Lock & Load II: Returning Fire

One year ago this May I competed in my first Oly meet: The Lock & Load 2011. In 18 short days I’ll return to the scene of the crime, bringing my Oly adventure full cricle at the Lock & Load 2012.

Held in the Van Alstyne, TX, fine arts center, this quirky, rustic, barn meet has become a popular venue for the North Texas and Oklahoma faithful. There were 50 lifters last May, and the Lock & Load 2012 plans to crush that number, partly on the promise of up to $400 in cash give-outs for most improved lifter awards in Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Total. Oklahoma is sending a dozen lifters, including yours truly. Expect a decent crew from Metro Weightlifting out of Norman as well as a handful of my cohorts from USA Stars. Unfortunately, the meet date is also the HS graduation date for Cole Barnhart, who is probably pound-for-pound the best weightlifter in Oklahoma. Thus the Lock & Load will not be graced by his participation. But; fret not, Ryan and I will both take the platform and attempt to do nothing short of beating gravity into bloody submission to ruckus applause from the pews.
Every competition is important; but for me, this event is a bit special. As the 1 year anniversary of my Oly career, the return to Lock & Load is an obvious barometer for my progress. I came here a year ago because I found the lifts challenging and precise, and the thought of doing this competitively both scared and enticed me. Since then I’ve done three more meets and run one of my own. I’ve started working with a coach. I bought a set and built a platform in my garage. I’ve taken this pretty seriously. Now, a year later, this is the final exam. This is my graduation. Do I have what it takes to be a regional-elite or even a national-level lifter, or am I just messing around? If the answer is to be the former, I need to start going to meets like this and absolutely dominating, and I need to start it now.
Training is about as dialed-in as it’s ever been. I’m hitting PRs weekly in lifts and squats, and sometimes both. In the 9-weeks since I competed at Black Box I’ve hit 9 PRs. My total is up 11 kgs and I just crushed my long-time back squat record by nearly 30 lbs. Perhaps most importantly, I’m as injury-free as I’ve been in years. One of the advantages of aging is the wisdom it allows, namely: knowing when to lift, how to lift, when not to lift, and how to maintain your body via mobility, myofascial therapy, nutrition, and recovery. Let’s be honest; at my age a bag of ice, some anti-inflammatories, and a foam roller can be every bit as vital to training progress as snorting and stomping for an hour under heavy weight. Combine this with the skillful coaching and competitive atmosphere I’ve enjoyed at Stars for the past eight months, and it’s safe to say Lock & Load is about to meet my A-game. Now, if I could somehow manage to quit being fat, slow, and weak, I’d have the thing in the bag.

Here are some highlights from previous incarnations of the Lock & Load: