May 21, 2014

the 2014 New Mexico games: weightlifting

The 2014 New Mexico games weightlifting competition was an all around awesome experience and a perfect event for someone who is lifting in their first competition. There was so much going on, so many people involved in the experience, and so many emotions involved that I seriously doubt I'll be able to explain in one post how wonderful the event truly was. I was a nervous wreck the night before the meet. I realized this was going to be nothing at all like any of the 86 triathlons and duathlons I'd competed in before. This was all new and somewhat overwhelming territory I was in. I ended up contacting the best female American super heavy weight Sarah Robles and top female 69k lifter Jenny Lyvette Arthur on twitter. Both of them were quick to respond with support and suggestions. I was kind of in awe. In no other sport in America outside of weightlifting could an athlete get an almost immediate response from a top level pro to give support to a newbie in their sport. Think Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant, or George St Pierre would have responded to a stranger claiming to be competing in their first game in the morning and asking for advise? Nope. 

A very experienced lifter, Dominick Ferris, decided to drive up with me the morning of the competition. I was so very grateful for the company. He was great at keeping the conversation going and keeping my mind off of being nervous. (Dominick ended up being the top lifter of the day).

Thanks to a detour on the interstate we got to UNM with only 10 minutes to spare until weigh in. And then of course finding parking was difficult, so by the time I walked into the UNM weight room I was freaked out that I was going to miss weigh ins. Turns out the 1st group of lifting ran late so i had plenty of time to wait.

All the other lifters I met were awesome. I'm a chatty guy before races, tournaments, and meets. Part of it is nervous energy, some of it is that I love the life style of competition, but mostly I just really love people. So there I was bouncing around from person to person starting small conversations with people I'd never met before but would be doing something with them that is, in my mind, special. As i was talking to the other lifters I found out that there were only 3 athletes lifting in the 105+. Each of the three 105+  were in a different age group, so as long as each of us got a single snatch and clean and jerk we'd all get a gold medal. I was the 2nd lifter to lift in the 2nd session which comprised of the 94k, 105k, and the 105k+. When i walked out onto the lifting platform I just about had a heart attack. Every judge, spectator, athlete, and coach was looking right at me. That was COMPLETELY different than I was used to at a triathlon. It rattled me. I got so nervous it was ridiculous! I actually froze half way to the platform and stared out at the audience. Coach Shane Miller actually had to tell me from the side lines, "It's ok Cody, go on, you got this."

Even though coach Miller had me start out with an opening lift that was ridiculously easy, 60k, i was still amazed I made the first snatch with how nervous I was. My form was horrendous. My shoulders didn't stay over the bar long enough, the bar swung out away from my body, I didn't pull long enough to get the weight up high enough, and I started to drop into the squat position too soon. After the 1st lift was successful I calmed down a bunch.

By the 2nd snatch of 65k I'd calmed enough to be better at concentration of form. But I wasn't expecting the adrenaline to make me so strong! I pulled that weight up so high and back so much farther than I ever have before that I ended up not able to catch the bar, the weight went flying one way, and I fell the opposite direction landing right on my butt!

On the 3rd snatch I repeated 65k. I was expecting the adrenaline and was able to make a good lift. It felt easy.

Clean and jerks are my weakest event so I was nervous again and doubting myself. On my 1st clean and jerk I tried to force myself to stay calm, but I made the mistake of putting all of my focus on ignoring the crowd and trying to stay in the moment. I totally forgot to think about the lift at all. Thanks to muscle memory I made my 1st attempt which was 80k. It was an ugly lift, but it was ruled good by the 3 judges.

The 2nd clean and jerk was 84k, which was only 3k below my lifetime PR. I made the lift relatively easy.

On my 3rd clean and jerk i attempted 89k, which was 2k above my lifetime PR. I'll tell you now I love adrenaline in regards to weightlifting! I lifted that bar up like it was nothing!!!!

I ended up succeeding at 5 of my 6 lifts and taking 1st place in my division of 35-39 age group in the 105+ weight class and setting a clean and jerk lifetime personal best lift!!!! It was a good day.

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