I guess I should post an update on what I’ve been up to.
It hasn’t quite been radio silence from me, but I haven’t been as prolific on the internets as previously.
I promise I’ll do better.
My personal goal for 2017 was to clean and jerk 137kg (300#) in a sanctioned USAW meet.
Spoiler alert: It hasn’t happened yet – my PR has been stuck at 134kg (295#) for two years – and whether I’ll be able to get it within this calendar year is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure as hell gonna try.
Anyway, yesterday I competed in the Double Barrel Open (hosted by CrossFit Double Barrel). While I’d done five non-sanctioned weightlifting meets over the years, this was my first USAW-sanctioned one. It’d also been over three years since the last time I threw a barbell over my head on a platform with dozens of people staring at me.
Before I go into how I did in the meet, I want to talk about the event itself.
It was very well-run and a lot of fun, and I would absolutely do another one at Double Barrel. I got to know Ben Timm (the owner) and a few of his coaches in Las Vegas at the Mad Lab Summit in June; they’re all wonderful people and have a kickass facility. Ben, aka the Teddy Bear Jew(***), is quickly becoming one of my favorite humans and I intend to spend more time hanging out with him and his crew now that our new gym is settled (Ben, you’ve been warned). So if you know someone in the San Marcos/Escondido/Vista area looking for a top-notch training facility, tell ‘em to check out CrossFit Double Barrel. I stayed to the end of the meet to help with loading the bar and refereeing lifts, which was good experience and netted me some sweet, sweet free volunteer pizza.
Allow me to
make excuses for myself provide some background on my training leading up to this.
Back in December, I formulated a plan to squat my ass off for 6 months and throw 300# over my head in a sanctioned meet before my 30th birthday (in July) as a 85kg lifter.
Then in April I got the opportunity to relocate my gym to its current spot (partnered with Ideal Spine & Rehab in Tustin), and everything about my training plan promptly went to hell. It quickly became obvious that competing in July in the middle of a career upheaval was absolutely out of the question. So I set my sights on the Double Barrel Open in August; the fact that I got to know Ben & Co. in June was a happy coincidence.
Anyway, the process of packing up a 3000-square-foot facility with 7 years’ worth of accumulated stuff, with all the different stresses inherent to that, meant that training and recovery had to take a back seat; this on top of approaching 30, which in weightlifter-speak is “getting old.” This did not exactly help me get the intended effect of the Hatch squat cycle I struggled to complete – I’d wanted to gain a couple pounds of muscle and compete at a strong 182#, but somehow dropped down to a shredded 169# instead. In spite of all this, I kept pushing through with training the best I could.
Three weeks out from the meet, my body was completely trashed from severe under-recovery and mild overtraining (exacerbated by not having taken more than a week off of training in nine years). Squatting and deadlifting were excruciating to the point of tears, my Olympic lifts were a hot mess, and I didn’t want to so much as look at a barbell. I reached out to my colleagues at ISR for help.
In addition to essentially shaking me by the shoulders and yelling at me to REST YOU FOOL, Dr Joey (chiropractor) adjusted my totally-jacked-up hips & spine every day for two weeks, and Dr John (physiotherapist) helped me troubleshoot deficiencies in my muscular recruitment patterns. These guys were absolutely instrumental to my functionality on meet day. I can wholeheartedly recommend them from firsthand experience as knowledgeable and highly competent healthcare professionals, both for regular people recovering from injury and for athletes seeking competitive dominance (or, in my case, returning to competence). The fact that we have access to them here is a tremendous resource.
Six days out from the meet, I was able to snatch 210# and clean & jerk 245# – far from PR’s, but better than I’d been able to do for months and goddamn amazing considering the state my body had been in. Good.
Three days out, my weight class was moved from Saturday afternoon (ideal for me) to Sunday morning (anything but) because of a bunch of dumbasses like me who ended up in the wrong weight class and had to change it in the last week. Not good.
I made weight by a half-pound, despite spending Saturday on the couch eating half a cow and a garden’s worth of vegetables. Good. But then my left shoulder decided to knot up in a way that had never happened before while warming up for the snatch, and I smashed everything I could think of to try get it to function normally. I was only partially successful. Not good.
I went with very conservative openers as a result – 90 for the snatch and 115 for the C&J. These would have been my final warm-ups on a good day.
I shakily got my snatch opener, then did a bit better on 95 for my second attempt. I over-pulled 101 on my third attempt to miss it behind me.
On the clean & jerk my opener felt unsettlingly heavy, but 120 was surprisingly easy. I failed 125 by missing the jerk out in front after a slight technical mistake caused the clean recovery to suck more than it had to.
This left me with a 95 snatch, 120 C&J, and 215 total. For you non-metric-users, that’s 209#, 264#, and 473#, respectively, at a bodyweight of exactly 170#. Both lifts were right around 90% of my all-time PR’s, or what I would have opened with were I in peak condition. This also exactly matches the result of a non-sanctioned meet I did almost 5 years ago…the difference was those were my PR’s at the time, and I went home stoked.
All things considered, I’m actually pretty good with the result. I’d have liked to go 6/6 for once, but I’d also have liked to not feel like I’d been run over by stampeding wildebeests three weeks out…and I’d have really liked my left deltoid to not be an asshole and form a giant knot while warming up. Can’t always get what you want.
I spent three hours moving weights around after my lifting was done, and my total food for the day was a coconut latte, a protein cookie, five small slices of pizza, and an RX Bar. After driving back to Orange, we stopped by a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint and I destroyed eight large tacos while watching SunnyDelphia. I ate a pound of steak, three eggs, and half a protein cookie for breakfast.
My entire backside is a wreck, and I have no plans to lift anything heavier than a fork for the next two weeks.
On one hand, I can’t wait for the next meet – I love the crucible of competition, and it ignites a fire in me like nothing else. On the other, I don’t ever want to repeat the awful soul-crushing grind of pushing against an overtrained body that refuses to adapt, so I’m going to do something very different for me and take it easy for a bit before getting back to my quest of 300# overhead.
That’s my recap. Wasn’t my best meet, wasn’t my worst. Every meet I learn something new. In my last meet I learned about the need for ample game-day fueling to prevent gassing out on the clean & jerk. This time, I learned about the importance of recovery in ways I hadn’t beaten myself up enough to truly experience yet.
…That’s it, I guess. Hope you found it informative, or at least entertaining.
(***) I don’t know if TBJ is Ben’s actual alias or nickname, but it works on far too many levels not to be.
1: He’s basically a giant teddy bear given breath. A giant teddy bear that can probably snatch what I can clean & jerk. “Hairy boulder” is also a fairly apt description that I actually didn’t come up with.
2: He has a Star of David, along with some Hebrew, tatted on his arm. As a fellow Jew, I find this hilarious as tattoos are explicitly forbidden in the Torah. Not that I care – it’s a stupid and outdated biblical rule, like keeping kosher or stoning disobedient children to death – but I appreciate the irony.
3: Their gym has Gus the Bear’s cousin – the 2017 Mad Lab Golden Bears mascot, which is (you guessed it) a teddy bear – high on a shelf behind the check-in desk, overlooking the retail and locker area from his prominent vantage point.
4: Inglourious Basterds (which had a poorly cast “Bear Jew”) is the best Tarantino movie, with Pulp Fiction as a close second, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Being a reference to that film only makes “Teddy Bear Jew” better.
Okay, that’s really it.