A Conversation with Me About Competing at 77

TAGS: heart ultrasound, 365Strong, IPA Worlds, water cut, water retention, briefs, squat depth, squat suit, meet report, Jeff Guller, bench shirt, weight gain, powerlifting

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Conversation overheard between ME and me:

ME:  I did it again. I didn’t mean to do it again. I was the victim of circumstances.

Me:  What the hell are you talking about, old man? You are rambling and mumbling, and no one knows what the hell you are on about.

ME:  I participated in two powerlifting meets in five weeks again. The IPA Worlds in Gatlinburg, TN, on September 22, and the 365Strong Nationals in Spartanburg, SC, on October 27.

Me:  Are you freaking crazy? What’s wrong with you? Do you have a death wish? Now I know I’m going to have to get you a guardian. You can’t run around the South picking up heavy stuff that frequently at 77 years old.

ME:  Well, the circumstances were such that I had no choice. IPA Worlds in Gatlinburg will never be closer, and I really wanted to go. 365Strong is a good federation, and its nationals were less than 100 miles away. How could I not go?

Me:  I still think you are crazy. How did you do?

WR DEADLIFT

As it turned out, I did quite well as I shall discuss. However, it was not without a cloud overhead and some terrible preparation. As has been said, a terrible dress rehearsal ensures a good performance. I had two terrible dress rehearsals, but the results were very good. I was very excited to go to the IPA Worlds. I had participated in the federation previously and enjoyed it very much. For some reason, the IPA has disappeared from NC. The closest IPA events were in TN, often in cities I deemed too far away. When it was announced that the Worlds would be in Gatlinburg, TN, less than two hours away, I was determined to go. I didn’t know when this meet would be this close again. I participated in a qualifier meet in April and qualified to go. Weigh-ins went well, and I found that my dear friends from Nebo Barbell were there as well. I may say this more than once in this article; there is not a nicer, more selfless, sincere, and supportive group of young men and women than Joey Smith and the Nebo team. As an added bonus, Louie Simmons was there with an exceptional group of lifters.

The cloud was that just before the meet, I began to retain water—so much so that I had great difficulty with getting in my squat suit and bench shirt. It kept getting worse such that I began to consult with my doctors. My urologist had no idea. My primary care doctor had no idea, either, but undertook a series of tests. Testing had just begun when the meet took place. My preparation for the meet was so bad that I could not reach depth in my squat suit. I thought I might do one of my squats raw just to stay in the meet. In discussing this with coaches whose opinions I respect, I decided to do my opener in just briefs, then put on the suit for my other attempts. The first was difficult and took a lot out of me. I didn’t hear Joey Smith call me to come up until he hollered the third time. I did not reach depth on my second attempt with the suit on, but I did on the third. A platform PR and an IPA WR. As an added bonus, Louie came over and introduced himself, and we had a very nice chat.

I had been having a terrible time with my bench shirt. It had not helped my raw lift very much. The only good thing about the water retention is that the swelling made my shirt fit extremely tight. As it turned out, it helped my bench. I got my opener but missed my second attempt. I got it on my third, another IPA WR. So far four for six.

Often during meets, particularly when accompanied by friends or family, I sat in the audience with them and was a spectator. I enjoyed the meets, had my favorite lifters, and studied technique. At this meet, I sat in the back, minded my own business, and visualized what I should do. I did not retreat into a shell and become an asshole but rather kept my own counsel and found it to be very helpful. I felt I was ready when my time came. Again, thanks to the Nebo team for all of their help and encouragement.

In warming up for the deadlift, I did something that turned out to be really stupid. I attached my EliteFTS blue band around my waist and to a weight stand on wheels. When I squatted, the stand moved, and I fell on my right side and had my keys in my right pocket. DAMNIT! By the time I deadlifted, I had a knot on my upper thigh the size of a grapefruit. Now, six weeks later, it is still a golf ball. It has hurt from then until now. I was pissed and tired but still had three attempts to make. I made all three, which was another IPA WR.


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Now, I had five weeks until 365Strong Nationals. I needed to find out why I was retaining water and get it fixed. The medical profession, however, doesn’t move that fast. First blood tests, then more blood tests. Then an ultrasound of the heart and the liver. Then, schedule a sleep test. Then, wait. My leg hurt so bad after the meet that I could hardly train. I couldn’t get into the suit and was fed up with the shirt. Preparation for the 365Strong Nationals was terrible. I got my opener with just briefs, and my openers in bench and deadlift I got raw. I couldn’t eat very much because the water retention was causing me to gain weight. I tried a small water cut and some time in the sauna. Not too much help, but it kept me in my weight class. On the Thursday before the meet, the doctor’s office called and said he wanted to review the heart ultrasound with me. I said I’d be happy to come in any time that day. She said they had no openings until Monday. It has been my experience that when everything is OK, they tell you. If there is a problem, they say the doctor wants to discuss the test results. What to do? Should I go to the meet with a potential heart issue or wait and find out? I went to the doctor’s office and told the young lady that she had put me in a predicament. That I had a powerlifting meet that weekend and didn’t know what to do. She got me in to see the doctor right away. He walked into the examination room and said, “Your heart is perfect.” “It does everything it’s supposed to do in the right order with perfect timing.” The kidney tests were negative for all of the things for which they tested. That my liver was not perfect but OK and that we would do more tests. The sleep study would hopefully reveal if it was sleep apnea, which we could deal with. So, more tests and more waiting, but now without the worry.

At the meet, I decided to squat in the suit even though I had not practiced with it. Because 365Strong uses kilos rather than pounds, all of my lifts were a little more than at the IPA. I got my opening squat but missed depth on my second one. A nice young man agreed to call my depth for the third, and we got it, a 365Strong WR. Because of a mix-up, the help I was supposed to have didn’t come. I got some help from others with my suit and shirt. I had to wrap my own knees and did not do a very good job at it. One wrap came loose during my opener. I got my first two bench attempts and missed the third, another WR. I was really beat with three deadlift attempts staring me in the face. The first one came up so fast and easily that I was rejuvenated. I made all three and felt I could have gotten more. Another 365Strong WR.

My pursuit of these records means very little to anyone except for me. Actually, it is not a pursuit of records but a drive and desire to be better than I was. When I entered these very senior divisions, there was no bar, no standard, no records. Whatever I did was a record. My goal is to do better than I did last time. I compete against myself each time I take the platform. Therefore, I have to do better than the last time to be satisfied. As I exit each age group, I want to have set a bar, a standard that the next crazy little old man will find to be a substantial challenge.

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