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On March 23rd I had the privilege of competing in the 2011 USAPL GNC Pro Deadlift at the Empire Classic in Spokane, Washington. The deadlift event was held in conjunction with the 10th annual Empire Classic bodybuilding contest. Five lifters competed for cash prizes and the biggest deadlift of the day in front of a wild crowd at the Northern Quest Casino and Resort. This contest also served as a qualifying meet for the GNC Pro Deadlift at the 2012 Arnold Sports Festival.
I had set 3 goals going into this contest: 1. Post a good enough Wilk’s score to qualify for the 2012 Arnold Classic, 2. Set a personal record in the deadlift, and 3. Have fun! The combination of a great competition venue, lifting with fellow TEAM HMB members Brad Gillingham and John Connor, and a raucous crowd were sure to make for a fun night of competition.
The pulling kicked off at about 8pm and took place in between the finals rounds of the bodybuilding contest. A 45-minute wait between warm-ups and the actual competition resulted in some first attempts feeling pretty heavy for the competitors and it was no different for me. I opened with a first attempt of 716. The weight felt (and probably looked) heavier than it should have, but was just what I needed to wake up the nervous system. I asked for 749 for my second attempt and this is where the nervous system really started to kick into high gear. The crowd really started to get loud during the second attempts and I know the lifters really appreciated it. The second attempt of 749 felt about the same as 716. After getting the down signal from the judges and three white lights I knew I was in business and had a very legitimate shot at a personal record for my final attempt.
After a short deliberation in my mind I called for 777 for my third attempt. Going into this contest I was planning on taking 782 for my third attempt, but the long wait after warm-ups damped my nervous system enough that I chose to play it a little more conservative and just go for the personal record (my previous best deadlift in competition was 771). As it got closer and closer to being my turn to take my final attempt I knew in my mind that I would have to get a place mentally that I had never gotten before. I could pull 777, but it was going to take everything I had.
The crowd started to rumble in anticipation of some big pulls in the final round of this competition. As I stood stage right waiting for the weight to be loaded and my name to be called my nervous system excitation was at an all-time high. I approached the platform and the crowd got louder and louder. The lifters fed off of the crowd and the crowd fed off of the lifters. I got in position, grabbed the bar and pulled with everything I had – good speed off the floor, a little stall at the knees and then a strong lock-out. The crowd noise was deafening at this point. I turned to my left to see three white lights and celebrated with the crowd and the rest of the lifters. Finally . . . a new personal record!
The Empire Classic was the funnest contest I have ever participated in. It’s never the result that makes an event special. It is the people. Enjoying time with my friends Brad Gillingham and Shawn Baier was priceless and a true blessing. I also had the privilege of meeting two other quality people who are talented lifters in their own right in Randal Harris and Erik Kalbuske. Congratulations goes to TEAM HMB members Brad Gillingham and John Connor who finished first and third, respectively.
A big thank you goes to TEAM HMB and all of the support they continue to give me. HMB remains a staple of my supplement and recovery regimen and provides the edge I need to continually push my training to new levels.