Author's notes:
My intent with this article is to give you a sort of inside look at what I was thinking going into and during the meet. I am going to hold nothing back about how I feel about any topic. You will see that I am just like a lot of you. I still get nervous and am on the edge of being out of control at the meet. I surround myself with people who I know will keep my under control.

I have tossed around some thoughts on the language I would use during the diary. At this years EFS corporate meeting we discussed toning down the profanity on the Q&A. We wanted the Q&A to be seen as very professional. My problem in writing this diary is I swear a lot. It's just the way I talk. So, I have decided to write it as the thoughts and words came out. Any other way and it just wouldn't be me. I'll leave it up to Dave and Jim to edit the diary as they see fit.

Heading into the meet I am very happy with where my squat and deadlift are. My bench has been very up and down. I am still battling little bumps and tweaks all the time in the bench. I need to get 100% healthy after the meet. But, that will have to wait. I have to put on another bench shirt tomorrow and it is the weekend before the meet. I would rather not have to do it, but the shirt I planned on using isn't performing how I thought it would.

My mental state is good. I am very confident that I will get a PR total and I haven't done that in almost four years. My meet at Nationals this past November was my first meet in two years. I did it to get an idea of where I was at and just to get back up on the platform. I totaled ELITE and came away satisfied with how I did. I have been through a lot in the last three years. I left Westside Barbell to move to Florida and get married. I also opened up a private powerlifting gym and have been very busy coaching the members of the gym. It was time for me to get back to doing what I love and that is competing. The Nationals was a good start, but it was time to get back to setting PRs. This meet will be my coming out party.

People often ask what motivates me. I have a very hard time putting it into words. The biggest thing is just my love of the sport. I simply love to powerlift. The other thing is to prove those who doubt me wrong. The biggest motivator for me going into the Ironhouse meet is something that Dave Tate said to me right before I left Columbus. He said, "No one has ever left Westside and put up a PR total." Don't get me wrong, I will always cherish the time I spent at Westside. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. But, I want to be able to look at Dave on Sunday afternoon and say, "fuck you, I did it."

Many people have seen Dave and I together and they think we hate each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dave is the person I always turn to for advice when I have problems. Not only in lifting, but also in life. Dave and I know how to push each other's buttons. We are constantly running our mouths to each other. I look at Dave as almost a big brother. He will never let up on me and I'm always a pain in his ass. In the end, we want nothing but the best for each other.

Put my other shirt on today and things went great. My confidence is back through the roof. I think I can bench a 520 or so. The other guys at the gym that are doing the meet look great too. Lance Mosley is our 198 and he is going to be a big time stud. He has a good chance at going 800, low 500's, and high 600 pull. That will be a huge total at 198. Ed Rectenwald is our 242 and his training went very well. Ed has a great shot at getting his ELITE. He has been working very hard and I really hope he gets it.

I hate this down time going into the meet. I have all this aggression and no outlet for it. The workouts at this point are basically just going through the motion type of workouts. I have my dynamic squat workout tomorrow, but it will be a very easy day. Then I am off for the rest of the week.

I got zero sleep last night. I mean absolutely none. My workout was short and sweet as I wasn't mentally into it. That's okay, I need to stay calm for the next 6 days and then let all the emotion come out on meet day. Today I will rest and finalize all my plans for next weekend. I still need to get a rental car. I have all of my help lined up for the meet. My training partner, Doug Hollis, will be my handler. Jeff "Gritter" Adams and Todd Brock will also be there to help. I am a very high maintenance lifter on meet day. All I do is lift. I expect my helpers to do everything else for me. I have done this for all of them on many occasions and that is why they are so willing to help me out. "Gritter" is my calming factor. He will keep me in control and make sure my head is on straight. I'm lost without him. Todd will be my knee wrapper and help with the technical aspects of my lifts. Todd has a great eye for detail and he always makes sure my form is on. Todd and I trained together most of my time at Westside, both in the morning and night crews. I can always count on Todd to be there for me.

Doug is the reason I am still in the sport. When I left Westside I thought that my powerlifting career might be over. Then I met Doug. He was little 220-pound Junior when I met him. We hit it off right away. Doug went from a 1400-pound total to totaling ELITE in the 275s with a 1950 total in about 2 years. Doug has that fire in the belly. I can't really describe it except to say that he has "it". He brought the passion back into powerlifting for me. He inspired me to get my ass going again. Jim Wendler had a great quote about Doug. Jim said, "Something about him scares me." That is Doug. He has no backing down in him. In many ways I wouldn't be ready for this meet if it weren't for Doug.

Talked to Jim Wendler on the phone today. I actually talk to him a bunch. If Dave is my big brother, Jim is the little brother I never had. He is extremely intelligent when it comes to training. He is also one of those guys who will always crack you up. I laugh so hard sometimes I think I am going to piss myself. He is ready for the meet. I hope he gets the 2100 plus he is looking for. He has worked his ass off for it. He is also one the guys I count on to help me with my training. We just bounce ideas off of each other. Some are great and others just plain suck. But, we are always thinking.

I keep going over my opening squat in my head. I can picture how the plates will be loaded. I hear my name being called. I see myself getting under the bar and then destroying it. The opening squat is the hardest lift of the meet for me. It will set the tone for the whole meet. I need to kill that first one and then everything will be fine from there. Four more days until it's time to go. I can't wait to get on the plane and get to Ohio.

One more day closer and I feel better everyday. Taking the week off has allowed me to get healed up. If I get one more email asking me how I'm going to do, I will kill the sender. I don't make predictions. Predictions get you into nothing but trouble.

I am a very superstitious person. I grew a beard about two months ago. My wife hates it and I was going to shave it. I just happened to be putting my suit on the weekend I was going to go back to just the goatee. I squatted 800 very easily. So, I started to think about it. What if the squat was directly related to the beard? If I shaved it I might lose all of my strength. So, the beard stayed. Told you I was screwed up in the head.

My boss sent me home early from work. She said something about my having a very bad day and I just needed to go home. I wouldn't have been having a bad if there weren't so many stupid people in this world. I think I am starting to get in the right frame of mind for the meet. Talked to John Bott and Mike "Paper Mache" Stuchiner last night. They just wanted to wish me the best and see how I was feeling. It was cool of both of them to call.

While working hard at the job today I called Jim and bullshitted with him. Since I am married, I live my sex life vicariously through Jim. Let's just say that I am very disappointed in his performance lately. He needs to get his game together. I'll have to give him some of my finer pick up lines from my single days. We are going to have to find him a slump buster for after the meet.

Then, as I continued to work hard at the job, I called Dave to run my mouth. I love to run my mouth to Dave. It is particularly fun right before the meet because Dave is just pissed off all the time. I keep telling him I am going to out squat him. There isn't a real big chance it will happen, but that doesn't stop me from telling him it will. God help him if I do out squat him. There is nowhere far enough away he can run to avoid me. I will make his life hell. But, that is what friends are for.

I still haven't gotten the rental car yet. I sit on hold for about 10 minutes and just get more and more pissed off. How in the hell do these companies stay in business? Like I have nothing better to do than listen to the Bee Gees while I'm on hold.

Planned on doing nothing today but shuffling a stack of paper all day at work. Why is it the idiots come out the last few days before a meet? If you are going to call, the least you could do is leave a number to call you back at. Do people think I am a mind reader? The wife yelled at me today and told me I was being an asshole. Guess I have some ass kissing to do when I get back. Actually, I think I have a lot of ass kissing to do. I'll be in the doghouse for a month.

Finally got the rental car squared away today. After 10 more minutes of Bee Gees hold music. Who ever invented disco should be shot. Just finished up packing. I checked my meet bag about ten times to make sure I had everything. For my clothes bag I just grabbed some shit and threw it in a suitcase. I'll pick up what ever I forgot when I get to Columbus. How's that for priorities?

My weight is right about where I want it to be. I should be able to make weight without too much of a struggle. I just can't wait to get up there tomorrow. We leave at 8:35 am and get into Columbus at 2:00 pm. I figure we'll be at the meet hotel by 3:30 pm or so. Jim should be rolling in around the same time. We are going to try and get together and get dinner. He should be in rare form, so I'm sure I'll laugh my ass off.

(Author's notes: from this point forward I am writing off of notes that I took during the trip.)

The alarm went off at 5:00 am and I shot out of bed. I usually hit the snooze button three or four times, but not today. I was ready to go. Ed Rectenwald, Doug Hollis, and myself are all flying up together. Ed met us at my house for the trip to the airport. We had to go pick Doug up as he lives just down the street from me. We get to Doug's and he lives in a gated community. He tells me the password to enter to open the gate. The only problem is there are no letters on the keypad to correspond to the numbers. I'm trying to look at my phone when he remembers the numerical pass code. It would have taken me all day to figure out the word.

We left from West Palm Beach and headed for our connecting flight in Atlanta. Doug and I sat next to each other on the flights. We worked out this system where one of us leans forward while the other leans back so we could fit in the seats. It must have been pretty comical to watch us do this shuffle for two hours.

We made it to Columbus in one piece and headed off for the hotel in Newark. The hotel was first class. My first order of business was to get on the meet scale and compare it to the scale we had in our room. I was 1.5 lbs over the 275.5 limit. Not too big of a deal. I just needed to dehydrate myself a bit that night and I should be fine. We met up with Lance Mosley, our other Southside Barbell teammate, to go eat some dinner. I ordered a salad and some chicken. Just about that time Jim Wendler comes in with his training partner Kevin Deweese. Jim and I gave each other a big manly hug. Although I do think Jim was trying to grab my ass. You can't blame him for trying.

I had never met Kevin before. He was a really nice guy and his lifting progress has been incredible. We all headed up stairs to Jim and Kevin's room to hang out and shoot the shit. Another of Jim's buddies, Matt Rhodes, came in from Springfield, MA for the meet. Earlier in the week I had learned that Matt and I went to the same high school. It turned out that he was in seventh grade when I was a senior. In my yearbook there were some pictures of Matt. The guys got a huge laugh out of seeing Matt at 15 years old. Sorry Matt, I couldn't resist.

It was getting late and I had to head back to the room to get some sleep. I was pissing like crazy and having some cramping problems. That made getting any sleep pretty hard. But, I figured I could get some rest the next day and be fine. Doug was snoring so loud, I'm not sure I could have slept anyway.

Got up at 7:00am and checked my weight. I was now two pounds over weight. This couldn't be happening. I had pissed my brains out all night and gained weight. I had an hour until weigh ins and just kept trying to think about pissing and shitting. I checked my weight again and now I was 2 pounds under. Ed tells me that I should have checked my weight twice. I am all freaked out and have to beg the janitor to open up the weigh in room so I can check my weight. I am at 272. I immediately run down to my room and eat about eight chocolate covered doughnuts in sixty seconds. I am not exaggerating either. I finished the whole box in about four bites. I then drank a bunch of water. I went back at 8:00 am and weighed in at 274.

Jim, Kevin, and myself head down stairs for breakfast. We are eating away when Jim's groupie Paula comes in. She starts telling us how she has this friend named Joleen who thinks Jim is hot. So, I ask to see a picture and she has one. The girl is hot and I start working Paula to hook Jim up. This went on for a while until Paula called Joleen. It was pretty fun to see Jim and I in action.

Now, the only problem I have with this whole thing is how does Jim get the groupies? Everyone knows I am the best looking guy on the staff. If anyone should have groupies it is me. Sometimes the world makes no sense.

We headed over to watch the AM session of lifting and help out Amy Weisberger. I got to see a whole bunch of old friends from Westside. Louie Simmons is there smiling and I know he wants the money I owe him from the OSU vs. Miami game. I paid the old bastard his money while he just laughed at me

Gritter gets there later in the day and he also wants to collect the money I owe him from the game. Not only that be he has an OSU National Champs t-shirt I am supposed to wear. I put the t-shirt on and listened to shit all day about it.

Lance Mosley was lifting in the afternoon and he had a great day. He went 750, 500, 665 for a total of 1915. He waged a great contest with Mike Hill and Dan Blankenship. Mike went 1910 and Dan won with a 1925 total. They are all great competitors and I think they had a great time going at each other.

It was now time for me to head up to my room and relax a bit. I had a big day ahead of me and needed to get some sleep.

Got up at 7:00 am and felt good. Went with Jim and Kevin to eat some breakfast. We were still joking around, but you could sense the excitement among us. I went over and found out that I would be in the second flight. So, I headed up stairs to get my stuff together and then head down to the warm up room.

There is always that tension in the air in the warm up room. I love it. You can just breathe in the intensity. My warm ups for the squat didn't feel good at all. I thought 725 was going to cut me in half. Nothing I could do about it now. It was time to head out to the pit and find a seat.

The opening squat is the hardest lift of the meet. My heart is pumping about 200 beats per minute and I just want to get it over with. I opened at 800 and it went up. I got three white lights, but the lift was nowhere near as explosive as it should have been. My canvas suit was really changing my form. I was going down very slow and really struggling to get my depth. I looked around and asked the guys what they thought. Everyone said 850, so 850 it would be.

My heart had calmed down and now I could start to have some fun. As my name got closer and closer I could feel the switch about to be flicked on. I took the 850 out and started to descend. The canvas suit was really shifting my hips forward. Lance called me up, but my body stayed down. A miss. I called for a repeat.

On my third I took the weight out a bit better and kept my arch this time. The suit was still pushing me forward. I beat Lance's up call, but got two white lights. It was good lift on the light board, but I think I was high. I usually get pretty excited when I get a PR squat. There wasn't any excitement in me this time. I just wasn't happy with my performance of the lift. Oh well. Time to head back into the warm up room and get ready to bench. I watched Dave squat and he hit a very nice 860. Jim hit a huge 925 and it was a perfect squat.

My bench warm-ups actually felt great. I should have known that I was in trouble right then. Usually, my bench warm-ups feel like shit. We got my stuff on and headed back out to the pit area.

My opener would be 490. I took the bar out and it was struggle to get it down. It finally touched and I pushed with everything I had. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough as I couldn't lock it out. I decided to change my foot position for my second attempt. I brought the bar down and I gave it everything I had. Once again I couldn't lock it out. I knew I wasn't going to come back and make the bench on my third. So, I scratched my last attempt. I talked to the meet director, Mike Maxwell, and asked him if he would still let me deadlift. I think he felt bad for me and said that would be fine.

While the benches were still going on I headed out into the audience and sat next to Traci Tate. She asked me if I was pissed off. I told her that three or four years ago I would be breaking stuff right about now. But, the reason I bombed is I didn't listen to other people. I had no one to blame but myself and my stupidity. It was a good dose of humble pie and I was eating it big time.

The reason I wanted to deadlift was to see how my training had gone. I thought it had gone well and I wanted to see if I was right. My PR deadlift at 275 is 675. I knew my all time PR of 700 was probably out of the question. The deadlift is about emotion for me and after my bomb out I had no emotion. I opened at 620 and it went up very easily. I went right to 680 for my second. It wasn't the easiest deadlift that I have ever pulled, but it went up just the same. I was about as unemotional as one could get. This reinforced that my deadlift training had in fact gone very well.

Ed had a great day. I didn't get to see much of his lifting. He went 725, 570, and 625 for a total of 1920. He became Southside Barbell's forth ELITE. I am so proud of Ed and how hard he has worked. My only regret was that I was lifting at the same time and couldn't enjoy it with him.

Jim finished up with his first 2100 total and I was very happy for him. Dave didn't quite have the day he wanted, but he has things headed back in the right direction. After the meet I sat in the warm up room with Jim, Kevin, Ed, Doug, Lance, and Amy for a couple of hours. We drank some Budweiser's and talked lifting. Most of the conversation was about what I need to do to get back benching good.

The first thing I need to do is listen to others and let myself be coached. I can be a very hardheaded son of a bitch. My technique is all screwed up from trying to train around injuries instead of fixing them. My technique is so bad that we need to start from the beginning and teach me how to bench again. Jim and Kevin needed to hit the road and get back to Kentucky.

Ed, Doug, Lance, and myself needed to get cleaned up and then head out for some food. Dinner basically turned into an intervention. The guys told me that I needed to start to listen to them or I would be stuck in the same rut forever. I had helped coach these three guys to their ELITEs and they leaned on me for help. Now, it is time for me to lean on them. They are going to be the ones to get me where I want to go. It's time for me to swallow my pride and admit that I need their help.

4/16 After thoughts:

My squat training went very well. I know my squat is there, but I need to change equipment. I will be going back to a poly squat suit. Once Dave gets the Metal equipment in I will be trying that out. The canvas suit just completely changes how I squat. I used to go down very fast and I can't do that with the canvas. The canvas is also forcing my hips forward which is causing huge depth problems

My deadlift training went well too. I can't wait until November, so I can see what I can really pull. I pull the best when I have something on the line. So, I think my training for the front and back ends of the meet is fine. It's the middle part that I need to fix.

In addition to the intervention with the guys from Southside, I have had heart to hearts with Jim, Dave, and Paul Childress. Ed, Doug, and Lance are now in charge of my bench training. What they say goes. They will be the ones to fix my technique. They will also lay out the workouts with input coming from Jim and Dave. It's time for the teacher to become the student again.

Now it is time for me to focus on Nationals in November. I have a lot to prove to myself still and look forward to the challenge. I am going to lean on some people much more than I have in the past. I am counting on them like never before. I know I can count on them to come through for me.