Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The WKC is moving to the 20kg at the Toronto meet this year. I’m in total agreement with this move in terms of the Professional Women’s division. Knowing that, I wanted to make a very good showing in Vegas and in Hamburg with the 16kg. As many know, we didn’t get our chance to take the platform in San Diego at the IGSF Worlds. So, Hamburg was another chance to compete with some of the best in the world.

This winter and spring, I trained very diligently. I missed maybe one snatch and one Jerk workout in 3 months, and most weeks snatched and jerked 6 days in a row. I snatched even when my hands hurt and even when I didn’t feel 100%. I would throttle back the pace or duration, but I lifted the Kettlebells.

In May, I had a disappointing set in Vegas. I didn’t hit what I had planned in Jerks or Snatches. What I didn’t disclose to many folks was that one week prior to Vegas I was in a car accident. Luckily, I was uninjured ($6500 damage to the truck), but didn’t really account for the toll on my nervous system. It showed in my final training sets, but I didn’t really put two and two together. I just fatigued faster and unable to move with the same precision that I had the week before the accident. It wasn’t until after I returned from Vegas that I had really given it any thought. I shrugged it off and focused on Hamburg.

When I got to Hamburg, I felt good. Sure, there was jet lag. But, I hydrated (something I didn’t do in Vegas very well). I slept. So, when I only managed 187 reps (That is a competition low for me since Latvia), I was extremely shocked and disappointed. There was a lot of second guessing myself. Like maybe if I had come out at this pace or that pace, or did I really push hard enough? Clearly, I couldn’t sustain the 24rpm pace I had planned. I had 114 reps in 4:40 but found it hard to breath and slowed down significantly in the last 5 minutes.

I tend to set lofty goals for myself. In some respects, I am very much a risk taker. With risk there can be reward but sometimes there is disappointment.

That being said…I did what I had trained to do and it just didn’t work out on that day. I took the risk of coming out fast. Now, if I had paced myself differently, I may have had a shot at first place. The first place winner did 211 reps. That was not anywhere near her best effort. Then again, I had a number in mind and not a place or medal. So, that is where the experience comes into play. Even though it was a competition, I looked at it as more of a platform for me to push myself.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I realized that while I’ve been training consistently on the KB lifts for several years, I’m still relatively inexperienced when it comes to competing. Before Kettlebell Sport, I had not really seriously competed in anything since 10th grade Track and Field 20 years ago. I’m certainly not experienced when it comes to any sort of International competition. One attribute that I still lack is the ability to gauge how I feel on competition day and make the necessary adjustments to my pace. It’s funny that I do this in training all the time. For all the awareness I have now that I didn’t have prior to this training, I know that it could be much better.

Upon returning from Hamburg, I started training again. I realized that I’m not defined by one or two competitions. I am defined by my ability to keep training and keep competing. I am a Kettlebell Lifter. I am resilient. In my opinion, Resilience is the hallmark of a Kettlebell Lifter. I’m not just talking physical resilience, but emotional resilience. It is the ability to look at the big picture and the long term goals in your training and learn from the experience of every competition whether it be good or bad.

Resilience is forged by the modality itself. It is further solidified by lifting when your hands are sore, or lifting in a hot or cold garage and of course lifting on those days when you don’t quite feel up to it….or bouncing back after some lackluster competitions ;)

When I got back from Hamburg, I reread a blog post from last year titled “Why do you Compete?” That’s the great thing about blogging, it is a way to get your thoughts down for future reference. There is much more to it than the number, the place or the ranking. I just need to quiet my ego and remember that more often.

The competition was but one aspect of the Hamburg trip. Certainly it was the facilitator for the travel and the trip, but the overall experience was indeed very valuable. Thanks again to all who participated.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Hamburg Experience

Last week/weekend, I traveled to Hamburg, Germany for an International Kettlebell Lifting competition. Actually, it was the World Championship for Long Cycle Clean and Jerk (LCC&J). The womens competition was Snatch only and an International Meet.

I flew out on Wednesday and arrived in Germany on Thursday afternoon when I met up with Team America. Upon arriving, I was quickly briefed on the rules of walking on the sidewalks. Evidently, the bike lanes are marked (in some cases) with a different color of brick.

Some of our team stayed in Ahrensburg, a suburb of sorts outside of Hamburg. Our friend and fellow KB Lifter Stefan lived only a couple of blocks down the street from our quaint hotel. Here is the site: http://www.nummer-8.de/. Leave it to me to not take pictures... It was very convenient in that we could easily meet up with Stefan and his lovely wife Maneula or we could easily catch a bus into town.

The town center of Ahrensburg was very cool. Plenty of great places to eat. Many people walking around, riding bikes, ect. I loved this place. The atmosphere was very laid back and relaxing. Did I mention the near perfect weather?

On Saturday, we traveled into Hamburg for the competition by rented VW Bus. Some of our team rented the bus for the group, but more importantly so that we could transport the weights needed for Andrew’s Attempt at a WR Double Overhand Axle DeadLift.

At the sports hall, we connected with the rest of our teammates and Head Coach Valery Fedorenko. We weighed and registered, and sat and sat and sat…You get the idea…We got there at 9am and I don't think I was on the platform until 4pm. Jet lag was setting in and I was dozing off in the stands. Some of the delay was due to the fact that they use the “Just In Time” methodology for building platforms which ended up being very shoddy, but what can you do?

Andrew Durniat was the first on our team to compete. He competed in the LCC&J. He did an impressive 45 Reps with 2-32kg bells.

As always, there were many great performances. Anytime I get to watch someone like Fedor Fuglev do 85 reps with 2-32kg bells, I’m amazed! The lighter weight class guys were probably the most impressive overall.

Our new Ukranian Friend, Alona (who spoke excellent English) turned in an awesome snatch set in the 60kg class with 174 reps. I get the feeling that she hasn’t been doing this very long and she was personally coached by Yuri Scherbina (IGSF President). We will be staying in touch with her.

Lubya the WR Holder from the Ukraine took the 70kg class (of course) even though her numbers were quite lower than what we know she is capable of doing. She had some blister issues and stopped her set a little early to save the hands and ended up with 190 reps.

In spite of having some asthma issues, Lorraine Patten turned in a gutsy performance and took 1st in her age division. Our friend Kukka from Finland who is very new to this sport had a good performance and improved her numbers significantly from the last competition. She is very strong and when she gets more technically adept, she will be one to watch.

Susanna and I were in the same flight. Susanna did a good paced 10 min set and took third with 155 reps.. I took second even though I had a relatively bad set and got 187 reps. I will elaborate on that experience in another blog post. 1st place for the 70+kg class was a very talented girl from the Ukraine (I say girl because she looks young). She did 211 reps. Her numbers were down from what I saw her do in San Diego, so it wasn’t a great day for most of us snatching.

After the women, the men Masters lifted. Teammate David Zink turned in an awesome performance of 85 reps with 2-24kg bells.. David has come a long way. He took his age division in the 75kg class with a first place Trophy!

Our German Friends, Stefan and Harry, turned in great performances in the Masters Division. We also watched Fedor Fuglev lift a second time in the Masters division. He did 101 reps with the 24s in less than 10 min.

The awards ceremony was a great moment to watch several on our team take the platform for Medals and Trophies. Of course, I didn't get pics of this, but I know video and photos were taken. Stay tuned.

After the competition, some of us grabbed beers and some of us(not me) loaded up the Axle with 461 pounds. We then watched Andrew Durniat set a new WR for the Double Overhand Axle Deadlift. It was great to watch him do this in person especially while drinking a beer. The lift was made official because our new German Friend, Dr. Hermann Korte from Ironmind made the trip to Hamburg to Witness it!

Stefan also loaded up his inch dumbbell. It was fun to watch all the guys try to lift and then to watch Andrew come over and lift it...easily.

On Saturday night, Stefan and his lovely wife Manuela had us over to their house for a great barbecue…We played around with KBs, grip stuff, ect. If someone asked me about my idea of Heaven, I might point them to this barbecue. It was a perfect evening filled with Good Food, Good Beer, and most importantly Great Friends. It was a great ending to a challenging day.

On Sunday, we made several trips to Ahrensburg and a trip into Hamburg. We had to find a bunch of Euros to pay cash for our quaint hotel. We said goodbye to our Finnish friend Kukka. We’ll be seeing her again...

On Sunday evening, we met up with our friends for dinner..I finally found one of my favorite beers at this restaurant....Berliner Weiss. It is a very light (Probably low-alcohol) almost champagne like beer. That beer along with Franziskaner and a good steak made for another great meal.

Our German friends were great and very hospitable. Stefan and Manuela are 2 of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. They made this trip painless on so many levels. It was great to meet Harry. I've corresponded with him and seen his posts for years on several forums. He and I exchanged T-Shirts. It was great to meet Hermann Korte. We will likely be seeing all these folks again as we plan to do more traveling to Europe later this year and next year for more competitions.

Thanks to Lorraine for basically spearheading this trip and making the hotel arrangements for many of us. Thanks to Matt M for offering moral support and humor throughout the entire trip. As you can see from the Photo above, Matt will be the new Spokesman for Billy Boy Condoms :). Matt and Susanna also spent a lot of time coordinating the uniforms that were generously provided by the AKC. Thanks to David, Andrew, Ashley, Susanna and Lorraine for competing and providing a great representation of KB lifters from the USA!
Thanks to Steve Cotter and his lovely family for attending the competition and supporting the team!

Last but not least, thanks to our Head Coach Valery Fedorenko. It was rewarding that the Europeans had noticed our significant improvement. We fit in well this time. I had several folks come up to me including the IGSF figureheads and congratulate me. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, it was clear that they were impressed with our collective performance. We’ve all come a long way and I don’t believe our improvement since our last International Competition would have been possible without our Coach!