Monday, February 15, 2010

What's 415 Pounds Between Friends?

My new wristwraps and a brochure for the bench press competition arrived within a day of each other.

I guess it's a go.

March 12 is the cut-off for early registration. I'll want to meet this deadline in order to receive a T-shirt and giftbag--one of my fondest memories from last year's competition involves me, the giftbag, and a man who benched enough weight to bend the bar.

Flights of lifters are organized according to bar weight, which means that the person lifting the most is immediately followed by the person lifting the lightest weight. That put me in line after Gideon, who benched 525 pounds. In my memory Gideon is wearing a singlet and a swirly mustache, and he's walking around with a barbell labelled "10,000" at each end. In reality he was an average, if large, man, and his mustache, if not swirly, did stand out as the only hair on his head.

Gideon, who hadn't registered early, sat bemused as I ruffled through the contents of my giftbag. I looked over at this large man and taunted him.

"You know you want this," I said, waving a sunscreen sample. "It's got a 'light peach scent.'"

"I could put it on my head," Gideon said, running a hand over his cleanly-shaven skull.

"Actually, I think this one will suit you better," I said, holding out a new packet. "'Lemon Skin Brightening Serum for Day and Night.' Here, take it. It's on me."

We went on like this for some time, interrupted occasionally by vicious shouting. I've never fully understood this shout-method of coaching, especially for the bench press. Some poor chap is under a heavy bar and he's got several large men barking in his face as he tries to push it up. I can understand a sustained yell, maybe. But bursts of shouting? Scary. I'd definitely be dropping something.

Beyond the thrill of teasing a large, animal-like creature, I learned some things from Gideon. We first met directly following the 525 lift. He walked past me, I congratulated him, and said, "So."

LARGE MAN: Yes?
AMY: You failed at your attempt at 500.
LARGE MAN: Yes.
AMY: So why did you declare 525 for your next lift? And how did you get it?

This progression of events had caught my eye; a jump of 25 pounds for Gideon is like 5 or 10 for me, and I was intimately familiar with the difference a mere 5 pounds on the bar can make. Gideon explained that he knew his wrists weren't wrapped correctly on the lift at 500, which set him up for a bad start. He was confident he could get 525, and he did (with much shouting).

So there we were: the person who lifted the least amount of weight and the one who lifted the most, talking about the mechanics of what we just did, which was the same thing. "My shoulder hurts here," I told Gideon. "Mine, too!" he said. The 415 pound difference aside, we could commiserate.

This year, my goal is to be a little further down the flight list. But I'll be sure to catch a seat next to Gideon anyway, if only to lean over and take in a faint whiff of peaches.

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