After a long weekend of coaching I was up to lift during the very last session of the AO1 , the 77th session I believe. I was really excited to compete in this group as it was going to be one of the most competitive of the entire weekend. Going in I knew that if everyone lifted well it would be a battle for 3rd place between 5 or 6 different super heavyweights. The first 2 spots were almost guaranteed as Fernando Reis was competing with a 420kg entry total(102kg above mine) and Cameron Swart who entered with 350kg total and was in the last olympic trial (and possibly the one before I'm not entirely sure. At these bigger meets I will always look at the start list to set my goals for the meet and see where I can land if I lift well.
Going in I had expected to be able to get the 3rd spot if I hit 5 or 6 lifts, judging by my training and the group that had entered. This was my first meet competing for East Coast Gold and training under Phil Sabatini and Brenden McDaniel . I just completed a 6 week volume block followed by a two week taper so I felt pretty good . My goals for the meet was to be 5 for 6 or better and to break 320kg in my total . During the Pan Am session my podium hopes were over once Justin Westfall totalled 342kg. I would need to PR both my snatch and clean and jerk by 10kg in order to total the 343kg needed for 3rd place. I can be a little ego driven in competition so I think going into knowing my first goal was out of reach actually helped me complete a smarter meet plan than I may have with the podium as a possibility .
My wife Maggie Duer has coached me in the back of every major meet I have ever done. She is really smart and knows me as an athlete and a person better than anyone. The day before we went over my meet plan over and over and developed a really solid gameplan for Sunday. I was really happy she was here to temper my expectation I had wanted to make some bigger jumps to put myself in position to hit 156/187 to reach the podium but after a long discussion we agreed that this was NOT the best course of action for how my training was going and what I am capable of at this time. We had decided to open my snatch at 138-142kg and taking my final attempt at 150-153kg if I made my first two snatches. The clean and jerks I wanted to open 170-175kg and take my final attempt at 180-185kg if I made my first two lifts. I was looking total between 320-335 depending on how I felt on Sunday.
Sunday came and I was ready to go. I was really excited and honored to be competing on East Coast Gold and be able to represent our home club PFP Barbell as well. There were 3 ECG lifters in this session which was awesome and I was pleasantly surprised to have Jim Storch and David Flemming in the back with us to help . This took a ton of pressure of of me and Maggie was able to work with them to execute the gameplan that we had discussed earlier in the weekend.
Snatches were up first and I was excited I have been really sharp in training and knew I could put up some big numbers in the session. Warm-ups went OK...I was a little over excited and a little all over the place missing 130kg a few times in the back . However, when I got to the platform that was a different story. I went 2 for 3 hitting 140kg and 145kg , then narrowly missing 150kg . I was in a pretty good place going in and right where I needed to be to hit 2 of my 3 goals for the meet.
Clean and Jerks were up next and I was ready to finally smash through the 177kg barrier I had hit over two years ago. Warm-ups started great , Jim Storch had given me a cue about pushing up and pulling out on the bar during on the jerks that instantly improved my overhead stability . We ended up gaining an extra lifter in the back with us as Kevin Cornell was opening near us and wanted to share a platform. It was a pretty cool experience because when I started lifting he was on of my original training partners. As warm up continued I realized that I was starting to get dizzy and lightheaded after my cleans and I would need to open heavier and skip some warm up attempts. I was feeling strong but the build up from a long weekend hit me like a ton of bricks.
We decided to have me open at 174kg because of this and the first attempt went up without issue , this gave me a new total PR of 319kg . The next lift I took was 178kg this was a weight that had haunted me as up to this point I had missed 177+ in competition 9 times. Clean went up easily, then I ended up pressing out the jerk. I was super bummed but because of how I missed I knew I was good for more. After the miss , we decided to take 180kg because I needed some rest and the 2 extra kg would not affect my lift very much. I ended up coming out and smoking the clean again but before the jerk I was having trouble getting my air. I collected myself and nailed the jerk! Only my 11th try in competition I finally PR'd my fricken clean and jerk! I ran out to the hall way to cry (because thats what I do) and got a PR hi-five from Olympian and World Champ Sarah Robles which was another cool moment to cap off an awesome weekend. I finished with 145/180 for a 325kg total for a new Clean and Jerk PR and competition PR ! I finally put together a meet where I snatched and Clean and jerked well!
Overall this was the most fun I have had competing and surreal for a lot of reasons. Seeing my wife who I think the world of as a coach working side by side with two super experienced coaches in the back and executing with confidence was awesome. I am obviously happy with my performance. I name dropped a lot of weightlifters in this article on purpose . When we started this weightlifting journey finding coaching in Pittsburgh was really difficult. We relied on youtube and articles online to teach us many of the lesson we learned about the sports. I couldn't count how many hours of video we have watched of MuscleDriver USA/Cal Strength/JTS videos, listened to every weightlifting podcast we could find, just absorbed everything we could find. As a guy who found the sport at 28 years old to have the opportunity to share the platform with , be coached by, and be on the team with so many of the guys I learned from (by watching and reading their stuff) is un-freakin-real!
As I head down to North Carolina for the East Coast Gold National Training camp, I can only believe that its just going to get more unbelievable from here! I cannot wait to share my experiences with you all when I get back ! If your an athlete who wants to give weightlifting a try and you live in Pittsburgh , Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org