By Heather Porter, Invictus Sponsored Athlete
I learned while writing this that Google Docs needs to incorporate the ability to use emojis on a computer because I definitely needed them to express my self-proclaimed humor and sarcasm, so insert as you read all the hehe, haha, shoulder shrug, rolling eyes, arm flexing, medal, etc. emojis that you see fit. *Shoulder shrug*
Southern Powerlifting Federation Worlds 2019, held in Atlanta, Georgia, September 20-22, was one for the books. I seriously couldn’t have fictionally plotted it out any better...except more weight on the bar. (Haha. Spoken like a truly never-satisfied, always-yearning-for-more powerlifter.) But in all seriousness, I absolutely had THE best experience: from weigh-ins, to being handled, to my coaches programmed plan (prior to and the day of), to my nine-for-nine lifts, to being able to share this memory with my youngest daughter, Ella. The day simply went down (or up) without a hitch...little deadlift pun for ya. Jesus was my “King Handler” at Worlds.
IN THE BEGINNING
My SPF Worlds’ combat started prior to weigh-ins with the usual “cut”: two weeks of fish and greens and minimal carbs, carb cut six days out, extra HARDIO (#cawful), sauna sweating, water load and then water deprivation, cup-spitting, etc. Conditions most would hate, but Ella and I have an odd love for the discipline it induces in us.
Then at weigh-ins where I weighed in at about mid-weight (174.9) in my 181 Class and that was okay, but is it ever really “less” enough? Hmmm. Food (or lack thereof) for thought! (Ella weighed in at 97.6...right on perfect track with her goal.) But meeting and mingling with several new-to-me fabulous ladies compensated for not hitting the 172 weigh-in I was personally hoping for. Us lady lifters talked shop: what brought us to powerlifting, what keeps us powerlifting, and naturally had some good nerve-relieving laughs. Now, that right there - meeting and learning what brought other women into the powerlifting world - for me, is a highlight of living the powerlifting life. Absolutely my fav!
After weigh-ins, my family and I met up with my social-media-met handler/turned friend, Zach, and we went to do what ALL powerlifters excel in: eat. (You ALL know we powerlifters live for our post-weigh-in carb loading.) After our meal, my handler and I met up with my coach, David Shirley, for a lil’ wrapping tutorial and practice. To end the eve of this much-anticipated meet, it was shower, prayer, and bed for the Porter clan.
GETTING MY NAHUM ON
After normal wake-up routine, what does one (okay this “one” anyway) do to prep the morning of meet day? I first pull a backwards Elizabeth Gilbert: Love. Pray. Eat. (*Nahum = Book in the Bible, means "Comfortable." I kinda have a theme going here if you haven't caught on.)
LOVE: Nothing is more reassuring than mulling over why you started, how much you’re loving the process and person you’ve become, and thanking the good Lord for making it/allowing it to effectively align with His plan.
PRAY: A dedicated ten minutes while “getting my game face on” (okay, seriously just doing my makeup) was spent praying and thinking about how far I’ve come - mentally as much as physically - this last fourteen months since my first powerlifting meet...I even babbled in the reflection of when I first started this whole fat-to-fit journey. Peeps, I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for all the successes and failures I’ve had that’s brought me here. All I know is that God is great and powerlifting, in all aspects, has saved me.
EAT: And then “ready” was followed up with food. For breakfast on meet day, I like to fuel my body with a little more carbs than normal, but I’m pretty “breakfast basic”: eggs, sausage, bacon, bagel with peanut butter, oats (doctored with some brown sugar, almonds, and raisins), and chocolate milk. Don’t judge. These are small-ish portions.
I was nervous for days prior to the meet, but when Ella and I walked into warm-ups, something calm and collected resided within/over me. I felt great and was excited to get started. Warm-ups went smoothly for both Ella and me. And then it was show time. I will tell you, as much as I love everything about powerlifting, I have to say that watching my mini-me (or even one of clients) is as exhilarating as my own platform performances. We both went three for three on squat. This was hands-down a huge PR in itself for me because hitting “immeasurable” depth is ALWAYS an issue. I mean I have been at two meets where I was sweating (profusely), needing that second or third squat to even stay in the game. (You want to talk about a buzz kill: miss your opener squat...and then miss the second one. That will both ruin the most well-thought-out plan and humble your prayer process real quick.) Nonetheless, with great Invictus wraps from Zach (first two squats) and David (third squat), I got low, or at least low enough. Meet PR’ed my third squat with 424.9. Ella meet PR’ed with 170. Hallelujah...forth we went!
On to bench. If you have kept up with anything Heather powerlifting related, you know that bench has always been a b*tch for and to me. Besides dealing with two surgeried shoulders, my mobility to get my legs tucked under (also affecting my arch off the bench as well) for effective leg drive has caused me to really research proper and specific muscle related stretching. (Which, by the way, has improved my bench (and other two lifts) threefold and strongly recommended.) Of the three lifts, I have really focused more diligently on this one the past two months. And like anything, perseverance paid off. I went three for three and meet PR’ed with an EASY 237. (Boy did I want that fourth lift opportunity, but David kept me focused within our plan.) Ella had the first-time sickening experience of THE have-to-get-third-lift moment on bench - small directional errors - but like a champion, she nailed the third one to keep in the meet. No PR...sometimes you have to be content with “just” getting the lift and accept the lessons learned.
Oh my “change up” lift. I tell you what, I have struggled with what’s the best practice for me: sumo or conventional? Form is equally, progressively mediocre, haha, but I think conventional is going to win out. Regardless the method, whether the bar is holding 350# or 440#, I pull every lift as if I’m making sure an audience doesn’t miss it. (AKA slow as hell.) Honestly, all three powerlifts need some speed behind them. I don’t know why, and it’s definitely not from a lack of awareness, I’m just slow. David constantly tells me to speed it up. I then tell my brain and body, and my body just seemingly says, “Why the rush?” So frustrating. Meet opener pull, 410, second 418, and third...well, let’s just say that I hadn’t pulled more than 365# in practice ‘til I rebelliously (out of stubborness for what I’m referring to as crap-call...hehe, just my newbie opinion) switched to conventional and pulled 418.9 on my third pull in a July USPA meet. My third pull at Worlds ended on a crowd pleasing (‘cause you know I took my time for the spectators) 440.9. But I will say that I loved how 440.9 felt exactly like 410. Just means that the 500 I long for is waiting around the corner. Miss Ella, like the majestic sumo puller that she is, easy and quickly (I can coach it...just can’t perform it) nailed all three sumo pulls.
Four definite World records were set by both Ella and me. The SPF Worlds’ was one heck of an experience, but the wisdom gained from not just the meet, but the whole preparation leading up to it, trumps all the trophy (sword) wins. I still consider myself new to the powerlifting world...maybe growth equivalent to a toddler at this point. However, the knowledge from having a powerlifting coach, David, and proper programming from his veteran-ness of the sport, has made the last two months so much more effectively progressive as well as enjoyable. I have been able to take what I learn and share it with my daughter and the other ladies on my Iron Maidens’ team. I will say, when it comes to training, I’m a bit what some may call stubborn as nothing is ever enough. I like to push my limits to their extreme. I constantly yearn for bigger numbers, more reps, greater pumps, and even though I loathe cardio, I strive to add more steps or time or calories burned because in my eyes, the dedication and desire to want more is what separates a champion from the average. Thus why I also continue to train with Gina Davis a couple times a month: never know when this powerlifter will turn bodybuilder. Regardless, I do know that no matter how good one gets, we have to be willing to learn more so not to become stagnant. So as long as my body stays healthy, I will continue to work hard, achieve goals, and set new goals...then repeat.