For Whom the Kettlebell Tolls

For Whom the Kettlebell Tolls

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.

A quick 180

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.

A new feeling

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.


About the Author

Jennifer Scroggins works in Marketing in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Cindy Scroggins

    You make your mama proud. In all your years, this is the first time you’ve accepted what has happened and moved on. That has to feel as good as having won the gold.

  • Brass Hammer Designs

    YAY! So proud of you!