I thought about starting a blog when I first began my strongman training. I thought it would be a good outlet for women who have never done anything out of their comfort zone to be able to see the process and the adventure it took me on. So let’s start from the beginning.
My name is Marisa. I am 27 (freshly, I’m still young at heart) years old. I have played soccer my entire life and never even considered dabbling into competitive weight lifting until I wanted to be able to bond with my brother over something. If we’re being honest here, I do this for him. It’s no secret. Yeah, picking up cars and stuff is kinda fun. Had it not been for my brother, I would most likely not have ever started strongman. This isn’t something I hide. I blurt it out every time I have a bad training day or whenever he gives me crap about not being able to do something. Now that I’ve been involved with it for the better part of a year, I’ve learned more about why I keep doing this. I do it for Lynn, because he always laughs whenever he has a show coming up and I pretend like I’m not going to sign up. I do it for James, because he has invested so much time in coaching me, I couldn’t stand the thought of quitting now and having him feel like it was all a waste. I’m a pleaser, if you couldn’t tell. I don’t like to disappoint people. But I know that by continuing to do this for other people will disappoint the most important person involved: me.
I love seeing gains. It’s great to see progress. But now that my beginner gains have slowed down, it’s frustrating when I’m not hitting a PR every so often. I’ve seen changes in my body and my attitude I’ve never seen before. Truth be told, that’s addicting. While I always say I do this for my brother, Lynn and James, I really do it because I love seeing improvements in myself. Plus, it’s pretty bad ass to say you’ve picked up a car.
Anyways, I grew up in Vestal, NY- a small town outside of Binghamton. I started playing soccer when I was 5 or 6 and fell in love with the game. It took me many places and brought me great joy, but I never realized how much it hindered me until recently. See, I played competitive soccer all the way through college. We won two NJCAA National Championships when I played for Broome Community College. Soccer taught me discipline, respect, obedience and I was a great team player. Yup, I was all “all for one and one for all!” Turns out, when you step off the field and into your real life, you’re not a part of a team, you’re on your own. Spending over 20 years as “part of a team”, I never really knew anything different. Even when I did CrossFit competitions, they were never individual, always team competitions. I knew what a great team mate I could be, but I never knew how I could perform by myself. In weightlifting, it’s just you out there. I never thought I would do well because I don’t have nearly enough confidence in my abilities.
Yeah, I’ve done a couple shows now, but I’ve never been in the situation I was in at the Mid-Atlantic Strongman Competition at the Europa Expo. This was a two day event and I injured myself at the end of day 1. Tied for second going into day 2, I knew I had to do something. I wasn’t going to lose. Against the advice of the athletic trainer there, I knew I had to compete. I had to finish what I started. So we came up with a plan. When I say we, I mean the close group we had there, my brother, my coach and my friend, who is a fellow competitor. All I had to really do was not scratch any events and I would take second. It didn’t matter if I crushed the events, as long as I didn’t zero them. Oh, and I had to get a couple reps on a heavy circus dumbbell. No worries right?
I was the first person to go for circus dumbbell, so I wasn’t 100% positive exactly how many reps I needed. I’ve never been a person to psych themselves up, or get really angry and use it. I’m a happy person. I like to laugh and smile. I was pacing back and forth while the novice went. I was super nervous trying to figure out how many I should go for. Or will I choke and not even get any? In the midst of trying to get pumped for this (which was probably very comical to watch), a sudden calm came over me. My coach was my judge (Not controversial at all, considering he’s harder on me than anyone else). I had glanced up to see how the novice ladies were doing when I saw him. Then, I realized how silly I was being. A little voice in my head said “Dude, just trust your training, you’ve got this.” When it was my turn, I pumped out three easy reps in less than 30 seconds. I missed one rep which could have tied me for first in that event, but oh well. I stopped after my three because my injury from day 1 was starting to bother me. Turns out, that’s all I needed. Stones was up next and as long as I didn’t zero, I would take second overall. Ironically, stones went really well and I almost took second in that event, but didn’t want to push it.
I had followed the plan and it worked. I took second overall, having done the minimum amount of work I needed to do. Yeah, that sounds a bit sandbagger-ish, but I was in a solid amount of pain. It took a couple days after to let it set in what had happened. I’ve always approached this as a solo act. Just me, myself and I. Yeah, I’m a member of Team Train Strongman. But when it comes down to it, I’m out there by myself. I’m out there by myself, but I have a coach who believes in me and trains me to realize that I just have to trust myself. I have a brother who supports me and would pick up the weight and do it himself, if it meant I wouldn’t be in pain, and a support system behind the scenes who help me scheme these plans to preserve and maintain my pain. I think that’s the best team I’ve ever been on.
My next show will be the Strongest Woman in the World at the end of August. I earned an invitation to this by winning NC’s Strongest Man and Woman in April earlier this year. The thought of going scares the shit out of me. But knowing I’ll be there, surrounded by my team is comforting. People are going down just to watch. They’re driving to Florida, spending a bunch of money, just to watch! How freakin’ awesome is that?! Only 5 more weeks. Stay tuned ☺