This post is about a week or more overdue. But for the past week I've had to just decompress, try and slow down and relax, and change gears a little bit. While I did a lot of reflecting on my regional weekend - maybe too much at times - I just couldn't bring myself to gather all my thoughts on one page in any continuous, sensible manner until now. Before I go into more detail I just need to say how appreciative and thankful I am to have found this competitive, pressured, limit pushing community that is also probably one of the most loving, healthy, and strength providing communities that exists out there. Every time I am at any kind of competitive exercising event I leave with this overwhelming sense of community and the power it holds. I am truly blessed to be able to take part in that and grateful everyday to be able to honor and respect the physical gifts I have been given. The amount of supporting calls, texts, and social media messages I received made me realize the army I have behind me and was really inspiring and humbling. I met a countless number of strangers who stopped me in my tracks that weekend to congratulate me or tell me I was doing great or that they loved watching me perform. That kind of stuff makes all the days of hard work and rough hours worth it. I am here to be an inspiration to others and have a ton of fun along the way!
When the workouts were announced for the 2014 Regionals, I cannot say I was thrilled. The workouts as a whole carried a very high skill level, particularly in the gymnastics area, and also were heavily reliant on upper body/shoulder stability and strength. In both of those areas lie tremendous weaknesses of mine and they are constant works in progress for me. However, I honestly cannot say I was mad or disappointed. My immediate thoughts were something like "challenge accepted". In reality, I didn't expect regionals would be easy no matter what the workouts were. We are in a sport where we are agreeingly at the mercy of the "unknown and unknowable" - the more out of the ordinary the better. As an athlete, I know that a lot of the satisfaction lies in the journey and progress made in prep for competition. Eventual success on a big stage like regionals is always the goal, but development and growth along the way cannot be overlooked.
In the four weeks (from the time the workouts were released until my weekend of competition) leading up to the event, I really got to focus on my shoulder stability and strength, and solid positioning in two of my weakest areas - the bottom of an overhead squat and on my hands upside down. Early on this was frustrating. Every day of training was incredibly HARD for me, my arms and shoulders were constantly sore and achy and I felt like I was trying to tackle a giant (I assume trying to tackle a giant is immeasurably frustrating). However, each week I got better and stronger in those positions and positions relating to them. Now, let me make something clear for all my keyboard warriors. The program I follow 100% incorporates every single movement that came out in the regional events this year. In fact, my program probably incorporates all of them about once a week, sometimes more. But, we play a sport where about 200 different movements are up for grabs when competition workouts are designed. It does not provide room for focusing on a handful of very specific movements every single day for four weeks. Regional prep did. A traditional training program simply wouldn't overload the shoulders and elbows in that much volume - but prepping for this year's event left no choice in that volume loading and turned out to be a valuable few weeks of training. In the past four weeks, I have become such a better, stronger athlete it literally has blown my mind. I was forced to face, practice, and strengthen the glaring weakness I had; where in the past I was always able to tip toe my way over them by making up for it in other areas. I have told numerous people the following when talking with them about how I felt after the weekend. I am so thankful that these were the workouts and movements I was asked to tackle in an arena in front of thousands of people for my rookie regional experience. It gave me a new understanding of the sport and what it takes to be successful at it. It gave me a list of things that I cannot ignore nor discount the importance of, no matter how much I want to. It lit something in me, maybe put a chip on my shoulder, maybe humbled me. Raw and talented only gets you so far. Attention to detail and technical skills are 100% needed and necessary in this sport and are even more important if you are an athlete that has not been doing those skills for 20+ years.
Originally, my intentions of this post were to go through each workout and break it down for you guys about how I approached it mentally, how I felt through it, and how I felt after it. But honestly, I feel like that is the special bond between my sport and I and something that was really hard for me to write on. In addition to that, I'm the type of athlete that replays games, or workouts in this case, over and over in my head nit picking at each detail - both good and bad. So, if I would have went ahead and broke down each workout for you, you would probably never read another blog of mine again. I will say this. The weekend left me hungry and drooling for more. I think I walked away with my performance truly depicting who I am this year, with the exception of one workout. I also know it is going to serve as an awesome baseline to look back at as I continue to improve and grow in this sport. I feel proud and accomplished of what I did in 2014, but very unsatisfied and unfinished. Before I look ahead into what is next up on my plate I have to say my specific thank yous. As I mentioned before, the constant support I get from everyone daily is one of the greatest parts of what I do and what makes me want to keep perusing the dream. First and in bold MY PARENTS, my entire family, Cow Harbor Crossfit, The Outlaw Way, 3sixty Athletics, Move Fast Lift Heavy, AfroBrutality, Power Supply, CheriBundi, Lurong Living, JaktRX, Clean Snatch Soap, and Alison for always making sure I have the freshest things possible on my feet. The people behind these brands are amazing and I am grateful to work with them.
Currently, training has switched back to more of a normal form where I have been following Outlaw Connectivity as a warmup as well as The Outlaw Way main site as my template. I am headed to Vegas on June 14th for the NPFL Finalist Combine. Every athlete at this combine is eligible for the NPFL Draft happening July 10th in Miami. Currently, there are 8 teams in the league - LA, NY, DC, Boston, Philly, San Fran, Phoenix, Miami. They have all signed their initial picks already and will be looking to fill their rosters out with the athletes at the draft. If you haven't heard of the NPFL yet, go ahead and check out the website and youtube channel. It is going to be a fast, exciting league to watch! While in prep for Vegas, I am also simultaneously prepping for the 2014 USA Weightlifting Nationals which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah in July. I qualified for nationals with the same totals I recorded that allowed me to compete in the American Open. There is a lot of technique work that will be involved in the next few weeks of training in prep for this. I love competing in weightlifting as a compliment to exercise and I had an amazing time at the American Open - so I am really looking forward to nationals! These have been two fun, new focuses post regionals and I am refreshed and refocused!
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: