Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Connecticut Open Weightlifting Championships

Sunday August 2, 2009

Once again I carpooled with my training partner, Jason Edmonds. We left Excel Sport and Fitness at 7:30 am Sunday morning and arrived a little before 11 am at the BlueStreak Sports Facility in Stamford Ct. This was a great venue for a weight lifting competition with a modern look, high ceilings, bright lighting located on main avenue with plenty of good restaurants within walking distance. This was my 2nd competition in three weeks so I had very modest expectations. I had trained smart and if anything rested more than in the past.

The day before my s.o. and I took nice long walks in Boston Commons. The temperature was around 85 so by evening I was ready for good nights rest. The previous Sunday I woke up with a cold and was concerned about a pneumonia relapse. I decided that extra sleep was a must so I weaned myself off caffeine for the entire week. It worked as I got an unheard of 8 hours of sound sleep the night before the meet. Also, by competition I had minimal congestion and was ready to go.

Gary Valentine, meet director and American Champion 105kg master lifter, closed the entrees the week before so we had a full plate of very anxious well prepared lifters awaiting to demonstrate for all to see. Although we arrived too late to see the women's snatch competition, we did see some excellent clean and jerks including some 90kg+ clean and jerks. In particular, master 58kg lifter, JoAnne Musa, mother and coach of 17 year old 69kg junior champion Peter, set three American masters record for her age and weight class.

When the first of two sections of the men's competition got under way, we learned that of the nineteen competitors in this section, all but two were in the heavily loaded 77kg class. My club had three lifters in the 77kg class and each went on to record at least one PR:
Coach Matt Delaney won the snatch competition with a meet PR of 111kg by just beating out wunderkinds Eric Briglia and Peter Musa. Matt then went on to set a meet PR of 135 kg in the clean and jerk only to be beat by the 17 year old Peter Musa. (Peter went on to record a PR of 145kg in spectacular fashion with a full squat jerk!) Cormac Mannion, who was nursing a sore shoulder bested his best snatch with a PR of 86kg. Unfortunately, Cormacs shoulder acted up in the clean and jerk and he had to withdraw after his second attempt. No problem as we all know Cormac will be back shortly in full strength. Our third 77kg lifter, Rick Maloon, has only been training for less than six months and went on to set meet PRs of 62/81. In the second men's section, our club had two lifters, Jason Edmonds and myself. Jason, who started training the Olympic lifts at the same time as I did last October, is a 105kg class competitor and went on to redeem himself after bombing in the snatch by setting a PR of 101kg in the clean and jerk on his second attempt.

After reading through the program complete with pictures, I noticed another master lifter, Harry Cochran, just a few years younger than I and in the same 85kg weight class as myself. When he arrived, I immediately recognized him from his picture and introduced myself as another fellow "middle aged fitness dude" in the parlance of Ed Pierini's of the well read "Pierini Fitness" blog. An extremely pleasant individual, Harry informed me that he trained the Olympic lifts over thirty years ago and only recently started resuming his training. Little did I know at the time that Harry would go on to perform some jaw dropping full squat lifts and easily out distance the other eleven master lifter competitors to earn top place including a large striking sculptured trophy via the Sinclair formula with a 90/105, 195kg total performance. (This formula normalizes each lifters totals taking into account both their weight and age. To my surprise I placed fifth among the masters and was awarded a very nice medal.) I am hoping in the near future to interview Harry for this blog so that other lifters might learn about Harry's background and training methods to provide further inspiration to the many other "middle age fitness dudes" who train the iron game.

One of the strangest coincidences occurred when I learned that there were two other male lifters, the Herman brothers, Dan and Ian, who shared my namesake. Dan a 94kg lifter and Ian a 105kg lifter where both from my place of birth and former residence, New York City. Although of no direct known relation between us, this didn't stop the natural camaraderie and mutual cheering for each other as the Herman's, Dan, Ian and Franklin, represented their common family name in the best of fashion. Like myself both Dan and Ian are very new to Olympic lifting however, unlike me, both are in their mid twenties, strong as bulls, and are sure to have long successful lifting careers.

Snatch Warmups (kg):
40 x 2 x 3
45 x 1 x 2
50 x 3 x 1
60 x 1 x 1
64 x 1 x 1

Competition Snatch lifts (kg):
1st Attempt: 67 good lift
2nd Attempt: 70 no-lift
3rd Attempt: 70 good lift (meet and training PR .. power snatch)

Clean and Jerk Warmups (kg):
40 x 1 x 2
50 x 1 x 2
60 x 1 x 2
70 x 1 x 1
80 x 1 x 1
87 x 1 x 1

Competition Clean and Jerk lifts:
1st Attempt: 90 good lift
2nd Attempt: 93 good lift (meet and training PR .. power clean)
3rd Attempt: 95 no lift (power clean but no jerk)

Total: 70/93 = 163 kg (PR)

I had a very strong cup of coffee when we stopped for a rest break on the ride over. Due to the earlier mention of the caffeine weening process I went through the previous week, this wound up keeping me wide awake up through out the day .. I'll never felt tired including during the three and a half hour drive home late that night. When the second session was getting under way, I was extremely stoked to begin my warmups and then get a chance to lift on the platform in front of my encouraging peers.

Coach Fuller, our club coach, was managing all my warmup lifts as well as the four other club lifters. He was caught by surprise when the it was announced that I was on-deck and I had not finished my warmup sequence. No problem, he quickly had me do a 64kg snatch, which I made, and a minute later I went out and nailed 67kg easily with a power snatch. Making that first lift takes such enormous pressure off the lifter and I was glad to have gotten that one out of the way. One of my modest goals of this meet was to finally hit a 70kg snatch. I had just PR-ed with 68kg three weeks ago at the Redwood Empire Championship but pressed out 70kg in my last attempt. Well when I went out and failed my second attempt with the same weight by not pulling it correctly, well, I got little, shall I say more than a little, PO-ed. My coach calmed me down and told me that I would make this lift if I was patient and smoothly got the bar into my hip crease before catapulting it upward. I did just that and popped that bar as explosively as I have ever done to date and power snatched it. What a great feeling! I now know in a month or so, that I will learn to get under it and start snatching heavier weights. However, at the present, I am still quite pleased that this great psychological barrier for me has been finally broken through.

After the close call with snatch warmups Coach Fuller timed my the clean and jerk warmups very nicely so that I hit my last one with 87kg, with no problem. Feeling very confident, I asked him to move my opener from 87kg to 90kg, which he did, and I went out to power clean and easily jerk it. And just like that I already had a new PR total of 160kg. Although I missed 93kg in practice a week ago, we decided to go for it and again I power-cleaned it and jerked it solidly on my second attempt. I now had achieved three PRs in one day and still had another lift to go. For my last attempt we went to 95kg. I know this may sound silly, but it felt great to able to go out there and attempt a shot at it having now moved up to the red 25 and green 10 kg plates .. it just looks so much cooler with the dual colored plates! I had only barely squat cleaned this once about a month and half ago, so I knew it was possible. Again Coach had me focus on coming off the floor smoothly and getting that bar to my mid-thigh before pushing my heels through the floor. To my surprise I pulled it high and easily power cleaned it which was then nicely set in my hands for the jerk without any adjustment in hand position necessary. However, instead of going straight up with it after the dip, it got in front of me and I had to ditch it thereby missing the lift. I now know I will nail this in training with the next month as I inch closer to my goal of 100kg clean and jerk before the year out.

After the award ceremony, eleven lifters, including myself, representing four different clubs, headed out to a nearby restaurant for a tasty dinner and lively conversation. The ensuing three and half hour ride went very quickly as Jason and myself recalled all the fine moments from the meet and further discussed in great detail how we would both work on our respective weaknesses to getting ready for the next competition.


pierini said...

Franklin, that was a great write-up and I enjoyed reading every word of it. It gave me an early-morning read of being there with you.

Congrats on those PRs. Time to sit back and reflect on where you have been, where you are and where you want to go. Looking forward to that future read.

Franklin said...

Thanks Ed for words of encouragement and taking the time to read about meet. I'm already looking to find my next meet in the late fall.

Although I haven't seen anything posted on the USAW event calendar yet, Freddie Myles informed me that there is typically another meet in Sacramento in the November time frame. This would be a great opportunity to get together again and compete.