Thank you both!
Write-up: I signed-up for this meet one week out from the event date although it had been on my radar for awhile. A couple of sessions were needed to get reacquainted with the straight bar for squats vs my curved Yukon bar, which I had switched to earlier this year due to elbow pain. I did my first and last actual squat session with the straight bar the previous Sunday and it felt a little awkward and uncomfortable on my shoulders getting it into position, but tolerable. Took a little time during the week to practice positioning the empty bar on my back again and it felt better at that point.
I’d also been gradually going down in weight, although I wasn’t super far into the process (roughly 13 lbs lost over a few months). A few weeks ago, I’d started taking creatine which made my weight shoot up again from the water retention. My natural bodyweight ended up being perfect for the 220 weight class at 218.3. After the water cut I did last year, I felt way less pressure this time around.
Ended up being one of the first lifters to arrive at 7:10 AM because I was doing a late Saturday morning weigh-in. Energy-wise, I was dragging despite getting 6 hours of sleep, which is more than usual for me before a meet. I had several canned black coffee drinks but knew to space those out and make use of them wisely. People seemed to arrive pretty late and the rules briefing came over an hour after it was supposed to. Almost everyone was already warming-up by then, which I thought was bonkers as I chilled out sleepily in my seat, eating and feeling like I wanted a nap. There was even a coach competing with his client next to me going through a strenuous yoga session. The instructor showed him one position that was like a lunge and told him something about expecting it to hurt. Just insanity, but I bet a lot of people thought the same about me with my buffet line that I was chowing down on. The organizer came to call everyone out to the rules briefing area and noted, “Guys, the women are up first. You might not want to be warming-up so soon.”
I watched some of the women go but ended up missing a lot of the show because I got too hot inside the space and spent my time outside instead, watching what I could. It soon dawned on me that the gym had no running water for competitors, but luckily there was a Safeway across the street. That’s something I’d never run into before and a lesson to not assume there will be an accessible bathroom beyond just porta potties. By the time my flight was around the corner I did a basic warm-up for my knee health via some mountain climbers and light banded leg extensions before working up to squatting 315.
Opened with 450 in the squat and it flew up. Getting into position was a little uncomfortable on my shoulders because I’d only had a week to get used to the straight bar again but it wasn’t terrible. I followed that with 480, which was surprisingly a slow grind. Felt my hips hurt a little as I sunk in super deep. That was unexpected. Changed my plans of going for a PR in the squat and chose an extremely safe 500 based on how much my hips had hurt, figuring that I always have that on a bad day. 500 ended up feeling far lighter than 480 and I had none of the mechanical awkwardness or hip pain of the last lift.
There was a break at this point which I used to walk across the street for a water refill and to use the Starbucks bathroom. I wanted to walk to make my back feel good for deadlifting. I injured it last year during a meet which affected my deadlift performance and was trying to do everything I could to keep it feeling good here. I was surprised I didn’t see anyone else hit either of these spots up considering there wasn’t any running water at the event gym and ended up sharing my purchased gallon with someone in need.
Next, 315 on the bench felt like air and 330 felt fine except my back hurt a little from bridging too much, although my butt didn’t actually leave contact with the bench. I’ve underestimated the pause element in meets before and have never completed a full set of bench attempts so I went with a calculated 353 for my final and focused on pushing my body into the bench to prevent back pain cropping up again, which thankfully had dissipated by now. That weight was hard with the pause, but like I said, I was expecting that this time. I got it up with a fight.
My back was feeling healthy by the time deadlifts came around. I’m surprised at how nobody rolls the bar along the floor to get a little momentum going before breaking it off the ground. A ton of people (I would say most who I watched) yanked the bar up without getting rid of the bar slack, too, and the jerkiness looks like it threw their form out of position a bit. They’d explode up, clang the bar, and then just lose a ton of momentum.
Sumo deadlifts were allowed and were what most people went with. I was considering opting for that if my back was hurting, but since it wasn’t I made a decision to lift conventional. I opened with 515 and seconded with 530. Really safe attempts. No pain so far. Things had gone so well all day that now was the time to gamble and take a leap so I penciled in 600, which I hadn’t hit in 2 years. It also went up without much of a problem. My right arm got a little messed up though, starting from the wrist up through the forearm and bicep, which was definitely from not letting my arm hang straight enough. Nothing serious but I’m not sure I would have been able to continue if there were any other lifts after this; it hurt badly enough for me to think about preventing a bicep tear. Well, there WAS a strict curl for singles competition after deadlifts, which I didn’t sign-up for out of disinterest and which I definitely could not have done at that point even though I rep some of the higher weights that were getting curled (around 150) for 20 reps on my keg. The bicep felt better the next day and now only hurts a little bit if I twist my forearm.
Deadlifting in a gym on a flat surface feels SO much easier than doing it with my outdoor set-up, which is just awesome for training. Also worth mentioning is that I had no grip issue holding onto the bar despite mostly training with straps. I wasn’t even conscious of my grip on the bar during the lift. The bicep strain is a lesson to get more practice in with a mixed grip before meets, though.
The event concluded with me taking 1st in the 220 class and getting a second award for “Best Lifter” with a 1453 total. I more or less matched my first powerlifting meet in 2016 and did much better than last year. Soon found out that 2nd place wasn’t even close to me and that lifter, who was being handled by the aforementioned coach doing the stretching routine, came up to me after the awards and flatly stated, “You’re the one who beat me.” I laughed and told him he put up a great effort. It was awkward because he came up to say that and then just stared, but I picked up that he was trying to be friendly and that’s just how he communicates. He said he and his coach will be at a local strongman show in April and that I’d kill in it, so that’s something to look into (it’s actually the same event that I tore my bicep at in 2017, Beasts of the Bay).
My experience went a long way: reintroducing the mouth piece, bringing chairs and the right food, treating myself to a new duffel bag, knowing when to warm-up and how much, rolling the deadlift bar, and not forgetting to go to the table and pick the next attempt. I also need to share that hummus is magic food for meet nutrition or if you just don’t like to eat breakfast. It’s super easy to get down but filling at the same time. Getting a hotel through the weekend was also a good move so I could relax afterwards. I ended up going out to an incredible sushi dinner with my plus one who came with me to the meet and another friend we met-up with, then going back to his house for more sake drinks. We marathoned Running Man and Total Recall, which I count as training.
Since this was more of a “return to form” deal, I’m looking forward to going for PRs again at future meets.