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twoheadedboy
03-07-12, 4:05 am
Before I start talking about me, I have to give out the thanks - to EVERYONE I encountered, but a handful absolutely must be specially mentioned, in no particular order:

-Natural Guy and G Diesel: For being super nice, accommodating, and patient with me. At times this weekend I required: A water bottle, a t-shirt, and pants. All were provided. You must think I'm the most unorganized twit on the face of the Earth but it's really not the case and I hope I get the opportunity to show otherwise next year!
-Higa, Ed Coan (if he's here), and the rest of the deadlifting crew at the ABC: The instruction, encouragement, and TIME was absolutely priceless. I still can't believe it.
-Ghost, Phil, NiX0r, Josh, Mr. Dead: One new friend, 4 old ones in the crew that got me to and through Columbus and supported me there. I should also add Wedge to that list, as an old online friend, new in-person, having been able to lift with him Saturday and work with him Sunday after participating with him in Rage's contest.

Please don't feel slighted if you were not named above...I am deeply appreciative of everyone who crossed my path during the 4 days. There were so many words of encouragement, training tips, amazing seminars, and more from Universal/Animal staff, exhibitors, and Forvm members that I could really credit each and every one of you.

Thursday:
Woke up at 4am. Had bowling league the night before, threw clothes in the wash and went to bed. Threw them in the dryer upon waking. Hastily packed as Josh was coming "between 5:00 and 6:00". He was there at 5:00 on the dot. I was ready by 5:30. We roll into Columbus that afternoon and get Raising Cane's with the rest of the Chicago crew making the trip. Next up is grocery shopping, hotel arrangements/nap, and training. Hit a new PR on squats at 255, missed 275. Great burger and such at Max and Erma's, though NiX0r stole the leftover cookies. Rode with Phil to pick up Mr. Dead at the airport, then jumped in the hot tub at the hotel before bed. This was a long ass day, but the fun hadn't even started yet.

Friday:
Get to the Arnold early so the other Chicago dudes could get to their assigned posts. I was hoping to borrow an exhibitor pass long enough to get through, but no dice. Queued up with everyone else and made a mad dash for the Animal cage, getting one of every limited T-shirt. Scoped out the lay of the land with The Cage, but then I went around to the other booths since I wasn't working. A certain booth across from the front's Emcee's voice will haunt my dreams for a long time, so shrill and annoying. Watching the staff jump rope endlessly across from the back will also be a long lasting memory. Then the one across from the back corner's constant wraparound lines for nothing but a moment of face time with a prominent staff bodybuilder seemed sad in comparison for what you get from the Cage. I was also astounded by the presence of a GUTTER HELMET booth, WTF?! I didn't see a single person there the whole time. Food was pretty terrible and expensive, should have remembered the Einstein Bros. stand a bit farther down the way sooner than Sunday morning. I've never been to a trade show like this, so it was a very interesting and at times amusing learning experience. In hindsight, late Friday afternoon is the best time to make the non-Animal rounds (if desired).

Straight in to training again. Today was bench and other assorted tri's work. Not a great workout, I think Phil and I would both agree that this training day was almost unnecessary - ESPECIALLY, in my case, after having to pay $15 for the privilege of working out there (1 day interns were apparently not on the list). I mean, $10 for a day pass is highway robbery but is the going rate around, anything more than that is ludicrous. The predatory festival pricing was really the only unexpectedly disappointing part of the entire weekend (not Animal's fault). BD's afterward, followed by a long walk back to the car after the temp had dropped about 15 degrees and the wind had picked up considerably.

Saturday:
After the pace maintained since Wednesday night (+6 hrs sleep total between Monday and Tuesday, and PR squats Thursday), my legs were pretty beat so I decided to park it in the Cage all day. This was a good choice, as the demonstrations were all top notch and the festival was absolutely PACKED all day. Tonight was the night I've been thinking about since the beginning of the year: My PR deadlift attempt. It's been almost my sole focus and training goal the whole time and I wasn't going to do anything to fuck up my chances to accomplish my goal, or get the most out of my training session with Higa and Seath. I actually left the festival an hour early since all that was left was bench your bodyweight, something I had already seen 3 times by this point, and I got some appropriately timed food and took a nap in the parking lot until it was ABC time. I sat down every chance I had all day to save my legs and back. I doubled up my pre's for the first time ever and then went out to throw myself at the mercy of Higa and Seath. Lo and behold, the roster of lifters attending this session just got more insane by the minute with Ed Coan and Richard 'The Ant" Hawthorne showing up, as well as Sam Byrd to get some pointers...Ed helped EVERYBODY out, it was like the pilgrimage to the Lama in Tibet or something, absolutely awe-inspiring. I've lifted in Ed's gym, shook his hand earlier in the day, but now he's watching me deadlift and giving me pointers along with Higa. What more needs to be said? Simply that there was no way I wasn't going to pick up my targeted PR of 315. As some background, I suffered minor back injuries in September and December 2010, but the big one was March 2011 when I failed at 325 and still managed to get 305. I did nothing for a month, light work for months after that, started visiting a chiro, but nothing fixed my back more than starting to pull again (CAREFULLY and stretching. As of the end of the year I had not picked up anything heavier than 185, though I was back to squatting over 200. I took a very ambitious schedule of 2x per week deadlifting where I went up 10 lbs every time until I failed on a very low volume program and I didn't stall until I got to 295, which I finally picked up on my 4th try in my last workout before the Arnold (thanks to coaching and motivation by the Chicago/Detroit ABC crews). So anyway...my 1st attempt was there but the bar wasn't collared and I apparently did not pull with consistent speed on both sides, because one side got dumped and nearly hit Higa! Higa's tip for me as well was that I was setting up sitting back TOO far, which was actually kind of nice because I've been overemphasizing this element of my setup due to previous tendencies pointed out to me, caused by a lack of flexibility in my hams. So on my 2nd attempt I didn't think about this element, and as a result I perched myself way too far over the bar and got it about an inch off the ground. Ed let me know of this and I decided I'd give it one more try...on which, after a very sloooow pull, I got it, and it felt amazing. Again, thanks to everyone involved for your input and support. Animal gave out very nice gift bags and then catered BBQ after the event. The generosity of this event is unbelievable...though I obviously paid a lot for a lot of different things on this trip, the only requirements for swag, Ed Coan and Higa training, and a catered meal were owning and wearing an Animal T-Shirt and posting on the Forvm. What other company does this? The day ended with more hot tub, though I was sad to leave the site of the ABC.

Sunday:
My work day. Due to some logistical difficulties we got going later than intended and I was pressed for time. I show up, and either they ran out of staff shirts or I never got one in the mail. I was never asked for my address, but I'm sure someone has it somewhere from something else that I've won or done, so I didn't think anything of it. I also came in blue jeans instead of black pants, which turns out was at the bottom of the intern scheduling post but not in Ghost's message to me, and I didn't read that far into it once seeing the day I worked and being pressed for time. It was my fault on both accounts but the staff hooked me up with pants that were somehow my exact size and a shirt and I worked the day. There was nothing to sell so I spent a lot of the day floating and watching more Cage exhibitions, though I covered Phil's lunch and happily operated as errand boy a few times. I actually had a great time behind the sales counter, as it brought me back to a role I had not served since high school. I definitely got an energy boost from the pace and felt confident in answering the questions about what Pak and Rage do. Originally I was a little disappointed to not be working all weekend with my friends, but I'm glad I got to more fully experience the Cage and the Arnold as a whole the other days since it was my first time. I definitely hope to be selected for a more demanding workload next year though, even if it's just a day earlier in the run. All good things must come to an end, and so must this, so goodbyes were said and Josh and I hit the road for the long drive home. After passing through some nasty lake effect weather in NW Indiana and a few stops for caffeine and power naps, we made it home safely. I used my brief 2nd wind reserves to throw my clothes in the laundry again because the next day meant that I would be leaving for my NEXT trip, where I just arrived 2 hours ago: The USBC national open bowling tournament in Baton Rouge, also driven. I managed to throw 8 games with my new equipment and swing by Peoria on my way to Davenport (the starting point) to see my girlfriend for a little while before heading out this morning at 8am with my team, and yes, eating at Lambert's Cafe along the way.

I would be remiss without mentioning some of the great exhibitions specifically, but I don't have my card with me on THIS trip and it's tough to remember them in chronological order so I'll tick off a few of the good ones:

-The Ant 600+ for 4. I'm not sure this should be possible.
-Byrd 635 no belt no wraps no HANDS.
-Seath squatting (800x2 I think?) is a sight to behold.
-The fully equipped 1105 squat was amazing too.
-P Diesel's 500 for reps despite food poisoning and fairly severe looking shin abrasions only to come in 2nd to Higa who put on a strongman demonstration 24 hours prior was pretty insane.

Important things I missed: Arnold's appearance and Vinny's speech (due to walking the floor), most of the female powerlifting Sunday (due to working). Still, I think I did pretty good for my first time out in picking my battles.

What more can I say, yet no matter where I stop I will be leaving something of worth out. How can I not be a part of this next year? I'd love to be pulling 405+, 1000+ raw total, and put in a respectable performance in bench your bodyweight next year...........

smoothballer
03-07-12, 9:17 am
Good to meet you this weekend bro

wedge
03-07-12, 4:12 pm
It was good to meet you last weekend bro. Keep pulling. Soon you'll be warming up with the 315.

Mr. Dead
03-07-12, 4:34 pm
It was truly great to meet you this weekend...!!! My apologies for the earth shattering snoring...

Phil800101
03-07-12, 6:45 pm
Glad you were able to make it, and that you had an awesome time bro!

RedlegDbell
03-07-12, 10:29 pm
Well done THB. I need to bookmark all of these Cage recaps and read them once in a while to keep the memories fresh. You're all killin it with these recaps. Appreciate all the different points of view.

C.Coronato
03-09-12, 4:55 pm
Good to meet you brotha. Glad you enjoyed it, and no worries about the uniform. Glad we got it all worked out!

twoheadedboy
03-12-12, 4:02 am
Since a few others were aware of my plans post-Arnold, I thought I'd update here...I'm back from my USBC Open Championships (aka "nationals") trip that unfortunately started the day I returned home from The Cage. My bowling was inconsistent over the 9 games, but I pulled off a 605 3-game set for singles that might get me some cash...the oil pattern at the national tournament is VERY hard; I'd estimate that most bowlers are going to average about 20 pins less per game based on what I was seeing. I was the only bowler across 15 lanes at 400+ after 2 games in singles, so better than at least 29 others on my squad. I also dealt with severe knee pain not made any better by the movie-theater-floor-esque approaches. I had a great time in Baton Rouge, and Memphis on the way back if nothing else, and it was a great experience, though the pomp and circumstance was kind of bush league after just spending the weekend in the Cage! It was pretty cool to see the 50 consecutive year participants honored...I got a late start so I'll have to surpass 80 to even have a shot at that!

Thanks again everyone...you haven't heard the last from me. You've barely seen the beginning, I hope (and believe).

naturalguy
03-12-12, 10:24 am
It was great to meet you and thanks for your help at The Cage.