2nd lifting meet: Athabasca Cup

In mid October, I competed in my second lifting meet. It was my last chance to qualify for provincials. To do so, I needed a 101kg total. Going into this meet, I had snatched 42kg and I had both cleaned and jerked (though never clean & jerked) 60kg. I knew I could do it!

But then, I guess I choked. I opened with an easy 38kg snatch, then missed 41kg twice (well, I finished both lifts but pressed out slightly both times, which means my arms weren’t locked by the time my feet hit the ground). I had a big cry in the bathroom because with only 38kg to my name, I would need to cj 63! A feat I had never even attempted!

After wiping my tears and receiving several pep talks, I somehow rallied and had a great warm-up for the clean & jerk. I opened with 57kg and felt GREAT. My next attempt was at 60kg and it went up easily. As I centred myself to jerk, I heard the buzzer sound. I ignored it because I didn’t know what it meant, but then a voice on the mic said “uh… can you please put the weight down?” I was really confused, but it turns out I had caught the clean a little low and when I raised my elbows to prepare for the jerk, the bar moved higher on my chest. This is called an adjustment, and it invalidates the lift. It was a rule I had never heard of (though I have now since read the entire rule book, so this will never happen again). Instead of re-trying 60, I went for 63. My goal was to qualify for provincials, so I figured I might as well risk it. So up I go for my third and final attempt, and I miraculously clean 63, and… buzzer. I had adjusted the bar again. So, with all 6 attempts finished, I only totalled 95kgs.

I stomped off the platform like a grounded teenager (video exists, but I haven’t been able to track it down. It’s kind of funny actually) with my provincials dreams shattered. I was grumpy for days and gave serious consideration to just going back to only doing Crossfit. Crossfit only makes you feel good and happy! In Crossfit, you can always just try again! Lifting is a MEANIE. It has too many rules. But to the gym I returned, and my coach put me on a strength program with a bit of technique work, but nothing greater than 80% of my snatch and cj max. Then, in late November, we retested:

I snatched a new record of 43 and very nearly entered the 100lb snatch club with a 45kg lift that I just couldn’t balance. The next day I finally clean & jerked 60 (with a clean clean) and even cleaned 63, but missed the jerk. So much fun!

I guess a few lessons learned from Athabasca:

1. Don’t cut more weight that I need to. I compete in the 63kg weight class, so really I could have been 62.99 and still only have needed that 101. If two competitors in the same weight class total the same, the lighter one places higher, so technically it’s worth it to be further under. But because my goal was hitting 101, and I didn’t care about my placement in this particular meet, there was no need to cut at all! But, not really thinking about that, I didn’t eat or drink until after weigh in on the morning of the meet. I was 60.04 but thirsty and grumpy. Next time I won’t cut so much. Less than 63 is less than 63!

2. I can keep my goal when things go wrong. In retrospect, I dealt with my first no-lift at 60kg pretty well. Instead of getting flustered, I immediately put it behind me and started thinking about killing it at 63.  That’s nice to know!

3. Weightlifting is not all sweetness and light! When you start, you hit PR after PR. PRs feel great! I love PRs! But sometimes you can’t do the things that you could do last week, and then you feel sad. If weightlifting is going to be my main sport, I’ve just got to get used to that (easier said than done).

My next meet is in February and I think I might be able to hit about a 110? With 45 and 65? Who knows right now, but for sure I’ve got that 101 in the bag. Next year I will most definitely be at provincials.

Girls, Women, and Females

I remember being about 21 or so and sitting with a bunch of co-counselors at summer camp talking Feminism 101. One friend brought up her “new thing”: referring to herself as a woman. Not a girl. A woman.

“I mean,” she explained, “it’s basically an insult to call a man our age a ‘boy’  Isn’t it equally infantilizing to call ourselves ‘girls’?  By any definition, all of us, all in our 20s, are women.”

This was an entirely novel idea to me, and while I completely agreed with my friend’s logic, I had trouble making the change. It felt odd, and sometimes still does. Using “woman” to refer to a woman in her 20’s sometimes elicits turned heads, weird looks, or assumptions that I’m talking about somebody in her 40’s.

In casual contexts, it is quite common to hear people calling men ‘men’ and women ‘girls’ is at this point. I hear it a lot in Crossfit gyms, “135lbs for men, 95lbs for girls” or “count the girl’s bar as 35” or “a lot of the girls beat me”. What a weird and annoying word choice to describe an adult!

I find most Crossfit reporters  make a real effort to avoid the saying ‘girls’ in professional contexts. Great! Perfect start! Yet there still seems to be a real aversion to saying ‘women’. And I sympathize with that! In some situations (like when others are saying ‘girls’) I feel like it would be too awkward to say ‘women’ so I use an ironic ‘ladies’ or ‘gals’ or something. But something I see very frequently it Crossfit coverage is the word ‘females’. And, when paired with the word ‘men’ (as in ‘men and females’) it absolutely kills me.

Today’s example, which prompted this post but which is most definitely not a one-off peculiarity that I happened to find, comes from the Rx Review. The article gives us coverage from the USA Weightlifting Open and first summarizes ‘the men’s half’ and then a few paragraphs later, ‘the female’s half.”

Here’s the thing. ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ refer to people. ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ refer to bodies. When we call the men ‘men’ and the women ‘females’, we’re discounting women’s personhood.

I’m happy with male/female as adjectives, e.g.,  ‘the male athletes and the female athletes’, and I’m okay  with the use of ‘female’ when paired with ‘male’. But here, I’ll do a quick search through 2013 coverage and find some examples of men/females:

“While most of the men moved easily through the chest-to-bar pull-ups, this movement became a sticking point for the females.” NorCal Regional Report)

“Most females got to collect themselves regularly as the men split the work up into four to eight sets.” (Europe Regional Report)

“Our strategy with the guys was to just keep it going, unbroken, and not get caught up in a transition. No rest at any transition. We put faith in the females to finish it,” (Canada West Regional Report)

It’s all over the place! I sure noticed it a lot while watching the Games live, too. Let’s stop saying ‘girls’ or ‘females’ and start calling women ‘women’!

(In pre-emptive answer to “Why does such a little thing matter?”)