Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sharon Shiner RKC

It's one week later, and I'm still reeling from my weekend at RKC. The weekend offered an experience beyond words, but I'm going to try to write about it anyways :)

I flew to Philly on Thursday filled with anxiety, nervousness and fear. Many things weighed on my mind: would I make my weight class? would I be able to keep up with the volume? had I done enough in my training? would my nerves get the best of me? would I be able to do the snatch test? what team would I be on? WOULD I PASS? WOULD I LET EVERYONE DOWN??
My mind was going a million miles an hour and it continued that way pretty much throughout the weekend, but settled down as I hit milestones, such as weighing in and doing flex arm hang w.ease on the morning of Day 1. My mind didn't completely turn itself down until after I got my certificate that indicated that I passed!

With excitement and anticipation, I entered the gym on the morning of Day 1 to find out I was on Team Heinz, with Assistants Holiner and Clark: John Heinz, Steve Holiner and Amanda Clark. I went to RKC knowing a handful of people who were also RKC hopefuls. I was lucky enough to be on the same team as Jay Krawczyk, who lives locally and trains at a gym down the street from where I live.  Jay also trained with my coach/trainer, Mike Perry, from Skill of Strength to prepare for RKC. After the team arrived we all gathered around for the strength tests and weigh ins and we were under way.

Amanda Clark, John Heinz and Steve Holiner
Day 1 started with deadlifts, swings, one arm swings and ended with cleans and presses. However, before we started, the entire group gathered around in a large circle and everyone introduced themselves. It was interesting to see so many different types of people, from doctors to trainers to physical therapists to moms, military and pro athlete hopefuls. We also learned that this RKC, for the first time, had more female candidates then male. Quite appropriate as Andrea DuCane, acting chief, was teaching the course.

What I noticed right off the bat was, the level of instructing was incredibly high. Andrea
DuCane, not only was an amazing teacher but she was an amazing mover, moving with fluidity and grace. The other instructors, John Heinz, Delaine Ross, Steve Friedes, Phil Scarito and Betsy Collie each brought a different flavor and style to the mix, but none that was of less quality.

Me and my HKC partner, Kate
The day was split into learning/lecture with movement mixed in, team practices and group workouts. Team leaders and assistants offered training tips and form tweaks as we practiced to ensure we were getting better at the exercises. I had an instant rapport with Steve and Amanda, and I was appreciative for their vision. I kept track of my volume for the weekend. Day 1 consisted of close to 25 deadlifts and 500 swings, nearly 100 cleans, over 20 presses, over 15 clean and presses, a number of planks, and some loaded carries. Not too bad. On this day I hit a personal record in my strict press, pressing the 18kg (39.6 lbs) on my right side. I have to give thanks to Steve for helping me through this. It was truly an amazing feeling to press that bell up, teammates watching and hearing them cheer for me. When the day was over, I left feeling happy about how the day went. I went to dinner w.a couple of my HKC friends, Kate Fiore and Christina DeVos. I came home not too dazed and took and epsom salt bath to get ready for Day 2.

Me and my HKC buddy, Christina
Day 2 proved to be MUCH more demanding, physically and mentally. Since we had already learned the deadlift, swing, clean and press the day before, all of those moves became part of our practice and group workouts for the day. I was a little fatigued from Day 1. Mentally, it became hard to break away from the thought that testing was only a day away. We covered the Turkish Get Up, Snatch and Squat on Day 2. Tally: Approximately 10 deadlifts, over 600 swings, close to 100 cleans and presses, about 25 TGUs, over 80 Goblet squats and over 80 Front squats, over 100 snatches and high pulls as well as some planks and overhead carries. By the end of the day I was tired for sure. We had planned to have a team dinner which we did, but not until 8pm (our training days ended at 6:30, so 8 was not unreasonable). By 8, I was a wreck. I was sore and I was starting to mentally implode. Thoughts of testing the next day were doing me in. It took all I had to go to the dinner and act like a human being. After dinner I went back to hotel and took another epsom salt bath. I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep and awoke every 2 hours. At 4am, I just got up since my mind was racing.

It was awesome to meet Tracy and Janelle!
There was an electricity in the air on Sunday. Everybody was buzzing. First off before testing, we had a marketing meeting with John DuCane. Having this meeting directly before testing was tough for me. I found it hard to pay attention since my mind continued to race. It was also held off site, and so after the meeting we had to then drive to the gym. I used this time to try and breathe and do some positive self talk. At the gym, after a nice Qijong warm up by John DuCane, testing got quickly underway. When we were told to get our snatch size bell, I walked over to where all the kettlebells were. My eyes laid upon a single 12kg (25lbs), and it spoke to me - I grabbed it out of the bunch and brought it over to test with. I was thankful to be testing with Steve. Testing the RKC 6 moves was less nerve wrecking than I thought it was going to be. I was with 3 other team mates and we all cheered each other on through the testing. I was fortunate enough to have 2 friends come to watch and support me, Tracy and Janelle. Both are HKCs. I am so thankful that they came and experienced it all with me!! Janelle is planning to go on to RKC in 2013!

Unfortunately a blurry pic of all of us, but still a great one!
Then it was time to do the snatch test, which we went outside to do. I just kept repeating to myself that I had done the snatch test in 4:05, so I knew I could do it. When it was my turn, Steve said, We'll start the timer when you hike it I took a breath and I just went for it. By rep 60 I was tired for sure. My forearms were sore from the volume we had done on the previous 2 days and the burn set it. I kept it going to 80 and my time was around 3 min. I knew I had plenty of time so reps 81-90 I took nice and slow. For reps 91-100, adrenaline kicked in and I decided to just smoke them. For some reason I put the bell down at 99 thinking I had done 100. Steve yelled, you still have 1 more!!! I don't what happened, I picked the bell up and did my last rep, coming down w.a nice hike pass back and sort of tossed the bell on the ground, not placing it down. Steve looked at me and said, I think I might have to fail you on a technicality since you didn't place the bell down. I was shocked and horrified. Are you joking, I asked him? He said no and that he needed to confer w.John Heinz about it. My heart sank. As he walked off to find John I felt the tears well up in my eyes. In what seemed like forever, I saw Steve and John walking towards me. I searched Steve's face for a sign when he gave me a thumbs up. 4:01 was my time!!!!!!! So you can see, the weekend was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows...a crazy emotional roller coaster.

During the snatch test
After testing and a short lunch, we then had our victim training. People volunteered to come for a free kettlebell lesson, taught by us, the RKC candidates. Its a way that the Team leaders and assistants could assess whether or not we could teach the exercises we just learned. Since there were only a few volunteers, we had to team up to teach. I was paired with a gentleman who didn't speak English very well to teach. This was challenging for me on a couple levels. One, it was tough to communicate with him about what to do with our victim and two, he had a different vision about what to do with our victim. So, the hour long lesson was definitely hard. Having said that, the person we worked with really did great. He started out not being able to hip hinge at all, and ended up being able to hip hinge and deadlift as well as do a great plank. The day after RKC I got a nice note from our victim's wife on Facebook. She is also an RKC and complemented me on being able to teach her husband how to hip hinge!! That was great feedback and it really made my day!

Team Heinz!!
The last part of our day and the last part of our weekend was our Grad workout. We were told to grab a bell one size lower than snatch size. All of the candidates then lined up at one end of the gym and Phil Scarito stood at the other end. He called out the exercises that we were to do and we followed them, making our way across the floor. It was an amazing feeling. Everyone was hooting and hollering, completing the workout, knowing that at the end, RKC weekend would be over. It was awesome because a number of people came to watch the testing and our grad workout - a number of HKCs, RKCs, family members and victims, all sat and stood opposite us, watching us and cheered us on. By the end of the workout I was so overcome with emotion, that the tears started flowing. We joined together in the middle of the gym, one hand in and we all shouted RKC! together.

For me, this weekend validated almost a year's worth of training. It was the opportunity for me to spend time with like minded people, who appreciated me for who I am, who offered support, acknowledging my strength and giving me positive feedback. Never before had I set such a physically and mentally demanding goal for myself. I questioned whether or not I was going to be able to do it, just a month shy of 43 years old. With each workout I logged in my training log, I knew I was getting stronger and closer to my goal. At RKC, I connected with my fellow candidates and made some new friends as well as strengthened old friendships. It was truly a life changing experience and one that I will never forget. I'm looking forward to when I can get together fellow RKCs again! In the mean time, in my training, the sky's the limit, and I'm ready to push myself even further to see how strong I can get. I'm also looking forward to bringing my knowledge to people to help them to move better and get stronger. Good stuff all around!

I'm certified!!!

 Thanks for reading :) Enjoy!


Elizabeth said...

Sharon, this is so fantastic. First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I know you've been working your butt off. Secondly, thanks for the great write-up. RKC is in my not-so-distant future, methinks, and this gives me a really good sense of what it would be like. Looking forward to reading about where you go from here.

Sharon Shiner said...

Thanks so much Elizabeth! I'd love to help you on your quest for RKC in any way I can!!! :)

Dr. DancingLion said...

So did I read correctly? You trained for a year to prepare for the RKC? I am trying to honestly asses if I'm ready to go in April 2013 or if I need to train more. Thanks for tips

Sharon Shiner said...

So, basically, it was a year of training. However, I didn't start a true program from my coach/trainer until March.
I got my HKC on Sept 11, 2011 and RKC was Sept 28-30, 2012. I was "training" all along w.RKC in mind. But like I said, it was from March->Sept that I had a specific program.
What are you doing now to prep for April? If you want to email me, I'd love to talk to you about it!! :)