Monday Bacon: I’m Off My Game


How to brighten a post about bombing out: Add Pisarenko…

I’m back home, hunkered down in my favorite chair with the puppies snuggled close watching the Stihl Timbersports series on ESPN2 (it’s kickass, I kinda want to do it.) I get to look back on the weekend as a whole, make notes for necessary adjustments and then move the fuck on.

My flights were uneventful (the best kind really); however; on my DTW to BUF leg I noticed the man across the aisle next to me looked athletic. Actually, I’m pretty good at keeping my head down on flights so from mid-quad to foot, he looked athletic. I wondered if he’s going to the meet but minded my own business. When we got the announcement we were getting ready for our final descent, I looked over and he was wearing a Catalyst Athletics sweatshirt. Cool. I tapped him on the arm and he took his headphones off and asked him about it. Turned out I was sitting next to Mike Gray.

Ahhhhhh, AWESOME! I’ve read some of Mike’s articles and over the past year, have come to have so much respect for the crew at Catalyst Athletics and their contribution to weightlifting. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a huge fan of Greg Everett’s and when I saw his name on the start list for the meet this past weekend, I was hoping for the chance to go shake his hand. But first I got to tell Mike Gray that I was very thankful for the content of the website and in just one short year I’ve been able to make strides in turning my form around to improve my chances at doing well in the sport. I also told him that after everything I’ve learned this year, the most important lesson is that I’m starting to understand the amount of what I don’t know. Heh.

We chatted for about 10 minutes and then I tried to leave him alone. I’d already broken so many of my own plane rules about talking to people and I didn’t want to intrude further. The fact that I made someone take their headphones off and engaged in conversation on an airplane speaks to how much I look up to these people.


My cousin, Stacy, came with me for fun and moral support since the Bigg guy was on the road for work and then had to head to Chicago Saturday morning for a week-long trade show dealio. I need to give a shout out to Stacy. She knows nothing about weightlifting; we hadn’t traveled together before (I know this sounds weird, but traveling together can be tricky. Matt and I travel enough that we get into a groove and asking someone to “fit” into that is actually asking a lot); and this was actually the first time she’d traveled for a non-work trip so the kids and hubs back home missed her. SO, from the bottom of my heart Stacy, thank you.

We rolled into town and checked into the hotel but needed food before the technical meeting or two major cases of HANKRY (Hunger + Cranky) were going to happen. We had a lackluster meal at Famous Daves and then ran over to the venue to make sure we were good to go for the weekend. No schedule changes meant awesome and we chilled the rest of the night.

Friday was a nice and easy day with a bit of a sleep in and then we found a fun lunch spot before we checked in for some volunteering during the first session (I vow to ALWAYS watch the eldest group of women lift at every single one of these events. They are amazing and so inspiring that I just never want to miss it if possible.) This also gives me a chance to connect with some of the folks who have been doing this for years and years and I like that. I’m a new kid on the block and I’m already so thankful for the opportunity to meet friends after a few of these meets.


I’ve learned that when on the road, a corporate restaurant dinner before a meet is the best way to go. I know what to expect. I know I’ll probably digest everything well,  I can hit my macros and enjoy a glass of wine. We found a steakhouse near the hotel and had a nice steak dinner. I slept like crap, weird for me. But I’ve competed on lack of sleep before, Saturday wasn’t going to be any different.

But I was off. Early on Saturday morning, I ran over to the Bux, got a coffee and called the hubs. When he asked how I was, I replied honestly, I’m off my game.  I didn’t feel “on it.” I did everything I could but I wasn’t on solid footing. Annoying.

During weigh in (OH Heyyyyyy, I weighed in a kilo less than Germany. Those are two pounds I don’t need to lose now. Holla!!!) I adjusted my already low openers even lower. OH, hold on. While “watching” (I don’t watch other lifters during the meets, the last thing I need to do is pick up some stupid habit from watching someone else) the session before me, a lifter bombed out of her Snatch with a 63kg opener. That was my opener. Ummmmm, shit. I honestly thought of lowering mine to 62 to ward off that 63kg evil but then thought I was being rediculous. Memo to me: be rediculous.

After weigh in, we ran to a local grocery and picked up a few appropriate snacks and chilled. I was feeling a bit better, still off, but better.

My warm ups felt great. Snappy. Strong. I felt good. Some lingering ouchies were feeling okay if I set up correctly and while I definitely do not feel as strong as I wish I did, I’m good to go. My last warm up at 60kg was solid. Fast and fine. No worries. And then I missed my opener. Oh well, I let the bar get way out in front of me and needed to remember to pull the bar up instead of letting my hips throw in just out. No worries. I’ll grab it next time.

Next time:

No lift. Hmmmmmmmm, shit. 3rd attempt openers are no different than WOB 3rd attempt openers. There’s a lot of “awwwwwwww shit” nerves happening and it’s not a pleasant place to be in. Dammit.

Stacy was taking videos for me and when we started walking out for the 3rd attempt I looked at her, smiled, and said ‘well we’ve got to get this one.’ So I did…

…or so I thought. It felt hard. And strong. And exactly like it should. And I got called for elbow bends. I was shocked. Honestly, as weird as that word was, I don’t see it. I didn’t feel it, I don’t see it. While the bar may move a bit laterally, it does not move down and THEN back up as an elbow unlock would show (levers dudes. An elbow hinges or unhinges causing the lever to shorten and then lengthen again. A bar weighing nearly 140# is going to go down and then back up. Obviously.) This didn’t happen. I disagree with the call. It doesn’t matter, but I disagree.

Afterwards, I went outside and called Matt. I was upset. Not because I failed, but because I don’t think I did. I was stopped by no less than 5 people who expressed disbelief in the call. While I was talking to Matt outside, another man came to shake my hand and tell me he thought I was robbed. Even my Marshall’s in the back room had no idea why I was called.

Mother. Fuck.

I shed a few tears while talking to Matt and just stayed outside to get some peace. One of the judges came to talk to me. I respect that. She told me why I was called and I told her that while it was incredibly kind of her to seek me out and I will ALWAYS respect the judges, I disagree with the call. I hadn’t even seen the video yet. But I felt that lift and I knew that I didn’t unlock. She was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hit another meet to qualify for the World Games in April in New Zealand and I told her, A) dude, my total is 149kg, far above the 85kg needed for those games and B) I’m not planning on going to New Zealand anyway. I’m good. But I still disagree (heh, I gotta be me.)

I still got the chance to Clean and Jerk and while warming up, I lowered my opener. Twice. Didn’t care. I wanted to salvage the trip. Opening under 80kg hurt my pride a bit but my last warm up of 75kg felt tougher than it should have. 78kg it is!

And salvage the day I did. I’m incredibly proud of how I put the Snatch behind me and continued on. I adjusted my C&J warm ups according to some advice I received after worlds from Chip Conrad and it worked. I didn’t jerk my last warm up and this is something I may keep. My clean and jerks haven’t felt as good as they did on Saturday in months and I’m so pleased with how I hit them. I went 3 for 3 for the first time this year. While it was lighter, I managed to stay over the bar longer and every clean was powerful enough that there was never a question on hitting high enough for white lights. My shoulder felt good, or I should say, it didn’t feel bad and that’s a first. I hit a strong 82kg on my final lift to increase my standing American Master’s record (even with the bomb out, my Snatch American Master’s record still stands;)

OH! Annnnnnnd, I DID get to run over and shake Greg Everett’s hand afterwards and even got hug from Mike Gray. While talking with Greg, I shared with him that I also compete in Highland Games and I felt pretty proud when he said, “ya, I could never do that and compete in Weightlifting.”

But I did. I did that and while I’m loath to appear as if bragging, I’m awfully proud. It’s been a helluva ride this year and while my body is glad it’s over, my heart is full.

So where do I go from here? To Hot Yoga, of course. Heh. But seriously, this week will be hot yoga and swimming. I’m not going to touch a barbell for myself. And then I start a deload period. I don’t know how long that will be. At least 3 weeks but if I need longer, I’ll take it. I’ll start hitting some throwing drills in a few weeks but no full throws. I won’t go higher in the lifts than I did this weekend for quite some time and I’ve already got the green light to be able to go to a Catalyst Athletics weightlifting seminar in January. As long as I’m blessed enough to stay healthy, I will get better at this and I will be on the platform again.


When I was getting my stuff together, Stacy asked how I feel about the day. Here’s my answer:

While I’m a bit pissy that I was called on that last lift and bombed out, it’s my job to ensure that my lifts don’t give the judges any room for interpretation. That’s on me. So I need to ensure that I’m hitting a strong lockout and I’ll work on that before National’s in March. I’ll stew for a while about it, but it’s on me to fix. My clean and jerks were solid and I worked hard on that. It was a good day.

I believe this with all my heart.

To be number one, you have to train like you’re number two. 

Maurice Green

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to 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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