No quote could be more fitting than how my meet turned out, however at the same time I don't know that I would be doing the whole weekend justice by attaching such a negative connotation to it. So overall, I won't do that, because that just isn't the case.
To start, the last few months have been tremendously hard for me personally. I've been dealing with an incredible amount of personal issues and life problems that have hurt both my sleeping and my training at times. Anyone who saw my deadlift video where I pulled 585 and almost passed out knows this. That wasn't due to anything other than not having slept but for a total of about 5 hours over three days. I've had months like that in terms of sleep lately. Going days on end while getting a couple of hours of sleep here and there.
My training went well overall, especially for the first 5 weeks or so, but eventually the waters started rising and the lack of sleep and stress started to catch up with me. I still hit what I felt like I needed to hit in training to be good for my goals at the meet, but my enthusiasm for even making the trip started to wane and my resolve took a hit. The last week and a half of training it took every bit of willpower that I had to just get into the gym.
This is not a pity party, by any means. Everyone goes through battles and adversity in life and deals with the tolls it takes on them. I am by no means unique in this way. It's just that the timing of it coincided with meet training and the meet itself.
The weight cut -
I also had to do a weight cut this time as well. Since I've had a million people ask how I did it, I will tell you that all I did was fucking google how to do it, then ran it by Jamie. I've never done a weight cut, yet I found the same info over and over and over again. It's just water manipulation. But since I'm writing about it anyway, I will tell you.
I was as heavy as 261 two weeks out. I cut out all carbs at that point. That's what I call phase 1. My whole diet was as so..............
Breakfast - 4 whole eggs with cheese
Lunch - 8 ounces of chicken with almonds
2:30 - Shake with PB
5:30 - Whey
Post training whey
Dinner - 4 eggs with cheese, salsa, and sour cream
10:30 - 2 cups cottage cheese and PB
The weigh in was on Friday morning. So 6 days before the meet (that would be the previous Saturday in case you're going to ask) I started drinking three gallons of water a day. I did so for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, I drank two gallons of water. I also added in some Vitamin waters here and there because of the flushing effect that can have on your body in that regard (vitamins and minerals). That could totally be broscience, but it made me feel better anyway.
Thursday I drank maybe a gallon, about half a gallon that morning, then just sipped water here and there until 7 P.M. That night at the hotel, I went to the weigh in room to see what the scale said. 251. Just like when I left home.
In fact, one thing I did was track my weight at night and in the morning the whole time, to see what kind of "play" I was going to have the morning of the weigh in.
Here's how it went.
Sat morning - 254
Sat evening - 258
Sun Morning - 254
Sun evening - 256
Monday Morning - 253
Monday evening - 257
Tuesday morning - 254
Tuesday evening - 254
Wednesday morning - 252
Wednesday night - 256
Thursday morning - 251
So as you can see, it was about 3-4 pounds give or take in the difference between my night and morning weight. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Either way, you're going to want to know how much play you get out of that alone.
I hung out with some guys at the hotel for a while just shooting the shit, and after a few hours I weighed again. 248. So now, I only had to cut 6 pounds, and I knew I would have maybe 2-3 pounds of play overnight. The reason why I say that, is because after you dehydrate you get less play overnight than you had previously.
I woke up on Friday morning at 4:45 and did a long, super hot bath and left the shower running to get a "steam room" going. After that I went down and weighed in. 243.8. Not good enough yet. Another hot bath and steam room finally brought me down to 241. After that the hydrating and eating commenced. Pedialyte went first, and from then on I did a mixture of Gatorade, salt, and creatine. I drank this about as often as I could. I also ate as much junk as I could, but everything seemed to settle into my stomach and I was not "filling out" like I had hoped.
That afternoon Brandon Lilly showed up to do a seminar and we hung out for a long while. Brandon and I actually go back quite a ways in terms of knowing each other online, but have never actually met.
Brandon told me that it was a good idea, after hydrating and eating, to get in a light workout because just eating and drinking doesn't get as much water back into the muscles as say, using an IV bag. That a lot of guys rehydrate but everything stays right in their gut, which is exactly how I felt. So I headed off to the little weight room in the hotel and got in a quick session. Sure enough, the stomach flattened out and I seemed WAY fuller.
The only problem now was, I was so exhausted all I could think about was crawling in the bed and going to sleep. I do not believe this was from the cut. I really don't. I had felt like that for days, and my youngest kid was also complaining of being very tired and sleeping the day away. Every day it was a struggle to just get out of the bed. I have no idea why, but it was.
That evening Brandon and I had dinner and talked a lot about life, love, training, overcoming personal demons, kids, and things that matter. I had a guy write to me once, and tell me that I write a bunch of "nancy boy shit". I laughed.
I hate to tell you, but these are the things that real men talk about. Because these are the things that a quality life is made up of. Overcoming adversities, dealing with struggles, fighting your way out of the darkness. Everyone goes through these things, and strong men know this. They are secure enough to talk about the times when they were weak, when they made mistakes, and how it's no ones fault but their own for finding themselves in the position they are in. There's nothing "Nancy boy" about that. That's real talk.
On pulls, she really wanted that 220. I don't remember her opener but she smoked her second which was 198. I felt like she really had a shot at 220, and she pulled it fast off the floor, then just barely missed it at lock out. I mean it was as close as you can get without locking it out. I embraced her after her miss, and told her how proud I was of her. She trained hard for this meet and let me tell you, she's hooked. She had a great time and asked me within hours "what meet are we doing next, daddy?" Just writing that makes me eyes water up. I can't express in words how proud I am of her for training her ass off and competing like she did. She's amazing. It's my honor to be able to train with her each week and have such inspiration right in front of me.
I would also like to mention Ellen Stein. A 60 year old firecracker that broke about 75 world records that day. She squatted 336, benched 176, and just missed a 391 deadlift. She was amazing, not only as a lifter, but her personality was radiant and full of life. It was amazing to watch her lift and compete, and what powerlifting is really all about. Not just hitting numbers, but enjoying what you're doing and living it to the fullest. She also was very encouraging to Hannah, as were all the ladies. It was an incredible day and despite me feeling like shit, was a blessing to be a part of.
I checked my weight Saturday morning and I was good. 260 on the nose. But I still felt like shit. I even took a Valium the night before and slept for about 8 hours. But I still felt like I was walking in mud, and had no energy. I do NOT think it was the weight cut. I know someone will chime in that it was, but I felt like this a few days prior to it. In fact, as I write this, I still feel pretty crappy. Tired and worn out.
I ran into David Keilman, a guy I got to know at the 2011 Nationals, and asked him what he planned on hitting that day. He handed me a notepad and I looked at his openers, seconds, and thirds.
"Why the hell are they so close?" I said.
"That's just how I picked em." he said.
I shook my head. "You're going to be tired as fuck by the time you get to your thirds opening this heavy, and then taking seconds so close to your third.
I can never figure this out, and guys do this all the time. If you want to squat say, 650, why are you opening at 600? You're going to open at more than 90% of your planned third? Why? It's a waste of energy.
I told David what I felt like he should do in order to hit all of his goals. He was hesitant at first, but later I saw him at the judges table, and he told me "I'm gonna do what you say." in a very "this shit better work" kinda way. I laughed and told him "it'll work."
Warming up -
Warm ups felt like shit. I had no explosion and no pop. I told Brandon several times that I felt completely shitty, drained, and that everything felt off. He reiterated to me that he felt the same way for the SuperTraining meet, but eventually it all came together after getting hydrated. I didn't feel like hydration was a problem at this point, but I was hoping for the best anyway.
The best would not come during my warm ups, however. On my last warm up with 500, I sunk it into the hole and my right groin popped. I literally stopped in the hole and thought to myself, "you gotta be fucking kidding me..."
I walked over to Brandon and he asked what happened. I told him that I popped my groin. That it was pretty bad.
The next words that Brandon said to me, in all honesty, is what got me through this meet.
"You better warrior the fuck up then."
I went and lowered my opener to a mere 550. I was going to open at 570, but I had no idea how the groin would hold up at this point now. I had this vision in my head of sinking into the hole with 570 and my whole leg just exploding. But I wanted to stay in the meet, so I figured even with half a leg I could muster out 550. I mean, it's 550 for the love of God.
I took my opener and walked it out, sunk it, and well, it hurt really, really fucking bad. I won't lie. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a very high pain tolerance. Not a "oh look I'm a tough guy" kind, but a "I don't know that I'm actually hurt" kind. This shit hurt though. The lift itself did not feel "heavy", but as anyone that has tried to lift injured can attest to, you cannot lift with all of your power when you are favoring something. So the entire time I was lowering into the hole, I was "feeling" for that injury. It didn't get worse, but it did feel like someone was jamming a knife into my crotch. Generally you have to pay extra for that sort of treatment but on this day, it was free of charge.
I checked with B (that's what I call Brandon) after my opener.
"611?" I said.
He laughed. "I was gonna say 610, yeah. You're going to need to make sure you get more knee forward action and not much side to side, otherwise that groin isn't going to hold up."
I nodded in agreement because I already knew that was going to be the case. I was going to have to sort of "hide" the adductors/groin a little bit in the next squat if I was to make it, and spread the load more across the quads.
Luckily, I was able to do that and I eased through 611, even with the knife stab to the crotch.
When I came off the platform, Chris Pappillion, who went 2,176 single ply that day, grabbed me and said "man that was cake, you gotta go 640." I thought about it for a second, but then decided to pass on my third.
I've gone back and forth on this many times. I could have easily called 633-640 and made that lift IF IF IF my groin would have held up. However I wanted to stay in the meet and be able to pull something halfway decent as well. I feared that even if I made the 640, I might be too fucked up to pull 650+ so it would end up being a wash. In the shape I was currently in, I still figured I could muster up a 650+ pull.
At that point, Ed Coan came up to me and poked me, saying "you have a 700 squat in you if you're healthy, and if you tweak your technique just a little bit. You got your elbows back on you just a little too much on that one, but it was still easy."
Ok, so Ed Coan thinks I have a 700 beltless squat in me. I do. I won't argue and neither can you. It's Ed Coan, so fuck you. Also, as I watched the video, he was right. I didn't stay enough "chest out" enough, and my elbows got "up" on me too much. Probably because I was having to "think" too much on that squat and not just let my body do the work.
On this day however, I did not squat 700. I did however have a 611 in the bag and on the books. If I could pull off a 440-450 bench and a 650 pull I would still break 1700. On this day, feeling like dog shit and injured, that wouldn't be half atrocious I thought. And my bench training had gone really well, so I thought I'd have a shot at it.
However this was to be a Murphey's day and during warm ups, bench felt like SHHHHIIIIITTTT. I did a double at 335 before my opener of 380. I don't get hand offs in the bench because I like to unrack it myself, however for some reason I was an idiot when getting my rack heights done, and went WAY too low. It took more strength to get 380 off the pins than it did to press it.
B came over to me after the opener and asked if I wanted a hand off for the next one, and I said yeah. So I took 418 and it felt about like I expected.
Here was the moment of truth. Brandon and I both agreed that I could go 430 and make that, but I've done 430 before, and really came to bench 450. I knew 450 wasn't there on this day, so I asked B what he thought about 440.
"..............if you hit it, just right, and I mean just right, it might be there. But it's going to have to be one of those perfect lifts."
I went over to the judges table, and I looked at 435 for a long while. I figured 435 would be there even if I was just slightly off, however sometimes you just get a number stuck in your head and I called for the 440.
Brandon was right. It had to be a perfect lift, and unfortunately, it was not. If you watch, as I press, the bar drifts back ever so slightly out of the groove. I believe that's probably the cause for the miss there.
After bench it was a pretty good while before we would start pulls. During that time I goofed off with Scott Smith, Brandon, Ed, Chris, Frank Russo, and Larry Brown. Mainly though, I listened to Scott be angry about missing his second and third squats because he couldn't get set up, and he knew Chris would be talking shit about it the whole time. Now, I read the write up on powerliftingwatch.com and it's incredibly embellished.
Scott was mad, and he did slap Chris' hand away, but in a manner that you do with your boy. Not in an angry way. Chris laughed about it, and Scott told him to go "talk shit on the internet like you always do." It was a good time, nothing serious.
However, the highlight of the whole weekend, was watching Coan do fucking karate on people at the meet. Eventually Chris, Brandon, and myself made our way over to him and we started talking about fighting and shit. Being a guy that did plenty of martial arts training, I talked with Ed about this and that, and even put him in the clinch at one point. I can't tell you how hard I was laughing inside the whole time thinking "I've got Ed Coan in the fucking clinch right now. This is bizarre." Ed also broke out his knife, and we started discussing slashing and knife fighting. I shit you not. Here, look...........
By the time pulls rolled around I was pretty much finished off. I drank another Full Throttle just in order to stay awake at that point. My leg was throbbing, and I really had no idea what pulling was going to feel like. I wanted to finish strong, and my good buddy Swede texted me, telling me "get your mind right." I knew at this point, that was the only option I had if I was going to pull anything worth while. Finishing out a bad day on a good note seemed possible if I dug deep. I took a deep breath and realized it was possible if I could muster up the last bit of energy that fucking cinnamon roll had to offer.
Scott Smith looked at me as the second flight of deadlifts were going through their second attempts. We were in the third flight.
"You wanna do a plate?" he said, referring to pulling 135.
"Sure." I said.
We pulled a plate.
After a while we pulled 225 a few times. Then 315.
455 felt awful. And 500 felt like a damn near max. Every time I reached down to grab the bar, my groin reminded me of how awful he felt, and that he did not want to pick up heavy things at the moment.
"How the fuck am I going to even pull my opener of 570 right now?" I thought.
But I did. Not only did I, I smoked the shit out of it. Then I smoked 633, and called for 655, and that wasn't a max either.
Once again, when I came off Chris greeted me to tell me I undershot my attempt.
"You had 20 more in you." he said.
He's probably right. I could have gone 675.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I don't think any of us do too many meets where we walk away and don't question attempts or misses. On a badly pulled groin, my training still set me up for 640-435-675. 1750, no belt at 242. The goal, starting from months ago was 1800. You always train for your best day. Otherwise, what's the point? 650-450-700. On my best day, I believe that was there. But you often times learn more from your worst days, than your best days. The only time you fail, is when you decide to quit for good. That getting back up is no longer an option.
More than numbers, I met some great people this weekend, had some great conversations, and created some great memories. THOSE THINGS, are the things that life is about. All of us that compete, will always be chasing some number. Losing sight of life in the process of that would be a tragedy. I'll hit 1800 no belt. My training cycle was good enough for that this time. I just had a lot of external factors that played a part in my mental and physical state. Sleep is a big part of recovery, and I got very little. As one of my best friends told me regarding this past weekend "with everything you had going on, I'm impressed that you even competed." Add in an injury to that and that was my day. It's fine. It's just powerlifting. I'm not curing cancer.
There are too many people to thank however it wouldn't be fair not to name some. Jason Pegg, for being the bestest and most loyal friend ever to me. I love you, and don't know what I'd do without your friendship sometimes. Yes, "that's gay". Deal with it.
Swede, Webb, and Lockhart, for the encouragement. It meant a lot. More than you know. Brandon Lilly, for supporting me all day. Chris Pappillion and Scott Smith for providing hourly entertainment. To Jamie Lewis for helping me with my cut, and for being a great friend the last few weeks. To Lance Karabel for putting on a great meet, but more importantly for being a great friend and confidant.
To the bestest training partner ever, my Hannah, for showing me what effort is really about. To my wife and entire family for supporting me, getting me food, water, and cheering me on.
I have so many great people in my life that at times I feel overwhelmed. Life is not always easy, and it's not supposed to be I guess, but I realize as I write this, that I have many great people in my life and I love them all. It feels good to love people, and for them to love you back.
By the way, one final note about the meet.........David went 9 for 9 with 4 total PR's after I picked his attempts.