Me to Julia Anto: “What’s that word… where it doesn’t seem real?”
Julia and me at the same time: “Surreal.”
Surreal. That is how it felt the entire weekend at Laura Phelps’ Cincinnati women’s pro/am. I am going to do my best to describe this weekend in its entirety.
Walking in to weigh in at Sweatt Shop personal training and I run into my “insta friend” Jess Bowersock. We finally get to meet in person and she is just as cool as her Instagram feed. Standing in line for weigh ins and boom. There’s the tiny strong ass Stacia-Al Mahoe whipping her long hair around. Then in walks Janel Vegter and we do this weird all-teeth- beaver smile at each other and immediately become BFFs. Then Blanca Villoch, Amber Alice, Jennifer Gaeding and myself do the weird “hey it’s me from Instagram, *insert insta handle name”. I walk in the room to weigh in and bam Laura freaking Phelps is taking weights. I do my best to play it cool but out of my mouth comes “wow this is so cool, I really look up to you”. I am already in awe at all of these strong, bad ass women surrounding me. I get to share a platform with these people tomorrow. What in the hell… like how.. how did I freaking get here???
Going into this meet, I had a different mentality than I usually do. I touched on this in one of my last articles, “A New Approach”. I honestly didn’t care too much about what I ended up with at this meet. I was just so so happy and humbled to be there. I wanted a 1000lb total which is something I have been chasing since I started powerlifting just 4 years ago. I achieved that and a little more, but my main goal was to have fun and put up the best numbers I could, no matter what they were.
So, I have my coach, Christian Anto handling me the entire meet. I’ve never been able to have him at a meet since we live in different states so this in itself was a treat. Not only that, but someone I have admired since I started powerlifting was also coaching me, Julia Anto. So there I am, warming up with all of these amazing women and I have Julia Anto in one ear and Christian in the other. Like, what? I could not fathom this when I first started this sport. To have someone that inspires you and one that you’ve looked up to for years help coach you at a meet?? And not just any meet, but the professional meet with several world record holders? Again… how did I freaking get here???
Squats: I opened with 355lb, an easy number I can smoke. Which I did, but got called for depth. I’ve been in this situation before, so I knew to stay calm and just dip a bit lower that what’s comfortable. Julia Anto reiterated this as well. My coach, Christian made the call to go up. I hit 375lb for my second attempt which was a 10lb pr. Already on track for that 1000lb total. I had Christian choose every single attempt this day. With the exception of my openers, I never knew what was loaded on the bar until after the lift. Christian calls for 390lb on my 3rd. I smoke that one too but called for depth. At this point, I didn’t even care because I’m still in the meet, I hit a pr, and I’m having a blast.
In between squats and bench, I go to sit with my friends and watch some of the other lifters. I turn around and Jeanine Whitaker is sitting and watching the meet. I work up the courage to introduce myself and ask for a picture. She tells me “You’re doing great, all of your squats were to depth in my opinion”. And I’m over here star struck. I don’t even remember what I said back. Probably just mumbled something stupid and did an awkward walk back to my seat. Then, my boyfriend turns to me and says “Elyse….turn around”. So I do. I see an older gentleman with dad shorts, tall ass white socks, basketball shoes, and a flat bill hat. It’s freaking Louie Simmons. I turn back *eyes as big as my mouth*, “holy hell that is Louie Simmons”. Louie Simmons watched me squat. Obviously he wasn’t there to watch me, but he saw me. I freaking squatted in front of Louie Simmons. Later, Dave Tate arrives and they both have a conversation behind me. Again, how did I freaking get here??
Bench: I open with 190lb. I forget that there is no start command so I hold out my bench for what feels like 17 minutes until Christian yells at me to go. As I’m benching in my head I’m still like “wait was that Christian that said “go”? am I missing a command?”. I smoke this lift and get 3 whites. Second attempt I hit 205 for a 5lb pr. Again, on track for that 1000lb total. We go to 210, and I miss this one. Christian gives me good feedback and we move on to get set for deads.
I go back to my bag to get some water and food and run into Janis Finkleman. I debate if I should do the weird “hey I know you, can we get a pic? I really admire your lifting”. So I say “screw it” and do it anyways. Totally chill chick and was happy to meet and befriend her. Then, I go to the bathroom in between warming up for deadlifts. There’s a line and I meet another lifter, Andi Corder. This chick opened on deadlifts with a world record attempt. Then she does it again for a second attempt to break her OWN world record for a 605lb pull! That’s the women I was surrounded with. Yet again, how did I freaking get here???
Deadlifts: Before the meet, I debated with Christian on my deadlift opener. He suggested 395lb, while my ego ass wanted 400lb. I agreed with his reasons and decided to stick with his advice. So I open with 395lb no problem. In my head I wanted to tell Christian that if I just pulled 420 (which is my old pr), I will hit my 1000lb total. I decided against saying anything because he knew what I wanted and I trusted him to make the right calls regardless of the total I wanted. Again, I never knew what was on the bar before I attempted a lift. Christian gives me an unbelievably motivating speech right before I pull. I go up, and murder that lift. I turn to see what I hit and it’s 425lb. I do my insane excitement-I-can’t-believe-this-is-real celebration and almost kill my friend Magen by shaking her in excitement and then give Christian and huge freaking hug. I did it. I got my 1000+lb total. I set that goal in my first powerlifting meet. I wanted to achieve a 1000lb total at some point in my career. And on April 14th, 2019 it happened. So I still have another attempt left. Again, I already achieved my goal so anything beyond this was just like getting a sweet potato fry in your regular fry order. Another great motivational hype from Christian and I go to pull and miss 440lbs. I reverted back to trying to use all back and shake profusely to lift the weight. That doesn’t work by the way.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some other talented lifters that I’ll stay in touch with throughout my lifting career. My sponsor, Alex Mershon and Laura Mershon made a 4 hour drive just to watch me compete and I could not be more grateful to them. I loved representing their brand and enjoyed spending time with them. My good friends Magen Houston and her husband Eric came all the way from Memphis to sit through that meet and cheer me on. They’ve never experienced a powerlifting meet so what a way to introduce them to this sport. And of course, I can’t forget to mention my boyfriend, Daniel Caudle who has supported me from day one in every aspect. Now I get the opportunity to support him in his first powerlifting meet in May. I am most thankful to God for the ability to compete and display my athleticism. I know that He has blessed me with this amazing ability and I am fortunate to be able to utilize this to serve Him. I owe all of my successes to Him.
So that was it. The Cincinnati women’s pro/am. This by far was my favorite meet to date. I met some of the most amazing, down to earth women in this sport. I still am in shock that I was able to share a platform with them. Thank you to all of you guys and I was so happy to meet and compete with every single one of you! I was so honored to share that day with all of you and hope to run into each of you again some day.
So what’s next for me? I will be taking some much needed time away from competing. I will still train with Christian and continue to build on what I’ve done thus far. My overall goal right now is weight loss and to focus on my personal life for a bit. I’m planning on competing at a big meet in 2020 sometime. So until then, I will be reminiscing in these moments and waiting to get back up on that platform.