When I was 9, I was in AAU swimming. It was the dead of winter and we had a meet in SW Minnesota about 30 miles away from where my grandparent’s lived. The plan was that I swim Saturday, run over to G’ma’s to sleep and have Grandpa’s famous Oatmeal breakfast (Grandpa grew up in the depression, Oatmeal saves lives and sets the tone for a good day. Fact.) Run back to the meet on Sunday and then head home. No worries.

Except SW Minnesota in the dead of winter is never a ‘no worry’ environment. A storm started brewing when we were still in the water on Saturday and that’s never a good sign. By the time we chowed down some dinner at the hotel where other swimmers and families were staying, it was looking pretty ugly. Many folks tried to talk my mom into staying the night but she was used to Up North snow storms which could beat the snowfall of the south, but the wind swept plains were out of her league. We promised to be back the next day since I had a few bigger events and relays to swim that had an impact on upcoming Regional competitions.

We weren’t even out of town and were struggling. I remember begging her to turn around and stay the night or at least let me stay so I wouldn’t miss the next day. Nope, we’ll be fine. When we finally hit Windom and G’ma’s house, my mom was  a total wreck. The roads were the worst she’d ever driven in and went in and out of the ditch multiple times. The verdict? No return tomorrow.

We had Grandpa’s oatmeal breakfast the next morning, it didn’t help the awful pit in my stomach of not being at the meet. We went to church a little later and I silently cried throughout the whole service. See, here’s how I’m wired. When I’m geared up to compete, I’m ready to compete. I don’t DNF. It’s not in my DNA. I dunno why, I was born to compete. I’m happier on the field, or the pool, or the platform or wherever I’m able to. I’ve competed in Weightlifting meets with a tweaked back where I had to humble myself and go much lighter than I was able to had I been healthy, but damn it, I said I’d compete and so I will.

Until now. It was very important to me to compete one more time before the big event out in Enumclaw in a couple of weeks. I found an event put on by Merl Lawless and the Ancient Athletics crew out of Springfield who ALWAYS put on an excellent show. It was a bit of a drive, but well worth it and a perfect opportunity to get a little more coaching before the Claw. But life has gotten in the way and for the first time since I was 9 years old, I’ve pulled out of a competition.

It hurts my heart, I realize that’s a bit dramatic but that’s the only way to describe it. There are bigger issues in the world and even bigger issues at home but it hurts my heart. It’s not how I’m wired. I realize many can shrug off missing competitions, I realize many have a far more laid back attitude about competing in general. That’s ok, it’s just not me.

I’ll take the extra rest day; do some lifting and throwing this weekend as I’m able; try to get right in the head; and look forward to some throwing next week with World Class games competitor Sara Hilgers. But unless I’m dead or severely broken, this will be the last time I DNF.

Excitement is impossible where there is no contest.

Henry Cabot Lodge

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to jep6095@gmail.com At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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