Relentless Minnesota 2016 Part 2 My Personal Experience

Relentless Minnesota 2016 Part 2 My Personal Experience

Jul 15, 2016

As with everyone else, life has hit my training time. I had to back out of a couple of meets due to business conflicts. However, the idea of missing Relentless Minnesota (MN) 2016 was not even a concept.

I own a number of small businesses. One of them keeps me on the road about 43 weeks of the year. Starting this January, my training really became spotty. As July came closer, I regretfully had to step back from full power and perform bench only. As time marched on, as did my ‘travel weight,’ I discovered that my SDP multi-ply shirt no longer fit right.

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Entering into 2016 with expected mid to high 500 lb competition benches, I suddenly discovered I’d fallen back into my mid-400’s. When I went to meet with Brady Stewart, the founder of IronAuthority.com, and the IPF’s No. 2 bench-specialist, he and I discussed single-ply. He walked over to a shelf, ran through several shirts, picked one out and it fit perfectly.

A few days later and I was able to touch, although about 100 lbs, or so, under what I expected. This was ok as somewhere along the way I tweaked my elbow; it felt like a perpetual strike on the funny bone. However, there was no way I was going to adjust my lifting even more, so my team decided to shoot for a lighter weight and recover for WPC Worlds in November, after Relentless MN.

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All of this relates to the technical and prep part of Relentless MN. There is a reason why this meet, above all others, I will not walk away from. In addition to some great people supporting and donating to HopeKids through my funding page, there is NO WAY I was going to miss out on the experience and the opportunity to take part in maybe just brightening a few days for some special people.

Two years ago I attended Relentless Detroit to assist Clark Yeo (Canadian Powerlifting Federation – CPF) as a result of his fundraising effort. I had heard about the Relentless program and there was a lot of noise about it on Facebook, and other social media. Powerlifters posting challenges and other fundraising efforts, there must be something to this.

Here is the article from that experience: http://ironauthority.com/relentless-detroit-wow/

It was profound! I was coming off my injury but wanted to ensure I had a chance to participate and I really wanted to volunteer. The kids, the families, the sense of community and ‘giving back’ selflessly. Where did it all come from? It was suggested that I contact Scott Nutter.

I’m a mid-life, mid-level lifter, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be accepted. Worse, I was injured. I contacted Scott to interview him about the program and I learned a lot of the history (http://ironauthority.com/relentless-2016-raises-over-208k-for-hopekids-part-1/). To my surprise, he said yes to my lifting at Relentless MN 2015, and asked me to make it my full power come-back meet (I’d been lifting bench only). He also said he would really like Eric Stone, one of my 2XL Powerlifting partners, and his wife, Jackie, to participate. Eric just happened to be sitting in the office so I put him on speaker, and it was all set. Relentless MN Team 2XL Powerlifting was born.

13019_10206448244868849_3725754361947185888_nI really wanted to have the full experience, so I signed up to participate in Team Hope, a program which partners one of the lifters with one of the HopeKids program families. I was paired up with Guillermo and Jacquie Urquia and their daughter, Milena, who is living with an immunity disease. I met the family during the 2015 Kickoff event in January, as well as Milena’s talented sister, Marie (see: http://ironauthority.com/2015-relentless-kickoff/).

I was a bit nervous as March approached for my first Relentless and full power meet following my patellar tendon rupture in 2013. However, the time passed quickly and my partners Eric Stone, Joe Atef, and I, as well as Eric’s wife Jackie, made the trek to the Valley Christian Church for the program.

It was a blast! Eric and I work both in the same flight, which caused a few challenges for our handlers, but it still went smooth. The only blip was that I had taken a commercial pre-workout which caused me to crash at about the time bench came around. I literally fell asleep on my feet during warm-ups. So we did just the bench opener, which freed Joe to assist Eric. By the end of the flight I recovered and did fair in deadlift.

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I had the opportunity to spend time with my Relentless Team Hope Family, met people I only met on Facebook, create a new group of friends and attend a Sunday church event with the Urquias. Jacquie and Marie took part in an Easter play which was really great! I couldn’t wait until 2016.

Right after Relentless MN 2015, I made my career change. I was back into my consulting business and was surprised by the high demand for the services we provide. Travel escalated, but I was still able to get in some reasonable training.

I made the decision to concentrate on my company, which quickly grew then split into two companies plus the 2XL Powerlifting partnership. In October, a significant opportunity came up on the East Coast with several government contracts and, as travel escalated again, training suffered more.

In January, I ended up in Bethesda, MD, for an extended stay of 6 weeks. The local gym was OK, but catered primarily to USAPL, so did not have a monolift. There was also the lack of a cohesive team and a very limited number of equipped lifters. I was still able to concentrate on volume work plus work up the nerve to ‘walk out’ the weight.

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During the first weekend out, I had to chance to help a strongwoman team from Michigan at the ‘Snow Queen’ strongwoman event near DC. Then, shortly after, there was a large winter storm that shut down the area for about a week. Demand for my time at the client increased, plus I had at least half a dozen people on-site at any time. Training took a back seat, again.

Finally, in February, I was able to start training 2-3 days per week as I traveled around the country. Training, overall, was inconsistent, plus I had gained 30-40 lbs from the prior March.

2XL Powerlifting hosted the APF Raw Nationals at the Lombard Westin, and a number of the team traveled to Florida for the equipped nationals. I had already backed out of the Illinois State meet because of client conflicts and then discovered an engagement I had agreed to had changed. I was speaking at the same day I would have had to weigh in several states away. As a result, I did not enter equipped nationals only to find out that the organization I was speaking to adjusted the date so I could compete – a week after the competition.

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I had not prepared, so opted to do other business nearby. Travel continued to be hectic, so I requested to be moved to bench-only at Relentless MN 2016. My fundraising page was performing well and I couldn’t wait to see the family.

There was one tiny little problem – and it wasn’t me because I had become huge! Yes, I had to start using an extender belt on flights again. This also meant that I no longer fit into my new SDP bench shirt and was far into the too tight side of my older shirt. Add in tweaking my elbow so that when I was at the bottom of the press it felt like someone jabbed an ice pick into it.

Somewhere during all of this I started a fourth business – a manufacturing company partnership based near Oakland, California. Then about six weeks out from Relentless MN, Brady Stewart and I struck a deal and I took on IronAuthority.com and wrapped it in as part of SBD Publishing, my book and web-publishing arm of MotorDoc LLC.

This was no small undertaking as we had been down for about a year and the existing servers were not stable enough to maintain the site, most likely the original problem. I spent a significant amount of time with my team moving the site over to the server I maintain MotorDoc LLC and 2XL Powerlifting LLC on.

Why is this important? Sitting. The result was a significant amount of ass-plant time. This wreaked havoc with my hip flexors and my already unbalanced injured knee. I spent days hobbling around after bench. In the meantime, Brady provided me with a single-ply shirt as I felt dropping weight as at this time I was unable to straighten my left arm once I hit 450 to 475 lbs.

The good news is that I had three weeks (which became 2) of no travel to do final prep for Relentless MN. It was still at the point where I had only touched with the shirt, at about 430 lbs, 3 times, so had no idea where I would end up. However, the sleeves on the single-ply put enough pressure on the elbow that I felt comfortable.

This time, Eric and Jackie Stone, their children, Branka Stemack, Jennifer Gimmel and I traveled to the meet. Eric was lifting on Friday, July 8, and I was lifting Saturday, July 9. It was nice that there was limited pressure as I only had to worry about lifting and having a little fun.

2XL/MotorDoc (and by extension, IronAuthority) sponsored the Traps & Tiaras program, which is a promotion of women and strength. Three hundred tiaras were ordered for the girls, women and some of the male lifters who participated. Throughout Apple Valley, MN, whenever we’d enter a restaurant, there was at least one person or child wearing one of the tiaras. I will spend more time on this in Part 3.

While Eric and others were cutting into their weight classes, I didn’t see the point. I kept my SHW letters, had breakfast, weighed in, had another breakfast. As this was a sanctioned UPA (http://upapower.com) meet, we still went by all of the rules. Prior to Eric’s lift, however, I had the chance to participate with a group of kids who were having a ghost hunt with an infrared camera.

Eric performed very well at the meet. He was on stage around 2 pm as the event proceeded quickly. It was extremely well organized and ran very smoothly. One of the fun parts was that Barzeen Vaziri took charge of the microphone and had a little fun with the commentary.

The cool part was that it didn’t matter to the kids, families or lifter, whether they hit, missed or bombed. There were a lot of high fives and fist bumps.2016-07-08 18.25.44

The day ended on a high note and different groups had their reunions with other lifters and/or their HopeKids families.

The next day we casually made our way to the event. During breakfast we stayed up to speed by watching a rather cool live feed. On screen was the lifter, weight and the primary sponsor, Nubreed’s logo (http://nubreednutrition.com).

We arrived with plenty of time to watch some truly tremendous squats. Then it was time to get ready. I was a little nervous, hot and sweaty, so it was a challenge getting my shirt on. Shaun Kopplin lent a hand and, with an almost casual tug, locked it in.

I performed my lifts handled by Eric, Jen and Branka.

I was probably a little too conservative, but that was the decision. It still landed a national bench record in the UPA/AD.

However, getting up from the bench each time and doing the handshakes, high fives and fist bumps with the kids who sit there all day with bright, happy faces – the lifts meant little. The challenge, fun, comradery, energy, and constant positive messages just kept everyone going.

Through a weekend of senseless national turmoil and division our one little spot shone brightly. For once, the usual negative social media was drowned out by pictures of happy children, excited lifters, joyous parents. Sharing, laughing, crying tears of sadness and joy as people were remembered.

A group of young lifters comprised ‘Flight E’ deadlift with the whole crowd cheering, the turnover of the fundraising check to HopeKids, the deep words of Mike Hamilton and the shed tears as Shaun Kopplin was asked to come on stage to perform the memorial deadlift for Dean Bennett.

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Unfortunately, many of us had to head back Sunday morning so missed the closing picnic.

As I write this, I still feel emotionally drained. We left it all there for Hope. In the Relentless family ‘you never fight alone,’ it sounds great, but you really have to be there to truly understand.

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