Manchester GSU Open – whoo hoo competition time!

I’ve not blogged for a while, both my job and my training have been pretty demanding of late and I rarely have the time at the moment. However it’s bank holiday weekend and I have a short breathing space so I wanted to share my thoughts about the first GSU competition in Manchester last weekend.

As regular readers will be aware, I really struggled as I prepared for this competition. I was competing with a 12kg which I feel is an entry weight really and so should find pretty straightforward. However, right up to the moment I stood on that platform I didn’t feel comfortable about how well I was lifting. I was so nervous that  my coach spent the final pre-competition session going through relaxation techniques. We also spent a session working on chalking a kettlebell. Both sessions were really useful. I stopped tearing up my hands because I was now chalking properly and the breathing exercises actually helped me sleep!

Weigh in was on Friday so we all checked in the night before competition. I had to work on Friday so ate light foods and drank small amounts up to lunchtime and then fasted. Sitting on a train full of people tucking into early evening snacks was torture but worth it as I weighed in at 53kg. Then Maxine, our new team member, and I tucked into some food and crashed out at our hotel. I’m glad I went to bed early as I was woken at 3:00am by some party girls arguing next door. After banging on the door and threatening an early wake for them they settled for a while before starting again at 4:00am, at which point I called security, but couldn’t get back to sleep. This was frustrating but didn’t worry me too much as I barely slept during the three days of RKC so I knew I’d be able to lift.

The gym was really well set up with plenty of space to compete and warm up, and clear time and counter displays. However the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, I could chalk my own kettlebell and coaches could stand close enough to encourage. Timings worked like clockwork and the small team of judges were great, fair without being officious. I was lucky enough to have a familiar face as a judge, I knew she would be quietly fair, which helped my nerves. The Manchester team provided refreshments, including a delicious array of cupcakes with little kettlebells on them.The music was more to my taste too, including a few tracks I train to, which really helps in an unexpected way.

Unfortunately I arrived too late to buy a crochet kettlebell but must put in an order! My coach’s three year old daughter, Bella, bought one and spent the day doing snatches and swings with it. Reading stories to Bella also helped keep my nerves at bay during the morning.

Maxine and I were on the first flight. I started at quite a fast rate but remembered that pace was important so slowed and began to breathe carefully. I could see the woman next to me was faster but I decided to keep my pace and do the time. Thus my score was low, 119, but close to the 120 I aimed for and I finished the ten minutes . Maxine also did well at the other end of the platform. We were both quite happy and relieved.

During training we were given ten minute breaks between ten minute sets, now we had an almost four hour break. So we both circulated, catching up with old friends and cheering on other competitors. My coach had an injured knee but decided to compete and gave a great 24kg jerk set, finishing ten minutes when others could not.

The tough part about biathlon is that you have to psych yourself up to compete twice in one day. Jerk is my worst discipline so I always feel better when it’s over. Therefore standing on the platform ready for snatch was not as bad – just get this over with-I thought. Again I started fast and then slowed down to a steady pace. The drama started at the other end with some shouting about lock outs, then I heard a kettlebell crash to the floor and the woman next to me struggling. The score in front of me showed I had a considerable lead at this point. Then the kettlebell next to me hit the ground too! My coach says I smiled, I just remember grimly keeping going. In fact Maxine and I just kept going – a testament to out rigorous training. Maxine managed a gold winning 204 and I managed 181! We were both really pleased and relieved. Only one snatch score beat me in my weight class, pushing me into second place but I was really happy with a silver!

Medals and kettlebells

The rest of the afternoon was spent winding down and enjoying impressive performances from other athletes.  The relay was great fun too, with a little dressing up and some hot competition. Both Maxine and I were delighted to go up to receive our medals and even happier to skip up together to receive a silver for our coach, who had to leave early. We both enjoyed the post competition meal but exhaustion crept up so we left before the main celebrations!

A big thank you to the Manchester team for a great day, well organised, with a great atmosphere. Couldn’t ask for more. Our little team from Nottingham performed well so we are hoping to gain a few more members for the competition in London in September.

I am really pleased with my performance, particularly my coefficient, no medals for this but I come easily within the top ten competitors. I’ve learned the value of breathing and pacing, taking control of my competition set, not just going for it. This has given me the confidence to start to train with 16kg, I have a two week holiday just before London (my poor, long suffering partner wanted a kettlebell free summer)so may find myself carrying a kettlebell onto the plane! Let’s see how the training goes.


About kettlebellqueen

Tiny middle aged kettlebell enthusiast from Nottingham England. I've just passed my RKC and am still learning.
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4 Responses to Manchester GSU Open – whoo hoo competition time!

  1. mrmykie says:

    Awesome post Chris! I didn’t realise you got so nervous…you exude such confidence when you lift! I’ll get you a little mascot sorted…any preference on colour? It was so nice seeing you at the comp, hopefully I’ll catch up with you in the not to distant future! X

    • kettlebellqueen says:

      Thanks Mykie. My ability to exude confidence when I’m a nervous wreck can be both a blessing and a curse! A blessing when dealing with difficult pupils and parents, a curse because everyone thinks I know what I’m doing! I was probably stood on the platform quietly fighting the desire to run in the opposite direction.
      I’d love a mascot, but I know you are going to be busy packing and moving. My school is yarn bombing as part of an arts week in our local area and I would love a kettlebell for the front gate!
      Good to see you again and meet your mum – she’s lovely.

  2. Tracy says:

    Well done! Enjoy your holiday.

    Do you know Tracy Reifkind, also an RKC who is now making her way into GS in California? She blogs here, and it’s a fun read for sure:

    • kettlebellqueen says:

      Hi Tracy, hope all is well with you. I met Tracy at RKC in Hungary and used to read her blog quite regularly. I’ll take a look at her blog, see how she is getting on with GS!

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