I traveled to my hometown of Hugo, Oklahoma the night before the meet. The plan was for me to drive over to Durant the following morning and Jeremy to drive down from OKC. We met at Chance’s place around 11:30am and hit the road.
I’d never been to Van Alstyne before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But even this is expecting too much. TomTom ordered us off the highway and onto an old dirt road. I was sure this was an error. We passed a couple large buildings along the way and each we were sure was the location of the meet. TomTom ordered us onwards.
Coming around a corner TomTom cried, “Destination, 800ft.” We were excited. As we rounded the bend we all wondered, “where is it?” Then we realized the destination was the large red barn with all the cars parked in front. This was the Van Alstyne Fine Arts and Convention Center? With this sight, we were all a little deterred. This was not very awesome.
I guess it was around 1pm when we showed up. We walked in and there were quite a few folks milling about. There was a large platform up front. Couches and old church pews served as seating for the audience. There were also three warm up stations on the right and very near the audience. Dangerously near if you ask me.
We just sat there for a bit soaking it all in. Eventually we overcame our disappointment and decided to see if we could weigh in early. We were supposed to weigh in at 2pm and lift at 3pm. Luckily, they allowed us to do so. The weigh-in process was some odd formal/semi-formal system. I’d never done it before so I guess I can’t really judge. Firstly, we all had to declare our opening attempts prior to weighing in. We aren’t very good at converting pounds to kilograms so this was a little challenging. After we got this worked out Jeremy weighed in. He got to weigh in alone and simply told the meet director (or some guy) his weight. This is good. Jeremy was a little worried about making weight on the way down. Let’s just say he wasn’t nude when he weighed in, but may have been close. Chance and I both made weight as well but we were accompanied by one of the staffers. I should also not that the scale was located in the unisex bathroom of the barn.
After we made weight it was time to fuel. This was a little challenging. TomTom was able to lead us to the local Sonic five miles away. Jeremy and I demolished double cheese burgers. Chance must have been watching his figure as he opted for the chicken wrap. I was unimpressed.
When we got back, the first flight was beginning the snatch portion of the meet. Dutch Lowy was there and he put up some impressive numbers. There were a few others that did really well, too. The guys at Spoon have still not posted the meet results so I can’t be as specific as I’d like.
Towards the end of the first session we decided to suit up. I was not excited to be wearing a skin tight singlet. But, probably more so, I was not excited about where to put it on. Apparently, we had the choice of the barn bathroom or the house. Now, I appreciate the hospitality, but I am very uncomfortable getting naked in a strangers house. After much deliberation, we decided the house was the route to go. One by one we went into the bathroom and slipped around on an unsecured rug while trying to squeeze into our singlets. Jeremy’s singlet is purple, by the way. But at least he wasn’t the only one in purple. There was a cute girl wearing the same color.
So prior to warming up we all sat down and figured out our respective game plans for the meet. Jeremy would attempt 145, 165 and 185lbs in the snatch and 231, 255 and 265lbs in the C&J. Chance would attempt 165, 204 and 215lbs in the snatch and 246, 265 and 270lbs in the C&J. Lastly, I would attempt 185, 205, and 215lbs in the snatch and 265, 275 and 285lbs in the C&J.
Looking back we did a very poor job of warming up for our lifts. And who’s to blame us. It was our first meet and we didn’t really know what to do. We discussed this on the way home at length. There are a few points I will share for the novice lifter in his first meet. In your attempts, you should choose weights you know you can do. I snatch 185lbs regularly. This is why I chose to open with this weight. I feel very confident I can do it. I can hit 205lbs about 80% of the time. 215lbs is something I have done before as well. Initially I wanted to finish with 220lbs or 225lbs. Last minute I decided to end with 215lbs. I don’t think it is a bad idea for you to hit your opener during warm ups. And this is my rationale, you are a novice. You are not limited by strength, you are limited by technique. Every time I attempt 205lbs or 215lbs in the garage, if I miss it on my first attempt, I can get it on my second. So, in effect, this is a method to “get the first miss out of the way.” A lot of coaches would probably disagree with this but I think it is good strategy for the novice lifter in his first meet. Also, I suggest getting a hi-pull with your third attempt weight as part of your warm up. The second attempt warm up could be a hi-pull or a full lift.
So I came out for my first snatch attempt. As I said this was a 185lbs effort. Something I snatch with ease. And I miss it. I don’t know if it was the nerves or the poor warm-up but I simply lost it forward. No bueno. I decided to stick with the same weight for the next attempt and, luckily, there were a few other guys attempting 185lbs so I got a breather. Second attempt I nailed it. After this I chose to keep it modest and made 205lbs my third attempt. The lift was solid.
I felt pretty good coming into the Clean & Jerk. Again, we didn’t warm up so well but my first and second attempts were weights I could handle. At the time, my second attempt was my max and I was looking for a PR on the third attempt at 285lbs. This was a modest PR attempt as I had previously cleaned the weight but failed on the jerk in the garage. The first lift at 265lbs was good and felt easy. My second attempt at 275lbs felt much harder. Coming out of the hole I had to let out quite a yell to help me get the weight up. The jerk was great, though. 275lbs is around 125kgs. I planned on 129kgs for my last attempt but, since the second seemed so hard, I called for 127kgs. As soon as I declared my third I heard the announcer call me back to follow myself. I couldn’t do that. So as a bit of strategy I changed my third attempt to 128kgs to get a bit more rest. Apparently, the guy who would have had to follow at 128kgs was winded so he bumped up to 129kgs. I was still too tired so I called the same. You see, here it gets a little like a bidding war in an auction. How much are you willing to pay? He wasn’t prepared to try to lift any higher so he went and he missed. 129kgs is 285lbs so I was back to what I originally wanted on my third attempt. It felt heavy. And like the second attempt I roared mightily coming out of the hole. I botched the jerk big time, though. I dipped my knees and just stood back up. This is a foul. This means, “No Lift.” On the video you can see me become physically disgusted. On Spoon Barbell’s footage I audibly say, “SHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIT!” But the awesome thing was that the entire crowd got behind me in that moment. Much like the caber toss at the Highland Games in Yukon. They were on my side and demanded to see me finish the lift. And I wouldn’t disappoint them. I dipped again, exploded up and dropped under the weight with ease. And they didn’t red light me.
Lock & Load was not at all what we expected from an Oly meet. But it was good. We met interesting people (Chad Vaughn, for instance), witnessed some incredible lifts, and learned a ton. It was a good day.