As promised, I told you I would post my results as soon as possible regarding my placing at the America's Strongest Woman Show. As you know, I have only been training with strongman implements for about two months now. I made the decision to train in Las Vegas with Nick Best, current World's Srongest Man competitor, and retired world ranked World's Strongest Man competitor, Mark Phillipi. Under their careful guidance, they trained me so that I would peak for this show. Just two short months ago, I was just learning the finer nuances of handling the implements for this national level contest, which attracted the finest of North America's strongest woman, many of which are veterans of these shows for a minimum of five years, and in most cases, more. Despite that fact, I knew I was up against a really experienced field of women, I was confident, even with minimal training that I could win the Overhead Clean & Press Log at 170 lbs, the 550 lb car dead lift, the 240 pound stone over a 50" bar for repetitions in 60 seconds, and, I knew the 200 lb keg for distance would be a challenge, but with my long, powerful arms, which are great for stones and carrying events, I would be competitive.
Day one, I was the number three big girl in the OH C&P. My personal best was 8 in training, so I was gunning for 10, under meet conditions and adrenaline fueled. I am accustomed to training in weather between 80-110 F. The day we started, it was only around 60 F. As fired up as I got, I was a bit slower out of the gates, and sometimes, when one gets nervous, you forget the finer points of lifts that make you more relaxed and in the groove. In my case, since 170 lbs is fairly light for me, I ended up strict pressing the first 4 reps to everyones amazement and awe. And, I did not dip my head through fast enough and use my legs to explode out of the bottom, a very common mistake for me when I can manhandle the weight. Anything over 200, and, of course, I am far more aware of the fact that I must not cheat on brute strength, but also use my legs. So, strict pressing takes more energy and oxygen, and takes a greater wear on the body, which is not good in a sprint event. I actually began to pause on rep 6, 7, & 8, which I lost valuable time on. Upon my completion, the reigning champion, Kristin Rhodes, and American OH record holder approached me and tapped my hand, asking me what my rep count was, since she knew that was what she had to beat. Other girls just shook their heads and advised me I did not even use my legs, and I just laughed, and was both glad and mad at my performance. Just a few moments later, Rhodes repaid out 8 reps, and we tied. My two toughest events were up next, the yoke and the farmer's walk.
I have trained with Nick Best's yoke, and it is far heavier than the yoke at the meet, which, in my estimation is a good thing. I tore my left calf muscle early in my preparation for these events, in late August. I was using Mark Phillipi's yoke, which has an independent loading system, and it was only my second yoke run. It was serious enough, that I had no choice but to take time off all sprinting and loaded events, and focus on static strength, such as dead lifting, stones, and overhead pressing. I have been getting extensive massage and rehab done to it, and now, even though the calf is better, it has traveled down to the attachement at the Achilles tendon, which hurts whenever I try to sprint or move fast. To date, I have only used Nick's yoke three times, and have only made it through the entire course with several yoke drops, which is not only obviously inefficient, but painful on the lumbar. My yoke time was one of the worst, if not the worst at 34 seconds. The average time from winning to middle of the pack must have been around 13 seconds to around 30. And, finally, the farmers walk was not great, but better than the yoke, with 18 seconds time. I was miserable in the cold weather, and the standing around, something I am not accustomed to. My back was stiff, tight, and I felt miserable after those two events after watching these girls just smoke these events. But, I also knew that, I did not train these events at all during my preparation with the exception of a couple of times, due to my injury. My only hope to save the day was the dead lift.
I was the number three heavyweight girl to pull on the dead lift. The meet promoters decided to change out from the car with three boards, and I had to wake up. It was getting darker and colder out. I was getting my head ready to pull, and they told us to strap in. Dionne Wessels, the show director and NAS proprietor, was my judge. She told us to relax as the big men lifting the cars were still suiting up in their suits and strapping in--and nothing is more frustrating than getting in position and having to wait. My coach, Eddie, started yelling my name, "Amber!" And his voice is hard to hear, over the crowd I finally looked over at him, and motioned that I had not hooked by belt. This would have been a potentially fatal error on my part, even though the 550 load felt like it was only about 315 to me on a traditional dead lift. Although my core is strong, this may have been a critical factor in getting the last several reps. I was in my zone and the reps just ripped off the ground. I nearly locked out 25. There was one girl, Ann Vanderbush that got 19, and Christian Lafex and another girl got 17 reps. I could sleep easily, knowing that I would be the last heat in the keg, which was a good thing to know the distance to beat.
Day two, going into the keg, a darkhorse competitor by the name of Jana Hoffman carried the keg two and three quarter lengths. I knew that I had to get three lengths to beat her. I was pretty confident I could do it. I watched most of the top contenders fail after about 1.5 laps and many of them readjusted and then failed. My best training run was only little over two lengths. In my mind, I know I can do three, even though I had not yet traveled that far with it, as I have only carried the keg for distance on two separate occasions. I felt dizzy after the first 80 feet, but not bad, then turned at 160, as I looked up toward the sky, trying to control my breathing and pace. My legs began to feel very heavy and my grip was starting to slip a bit. I decided to reposition a bit by squatting down, then kept going, when all of a sudden, I felt my hamstrings and legs locking up and not wanting to move. My mind wanted to go forward, but finally, my legs collapsed out from under me and I just laughed as I fell to the ground, but very disappointed, because I knew that it was going to be close or just short of Jana's distance.
To be continued, I am at a pub in Memphis, so I am running out of time to get to my gate! Cheers...stay tuned!