My First Meet

Josh gets the down signal from his judge after making his 103Kg Snatch.

Josh gets the down signal from his judge after making his 103Kg Snatch.

Fury had a very busy weekend. In addition to the Endurance Club’s first triathlon (turned duathlon by the storm) there were 5 lifters that traveled to Flagstaff for the Crossfit Flagstaff Weightlifting Championship. For several of us, this was our first time to compete in a USA Weightlifting sanctioned meet. For me, this was a chance to see if 5 months of work to retool my lifts had paid off.

Unlike in a Crossfit event, USAW judges the technical accuracy of its lifts. You have 3 attempts for a max snatch, then 3 attempts for a max clean and jerk. The snatch and clean and jerk both have to be performed to particular standards and the finish, or landing, have to be completed without pressing out the bar and held overhead until the judge gives the ‘down’ command.

Josh getting some pointers from Olympic lifting Coach, Matt Foreman.

Josh getting some pointers from Olympic lifting Coach, Matt Foreman.

For me, this means that all of the lifting I had been doing for 5 years of crossfit would not have counted. I have struggled with the technical accuracy and efficiency of the Olympic lifts since learning them. As a result, I had hit a limit on my lifts and had not seen gains in a long time. To remedy this I set out, with the help of Matthew Foreman, to retool my technique.

It was humbling, but I spent about 6 weeks below 70% of my old max and another month at 80% or less. I spent a lot of time on technique work and establishing the right kind of movements. While watching others hit new PRs and get stronger I was on a longer path toward progress. I stayed consistent and trusted the process. As time progressed I made progress in my technique, but there were setbacks. I had plenty of times when I had bad sessions and I got frustrated. I also had times when I wanted to put more weight on the bar and try for heavier weight. But I trusted the process.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I was able to complete all 6 of my attempted lifts without any of the three judges “red lighting” my lifts and I matched an old snatch PR at 103. I also landed a clean and jerk at 125. This wasn’t a PR, but it was a PR for a legal lift in a sanctioned meet. While these weights might not win any national records, it was a huge success for me. It was the payoff for 5 months of patience, hard work and commitment to a concept.

Julio Laboy, Liz Khoury, Deana Gillespey, Josh MacDonald and Jeff Castro all took part in their first ever USAW Olympic lifting meet in Flagstaff last weekend.

Julio Laboy, Liz Khoury, Deana Gillespey, Josh MacDonald and Jeff Castro all took part in their first ever USAW Olympic lifting meet in Flagstaff last weekend.

What is the take-away from this story? First, be willing to step into the arena and test yourself. Whether it is a triathlon, 5k, lifting meet or crossfit competition, step out and compete. With all of the training and work that you put in at the gym, be courageous enough to put yourself on the line and risk failure. If you fail, you learn from it. If not, the rewards are well worth it. And second, when your coach tells you to take weight off the bar and work on technique, listen. Not for just one or 2 lifts. Be willing to humble yourself in the short term for the long term rewards. If you really want the payout then you will be willing to put in the work.

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