Category: Life in general

In celebration of three snow days in Athens, GA and five continuous days off after a all too generous Christmas and New Years break I offer up these photos of my holiday festivities.

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Only a Man

I am a man.  Only a man.  I am built of passion, the sinews of muscle that bind these bones, and the blood that stirs, but passion is my master.

I will carry love through the battlegrounds of this world, through life and into death.  When hope is lost you will find my strength.

I am a force of rage.  I will cut through the family trees of my enemies, from the strongest root to the newest growth.

I am a man. Only a man. I am built of passion. I am a juggernaut, but fall without the embrace of others.

I cry fiery tears of despair when I imagine a world bereft of your presence. I sit alone on an island built on the rocks that are my fears.

My memory is built upon many things, but rage holds my hand to lead me forward. I embrace vengeance for past affronts and grow flush with anticipation.

I am a man. A broken man. My flaws are manifold and I see few solutions.

I cling to those that can carry my shattered heart in the wake of my actions.  Those whose flesh I would carry through the battles they lack the strength to wage alone.

Without passion I am neither the hero, nor the companion I must be.  I am only a shell. A man none-the-less, but only flesh.

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Where I’ve Fallen

Today I came home early from work to hold my son. I sang to him and cried at how happy it made me to have him in my life. The thing is, he is already more than I am, or will be. He is the greatest gift his mother and I have ever received. He is God’s breath in my life, the buttress of my faith, the hope for a better tomorrow, and how I define love. My failures fade in the brilliance of his being.

Elijah tempers my faults. When my hands are clenched in rage he unfurls them with innocence. When I boil with frustration and contempt for the moments of my life I find unbearable, he calms. If I grab and hold steadfast to intolerance, he reaches with open arms to embrace the unknown. Every dream I carry each day in flights of fancy is replaced with the solid hope for his happiness and strong growth. He gives me reason to covet only he and his mothers comfort in times of need and fills my heart when it feels empty.

Elijah is my dreams growing each day. Each tomorrow is filled with a chance to carry him through the trials of his life. Whether it be helping him roll from his belly to his back and back to his belly again, or celebrating his first time catching a ball. Comforting him after a fall when all he needs is to know I am there, or sitting with him when he first falls in love and when he taste the sting of lost love.

It is only fitting to close this thought with humble appreciation for the wife who carried Elijah for nine months and birthed him into this world, with awe of a God who made it possible to spread joy in such a profound way, and with unyielding love for a son whom I hope will only taste the best of life, but should he face trials, that he face them squarely and rise above them.

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The last two weeks have been tough. I’ve missed lifts, I’ve battled with staying motivated, I’ve fought to eat properly, I’ve struggled to sleep, my joints ache, and it feels hopeless at times. I haven’t quit though. I have thought about this cycle and evaluated my program design. The list of things that went well is long, as is the list of what needs improvement.

The list containing items needing improvement is topped by checking my ego at the door when entering the gym. For this cycle I did not max before hand, but instead used estimated maxes. However, my estimates were a bit whimsical and certainly wishful. In hindsight my squat estimate should have been at least 10 kilograms lower, my bench was on target, and my deadlift was at least 5 kilograms too high. Now, these adjustments would not have made the estimates truly accurate, they still would have been auspicious, but they would have been safely attainable and would not have lead to compromise later in the training cycle.

Next on the list would be not sticking to the plan, a rookie mistake I should not be making. I compete well, choosing attempts and planning strategy for the day of competition. However, poor training means that I am shooting for the best day after training missteps. Better self control would not only lead to the best day possible, but also a day filled with PRs due to effective peaking. What I need is to remember that the early training phase should be light feeling and is a time to cement technique and bring up weak points with well chosen assistance work.

The next biggest item would be consistency in training frequency and time, not missing days on which the big three are performed or days which are primarily assistance and technical work days. This takes better time management. Elijah demands I recognize my time limitations so that each person in my life receives the best of me when they should. Not someone stretched thin due to time mismanagement.

For the most part I’ve done well eating, forcing food down when I needed to, but the competition is still three and one half weeks away. Until the last deadlift hits the floor this has to continue.

To be sure, there are many other small details that need to be addressed, but these things tend to fall in line when the bigger issues are handled well. What has gone well?

I’ve hit a great number of PRs and, for a moment, my squat form was looking great.  I’ve made more lifting days this cycle than prior.  I’ve managed to weigh less on average, while getting stronger, for most of the cycle.  I’ve also created a template that seems to work great, after adjusting for overzealous lifting activities.

Taking all of these observations together I am well positioned to succeed if I embrace the necessary changes.  Looking forward I am intrigued by the description of Andy Bolton’s deadlift training description in Flex magazine this week. With regards to deadlifting he only pulls maximal weights from blocks and does a good deal of speed work at lighter percentages.  Six weeks out from a competition he eliminates maximal loads and concentrates on maximal speed of the floor with approximately a 60% load.  I have queried him, by asking via Facebook , if he follows similar protocols for both the squat and bench press?

Why am I concerned, or curious, about this, if you will?  It is common for me to hit PRs in a cycle.  Usually these take place in the middle of the cycle, not necessarily a problem, but burn out often follows.  This burn out, if tempered properly, could be used to facilitate super-compensation by controlling load after the period when most of my PRs take place.  Technique could be encouraged after the given time period my utilizing maximum speed work with weights which technique can be maintained, thereby increasing motor recruitment later in the cycle and at the competition. Some other ideas are maintaining volume at the higher percentages from the current program, but doing fewer reps per set so that fatigue does not mount causing technique failures. The latter is an easier choice on the ego, the former a greater leap of faith.

Other changes are certainly possible, and being considered. After the NOTLD on October 23rd I have the USAPL Georgia & Southern States on November 20th. I may do the UGA Strongest Dawg competition in the second week of December, but do not intend to peak for it. Assuming I can total 1509+ at the Georgia, I totaled 1325 last year, I will, hopefully, get to lift at Raw Unity this year. Should this not happen, I will most likely compete again at the Battle on the Border in late March. After that I intend to go to USAPL Raw nationals in Scranton, PA in July (June?).

Clearly, my short term goals include totaling 1509+ in late November, including my first 500+ squat. In the more immediate future I plan to make my first 600+ deadlift at the NOTLD. Looking further out I would like to deadlift 700+ within the next two years, squat 600+ and hit my first 400+ bench, all while staying a 220. The last batch is auspicious, and thus the fuzzy dates on it. My goal when I came back to competition was to qualify for USAPL Open nationals while competing raw and to place well. Placing well to me would be a top 10 finish under these circumstances.

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