1. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
2. the quality or fact of being very determined; determination.
3. the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.
Synonyms include determination, grit, guts, perseverance, persistence, steadfastness.
Antonyms include cowardice, fear, idleness, timidity, weakness.
When I started training for Strongman 11 months ago, I heard lots of chatter about mental strength and tenacity being as much a part of the game as physical strength. At the time, I was moving across the country for a job after leaving one that made me miserable, and I’d just won my first ever competition–I was on cloud 9 and didn’t wanna hear it. I found a solid coach and gym family as soon as I got to Lubbock, started gaining strength like crazy, and of the 3 competitions I’ve done since coming to Texas, I’ve never taken lower than second place.
These first and second place finishes came between adjusting to a new job, personal hurdles, and injuries. A caseload that is typically over 120 students at any given time. Deaths in the family. A back injury under a 450 pound yoke 3 weeks before the first competition. Lower bicep tendinitis in the same shoulder that has a scapulothorascic-something-or-other (my shoulder blade rubs up against my ribs and while it’s not painful, it leads to imbalances in muscle development and range of motion). Hip, pelvis, and tailbone misalignment that make it hard to walk, much less train. And guess what? None of it matters.
Fast forward to today: I’m 11 days out from my 5th competition in 11 months, and this isn’t just any competition. This is a Europa with a pro-card on the line for the winning Heavyweight Woman. I’m competing in a show where the winner will take home a pro-card less than a year after starting the sport…
and I’m shitting my pants a little.
When I signed up for the Europa, foregoing nationals in one Strongman federation, it was because I knew I needed to step my game up, and looking at the events, I knew I would at least get on the board points-wise in each one. As I’ve seen the other women in my weight class sign up, I’ve realize I ain’t in Kansas anymore as far as competitors goes. California’s Strongest Woman. Women who have competed at the Arnold. Women who have been competing damn near as long as I’ve been alive.
Call it a rookie mistake, but I’ve obviously lurked on the other women competing. It’s easy to get in your own head–and trust and believe there have been a few days where my teammates and coach had to verbally bitch slap me to get out of my thoughts–but I’ve come to terms with something: I may not win, and that’s entirely okay. But ya know what? The only way I know for sure that I’m not going to win is by not showing up.
I’m going to roll into Dallas next weekend and leave it all on the floor of the convention center, and as much as I’m anxious, I know that this competition is where I’m supposed to be. While I love the hardware that comes with winning, it’s time to get serious. If I don’t win, it’s going to be a nice little serving of humble pie, but like Kaitlin Burgess talked about in her Strongtalk Podcast interview “You have to fail and learn how to fail to be good at it.” You never know who’s going to have the best day of their career or who’s going to get hurt, and I’m just going to take it one event at a time.
After seeing that CA’s Strongest Woman Julia Smay signed up for the Europa, we were chatting via Facebook about that weird crux in this sport where you’re kicking ass at parking lot shows but might not be pro-card ready, so what do you do? Well at this point, it’s time to rise to the occasion. I’d rather get my ass kicked by some of the strongest amateur women in the country than roll into another parking lot show where the competition only supports you til you start winning.
So what does all this have to do with being tenacious? Everything. The inner fire in me that wants so badly to compete on stage at the Arnold as a Professional Strongwoman isn’t going to let injuries, full-time jobs, family stress, drama, or any other bullshit get in the way. I’m hoping that next weekend will be the time, but if it’s not, that’s okay. This winner ain’t quitting anytime soon, so whether it’s next weekend, next year, or 5 years down the line, ya girl will have that pro-card. Til that moment, it’s all skull-crushing and dream-chasing.
Til next time,