I survived! And I can now call myself the seventh strongest U75kg woman in England! There were 12 women who qualified for this competition across four different qualifying events (mine was this one), with 36 women in total. One did not take part in the final and another pulled out after the second event due to injury, so I really came seventh out of 10 in the toughest competition I’ve ever done.
As you might have been able to tell from my last post, I was already thinking of pulling out. I spent last Saturday in tears feeling weak and stressing about making weight. Then on Monday, a few hours after I published that post, something happened in my personal life which completely destroyed me. I didn’t eat properly or sleep more than 4-5 hours each night leading up to the competition. I basically spent every waking minute in tears, and the thought of even attempting to take the title of England’s Strongest Woman seemed laughable. I will explain everything in my next post, as the last thing I want is people gossiping and speculating about what happened, but I want this post to 100 per cent be about my competition.
I contacted one of my fellow competitors on Tuesday (Meg, who I have mentioned before as being an absolute beast and who I trained with not too long ago) and told her I was thinking of pulling out. Being the sweetheart that she is, she not only convinced me to compete as she knew I would regret it if I didn’t, but she also offered me a place to stay on Friday night. She even woke up two hours earlier than she needed to so I could weigh in – bless her heart!
I only told her and one of my other competitors what was going on, and they both supported me during the day and cheered for me. It was the first competition I’ve ever done on my own. My best friend from London was in Egypt, my lifting friends were competing in powerlifting in London, and another one of my good friends was in a wedding. Although I was alone, I did not feel alone. That is the power of the strongwoman community – even when we are competing against each other, we still all want each other to succeed.
The events were the heaviest I’ve ever done and the competition was fierce. Meg placed second to Jenny, who were off in a competition of their own. They are both absolute machines and it was an honour to compete alongside them, as well as all the other impressively strong ladies. I never thought I’d see someone stronger than Meg (she is a strongwoman goddess in my eyes, and is competing at the World’s Strongest Woman in six weeks) but it happened!
I weighed in at 72.7kg clothed. I weighed myself naked on Monday morning at 76.5kg. That means I lost more than 4kg (10lbs) in five days. I will write another post about exactly how I did this, but it was basically because I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t keep food down. This is my My Fitness Pal log from the week leading up to the competition (and I actually over-estimated a lot of my portions so it wouldn’t seem so bad):
I had to force myself to eat as I didn’t want to make myself weaker than necessary, and sometimes I was only eating twice a day (and I’m talking something like egg whites at 8am, and white fish and asparagus at 9pm). The water loading obviously helped too. As soon as I’d eaten and rehydrated, I was back to 75.5kg, so it was a very temporary weight loss! Don’t try this at home, kids.
The first event was a max weight log press. The starting weight was 50kg (110lbs), and then we had three further nominated attempts. A few of the women couldn’t get 50kg, but I was happy to do it as it was equal to my gym PB.
I tried 52.5kg (116lbs) next, but it continues to escape me. They did offer me one more attempt but I needed to conserve my energy for the remaining events and didn’t want to blow it all on my weakest lift.
Jenny won my division with a massive 75kg press. She did it so easily – it looked like she could have done it with one arm. Most of the heavyweight women couldn’t make the opening lift (theirs was 60kg) but the under 63kg class were absolutely amazing to watch – a lot of them hit 50kg as well and I think the best was 62.5kg.
Next up was the quad bike deadlift. With Les Wiltshire sitting on the back, the estimated weight at lock-out was 150kg (330lbs). I did 14 reps. Meg won this event with 31 freaking reps! This is the only event where I was disappointed with my mental effort. I knew I should have pushed through and not stopped so many times. The handles were really wide apart and it was quite painful, and I let my brain get in the way.
I usually like to have someone next to me calling out the time in 15 second intervals, but the only warning they gave me was when I had 5 seconds left. Those 75 seconds felt like five minutes! Three women threw their back outs on this event so it was quite scary. Nevertheless, I was still proud of my effort. Some women no-repped the lift and there’s no way I could have even managed one rep myself a year ago, let alone 14.
Quad bike deadlift (video is flipped, sorry!)
The third event was supposed to be farmers walks, but given we had just ripped our hands up, they changed it to the 3.5 tonne van pull. I was so angry at myself for my performance. The person I asked to film me did not hit the right button on my phone, so at least I don’t have to watch the tape back. It took me forever to get the thing moving as it was on a slight incline to start, so I wasted a lot of energy. Most of the under 63kg women couldn’t move the van at all, but I came second last in my division – very disappointing considering this is usually one of my stronger events.
I think my time was 50-55 seconds. Jenny won in 31 seconds, which is just absolutely insane.
We then had a little break before starting farmers walks. By this point, the competition had been going for 4.5 hours and I was tired. I was really struggling to eat anything, as drinking water was hard enough with my shrunken stomach. I was feeling a bit nauseous and had some chocolate, but that didn’t really help. My documentary crew was there so I was also getting interviewed in between events. I felt like Thor haha!
I was actually quite happy with my farmers walks, and was only 4 seconds behind Meg and Jenny – which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that bad. It was 70kg (154lbs) per hand, which is the heaviest I’ve done in competition.
The last event was the atlas stones. The 70kg (154lbs) stone had a wide diameter and you can see that I almost fell over on my fourth and fifth reps. So many of us managed five reps, so we all got equal points. If I had got one more rep, I would have taken sixth place overall but such is life. Meg got 12 and Jenny got 13 reps – these women are not normal!!!
In strongman competitions, your order is based on your performance in the previous event. If you come last in one event, it means you go first in the next. This means you don’t know how many reps or what time you have to beat. I’m used to placing highly and watching everyone else go first. I’m not trying to make excuses but I think I could have dug a little deeper if I saw what the other women were doing first. If I had known I needed six reps of the stone to take sixth place, I probably would have fought a little harder. That said, my confidence would have been shot to hell if I’d had to go after Meg or Jenny.
After the last event, I had a complete breakdown. I had managed to put my personal issues aside the entire day and focus on what I was doing, but once it was over it all hit me. A few people saw me crying and I had to convince them it wasn’t due to my performance or placing. Thankfully, Meg was by my side once again and took me outside. As cheesy as it sounds, I was extremely proud of myself for competing in the state I was in and it was the first time I truly felt like I embodied the term “strong woman”.
The comp finished at 6pm after starting at 11, and I hadn’t eaten properly since 9am. I forced down some pasta and ice cream at 10pm and then didn’t eat again until 2pm the next day. I just have no appetite and will probably lose another few kilos this week!
Having lost all that weight almost effortlessly, I don’t think it would be that hard for me to get to 70kg by November 22, but I still think I’m going to pull out of that competition anyway as the two people I signed up with have pulled out and it’s just more stress I don’t need. I would rather take a really long off-season and work on increasing my strength.
I’ll be back soon later in the week – shiz is about to get real personal up in here!