The Strong Girl – Chapter 4
Written by castor :: [Sunday, 22 November 2015 01:33] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 07 May 2016 07:35]
“Okay, lift.” said Richard
In front of Jessica was 700 pounds composed of 6 very large, one hundred pound weights and two 50 pounders. It was a big piece of weight – physically larger than a refrigerator – and possibly the biggest amount of weight a human had ever attempted to lift over the head … and hopefully kept it there.
Jessica got down, put her weight underneath it and easily – almost too easily – jerked it up to her shoulder. It felt good to her … kind of light. Than she tried to pull it to her chin and she fell over.
“Weightlifting is a sport.” said Richard “What people don't get is that it's three separate lifts. Each one you have to do well. Each one has tricks to master it. You can do one fine and the other is tricky as hell. Being the strongest person on Earth is going to help you here … but you have to master the lifts.”
Jessica paused, nodded and, on her second attempt, managed to get 500 up with a slightly wider stance.
“There you go.”
“Now what do I do?
“Just drop it.” smiled Richard “Just drop it.”
She did so with a massive pound.
“So, in a month and a half, there is a weight-lifting competition in Los Angeles.” said Jessica “Some way or another – I am not quite sure – it factors into national competition or something.”
“You want to try.” said Anna as they ate breakfast together.
“It's an open competition.” said Jessica “Sure.”
“Is it expensive?”
“300 bucks entry fee.” said Jessica “But you know it's … getting to L.A., staying a couple of days isn't cheap. We can afford it …”
“Of course we can.” said Anna “So, is it on a weekend? Or do I have to take some time off?”
“It's on a Saturday afternoon.”
“Better take Friday off then.” said Anna “And get some magic markers out to make a delight cheering sign.”
Jessica smiled “You're the best.”
“Except at making pancakes.” said Anna “And there I am at par with the best.”
“So you're taking two days off.” said Thompson as he got in.
“Yeah.” said Jessica “I'm going to a weightlifting competition in L.A. and I need to get on a normal sleep schedule.”
“Normal sleep scheduling is why getting a replacement is a bitch.”
“We're not supposed to get someone from the day shift just to come on”
“Well, we can figure it out.” said Jessica. “You have a month notice. It's not like I am sick.”
Jessica sighed. The room was, at least empty, no one was there gawking to her workouts. You often got this in a gym with pretty girls, but this felt different. As she lifted a 1000 pounds over her head, people would just come in and look at her open mouth and gawk.
Today she was literally lifting a 1000 pounds feeling the heavy weights, a symphony of movement. Each week, she seemed to gain about 50 pounds. Not much, but with the amount of weight it was very quickly adding up. The standard bars of the gym couldn't simply lift it.
The gym staff was sensing the value of her as a sideshow and was going to commission bigger longer bars, but she had been told that they would have to be thicker and the solid steel equipment that supported it could start to bend underneath. She was leaving the strength class that the exercise equipment was designed to support.
Jessica took off her sweatshirt, revealing her tapered arms, which were a symphony of muscle – albeit not tan muscle. They quivered a bit. There was something … not feminine was the wrong word … but not quite how normal people looks. The bumps didn't quite look right in proportion. Her biceps were smaller than her triceps, the body wasn't …
Than she lifted the weight and the world made sense again. Pushing it up and down, up and down, feeling her muscles expanded and contract relax and push, so that her increasingly strange life made sense again. A machine pushing against an inviolable object, the pure reality of it felt something in her. It wasn't sexual, it wasn't even preciously pleasurable – yes, even for her this was pain – but it was something.
12 reps, a full set of 1010 pounds press. She felt disappointed as she re-racked it. She could have done more and, guiltily, she did an extra rep.
She turned to see a woman, the kind of woman who actually went to gym: a mid-30 executive with some flub on her arms watching her. Her mouth was open.
Jessica felt annoyed.
“One … two … three …” said Richards
Jessica lifted 800 pounds from the ground and, in three distinct movements, was standing with it, feeling the weight in her hands. The trick wasn't strength, it was balance. The human body simply wasn't designed to hold that much weight from a Teater Totter sense.
The weight hit the ground with a very loud thud.
“Great.” said Richard “I feel safe putting that weight up now. You're good kid.”
Jessica smiled “So what do I wear for this? Do I need get like … a swim suit?”
“I have seen swimsuits in weight lifting, particularly in the lower weight classes and real amateur events, but they kind of of frown on it. This isn't cross-fit or – god knows – fitness modeling. They're trying not to sell sex there. You're not judged on that stuff. When you get to the Olympics you're required to wear a singlet. They're a little hard to find in stores, I would go online. Most women wear a T-shirts underneath.”
Jessica nodded “Thanks for all your help.”
“Don't mention it.” said Richards “Feeling any aches any pains?”
“We're about two weeks out. Keep at it till about 4 days. Some people recommend a week, but I am going to say 4 days with your make-up. I will work a little on game day nutrition, but you're doing pretty good here. I think the only real question is: do you break every world record this time or wait till a bigger event?”
Jessica giggled “Interesting problem to have.”
Richard shrugged “I've been strength coaching and training for years. You're a special case. It's just … have you ever read 'Superman'?”
“In the book … the original book. Superman he isn't a hero for being strong. He's a freak … and you're too nice of a girl to be a freak.”
Jessica walked into the strange place. She looked around, it seemed very light and airy.
“Yeah, a friend recommended this place.” she said to the stylist “I don't normally come here, but I am going to participate in an athletic event and I want my hair to look its best”
The hair stylist looked at her and nodded “Like soccer or something?”
“Huh” said stylist with the aura of someone going to back to a class they took 10 years ago “It's not really a hard discipline in what we have to do. Well, I really like your bangs. You really have a great color. Do you want to loose them?”
“I know.” said Jessica.
“You want something a little more athletic looking …” said the stylist “I'll see what you can do.”
She put her hand on Jessica's hair “Wow, you have really soft hair. What do you use?”
Jessica finished up her last training session on Wednesday. She was doing 900 pounds with the jerk and felt good at it. She could now bench press about 1100 pound, it felt good. Any kind of weight – for lack of a better word – normal people could lift was child's play. It was her last day of work as she was taking off three days. It felt good.
She felt less good the next day as she tried to stay up, to go on a normal sleep schedule, which was challenging, and that evening she had to go to Phoenix. A conveniently centrally located airport, but still very long and tedious process to get through. She would have liked to have done it earlier but, ironically, she had to wait until 8:30 PM to do it with Anna. She dozed off in the plane, but not very long, as the flight was a little under an hour.
They got a hotel close to the site in the Valley that looked better in pictures than in person, but inside was pleasant and quiet. Jessica had the weird sensation that she wanted to go to sleep, but couldn't, and spent most of the night in quick bursts of sleep and watching HBO.
She was nervous.
She slept in the next day with Anna by her side.
The day after they went to the Getty Center, which she had been to on a trip last year for a conference, but Anna had not. It was neat. The views of the city did more for her than the art, but it was a neat thing to see and Anna got a bit of it. It was nice to travel with her. They had done some travel, including a short trip to Europe before getting married, but this was there first real trip since there honeymoon, which had been a nervous mess.
At 6:00 they had a mandatory meeting regarding the competition tomorrow and Jescica was nervous. She had been aware that this was a mix of women and men, but going around the 50 or so competitors struck her. Male weightlifter could be pretty damn big. Friendly though, if a couple of them hit on her, which she felt scuzzy about, but generally nice. They gave them a spaghetti dinner and, as part of her package, she got a T-shirt, which was pretty neat. She also learned she was officially 135 pounds, 4 pounds shy of missing the cut off for the next class. Good to know.
The show started at 10:00 AM and, after a better night sleep and a cuddle, she was ready. She was nervous, taking a long walk around the area, finding a small walking path along the LA river, that was interesting before …
When they got to the actual event it was … surprising. It was held in a community college, in a large-ish basketball gym. Basketball is a sport where everyone watches from four sides. Weightlifting was more or less a see it from the front sport – which meant 3 quarters of the gym were walled off and she was faced around an empty space.
Not that it needed it. As she got in and ready … maybe 90 people were in the audience. A few people who looked fans, but most were family and friends of the participants. This was not very well attended at all by any measure of the word and the empty space, which could hold maybe 10,000, felt well empty. Outside, what looked to be a mini exercise convention, with a couple of booths for supplements and exercise equipment that sponsored the event and – for some reason – Air New Zeleand.
Small, but congenial. Weightlifting turned out to be a sport were everyone seemed pretty nice, friendly and congratulated people on their victories. She watched a few of the male competitors going out and, while they were big and strong, they seemed happy when other people worked. A lot of them – more than she thought – were mature professionals. She had a chat with a doctor, a lawyer, and a middle Level manager from Amazon.
A lot of weight lifting was focused on the higher level classes – the biggest people. There was one competitor at the men's event that weighted 137 pounds, so as the morning went quick. As it went people started coming in and watching as people lifted weights. There were sporadic cheers for it, which sounded sweet.
She went to a locker room – which was in fact the visitors basketball teams locker room. There were around her women getting ready, showering and a little bit of talking. She put on her singlet, a black T-shirt, gloves and the weightlifting shoes, which were technically speaking normal shoes with higher heels – high heels in fact. She looked at herself in the mirror. A singlet on her smallish body looked silly. Not all of the women wore it, especially at her weight class, and she felt self-conscious.
Around 2 o'clock came her turn.
There were four women at her weight class – which was pretty much the weight class most standard athletic women went into. She had talked a bit to them. There was Nancy, who had tried out for the Olympics before and was clearly the most serious. Ash was a cross-fit competitor, who double dipped and was a little bit more butch than she was. Erin was also a cross-fit competitor, but also a model with some appearances at magazines level (she was quite pretty). Eliza seemed a little bit lost. Jessica empathized.
There were two categories: the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. They would all setup the Snatch, then do the Clean and Jerk.
Jessica felt incredibly nervous.
Nancy went in first, she told the judges (one of whom looked like the referee from the Karate Kid) “250 pounds.”
With a clean snatch it went to her neck and then above her head. She held it and dropped to a polite clap.
Jessica nodded. She went to the judges “620 pounds.” she said smiling.
“What?” said a judge.
She expected dissent, anguish and murmuring. Instead they talked to attendants and put the weights on. She smiled. She didn't have to do that and giggled slightly out of fear.
She tried to close her eyes to the crowd and Anna out there smiling.
With a clean smooth jerk she lifted the weight that was 4 and a half times her body weight over her head.
She opened her eyes. She expected nose, cheers, applause, booing. By now there was maybe 110 people in the audience. Some of them weren't paying attention but …
She just held it there. A bell went off saying she could drop it, but for a long couple of seconds she didn't.
Instead awkwardly she put it down and walked off the stage.
“Jessica. 620 pounds.” said a voice of the announcer in the clean and jerk.
Now there was light clapping.
Jessica realized something about half way off the stage: they were silent not because they weren't interested, but they literally had no idea what to do when they saw her.
Erin slapped her back “Good work out there!”
“Thanks.” said Jessica.
Erin turned her head aside, not quite meeting Jessica's gaze “I'm only here for fun, you know. Maybe to look good on a sheet … I never expected to win or make the Olympics but … but … not like that!”
“I'm sorry.” said Jessica.
Erin chuckled “It's not your fault.”
Jessica turned. She still had todo her snatch and grab, but it wasn't much of a challenge. To win the lift the others would have to do 720 pounds. They couldn't do that. As they stood in front of the weight, they could barely move it. Jessica felt sorry for them, but at least they were trying.
By lifting 620 pounds she had won her weight class in her first lift.
“Winner of the 2015 November U.S. Pacific Regional Competition Women, with a combined lift of 1340 pounds: Jessica.”
By and by people had entered the building after the first lift, curious and interested to see a woman lift so much – now the room contained maybe 250 people.
There was loud cheer that Jessica hadn't remembered.
She tried to smile.
Anna came to hug her after her moment in the spotlight, smiling. Jessica was standing silently not really moving. When she came, she barely moved back to hold so lost in something.
“You were amazing.”
The rest of the events went on. As the days went forward men lifted heavier and heavier weights, but though this technically wasn't a human record no one at the event was as strong – though admittedly barely – as the men's champion who had been at the Olympics and lifted 1320. Something Anna wished somehow that he had the effort to go a little higher.
Anna moved to hug her from behind, though she wasn't quite sure why. Something was in her eyes, something she couldn't quite see, a distance, a shock, something wasn't quite there.
Something was changing before her eyes, in her love, though she knew in theory it was to be closer to her. People came up to congratulate her, shake her hand, talk shady business … and it was … she was polite. She didn't want to.
But she was becoming.