Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Qualifying for Masters Nationals - Twice - While Pregnant, and Lessons Learned.

L: Snatching 95lbs @ Paramount Barbell Club Open, Feb. 2015, 15 weeks pregnant.
R: Snatching 101lbs @Roach Strength, May 2015, 6 months pregnant.
About a month ago, I discovered I had qualified for Master's Nationals at my first open meet.

Competing 15 weeks pregnant and being my own coach made that meet something of a fun landmark for me. It was my 2nd meet (my first Open) and I honestly just went for fun. Since I found out about The Bean, I've approached competing from a "have fun and stay sharp" mentality.  Meets are little more than a heavy training day and a chance to get used to performing on the platform in front of an audience. Each time, it's less and less nerve wracking and more and more fun to show 'em what I've got.

Posted by Nicole Napier-Kurdelski on Saturday, May 9, 2015

This time, I attracted a fair amount of attention. Despite not having to wear a singlet, it is pretty much impossible to hid my passenger - and I made no attempt to try.

After my session, a vendor a the meet came up to me after my session and said, "You're really pregnant!" Yup. She wasn't wrong. So I've learned a few tips and tricks that help me along the way.

I can no longer wear a weight belt. The increase intrabdominal pressure provided by the belt is a bit too much for The Bean, so my husband and I devised a different way of gently supporting my muscles, without creating any additional pressure. While it's not terribly graceful, we came up with a KT Tape configuration that proved helpful. (I'm happy to share what works for me - just comment if you're a lifter - or a coach - looking to help out an athlete.) I also need to give myself PLENTY of time to warm up, roll out, and stretch.

I got to talking with someone I recognized from the Clean and Jerk clinic I attended the week prior  (they already knew that I am pregnant) and the coach was intrigued to hear that I don't believe that successful Olympic lifting is only achievable by those with flat stomachs. (After all, just look at some of the super heavy weight champion lifters! There are PLENTY of ultra heavy weights with significant midsections.)

His observation is the same as many others I've read on the net: "Having a bigger midsection means you have to swing the bar away from you, so women should refrain from Olympic Weightlifting while pregnant so that they don't develop this habit." As far as I'm concerned, that's generally BS.

I'm no more, or less 'out front' with the bar now than I was before I was pregnant. Keeping the bar close is always a challenge. Truth is, when I'm lifting, I have zero concerns about hitting my belly. In fact, I never has.

Posted by Nicole Napier-Kurdelski on Saturday, May 9, 2015
This was my first experience really seeing someone (outside of my team) watching me like a hawk in the warm up room. Positioned across from me, and just one platform down, they stopped lifting and honed in on my immediately when I picked up the bar to do my first few warm up lifts. I did my best to ignore the eyes on me, and took it as 'practice' for the platform.

On the Platform at the Roach Invitational.
After a rough week when it came to snatching, I felt like I was a little uncertain of the outcome. I was just determined to have fun. I ended up lifting a 101lb Snatch, and a 130lb Clean and Jerk when it came to the heaviest, all of which felt really good. I missed one lift in each category and got one lift DQ'd (slight press out in the Jerk, but it didn't really matter - I got a heavier one in the next lift anyway).

Now, those are not lifetime Personal Records, but the Snatch is the heaviest snatch I've succeeded at since my first Trimester.  Even so, my lifts are an average of 10-15lbs from my maxes, comfortably. The strategy was to have fun and make my lifts. Turns out, I beat my last meet score by a Kilo, giving me confidence that I'll qualify for Master's Nationals next year as well (with one extra cheerleader in the audience, rather than on the platform with me).

So, what' next?

Though I qualified and was invitied to compete in Master's competitions this year, they are too close to my due date to really ensure any kind of performance, so this year, I'm passing on further competitions (as an athlete).

The goal is seeing my athletes through their competitions this year, while staying strong and sharp myself.

I can't thank my support crew enough for coming out to the meet and watch me play.

All my fellow Athletes after our session at Roach Strength's first Invitational Meet!