Knowing where to start these things is always the hardest. I feel like I grew as an athlete by making it through this Regionals and as a person by helping a friend make it through as well. Honestly both are so gratifying. I’ve never teared up to take the podium before, but I did when I watched Lauren get to.
When I saw the first days events announced I was pretty stoked. Then came the second and third day which left me a bit worried, mostly because as the picture above shows I’m as tall on the 2nd place spot as Emily is on the top. Even my coach CJ Martin whom I started working with in September will tell you I came to him and said my main weaknesses were front squats, ring dips, and strict HSPUs. We focused on these movement A LOT. I knew they were better, but how much? Well the Regionals were going to be a good test to figure that out. My friend Lauren Brooks also had been focusing on her gymnastics all year and while not thrilled, felt more up to the test than ever before.
We drove up on Tuesday I think because we were both so excited to get there and get settled. We talked about the events on the way up, did a lot of laughing, a little working out, and visited the beach.
Finally Friday came and the event I wanted to get over with the most, the hang snatch. I thought as long as I start this one out solid I’ll be good. Having only 3 tries on a lift reminds me more of the shaky ankle feeling I got doing a beam routine than anything I can think of. I practiced in the gym warming up fully, walking around for 10min. and then making everyone stop and watch me multiple times. I was ecstatic to hit all 3 lifts and make my PR from the hang at 180lbs. I almost went for 185lbs, but after Lauren hit 180lbs I knew it would be smarter to tie her. I did and we both got 2nd. If I can say one thing on this event, start at a weight that you know you will hit.
Onto the handstand walk I was basically chasing Emily Bridgers the whole time. After the event I wasn’t too tired, I had just run out of time on my hands and was thinking I should’ve pushed the pace and made her start sooner instead of pacing off of her. Walking 300ft. got me a tie for 2nd place. Only advice on this one is practice practice, although the cues that Lauren said helped her were squeeze your a** and grab with your fingers.
Final event on the first day was Nasty Girls. Again I found myself chasing Emily in 2nd for most of the workout. I almost caught her on the second round when we both broke our last set of muscle ups. I might have been able to do them unbroken and looking back should have tried. Still I kept a good pace over 150 pistols for a long femured girl and was happy with my 3rd – 2nd place. Can’t say I wasn’t consistent!
Day 2 started with the first event I was worried about. A total of 54 strict HSPUs, Front Squats at 125lbs, and burpees over the bar. This workout felt like my perfect storm when I first saw it. Being next to Sarabeth Phillips and Emily Bridgers for it I had to remind myself on the first 21 handstand push-ups to put on my blinders and go with my own game plan. I started out in sets of 3’s until about 15, then went to 2’s, and then to singles. Most of the rest of the workout was all singles on the HSPUs, but with very short rest and I just kept moving. Same with the Front Squats. I broke them into quicker manageable sets without a lot of rest and went at a comfortable pace on the burpees. My goal on this workout was to be in the top 10 and I got 9th. CJ pointed out to me there were 2 other girls with me right at the end I could have tried to pick off had I taken a chance on the last set of HSPUs and ran faster to the bar. Those 2 points didn’t matter this weekend but they will in July and it keeps resonating with me.
Our other event day 2 was 1 legless rope climb for 10 rounds with a run in between each round. The Games workout with legless rope climbs was probably one of the most frustrating moments I’ve ever had competing. Sam Briggs and I started racing one another, stalled out on the same rope, and got to watch the rest of the field continue on. When rope climbs go… they’re gone! I tried to remember that on this workout and listen to my body better, but still push the pace. I really didn’t feel them going until number 8 or 9 and by then I was willing to risk it so I kept making Emily run faster than she wanted to. She told me later I had done that and I could kind of tell because she kept speeding up when I did. The other thing I remember about this workout was Lauren absolutely smashing it. I kept thinking, “holy sh**, she’s doing it!” It’s funny to be happy for your friend and trying to catch her at the same time!
All 3 of us hit the 10th rope climb at the same time which was pretty exciting. That is until I stalled out with one pull left at the top. The two others raced to finish and I hung there for what felt like an eternity with my weaker arm on top. The Games flashed before my eyes for a second, then I gathered myself and thought if I can just switch hands. I did one long kip to get my left hand back on top and one more kip to hit the beam with my right. That was all I had left in my forearms and I fell from 14ft. and rolled backwards. I heard the crowd go “ooohhh”, but before they were done I was running for the finish about 20 seconds behind Emily and Lauren. 20 seconds is a long time to be stuck at the top of a rope climb! A word of advice to those still to go, if you miss a rope climb do not try to go again right away. You will no rep for sure. Wait! An 11th one might have taken me a while, but I’m glad I finally took a risk this competition and pushed the pace. I like competing that way better because it reminds me of a PreFontaine quote:
On the ride home that day I told Lauren we needed to talk about the points. I’m more one to know what’s going on and she just likes to go out, do her thing and let things fall where they may. I told her she was so close at this point after what she had just done by winning the rope climb that she needed to be aware of what she needed to do tomorrow to make it. I also told her that in 24 hours I wanted us to be celebrating with medals on. She emotionally agreed and seemed focused to make it happen.
Sunday started with the nasty 50’s chipper. The first half actually wasn’t that bad. I paced it and was breathing hard by the time I got to the ring dips. Then there was an Ut Oh moment as my judge no repped my first 3 dips. She pointed to my shoulder and said to be below my elbow it needed to go below the level of the wood, not just touch it. I never do them that way because personally I think it’s not great for the AC joint, but I made the adjustment and continued on in smaller sets. I think I did at least 30 singles to get it done and fell behind a little.
The way back on this chipper is the painful part. I’m almost thankful it had a cap! After almost getting through the deadlifts I didn’t try a box jump after time was called, but I bet they were rough.
Going into the final event the top 3 were mostly set, barring a mess up, which we all know can and does happen. 64 pull-ups and 8 OHS. I had done this in practice breaking pull-ups once so that was my plan. I still wonder if the judge saw me take a piece of chalk out of my bra to save the time bending down after 44 pull-ups then keep going like it was normal. Yes, I did that! I absolutely love workouts where there is no need to worry about pacing because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel from the beginning. It’s all gas pedal. It was exciting to take my first win on the last event of the Regional.
As soon as I was done I watched Emily celebrate crossing the line because she knew she was finally going to Carson after it eluding her the last two years. I remembered the sting of getting fourth, but she’d felt it twice and I was happy for her.
Having been to the Games and knowing or rather unknowning? what to expect I’m super excited to train for it this year. I’m also excited because I’m healthier than the past 2 years and because of my amazing sponsors (WoD Super Store, Reebok, RSP Nutrition, Kill Cliff and 3Fu3l) I am able to take off working from now until after July and just focus on training. I’m also looking forward to being a part of the Invictus community in California. My coach’s parents and the Invictus gym’s parents came all the way to FL for this Regionals to make sure I and the other Invictus athletes were fed. Not having to worry about what you’re going to eat before, during, and after is huge. Finally, I’m excited to have my friend Lauren going out there with me. The Games is such an awesome experience, but it can also be stressful. Having people with you to lighten the mood and make you laugh is important.