Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Relentless recap - Part 2

After a full nights sleep I woke Saturday morning, ready to rock and roll.  In fact, my sleep was so full that I realized that it was 8 o'clock, and that I was already supposed to be at Kirby Church for the rules meeting.


Well, powerlifting meets never start on time.  And the truth is, the way that I lift tends to fall under "legal" for every fed out there.  So I generally don't need it.  

The last two sentences could fall under "things I tell myself to feel better for waking up late to the rules meeting."  

I texted Furry and asked him if he was on his way.  

"Pullin up".

Oh, nice.  He woke up late too.  Now I feel even better and less like a loser than before because Furry overslept and was late as well.  

I grabbed my box of pancakes left from the previous morning, threw them in the microwave and grabbed all of my shit.  

Furry and I did make a stop at the store where I grabbed some 5 hour energies, bananas, gatorades, tater chips, advil, poptarts, and a few other things I can't remember.  I knew there would be catering at the meet, however I do like me some snacks in between meals.  

Furry and myself

We arrived at the Church/meet site, and hauled our shit in.  Because Justin in a geared lifter, he had much more shit than I, a man who doesn't even use a belt, had to haul in.  As I surveyed all the shit he would be wearing to compete in, I wondered to myself if he would be fighting Robocop after or JUST doing a powerlifting meet.  

Once inside, we sat our bags in a room that contained at least 1 million other bags.  I literally have not seen that many bags at a meet ever.  Someone even had an Eason bag that was so large you could have fit Jabba the Hutt AND half-naked Princess Leia in it.  

I have no idea why anyone would need a bag that fucking big at a powerlifitng meet.  Not even a geared lifter.  How much shit does one need?  I mean even the medium raw people (belts and knee wraps) shouldn't need a huge bag.  Some knee wraps, wrist wraps, and a belt.  Does this require the largest Samsonite bag available?  

There were 172 flights at this meet.  So I knew it would be a long day.  It wasn't long after Fartbox showed up that we started our warm ups for squats.  At Nationals a few months before, I felt like shit from the word go that day.  The entire day all I could think about was crawling back into bed.  I was tired, weak, and felt like shit.  

But on this morning, I felt like a god damn beast.  I felt strong, full, and ready to go.  My warm ups echoed this sentiment to me as well, as I moved 315, 365, 405, and 515 with such speed and force that the bar flew off my back.  Every warm up felt like 135.  At 405 I checked twice to see if someone had taken some plates off.  Kevin Smith reiterated to me that my warm ups looked ridiculous, and that I looked strong as hell.  

Kevin, Me, Fartbox, and John was going to be my day.  

I called 570 for my opener.  Because I was late, I didn't have a rack height in.  However the guy that was in our warm up group had gone right before me, and we were similar in height.  So I just told the crew at the front to keep it at his rack height.  Which was "17-in".  

I hit the platform, kissed my forearm, walked my weight out, and blew through the 570 like an empty bar.  No sticking point, no grind.  Felt perfect.  Just like a warm up should.  I walked over to the table and called for 620.  

When it was my turn again, I repeated the same as before.  Kissed my forearm, got under the weight, and unracked it.  

When I unracked the 620, internally, a smile manifested itself inside of me.  It felt as light as anything over 600 has ever felt on my back.  During the walk out, I thought to myself "....I may take 660 on my third."  It felt THAT light.  Just like every other weight had felt.  It was a great feeling.  

I got set, took my breath, and hit to hole.  As I drove out of the hole, I felt a slight twinge in my right quad....and nano seconds after that, I felt what I could only describe as a bomb going off in my leg.  The entire lateral side of my right leg felt like it just exploded.  

I stayed with the bar instead of dumping it (because I hate when I see that shit), and helped the spotters do their job.  I leaned forward on the bar once it was racked, then tried to walk off.  

No dice.  

I couldn't put my leg down.  The pain was debilitating.  Someone started helping me off the platform before Rob Luyando came over to assist them.  They sat me down in a chair.  An action that made me feel like someone was ripping my thigh off.  I don't remember all of the events that happened right after that.  I remember being overcome by nausea, and thinking "I'm about to throw up all over the fucking place."  I remember this surge of heat radiating throughout my body, as if I had been suddenly transported to the desert.  I remember Pam coming to check on me, and me snatching her water without warning and dumping it all over my head.  

There was a massage therapist on site and she and Rob wrapped a band around my leg very tightly.  This felt so awful that my friend nausea returned immediately, and tried to start making his way out of my stomach, but I was able to contain him via some deep breathing.  After a while they removed the band and asked me if I could walk.  

"I don't know."  I said.  

They helped me to my feet and I hobbled down the long hallway, and into the back of the church near the warm up area, where a couch was.  

I plopped down on said couch, which is ultimately where I would end up spending the majority of my day.  You would think that I would have been overcome by disappointment and grief, which would indeed come later, however the pain was so severe all I could think about at the time was "I wonder if anyone has any vicodin?"  

Not much time had passed when someone associated with the meet came and asked me if I was ok, and if I was "done"....out of the meet.  

"No." I said.  "I'm going to bench and pull.  I'm going to finish."  

"You sure?" they said.

"Yeah."  I said.  

I wasn't about to quit.  I wasn't about to not finish this meet.  We were there because Relentless was about bringing awareness to children battling terminal illnesses, and raising money to support their families.  I'm going to bow out of this because of a torn quad?  Oh hell no.  

Not only that, before I left home I drew three circles on my forearm.  I had each of my girls put the first letter of their first name in a circle.  It would be the first time I would be competing without them, but I wanted them to know that they would still be with me in my heart.  So before I made my attempts, I would kiss my forearm, or hold it over my heart.  I wanted my girls to know, there's no quit in dad.  

In the warm up area, getting up and down off the bench was the most difficult task in regards to benching.  I couldn't leg drive, but I could still bring my leg back in order to get "some" tightness.  I didn't want to be completely laxed on the bench.  So I dealt with some of the pain, then uncorked my foot as fast as possible after I was done pressing.  This was not a delightful experience.  Rob Luyando found a knee wrap and wrapped my leg for me to keep some pressure on it.  

The weights themselves felt light in my hands.  However with leg drive they didn't have the same degree of force coming off my chest as usual.  I knew I could still open at 390 on bench regardless of that and just go from there.  

I hit the 390, then called for 420, which I felt would still be fairly easy.  And it was.  

I then called for 440.  I knew it would be iffy without the leg drive.  I had come there knowing that 450 was in the bag, and that 465 might even be possible if everything was lining up just right.  I was in the opposite of that "lining up right" scenario, but I figured 440 would still go.  

I took the 440 down, felt light on the descent so I knew I probably had this one in the bag.  Then right after the press, I sort of "forgot myself" and went to initiate leg drive.  A pain shot up my leg and through my back and spine like a hot knife.  The weight stalled as I lost all concentration at that point, and the spotters took it.  

I hobbled over to the hallway, and plopped down in a chair.  The pain was so intense up my leg and back that I couldn't find a comfortable position to be in.  It was at that point that the disappointment started to sink in, and combined with the pain I found myself sobbing.  Not afraid to admit it at all.  I had come there to compete and to get some long desired ghosts put to rest, and not only did I get injured (again) but injured to a degree that was causing me more physical pain than I had ever had from any injury.  That's including two torn biceps, a torn hamstring, a permanently dislocated shoulder, and a myriad of other things that can and do occur over 25 years of lifting.  

At that point, Kevin Smith came over to me and said a lot of things that really helped me to regain my focus and I pushed all of the feelings of misery out of my head.  

After all, I still had to pull.  

I would be pulling stiff legged of course.  In the warm up room, just getting down to the bar was the hardest part.  I could only bend my knees just a little bit, but that's about all I bend them when I pull stiff legged anyway.  Still, every rep hurt like a mother fucker.  The first pull wouldn't feel so bad, but then if I did a second rep, the pain was terrible.  

Luckily, in the warm up room Brandon Lilly cracked jokes and added a lot of levity to the environment and the heaviness of my heart really appreciated that at the time. 

I needed to change my opener because it was still set at 615.  The plan was to go 615-660-705, however that obviously was not happening today.  So I asked Fartbox if he'd go let them know to change my opener to 550.  He said he would.  

I worked up to 515 in the warm up room, and it did not feel ok.  Still, I figured if I couldn't pull god damn 550 stiff legged then like a horse with a broken leg, I should just be taken out back and shot dead.  

When it was time to pull first attempts they went right past 550 without calling my name.  I was confused.  I walked over to Donnie Thompson who was the MC and asked him if they got the change in my opener.  

"We didn't get it." he said.  


"Do you want to just go during second attempts?" he said.  

"Yeah, that's fine.  550."  I said.  

Fartbox told them, I'm sure.  However in the chaos of a big meet sometimes these things do get lost in the shuffle.  

No biggie.  I'd just pull 550 on my second, then 600 on my third.  

"So you're still pulling?" Furry asked me in the hallway.

"Yeah" I said.  "I'm going to go out there and pull 600 stiff legged style."

Furry burst into laughter.  

"That's awesome!"  

Before I went to pull, Brandon leaned in to me and said "go out there and pull something good for those three beautiful little ladies you got back home."  

Fuck Brandon Lilly.  I swear to God, I was already having a hard enough time holding shit together and he says that?  In all seriousness, it was one of the best things anyone could have said to me.  

I went out and pulled 550 with little trouble, then called for the 600.  

When my time came up, I gave my girls a kiss, set up with as little knee bend as I could, and destroyed it.  

I had finished.

My total was a measly 1590.  Obviously well under the 1800 I had planned.  However, I left with a sense of accomplishment about a meet I had never had before..  After all, finding out how you deal with adversity tells you a lot more about yourself than how you deal with all the cards being lined up in a row.  Most people can handle that fairly well.  However lots of people fold under adversity or struggles.  That or they bemoan their situation or whine about judging or the short end of the stick they got.  

More important than all of that, Relentless raised 140K+ dollars to go towards the families we were all there to support.  Last year, they raised 33K, I believe.  That's a hell of a jump.  

Relentless is a really, really special thing.  I don't know that I would want to do ever be part of another meet right now for the simple fact that in comparison, it is going to fall short.  It's also really put my goals and "numbers" back into perspective.  Something I started realizing the night before the meet when I made that video about "Sacrificing".  

The 1590 I gave to Relentless is worth FAR more than any total I've ever put up before because it came via adversity like I had never known in a meet, and it came via a great cause, surrounded by so many great people.  

In closing I would like to thank some of those people - Pam Bosko, Tommy Westoff, JJ, Marshall Johnson, Rob Luyando, Chad Dresden, Kevin Smith, Justin Graalfs, Brandon Lilly, Christine Marie, and a whole shit slew of other folks that made the weekend worth remembering.  If I left you out, it's not because I don't love you.  It's just because I don't feel like typing anymore.  

Also, no more weight cutting.  275's from here on out. 


  1. 600 SLDL was inspiring...Sorry about the injury.

  2. All heart dude, heal up fast and curb stomp 1800.

  3. Awesome write up big guy. I wish you a speedy recovery, no dout 1800+ is going to happen. Get ready for RUM.

  4. Love it! Now help me design my Ruby forearm tat.


  6. Awesome. Just tore my quad about three months ago squating a PR. To go on with the meet is just fucking awesome.

  7. Competing on one leg is hardcore. Congrats Paul and heal well.

  8. Godspeed on the recovery Paul.

  9. That's a hard-nosed,heroic attitude if ever I saw one.I think you should have worn a superman t-shirt to lift in!...all the best coming back!

  10. Tough break Paul but kudos for pushing through rather than walking away. Rest, heal return!

  11. You are a "no gimmicks" guy and weight cuts, while perfectly "legit", always seemed to smack of gimmick to me.

    Unless you are going for a WR or something I dont see the point in scalding yourself in a shower for 6 hours to post a bigger total at a weight you really dont weigh anyway. You would always know in the back of your head that you didnt "really" lift the weights weighing 242... You can start a new trend of Raw lifters: No Belt, No Wraps, No Cut

    Get 'em next year champ.

  12. What the hell happened to your quad this time? What tore?

    Sucks to hear, but way to gut it out. Stiff legging 600 is no small feat.

    Good luck with your recovery.

  13. That feeling you get when someone stiff legs more than your max....

    Get better soon man.

  14. Paul, I hope you heal fast and enjoyed the journey. I'm sorry about the injury. You're a good guy who is generous enough to share your experiences.

  15. Great write up! I look forward to seeing your performance in the 275's.

  16. You should have stopped after the squat injury. Maybe think about your family next time?

    1. You have to be the dumbest person to ever fucking write in to my blog. And that's saying something.

      Go be a pussy someplace else.

  17. The courage and tenacity that you displayed at the meet has me in awe. Of blood and iron you are most definitely made from...and with a heart of a lion and a kitty kat. (ha-ha).

    Hail and Kill my friend and get well.

  18. Dang!! That is some REAL stuff. You really inspired me with that one..... I pray that you have a speedy recovery......