My Big Fat Meet Recap: 11 Pounds from an Elite Total and the Longest Squat Ever

This past Saturday, I lifted in NASA’s Iowa Regionals. I made eight of my nine attempts and added 60 pounds on the total I did in July of this year with a 600 total. My best lifts were a 187 squat, a 121 paused bench, and a 292 lb deadlift. Overall, I’m incredibly happy with my performance yesterday and really couldn’t have expected much more from myself this weekend.

Look, I have teeth! This is a picture taken during my 187 squat.

My squatting felt a little rough–I have been pausing at the bottom of the squat more than I’d like since putting on the belt (I only started squatting in the belt about a month ago, maybe less) so this meet was going to be a test of that and how I would react to it when negotiating max-attempt singles. The 165 felt a little bit heavy compared to what 165 usually feels like, but the 181 felt very solid. I opted to call for 187 for my last attempt and stalled out with it halfway up the concentric. And then I unstalled myself and made it. It was literally one of the hardest fights for anything I’ve put up in my life thus far. I was sort of amazed walking away from it, and I still am today. I’m going to continue to learn how to use a belt while squatting and I will make a 200 lb squat before the end of next year.

Benching was also a battle, although one of a different sort. I did an easy opener of 105. Then I executed a stellar fail of my second attempt, which was for 121. Yesterday, based on warm-ups, I believed I had 126 in me for a paused bench; with that fail, I lost the chance at attempting that lift, and I had really wanted that chance. To make matters worse, if I failed the second 121, I’d have a far weaker total than I’d wanted to walk out of the meet with originally, so I went into my third attempt with determination not to miss it. I didn’t–I adjusted my grip width and my set up in certain ways and 121 came up pretty easily. I WILL pause 125 in training before another two months are out.

Bench did a pretty good job of cranking my back into more fatigued and tense state than I would have liked. My second and third squats (particularly the third) were also wearing, so heading into deadlift, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I did a hard, somewhat forward and ugly 280 a few weeks ago in training; I didn’t know how much I was going to get from a week’s (mostly) rest on my deadlift and whether or not that would make 280 or anything above it all that much easier. The 265 first attempt  was a bit slower than it should have been based on how I’ve worked with that weight recently. I was down to the end of the meet at that point and just felt like I was going to give the last two attempts everything I had–if the 281 attempt was achieved but ugly as hell, I was still going to go for a 292. I was surprised by a non-ugly 281 second attempt and very happy to have it secured for my total, but I wanted more. A 300 pull is a goal of mine I did not expect to be so near so soon, so I knew that if I could get 292 I would be incredibly proud of my efforts and optimistic for my outlook for the coming months. I paced a bit in front of the platform as the loaders switched the plates out for my final attempt. I walked up to the bar and felt the mixture of purity, aggression and centering that I usually feel when I’m going for a strong pulling effort. I listened to my breathing and felt the tension shift through my body as I set up in front of the bar–and then I went down to pull. I’m usually slow to get deadlifts off the ground–my start has been my sticking point, not my lockout. 292 flew off the ground and came upward with a solid motion that slowed as I neared lockout. I fought, pulled it though, and hazily tried to determine whether the front judge had given the down command. I decided that he had and put the weight down. I made it, I got my 600, and it was a damned good day.

I’m fried today. My body is so flattened by some of the long times under tension I had with my attempts yesterday that I cannot do much more than weakly plod around the apartment or with Kyle to the gym to watch him do some light work. I’m fried, but I’m happy. I put a lot of work into my training for this meet, and I performed even more strongly than I had imagined I would be able to. I couldn’t have done it without the fantastic guidance, support, re-direction, soothing, door-opening (he’s a gentleman), bug-killing, squat-spotting, dishwasher-unloading, bench-handoffing, fantastic efforts of Kyle. Kyle, you are the best trainer, the best friend, and the best man I could ask for. Thanks for your help in preparing for and doing this meet. You are, as many people came up to me to tell me yesterday while you were off executing true feats of strength, amazing.

Kyle and I await our massive post weigh-in Friday dinner.

And of course…onion rings. Of course. Also of course: ribs. Friday night was a good food night.