”Motherhood is my most favorite thing I’ve ever done. Mikey is only 6 months old and he already makes me laugh til I shoot wine out of my nose and fills me with an amount of joy that I thought only bacon could provide.”
Raising the Bar has been neglected for a few months due to me being committed to writing for lots of other blogs and websites! It’s been and continues to be fun, but I have decided I it’s time for Raising the Bar to be relaunched and I have a humdinger of an article to kick it off!
Continuing to focus on inspirational women (although at 23 this lady is a lot younger than some of my previous subjects) – I have been “chatting” (in the Facebook sense) with Sage Mertz (nee Burgener).
I first met Sage when I attended the CrossFit Olympic Lifting course in Scotland a few years ago – the course is led by Sage’s charismatic father Mike Burgener we were honoured as Mike bought Sage and other members of his talented family along to assist him.
I remember that Sage told me I was “sassy” – I just got around to finding out what that means – Sassy – possessing the attitude of someone endowed with an ungodly amount of cool – and as much as I am flattered by the comment I definitely think the description fits Sage a lot more.
Sage and I have a lot in common – as well as being weightlifting champions (well I did compete in the British Masters once…..) Sage also has her own amazing blog (yeah OK her blog is better than mine too) … unlike me though Sage has competed in the CrossFit Games, and over the last couple of years Sage’s life has changed dramatically – after marrying Matt in December 2011, they now have the most adorable six month old son Mikey, Matt serves in the US military and the young family currently live in Italy.
Sage has kindly and very honestly shared some of her amazing experiences, from weightlifting to motherhood, with us;
Sage’s early memories of weightlifting go back a surprising number of years as she told me, “I’m pretty sure I started lifting in the womb. I have a few faint memories of doing 5 sets of triples in the snatch with my umbilical cord. If you were to ask anyone else, they’d say I started at age four. I can still remember standing outside of Mike’s Gym (our two-car garage at home), holding a broomstick, forcing my brothers to teach me how to lift.
“To be honest, I don’t really remember if loved it right away, but I lifted nearly every day until I was 19 years old, so I think it’s safe to say that I was very passionate about it.”
“I insisted on wearing a singlet that was so big on me that I literally had to tie the straps around my neck,” she remembers. “They had to bring out the bar that basically weighs less than air and set it on top of bumper plates to ensure it was at the right height off the ground. Needless to say, it was a very serious competition for me.”
Sage has lost count of how many competitions she has competed in since; “That’s like asking how many times I’ve listened to Lady Gaga while cooking bacon and drinking wine! WAY too many to count.”
She isn’t through with competing either, “I’ve definitely considered training for another competition… especially since women are supposed to have some sort of super human strength after birthing a baby, but I’m waiting for the right time.
“Olympic weightlifting is a huge commitment. You need to dedicate at least 2 hours to each training session, and that doesn’t include the chunk of time needed to take care of your body (stretching, massage, chiropractor appointments, etc). With that being said, I think I’ll need to wait until I’m back in the States with a coach and I’ll need to wait until my little one is a little bit older. Apparently, six month olds can’t just entertain themselves for a couple of hours while Mama gets her workout in!”
It’s safe to say that Sage’s introduction to CrossFit was completely different to most people’s;
“I found out about CrossFit when I was about 14 or 15. My dad told me that he needed me to demonstrate some snatches and clean and jerks to these 2 people who were coming up to videotape for some fitness website they had (Greg and Lauren Glassman). 5 hours and 456 eye rolls later, the horribly embarrassing demo videos were complete and posted on Mainsite. From there, my dad started coaching his Olympic Lifting Certifications for CrossFitters where I helped him out with demonstrating the movements, and then eventually helped him out with coaching.”
Sage was a student at USOEC (United States Olympic Education Center) athlete at Northern Michigan University for a semester when she injured her hip.
“The inability to train pain-free really took a toll on me emotionally. So, I decided to move back to California,” she explains, “Around the exact time I decided to do so, I got a job at Crossfit San Diego and I received an email from Cj Martin asking if I’d be interested in coaching at his new gym, Invictus. I coached at both for a while, but eventually had to choose one because of how busy I was. I chose Invictus, and was honoured to be on it’s team at the Games in 2009 and 2010.”
With Mikey just 6 months old Sage is gearing herself up for her next competition, which will be the Central Manchester Games in July.
“After having Mikey, it took me a while to get back into the swing of things with training. Up until a month ago, I was only training so that I could justify drinking wine and eating a ton of dark chocolate. However, I have the competition in a couple of months so I am finally getting my butt in gear. My goal is to not get last place… and looking at the results from the online qualifier… I have a LOT of work to do!”
Qualifying for the competition was a big deal for Sage, “I coped with the qualifiers by throwing up after each workout (I’m not kidding).
“In all seriousness, I didn’t originally qualify for the Manchester Games, and I took it pretty hard. It was the first time in my life that I failed to qualify for an athletic event. I had to remind myself that I’m in a very different place in my life. I have a husband and a baby to take care of, I don’t have a coach to train me and I don’t have a gym to train at. I’m not making excuses, all I’m saying it that I just pushed a baby out of my uterus 6 months ago… that has to give me some sort of leeway for not being in top physical shape (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). As it happened a lot of women went Team for the Manchester Games, so I was bumped up to compete as an individual – and now I’m excited!”
Commenting on living in a different Continent Sage says, “It’s SO different! Living in Italy is a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it has been a very hard adjustment for me. I miss having multiple CrossFit gyms in one area, grocery stores that are filled with gluten free foods that I don’t need and Target…I really miss Target. Also, living here means that I am very very far away from my family. I feel the effects of missing them every day…especially now that I have a baby. It’s a good thing I love my husband! He’s the glue that holds me together.”
“Being a mom is completely different than I ever thought it was going to be. I’ve always been great with little kids, so I thought I’d be a natural, but it’s much harder than I expected.
Although she’s back in California Sage’s mom is always on hand to lend advice, “I don’t know if I check in with my mom a lot. Is 6-7 times a day considered a lot? I don’t know what I’d do without my mom… she is usually the only one who can convince me that I didn’t somehow psychologicallydamage my child just because he missed his afternoon nap!”
Many of us will be able to cheer Sage on in Manchester – and we won’t be the only ones routing for her, “This will be my first competition in a really long time and I think I’m more nervous now than I’ve ever been leading up to a comp! I’ve been training under the watchful eye of my baby and I really don’t want to disappoint him.”
You can check out Sage’s appropriately named blog here -http://thesassysage.blogspot.it/