to a family wedding and Michael connected me with the most excellent stand in, Debbie Millet in Salt Lake City. She was amazing. We did good. It wasn’t everything I wanted to do but it was a good start for the year. I had another National Championship under my belt and set a couple of National records. Goal one checked off for 2022.

I passed on the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico for Pan Ams. Truth be told, I just don’t wanna be that hot when I lift. I don’t throw in the snow or rain either so I’m an equal opportunistic snowflake.

Because of the late timing of Worlds as the international weightlifting world recovers completely from lockdowns (a disgusting word in a free world), the Howard Cohen American Championships were held in August (usually November.) Now I DID have my coaches and even received my medal from the legend himself:) I increased my National records and was especially pleased that my Snatch numbers were 2 kilos shy of the world record and the weight literally FLEW into position in Baton Rouge. Goal 2 achieved.

After recovering from the meet, it was time to really face that my post menopausal weight was not going anywhere and I had to really take inventory of how I wanted to go into the last half of my 50s. Not supersized as I’ve been, was the answer but 3 months before worlds when I have my last set of goals to achieve isn’t the time to address it. Be as strong as possible. Be bold in my attempts in the gym. Gain confidence and go forth to kick ass. I had until December 3rd to prepare but afterwards, I had decided to take the bulk of 2023 off to address the body weight.

Nope, I can’t do both. If I’m competing, I want to be strongest as I can be. Not just strong, strongest. That means that my training has to push me hard and I need food to recover from that hard training. It also means I need to handle the constant inflammation that comes and ensure that it isn’t taking over my recovery. Ya know, kinda important shit old people need to keep an eye out for. So Worlds 2022 was it for the upcoming year and I needed to go out with a bang. Showcase my hard work. Plan A.

If you know me, you already know how that went. A head on car wreck that I’m still paying for physically, 3 days prior to lifting and my world completely fell apart. What my mind could do, my body couldn’t. That I even made a total is something of a miracle. The other day while visiting Savannah, the PollyPocket and I were tooling around talking about Worlds and she said something along the lines of me stating in Orlando that I wasn’t going to be able to lift. To be clear, not competing wasn’t on the table. Didn’t occur to me. But yes, I DID tell her that I wasn’t able to lift. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to deadlift 35kilos 2 days out and I failed due to kneck and knee pain. I had two crying bouts in the training hall each time I tried to lift with little success. I was fucked.

Matt’s pregame hype, normally the talk that gets my grrr face on, led to more tears. Not because I wasn’t going to try, but because some days your body just can’t hold up to the stress you’re about to inflict on it and I knew this was going to be one of those days. Every lift on the platform was like a skyscraper driving me into the ground as I tried to hold the weight up. I had a potential gold medal jerk in my hands and though my mind said “yes”, my spine said, “nope” and I failed to achieve that 3rd and most important goal. I was emotionally destroyed. I was completely unprepared for failure and that it came out of someone else’s inability to, oh I dunno, NOT FUCKING PLOW INTO ANOTHER CAR with me in it hasn’t helped at all. That I was, still am, physically damaged didn’t help. I’m a horrible patient when I’m not 100% and the effort it’s taken not to be a bitter whiny hag about it all has been a lot.

As disappointing as that whole thing was, it has not been my only challenge this last year. In fact, I have had possibly the worst year of my life when adding up personal challenges. I have hits coming from all sides and I’m so very proud that I wake up each day with gratefulness for this amazing life I live with an amazing husband and amazing friends and amazing security that I’ll get to eat today without much effort and most likely vacuum up dog hair from our fuzzball, Glitch.

But I have sadness and in some moments, just like the pang to the heart when faced with a quick reminder that my weightlifting meet didn’t go as planned, the weight of that sadness hits hard enough that I need to stop and acknowledge it. I don’t dwell, but I feel until the feelings are done. Maybe it takes a quick cry, dunno, I don’t rush it. Some moments or even days, the weights of the world win.

Just like physical inabilities in the moment (I have officially joined the ranks of doctors appointments, and even today am in considerable pain and inflamed from a snatch session yesterday that built to a measly 45kilos) there are times I have emotional/mental inabilities to handle a session of difficulties spiraling around me. The ability to compartmentalize and focus on moving forward is a beautiful thing, highly recommended.

In many ways, the last 3 years has not been easy for so many. The weights of the world are crushing more and more and the inability to deal with these struggles is apparent every day. Yours may be also, just don’t throw your shit onto someone else thinking it’s going to help you feel better. It won’t. You’re going to have to buck up and feel your feelings while being grateful that you live in the most amazing Country on the planet (except for those few readers on here who plug in from China, sorry guys, you’re fucked.) Keep fighting for yourself and remember when the weights get too heavy, you’re going to be okay. When that jerk wouldn’t stay overhead for a gold medal, I put the weights down instead of trying to keep it overhead for a couple of months. Do that. Even when the weights win, acknowledge it and then get back in the fight.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Ann Racmacher

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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