Well…. I’ve got good news and bad: The good news is I didn’t come in dead last. The bad news is, I think the one guy who I “beat” dropped out of the competition due to bird flu or something… or may never existed, but all I know is there was somebody on the list who’s name was below mine.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here, let me rewind back to the beginning. I feel like Friday was the beginning of everything that made up my strongman experience, so we’ll start with that…
Friday was an interesting day: Obama was about a mile from my house speaking at U of R, and Sir Richard Branson was speaking at a conference that afternoon and they were having an after party at the Virginia Museum of Fin Arts that evening. Thanks to a friend, I was able to score free tickets to both events (thanks again buddy).
The conference was pretty uneventful, though the talk on Virgin Galactic was pretty cool, and I have absolute certainty at this point that I’ll be going to space at some point in my lifetime (assuming I don’t die in the next 20-30).
Anyway, the after party was what I was real excited/nervous about. Why? Because it was an open bar event. Usually I’m pretty good about being smart and not drinking the night before something important, but when there’s an open bar I always feel like I’m missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity by not taking part in that, so I did drink a few. However I am proud to report that I did not drink too much.
….At least that’s what I thought, until I woke up on Saturday morning feeling hungover like a jackass.
So getting to the gym just in time to hear the end of the rules, I start to warm-up with a little bit of trepidation about this minor hangover and the fact that I had just been told we’ll be flipping a 520lb. tire three times. The most I’d ever done was a 500.
We had about an hour to warm-up, and I spent most of that wandering trying to figure out where things were and what I wanted to do about it. An hour seems like a long time, but it flew by pretty quickly, and next thing I knew we were starting…
Initially I was pretty nervous, but even before I had to take on the first event, I realized that the environment for this type of thing was a lot different than other competitive events. Back in my baseball playing days, or even professional grade beerpong days (don’t doubt me), there’s always been the “us/me vs. them”. There’s always somebody pulling against you, talking trash about you, trying to break you down and take the wind out of your sails.
Interestingly, the attitude at the strongman was completely the opposite. Sure, everybody wants to win, and you’re doing your best to beat the other guys, but it’s interesting how you all feel like you’re on the same team. Everyone high fives everyone else, cheers each other on, and is all around full of encouragement. It was completely foreign to me, and completely awesome. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by a crowd of people yelling and cheering for you, even if they have no idea who you are. My theory is, everyone has a high level mutual respect due to knowing exactly what it is you’re going through, since they just did it or are going to be doing it shortly after you. It’s very much an “us vs. the weights” mentality.
Anyway, I hit the first challenge, and I’m happy to say that I accomplished 2 of the 4 lifts. Successfully clean/pressing the 180lb. axle, and pulling 350lb of the floor without any trouble. I was really hoping to get the 180lb log, since I know I have the strength to do it but have a really hard time getting the technique down. As far as the 500lb. off blocks, I’m not going to lie, I never really thought that was going to happen, and like an idiot I tried several times and ended up jacking up my lower back only 45 seconds into a day long competition. I am well aware of my tendency to round my back like a jackass on the deadlift when the weight gets heavy, and unfortunately this was no exception and I paid for it.
After the power medley was the yoke walk. The most I’ve ever done was 450lb., and I wanted to get some numbers on the board early, so I started with a relatively light 360lb.
Hitting 360 with ease, I bumped it up to 440 for my second attempt, and got through that without any problem and 0 drops.
At this point I learned that you get a total of 3 drops over your 3 attempts, so I made a ballsy call and decided to skip over 480lb. and go straight for 520lb…. Well, this ended up being not a very good call, and I ended up making the fatal 4th drop about ⅔ of the way to the finish line. Oh well, I figured if you don’t push yourself to the point of at least a few drops, you’re being a pansy about it… I didn’t want that.
After that was one of my favorites, the farmers walk. I was confident I could do this without any problem, which ended up being true, however something I need to work on is how quickly I walk with the weight. I ended up not doing so well as far as placing since everyone was able to complete the event without dropping, and a couple guys practically jogged with the weight.
Then came the tire-flipping/sled pulling medley, and the 520lb tire that I was so worried about proved to be the easiest implement of all, and I flipped it 3 times without much trouble, followed by a sled drag for ~45ft. I have no idea how much was on the sled, but it wasn’t too bad.
Sadly, the last event, the Atlas stones, which I was super stoked about, proved to be my worst event. After watching the women do the stones, I was feeling pretty good about my chances, when all of a sudden they cleared away the ~48” platform, and pulled out a tiered platform that blew my mind with the height they had picked for some of the lifts. If you watch the video below, you can see that I wasn’t able to get past the seconds stone, which is 215lbs of pure, infuriating frustration.
Thankfully, the next 2 or 3 guys couldn’t get the 2nd stone up either, so that made me feel quite a bit better. Not that I wasn’t pulling for them, but if I had been the only guy unable to get it on the platform, I’d have been pretty pissed.
So having finished the last event, I packed it up and headed out, roughly 8 hours after stepping into the gym: bruised, battered, and my back already sore as sh*t.
Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Do I think I’ll do it again? Probably. I now know what they’re like, and what I need to work on. Having seen where I’m at, I know I’ve got tons of room for growth, and I believe I can make substantial progress if I put my mind to it.
However, I think it’s time for a change in the training regimen… More on that later. For now, I’m still tired, sore, and it’s time for a beer…. I think I’ll take a couple days off. DONE.