Well, autumn is here and I’m back at work after a very busy and exciting summer. It’s quite nice to return to normal routines. I’ve delayed writing about Kilkenny because I’ve been relaxing in south-east Ireland and then have gone straight back into work. I’ve also had mixed feelings about the event and needed time and space to clear my head a little. Talking to my coach has really helped me find some perspective.
I have to start by saying that I really enjoyed the experience, particularly meeting people I’ve only communicated with online. Kettlebell club members from Manchester and Brighton were really lovely and very supportive. I was really nervous and they helped calm me. My lovely partner was great too. In the end he decided to stay, despite the length of the day and the lack of coffee.
I weighed in on Friday well within the weight class I was aiming for (58kg). My coach had been encouraging me to fast a little and that helped in two ways. I lost a few kilos and found that my appetite shrank too. I’m now going to experiment with fasting during the working day, introducing this slowly.Research is showing some real health benefits beyond weight loss so I think it’s worth persevering with.
The competition started early the next morning with a parade of athletes and the introduction of the judges. My heart sank a little when I read the timetable. My event was not until 3:00pm and I had Mark Stapleton as a judge. This is not because I disagreed with his aim to make the event more professional but more because I recognised his reforming zeal (just ask the staff at my school!) and knew he would be a tough judge – and he was.
The atmosphere was not as warm as the Wolverhampton event, several issues contributed to this. The length of the competition meant that energy couldn’t be maintained over the day and the venue didn’t help. The toilets were dirty from the time we came in and food and water were not readily available, I don’t mind paying for these and I think water should be provided for athletes as part of the package. However the Kilkenny team had worked hard to set up monitors and a great performance space and I saw some really inspirational competitors!
At 3:00pm I was led onto the platform and introduced, much like Olympic athletes and then my competition began. Once I was up there I wasn’t really aware of the other competitors or the rest of the venue. I could see the clock, the judge and hear supporters at the side. Mark was very strict about lockout, insisting that I stop and wait for his count. I had not noticed this when I was watching other athletes with their judges and I had not been trained for this. I found it very intimidating and got angry when he was not even looking at me for one count. Then the time and rep count monitors went blank. I shouted that I couldn’t see anything and was aware of running around in the background, eventually it all came back. None of this was conducive to a relaxed performance and a photo taken by one of the Brighton team shows how stressed I was! The one positive was that it took my mind off the time or how my body was feeling. I just kept going! Support from Mark Stroud from Brighton kept me on track too. In the end I managed 106 reps, three were discounted so I fell into third place (there were only three in my class!). I know I could have met my target of 110 if I could have relaxed a little, which would have given me silver. However, some younger competitors didn’t score as well so I felt better when I saw the results later.
When I came off there were big hugs, my partner was furious, he showed me a video indicating that my fellow competitors were not put through judging which was that strict. This was frustrating and I felt angry at the time (I wasn’t the only competitor that walked off angry with Mark’s judging) but have slowly calmed down and put this in perspective over the past few weeks. The experience hasn’t put me off competing, in fact I’m in a “don’t get mad, get even” frame of mind. I have had some useful feedback about form from Mark Stroud and I’ll work on that lockout with my coach.
My coach, his wife and I are now training for the Welsh Open, I hope we’ll get a place as we only sent off forms this week. There is no long cycle so I’m working on the biathlon with a lighter weight. There are two good reasons for this, I am more confident with this weight and so may relax more and working with a light weight will improve my form so that I can compete confidently with 12kg in the future. That video was really helpful because I could see how I might improve my performance in the long cycle so I’ve set myself a long cycle goal for future events. Hope to be competing in Brighton and Manchester next year…