Upcoming Events: November

Hey guys.  You ready to let the dogs out?

November 5th:  MetroFlex Ft. Worth Highlander.  Ft. Worth, Texas.  This is an NAHA competition with Strongman and Highland Games events.  Contact email:  mexhercules@gmail.com.

November 5th:  Austin Celtic Festival. This could make for an awesome weekend.  If you can stand all the hippies.

November 11th:  Vet Day Heroes at 405 Crossfit.  8 Heroes WOD’s in one day.  Proceeds to go to the Wounded Warrior Fund.

November 11th – 13th:  Salado Gathering of the Clans.  Highland Games in Salado, TxContact nancyboyens@hotmail.com for more info.  Salado is south of Waco near Kileen.  So, yeah, it’s a haul.

November 12th:  2011 Iron Turkey Open at Crossfit KCEntry form.  Space is limited and I don’t know whether it matters if you live in Kansas or not.  This is Coach Rut’s gym.  He’s the guy that came up with the Max Effort Black Box Crossfit template.  One of the first guys to stress the need for strength specific work in addition to the WOD.  Most crossfit gyms are doing something like this now.

November 12th:  Press and Run at Transformation Fitness Center in Edmond, Ok.  So it’s a 3k.  Before the run you bench press body weight.  every rep equals 0:15 seconds of your final run time.  $25 entry free till November 6th. $30 after.  Follow the links for more info.

November 13th:  Kettlebell Meetup at Lifelong Strong in Guthrie.  This is a free kettlebell seminar at Dustin Rippetoe’s new gym (no relation to Mark Rippetoe).  It is expected to last about an hour and a half and will cover the basics of kettlebells.  Participants need not bring anything.  Contact David at deadlifterdave@sbcglobal.net for more info.

December 2nd – 4th:  USAW American Open Championships.  Mobile, Alabama.  Webcast live from USAW site

To close the year, The Christmas Open will be held in Onaga on December the 31st.

January 21st & 22nd, 2012:  NASA Natural Nationals in OKC, OK.

February 11th & 12th:  Honey Badger Challenge at Crossfit Native.  Yeah.  I don’t know what all this is about.  Details forthcoming.

March 31st & April 1st:  NASA High School Nationals.

April 7th:  NASA Oklahoma State Championships in OKC, OK.

August 11th & 12th:  NASA Unequipped and Ultimate Nationals in OKC, OK.

Remember, there is also rugby every Tuesday and Thursday.

It would be pretty awesome for anyone who does compete in any event whatsoever to send in a little write-up with some pictures.

I think it is imperative that everyone keep a workout log.  The purpose of training is to progress and you won’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started.  I stumbled on a new site, www.fitocracy.com.  Apparently it is some on-line fitness logbook that ranks you in order of the rest of the sites users.  It’s new and I don’t really know that much about it.  You need an invite code and you can use “runkeeper” to gain access.  Aside from serving as a logbook the site may also create motivation by the competition it creates through the ranking system.  Beyond the Whiteboard looks like a good on-line logbook for Crossfitters.  Also, if you are looking for a Crossfit gym, this interactive map is really good.

It is a pain in the ass searching all the Crossfit sites in Oklahoma for events.  Props to 405 for doing stuff frequently.  Please feel free to send me info on meets, events and competitions.  As always I will make any updates and revisions as needed throughout the month so check back frequently and often.

And Blogger is a useless piece of junk and I will be moving to something new in the future.  The domain will remain the same.

On Competitive Weightlifting

The site needs a post.  So how about some inspirational material I wrote to a guy who emailed me about competing.  He had some reservations about what weight class to lift in.  The first line may seem contradictory to the rest of the post but it made sense in the context of his question.  And it sounds good so I left it in.

A victory without competition is no victory at all.

A total is a total.  Oly meets are intended to be viewed in the grand scheme of things.  First or last place in these small meets is of no consequence.  Place really has no bearing at all.  The main point is to achieve a total that allows you to compete at the national level.  Last place at a local meet can still qualify for Nationals or the Americans.

I want you to reconsider your reasons for Oly lifting.  Don’t worry about winning some $2 medal from a shit meet.  Don’t worry about stupid shit.  Just focus on maximizing your potential and progressing as far forward in the sport as you can.

The true measure of your success will not be the weight of accumulated medals.  Success will be measured by the weight you hoist above your head in competition.

Olympic weightlifting is a lot like golf.  You really only beat yourself.

Ryan

Lift and Learn: Reflections on the Copperhead Open

The bar is loaded. Your name is called. As you take the platform the buzz of the crowd grows silent. All eyes set on you. Everything you’ve worked for over the past weeks and months all comes down to this one, critical moment in time. Your body is primed. Your focus is absolute. You fill your lungs with air and just as you begin to lift, some beastly cow bellows out from the pasture beside the barn. Welcome to Van Alstyne.

Van Alstyne, TX

This past weekend Spoon Barbell Club put on the Copperhead Open Olympic weightlifting meet in Van Alstyne, Texas. This has become a popular spot for regional competitors of all ages and skill levels, and this meet was no exception. There were some 50 lifters split into three sessions, including women, juniors, masters, and open. Another 100 spectators came and went, and played ping pong, as the day wore on. It was another full house, or barn, as the case may be, and there were some very solid lifters on display.

I competed in the final session, the men’s open, in the 105 kilo class. There were three competitors in my class including Bryan Fox, a big time lifter out of Rippetoe’s gym with national-level numbers. My goal for this meet was to total 250 and crack the national top 50. That would require PRs in both lifts, but I tend to do well in meets so I felt good about my chances.

Tyler Poole accompanied me to Copperhead. Tyler is a former Navy SWCC and a former co-worker. He’s also successfully coached me at powerlifting meets in the past. A good cornerman is invaluable at things like this. Getting feedback as you warm-up, knowing how far out you are from being called, knowing how things look and how aggressive to get on follow-up attempts: this simply cannot be effectively managed alone. Particularly in Olympic meets in which you may follow yourself (back-to-back attempts) or have considerable down time between lifts, being physically and emotionally sharp when you need to be, and relaxed when you don’t, can make a big difference.
Fine Arts Center
As we rolled-up to the big red barn, the women were underway. For me it’s always interesting to see the different divisions compete. Some of the most intense and exciting lifts you’ll see are the women, the under-13 juniors, and the masters who go out there at the age of 72 and hit lifts. It really gets the crowd fired-up. The under-20 juniors at this meet were quite good. Phillip Wilhelm lifted at 85 kgs in the under-20 class and put up some freakish numbers. I suspect we’ll hear more of this kid in the future.
View from the Cheap Seats

As the master’s clean-and-jerk starts winding down, I start warming-up. I’m old, so I’ve developed a fairly elaborate warm-up ritual with dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and bar work. As I transitioned into the lifts, the snatch felt good but, as showtime draws near and some of the lower weights start getting called, the nerves hit — big time. I always get overly nervous in competitions. I kind of like it. Nervous energy, so long as it doesn’t overwhelm you, is always good for about 10 or 15 lbs. But I started getting sloppy and missed some lifts. The last thing you want to do when you are 3 minutes from getting your name called is to start missing lifts, doubting yourself, and panicking. Tyler tells me to “fix it” and, well, I did. I kept doing singles until I hit my opener of 95 kilos (209.5 lbs). I like to spend a little more time warming-up on the snatch because it is such a precise lift and the nervous energy for your first lift of the day is pretty intense. Having hit the opening weight in warm-ups makes me feel at ease knowing I simply have to walk up there and repeat something I’ve already done.

Tyler tells me I’m next. At this point I become very introverted, entering an almost meditative state. They call my name. I chalk-up with a big, solid piece that I break down in my hands. I take the platform. I walk up and stand right on top of the bar and give myself a second or two to take it all in. From here on out the mind turns off and routine kicks-in. My set-up felt good; I was jumpy like a race horse in the gate. Time slows down, the room gets quiet, everything stops for one brief second, and I completely crushed the lift. It was a pure power snatch. It felt awful and jerky. But the sense of relief was immense and I was immediately able to calm down and focus on progressing toward my goal. We selected 105 kilos (231 lbs) for a follow-up attempt. This is a big jump, but I’m very confident up to around 110 kilos so we pushed it. I did no additional lifting after my opener. Just found a quiet place to sit and relax and visualize my lifts. After a few minutes Tyler tells me I’m three out, so I get up and start to walk around. I try to stay calm and focused. When I’m called up, I feel perfect. Nerves are there, but just a little buzz, and I’m much more comfortable and confident than before. I’ve hit 108 kilos a few times so I’m optimistic with this attempt. As I take the platform I’m in the zone; grip it and rip it – perfect snatch. This was my best lift of the day. We decided to go ahead and push for my original goal of 113 kilos (249 lbs) for my final attempt. This would be a 5 kilo PR and put me in position to achieve a 250 kilo total for the day. The turnaround between the 2nd and 3rd attempts was very short. I like this, to an extent. Once you’re up and warm and feeling confident, let’s keep the ball rolling. I’m called back up for my final attempt and I still feel like I’m “on”. I know that I’m in uncharted territory here and that my margin for error is virtually zero, but this is why I came. I stay loose and relaxed as I step up to the bar. I perfect my grip with a dozen tiny adjustments, roll the bar in, take a deep pull of air, squeeze my chest up to set my back, and blastoff like my life depended on it. My mind goes completely blank and I just live in the moment and react as the bar bangs off of my hips and shoots up overhead. I pull under and catch it perfectly. For just one moment it’s completely weightless, effortless, and . . . easy, and then mean ‘ol Mr. Gravity reminds you that you’ve got 249 lbs overhead and it’s a bit behind your center. I adjust with a few quick steps back to secure the weight. It feels like forever until the head judge yells “down”. I drop the bar and quickly turn to the light box to see three white lights. Absolutely awesome! There really is no feeling quite like hitting a big, scary snatch (don’t be a perv).

As the snatch portion of the meet wraps-up, we take a 10-minute breather before beginning the final set of the day: the men’s open clean-and-jerk.
Rip & Rut
My warm-up for clean-and-jerk is pretty minimal. I’m already hot and fired-up from snatching, so I just want to get the feel for the lift in my head and conserve as much mental and physical energy as possible. A few presses, power jerks, and hang cleans with an empty bar get me most of the way there. I go ahead and do full lifts at 90 kg, 100 kg, and 110 kg which all feel easy. I open at 120 kilos (264 lbs) just to get comfortable on the platform again, and again have a bout with nerves, but easily pull off the lift. So, as before, we make a big 10 kilo jump up to 130 kg (286.5 lbs) for my 2nd attempt. And just like last time, I take the platform with an ideal mixture of nervous electricity and composed focus, and I completely annihilate the lift. This was my 2nd best lift of the day. In hind sight, I probably should have opened here to give myself more opportunities at the big, 50/50 weights. Now, feeling extremely confident, I call for 137 kilos (302 lbs). This will be a 3 kg PR for my clean and a 6 kg PR for my jerk, but I am supremely confident at this point in the meet having gone 5-for-5 with nary a step missed. I know that my goal of a 250 kilo total is just moments away. This is what it’s all about; my training, my traveling, my day-dreaming . . . it all comes down to the next lift and once I grab that bar I’m 3 seconds away from either thrill or agony.

There’s a quick turnaround from the 2nd attempt, so I’m still up and ready. I chalk-up and approach the bar. For the first time in the meet I allow myself a bit of aggression. I stomp the platform; it feels solid, I feel solid: it’s showtime. It felt just like I’d imagined as I take the bar, roll it in, and coil for the explosion. I rip the bar off the ground with surprising ease and catch it high, nearly a power clean. It hits the rack position perfectly as my elbows whip under and I ride the weight to the bottom of the squat. As I catch the bounce at the bottom and change directions the bar begins to slide down my sweaty shoulders and pops right out of my hands. Unbelievable error on my part: no chalk on the chest and shoulders, didn’t towel off between lifts, no shirt on under my singlet, and the realization of all my dreams falling in slow motion toward the ground. There is something profoundly devastating about this particular kind of careless failure that strikes mid-lift as a thief in the night. Gasps of shock ripple through the crowd. Red lights backlight my walk of shame. It’s over.

So, you lift and you learn. My total of 243 kilos was still good enough to earn a 2nd place finish in my division and improve my national ranking considerably. I’m also very confident that I can compete again toward the end of the year, possibly at the Christmas Open in Onaga, Kansas, and bump my new total up even higher, maybe around 260 kilos. All-in-all this was another fantastic experience and something that I’m definitely interested in doing again and again. Thank you to all the guys at Spoon Barbell Club for putting on one of the more distinctive and entertaining Oly events in the area. And, as always, enjoy the videos:
My Lifts:
Meet Highlights:

Copperhead Road: Prep for the Copperhead Open

Not quite five months ago I competed in my first Olympic weightlifting meet in Van Alstyne, Texas at the historic Spoon Barbell Club . . . barn. This weekend I’ll return to the scene of the crime with the expressed goal of achieving a national top 50 ranking. Needless to say, we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past five months. I’ve put 50 kilos on my total, worked with some phenomenal coaches, and made dramatic leaps in mobility and technique. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m going into this meet injury free and more prepared than ever. Expectations for Saturday are sky-high.

One of my new haunts is CrossFit OKC. Their open gym Saturdays are tailor-made for Oly sessions. We get access to jerk boxes, platforms, bars, bumpers, and chalk without the chaos of a 10-man MetCon going on. Another plus is the Saturday shift is overseen by Cole, a prodigious young lifter who coaches and critiques as well as anyone I’ve worked with. It was through Cole that I got in touch with Steve Miller. Steve is a former Olympian and a USAW level 5 coach. He’s worked with many world-class athletes and Olympic-level lifters over his 30-year career. He’s qualified two of his current lifters, including Cole, for the national invitational meet this December. Around here, that’s as good as it gets. Steve trains out of USA Stars in Moore; an old school judo/MMA gym with a focus on strength and conditioning as well as Olympic weightlifting. It’s owned by Pat Burris, a two-time Olympian in judo and an 80s-action badass in his own right. The MMA instructor at Stars is Jason Hirth who I’ve known for years through our mutual love of martial arts. It’s good peeps out there.
USA Stars is straight out of a time warp. It’s a dusty, rusty, chalky, hodge-podge boxing gym that could have served as the backdrop for Rocky II. I’ve been working with Steve twice a week for the past three weeks. He’s broken me down and started everything from square one. We’ve made good progress and I feel confident about where this is going, but I clearly still have a ways to go to really feel “dialed-in.” This is Luke leaving Yoda before his training is complete, but I plan to continue working with Steve for the next several weeks until I have a solid base from the ground-up.

I’ve opted to lift at 105 kilos for this meet. Since my primary goal is a big total, and since totals and rankings are nearly identical at 94 kilos and 105 kilos, I figure why bother dropping 5 lbs? Let’s go in heavy, total big, and see where the chips fall. Stay tuned for a full recap with pics and video. It’s showtime.
– JRut

Upcoming Events: October

This is what’s going down.  Not much new stuff to add.  At some point I’d like to present this information in a calender format. I’ll see what I can do.  Blogger is a pain.

October 8th:  Copperhead Invitational in Van Alstyn, Tx.  We did Lock & Load a few months back.  It is an interesting place to compete to say the least.  Jeremy will be here as well as a few big name guys in the Oly community.  I will be in class.

October 15th:  CrossFit Exile celebrates 2 year anniversary with open house.  WOD with beer afterward, 3-7pm.

October 15th:  Women’s Highland Team Challenge.  Day 1 of Celtober Fest.  This will be put on by Duncan McCallum of the North Texas Heavies in Fort Worth, Texas.  Duncan was a judge in my first Highland meet and a pretty cool guy.  Women’s Team Challenge?  Sounds spectacularly awesome.

October 16th:  Celtober Cowtown Throwdown.  In Fort Wort, too.  Day 2 of Celtober Fest.  This is the men’s portion of the meet.

October 15th & 16th: NASA Unequipped Nationals in OKC.

October 29th & 30th:  Crossfit Olympic Lifting Cert with Mike Burgener.  At Crossfit Native.

November 5th:  MetroFlex Ft. Worth Highlander.  Ft. Worth, Texas.  This is an NAHA competition with Strongman and Highland Games events.  Contact email:  mexhercules@gmail.com.

November 5th:  Austin Celtic Festival. This could make for an awesome weekend.  If you can stand all the hippies.

November 12th:  2011 Iron Turkey Open at Crossfit KCEntry form.  Space is limited and I don’t know whether it matters if you live in Kansas or not.  This is Coach Rut’s gym.  He’s the guy that came up with the Max Effort Black Box Crossfit template.  One of the first guys to stress the need for strength specific work in addition to the WOD.  Most crossfit gyms are doing something like this now.

November 13th:  Kettlebell Meetup at Lifelong Strong in Guthrie.  This is a free kettlebell seminar at Dustin Rippetoe’s new gym (no relation to Mark Rippetoe).  It is expected to last about an hour and a half and will cover the basics of kettlebells.  Participants need not bring anything.  Contact David at deadlifterdave@sbcglobal.net for more info.

December 2nd – 4th:  USAW American Open Championships.  Mobile, Alabama.  Webcast live from USAW site

To close the year, The Christmas Open will be held in Onaga on December the 31st.

January 21st & 22nd, 2012:  NASA Natural Nationals in OKC, OK.

April 7th:  NASA Oklahoma State Championships in OKC, OK.

August 11th & 12th:  NASA Unequipped and Ultimate Nationals in OKC, OK.

So that’s what we got.  Remember, there is also rugby every Tuesday and Thursday.

I’ve noticed a lot of CrossFit gyms have open gym on Saturday.  But open means nonmembers can come.  It may (and most likely will) cost.

We are still planning on putting together some meets of our own.  We’ve just had some things come up.  I know I will be spread pretty thin at least till mid-December.  But right now we are looking at an Oly meet, a strongman/highland games meet and possibly a kettlebell competition.  We just got some sweet new competition bells from Perform Better.

I never got the MRI.  It seems my doctor thinks lifting is stupid and if you engage in such an activity you got what you deserve.  Nice.  I’m just going to manage till the end of the year.  I’m too busy for surgery anyway.  And I gotta find a new doc.

Ryan