Well that was unexpected.. (January 18th, 2009)

Yeah, so, in the last couple of blogs I was bitching and moaning about having a bad meet at the AO. In the month and a half following, I worked on some of the various issues we saw, including focus and patience. Yesterday was the Baltimore Open, where my sole purpose was to qualify for Senior Nationals, like I should have done at the AO. I told Leo to get me there and didn't worry at all about the weight on the bar. In the end, I went from a three-for-six outing last time to a six-for-six perfect meet including my sought-after qualification and a full 6kg PR total. Not a bad turn of events!

In the training leading up to this I have felt much more consistent and in control than in the past. It was rather clear I could do more weight than I had been, since usually my training weights are quite a bit lower than in competition (not a bad position to be in, in my opinion). It took three tries, but I snatched 116kg the week before (a 1kg PR, and a 6kg training PR) and clean and jerked 146kg (also a 1kg training PR). My focus, though, was on a 259kg total, since that was the magic number. I figured that, if you counted the 112kg snatch I made before my three attempts at 116kg, then I was only 1kg off the total already. I finally felt confident opening the snatch with higher than 105kg. Leo played the snatches at the meet conservative, and had me do 108kg, 112kg, then 116kg. I didn't ask him his reasoning, but I fully agree it was smart to keep the numbers lower and play it safe, since each snatch I made put me in that much of a better position for the clean and jerks. The clean and jerks were rather conservative, too (138kg/143kg/147kg), but he put me in the perfect place to make what should have been an easy second attempt for the qualifying total. Once I made that, it was a no-brainer to go for a PR. Granted, I made some small technical errors that made those lifts tougher than they should have been; otherwise, I would have wanted to go for 150kg.

Because of the conservatism, I never had the excitement coming in of going for a lofty goal, which would have been a 120kg snatch and a 150kg c&j for a 270kg total. But when all was said and done, I came away with only my second six-for-six meet ever. The last time was actually at the same place, but I had chosen very light snatches because, at the time, I had never successfully squat snatched in a meet before - when the weight got heavy I would revert to power snatches. Not to mention the refs gave me a bit of a gift on my last jerk, which should really have been a press out. Oh, and, did I mention that my total yesterday would have gotten me 2nd place at the AO? Yeah...

Before I go, here are some notes on the issues I worked on in training. First, I widened my feet for the pull from the floor. Sounds minor, I know, but coaches had been pointing out my heels need to stay on the floor longer, and I had been noticing that, on heavy cleans, I often "cheated" by shifting my hips back and getting on my toes. This is bad. Very bad. It causes me to pull early, swing the bar out, and crash the clean on me. It's not really fun having 300+ pounds landing on your neck with force. A similar thing was happening with the snatches, though less obvious. Well, the wider stance makes it easier to keep my heels down and doesn't seem to detract from the pull itself, so I can go heavier and still keep good form. I don't remember ever cleaning that much weight that easily (did I mention that I haven't yet missed a clean at 145kg or higher? I am seven for seven!). And, my snatch at 116kg looked ridiculously easy. The change definitely worked.

The other major issue was focus-related. I have had quite a few discussions with people about what I was doing wrong with my focus and what I could do better, and I never really had good answers. I had a small epiphany while training at home last week, which was to repeat a sequence of cues that would take me through the lifting sequence while addressing my weak points. During the snatch, that was, "Heels first, ease it off the floor, then brush high." This mantra helped me drive out other distractions and keep my body focused on the things that were important. It really worked, especially on the snatches. The only thing I changed at the meet was that I added the phrase "pull the snot out of it" in homage to David Miller. Thanks, Dave!

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