Meet Report: USPA Pikes Peak Open 2017

TAGS: lifting coach, powerlifting cycle, USPA Pikes Peak Open, Dani Overcash, make weight, Strong(her), weigh in

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Last time I competed locally was the Pikes Peak Open 2015 when I was also filling out my application for sponsorship to be part of elitefts. I spent a ton of time on that application and reading through it, I have to say that two years later it is a really neat experience to reflect on those thoughts and compare where I am now, mentally and physically. Every time I compete I end up reflecting a lot about the themes and threads that have woven together in the previous months leading up to the meet. I want to learn from it going forward, not only for myself but also for others that I know will need the knowledge at some point.


RECENT: Peaking When Things Feel Off: Quick Corrections Before A Meet


I really want to give those that came around me huge credit for pulling me out of a funk. Méana, Staci, Julia: training with you guys at the UGSS was a turning point for me. Despite a challenging six months leading into the meet personally and professionally, I was setup for better success than any other meet I’ve competed in, largely because I have such an incredible support team around me. Two years ago when I competed, one of the big-picture ideas I took away was to be intentional about whom you permit to influence you. Intention accomplished.

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Enter my dream team: My fiancé and training partner Dave, my coach Trevor Jaffe, and my nutrition wizard who tripled as “chill the heck out” coach and “let's get you healthier mentally” coach, Mike Doehla. I haven’t competed since Boss of Bosses 3, where I (against better judgment) competed injured, and with unneeded distraction. I think I went four-for-nine and developed a serious case of platform fear and anxiety. This year the Pikes Peak Open, two years after initially writing about competing, felt like what I think prep “should” feel like, largely due to the support that I had and seeing how things fell into place. People around me intentionally supported very tangible goals. You can’t expect a great day if you haven’t defined what a great day looks like, besides the obvious. I chose the character of people around me in accomplishing these goals by whether or not they could support my overall vision of how I want to do life and lifting, with an emphasis on relationship.

The goals

1. Get my nutrition physically and mentally under control.

I had an awful cut at BOB3 that I never want to repeat. Layered on top of that is the skeleton in the closet when it comes to eating. Aside from wanting an easier cut, I just wanted to feel better day-to-day, working with patients and walking around. Enter Mike Doehla. I’d seen Mike and others from his community StrongerU making incredible progress and it seemed like his whole community was about what my heart is about: seeing other people thrive. If you’re cut from similar cloth, chances are you’ll be a good team. I spent roughly six months dieting down slowly, which permitted continued solid performance in training with gradual introductions to new levers and a new feel under the bar. I started my water manipulation for the Pikes Peak Open between 128 and 129 pounds, which was a huge relief for me. I’m actually “tall” for a 123-pound lifter, which I’ll touch on later. Mike, as a surrogate training partner throughout this, taught me a lot about how to handle my mental game with regard to nutrition and performance, and really, what large roles positivity and communication play.

2. Focus less on what training “feels” like, and execute training with confidence and consistency.

I have enough knowledge of my own body that it’s tough for me to hand off my training to anyone else that doesn’t have a similar view of mechanics. I am also terrible at holding myself accountable and have a track record of burning myself out at both ends. I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to work on other people’s bodies and movement all day (turns out listening to people talk about their pain all day, lifting them up, and giving them relief is exhausting when you throw your soul into it) and still have 100% to give myself. I needed someone who would hold me accountable, challenge me, and know how and when to hold me back while still respecting my knowledge.

Enter Trevor. I’ve known Trevor a while and seeing lifters like Jenn Rotsinger—who has so much experience—progress while working with him gave me an idea. Trevor never just wrote programming. He was what felt like a training partner on the other side of the country. God, the dialogue we had about different mechanical things was awesome. I am by no means a “talented” lifter. I’m actually kind of a mess. But I’m regaining some technical proficiency slowly with his guidance. Trevor is more of a friend than “coach” the way a lot of online coaches like to be these days, sending out programming with one to two comments a week. He really redefined these concepts for me and worked to develop a coach-athlete relationship that happened largely organically. He’s got a sixth sense of what people need mentally.

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3. Redefine your why.

I think Dave helped me hit this on the head throughout the whole cycle. I’ve been chasing numbers and a total since after my first meet, totally neglecting the process. Training with Dave completely altered my mindset. He’s much more objective and level-headed and can see the forest through the trees, mostly because he’s been at this for a huge chunk of his life. He knows what I really want, which is a continual refining of self and mindset and to grow relationships. He kept me grounded when it came to the feely relationship stuff and helped me see the consistency between training days.

We’re a generation that loves to put on headphones, shut off, and train alone. I’m naturally introverted and work in an environment that demands extroversion; I understand wanting to just shut up and do. I also think that, in some capacity, the value of community and being invested in the process with people that understand your boundaries is an incredible growth opportunity. You are selling yourself absolutely short by not finding those people. There is so much that I gained mentally and learned about myself and others having someone in that process with me. I’m so, so, so lucky that I have a partner that I can do all of this with.

All that is to say, I was setup better for this meet than any other. I walked into weigh-ins well under without extreme measures for dehydration, had a coach that had far more confidence in me than I had in myself, and a training partner that celebrated every step of this process with me. I had the benefit of friends there to support and encourage, and I can honestly say that being surrounded by the right people is what gave me even moderate success on the day.

Meet day was a little different. I tried to recomp like I had taken extreme measures to dehydrate and deplete, which ended up making it really tough to regain weight. This is an issue I’ve never had before. Warm-ups were, truthfully, not what I expected from USPA. My bar (CrossFit bar, no knurling, bumpers) was hitting people as I was warming up for squats, time was cut (lifters meeting started late, was held in the same spot as warm-ups, and lifting still started at scheduled time), and there was a lack of overall equipment for bench and deadlift warmups.

I’ve been to plenty of USPA meets and have almost always been impressed, but it's important to note that those who hold awesome meets (JP Price, Rich Ficca) are intentional about making sure that happens. If we as lifters don’t work to improve the situation, we are equally as responsible for the environment. I think local meets are in a “good” place but have a lot of room to grow, and I really hope to be part of growing things here in Colorado. We have an incredible group of people that surround each other, and I’d like to see that setup for success.

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All things considered, I think my biggest win for the day was coming in on a three-for-six day and still hitting a 200-kilogram deadlift on my second attempt. I missed weights I’d routinely hit in training in other lifts, but felt like I was able to break through a bit of a barrier with my pulls. Something weird happened with my electrolytes, and my heart rate didn’t drop below 90 resting all day. I was lightheaded, and almost went home before deadlifts wondering if it was really physically worth it to finish, feeling as awful as I did. To finish with a PR pull was a big win for me mentally

Prior to Boss of Bosses 4, going five-for-nine and still hitting 990 at 121 would be awesome, and I think still puts me top three or five all time. My nine-for-nine day would have been 1030, but Stefi Cohen absolutely demolished the world record that I wanted to take a chip at. I think she is the Larry Williams of the female classes. She is absurdly gifted. Despite a lackluster five-for-nine day, I’m pretty pleased, all things considered. It’s always so hard not to compare, but we’re all given a different hand of cards, and one of the ladies at the meet pulled me aside essentially reminding me to cut myself a break. She laid a few truth bombs on me that I needed.

Dave and I have talked about how, when we have kids, we want them to look at what we have grown together, how we’ve tried to invest in others, and ultimately create together. Hopefully, we’re headed in that direction, but I think it took embracing a few truths I had been told 600 times and had not really taken to heart.

I’m hungry but more realistic and looking forward to building a little at a time. I'll likely compete locally again in December to continue being a part of the community here, and then hopefully head to Battle of the Bay in February to see my friends in Florida and go for a larger total. It’s nice, not feeling pressure to hit certain numbers at this point. Certainly, makes small PRs a little easier to celebrate when the mirage of “enough” is reframed.

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