I never envisioned myself getting to where I am at now even a year ago or even 3 or 5 years ago.
It’s important for you all to know that throughout the majority of my life, I was never a star “athlete” and I never considered myself to be that athletic or in shape. But I considered myself a pusher, a go-getter and a don’t-give-upper.
Truth was, I was trying hard but I was doing it the wrong way and with the wrong type of knowledge I had been taught.
The short story: I got in shape through being introduced to marathon and triathlon training, but after trying out Crossfit and realizing I was decent at lifting weights, I entered into a local meet and was instantly hooked! Apparently I was lifting at the national level for my size – and since that first competition 2 years ago I’ve been in a relentless pursuit for lifting more, and to eventually gain a podium finish at a national event.
My accomplishments since I decided to get myself “in shape” starting summer 2010:
- Current record holder for clean & jerk (96kg) in the 53kg weight class
- Ranked top 12 for weightlifting nationally in 53kg class
- Fittest Crossfitter in Rhode Island for 2015 Crossfit Opens
- Completed 4 full marathons (and 26 seconds away from qualifying for the Boston Marathon 2013)
- Completed 2 half ironman triathlons & a full ironman triathlon
- Completed 2 Spartan Beast races, 2 Sprints and a Super Spartan
- Can back squat & front squat well over 2x body weight!
And now the longer story (if you have the time)…
Before Weightlifting – The Pursuit of Getting into Shape
It all started with a coworker telling me he was training for a half marathon and said, “you could do it too!” 13 miles…what?! that seemed so ridiculous to me! I ever only ran at most 4 miles at one time, I think. Heck, I could even think back to the days in high school when I wanted to “get in shape” and would get completely winded and smoked only half a block down the road.
“But, if you currently run about 3 times a week for about 3 miles or 30 minutes, you can follow this plan and run a half marathon in 3 months.”
So I did, I picked out a half marathon about 3 months out and I started my training. It was ROUGH, it was hard…I found myself running endlessly on a treadmill indoors…sometimes to log 7 miles on a 90 degree day before I choked up the courage to try running outside. There were days I felt fatigued after work but I pushed myself to get my workout in anyways. And I completed that half marathon, in just over 2 hours I believe.
But I didn’t just stop there.
I soon set a bigger goal – to run a full marathon. Then, I got encouraged by a coach at the local YMCA I was a member of to take on cycling and swimming and do a few triathlons. I became so motivated that I worked up to my first half-ironman triathlon, and then even a full ironman triathlon within a couple of years.
Never did I envision that when I started on that first 3 mile run of my half-marathon training program that I would travel 140.6 miles by swimming, biking and running. It felt amazing. I would make my dad proud – if he were still alive. He passed away from liver cancer right as I graduated college and I wish I could let him know of all the knowledge of health, fitness and nutrition that I knew now. At the same time, because of my dad I was inspired to get myself into shape and push myself to always become a better me each day.
Hi Barbell, Meet Snow
Now prior to being introduced to Crossfit (and in the middle of triathlon training), I did stumble across a beginner’s weight training program by Mark Rippletoe called Starting Strength. I meticulously read through the book and took up back squatting, pressing, bench pressing, deadlifting and even doing awkward “what I thought were power cleans but muscle cleans” with non-bumper plates. I did OK after getting over the awkwardness of where the bar is supposed to rest on my back or in the front rack – I think I eventually squatted my body weight for 5 reps within a few weeks of training on my own mixed in with triathlon work.
Meanwhile, my triathlon coach at the Y I was a member of encouraged me to try out a local Crossfit gym in downtown Providence – though the price tag membership was a bit steep for me so I did put in some volunteer hours at the gym in exchange for a membership for a few months. What got me hooked was the incorporation of strength work, and gymnastic skill (working towards my first and second pull-ups!) to supplement my long-distance training endeavors. I also found myself switching over to a “Paleo” style diet at the time, eliminating most gluten & grains, most dairy, all soy and all refined and processed foods (best choice I ever made…it’s really not that hard once you realize the plethora of foods that ARE available when you get over the grains. I look forward to enjoying my vegetables now!)
I remember taking my first “olympic lifting” seminar at the gym and barely being able to clean & jerk 85# or snatch 65#. Trying to move a barbell in space was so strange to me – yet I knew l had a lot to gain muscularly through this type of training.
I kept pushing myself and comparing myself to other ladies at the gym. What were they lifting? When would I be able to do the prescribed weights on the board for all the workouts? That was my goal (alongside training for my Ironman at the time) – to be strong enough to do all WODs as Rx without scaling or modifications.
It wasn’t until after I completed my Ironman that I decided to pursue Crossfit training full time and train for a regional spot during the opens. I never made regionals…though I was close (within the top 100 a couple years in a row).
Then I realized…other ladies are a bit bigger than me, yet I’m comparing a lot of my lifts to what they can do. I was small, agile, and rocked the metabolic conditioning workouts that required stamina, but when it came to weights I just wasn’t strong enough yet to keep up, especially for a moderate weight at multiple reps.
The Shift to Weightlifting Full Time
I eventually attained my Crossfit Level 1 certificate and switched gyms to one out closer to where I lived so I could start coaching part time. The more I got into Crossfit, the more I began to realize that I needed to focus on my strength more – especially in the Olympic lifts so I could be more proficient.
It was August 2013, and my journey to becoming a full time weightlifter came through a “fake weightlifting meet” that a local gym was hosting – free of charge and non-sanction (so you didn’t win nor didn’t lose). I didn’t care about my weight class at the time, but with all my clothes on I surprisingly weighed in the lightest girl at the meet at 116.7 (.1lb under what I needed to be in 53kg). I even ran some 3-mile obstacle race course challenge the day before and was totally beat up.
Although I was the lightest, I left the competition with the heaviest overall female clean & jerk at 176# (80kg). I went 6/6 on all lifts and snatched up to 55kg (121#). They weren’t PRs, but just lifts that I knew I could make if I was determined.
Apparently – that total was enough to get me in the top 10 for the American Open competition.
The Polar Bear told me this. A local weightlifting coach who was there at the meet – my current coach Dave Lussier (the “Polar Bear”) talked to me following the meet and asked if I wanted to sign up for a real meet in a few weeks to qualify for the American Open. I decided to forego some team Crossfit competition that weekend instead to lift at the Ginny Robinson Memorial meet in Franklin, MA – where not only did I match that same total (135kg) but I also set New England records for the 53kg class for Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total.
I was hooked.
I began driving up on the weekends to train with Polar Bear throughout the fall and winter. I soon learned that most of the weightlifting technique I had learned through my Crossfit coaching wasn’t the ideal – and I was taught cues and a style that was more in line with physics of powering up and receiving a barbell against the forces of gravity.
I made 3/6 lifts at my first American Open, but I didn’t want to stop there. I kept training – Nationals, then the American Open again, and then another year of Nationals. I’d train, lift numbers that I knew would be podium finishes at the competition, and I just haven’t been able to put it all together yet.
But I don’t give up – because as I said earlier, I’m a pusher, a go-getter and a don’t-give-upper.
I’m currently a 53kg lifter on the nationally renowned Catalyst Athletics team.
Real quick – Just want to give much appreciation and acknowledgement to my husband, Nate Charpentier, whom I met back in Providence while still in training for my Ironman. Since meeting him, we’ve both pushed each other as athletes in terms of our training, our nutrition (we’ve done a few Whole30s together), and our lifestyle to become better people. We’ve currently also started up our own small business focusing on Nutrition and Health (well, it’s mostly Nate’s but I do a lot of the design & administrative work).
He’s training to lift at a National event one day. I know he’ll do it – and get that 300# C&J too!