Finally, finally, finally, I got to the platform! This hand, however, is becoming a pain in the ass. An orthopedist told me many years ago after knee surgery that healing is still taking place after two years. Lord, give me patience, but hurry!
There were a few meets in which I could have competed: one in Tennessee on July 8 and a local one on July 15. Inasmuch as I could not deadlift and was having some trouble on the bench, I decided to stay home and participate in a local meet. It was a good decision. I participated in a new federation, 365 STRONG. More about that later.
My goal was to squat more on the platform than I had previously. As it turns out, there were no records in this federation in my age group and weight class. That, however, is not the reason I went there. Whatever I did would have been a record, but I had to do more than I had done previously, to satisfy myself.
Does setting a record in a federation mean I am the best in that federation in my age group and weight class? Certainly not! It only means that there are not many crazy old men like me who do this. Does it mean I beat all the people in my age group and weight class? No. I didn’t beat another single individual. What I did do is squat ten more pounds than the record I hold in another federation in a younger age group. What I did do is squat thirty pounds more than that record (but that squat was a little high). Next time it will be a little lower.
At most meets my goal is to do more than I have previously done. So far, I have succeeded in doing that. Because of the plethora of federations, weight classes, and age groups, most of us compete against ourselves (that is, what we have done previously). This is particularly true in the senior classes. Because of the lack of face-to-face, lift-to-lift competition, we must create our own plan for each meet to better what we have previously done. Moreover, we must train, plan, and have the drive and emotional fortitude to better all our previous lifts. We must survive adversity, injury, stress, and complacency to do at least 110% of what we have previously done.
Fortunately for me, I was able to do that with my squat. I did a mid-level bench press, much lower than any PR. This was in part because I haven’t been able to bench press in training, a new setup, and the inability of my feet to reach the floor without 100-pound plates under my feet. It was suggested that I do a token deadlift to qualify for this federation’s next level meet in October, after which they let me use straps for “shits and giggles”, which was a lot of fun.
Bottom line: I did what I went there to do. I squatted more than I had previously done on the platform. Completing those three squats, albeit the last one a little high, has given me the confidence that I can do much more. Stay tuned.
I am relatively new to powerlifting as a sport, though I have lifted weights for many years. As such, I am not aware of who trained with whom, who has fallen out with whom, or which federations sprang from another. I am not aware of nor do I participate in the politics of the sport. I have no agenda when I talk about the things I like and the things I don’t. Having said that, there are federations that I like and those that I do not. My man Donnie Thompson once told me that he hated them all because they didn’t care about the lifter, only about the bottom line. I have not found that to be totally the case. I have found some federations to be arrogant, self-absorbed, and indifferent. I have found others to be friendly, helpful, and efficient. The former will not get my money but the latter will.
I find 365 STRONG to be among the latter. It is a young federation, only about two years old. It was formed under the leadership of William Clary and Big Wayne Von Strand. Bill is not quite my age but has been around the sport for many more years. He competed as an elite lifter at the national level. Back in the day, he lifted and coached some of the sport’s greats. He has been there and done that and has seen federations come and go. He has used that knowledge and experience to establish a federation that is friendly, efficient, and very lifter-centric (my new word).
The other moving force in this federation is Big Wayne Von Norstrand, a mountain of a man. He is both a powerlifting and bodybuilding legend and gym owner in South Carolina. After I registered, he said, "Now that you’re here, you’re family.”
I, along with every other lifter, was made to feel that way. Each lifter was introduced to the crowd before lifting began and the crowd was encouraged to support each lifter, and they did! A very nice program was distributed with the mission and history of the federation, and included all of the athletes participating.
Does this federation solve all of the problems in the sport? Indeed not! However, from a lifter’s perspective, it’s a good place to spend our limited funds. The federation is extremely friendly. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable and efficient. They provide a very amicable atmosphere in which to compete.
As a bonus, because of my relationship with elitefts, I was recognized by the federation staff and we had a very nice conversation. It, however, did not get me any special treatment, inasmuch as everyone was treated very well. And, as usual, I met some very nice and interesting people.