I rolled out of be thinking to myself, “I’ve got plenty of time.” But when I got to the ticket counter at 8:05 a.m. for an 8:25 a.m. flight, it turned out I didn’t. I forgot my belt, had to dump everything liquid I had (bye-bye Equiblock), and then swiftly walked through the airport to luckily be the last one they let on the plane. I would have made it on time, too, if it weren’t for the flat tire and traffic jam I had to deal with on the way to the airport. It wasn’t a great start to the weekend.

I made it through the flight and arrived at my destination. After getting picked up at the West Palm airport by my good friend Jeremy Herring, we headed to the meet. We strolled in past many eastern-European lifters, smoking between their attempts. Apparently smoking is still cool over there because, man, did a lot of them smoke.

I walked in and was amazed by the setup. I have been to a lot of meets but this was head and shoulders above the rest — by far the best-equipped meet I’ve ever seen. Great bars, great bench, great plates, and great monolifts. It really was a thing of beauty. I want to thank Metal, elitefts.com and Matt Goodwin for spending a whole week and a half in Florida so that the lifters could have such a great meet experience.

I weighed in at 298 pounds that day and was off to eat my way into a meet-day bloat.

Friday I competed in bench-only. My opening attempt was 423 pounds. This weight is legitimately embarrassing for me. I don’t mean to tear down anyone’s accomplishments, but I was repping 500 pounds for three reps in college. To be opening at 423 pounds fifteen years later is a bit embarrassing.

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I haven’t been able to lock out weights since my bicep surgery and, although I know how to fix this, I have been so wrapped up in life that I haven’t been able to implement my plan. I knew that I wasn’t going to bench 500 pounds at this meet, but if I could somehow manage a tiny PR from what I did at Nationals, it would be a moral victory. As life would have it I have, since Nationals, moved my business, moved my house, found out I have a baby on the way, and dealt with legal issues. I always got the workouts in, but to say that I trained my bench for this meet would be a lie. I didn’t want to pull out of the meet, because it’s Worlds and I committed. No matter what, if I commit to something, I will see it through.

I got my opener easily and then went to 479 pounds. This would have been a six-pound PR over Nationals. I missed it on my second attempt and then again on my third. I can’t say that I’m surprised that I left with only my opener, but I am disappointed. I’m angrier that I let life get in the way of me making progress in the bench press than I am that I missed two attempts. I could have handled some things in my life better and I’m working to make that happen. One thing for sure is that when I do Nationals in June, I will open at 500 pounds and nothing less. I refuse to let life get in the way of me being as strong as I know I can be. My good friend, Jeremy Herring, won the bench-only World Championship, but I will beat him next year. I guarantee that.

Saturday I competed again, this time in the deadlift-only division. This was the day I was really looking forward. I had a good training cycle of deadlifting and everything had gone according to the plan except for four weeks of almost no training before the meet. I have a two-year plan with my deadlift. I did 705 at Nationals and wanted to do 725 at Worlds. My goals is to move up slowly every six months or so. At Nationals next year I will pull 750 pounds. This plan will put me over my 804-pound all-time PR in two years. This will give my body plenty of time to adapt and stay healthy.

I got great help from Dave Kirschen and Bob Youngs during the deadlift-only meet. I want to give a special thanks to everyone from Power Sports Academy who helped me during the meet, especially Johnny Clayton who gave up his day to handle me. I definitely have to thank Alycia Israel for taking one for the team and putting my deadlift socks on for me. As Matt Rhodes says, “I only have so many bends left in my back. Why waste one on socks?"

I told Bob before the meet started that he had to keep me on a plan, no matter what attempt anyone else did. I wanted to go 310 kilograms, 322.5 kilograms, and 330 kilograms (or 727.5 pounds). I wasn’t there to win or compete against anyone; I was there to work my plan and pull 727.5 pounds. I got great advice a long time ago from Todd Brock, who said, “you aren’t competing against anyone in a powerlifting meet except the weights.” I knew that if I could win and it took a 735-pound pull, then I would jump up and not stick to my plan. That’s what the heat of competition does to me. So, Bob was to be the only one to put in my attempts, and not let me talk him into changing things. I used Bob for this because Bob is one of the only guys I know who will actually make me do something I don’t want to do.

As luck would have it, I pulled my 727.5 and no one got a higher deadlift. This made me the 2014 WPC Deadlift-Only World Champion. It was a pretty exciting finish: two other guys went to 727.5 on their second attempts and both missed them on their second and third attempts. I was in shock that I won and really enjoyed competing against guys from all over the world. It is easy to compete in your hometown, but these guys traveled halfway around the world to compete in this meet. I was honored to be on the platform with so many great competitors.

This was a bittersweet win for me. It is a long way from my all-time PR. Winning a world championship and not setting an all-time PR doesn’t make me as happy as it should. I would have liked to have competed in the full meet and win there, but my knee is so bad that I don’t know if I will ever get to do a full meet again.

I didn’t train for this meet like I normally do. I only got in three sessions a week, my diet was crap, and I barely slept. I almost feel guilty for winning without doing what I normally do to prepare for a meet. It’s funny how it would have meant so much more if I had trained super hard for the meet and then won. It’s nice to get the title, but it’s the journey to the title where we truly win in powerlifting.