Early Retirement

Shaky, pale, and recently released from wrist and elbow wraps, I answered my husband's questions after my last lift of the bench press competition.

Consider this video an official announcement: I'm retiring.

Did I ever tell you about the time I sang in an a cappella quartet and couldn't find my note? Rehearsals, I was spot on. Came time to perform, the pitch escaped me. Didn't help that the conductor transposed the whole thing up a key at the last minute--that aside, I couldn't perform under pressure.

Still can't. I've never been a performer--that is, making everything perfect in a single shot. For example--oh, I don't know, say pushing a heavy bar off your chest. Spending three seconds hoping your diet, training, allergies and tendonitis cooperate and allow you to do the thing you've been doing in private for six months. While everyone watches. Including a butt and chest judge.

Just for instance.

Later on the day of the competition, I went to work at the shelter. From the hours of 8:00pm to midnight, I negotiated with a drunk woman, headed off a fight in the bathroom, and steered a woman away from suicide.

That kind of pressure I can handle: show up and make good with whatever comes my way. None of this one-chance-at-success business. Sure, I benched 125 in the end, but the pressure nearly did me in.

I'll miss some of my bench press training. Floor presses with 50-pound dumbbells. Being called "Fluffy" and, alternately, "Beast," by my trainer.

But I won't stop lifting heavy. And I should admit that shortly after this video was filmed, I struck up a conversation with a woman who runs a somewhat clandestine, underground powerlifting gym that turns out some serious lifters, including the woman who bested me by 5 pounds. The talk ended with her writing a phone number in my workout log, on the last page.

Having run out of pages, I shelved that log and her number for now. This week, I started a new tablet with new, still heavy workouts, which also include a trip to another gym for my favorite BodyCombat class.

"So it is no more, because it was my last year of competition, and I would like to announce officially that I am retiring."


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