So my morning started as it has for most of this week; with Mini Al waking us up at around 4:30am screaming with teething pain. Managed to nap over her clambering around our bed for a while and she eventually went back to sleep before I got up at 6:30. Checked my weight: 92.4kgs. Spot on. Didn't risk any food or drink. Just showered, packed my things and left around 6:50. The drive was easy and I arrived at 7:30 just as they were opening the venue. Weigh-in at 8:00 and I was still bang on 92.4. Goal 1: Make weight. Achieved.
None of the referees knew what the running order was and this seemed to change over the next hour. More on this later.
Priority now was rehydration. Had some dioralyte followed by a litre of chocolate milk as per Kiefer's recommendation (the body holds it better apparently) and the followed up with diluted Gatorade. Ate some food as well: sandwiches and crisps (salt for bloat) and my favourites: Oreos. An hour later and this all hit my stomach like a tonne of bricks. I'll spare the details but let's just say I wasn't holding as much of what I consumed as I'd have liked
My handlers arrived at 9am and calmed my nerves a bit. The meet had almost 30 competitors and started with the juniors squats. This was to be followed by women's and masters' squats and then, as I understood it. I had some caffeine and more diluted Gatorade and started to feel human. I actually got to the stage of deep heating my back, putting my knee sleeves on and sorting out my bag to take to the warm-up room before I was told that they were running those two flights as a separate meet BEFORE the Open lifters started their squats. Bit of a double-edged sword this. On one hand it was good as it gave me longer to feed-up, drink more and feel better. On the other hand I knew that with just one flight of lifters and quick changeovers between events planned (15 minutes), the meet would be hard work. Sack up time I guess.
The two flights were good to watch. Highlights: a lightweight woman squatting 110kgs raw and a 61 year old master pulling 285 and attempting 300!
Having weighed in at 8:00 I finally hit the warm-up room at 12:00. By this time nerves were rife, I was shaking (part nerves, part caffeine-induced) but it felt good to ST started. I sent my handler to ask how long we had twice but I still managed to screw up my timings (wouldn't be the last time either) and instead of doing my planned warm-ups of 170, 190 and then 205, last one with wraps, I did 170 and then 200. In the end this worked OK and was the least of my worries.
The ref came in and gave us the running order. He said I was following a guy called Chris. Slightly confusing as they used my real name of Chris (Al is a nickname) but memorable. When Chris was called next lifter, I could wrap up and get ready. So I did. Chris was called, I wrapped my knees and stood up. Next lifter was called and I missed the name but I heard the weight: 190kgs. Nope I'm opening at 225. My handler asked the ref, nope still three more lifters before me. FFS. Wraps up, re-roll wraps and tried to calm down but I was rattled. I then left it too late before wrapping, flapped onto the platform almost at a job before composing myself slightly. Stand still, hit the ammonia cap, be aggressive, bury it, set the tone. I had wrapped with my stretchier wraps to make it easier to hit depth. Hadn't accounted for my suit straps being so loose that it was like lifting in briefs. I screamed onto the platform, unracked strong, set-up and stared down the ref. Buried the squat but went way too deep (Coach Faz has since informed me I'd widened my stance which made me more unstable), knees went all over the place and I had to fight way more than I wanted to but I was up, I got the rack command and I was in the meet. Boom!
My planned second attempt was 240 but as I struggled with my opener I dropped it to 235. Got a better heads up from the ref on the running order and my prep was a lot calmer. Used my heavier wraps and felt apprehensive but calmer. Bar is loaded, cracked the cap and got aggressive. (Side note on this: I'm sure I look and sound like an idiot but the truth is, lifting heavy stuff scares me and shouting makes me feel better. ) Cut the squat higher than the opener but felt a lot quicker, smoother and more stable. Bar is racked and... Lift is good 2-1. Red light from the head ref for depth. Side ref said I was bang on depth and not to go higher for last attempt.
C on the block time. Third attempt. I knew my goal of 250+ wasn't on the cards but I wanted a big number so called for 245. It was a solid jump and I knew I had a shot. It was going to be close but there was no way I was going to fail. Even if I cut it high, I was going to squat that f***er and make them red light me. Bar was loaded, ammonia made my eyes sting and it was go time. Unracked. Could have done with a tighter knee wrap. Too late now. Squat. Back, back, back, UP! Folded over badly out of the hole but fought through and gave myself a chance. Thankfully the handlers helped me back in. Turned around: no lift 2-1. Close but no cigar. Still I'm in the meet, 2/3 and it's time to bench.
Had five minutes to get changed and then less than 15 minutes to shirt up and get ready for challenge 2: not bombing on the bench. Here's where problem number 3 reared it's ugly head: I was the only equipped lifter in a sea of small, raw guys opening from 100kgs upwards. Oh and there's only 1 bench. Awesome. With the extra time it took to get my shirt on, set and load the bar fighting through the sea of rawness, I ran out of time on warm-ups AGAIN! Plan was to do two board presses in the shirt: 140 to a 2 and 152.5 to a 1. Could have rushed and got in the 152 while the others started on the platform but I felt warm, 140 was a peanut in my hands and after the rushed squat opener, I chose to compose myself for the opener instead.
I had only practised setting the shirt with my handler once and had never actually lifted after he'd set it so I was a big worried. No need though he did an awesome job! Neil set the shirt a little tighter than usual for my opener but after my squat suit being loose, I was happier taking the chance of too tight with 3 attempts on the board. My name was called, heaviest attempt in the first round (I was heaviest on squats as well but didn't notice so didn't get the ego boost
) and it was go time. Neil had the shirt set well in advance as I'd primed the ref to tell me when 2 lifters were ahead of me. Wraps on, centre spot arranged, ammonia-induced nose explosion and time to go. Weight felt light in my hands - good start. Bar down, tuck, tuck, tuck, it hovered for what seemed like forever but I knew that if I could stay patient and force my belly up, it would get there. Finally I got the command. I remembered JB's advice: press fast and get the elbows back out. The bar slowed at transition but kept it going back over my face and locked it out. Held and rack command. Lift is... Good! I haven't bombed
2-1 though. Same judge who called my depth from the front (not cool) called me for my foot twisting slightly
Dropped second attempt from 175-172.5 just to be safe. Neil set the shirt like a badman again and this time I had him chalk my back and butt (he was a real trooper about this. He had to dig into my freshly shaved man cleavage, chalk my butt and baby powder my legs amongst all the other fetching and carrying. Legend.) so I could keep still on the bench. If I was going to press it, I was NOT going to lose a lift on a technicality. Second lift took a while to touch but was quicker than the first. Press was fast off the chest, transition was great and lockout was strong. Good lift. 3 whites. Very pleased.
Really went for broke on my third and called for 182.5kgs. This would be an all time PB for me. I've pressed 180 but without a real pause and whilst 8kgs heavier. As it was a big jump I had Neil pull the shirt even lower and tighter. As it turned out this was a step to far. I struggled to touch again but stayed patient. I ended up touching REALLY low. I almost lost the bar forward at this point but got it back. Didn't get enough momentum though and the bar stuck at transition as I couldn't get my elbows around to lockout. The ref told me after I probably would have lost the lift for touching low anyways but overall I was pleased with bench. If I'd thought about the overall best lifter, I would have gone for 177.5 and maybe edged ahead but I was competing with myself so went for what was important to me. Given a do-over I'd probably take 182.5 again
Finally onto deadlifts and I wasn't going to make the same mistake again. I had Neil crowbar my shirt off, put the suit back on and hit the warm-up room. I hit all of the weights I wanted to and briefed Neil on how to slap me
I was flagging at this point and my upper back was killing me after my 245 attempt where I basically did a round back good morning to lock it out. Literally no time for weakness though as before I knew it, I was called to the platform. Ammonia, slap, go. Pulled it fast but as was the problem with my training pulls, I almost tore my leg open on the seem of my suit as my hand caught. Locked out slowly but 3 whites and I had a total. Conservative second for a 2.5kgs meet PB. Second attempt came around way too fast and it was game time again. Ammonia, eye burn, didn't even feel the slap and hit the platform. Don't really remember the lift but it was good 2-1. Got called for ramping by a side ref. Tried for a lifetime PB on third. Not the 250 I wanted but a PB nonetheless. Gave it my best shot but looking at the video I didn't load the suit and I didn't have enough left to grind it out.
I will add more about my thoughts tomorrow when I've had a chance to digest them more but I wanted to tell the story of the day while it was fresh. I also wanted to thank all of you for your support. Today was mentally very tough but the tweets and forum messages really helped me through. This forum is pretty special because of its members. Thank you all but in particular Steve without whom I would never have got on a platform in the first place and Faz who has been invaluable in assisting me in my training set-up and form critique. I really appreciate it.
Anyway enough talking for those that haven't seen it, here's the video: