Sometimes, there’s so much in your heart, it’s hard to put it into words.
That’s how I’ve felt for a week, after competing last Saturday in the World Kettlebell Lifting Championships in Chicago. I trained for that event for a year, and many times I’d envisioned the outcomes, both positive and negative. But what actually happened is something I’d never imagined.
I competed in the 18-kilogram long cycle event. It takes 10 minutes. That’s it—10 minutes. A year’s worth of work for five minutes per arm.
As soon as the timer started, I knew I was going to do well. I felt great. I was ahead of my pace, and I just knew I would be able to get the numbers (54 repetitions per side) for which I was striving. When it came time to switch arms, I had 61 on my right side. Everything was working just the way my coach and I had planned.
I kept cruising on the left arm. I didn’t get tired; my cardio was great. I actually slowed down in the final minute, because I could, and I could feel the smile spreading across my face.
As the clock ran out, I was at 61-61. I was as happy as I’ve ever been, no exaggeration. I walked over to shake the judge’s hand, looking forward to running over to my husband and my coach and celebrating. That’s when it happened. That’s when I heard the judge say, “Good job. You know you used the 16, right?”
I was in disbelief, but it was true. I had picked up the 16-kilogram bell by mistake, not the 18. Both bells are yellow, and between my nervousness and my competition-day focus, I hadn’t noticed that the bell I chose didn’t have the tell-tale black tape on the handle.
In seconds, I went from an elation unlike any I’d ever known to utter devastation.
But here’s what’s funny: I got over it. That’s noteworthy because I don’t get over anything. I’m a brooder! I don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to myself; I tend to feel like a failure if I’m not perfect. But for some reason, this has been different.
I didn’t do what I set out to do, true. But what I did do, I did incredibly well. I overcame my nerves and just went for it, and in looking at the results of the women who competed with the 18, I see that had I put up numbers as I did in my training, I’d have won. I feel validated in my training, not to mention in my ambition in registering in the first place. I belonged there.
All week, I’ve been recounting the story of my weekend’s (mis)adventure. And the more I talk about it, a strange thing is happening: I feel more and more proud.
I’m so glad I went out on this limb and took this chance. I risked failure, but I came way feeling oddly successful, in spite of imperfection. I feel inspired to keep training and to compete again next year. I just keep feeling … happy.
It’s a new experience for me. And I like it.