Sunday, June 14, 2015

PRIDE (a capital sin, I know, but sometimes you just can't help it)

I have left the purely blogging aspect of this blog lie a bit dormant, as I use it more to develop my own thinking in sometimes unexpected directions than to share any piece of news or let potentially interested readers know how certain aspects of my life are going. Well, as it happens, a bit more than a week ago I reached a significant milestone in my lifting career, as I broke a Personal Record that I had been stuck with since at least three years ago, and that improves in a 10% my best ever (achieved when I was about 20 years old, so 25 years ago no less).

I had more time to train than usual, as it was a holiday in Madrid, so I could stray a bit from the programmed sets and reps. What I had planned was to do a couple warm up sets of power cleans (as this lift is feeling quite brisk lately I start warming-up at an 80% of my theoretical max, which is not something I would advise anybody to do) and go for a healthy amount of singles as close as possible to my old 100%. That 100% requires some explanation, as nominally it was 107 kg (236 pounds), but I did it in a commercial gym, using a bar that I very much suspect didn't weight more than 17 kg (and may be 15), as when I moved to my own gym, with my own (verified) bar, I had to reset my PR's in all my lifts at least 3 kg, not being able to hit the nominal weights I believed I was capable of. So my PR in the power clean was most likely only 104, which I rounded up a bit (not having plates of less than 1.25 kg, I have to use multiples of 2.5 kg) to 105, thus planning something around 5 solid reps at 105 kg (in all likelihood, a new PR, albeit a tiny one).

As I've shared in this blog already, my technique power cleaning has some room for improvement (oops!, that's consultingspeak for "it's crap, and I better clean it up if I want to avoid serious injury"), although the singles at 105 felt quite natural (this was the third one, done EMOTM -every minute on the minute):

So I decided to do what every hungry hotheaded teenager would do, which is attempt a weight it is not at all clear he is ready for; loaded 5 more kg on the bar, rested a bit more, and attempted to power clean 110 kg (242.5 pounds) for the very first time in my life, for a long time a goal of mine (it would be 10 kg more than what I power cleaned when I was a true hotheaded teenager, and it has the pleasing aesthetic feature of allowing me to load all of my bumper plates on the bar, which looks badass). This was the result:

I remembered a sentence from Mark Rippetoe about what a SoB this lift is, and how you could do comfortably a dozen lifts with a weight X, and then miserably fail with X+1, which just. wouldn't. rack. no matter how hard you tried or how much you psyched yourself up, or how much you put your soul in the move...

Well, fuck everything, I thought. I may get it any other day, if I'm truly ready for it it will come sooner rather than later, I'm old enough to know better and not rush these things. Or may be not that old after all. I wanted to show my sons their dad still had that fire in him. I wanted that badly, and I wanted to show them that very same night, before going to bed, not in a week, and not definitely in a month. So I rested a bit and went for it again:

Whew! it may not show in the vid, but it was a pretty close call. I tried to stand more upright during all the first pull, as I've noticed with these weights if I let the bar float too far forward there is no way I can then launch it high enough to rack, but even with that intent I felt it was still a tad too far from the body when I started the 2nd pull, and it didn't fly up as much as I wanted, so I went for it (turned over arms and changed direction to get the body under the bar) with a lot of doubts about being able to really rack it. But rack it I did, and when I realized it was stable enough, and going nowhere I didn't want it to go, and I could safely stand up with it I couldn't avoid showing a wide grin, and even making a Pyrros Dimas (looking to the right before putting the bar down). Whoa! as I've written in another forum, 45 years old vintage rocker is now officially a 10% stronger than 20 years old vintage rocker was, and that is something I'm PROUD of. I know my type II muscle fibers are withering away, my testes do not produce as much magic juice as they used to, and at some point in time I will not be able to lift as much as I lifted. That is the arc of life and I'm totally OK with it. But not today, boys, not today. As I repeated to myself when approaching the platform, "I've not come here today to fail, but to succeed". In the end, it was not a day for returning home  thinking that I probably had already peaked, and it was time to manage the decline wisely, accepting that what was doable yesterday would not be doable tomorrow. It was a day for returning home exulting, knowing my best lifts are still ahead of me.

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