Numb

I don’t know where to begin this blog post, or if I even want to write it now or at all. Okay, so I do want to write it, but I’m not sure I am ready. Yet, I feel like I can’t wait too much longer lest I lose thoughts and emotions along the way. My current state of mind is exhausted, frustrated, disappointed, angry, a blink from dissolving into tears, pained and numb. The numbness is comforting in a way, because it helps keep the tears from pouring down my face and softens the sting of the negative emotions, at least for a time.

Yesterday was my Provincials powerlifting competition. Even though I wasn’t expecting to have my best performance, I was hoping to go 9 for 9 and break my Provincial bench press record. I didn’t achieve either goal yesterday.

My first squat was 92.5kg and moved well. Michael opted to be conservative with my second attempt, and that turned out to be a wise decision. My second squat was 100kg, which should have still been an easy 220 pounds. I did more than that last week in training. It felt fine when I unracked the bar. I believe that I did everything that I usually do. The eccentric felt fine. I began to rise out of the squat and felt a kind of pop and something giving in my lower back, which then caused my back to round in a way that is not typical for me. It hurt. I managed to finish the squat, barely remembering to hold until the command to rack. I walked off the platform feeling pain, fear, and crushing sadness. Michael instantly decided that we’d pass on my third attempt, then we headed to the warm-up area for some chiropractic treatment. As the chiropractor poked, prodded, bent and told me to push here and there, I fought to maintain some composure. By the time I got up from the table, the pain had dropped a couple of notches, but it was still there.

As we waited for my flight and the next to finish squats, I did the things the chiropractor told me to do and I gingerly tested my ability to set up for the bench press. Arching wasn’t too bothersome on the back, so we felt okay to stick with our plan there. My first two bench attempts, 55kg and 57.5kg, were decent. I am the current Provincial record holder with 60kg, which is the weight I have been stuck at since October 2015. Although I had some options, I chose to make a third attempt at 60.5kg in an effort to break my Provincial record. I was so close but failed. Words cannot express how I felt and still feel. Even as I lay on that bench, desperately trying to finish pressing the bar and realizing that it wasn’t going to happen, I felt so utterly crushed by disappointment and frustration. I know I am strong enough. I know I can do it. I have lifted that weight in the gym, including just last week, and it was easy. I came into this competition knowing that my squats and deadlifts would be sub-par, but the bench press record was something I knew was within my ability and I wanted, WANTED it!

My deadlifts weren’t going to be super heavy, but, with the fresh back injury, we opted to drop my opening attempt even more. An opening deadlift of 85kg wasn’t anything I could fake pride in, but I just needed to get a number on the board. It was embarrassingly easy. My next attempt was 102.5…again easy. My final attempt was 112.5kg or 248 pounds. Still easy. That final deadlift was 60 pounds less than my best deadlift. I think it would have been easier to feel some peace about low deadlift numbers if the rest of my competition had turned out differently. If I hadn’t hurt my back. If I had broken the bench record. If only. But, the last thing we wanted to do was inflict more harm to my back. Thankfully, I was able to deadlift without any added discomfort or pain to the back, which is something I wasn’t sure would happen after that squat.

At some point in the competition, Michael pointed out that there was another woman in my age/weight class after all. She hadn’t made her weight class and was bumped up into mine. Being the competitive person that I am, as soon as I realized that I could potentially lose, I wanted to win! However, I was no longer operating in a position where we could give any thought to making sure my attempts put me in a position to win. I still kept an eye on her numbers, chafing inside with the desire to win and re-familiarizing myself with a positive mindset in the event that I lost. Both my squat and deadlift were far from my actual ability and potential, but I still managed to come away with the win.

This was my 8th competition, and, in my opinion, my worst one. I had my third lowest total. The two lower totals came from my first two competitions. My Wilks score was my second lowest. The only one lower was my first competition. This was my second 7 for 9 meet. Not a single personal best. The first time I’ve ever passed on an attempt. The first time I’ve hurt myself in competition. The only goal I achieved yesterday was checking off the final requirement for competing at Nationals next year.

As much as words cannot express how I am feeling, there is so much more yet to say, but it will have to wait for another day. I left my house at 7:50 yesterday morning, and I didn’t get home until 12:30 this morning. I was in bed by 1:00 this morning but woke up before 6:30. My back is sore and achy, and I am exhausted. I need to decompress and process. I need to go hang out with some friends in a couple of hours, feel loved and celebrated, even though I don’t feel worth celebrating. Then I need sleep. Precious sleep. Tomorrow I will walk into my gym and begin the process of rehabbing (again) and rebuilding.

9

Another not so great sleep. Another early start to the day. My body feels somewhat achy…a combination of the back, the shoulders, the neck, and mild muscle soreness. I am tired. Sounds like a broken record, I know. Do young people these days even know what a broken record sounds like?

My coach is still away, but I was blessed to be able to train at a friend’s house this morning. She has a lovely squat rack, one with reasonably spaced holes so I didn’t have to worry about awkward rack heights. It was a little odd to train in someone’s home, but it was also kind of nice. And I was glad to have someone “spot” my heavy squat attempts. Although a squat fail is rare for me, heavy weights can be scary and intimidating, so having someone there is comforting.

1. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 6

with belt: 135 x 5, 165 x 3, 185 x 1, 205 x 1, 215 x 1, 225 x 1, 225 x 1, 225 x 1, 205 x 2

I am reasonably confident that my coach isn’t going to read this blog post, which may be a good thing, because I kind of did a little more than he probably would have liked. In my defense though, he had only given me the vaguest of instructions…on Thursday you could work up to 225 for singles…did he say single or singles? I don’t remember, but I don’t always do well with vague instructions, depending on the situation. I’m a details kind of person.

Ironically, my coach texted me as I finished the first rep at 225; however, his feedback was a little too slow to prevent me from going ahead with two more singles at that weight. By the time he texted that the first single was enough, I had already done two more! The first one was alright. The second one was more of a grinder than it should have been, which means I should have stopped. Sometimes I am stupid. The last one was okay, better than the second. The reason I went ahead with the third single was that the second one had issues. As I was stepping out with the bar, I hit the racks significantly. I should have racked the bar and refocused, but I didn’t. Then I was focusing on making sure I hit depth. I survived, but I know that my coach would have shut me down there based on bar speed.

2. bench press-competition grip, with legs and arch

45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 6, 105 x 3, 110 x 3

These were easy and solid today. I just had to keep the bar moving well and with good speed. The heavy bench single will be Saturday.

My Provincials count down is now in single digits at 9 days! It feels so incredibly close but still so far away.

4 weeks and a day

The week isn’t quite over yet. I have one more work day to go before my weekend, but this week has felt rather long. At least a dozen threads of thought are floating inside my head wanting to be tugged and put to words. And yet, if I try to focus my attention inward, I find my eyes glazing over and my focus sucked into a black hole of nothingness. Maybe a solitary tall Americano simply wasn’t enough caffeine for the day. Maybe I didn’t sleep as well as I thought I did last night, but I am on the wrong side of the bed. The work day was steady but good, except for spilling several litres of frapp roast all over the fridge, the floor, and myself. My training session was decent, I think. I have eaten fairly well today. Had plenty of water. Regardless of the cause, I am fading fast.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 5

with belt: 135 x 1 + 5, 165 x 3, 185 x 3, 190 x 3, 190 x 3

My coach was training alongside of me today, so we were sharing the squat rack. I was squatting, while he was doing Anderson squats. That meant the safeties needed to be changed every set. For my set at 135, I lifted the bar and walked it out, braced and squatted. Clang! We had forgotten to change the safeties after Michael’s set. Made the change. Reset. Finished the set. Ironically, a couple of sets later, we forgot to change them again, but this time after my set which meant that Michael was squatting deeper than anticipated.

The rest of my sets were okay. A couple of reps had a slight forward pitch. These past several months have taken my squat and turned it into something else. It’s still a squat, but it isn’t exactly how I used to squat or how I should. After Provincials are over, we’re going to deconstruct my squat and start at the beginning, but that’s something to think about in 4 weeks plus a day or two.

1b. bench press-competition grip

with feet on bench, small arch:

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 5, 83 x 3, 103 x 1

with feet on floor and arch:

115 lbs x 1, 125 x 1, 125 x 1

115 x 3 paused each rep

2. TRX rows x 20

Now almost time for bed.

Lack of Sleep Leg Day

While I have no issues with ‘falling back’, ‘springing forward’ is a struggle. I haven’t slept well for the past two nights, but I don’t think I can wholly blame Daylight Savings Time for that. Yesterday morning was the first time in many years that I actually slept through my alarm! My daughter actually turned on my bedroom light and might have even given me a shake before I actually woke up…all while my alarm had been ringing for at least 10-15 minutes. I went to bed around 11PM last night, fell asleep quite quickly, started to dream, then woke up 15-20ish minutes later. I did not fall back asleep until at least 2AM, if not even later. A morning training session meant I had to get up, even though I desperately wanted to stay in bed. Thankfully, I could try to have a nap this afternoon. Maybe. Or not. I can sleep in a little bit later tomorrow. Also, I have coffee!

1a. split squats

warm-up: 8kg kettlebell x 8 each leg

with barbell: 45 lbs x 10 each, 75 lbs x 10 each, 100 x 10 each, 110 x 10 each

It was nice to have a barbell on my back; it’s been a while! Low bar position. These were relatively easy, although I was gasping for air and had to take a knee after the final set. I might have been content to stay at 100 pounds for the final set, but Michael made a comment and I added some more weight to the bar. The lower back felt perfectly fine.

1b. dumbbell presses while laying on a foam roller

25 lbs x 12, 34 lbs x 10, 34 x 10, 39 x 8

2a. front squats

110 x 4

Quite honestly, this set felt heavy from the moment I moved to unrack the bar. As I was stepping back and preparing for my reps, I could not recall how much weight was on the bar, but I assumed that it was more than what it actually was. It felt heavy. So heavy and uncomfortable. I still have tender spots on the fronts of both my shoulders from last Friday’s front squats. Michael only wanted me to do 3 or 4 reps for this set. I felt like stopping after the third but toughed it out for a fourth rep. Each one felt slow and tentative.

130 x 5

After the first set, Michael said to try a slightly different grip…as in essentially not holding onto the bar at all. I did one rep that way before racking the bar and resetting myself for normal front squats to finish the set. Not holding the bar felt heavier and unbalanced and I didn’t like it. The rest of the set was slightly better but still slow and heavy feeling.

130 x 6 with belt

I don’t know if it was a result of the belt or not, but this final set was the best of the bunch. My reps were faster, smoother, and they felt easier.

2b. bench press-touch and go

93 lbs x 8 competition grip

93 lbs x 10 slightly wider grip, roughly a centimeter in from the outer knurling

This set actually felt and looked pretty good despite the wider grip. It wasn’t a major change to my hand positioning, only a centimeter or so, but shoulder health is always the primary concern when making grip adjustments. The shoulders felt fine this set, but the right shoulder felt ever so slightly sore a few minutes later, which meant that Michael had me go back to my regular grip for the final set.

105 lbs x 8 competition grip

3a. some kind of seated pulldown, around a 45 degree back angle

100 lbs x 12, 100 x 8

3b. flyes

10 lbs x 20, 15 lbs x 15

3c. incline dumbbell curls

10 lbs x 15, 10 lbs x 6 + 15 lbs x 4 + 15 lbs x 11 standing

I just now realized that I was able to set up for my bench press with an arch without obvious discomfort to the lower back! Even though I had been given the okay to arch while pressing, getting into that position hasn’t been achieved without facial contortions from lower back discomfort. I don’t think I felt any of that today. Aside from sitting in the car this morning, my lower back has felt fairly decent over the weekend, which is an improvement over most of last week. I have an appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow, and I am desperately hoping that he will give me the green light to resume back squats and deadlifts. It is time to start prepping for Provincials, and I kind of need to put a barbell on my back. Although I can ultimately do whatever I want to do, I really do want to be smart with my body and health. However, I am fully prepared to beg, bribe, whine or cry tomorrow if my chiropractor isn’t as agreeable as I would like.

Wine, Wonder Woman & the Weekend

It is my Friday. Working an open shift this morning means that I have officially been on days off since 2:00 this afternoon. My first plan upon getting home was to have a bubble bath. This morning I had thought about having a glass of prosseco as I bathed, but by the end of my work day I realized that I hadn’t had any coffee yet. An Americano while bathing was what actually happened. I find it kind of funny how drained I feel in this moment despite having a 4-day work week. As I do feel wiped out, I put my Wonder Woman onesie on after my bath and had planned on enjoying a quiet night at home. Then my phone beeped a text notification…

A friend wanted to know if I had any plans for the evening. I paused. Thinking. Mentally weighing my options. I could say that I had no plans but just wanted to stay home and do nothing, or I could open the figurative door to hanging out with my friend. I chose to open the door. A quiet, relaxing visit with a friend over some wine would be rather nice. As much as I truly love my friends and enjoy being with them, we are all busy people and simply don’t get together very frequently. But I wonder if I should give my friend the head’s up that I am planning on coming over in my onesie…because it is warm and comfy and I really don’t want to get dressed in real clothes again tonight.

 

Cranky PJ Pants

My week is done, and so am I. Although I did sleep better the last two nights, I still feel wiped out. I had an open shift this morning, which means I started work at 5:30AM. I survived without coffee until I was finished work, but I am most deliriously glad to have arrived at my weekend. After work, I savoured my Americano, then soaked in the tub before putting on my pyjamas. I was ready for bed before 3:30 in the afternoon!

My daughter had wanted me to go to a gym with her this afternoon. Mid-morning I sent her a text telling her that I didn’t want to go today. I am always happy and willing to go to my gym, but this is something different. My daughter just recently got herself a little membership at a local gym, along with some of her friends, and she is completely clueless as to what to do there. She isn’t keen on taking advantage of the opportunity to have a staff member show them the ropes, so she wants me to do it. As if I know my way around a commercial gym! Sure, I have been to this particular gym before, many years ago when I avoided the weight room and stuck to the cardio. I have a feeling that my daughter will want to stick to the machines, and I don’t know anything about the machines! My gym doesn’t have machines. Even if I can convince her to use free weights, what do I tell her to do? And in all honesty, I doubt that I will feel much more eager to go tomorrow afternoon. Sometimes I can feel very selfish about my free time. But I will go. She is calling it bonding time again. Maybe I should be glad that this bonding time doesn’t involve shopping!

I am also feeling rather snarky tonight. I was verbally sharing something of importance to me a bit earlier. I stopped mid-sentence when I realized that the person I was talking to wasn’t listening or paying any attention to what I was saying. I’m really very snarky about that. Isn’t that funny. As an introvert, I am all kinds of used to being ignored, overlooked, forgotten. Depending on the situation, my skin can be thick, but not here at home. Not when I’m trying to share something personal and emotional. I’m also tired, so perhaps my attitude is compromised. Maybe, but it really does feel like a slap to be ignored when you’re trying to share something important.

Listening seems to be a skill that few people actually possess.

 

Three Days

Earlier this afternoon I saw a meme which stated, “I feel like I’m already tired tomorrow.” That is exactly how I feel! I did sleep mostly better last night; there just weren’t enough hours of sleep. Exhaustion is oozing out of my pores, and I cannot even begin to imagine feeling well-rested when I wake up tomorrow. It would be nice to be wrong though.

I trained first thing this morning, which means that I was at the gym for three consecutive days. That is not typical for me, but it is how it had to be this week. I’m okay with it. But it is tiring. Thankfully, I’m not in the midst of a heavy, pre-competition training block, but then again…do I ever really have easy training sessions? I keep wanting to say that the past two weeks of training almost feels like a deload, because I haven’t deadlifted or done real squat. There is some truth to that. It does feel like a bit of a deload, and yet, I’ve still been pushed and challenged and worked hard in different ways.

1a. front rack alternating reverse lunges

43 lbs x 12, 73 x 12, 93 x 12, 93 x 12

I just knew that lunges would show up today! Since my chiropractor wants me to do lots of single leg work to help my SI joints and I’ve already done Bulgarians and split squats this week, predicting the arrival of lunges wasn’t all that amazing.

The first few sets were okay. The final set was tough, not due to the weight but simply fatigue. Michael pushed me to finish the final half of the set, and that was okay, too. Sometimes I need that little push, the reminder that I am capable of a little bit more. My coach is pretty good at recognizing when I can keep going or when I should stop.

1b. flat dumbbell presses-without legs

25 lbs x 12, 34 lbs x 9, 39 x 8, 39 x 8

Michael almost had me do military press here, but then he decided against it in order to avoid putting my back into a potentially bothersome position. I’ve got to say that I am loving the flat dumbbell presses lately, even without using my legs. While pressing a 25 pound dumbbell for reps while standing presents a challenge for me, I am no longer intimidated by the bigger dumbbells when I’m on my back.

1c. single arm, single leg plank

x 10-15 seconds each side

x 10-15 seconds each side

x 15 seconds (actually timed for this set) each side

2a. back extensions with 25 lb dumbbell

x 15

x 18 with an 8 second hold on last rep

2b. TRX supine rows (legs straight + knees bent)

x 5 + 6

x 5 + 5

2c. triceps cable pulldowns

40 lbs x 11

40 lbs x 8

I don’t want to get too excited prematurely, but I can’t help but notice that my back feels better than it has for the past 11 days. It isn’t pain-free yet, but it will get there. At one point this morning, we joked about the list of ailments I am either currently experiencing or have recently experienced: hip, knee, back, etc. I pointed out that I am 45 years old! Then I tacked on that I also feel great. It’s true! Despite the current back pain, despite the off and on again knee pain, despite all of the little tweaks, twists, and boxes dropped on my head, I do feel great. I almost never get sick. Current fatigue level aside, I have more energy than I did in my thirties. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I am strong and getting stronger, and I do things many, if not most, women my age cannot.