I always like to use the cold months as my off season. The cold weather makes me ache and not want to train with 100%. I have wanted to make the nine-hour drive from Youngstown to compete in Hope for Holidays for the last 3 years but never did because it is in the winter and I hate competing when it’s cold. This year was going to be no different plus I haven’t trained events or deadlifted in months due to some nagging pains. This year I wanted to at least show up and help out since I am state chair for Ohio and it’s been a while since I was at a competition. At the last minute, I decided to enter Hope and just barely made the deadline. I figured if I am driving down, I might as well compete.
First event was max log. I sprained my wrist missing a clean 4 weeks prior so I haven’t pressed anything since. My max log press is only 280 anyway so I figured that if I wrap my wrist nice and tight, I may still be able to get close. My warmups were miserable and everything felt heavy. I barely got 220 so decided to open with that and be happy if I don’t zero the event. I cleaned it with ease and struggled with the press. After the lift I went to Willie and decided to go for 240. I might as well make a bigger jump and risk missing my press at a higher weight than miss at a few pounds heavier than I just pressed. 240 cleaned easy and pressed easier than 220. After the surprising 240 press I decided to not push my luck and finish with 260 because I know I am not making any PRs with a bum wrist, especially after not pressing for months. 260 cleaned even easier but didn’t press as easy. I may have had a little more in me but I was more worried about the deadlift than anything.
All day the deadlift was in the back of my mind. I have been in 8 competitions with a deadlift event of some sort and never lost one yet. I haven’t pulled in months and may not be able to pull off another win this time and this will end my streak. My max deadlift was 700lb and I only pulled it once over a year ago. I also haven’t pulled in at least 3 months and I didn’t even know where to open. After warming up and hitting a slightly heavy 625, I decided to go with 650. Nervously I approached the bar and told myself that I better get it. I wrapped my straps around the bar and stood right up. It felt perfect. I instantly decided that 700 was going up today. My second lift was going to be 680. 680 went up just as easy as 650 and I was actually getting excited to pull 700 again. When my name was called, I paced a little bit then calmly approached the 700lb bar, took my grip and pulled. The pull felt great and I locked it out. Mike and Willie later told me that I should have gone for 720 and looking back I kind of wish that I did.
Next up was the farmer carry. I was never fast at this event but I was never terrible at it either so I wasn’t too stressed over it. I decided to sit down and eat and wait for my turn. When my name was called I got up, grabbed the handles and went. I got 9:31 which wasn’t a terrible time for me but it did feel like my quads were going to rip off because I didn’t stay loosened up. I knew better but I was exhausted from stressing over the deadlift all day.
I ended up opting out of the last two events for no reason other than I was spent and starving. Tire flips usually go well for me and the incline log would have been my worst event by far. All in all I am glad I jumped in on this competition. Willie and Mike are great and they take care of the athletes and it really showed at Hope 8. Willie managed to have some sort of conversation with almost every athlete when he had the opportunity and that sort of thing goes a long way because it makes the athlete feel noticed and important. Mike was always there giving tips and advice to athletes between lifts. Even the other state chairmen were welcoming. John Albrecht always stopped to talk and give encouragement between events. United Stated Strongman has a great family feel and I am looking forward to the continued growth of this organization.