Two weekends ago, three UB warriors tried a powerlifting competition on for size. If you aren't familiar with the sport, a meet consist of 3 attempts at your heaviest squat, bench, and deadlift. The day is long, often spanning 10-12 hours. But our three gents (Max C., Andrew W., and Ben H. ) dove in, heads held high. Kristin coached all three to great victory - all got a PR (which is a great feat for a first meet), none bombed out. Below is the experience of Max C., UB's newest member of the 500 club. For those of you who have been toying with the idea of competing, I hope his story demonstrates that while competition days are filled with highs and lows, they are well worth the effort.
Going into the meet on March 29th I wasn't particularly confident. Between some intermittent head colds and CrossFit open induced DOMS, I was off my programming for the weeks immediately leading up to the event. I was missing percentages and only able hit a single triple where the programming called for three triples. On the ride there I was second guessing my openers while reminding myself to get my head in the right place.
The meet opened with squats. I hit my opener, 385 pounds, which is 10 under my PR, easily. It felt good so I decided to go for 402. I was feeling good and I came so very close to hitting 405 in training (NSFW language) that I was pretty confident. It was not to be. I could barely get out of the hole and the spotters caught me. Third attempt was even further from a make.
The bench ended up being mostly a repeat of the squat. I hit my opener of 255 pretty easily. My PR was 265 which I had hit a couple of times in practice and felt good about 275. I knew that this would be my redemption from the two failed squats. On my second attempt I got the bar moving up and as time slowed down for me I knew I was going to hit this PR. Unfortunately, time wasn't the only thing slowing down. The bar's vertical motion slowed to a stop and then started sinking. The spotters had to catch the bar. No lift. Trying again on my third the weight barely moved from my chest and the spotters had to pick it up.
At this point I was starting to get pretty frustrated. The nature of powerlifting meets is that you spend about 18 minutes on the platform doing 9 lifts, spread out over about 10 hours. So, between the bench press and deadlift I had about 90 minutes to sit around and feel shitty about myself. Would I hit a single PR here? Would I even make 4 successful lifts? The time came to start warming up my deadlifts. They didn't feel good at all. Pulling 100 pounds under my opener felt heavy. My thumbs weren't feeling good and I was mixed-gripping the bar, which I never really liked. Eventually I work up to a single at 10 pounds under my opener of 455, which is 7 pounds under my PR. Its platform time. I pull my opener weight up pretty quickly. The narrower diameter of the competition bar felt great in the grip and I'm feeling confident, again. My second attempt rolls around and its 475, a 13 pound PR. I approach the bar, set my grip, pull, stand, lock out, lift is good. Finally, a PR and I feel good for the first time all day. There's one lift to go and its go big or go home time so I give the judges my next attempt: 501. This time the bar definitely does not shoot up. I have to fight for every inch. Eventually my hips, knees, and back some into alignment and the judge gives me the signal to put the weight down.
If it wasn't for the deadlift, I'm not sure how I would have felt about the day. The frustrations of missing four lifts started to get to me. Just having to deal with that was a good experience that will benefit me going forward. Overall, it was a great day and I loved having the group from UB and getting to know the SFCF competitors. However, the deadlift did happen and I upped my PR by 39 pounds and joined the 500 club which I couldn't be happier about. Overall, I am really glad that I did my first competition and incredibly grateful to Coach Kristin for organizing the day, programming our workouts, and cheering us on as only she can.