Blog Archive

Search This Blog

Loading...

About Us

My Photo
Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.

Translate

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sarah's Origin Story

Well, I'm not going to go THAT far back as to HOW I was created. You should know that by now and if you don't go talk to your parents. This story starts at about age 14:

Picture it: Sicily, I mean San Jacinto, Ca. A young, charismatic, track and field athlete and Girl Scout was introduced to the sport of weightlifting. 


Summer of my freshman year of high school, my head track coach who was a former weightlifter herself (2X National Champion, American Record Holder and 2000 Olympic Trials Participant), asked me if I wanted to go lift with her. I did and I was sore for about two weeks. I only lifted the bar! Now that I think about it, I wonder if two weeks was an exaggerated feeling? Hmm. Well, after that, I decided not to do it again as I thought I would be perpetually sore.

The next track season, her husband, my throwing coach (My head track coach's husband and former weightlifting coach) decided that I needed to actually lift as part of my training. At the time, he was coaching us part-time after coaching his team at a neighboring high school. Anywho, I hated it at first but, as I got stronger and my throws went further, I changed my tune.

One day, as I recall it, my throwing coach asked me if I'd like to be in a weightlifting competition. I think I said, "Not really." and his response was "Too bad, I signed you up and I'm picking you up at 6 am on Sunday." I had no idea what I was doing and just followed what everyone else was doing and trying to listen to my coach.

I was asked recently what my best numbers were when I started lifting. My very first weightlifting meet I snatched 50 kgs and I clean and jerked 60 kgs. I totaled 2 kgs over my own bodyweight. Score! From the very, very, beginning, I can't remember what my squats or presses were, to be honest. I can remember at the end of high school what I was doing in my major lifts. I never really deadlifted and I didn't really press heavy. By the time high school was over, I was able to snatch 75 kgs for 4 sets of 3 reps and clean and jerk 105 for 4 sets of 2. I front squatted only up to heavy singles; my best being 150 and I back squatted 140 for 5 sets of 8.

I started lifting in like 2004/2005  and did it mostly for fun. I originally wanted to do weightlifting after track and field was over as a way to stay in shape and have fun. I didn't get reintroduced to weightlifting until 2008 where I did it on the side as a red-shirted sophomore at ASU. In 2009 was when I switched over to weightlifting full time.

That's pretty much how I started weightlifting and the numbers I was doing then. I had very humble beginnings in my athletic career and life. What a difference 12 years can make!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The TPS Project

I've had an idea for this type of project for a long time now but, haven't had the finances to do so. Now that I am at the OTC, I am in a better financial situation to "pay it forward" if you will and help others.

This TPS Project I am starting is my way of trying to help out other weightlifters. I know what it's like to be in need. We had a JR camp here recently and I heard about some talented lifters who didn't have good food to eat at home or money to buy the things they need yet, are talented enough to get invited to camps and qualify for the Jr. National Championships. How are athletes supposed to succeed when they have a hard time just taking care of the basics.

What does the TPS project do? I provide care packages for lifters in financial need. Care packages can include anything within my budget that can help the lifter. It saves them from using their money on things for training that they could be using for groceries or gas to get to training. The first three boxes I made included: money for groceries, Team USA sticker, block of chalk, roll of sport's tape, nuun hydration tablets, two powerbar brand protein bars, a pair of weightlifting straps, and a hand-written note from me.

Recently, my coach and team experienced tragedy. My coach's middle son passed away a few days after Christmas and was a big shock to all of us. My heart aches for my coach and his family. TPS stands for Timothy Patrick Swords; my coach's son's name. The "project" comes from our gym's nickname which is "The Garage Project." This is to honor his memory and help others.

Currently, this project is self-funded but, if anyone is feeling particularly generous and wants to help, I have a TPS Project Wishlist of things I would like/need to put in the care packages.

The goal is to help at least one athlete from around the country a month.

I have also updated my RIO 2016 Wishlist if you are interested in helping specifically me.

Thanks for reading! Have an awesome day!

Sarah

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2015 World Championships Part 2

The night I had that interview I didn't get any sleep. I was up at 5 am to get ready to go to work. I was at work at 7 am then got off at 12. I tried to make myself nap but, couldn't so I went to the training hall. I was very emotionally and physically tired that day. I contacted a friend of mine to text me funny jokes because I was doing my best not to cry that day. I don't know about you, but, when I get tired like that, I find it hard to control my emotions.

The rest of the day and week was spent eating with my teammates, hanging out with Jessica, I went and had some Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I watched world records and attempted to get to know my World Championship Team better.

The day before the competition, I spoke with my sports pysch/neuro coach Tom and he helped calm me down. I was worried that I wasn't ready for the competition, I was nervous that I wasn't rested enough, I felt pressure to perform well for Team USA, I was worried about other people's opinions. I was very distracted and I was worrying about all of the wrong things!

He helped remind me of who I was and that I didn't have to prove anything to anyone and at the end of the day, my friends/family/coaches would all still love me. He also reminded me of something very important: HAVE FUN. Having fun is one of my greatest motivators. I was letting all this stuff clutter my mind and I stopped having fun. Why put myself through mental and physical hell if I am not going to get any fun out of weightlifting? I needed to do what I did best and that was enjoy myself.

I spent the rest of the day watching weightlifting, talking to my friends, and watching funny videos. That night, I had the best night of sleep before a big competition than I ever had.

The morning of the competition, I just ate breakfast, did a very light shake-loose workout, showered, beautified myself and hung out. I was luck enough to have my session at the end of the competition and in the evening. That way, I have time to get a couple of good meals in me and see sports med or do anything that I need to get done.

I weighed in, and chilled out in the athlete lounge area and tried to rest my eyes a bit and enjoy my coach's company.

I had the pleasure of working with the National coach, my personal coach, and Jessica's original coach, Danny Camargo. Danny helped with loading weights and counting attempts, I'm not sure what the National Coach was doing but, I know it was important and Tim helped with weight loading, strategy, and making sure I was doing ok. Side note: Tim does an exceptional job tending to his athletes.









Anywho, warm ups went well and I don't think I had any misses (I'm writing this months later because I'm lazy) and I was pain and stress free. I was also enjoying myself.
My first attempt in the snatch was 118 kgs for a lift caught really high, that was followed by a solid attempt at 122 kgs.




 I felt really good and confident and we wanted to put 127 kgs on the bar to put myself in a position to possibly medal. I was ok with this call and felt confident I could make it. Well, I didn't. I pulled the heck out of it and it flew right over my head! Gosh dang it. Which has this hilarious moment of lamentation on the platform:

I had a fair amount of time to use the restroom, get a little snack in me and get ready for the clean and jerks. Warm ups went well. I had big plans for the clean and jerks this day. I really wanted to break the American Record which currently stands at 161 kgs. My goal was to take 152, 157, and 162 kgs attempts. Cheryl Haworth currently holds them and she had just got inducted into the hall of fame there so I thought it would be great to break the American Record that same weekend. My 152 and 157 attempts were solid and felt easy. After the 152 opener, the National Coach approached me asking if I wanted to take an 8 kgs jump to 160 kgs so we could be back in medal contention. I wasn't too comfortable with this as the most I had clean and jerked in training leading up to that was 145 kgs. I had cleaned and missed the jerk with 160 kgs back in summer of 2013. I didn't really feel like that was a safe bet. I was willing to budge a bit just to add kilos to the total and agreed to 148 but my coach, Tim stuck to his guns and we stayed with our game plan. By the time is came for us to take 162 kgs, I was sitting around a lot waiting to go. There was a lot of strategy going on with the coaches and athletes. This usually isn't too big of a problem for me but, sitting a long time like that, it's hard to stay focused. By the time 162 kgs was loaded on the bar, I thought I was feeling ready to go. I pulled the bar from the floor and by the time it got near the hip position, it felt like it was too far away and that I wouldn't be able to get under the bar to clean it so I dropped the weight. Even though I'm disappointed I didn't make the lift, I'm glad we had it on the bar. Better luck next time!



After all was said and done, I had a personal record snatch, clean and jerk, and total. I had my highest international placing to date, and I helped score valuable points to help secure 3 Olympic Slots.

I had people from work, and church and my club come watch me compete. This was so amazing. I rarely have anyone in the crowd to support me as I am far away from home and we usually compete in places my friends are not. This was a treat! I may be biased but I think I had the loudest and largest fan base in the competition venue that week. I encouraged those who came to wear silly costumes and to make signs. Here are some pictures:

























After the competition was over, I had to go to drug testing, I spoke with the Houston Chronicle and made it out to see my friends and go to Texas Road House to gorge ourselves.

Thanks to everyone who supported me during my two year hiatus. Thank you to my supportive friends, family, followers, teammates and coaches who all helped make the 2015 World Championships a successful and happy competition.

-Sarah

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 World Championships: Part 1

This was my fourth World Championships and by far the most interesting.

A few weeks before the World Championships, I get a call asking if I would like to be put on the World Team as an alternate and I said yes. I'm not going to go too deep into the details of the ins and outs of this situation but, long story short, I ended up placed on the team to actually compete. This caused a big stink in the weightlifting community.

There was a big campaign about one of the other athletes and against me being on the team and was a bigger distraction to me than I should have allowed. The campaign felt like a personal attack, it was a distraction to myself, and it took away from the other athletes on the World Team and the fact that Team USA and Houston were hosting the largest and best World Championships ever. Just like when my suspension happened over two years ago, suddenly, people wanted me on their podcasts and interview me for their websites. I declined all but two interviews during this time. A.) I hate bandwagoners and people who try to exploit drama/heartache B.) There are way more important and better things to talk about that can actually help athletes and promote the sport and the athletes. C.) I needed to focus on training and competing. 

Anywho...back to me! World Champs! Yay!

So, originally, the plan was to prepare for the President's Cup in Russia. So accepting my position as an alternate cut out three weeks of training. I knew that even without being 100% I could score major points so I had that confidence under my belt. This was a stressful time for me as I had just pulled out of my classes because I couldn't do them while training/competing and I was told I was going to face "severe financial penalties" for doing so. I was trying to figure out finances, school, my car needed major repairs, I was planning a move to Colorado, I had the World Champs to prepare for then get ready for the President's Cup, oh and I was still working two jobs. I was feeling overwhelmed to say the least and I even cried at practice. Inconsequentially, all of my gear I was supposed to get from USAW for making the World Team and the President's Cup never got delivered to my address. So, I didn't have any Team USA gear. Which didn't help my perceived feelings of already not belonging on the team. While I was at the World Champs, the Nike Rep and Eleiko rep help give me some merchandise that the other team members has so I at least had something from my kit. I was most concerned about having a USA singlet. I wanted so much to look like and feel part of the team. Most of my Team USA gear was from 2012/2013 when I was 50 lbs lighter. So a lot of my own stuff was ill-fitting so I made due with what I had and what the reps gave me. Thanks, Nike and Eleiko!

I couldn't financially handle all the time I was going to have to take off for all of my competitions and travel so I decided to work the week of the World Champs. Jessica was my roommate and she had to compete Monday and her coach talked to me about staying at my house Sunday night as to not disturb her getting ready for work at 5 am. I love Jessica and I had to do what was right for Team USA. Jessica did a phenomenal job, so it all worked out! *pats self on back as if I had something to do with it.

That night, one of the USOC media guys wanted to interview me. Which, I accepted. I talked to him in great detail and frankly with him about a lot of things. After the interview I asked him what his angle was. What did he want to share? The last article written about me was a huge disappointment and was very upsetting. He said, "Well what did you want me to talk about?" I told him, "I would like it if you kept it about weightlifting and about the athletes and how exciting it is to have Team USA hosting the World Championships." You know, the important, relevant things. He responded "Well, now I don't want to write the article any more." "Why not?" "I don't want to make you mad." This was because off record I was telling him what happened with the last article and needless drama I've had to deal with for the past couple years. "I can tell you until I'm blue in the face what I'd like you to write about but, you're just going to do whatever you want anyway. So, the only thing I can ask you to do is 'do the right thing.'" That's how I left the conversation and went to my room to go to sleep. I had a horrible feeling in my gut about the interview and immediately regretted doing it and declined all further interviews except one after my competition. I didn't get any sleep that night except maybe an hour only to have to wake up at 5 am and go to work the next day.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Shout of to my Sponsors and Partners! -Jess

I just want to say thank you.

I believe in Olympic sports. The reason is the same reason I prefer college football to the NFL. HEART. Athletes that chose to dedicate their lives for something so short lived for nothing but a memory and in few cases a medal or trophy are truly heroes. The road for these athletes in my opinion is much bumpier with much less reward. What is more honorable than dedicating your entire life to something that doesn't offer much back? This said how many people out there do anything that doesn't offer anything in return? Very few in my experience. By no means am I trying to say feel sorry for these athletes or our life is so hard. Lots of people's life's are hard. Our life is what we chose. I want to work my ass for every single day. I WANT to be an Olympian. I WANT to beat my body down to nothing. I WANT to only feed my body things to help it work better. All I'm saying is these athletes deserve a lot of respect. The average Olympic athlete spends 10 years training before they have an opportunity to even attempt to make an Olympic team. The statistics of even that athlete making the Olympic team is still 1/39 million.Can you imagine spending half your life for something you may or may not ever get? Have you ever worked that long for anything? Have you ever worked that long at the same thing? Many business professionals don't even continue on the same journey for that long. 

As an Olympic athlete I want to draw some attention to the companies that respect the long, hard journey we chose. I made a personal choice a few years ago that my priority was going to be 100% God, and weightlifting. Staying true to that decision a lot of other things I wanted or smaller goals of mine were pushed to the sidelines. The companies I chose to surround myself with on my journey are so important to me for that reason.I pick companies supporting me that aren't just "sponsors". Yes, the money is helpful to not have to work as much and dedicate more time to recovery for weightlifting. However the money isn't my number one motive when either reaching out or accepting sponsors. 

My first priority and first question I ask is "why do you want to sponsor me?" I pray the answer is that they believe in me as an athlete and a person. I want people around me that know I can make my dreams come true even when I'm too beat up, tired or down to believe it myself. I also want them to understand and respect my choice to put weightlifting first. They respect who I am and who I want to be as a role model, an athlete and a wife. 

The second priority is what the company stands for. How do they present themselves on social media, what do they do for the community etc. My brand and my image is very important to me. I'm a Christian woman, I'm a wife, one day I hope to be a mother. I want my kids and my husband to be comfortable with the image of these companies. I don't want to have to be a sexual figure to make money or get publicity. Nothing against those that do, it's just not the path I want. Are these companies trying to make the world a better place? That's the bus I want to be on. That's the person I want to stand beside and help support. 

My third priority in picking a company is what I can do for them. If the company is asking so much from me that I know I can't follow through on or would cut into weightlifting, it's not a good fit for me. I want to be able to do as much as I possibly can while still balancing my life. That may sound bratty or like I'm being a diva but let's be honest, would you let anything stop you from something you've worked for this long? Probably not. 

Anyways, the point is every company that I'm involved with have inspired me, moved me or done something so special that I appreciate so much. This isn't about me, this is about them. I don't care about how much money they make me. Maybe this makes me a poor business woman, I really don't care. I care about my husband, my future kids and all the young girls growing into amazing strong fearless women. I care about using my goal and my dreams to teach them dreams come true. I care about changing someone's life. I care about growing my sport. I care about making the world a better place. 


Fearlessly, Jess

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's over!

     I'm not sure how long most of you have been following my journey. Some. I am sure since the very beginning and others probably as late as my spot on Big Giant Swords or hearing about me some other way. Anyways,  if you don't know what my particular predicament was, a simple google search can help you out. Well, today is the day it's over! I can compete again! This is a long time coming. I have read and heard a lot of people say I handled it with grace but, I think minus one situation, I did a pretty good job. Someone called me a cheater to my face and I didn't take it so hot. I said a series of words my mother wouldn't have been proud of including what she calls, "the big one."
     I've mentioned before some of the things I've been through in this situation but, there is always more to say. I am not sure what motivates me, as I figure there are different things but, one thing I know that motivates me is to keep my promises.
     Once word was out and I could talk to someone, I immediately called USA Weightlifting and told them I was coming back, made a plan for paying off my fines, and made sure to get into out of competition drug testing so I would be eligible to compete again. I have been good on all of that. After the Olympics in 2012, I was contemplating moving on from weightlifting. We made a deal and shook on it. "It's you and me against the world, kid." So we went forward only focusing on us and putting all else aside to make a go for 2016. After the bad news in 2013 I can remember, "This doesn't mean you can't train. You can still qualify for the Olympics. Don't you dare quit. If you do, I'll never speak you again." I chose not to quit. Ever. Even though I thought about it. I couldn't do it. I made a promise to myself and to my coach that I would not quit. I didn't. I will not. The coach that started me initially told me "This is an injury to your career; at least it's not an injury to your body." With all that in mind, I pressed forward.

I struggled a lot. I feared a lot. I learned a lot. I overcame a lot.

     One day while talking about something with my roommate I said, "Hey, it's not the worst thing I've experienced." She asked, "Well, what is the worst thing you have experienced?" Well, the deaths of loved ones are of course at the top and probably the suspension being the other. But, you know what? I am a blessed woman. I have been two years without insurance because I a.) don't qualify for elite athlete health insurance any more because of obvious reasons and b.) I can't afford it. You know what? In two years I haven't had a single injury and I think I was sick maybe one time. When I couldn't afford a place to stay, a roof was put over my head. When I struggled to pay for groceries, there was food on the table. When I was lonely or sad, mom was a phone call away. I had friends to hug me or distract me with silly movies. I live a life here in Texas that is very fulfilling. I went from having almost no friends in Arizona (minus those I trained with and a few others), my dating life was non existent, I wasn't allowed time to visit home, or do anything else but train. My spiritual happiness suffered. I was bitter at times, and sad, and isolated. I am as active and as spiritually strong as I have been in my life here; which is important to me. I have so many friends! My teammates and coach here are as supportive of my athletic career as they are of my personal life. I believe that has made all the difference.

Really.

     How can a person go from training three times a day, no work, no social life, no family life to having to work 20-30 hours a week, struggle financially again. move, start all over, to only train once a day and still manage to get back into the same shape and better shape than she was before things got crazy? I believe it's because I am faithful, I work hard, and I am supported. I have a well-rounded life. I am happy and I have things in a greater perspective now.

     If this had not happened, I wouldn't have known about a couple of cousins I found along the way. I have family here in Texas and a cousin in Arizona where I was stuck for a week with car problems. I think that may be God's way of letting me know I am not alone.

Here are a few things that were irritating during this process:

Gossip: 
     People in the weightlifting world that had never anything to say about me, let alone something good, all of a sudden had their two cents to put in on my situation. I read so many ignorant actually not smart or nice things said about me. Not once did I get an email, or a call to ask me from my point of view what the situation entailed. The other side of that were people who ran weightlifting blogs, forums, radio shows, etc. again all of a sudden wanted to talk with me. I've been lifting since 2008 and they had not once asked for an interview to know my opinion on anything, to say congrats on winning, or anything. The minute I have something negative to my name, they want to interview me? No, thank you. I will not let a hot button topic about myself help generate publicity for you solely for your gain. People also wanted to use me as an example of what not to do as a warning for others. I am not the first nor am I the last to be in this situation. I made mistakes along the way, and yes, I will admit and own up to them. Shame on these people for this behavior. I will even say shame on me especially for the way I handled a couple of things.

Fair weather friends:
     Suddenly, people that were right there by you when you were on top, aren't there to defend you. They suddenly go missing. Ghosts.

Sponsorships, grants, and agents:
     Well, when you're not on top, and you have something like I did attached to your name. You are faced with difficult situations. Sponsorships that were hard to get in the first place, won't be there. A.) It's not an Olympic year and B.) No one wants to touch you with a 10 ft pole. I had a $5,000 grant that I had to return. The donor of the grant was very nice and I think I could qualify for it again some day but, giving that my world was crumbling around me sending that check back in the mail sucked so bad. I had an agent for a short period of time who knew exactly my situation and knew it was going to be hard to only tell me later, "I can't work with people who don't make me money" and "I thought things would have been a lot different by now." Well, no. Things weren't different. Yes. Marketing me in this situation is hard. Thanks for being another one to give up on me during a time I needed someone to see and market the best of me.

People who are purposely out there to stop you from improving:
It is really surprising to experience what I have from other clubs here in Texas. Especially coming from one club where a coach helped me at an international competition. I've been doing my best to be part of the weightlifting community here. I have coached at other gyms. I have helped with a clinic at a university. I have stopped by other gyms to say, "Hi" and watch training. One of the local clubs had an athlete pass away suddenly and I got a card and had my whole club sign it and took it to her family. Two particular situations happened where these, what I call "Concerned Citizens" decided it was their business and everyone's problem that I was participating in an event. At one competition, the meet director asked me if I could hand out medals and take pictures with the athletes. How horrible! The concerned citizens called the national office saying they didn't feel it was "appropriate" that I did that. It's weird that they didn't express concerns directly to me... Maybe it was because I was busy cheering for their athletes, and helping people. On another occasion, I was going to lift as exhibition at the same time as a weightlifting meet. It would be a good way to connect with people, stay tuned up for competition, and have fun. The other "concerned citizens" who didn't even attend the meet made sure to call the national office to make sure that I had as little to do with this meet at possible. As a precaution in case I could be in violation of my sanction, I was advised to lift in another room." So I proceeded to lift in the back where the athletes warming up could see me. Man, that 100 feet of space made so much difference in the outcome of things. (there's is so much sarcasm here n case you can't tell). Yet, some how, I'm supposed to be the bad gal? Anywho, that all happened but, I still pressed on doing my thing.

Lessons learned along the way:

*Follow proper protocol and if you don't be prepared for the consequences. When you think you've experienced the worst of the situation, there's probably more to experience.
*Stick to your guns. If it feels right, and you believe what you are doing is the best thing for you, do it. You are in control of your body and spirit. No one else.
*Know who you are. My papa used to tell me, "When you leave the house you are representing your family." I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I know who I represent. I try to do what is good and right. I try to be worthy to bear my name when I come each night. I also train hard to so I can one day lift on that Olympic platform again.

I hope to represent my God, my country, family, team and self the best I can.

Cheers to that. RIO 2016 OR BUST!

Sarah

One of the coaches I helped teach at the University

Some of my awesome teammates

My and my hammer friend!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

I am a Large Woman

To this you would think, "Duh!" and you would be right. A lot of people view their bodies as inhibitors. "If I were taller, shorter, skinnier, more muscular, had a bigger butt, had longer hair, etc. I could do _____, I could wear ________, So and so might be interested" and so on. While I can most certainly empathize with you, I have lived a very interesting life and have slowly learned along the way that besides my personality and hard work, my body has been a catalyst for the wonderful, beautiful, adventurous, and fun things in my life! Which consequently has helped so many women feel good about themselves, inspired them to do things they never thought they could, and live healthier and more active lifestyles! How cool is that?! As I am a fan of positive elf talk and loving even the things that frustrate you the most about yourself, I'd like to share some things with you.

As a large woman, I get noticed and it's not always positive. I was teased a lot growing up and still hear rude comments and get stared at this day. I was never good at hide and seek. I couldn't fit under the desks at school if there was an earthquake drill. I wasn't picked first for games. I have a hard time finding affordable, modest, beautiful plus size clothing. I sweat more than an average sized person. I hit my head on things. I walk into stuff all the time. Chafing sucks. It's tedious to always have to wonder or ask what the weight limit is on things. It sucks being crammed into airplane seats. It's easier to get fatigued and harder to recover. It's easier for a medical ailment to get blamed on weight. My height and weight add a new element of difficulty to dating. Being stronger than men also adds another element of difficulty to dating. It's rare that my size isn't a thought on my mind for one reason or another. As a large person, especially a female person, things don't always come easy, cheaply, or comfortably. BUT! These are not the things to dwell on. They are there. They are real. They are valid and I share them plus so much more with at least half the female population.

Here are some great things that happened not in spite of but because of being a large woman. Or jut simply, because I believe I am the whole package. We are all the whole package! Our worth and blessings come from us being all different! When you look at a table of gifts, do you shun any of them because they are of different sizes? Do you want to return them because they are wrapped in different paper? Maybe one box is small and another is oblong, another can be huge! I don't want to compare us to objects but, I think we are all gifted with different attributes and we can be gifts to others.

I've gotten fan mail
I've made an Olympic Team
I've traveled around the world
I've been kissed!
I've made an unbelievable amount of friends and witnessed the births of their children
I give awesome hugs
I have a better vantage point and can find things and people easier
I can reach things safely off high shelves
My long arms enable to snatch a lot of weight
My height has helped me throw shot put and discus far
My bodyweight helps me move heavy weights
Looking intimidating has helped me feel safe
Being strong makes me feel safe
I can pick up children if they fall
Kids feel safe with me being their "body guard"
I can pick up injured animals and carry them to safety
I am strong enough to help people move when they're sick
I can reach easily around someone to give them the Heimlich
I can change light bulbs and use top load dryers
I don't have to ask for help for pretty much anything. Especially pickle jars. Screw those jars.
My height, weight, and strength weeds away week minded people
My weight, height, and strength weed out superficial men. Most people I get to date are high quality
I get to inspire people

I'm not famous, or popular, rich, or traditionally beautiful. However, I am the whole package and so are you. Not a single person on this earth is perfect. We can learn to accept our imperfections, improve on our faults, and keep adding to the list of amazing and wonderful things we can do and be. It may be hard but, try to look at yourselves objectively and you'll start to see the great things about your self!

Love, Sarah

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Training in Adverse Conditions

The other day, I was so over the heat. Like, almost quarter-life-crisis status. I had dealt with 3 nights of little to no sleep because our air conditioner was broken and I pretty much sweat for about 9-12 hours of the day. I realized at practice one day that I have spent 24 out of 26 years of life in hot places. I grew up in Desert Hot Springs and San Jacinto, Ca, I lived/trained/competed at the University of Alabama, Arizona State University and now I am living in Texas.

In high school, I trained 5-6 days a week. Our lifting facility was a large non-air conditioned room with one door and a large fan. Everyone hated that one kid who stood by the door being a fan hog. I'm clenching my fists right now just thinking about it. I lifted in there 5 days a week. Track practice after school would last until sunset almost every day for me and there was little to no shade. Just you, your implements and the elements. Throwing things in shoes purposely made with no traction in the rain and digging through the mud is no fun. Sweating your face off and having no trees or cloud coverage to protect you from the sun in triple degree heat is no fun. Training when it's cold and windy with bulky clothes when you need to be able to move a certain way is also not fun. Three nights a week, I would go lift in my coach's garage. Competitions were even harder. You spend over 12 hours a day traveling in a school bus to go to the competition, compete, watch others compete, and suffer whatever conditions are there. Some times the throwing facilities are far away and you feel like you're not part of the competition, some times the ground is rough and bangs up your equipment, sometimes the sector is of center, sometimes it rains, some times it's so windy you can't get in a decent throw to save your life, sometimes you can't use your own equipment, sometimes there are bad calls and unobservant or under-qualified judges, and sometimes the meet is poorly run in general. These are just some of the things that made training and competing rough even through collegiate athletics. I can remember at Alabama, we had a day with torrential rain and my teammate and I were throwing hammer even when our feet were completely submerged in water. We had a competition at Auburn that was so cold we couldn't feel our finger tips anymore. This is important for throwing things, obviously. The craziest day was getting in one good throw at the Mid-East Regionals only to have the Tornado sirens go off and have to hang out in a basement for an hour before resuming competition.  What?! Needless to say, these things aren't fun but, they helped toughen me up a bit.

In Arizona I trained in a large  non-air conditioned warehouse and here in Texas, I train in a two car garage. Training in Arizona in both track and weightlifting reminds me of this:


While training in these environments, you have to learn to acclimate. You have to learn how to physically handle the situation and how to mentally handle the situation. When traveling and competing abroad, I have observed Americans as those who handle change the worst. Sorry, teammates but, it's true. I have heard complaints about the weather, or transportation, the bars not spinning well, the training hall is in a parking lot down hill, the chalk is too fine, the plates are falling apart, there's no heat or a/c, the food isn't good, the music is too loud, there are no spectators, the roof is leaking and there are puddles of water on the floor, someone just walked in front of me, that person won't stop talking...What. Ever. In my opinion, those who handle stress the best, compete the best. The body needs to adapt to different stimulus as does the mind, eyes, and ears. There are a lot of people in the US training on nice equipment, with ideal temperatures, and sports med, or housing facilities, and cafeterias. On the other side of the coin, there are people training in completely opposite situations like myself.

My coach often says, "If you can train here, you can train anywhere." I believe this is very, very, true. I have moved a lot, lived, trained and competed in less than ideal situations, have not been financially stable, and so much more. For these reasons, I attribute much of my success as an athlete. I am able to handle stress well. I am a surprisingly patient person. This is exhibited by how little I end up yelling at people Haha.

Any who, to be your best self, you have to be stretched and challenged. Get out of your comfort zone and expect the unexpected. As my old coach used to say, "be comfortable being uncomfortable."

Sarah

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Less than 3 wks out

So much for part two of 6 weeks out, huh? Oh well.

My first weightlifting meet back will be at Freight Engine Crossfit in Santa Fe, Tx on August 9th and we weigh in at 9 am. If you're interested in attending, please come! We will accept donations and we will be lifting, hanging out, and eating food! This meet will be a qualifier for the University National Championships in Ogden, Utah. I'm excited to lift weights but, not to take classes again. Oh well. At least I'll be less stupid than I was before the class, closer to a degree AND hopefully, I'll break some records.

Training is going really, really well. I feel like I am in shape to hit personal records by the time the University Nationals comes around. I am also hoping to break the University National records.

Just like I did when I couldn't compete at the 2013 World Championships, I trained and prepared myself in training to be ready to lift big weights at the same time as the Pan Am Games. I did a 271 total at a local non sanctioned weightlifting meet and when I found out what the winning Snatch was from Pan Ams, I was determined to do it for a double. Here it is:

 

The only thing that has really been racking my mind lately has been the President's Cup in Russia. It is essential to my eligibility to qualify to get invited. I have been waiting almost a month to hear if I get to go to the competition. It is one of two competitions within my time frame I need in order to be eligible to compete at the Olympics. If I don't get invited, my Olympic Journey for 2016 is over. I can still lift and accomplish my other goals but the Olympics... not so much. Here are a couple things that sum up how I will feel if I don't get to attend the meet:


                                       
                                          
                                            

Also, I have been considering moving back to the OTC by the time October or December rolls around. :o Ok bye!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

6 weeks out: Part One

I'm about 6 weeks away from being able to compete again. I am left with so many memories of these past two years; both happy and sad ones. I am also full of many emotions for the year(s) to come. I'd like to take a little bit of time and thank some people for helping me get through these times.

My mom: My mom is my rock. When I told her I wasn't going to compete for these two years, she wanted to hug me through the phone and cried with me. She knows who I am and what kind of person I am. She reminds me of my good qualities and reminds me when I am being neglectful. We share everything together and I know a lot of what she does in her life is to help support me financially and emotionally. I literally wouldn't make it week to week without her.

My Coach: Tim (in case you didn't know his name) was instantly excited about working with me and gave me so much hope and comfort. He never judged me once and made me feel at home. He helped me with a place to stay, find a job, get connected with good people and helps me if I ever am in need. He reminds me all the time that I am a special athlete and to not take it for granted. He tells me I can do anything and he is looking forward to getting this year started off right. We're hoping he'll be by my side at the Olympics.

My Hammer Coach/Teammate: When I was in Arizona, my friend's coach told me if I ever wanted to throw, I could stop by. The day after I was no longer training with my old weightlifting coach, I showed up to practice. This was a few weeks out from the World Championships and he seemed a little suspicious as to why I was there when I should be training for lifting but, let me do my thing. He quickly gained my trust and I enjoyed every minute of relearning how to throw hammer and lift with them to stay in some kind of shape during my transition. He listened to me, pushed me, gave me space, allowed have a "bad days" where I cried on the bench, made me laugh and was someone I could complain about things to. My teammate Meagan was just as influential. We had dinner nights, bonded Yelping, throwing things, and had fun training together and pushing each other. I had fun complaining with her to. Hey, sometimes you just need it.

Crossfit Crew: I was always welcome to come and train over at Crossfit Crew. Coach Dairus is a Godly man and I appreciate him and his gym for opening themselves up to me. I can remember dragging my barbell with me everywhere and over there twice a week. That poor thing! It was nice to be in a positive environment where everyone cares about you and wants to just get better. Sean (hammer coach) and Meagan would do clinics there once a month. I also got to train side by side with Meagan again so that was always a positive

My Current Teammates: They push me to stay competitive and in shape when I feel like I can't or occasionally don't want to. They help me coach the kids. They encourage me to live my life to its fullest and to accomplish all I can within my power. I had one teammate help run a meet for me so I could fund raise, I have a couple who are trying to help get me back in school again, I have one who has let me do a couple of clinics through his gym, and I have a lot of people just plain cheering me on. All of this is goof for morale.

My job: I work at Home Depot. Although, they do not have the Olympic partnership anymore, my coworkers and managers have been very great to me. I love my job, my coworkers, and managers, They really work with me when my training schedule changes and help correct me when I make mistakes.

Substitute families: First, let me mention, I have a lot of best friends. I just kind of collect them. Strange as that may be. I love them so dearly and they helped me more than I can ever hope to repay. When I was in Arizona, I quickly became best friends with Danielle. I went to her house all the time. Her mom always made sure I never left hungry of empty handed. I was always treated like another member of the family. At some point she and I lived with her grandma and she let me stay there for very cheap. My best friend Ciera and I at first did not get along but after our second time being subjected to each other, we got along swimmingly. Eventually she got married to this super cool guy and I got along with him super great. Anywho, I became a sister to her and an Auntie to all four of their crazy, beautiful children. After things went down at my old gym, they let me stay with them rent free so I could save up for Texas and continue pursuing my dreams. Here in Tx, I became good friends with Nate and I get to spend time with his family as well. His mom always feeds me always saying something like, "It has protein in it!" We watch movies, do scripture study, eat gummy rocks, and play lots of games together. This Sunday I went over there and spent Father's Day with them. It helped ease some of the sadness I had from not being able to share it with my own dad. I have lived very far away from home since I graduated high school and I often don't get to see my family. I go years between seeing people. I miss them and I miss a lot. Sometimes it can feel pretty lonely and isolating.

Financial supporters: There are too many to name but, I have had people buy me stuff off of my Amazon wish list, donate to my Gofundme campaign, donated to my pay pal, helped with gas money or food money, etc. I am really thankful. I am sorry to burden you guys. I wish I were more financially stable and independent so I wouldn't need help but, lo, that is the position I am in. I still need to pay off my fines, manage every day finances, pay for competitions, etc. but, it's all working out for the best.

USA Weightlifting: I have been in contact with USA Weightlifting and have been doing my very best to stay on top of things, be communicative, etc. They have been doing a good job being non-partial and helping me stay on track and working with me along the way.

My old coach: Joe is a fantastic coach. The level of intensity and discipline he brings as a coach is not often matched, We learned and grew a lot together, Sadly, we had to move on from each other because of the circumstances. but, I am truly thankful for all he did for me. Yes, we butted heads a lot, yes, I could be a stubborn diva, but we accomplished a lot in a short period of time and more than many could ever even hope for. We made a great team. I wish him the best with his athletes and look forward too seeing how well my old teammates do in competitions.

Pursuing an Olympic dream is a difficult task. This has been made even harder by the nature of my sport as well as some decisions I made as well decisions were made for me but, through everyone's help, I have learned and gained so much. I am a blessed woman. I reflect a lot on all of this and at times it brings me to tears. Thanks so much! I can't wait to actually tell you about non-sentimental things and talk about weights in Part 2!

Sarah.