First comp: the jitters, the fails, and the insecurities

Photo Cred: Adam Stelly

Well, beloved readers, my first Oly competition is officially in the books, and, man, was it a doozy.

Let’s back up before dissecting the events of the day.

I’ve never been a huge fan of competing. In high school, I DQ’ed my entire relay team in my first swim meet by falling off the block before the buzzer sounded. When I switched to diving, I mixed up my reverse and reverse flip dives. When I was into climbing, I actively avoided gym competitions and never really pushed myself beyond 5.10 status (pretty mediocre for how many years I put in), but it was all about the experience, man.

It’s always good to have a friend that can make you look cool. Photo cred: Wayne Barnett

I did a couple of fun runs and Spartan races, but always with a group and I never even checked my time after finishing.

My CrossFit career was non-existent — I never even signed up for the Open — but through CrossFit I found weightlifting and something felt different. I was more intrigued at the prospect of competing; not that I had (or have) any delusions of being great. But I was approaching 30 and felt like I’d found a sport I could invest my time and energy into for the long haul.

Then I got pregnant, gave birth, and stalled out. And then I got pregnant and gave birth again.

Determined to get back on track, I joined a local barbell club not quite two months after giving birth to my second daughter. A few weeks later, I decided to sign up for my first meet.

For the next two months, I worked on technique, worked on getting aggressive (and bashed my face with the bar), and started to get comfortable with some actual weight on the bar.


Lucy, my not-quite-4-month-old, started sleeping through the night. Caroline, now 2, was her usual sweet, spunky self. I was on track for making the weight class I was hoping to compete in and I had refocused my blog (this blog) and was feeling more confident about attending a huge conference for bloggers in late June, one week after my meet.

And then it all went out the window.

The excuses

Both girls started waking up at random times for random reasons. Not every night, but often enough that I began to wake up every night anticipating one of them needing me.

The post-partum hair loss kicked in and, dang, I think this may be one of the worst things new moms have to deal with. Clumps of hair would fall out in the shower. If I dried my hair, the brush would be full of hair by the time I finished and the floor would be covered. I’d strategically comb over what was left of my hair to cover the bald spots.

Then my weight loss stalled out. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight by this point, but I felt all fluffy and not myself. I had two weeks and five pounds to go to get to the 58 kg class.

The week of the meet, a got slammed with a head cold that only three nights of Sudafed-induced sleep could get rid of. But the Sudafed tanked my milk supply so I had to make the decision to stop breastfeeding (well, pumping; we never got the hang of breastfeeding).

Then more post-partum fun came with the return of my period and, as all moms know, the return of Aunt Flo after being pregnant is not a fun visit.

The night before the meet, Lucy was fussy and wouldn’t calm down so I took her upstairs to feed her. I closed the door so we could have some quiet as Caroline was her rambunctious self, playing downstairs with dad. But she came upstairs looking for me and, upon seeing the door closed, she ventured downstairs by herself and slipped on her blanket, tumbling down the staircase. A trip to the urgent care confirmed she’d fractured her radius and ulna in her left arm and would have to wear a splint for the next four weeks.


So now it’s the morning of the meet. I weigh in at 9 a.m., just 1 kilo away from my goal weight. No matter, I figured I wasn’t going to meet that goal. I also figured that with all of the adrenaline and pent up frustration of the past week I’d lift really well. Nope.

The competition

For those of you unfamiliar with how an Oly meet works, you take your turn lifting based on the weight on the bar. So if you lift the lightest, you lift first, and if you lift heaviest, you lift last. Makes sense. You get three attempts to lift as heavy as you can and two minutes to attempt each lift.

Ideally, with enough competitors, you would be lifting comparable to someone to give you a little more than a two-minute break in between lift attempts.

But in my case, my lifts were so light that it was “The Andrea Show” for the first six minutes of the competition.

I haven’t seen video of this gnarly lift yet, but I was able to pull it out in the end.

My opening snatch was 33 kg, something I hit in every lifting session since I started with the barbell club. I got to the platform, looked out at the crowd, which included my mom, husband, and daughters, and saw my oldest daughter wave and say, “Mama!” I focused on the floor (mistake) and went for my lift, bobbling it like a total goober, but ultimately standing up for a good lift. Not sure if the judges were being kind, but cool. Thanks.

Two minutes later, back up on the platform for a 34 kg attempt. Flop. Growl. Whatevs.

Nooo lift for Andrea #wahwah #secondsnatchattempt

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Two minutes later, flop again. Oh wells.

And another no lift. Snatch attempt 3.

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I left the platform with a shrug, but I wasn’t overly disappointed. I joined my girls in the audience to watch the real competitors and, as I was holding Lucy (who was dressed in an adorable “Strong like Mom” onesie) I began to think about the morning and my flippant attitude toward my performance. I mean, I’d had a baby just a few months ago; I’d been sick; I’d been up with my kiddo in the urgent care; I had every excuse to suck. And I did.

But then I looked down at my girls and began to think about how that kind of attitude is going to rub off on them one day. And how it will ultimately hold them back.

Lessons learned

I posted my poor performance on Facebook and, not surprisingly, my friends I’ve known a good chunk of my life as well as friends I’ve never met in person rallied around me with encouragement. Not one of them laughed or made snide comments. If they were rolling their eyes at the 32-year-old mom wannabe-athlete, they didn’t show it.

So why was I anticipating that with my glibness?

I don’t know. But it’s probably what prevented me from pushing myself out of my comfort zone in other areas of my life.

I’m not saying that this psychological revelation all occurred in the 30 minutes after my snatch performance. It’s something I’ve always been aware of and looking to improve upon.

But during that reflection, the jitters left. And when the competition again became “the Andrea show” with the clean and jerk portion, I settled in and knocked out all three no problem.

C&J first attempt. Much more calm and relaxed. ?

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C&J 2

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C&J 3

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Go figure.

I ended the competition in dead last. And while I’m not entirely down about how I did — it was my first meet for goodness sakes — I am looking forward to better performances down the road.

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