Well here it is, the big show, what this whole strongman thing is about (for now)…North American Strongman Championships!
The plans for the trip got a little screwed up by Super Storm Sandy forcing my Wednesday flight from LA to Charlotte (I was going LA to Charlotte, Charlotte to Memphis, there aren’t any more direct flights I guess?) to be cancelled. I then had to leave on Tuesday and stay the night in Memphis, which was a treat to say the least. I watched The Campaign on my flight, which I was really excited about because Will Ferrel and I are basically best friends (he went to my high school, granted it was 18 years before I was born, and we did the announcements over the PA together when I was a senior and he came back-everyone who knows me has heard that story ad naseum), sadly though it wasn’t that good. I got into Memphis about 11pm on Tuesday night and took a cab to the Real Value Inn. DO NOT STAY AT THE REAL VALUE INN IN MEMPHIS, TN!! I can’t reiterate that enough. I just got the cheapest hotel available and ignored the 1 star rating. I am certain to have contracted some sort of disease from my night there and if I didn’t the umm ‘sounds of amorous love making’ that came from the room next door for 4-5 hours on Wednesday certainly scarred me emotionally. I had a lot of writing to do on Wednesday and things to make sure The Jugg Method 2 is ready to go, so I was just in my room typing and watching TV and praying that I wasn’t going to die.
Luckily, my training partner Brandon and Team Jugg’s Kalle Beck got into Memphis about 7pm on Wednesday to save me. We went by a Walgreens to get food and stuff for the weekend before going back to the airport to pickup a couple of lightweight strongwoman competitors and make the drive down to Mississippi. It was only a 30 minute or so drive to Harrah’s Casino in Tunica, MS (glamorous right?) where the contest was to be held. We got all checked in and then I made the error of logging onto the wireless internet on my iPhone and signed up for a 3 day package (for $32?!?!) only to find out that they charged PER DEVICE!!! So I had just spent $30 on internet for my phone, awesome…Then I ate some Quizno’s and went to bed.
The next morning were weigh ins, which are just a formality for me since Strongman weight classes are <105kg and SHW (there are subdivisions but it’s really just light and heavyweight). I weighed in at 319.6, which is about 9-10 pounds lighter than I expected, but Brandon was 7-8 light too, so I guess it was just the scale. Then we enjoyed some Waffle House and I headed back to the room to write (and spend more money on wireless internet) and prepare the Team Juggernaut Deadlift Manual (look for that soon) to be available for all you wonderful people out there on the interwebz. Once that was all finished, I just napped until it was time to make the first visit to the Paula Dean Buffet at the casino. Before we headed to the buffet though, there was a rules meeting, which was really just a chance to size up the competition, they were sizable. I have been spoiled when it comes to buffets because I have been to The Wynn Buffet in Vegas which is the real happiest place on Earth, but Paula Dean was pretty damn good and was definitely a good thing to have at a strongman competition. Fully bloated and satisfied, I headed back to my room to rest up before the big day!
After a lackluster night of sleep (I never sleep well before competition) it was time to compete. Luckily, the heavyweights weren’t getting underway until 1pm so I had time to eat and relax in the AM. I headed out to the competition area (aka parking lot) at about 10:30 to watch Kalle compete some.
I hooked up my Compex to my quads on the warmup setting to start getting some heat in the muscles, which elicited a lot of strange looks from people, but I know they help. I went through a fairly dynamic warmup, which I feel is particularly important at competitions because our warmup time on the actual implements are so limited.
Event 1-Axle Clean and Press
Warmups here were pretty brief, I got to do I think 2 sets of 3-5 with 135ish and then a set of 2 at 215 and 2 singles at 255. I then had to sit around for 15 minutes or so, as I was in the 9th heat. There were 43 athletes competing in the heavyweight men’s division. A few heats before me, my training partner Brandon Campbell, who is a great axle presser, unfortunately tore his bicep on just his 2nd rep. I felt terrible for Brandon and was pretty rattled by seeing him get injured, as it was hard to not think “Did we do something wrong in our training? Is that going to happen to me?” My turn was up…
310# Axle Clean and Press x6 reps in 1 minute
This tied me for 1st place! I wasn’t expecting to be a 1st place contender in this event, so that was a GREAT surprise. I missed the 7th clean which would have set me up for the win and in the miss, the bar crashed hard onto the top of my sternum. It is bruised pretty badly and hurts with every breath basically, but the show must go on.
Event 2-Yoke/Frame Medley
My warmups here consisted on picking up the empty frame (450#) 2x and walking about 20′ with an unloaded (500#) yoke. Then I waited and focused…
910# Yoke x50′ and 650# Frame x50′ in 19.62 seconds
This put me in 1st place at the time and I was able to hold on through the rest of the heats for the win by about .2 seconds!! I knew that this is a good event for me, but still wasn’t expecting a win. The yoke I train on isn’t very good, so it is hard to get a good idea of where I’m really at. The heaviest we went in training was 3 weeks ago doing 890# Yoke to 350# per hand Farmers Walk for 50′ each, which I did in about 35 seconds. Granted I knew that wasn’t a good time for me, to go from 35 seconds to 19.6 seconds I think is really a testament to how well my peak is structured and frankly that when it is time to go for real, I bring my A+ game. The speed work that we do on the Yoke/Frame-Farmers is also very effective and lots of people were asking about how I structure that.
Event 3-Husafel Stone
Warmups here were just picking up the Husafel Stone once and taking maybe 2 steps. I got some tips from Lightweight Pro Mike Mastell on this as well. Husafel was my worst event at the Connecticut Europa show and I knew was my weakpoint here…
400# Husafel Stone for 190′
I only went 117′ in Connecticut, so this was a huge PR and good enough for 6th place. My friend Eric Dawson won the event at 289′!
Event 4-Atlas Stone over Bar
My low back was on fire from the H-Stone so I had to walk around for 15 or so minutes to get the pump out of my back, glutes and hams. There were no warmups for the Atlas Stones…
390# Atlas Stone over 54″ bar x6 reps in 1 minute
This tied me for 2nd place with a couple others. Eric and one other guy tied for 1st with 7 reps. I felt good with this performance and knew that I would be near the top in stones.
I finished the first day with a 4.5 point lead over Eric Dawson who was in 2nd and a 21.5 point lead over 2 guys tied in 3rd place. Scoring works that if there are 40 athletes, the 1st place guy gets 40 points and 40th place gets 1 point. If there is a tie, lets say tie for 1st then those two guys would split 79 points between them, so 4.5 points isn’t very significant with so many points at stake.
Headed from the competition up to my room, slammed down a protein shake mixed with chocolate milk and then took a contrast shower. The contrast shower was 3 minutes as hot as possible, 1 minute as cold as possible for 3 rounds (12 minutes total), from there I headed off to the Paula Dean Buffet again to take down a few plates of brisket, meatloaf, chicken, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes and cheese rolls, as well as 8-10 glasses of water. When I got back in my room I hooked up my Compex on my hamstrings and iced my bruised sternum then tried to sleep but was pretty unsuccessful with that again.
After a night of less than restful sleep, I was up and not feeling too crushed from the day before. Competition would begin at noon on this day so I was up moving around about 7:30, had a bowl of Cracklin Oat Bran and a little later a protein shake. I headed out to watch Kalle compete at about 10 and while I was out there sipped on another shake and ate a milk n cereal bar. Again I went through a long dynamic warmup after just spending a lot of time walking around to get my blood moving a bit and break up the stiffness that lingered from the prior days events.
Event 5-Giant Dumbbell Clean and Press
As usual, warmups here were pretty abridged when compared to training. I got 2 sets of 5ish in with a 75 pound DB, then 1 set of 2-3 with a 125 before going and doing 2 sets of 1 with the competition weight 200 pounds. For those of you not familiar with this event, the dumbbell has a 3″ thick handle (size of a soda can) and 13″ diameter ends where the weight is loaded. It is a very awkward implement. I didn’t feel too sharp in warmups but with each set things got a bit better. I was in the final heat of this event and knew that 6 was the number to beat…
200# DB Clean and Press x5 reps in 1 minute
I had two narrow misses which would have given me 7. One guy in my heat did 8 reps, so I finished in a tie for 3rd (with Eric Dawson and several others) and maintained my 4.5 point lead overall. I didn’t realize how close my misses were until I saw the video and they were right there. In Connecticut, I did 4 reps and missed 3, so this was a slight improvement. I felt confident that I could do 7 here and was a bit disappointed with myself but in a setting like this, placing was all that matters.
Event 6-Car Deadlift
Warmups for this were basically non existent, I lifted a 550# frame for 5 reps and then just waited. I have never done a car deadlift before and was really just relying on my squat and deadlift ability to get me through here. I got a couple tips from Kalle and Brandon about technique and just went for it.
Car Deadlift x16 reps in 1 minute
I took 3rd here, with 1st and 2nd in 18 and 17 reps. I definitely think I was the best deadlifter there and certainly the best squatter, but not yet the best car deadlifter and that was probably just the difference in having my feet about 1.5″ too far back which just put too much stress on my quads and not enough on my hips. Eric was only able to manage 3 reps here and I came out of this event with a 21.5 point lead over 2nd and 31 point lead over 3rd going into the final event. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Event 7-Suicide Medley
My back and legs were ON FIRE from the deadlift and I had to walk in circle for 15 minutes to get the throbbing to subside. I didn’t really bother with any warmup here, besides picking up each implement once. I was in the final heat and did some calisthenics and what not to get my heart rate up some and blood moving in my legs but really knew that this event was just about making sure Eric (who was in the lane next to me) didn’t get too far away from me, as he needed to beat me by 22 places to comeback for the win.
This event consisted of carrying a 225# sandbag for 50′, running back, carrying a 250# keg for 50′, running back, carrying a 410# duck walk (think bucket between your legs) for 50′ and then dragging a 500ish# sled for 50′.
Suicide Medley in 74 seconds
I definitely didn’t blister the course and took my time a bit in the runs back between implements because frankly I was nervous about cramping up or pulling a muscle and not being able to finish which would have opened the door for someone to overtake my lead. Eric and I were in the lanes next to each other and he probably beat my by 1 second so I knew right away that I had finished off the win.
I am very happy to have won my Pro Card and have done so, so quickly after beginning Strongman. My first contest was on March 17th of this year and I began training a week before that, so this marked about 7 months of Strongman for me. This competition was exactly what I needed it to be, a consistent performance across all the events. Right now, I see myself as having some good events and some ok events with nothing being great or terrible. My overhead pressing strength needs to come up a lot to compete at the level I want to, as does my deadlift (which is weird to think). The more time I get to spend training events, the better I’ll get I know, that is just practice and exposure. The Fit Expo in LA in January will be a great test against great athletes and I can’t wait to prove myself there.
I have always looked up to athletes like Kaz, Jon Cole and Don Reinhoudt who have been successful over multiple strength disciplines and now with Shot Put, Powerlifting and Strongman I think that as I progress I could put myself into that type of category. I really enjoy the different challenges that Strongman presents and am grateful for people like Dione Wessels, Colin Bryce and Odd Haugen for promoting great shows for us. I’m looking forward to the new challenges professional competition will bring. Thanks to everyone for the kind words and congratulations on Facebook and such.