Winding down post-meet..

First things first, I want to thank everybody who was behind me for this meet. An awful lot of my friends, family, and coworkers sent me words of encouragement and watched me as I lifted. I am very thankful you all were there, and it really does help me and make a difference. I also want to thank my coaches and teammates who set me up as best they could for success (and, of course and as always, Mike Walters, for fixing what's wrong with me). Not to mention, they're really fun to hang out and have a drink with after it's all over!

Alright. This is a really tough one for me. I'm still sorting it out in my head. Many of you probably don't know what a "good performance" would have been for me, or what my expectations were, or whether or not I should be happy with how I did. In a sense, I don't either. I will say that, when the meet was over, I was very disappointed. My expectations were admittedly very high. I watched video of myself afterwards, and I was even more unhappy - because the weight looked so easy!

I absolutely expected to get PR snatches and clean and jerks. When I missed my second snatch attempt at 112kg, I was dumbfounded. Now, I knew that my technique was a little off that day and I was on my toes, but it still should have been easy. After my first attempt at 105kg, I told Leo I was hoping to hit 120kg, and since there was a glut of lifters all attempting weights just over 105kg, we decided to do three more warmup attempts in the back: 100kg, 105kg, and 109kg. I made them all, easily. On the video, it looked like 112kg just flew over my head, but I was even more on my toes on the pull, and it swung back and caught me way out of position. Knowing there was no snatch PR in the cards that day, I tried the same weight again, and though the technique was a little better, it was still not good enough.

I guess it's obvious I was disappointed by now. My coaches were, too - at least as much as I was, it seemed, and they clearly felt that I lacked focus. Ellyn sat me down and tried to talk to me about it, but I'm not so sure, even now, that I really heard her. I tried to figure out as best I could why I made those mistakes and how to fix them for the rest of the session. For the clean and jerks, I spent almost all of my time between warmups and attempts running through the lifts in my head, imagining myself performing them with the correct technique. My warmups in the back were, again, easy, and Leo started me with 137kg, which I did with no problem, though the clean didn't feel nearly as good as my snatches had, or even as good as heavier cleans I did two weeks ago. We put 142kg on the bar (Leo was being conservative now.. I really wanted to try to hit 150kg-155kg on my third attempt), and I cleaned it alright. But, when I stood up with it, the bar rested on my carotid arteries, and when I tried to catch my breath and set up for the jerk, my body started to shake uncontrollably, my mind started to go blank, and I had to drop the bar (the coaches were already out running to catch me). I was alright, and thankfully I didn't seem to be too physically affected by it. Leo must have had some surprising faith in me, because he raised the weight to 144kg for my last attempt. The same thing almost happened on the clean, but this time when I stood up, the bar bounced and I pulled my neck out of the way. It's a good thing I've been training my jerks the way I have been recently, because for the first time in a meet I waited with a heavy weight and let myself really get set before I jerked it, and I was rewarded with a good lift that I would never have made even one month ago.

I suppose I know I should be disappointed, because I know that this total is much lower than my current abilities should have gotten me. Maybe if I were better focused on my snatch technique, I would have at least made 112kg, and would have been better mentally prepared for the clean and jerks. Surprisingly enough, even with a match of my old PRs I would have won a medal. Almost everybody did poorly! My teammate Lance was the only perfect lifter, making all attempts at 135kg/140kg/145kg and 165kg/170kg/174kg. Nobody went five for six, and my other teammate in the session, Chris McGinnis, was one of only two lifters to make four attempts. Five of us went three for six, four went two for six, and Justin Brimhall, who was virtually guaranteed second place, bombed out completely, making only his opening clean and jerk! Perhaps it is interesting to note that the 77kg ECG lifters had a 72% success rate while the rest of the class only had a 42% rate, but I won't go into that. I could blame the intensity and expectations of the meet for the missed lifts, but I know that had nothing to do with my own failures, and it doesn't really matter how the other lifters did if I failed to do what I should have done.

Now I'm in a haze of trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and what I should do differently in the future. All of my coaches feel that I was not focused (that's been the buzzword ever since) and that I was paying too much attention to the crowd. Yeah, I looked around at people and played to them a little when I went out to the platform. I did it because, first, it has been my experience that I lift better when I'm lifting in front of people (note that all my meet PRs are higher than my training PRs), and second because it has also been my experience that I lift better when I'm having fun. Even though I waved to the crowd, I still then focused on the weight, running through the attempt in my head before I actually did it. In the back, I was doing basically the same thing! I'm not trying to contradict my coaches, who always give me crap about thinking too much, but it's just not me to ignore what I think I know about myself. I've tried to talk with them about it, but we didn't get very far. What can I say - they are all more experienced than I am, and they're all of the same mind. But then that would mean that I don't understand what my own reactions have been, and I need to be able to do that before I can accept a new, contradictory explanation.

When all was said and done with the meet, and not a moment too soon, those of us from the team that were still around went out. We ate and drank at a total of three different locations, and it really was good, quality time we shared, poking fun at each other and getting all the leftover nerves and general mishmash out of our systems. I brought my borrowed Rubik's cube, which either Leo or Ellyn (I can't remember! Maybe I drank more than I thought...) suggested I could use during the meets as a tool to focus my concentration. We celebrated Leo's 57th birthday, which was the next day (today!), and I drank and ate more, combined, than I had in months. I thought I did an awesome job cutting weight this time around, so I really didn't want to step on the scale this morning ;-). I'm looking forward to coming home and seeing Christy and commiserating with her a bit. Actually, she'll be commiserating with me, and I'll be celebrating with her, because she will have just finished her second-to-last ever round of law school finals and will badly be in need of a drink. There seems to be room in every training and competition regimen for a drink now and then!

I'm on the plane home, now, long after everyone else has left. Looking forward to the future, I'm still not qualified for Senior Nationals, so it's back to making weight at 77kg again until I do. There is a meet in Baltimore on January 17th that's probably next on my schedule. I'm still not sure how we'll fix everything else. But, we can leave that to rest, and I'll sign off for now.

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