This time last week I was enjoying a quiet swim in a hotel swimming pool in Cardiff, steadying my nerves ahead of competing in the 3rd Welsh Open Kettlebell Championship. I was looking forward to the competition as both my coach and his wife, Mel, were also competing, going with a team is great as you gain strength from the moral support and advice of others. Familiar faces from Brighton and Manchester were also taking part, catching up with everyone was great. Kettlebell sport is very friendly, on and off the competition platform.
On this occasion I was competing in the biathlon as there was no long cycle competition. The biathlon involves 10 minutes of jerk, followed at least 30 minutes later, by 10 minutes of snatch. As I only had a few weeks to train after Kilkenny I competed with 8kg not 12kg and I weighed in at 54kg.
Although nervous, I felt quite confident because I had increased my jerk reps during training by 40 over the past seven weeks, from around 160 to just over 200. Unfortunately, however, I was suffering from and upper back/ shoulder issue related to an old injury. At the beginning of the set my legs went wobbly and I struggled to coordinate the jerk, but soon got into a rhythm. The kettlebell was also quite cold, which does affect how the kettlebell feels in your hands. Three minutes in and that right shoulder started playing up, I couldn’t lock out straight up. My arm kept moving outwards. Four and a half minutes in I decided to change arms early as this was slowing me down and I was afraid of losing reps because I couldn’t lock out, bad memories from Kilkenny caught up with me. Big mistake! I couldn’t finish five and a half minutes with my weaker left arm, losing out on 15 seconds of jerks. I was so angry with myself! I only managed around 170 jerks. Nowhere near what I am capable of. Mel did great, she completed 200 reps in her first competition!
I debated pulling out of the snatch but decided to carry on and stop if my shoulder couldn’t cope. I’m glad I did, when I heard my judge say 25 reps after my first minute I knew I was going at some speed, so I ignored the shoulder and just kept going! At minute 8 I couldn’t feel my left hand and was barely hanging on, but people were shouting encouragement by now, so I kept going and pushing those reps. When the clock stopped I almost dropped the bell my forearm was so sore. I walked over and checked my score. The judge was double checking in disbelief and I had to look twice. 242 reps, 40 more than I had managed seven weeks ago, at the beginning of my preparation for this competition. I just smiled and couldn’t stop smiling, this was a great score, and the judge said my lock out was great!
Our team had to leave early for several reasons so we missed the prize giving. Only overall winners were being given trophies and I wasn’t expecting to get a place after that jerk set. So you can imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail asking for my address. That snatch set had won me overall third place coefficient winner! There is a trophy in the post. Looking at the results I also won my weight class, beating women half my age. Mel and Laurence also gained top ten places. Our little group did very well thanks to a great training program and work on form.
This has been a great confidence boost and I am already looking ahead to the next competition. However I am taking a couple of weeks off or at least at a slower pace just to give myself a mental and physical break. My upper back and shoulder needs to recover too. In December I’m traveling up to Newcastle to train with Mark Stapleton
and Eddie Sheenan, which should be really interesting and very challenging. Then I’ll start working towards the next competition using 12kg , not 8kg.