This meet was many things: humbling, frustrating and eye-opening to name a few. What it most certainly was NOT was a success for me because I did not achieve a single one of the lifting goals I set for this meet.
Bottom line – the meet was too long (14+ hours. Not a typo.), I wasn’t mentally prepared, I didn’t bounce back well from the weight cut, and I missed all three of my third attempts to fall 70 pounds short of my total from November and 95 pounds short of my goal total. But I still won the 181′s.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was that this was the first meet where I did my own programming and training went exceptionally well the last few months. However, I took some big risks with dropping a weight class and choosing aggressive attempts. Live and learn.
Here’s how my lifts went:
- 1st Squat: 465, good
- 2nd Squat: 490, good
- 3rd Squat: 515, miss
- 1st Bench: 305, miss – ass came up
- 2nd Bench: 315, good
- 3rd Bench: 335, miss
- 1st Deadlift: 485, good
- 2nd Deadlift: 500, good
- 3rd Deadlift: 545, miss
- 1,305 total. 1st place, 181 class open division.
Here’s how it played out:
- Thursday, 12:30 p.m. – weighed in at 188.9 on lab scale at school.
- Friday, 9 a.m. – weighed in at 181.0 on lab scale at school.
- Friday, 10:30 a.m. – weighed in at 181.5 at official weigh-in – I made it, barely.
Consumed copious food and fluids over the next 12 hours and went to bed very confident.
The venue was great but I could tell immediately that the meet would not go smoothly. Over 25 lifters signed up the day of, pushing the total lifter count over 90. That’s just insane. Rules were supposed to be at 9:30 and lifting was scheduled to start at 10. People were still lining up for squat rack heights at 10:30.
Lifting started at about 11 with four flights of everything. I was in the second flight of squats. Squat judging was different than any other meet I’ve done. I’m not exaggerating when I say that 85% of first-flight squats got at least one red light for depth. My friend Dan, a first-time powerlifter, got two reds on his second squat which would have been a PR and the video showed that he clearly broke depth. It’s a shame and it’s the first time I’ve seen someone really get robbed on a competition squat.
I smoked by squat opener at 465 even with a lousy setup. We used a Mastodon squat bar, which has different markings than a Texas power bar so I struggled with hand placement. 490 went up easily for my second attempt, again with a bad setup. I called for 515 for my third and knew two things for sure: I had to get my hands in as close as possible, and I had to bury it to get three whites. I took care of both those things, but my knees crashed in hard out of the hole and I missed it. It was the first missed competition squat of my powerlifting career. I’d been 11-for-11 til then.
It was then literally six hours until I got to bench. I had to wait for three more flights of squats (including a sick 400-pound squat for a 25-pound PR by my buddy Harold), the bench-only flight (which included a pair of unsuccessful-but-still impressive 1,000-pound bench press attempts by powerlifting phenom Dave Hoff) AND the first full-power bench press flight. Warm-ups were OK, but I had trouble focusing. So much so that my ass blasted about a foot off the bench on my 305 opener. This threw a wrench in my plans because I wanted to go up to 320, but needed to choose a weight I knew I could get with almost no leg drive to make sure I completed at least one successful bench to stay in the meet. I went with 315 because, for those who don’t know, if you don’t complete at least one successful squat, bench and deadlift attempt, you get disqualified.
315 went up without a struggle, so on to 335 for a PR attempt. It went nowhere. Moving on.
A couple hours later, deadlifts started. By now it was going on 10 p.m. and I was exhausted. Went really low volume on my warmups and counted on my easy 485 opener to wake me up. Well, it was slower than I hoped, so I opted for 500 on my second attempt instead of my planned 525. It felt slower than death (even though the video showed it really wasn’t that bad), but since I knew I would fall short of my goal total, there was nothing left to do but go for a PR at 545. It barely left the floor. Day over, finally.
Even with all the disappointments, there were still a lot of positive moments. My friends Dan and Harold had solid days, with Dan hitting a big 405 deadlift PR and Harold going 7-for-9 with PRs across the board. Seeing them succeed and get fired up about their accomplishments was hands down the best part of the day. I got to meet Dave Kirschen, an EliteFTS sponsored lifter, who had tons of great insight and was kind enough to tell me that dropping a weight class on a whim was a stupid idea (he was really nice about it, though.). And I got to see a lot of things that are wrong with powerlifting - poor time management, judging discrepancies, and moments of sheer terror as spotters saved geared lifters from getting their heads cleaved off on botched bench press attempts. The good news is, I still love powerlifting and I’ll continue to train and compete with passion.
It was foolish of me to think that I could ride out my powerlifting success and consistency without any bumps in the road. This meet put my ego in check and made me re-examine my dedication to the sport from all angles – training, diet, recovery, etc.
I’ll do another meet in November (either in New York or Vermont) and for the next few months focus on building some much-needed new muscle. See you later 181′s, it was (not so) nice knowing you for a few hours.