Won this contest on Saturday... here are my thoughts...
2015 BEAST OF THE EAST EVET WRITE-UP & ...feelings...
The weight cut for this particular event was a tough one for me. Most of the four weeks that I normally spend getting down to the 231 weight class were spent out of town...to include the three days prior to the contest. I landed at BWI airport Friday afternoon and drove directly to weigh-ins. It could have been all of the travel or maybe the lack of access to the correct foods, but I stepped on the scale and weighted 226.2. This is close to five pounds below where I would have liked to have been, but I figured I would learn from the experience and move forward. 4 Sausage, egg and cheese bagels, a gallon of gatorade, 50 donut holes, 2 servings of spaghetti & meatballs and a gallon of milk later, I was back up to a very uncomfortable 239 pounds. I headed to bed, woke up a few hours later, shoved some more food in my mouth and headed to the contest.
FIRST EVENT: Max Effort Conventional Deadlift. Suits/Straps allowed. 3 Attempts, but if you miss a rep, no more attempts will be given.
I don't really agree with being able to wear suits or using straps on the deadlift in Strongman Competitions (my only exception is using straps when deadlifting a car), so for this event I went without either. My original planned attempts for this portion of the contest were going to be 625, 650 and 675lbs. But, as with most Strongman shows, what you plan is almost never what actually happens. I was amazed at how many people were opening with weights above 600lbs. The judges just kept calling out weights and hardly anyone was stepping up. I had worked up to a 585 single, warming-up off to the side and decided my first attempt would be ten more pounds than I had originally planned and went with 635. This was a weight that I can pull just about any day of the week, so I felt very comfortable there. It went up without any issue and with decent speed. The next attempt I chose was 655, which is just 5 pounds below my current PR, but I was pretty confident that I could pull it that day. It shook a little bit midway through the movement, but it really wasn't as heavy as 655 sometimes feels to me.
For my third and final attempt, I wanted 675. That is 7 plates per side and it has eluded me for quite a few months now. I set up on the bar and something did't feel right. I can't say what was wrong, I just didn't feel like I was in my best starting position. I had a little moment of panic and rather than resetting I acted like an idiot and just went for it.
I began pulling and nothing happened for about a second. Gravity was working just fine in that particular area... Then the weight slowly started to break the floor. The bar had almost reached my knees when my bracing gave way, my lower back shot out and I couldn't seem to keep the bar moving. I fought against it for a second, then let it go and was VERY disappointed/angry. We were pulling on a Texas Power Bar for the competition and it was pretty stiff. If it would have been a deadlift bar, I may have gotten the PR, maybe not. If I had been stronger, I am sure I would have gotten the lift also? even if I had another attempt at it, I think it may have gone? It really doesn't matter...any excuse I throw out there is a bad one because I simply didn't get the job done. This one single PR attempt was the main reason why I had signed up for this particular competition and not achieving it definitely messed with my head. After this miss, I wasn't as mentally tough as I should have been for the rest of the show. This is my biggest take away from the entire competition.
My 655 lift was good enough for a second place finish. Even if I had gotten the 675 I still would have been in second place, as the winner pulled something right around 700.
SECOND EVENT: 25 Foot Yoke Walk. Heaviest weight wins. NO DROPS ALLOWED. 3 Attempts, but if you drop at all, no more attempts will be given.
Unlike the deadlift, I was surprised at how light people's first attempts were for this event. I guess in hindsight it is a smart move considering how many things can go wrong during a max effort yoke walk and one drop is fairly likely and will land you out of contention.
The yoke used at this competition only has a 2.5-3 inch diameter crossmember which is a good bit smaller than the ones that I have been training on. A smaller crossmember means less purchase on your back which often leads to more slipping. This will become relevant shortly.
I had very few warm-up runs before we began the event and to be honest, the ones I did take were not looking or feeling spectacular. Despite this, I decided to open at 820lbs. It went really smoothly and I was happy to have it in the books. Most of the other guys in my class had completed this weight or a little lower for their third attempts, but a few guys remained in the mix. The judges were calling 50lb jumps, so for my next run I went with 870lbs.
I got under the bar and stood up. The crossmember immediately slipped out of position. If you watch the video you will see me hesitate before I start walking. That is because I was trying to decide if putting the yoke back down would count as a drop. I quickly deduced that putting the yoke down was not a valid option, so I started moving forward. I had hit a 900 pound yoke walk for 50 feet just weeks prior to the competition, so I knew I had a little bit of wiggle room with 870. However, what was supposed to be a nice challenging second attempt turned into one of the longest 25 feet of my life.
With every step the crossmember slipped further and further out of position. By the time I was half way through he course, I was 100% sure I was going to drop it. The bar was so far down my back that I was basically performing a Good Morning while contorting my body into all kinds of weird positions in an attempt to not drop the yoke. I am not going to lie, it felt horrible. I thought every step I took would be my last...I just kept telling myself to endure and stayed focused on nothing but the very next step.
From all of the shifting and moving under that amount of pressure my back was literally bleeding by the time I put it down. I now have four 2"x 2" hotspots on my back now that are scabbed over. It was a really rough run, but I was fortunate enough to cross the finish line.
At this point, only myself and one other guy had one attempt left each to go for something big. His second attempt was 820 and mine was 870. So, in order to go for the win, he loaded the yoke with 900. He got a few steps, acquiesced and dropped it. Since my 870 was the heaviest run, I did not have to take a third attempt to secure the win for this event. After the debacle that was my second attempt, I gladly bowed out and took first place as well as the overall top spot on the leader board.
THIRD EVENT: Max Effort Log Clean & Press. 3 Attempts, but if you miss a rep, no more attempts will be given.
By this point in the competition two of the guys in our class had dropped out because of injuries and one was not participating in the log event because of being hurt; but he would continue on to the car deadlift and hold.
This being the case, our class had shrunk considerably in size for this event and the main competition was between myself and the athlete in second place.
In Strongman, for the most part, everyone is very encouraging to each other and will try to make each other better. There is a lot of joking, random side competitions and no one ever wants to sneak out a win. They either want to beat you at you best or not at all. For this reason, the second place guy and I decided to kind of just go head to head for this event.
Accordingly, we both opened with a 270-275 pound log clean and press. We both got it easily, but to be honest, the first two events really had taken their toll on us. Even cleaning the log up felt much heavier than it should have. He had hit a 340 log press in training and I had hit 310, so we both felt that a second attempt at 300 pounds would be a good middle range for us. I was up first.
I cleaned the log up to front rack position and it was pretty ugly. My upper back was already done for the day and it took a decent amount of energy just to get the log to the starting position. I got my leg drive and pushed the log about 1/4 of the way up before gravity showed me just how weak I really am, and pushed the log right back down.
The second place guy got it at little bit further than I did, but his back was so shot that he was unable to stabilize the weight overhead and couldn't lock it out. Since we both made and missed the same weights, we tied for first place and I remained in top position on the leaderboard.
FOURTH & FINAL EVENT: Max Effort Car Deadlift and Hold. Straps allowed.
For my weight class we would have a medium sized sedan plus 180lbs added. Thankfully, the promoter set up the implement so that the pick of the car would be high. Thus, making the true test of the event all about the physical and mental endurance under the load.
I was pretty secure in the top spot overall for the contest and would have had to of bombed pretty badly to come in second at this point, but I still wanted to give this event my best effort.
None of us had any idea what a good time for a hold under these conditions would be so we all just dove in blindly. The first guy got up and held the car+weight for about 28 seconds. This was an impressive performance in my opinion and I was just hoping that I could match his time.
I strapped in, deadlifted the car up and tried to go somewhere else in my head. As it turns out, this is challenging to do when you have a car plus 180lbs pulling down on your arms. At 20 seconds, I was still feeling pretty stable and knew that I had beaten at least one guy in my class.
For some reason I got the idea to turn to my fellow competitors (Who were waiting for their turn) and said, "Man, I wish this was heavier..." and smiled. Many of us have competed against each other in the past and we try to make it fun by messing with each other.
At about the 30-35 second mark, my biceps - all the way down my forearms and even into my thumbs were screaming at me. It felt like tendons were tearing. I held out for another ten or so seconds before I put the implement down at 44 seconds.
A few guys went after me, but none were able to beat my time so I ended up with another first place finish and had won the contest. Not a bad end to a brutal day.
This is the second John Ward promotion I have been part of and I can say they are the smoothest and best run shows that I have experienced. Judges were great and actual regular competitors and there were tons of fans out there to cheer everyone on.
This is my second show that I have won in Maryland this year and I am humbled and honored to compete with such awesome athletes. Great day...