Monday Bacon: Openers

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on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro – Pavilion 2 on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lydia Valentin Perez.

The Monday before a weightlifting meet is always my favorite day (assuming I lift on Saturday which I’m lucky enough to do this week.)  Openers. I get to don my Singlet (NOT my favorite but at least I get a feel of how my body has changed since the last go around and make any t-shirt adjustments if necessary. Then I strut around like I’m a 75 and ignore that I’m SO not) for my last toughish training session.

For me, the day is special. The work is done. No more tweaking or fixing or worrying that I’m not getting what I’m not getting. Done. Openers are a “do work” day. I get a feel of the warm-ups. I turn the music on loud and practice avoiding distractions. I face the other way on the platform for my lifts to avoid being too comfortable. And I quiet myself. The bar and the movement. That’s openers.

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I once watched video of Ingrid Marcum snatch 85kg at the Arnold and said to myself, ” self, let’s snatch 85kg someday.” I’m not even close. But I haven’t given up on the goal yet!

I have come a long way in my lifts this year with the help of Mike Westerling; the content at Catalyst Athletics and hard work. Matt and I have spent hours discussing mechanics that enable me to position myself better. I’ve learned to get under a snatch better but I’m a long way off from proficiency. That’s good. I’ve got time. I can keep practicing and keep getting better.

I’ve learned to stay on my feet longer. See, when I started the lifts they were all Power. This meant that I was only focused on that jump. The problem with that; obviously; is that at some point I’m going to have to get under the bar. And now I’m nearly 50 and a bit concerned about what getting under a PR bar is going to potentially do to my hips and knees. So for the cleans, I’m still power cleaning. But it’s coming and just a little tweak such as telling myself to stay on my feet longer has given me far more power going into the 2nd pull. It’s strong and it’s solid and it’s fun.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Sarah Elizabeth Robles of the United States reacts during the Weightlifting – Women’s +75kg Group A on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro – Pavilion 2 on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

I guess that’s the point of it all. Having fun. We’ve done everything possible to this day and did what I thought was best leading to this week. It’s time to shut it down and have fun. Matt and I have already talked about the pounds of Schnitzel we’ll eat and gallons of Bier we’ll drink and I promise you all that I’m comin’ home heavy! Don’t care.

The greatest thing about openers is that I can set my range and go from there. For the Snatch, it’ll be 65kg-68kg and for the Clean and Jerk it will be 85kg-88kg. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and proceed accordingly. While nothing is set in stone, I approach openers with far more relaxation than I do with a third attempt WOB. Heh.

Openers Monday’s gives me a feel of what I should declare as my openers at the meets. In general, I usually go a bit conservative and declare done deals at weigh-ins. I’m sure this meet will be no different. I’ve got Matt and his Rainman skills in the warm-up area so if things are feeling better I may bump up my opener a kilo or two and he’ll keep me moving accordingly. But probably not. I dunno. I’m far better off down the road with an EZPZ opener. In general, I don’t play the numbers games that so many weightlifters do. I have the numbers I want to hit (that set me up for a good outcome if I hit them) and I usually stick to them. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.

It’s all good.

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Tatiana Kashirina has a 193kg Clean and Jerk. I mean, FUCK, seriously. I’m hoping for a 93kg Clean and Jerk Saturday. “Hoping.”

I’m “healthy” (so subjective;) happy, and get to hang with the hubs and the German throwing crew all weekend. How bad can life be? (Actually, to be honest, I’m a bit anxious about flying through Turkey. It’s probably the old lady in me and the fact that I’ll be alone and that if there is trouble it is all out of my control. But anxious, a little, non-the-less.) SO, if you have a little bit of extra happy energy to send Thursday morning when I’ll be landing in Istanbul, I’ll take it.

But we won’t worry about such things tomorrow. Tomorrow is openers. And it’s a fun day. And then I get to worry about such things as Prizes to bring the Germans and over pack. Ya know, the important shit.

I’m definitely not at my best. Honestly, I’m under 50 percent. But I’ve won stuff under 50 percent before. 

Serena Williams

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Friday Jams: Constantinople

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The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

I get to go to Constantinople next week. Well, kind of.

I will be the first to admit that this silly girl has always wanted to go to Constantinople since I heard They Might Be Giants sing about it in the 90’s. It seemed so exotic. Of course back then we didn’t have the Google to pull up a beautiful picture of the Blue Mosque so I had to just ask around the office if anyone has been to Constantinople and I got a lecture from my boss on how it’s now called Istanbul and I’m all, ‘ya Mike, I know. It’s in the fucking song.’  I mean, geez! I’m not a total idiot.

But I was around 21 so chances are I was a total idiot. It’s quite possible that there is no amount of money on the planet that could be offered to me to repeat my 20’s. Barf. I’ve already told my 20’something twins to just keep stepping, it gets better. Anyways.

Next weeks flights to Masters Worlds in BFE Germany is a classic coordination of the Bigg and Jules household. A work meeting was scheduled for Matt that meant he couldn’t leave ‘Merika until Thursday night. I need to get to town earlier to have time to shake off the travel cobwebs and acclimate a little. So I fly out on Wednesday andI get to fly to Germany by myself.

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First, I go to Chicago where Sue and Ruth take care to make sure I get to the airport (if you throw Highland Games, all you need to say is, “Sue and Ruth” and everyone knows who you’re talking about. They’re cool like that.) THEN, my hubs has already made sure that I’ll have phone service for my layover in Turkey just in case there’s trouble. Like, I can’t make it out of the airport gift shops on time or there’s another terrorist attack. Either way, Sprint says I’m ready to handle it. Now, I’m pretty skeptical that I’ll actually have phone service because Sprint sucks but we’ll see. So I’m just going to text everyone in my phone directory when I get there and hope one person texts me back to prove that I actually DO have phone service. Wish me, and Sprint, luck. OH! If you get a text from me, answer me Goddsakes, I’m alone in Constantinople.

So my grand trip to Constantinople consists of a two hour layover. Something like that. One of the problems of traveling with Matt is that I don’t even look at the tickets. He takes care of it all. The only thing we do is go into high negotiations on how early we need to arrive at the airport. He’ll start off around 3 hours early and I jump in with 30 minutes early. From there, we get down to about an hour early if we’re flying out of Milwaukee. Other than that, I just follow along. Me having to maneuver myself around passport control in foreign lands while trying not to look total tourist is a crapshoot at best. Especially, I imagine, in Constantinople.

From there, I fly to Stuttgart where the next group of throwers hold my hand to ensure that all’s well for the old lady traveling alone. In all honesty, I am so thankful to Petra and Uli for their care. Petra says, ‘you get a hotel for Friday when Matt comes in and Saturday after the meet and other nights you stay with us’ and takes care to make sure I can train a bit Friday morning and I’m a bit overwhelmed. We are surrounded by so many good and giving people. So not only did I never envision that I would be traveling to Constantinople, I especially never imagined I would have such wonderful friends helping me each step of the way.

Matt gets in Friday and we’ll head up the road a bit towards the venue village. We’ll be close enough that we can run over there on Saturday morning to make sure the schedule hasn’t changed and get a lay of the land and head back to chill and nap before my session.

It will be awesome. No matter what, it will be awesome.

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) They Might Be Giants

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.

Alphonse De Lamartine

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HWD (Part 1)

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I found this on the GLSAA site. If you know who drew it, please let me know. I’d like to give credit. Isn’t it awesome?

I talked to a woman a few weeks ago who, along with her husband, is interested in getting involved in Highland Games. In fact, her husband competed for his first time here in Waukesha over Labor Day weekend. Awesome. My first question was, how far did he throw the HWD? Why? Because, in my opinion, how someone handles that heavy weight gives me a solid impression on how things went on the field that day.

Stay with me here.

Matt and I had a conversation a week or two ago on which Highland Games event best showcased an athlete’s strength; athleticism, and explosive power. Now, the stones show some of this but handling a 22# stone is quite different than two turns with a 56# weight. Also, if you have throwing experience, you already know how to move through the trig space. And, hammers. Now, this isn’t science, but if you have any kind of shot or hammer experience, you’ll be okay on four events of the day. I’ve even seen hammer throwers do very well in their first Games on the stones. I’m too old and too inexperienced to know why. I imagine it’s because at some point they also threw shot or at the very least banged a shot putter and got some good tips while they snuggled afterwards.

But weight for distance? Nope. In fact. If you look (I have) on the NASGA results for Games around the country, you’ll see new people coming in with great stone and hammer numbers and their weights will be significantly behind. This tells me something. I don’t know exactly what, but something. Now, it is likely that these experienced throwers will pick up weights fairly quickly. More quickly than the non-thrower anyway.

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My amazing friend, Victoria Wechter, took this picture in Portland last year. It remains my most favorite. Even though my right foot is pointing the completely wrong way (she loves when I use her pictures to bitch about my throws. Really.)

The first time I ever threw the 28# heavy weight for distance, I went 18’7″. There was one attempt that nearly landed me on my ass. Who knew 28# could feel so heavy? This year, I had a couple of 40 plus foot heavy weight throws and I’ll take it. For some reason, I took to weights. I lost my way during full season one (now I know why) and when meeting K.O. and Craig Smith in Waukesha again the next September , they fixed me right up. I can’t imagine the thrower I’d be if I had K.O. as a coach year round. A better one, that’s for sure.

Anyways. That’s only the 28# and in my opinion (my blog, my opinion) isn’t even close to the monster that the men’s 56# weight feels. It is a beast. Which is why I ask noobs what they threw. The first time Matt threw the 56# weight, it went 31 feet. His PR is 38 or 39, somewhere around there. A very respectable number. Especially for someone who doesn’t practice and only uses a one turn. But he’s strong. And he’s powerful (ya, one of the best Truck Pulling Strongman in the world. Power) and yes, he’s incredibly athletic. The general population won’t recognize that because they just see a big guy. The general population is stupid. Not completely, I’m still surprised at times how fast he moves if I cock off and turn my back on him. Heh.

I have seen incredibly strong men fail to throw the HWD further than the low 20’s. I have seen incredibly athletic men throw in the 30’s. But the best? They are strong. And athletic. And powerful. Nowhere else during the Games are these traits showcased like the Heavy Weight for Distance. Example:
This is Spencer Tyler’s HWD World Record throw in Portland this summer. It is over 50 feet.

50 feet. Now, that may not mean much to a noob. I’ve even had stupid people say, “Oh come on Jules, throw it 8 feet more” on a heavy distance attempt. (By the way, though later I may know that you were trying to be supportive of my throws when you got in my face while I walked up to the trig to tell me I should put 8 feet on my PR, in that moment I will think you are a complete dumbass who doesn’t understand sports so WintheF are you doing on the field?) 8 feet. That’s nearly 17 percent farther than my PR. That’s HUGE! I can’t do that. Shut up! However, to the rest of us, this 50 plus foot throw is huge. It is anywhere from 10 to 15 percent further than the average Pro thrower. But Spencer Tyler is strong. And powerful. And athletic. Fucking obviously.

So I asked this woman what her husband threw with the 56# a few weeks ago. She thought around 15 feet. However (and this is more precious than anything), he thought it wasn’t the weight, it was that he didn’t know how to move with it.

Ummmmm, dude? It was the weight. That’s okay. It’s a beast. But that 15′ tells me that A) you’re not strong and B) you’re not powerful and C) you may be athletic but if you’re not at the very least more “A)”, you’ll struggle. Get stronger. HEY! I can help with that. Heh. I haven’t heard back from them. They were some of the people who I confirmed that their wish of not being super competitive will be granted. At least for now. Me and my stupid honesty.

The Heavy Weight for Distance is my favorite event. Not because I’m okay at it (there is a lot of room for improvement. I know what that looks like, now it will come down to what my body is able to handle) but because it is ballet with a heavy fucking weight at the end of your arm.

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The queen (and World Record holder) of Womens HWD, Adriane Wilson. She is so smooth and yet powerful in her weights, it is a delight to watch her throw.

And that, in my opinion, sums up Highland Games perfectly. Beautiful movement with heavy fucking weights. Why WOULDN’T you want to join in the fun??!!

There is something special about a Heavy Weight that goes further than most. I don’t know what it is yet. It has to do with your ability to control the orbit of the weight through turns in a tiny space and apply powerful force while still keeping your shoulder relaxed. I dunno. I need someone smarter than me to figure out the math and right now he’s in North Carolina trying to find gas for his rental car. But I DO know that the NASGA scores show a 10% decrease in distance of the next best Pro score off Spencer’s World Record and an 8% decrease off of Adriane’s best throw this year (probably another percentage point off of her World Record.) 8-10% is ginormous in a sport where a quarter inch is all it could take to win and set another record. In the immortal words of Craig Smith,

If that worked, we’d all be doing it.

Meaning in this case, if it were easy we’d all be throwing close to those world records. But we’re not. Cuz it’s not.

Obviously.

You’ve got to be honest. If you can fake that,  you’ve got it made.

George Burns

 

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HAWT

hawt

I just got back from Hot Yoga. Well, kinda. I got back and made coffee first (coffee before morning Hot Yoga is BarfYoga so I skipped it earlier.) I ate because I had breakfast nearly 5 hours ago and am fookin’ starving. I pet the dogs because they looked pathetic so besides all of that, I just got back from Hot Yoga.

I first started Hot Yoga two years ago in my off season. My commitment to myself was that I would go to 3 classes per week for four weeks and then drop down to 2-60 minute classes per week after that. I learned a lot very quickly. For example, never go into the hot studio 15 minutes prior to a 90 minute class. 105 minutes in 115 degree heat sucks balls. Don’t do that.

Also, rent a yoga mat. The last thing I need to do each day is scrape the mold off of a yoga mat. Let them worry about that stuff. Namaste. Thirdly, place said rented yoga mat near the door. That way, if anyone opens it you get a puff of cool air. You just wouldn’t believe how vital a puff of cool air is when you’re 50 minutes into the suck zone. Lastly, have food waiting for you after. You’ll be starving. If you’re not, you’re weird. I have a protein shake ready to go just to get out to the car to eat some more. OH! Bonus lesson, don’t go to the Starbucks near the Hot Yoga studio afterwards. Yes, it will be tempting, but don’t. They are idiots and will frustrate you to the point that you’ll want to pull them out of the drive-thru window and punch them in the face which will yank you out of the zennish Namaste you just spent an hour in 115 degree heat trying to find. Save the frustration. Wait until you get home to make the coffee.

I learned which instructors I can’t do. Just.Can’t. Usually the ones who don’t shut up. Most strike a nice balance between calm teaching and quiet. There were a few; however; who literally had their mouth moving for an entire 90 minutes. Srsly. Shut. Up. You’re fucking up my Namaste with your constant running of the mouth. Srsly. There were a few who wanted me to “get into” positions better. Nope, hands off. I’m fine. I’m here for specific reasons and really don’t give two shits if I’m Standing Bow Pose as well as I should. I’m good. I don’t put my back into flexion; I don’t crank on my knees. I stretch and sweat. Usually not in that order.

There were a few instructors who became my favorites. Still are. Today was one of them. Pretty hippie-ish but great energy and she walked me through a few hip stretches to help out from tightness due to throwing and training. I haven’t been for a while and I’ve forgotten how helpful it is. Once I’m done with this lifting thing for the year, I’m going to make a point of getting back a couple of times per week. After.

Today I had arrived a bit early. I got my mat and laid it by the door and then came back out into the lobby and grabbed a book to read. I turned to a Buddha quote that said,

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Huh. Today that spoke to me, especially in terms of getting ready for competition. Especially THIS competition. See, I really want to win. Shocking, eh? But this will not be a walk in the park. There is a Hungarian ranked above me with a stated total 20kg ahead of mine. There is a Hungarian ranked just below me with a stated total 15kg behind mine. Now, I believe that my total does not reflect what I can do since both of my meets came after a long season of Highland Games and last spring while I still had the plague. So I believe that I’m within reach of that number one ranked lifter. I know what she’s done so far this year and if I do what I can do, I’m within reach. Which could also be the case for the 3rd ranked lifter and myself. Could be she has much more in the tank and she’s on my radar for sure. All the lifters in my session are. Nothing is a given, especially in this sport.

I’ve tried to do everything I could to prepare and this is what I reflected on after reading some Buddha. I’ve looked at the past and what I need to do differently at this meet. I watch my videos to see what I need to fix for the next rep. See, looking back is okay. I won’t dwell, but I will look back. I’ve tried to train around my hamstring injury from Buffalo and so far so good. I’ve made the final adjustments to my lifts that I believe I can pin down and will leave the rest for later. I’ve had my food and booze as dialed in as it’s going to be (a little sugar bump last weekend had me waking up on Monday with swelled up eyes and fingers and that’s all I need to shut that shit down.) I’ve listened to my body so if I feel tired A.F. when I begin training and things go to shit, I shut it down. I don’t need the frustration and my body obviously needs a break.

And that’s how I roll. I never want to leave anything on the table that I could have done to be better. As I laid down and began to sweat a few minutes before class started, I started running through everything in my mind on what I’ve done and tried to think of things I’m missing when it hit me. I was missing the quiet. The present. I was looking ahead to what I needed to do. Looking back on what I’ve done. But I wasn’t still in the present. I haven’t taken time to appreciate myself for my work all year. Hell, we never even celebrated my World Championship win in Buffalo. Talk went immediately to Germany and what I need to do to get my leg healed up while still hitting the lifts. I’m sad about that as I type it. I didn’t celebrate the very thing that I waited all year for the chance to try to accomplish. Who’s fucked up in that scenario?

I don’t take time to just be still. And more than anything else in the next 8 days, I want to be still. I don’t want to just feel strong and prepared. I want to feel calm. I want to have faith in myself that I’ve done everything I could to try to get this and believe in my abilities when I get there. (When I lifted in Savannah last spring, I picked up the empty bar for warm ups and I had a brief moment where I panicked and thought I had forgotten how to snatch. Which made me laugh and relaxed me for the rest of the competition.)

Oh sure, I’ll still look forward each day. There’s lots to do before wheels up next week and the weekend will be spent on Fields with our Highland Games friends both Saturday and Sunday which is pretty kick ass for me ‘cuz I just have to sit there and look pretty. Or something like that. But I will approach these final training sessions completely different, or at least, that’s my goal. Calm. In the moment. Phone off (I actually put my phone into Airplane mode when I train so I can use it to video) and fully present.

That Buddha. What a smartie.

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.

Plautus

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