Westerns Wonderings

I was reminded of something important today, something that I know full well but had allowed to grow fuzzy in the knowledge that I’m going to Westerns without my coach, and, for today, I am glad for the reminder.

Ultimately I am competing against myself!

I am not going to lie. The thought of going to Westerns without my coach is nerve-wracking and somewhat terrifying. Some have asked me why I even need a coach. After all, I’m the one who has to actually lift the weight. That’s true. I am the one who steps onto the platform and lifts the weight or doesn’t, and if that was all that went into preparing for and competing in a powerlifting meet then I’d be fine. I can step on the platform and do my best to lift the weight, but my coach is a valuable asset on so many fronts.

My coach also does the following:

  • encourages me
  • makes sure that I don’t do crazy things during my warm-up like max out my deadlift warm-up on the first or second set
  • keeps me from warming up too soon or too slowly
  • knows how strong I am feeling that day based on how my warm-ups are moving
  • which means knowing if we should adjust the opening attempt
  • helps me focus on my lift at the moment I need to go do it
  • helps me determine my next attempt within the 60 second time limit, and this is one of the most valuable of assets, because sometimes I want a number more than I am able to achieve, sometimes I don’t feel like I can get a number easily in my reach…and having an experienced opinion makes a huge difference
  • he chalks my back
  • he puts baby powder on my thighs
  • he slaps my back before a big deadlift
  • he knows what I am capable of even when I’m not sure
  • he believes in me
  • he knows what I’m thinking
  • gives me fist bumps or an encouraging slap on the back when I’ve made a lift
  • he tells me to eat even when my stomach is tied up in knots and I don’t feel hungry
  • he points out what I’m not doing properly or well, what I need to focus on
  • he knows my competitive drive, knows that I won’t be happy with being second best and is smart with my attempts so that I am in the best position possible to win

I understand why my coach can’t be there with me that day, and I support that decision wholeheartedly; however, I still feel trepidation about competing on such a big platform without my coach. My husband thinks he’d make a good substitute to which I can only laugh and say unequivocally, “NO!” I love my husband and I know that he supportive of me, but I have to draw the line somewhere and being my coach is where that line exists. He can be in the audience, cheering me on and taking video of my lifts, but I would probably commit homicide if he were with me behind the scenes.

I am resigned to the fact that I shall be coachless at Westerns. On the surface, I am calm and collected. Inside I am trying not to think about it too much. I haven’t really talked about the process with my coach yet, but I have pretty much already determined that I want to have pre-determined attempts in hand before I even leave home for Westerns. I don’t feel confident making those decisions on my own, and the 6o second time limit doesn’t really allow enough time to consult with my coach via text. I’m sure that he usually has my openers and second attempts roughly thought out ahead of time, so that shouldn’t be too much to ask. The third attempts are where the unknown truly lies, but I want a number, or at least two potential numbers, in hand before I arrive.

I thought I was okay with the idea of having all my numbers pre-planned until I realized last night that I still have a competitor to compete against. Suddenly I realized that there might need to be some strategy involved with my attempts if I should desire to win my age/weight class, and naturally I do want to win. That little wrinkle caused me a bunch of stress last night, because it threw a big rusty wrench into my carefully laid plans.

And then a co-worker asked me how I was feeling about my upcoming competition in terms of being without my coach. When I said that I wasn’t trying to think about it and then explained the recent complication of remembering that I want to beat my competition, he pointed out that my actual competition was truly only my own self. Gosh darn it, I don’t like being wrong! But, he’s right and I know it. Yes, I have competition in this competition, but I only really need to be better than myself. If I can set some new PRs and still not win, then I should be able to consider the competition successful. That would still be an improvement, and improvement is always a positive. Right?

I’m afraid that I’m going to need to remind myself of that truth many times between now and Westerns. I will always want to win. I can be a very gracious loser, and I am perfectly okay with losing to someone who is clearly better than me, but I still want to win. Always want to win! However, I’m also not sure how I can pull that off without my coach. A part of me isn’t even sure that such a thing is possible, but I’m trying to be a big girl. I have always known that there would be a day that I would have to compete without him…I just wasn’t expecting it to be Westerns.

So, I guess my plan, for now, is to continue to stick to the training plan and trust the process. I will continue to attempt to push unnecessary thoughts aside until such time that I must allow them to demand my attention. The freak out can come later, like the night before or the morning of…


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