On-site, a day or two before competing

One of the things that's really cool about this sport compared to wrestling is that it is much more relaxed, at least in my experience. I arrived in Arizona without incident and met Leo, Jackie Licata, and Ellyn Robinson at the airport (almost five hours later...). Everything was a joke to us (ie: "I didn't hit him, I just high-fived his face!") as we piled onto the airport shuttle to a rental car and drove to the hotel/venue. The group was more concerned about eating dinner than about preparations for the competition, but then again I'm the only one who needs to make weight.

To me this is all so much different than what I'm used to. On all of my previous wrestling trips, almost everybody was focused on making weight and, to a much lesser degree, on the competition. People might be joking around on the bus, but we're all just waiting until we can weigh-in and be done with it. I remember very clearly many nights running outside in leftover snow drifts, so tightly wrapped in sweats and other weight-loss garments that I could hardly move, trying as hard as I could to sweat off another half pound or so before bed. I remember waking up before 5am, feeling like I barely slept and feeling so cold because my body wasn't insulating itself well anymore, so I could check my weight before getting on the bus with everyone else who had just checked their weight, and people sucking on ice cubes or sipping on an eighth of a styrofoam cup of hotel coffee. And then, of course, there was the standing around and waiting: a whole bunch of wrestlers from all different teams, in a gym, small wrestling room, or hallway, most guys in line for their scales (one per two weight classes, often) wearing only their boxers, shivering, and looking a bit too much like skeletons. It always seemed like it took hours for the officials to get ready and start the weigh-in/skin-check process, which, thankfully, was pretty quick once it got going. There was a rule that you could check yourself on any of the official scales, so if you were over at first, you could try other lines until you made it (most of us were very, very close, so this happened all the time) or, of course, you could try to sweat/spit/piss/crap/amputate it out before they closed. And then, of course, an hour later was the actual competition!

I admit, your coach can help set or change this tone. There are other teams here where people are going much more crazy over this stuff, which you can see easily enough if you just hang out by the weight-check scale. But I don't think that's the best way to go, unless you have to, because your athletes are not, erm, cooperative. Fortunately I have given Leo The Faith on me. Last year at this meet he had me come down to check my weight an hour before my official weigh-in (which was at 8am, so he wanted me at 7am), against my protestations that I was fine and knew what I was doing. So when I was half a kilo light (and he was half an hour late) he finally relented, and I went to my room to have some dry granola.

Anyway, my weight is coming down and we're all relaxed. I'm making sure I'm on a schedule of going to bed at 10pm or earlier so that I can a full eight hours of sleep and still get up at 6am before my 8am weigh-in on Saturday. I lifted yesterday, with Jackie, Ellyn, and Leo all making jokes the entire time, "testing my focus" as they termed it, since all I did was snatches and clean and jerks up to 75% of my maxes. Leo won't tell me what my opening weights will be, and it's not even worth thinking about it too much. It's no good analyzing everyone else in my weight class, because, hey, they can do what they want, I'm just going to try and lift the most weight I can. In the meantime, I'm just going to relax.

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