Surya’s ICKB Competition Chronicles: Part 1

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By: Surya Voinar-Fowler

gothis2Having just returned from another ICKB adventure I was inspired to share an inside view of just what it is like when three KB athletes and their fearless coach head out on the road for a KB competition. Over the last four years of training and competing with the ICKB team I have had the privilege to travel all over the world to train and compete with kettlebells. Somehow when I first started competing I thought that after having experienced enough competitions the pre-comp training, travel and competition itself would become somewhat routine and dare I even say predictable. Well, after over 20 competitions there is still nothing routine or predictable about any of it.  This past weekend was anything but predictable.

wildwest4As the tides of KB competition continue to ebb and flow with politics, debates, the introduction of new ranking systems, events, etc., I think it is important to remember the everyday athletes who are in essence the lifeline of the sport. Athletes who love this sport enough to continue to train and adapt, personally invest in competition registration and travel fees, and carve out time in their busy schedules to train in such a grueling sport. It is no small thing to train and travel and compete in the midst of work and family.

What follows is a glimpse into the 48 hours I spent with my team members as we embarked on the AKA/ IUKL – Wild West Open in Austin, Texas.

July 5, 2013:

bart7:30 am  – Steve and Melissa pick me up to head to the airport. Then we are off to pick up our friend Jessi from Sweden who will be joining us on this adventure.  Then we are off to San Francisco Airport. Luckily traffic is light given it is a holiday weekend, especially since Bart has been on strike and traffic has been causing havoc all week.

While traffic was better than we had expected, the parking situation at SFO is a challenge. We are lucky to get a space in the farthest point of the farthest overflow lot. We park and then catch the shuttle to SFO for our 10:30 flight to Austin.  My ICKB teammate Jessica D. meets us at the airport.

The flight itself is fortunately uneventful except for a very turbulent landing. As it happens Jessica, Melissa and I are not particularly fond of flying and so each flight requires a certain amount of energy in terms of finding that inner zen to endure the flight until we safely touch down. While for someone flying on vacation this sort of energy output may be inconsequential, for an athlete traveling to a competition it is a constant struggle to keep your energy reserves as high as possible for use in competition.

heat3:45 pm – We arrive in Austin and are jolted by the blazing 118 degree temperature. By the time we make it to our rental car we are all dripping in sweat and eager for the cool blast of the AC. The five of us cram into our little rental and head out on the road to our hotel to check in before the pm weigh–ins. By the time we arrive at our hotel the fatigue has started to set in coupled with thirst and hunger. We quickly get our luggage into the hotel room and head to weigh-ins. Thankfully we all make weight in our intended weight classes– no small task after a long day of travel.

7:30 pm – 12 hours now since our journey began and finally we are having the first meal of the day. A lovely dinner is shared together in celebration of Melissa’s birthday followed by a quick walk and birthday treat before back to the hotel for much needed rest.

10 pm – Arrive back to the hotel to find the air conditioner not working and no phone to call front desk. As it is getting late Jessica and I turn in for the night hoping to get a good nights rest before comp day. No such luck, the heat makes it difficult to sleep and the night is spent tossing trying to find relief from the heat. For Bay Area natives this heat is no joke and has already set my body on a journey to dehydration. While Jessica has wisely been consistently hydrating throughout the day I have been less attentive to the task. By the time morning comes I have a splitting headache and am nauseous.

July 6, 2013

coffee7 am – We splash water on our faces and meet our team mates outside in the parking lot to grab some breakfast before we go to the competition venue. Again our bodies are jolted by this unfamiliar heat even in the morning. We drive looking for a place to eat and have a cup of coffee. While on the surface this seems simple enough, there is a hidden layer of anxiety for an athlete that has been training for a comp. For many of us this means a very health conscious diet and specific health plan.

Our bodies are accustomed to specific energy sources and finding these foods can be difficult when away from home. As a team we have learned how to adapt as best we can and yet the reality is it will be less than ideal. A banana from the hotel, an egg sandwich from a local bagel store… My iced coffee sits untouched and I struggle to get a few bites of egg into my system. My head continues to throb and I tell myself it is just pre-comp jitter and pray that the nausea and dizziness will quickly pass.

wildwest18:30 am – We leave the bagel place to head to the competition venue. When we arrive we are greeted so graciously by Yuri, Alex, Henry, Joyce, Mea, Lisa, Svitlana and all the other competitors. The room is buzzing with excitement and as the day continues to unfold the temperature continues to rise… and with it so does my nausea.

wildwest2I fight it off as long as I can but before I know it I am vomiting and light headed from the effects of dehydration. In the midst of preparing for their sets later in the afternoon Jessica, Steve, Melissa, and Judi DeMuro somehow find time to get me Gatorade and saltines and locate a quiet cool room for me to rest in private.  Awesome Mea brings me the loveliest cloud of a pillow to rest my head.  Needless to say, I am out of the competition.