“NO MAS” – N.A.S. NATIONALS – LOUIS COSTA – SMITTY’S BAR – DENNISON, TEXAS
As a sports loving, red blooded, meat eating, 1,000 lb yokin’, beer guzzling and football watching MAAAYYOONN ( man ) – I freaking’ love the 30 for 30 Films by ESPN and unless you wear size 30 pants and have really trendy scarves you should also.
Simply, this is why – THERE IS NOT 1 BORING FILM – IN ANY OF THEM !!!
Wanna watch Ali train for his last big fight with Larry Holmes as the slow decline of Parkinson’s is obvious to every body but him? Sounds Fascinating.
Tennis transgender titillating scandal? Yes Please.
The end of the AFL caused by the one and only Donald Trump? Duh, Of course.
Do you wanna live the friendship between Mike Tyson and Tupac ? This one is for the brothers’ and ME !
NWA / SNOOP / LAS ANGELES RAIDERS and the riots of 1992?- Hell Yes!
Sometimes I get bored and just challenge myself to try and not like certain films that I think I wouldn’t be interested in.
Canadian Cross Country Runner ?- BORRRRINGGG – Canadian cross country runner fighting cancer, running across North America AND captivating an entire nation ?? – Why didn’t you tell me that!!!
Think watching Olympic Gold Medalist Marion Jones admit to steroid use is old news? You’ll feel differently after watching what it did to her family.
Sure Ricky Williams smoking pot and ruining his NFL career sounds ok to watch, did I think it would leave me crying on the floor, dehydrated for 2 days questioning my purpose in life ? – didn’t see that one coming.
As I laid anxiously waiting for the 2013 NAS Nationals to commence in Dennison Texas, I downloaded the newest 30 for 30 – ” No Mas ” – The confusing, abrupt and blatant ” I quit – No More” by the Cuban assassin Roberto Duran during his second Super Fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Per usual, the film had me glued to the screen as I ate my 5th Chipotle burrito for the day watching like a kid loving his saturday morning cartoons.
For a casual boxing fan like myself it was a part of boxing history that was a bit before my time and fascinating to watch as the world stopped to cheer these two top middle weights in 1980.
Obviously, The second “No Mas” fight in which Roberto quit in the 8th round was the center of attention but boxing aficionados and Sugar Ray himself said the end of the first fight and in defeat is what really defined the respect for Sugar Ray’s career.
Roberto was a killer. Undefeated. Steely eyed. Considered the hardest puncher pound for pound, half criminal and angry as hell. They hated each other and Roberto beat Sugar Ray badly for 8 bloody rounds.
In a very candid moment, Leonard admitted that a very large part of him did not want to continue the fight at that point. He knew it would be nearly impossible to beat Duran after the hole he had dug himself into up until that point in the fight.
Sugar Ray knew his record was now tarnished. He felt his handlers had led him to a slaughter. But he kept on. Because that was what he thought a man should do. He wanted to prove he would not quit. That he wouldn’t dance around Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and that he could take the punishment.
Sugar came back and won the final 7 rounds on a complete turn of events and although he lost the split decision, he gained the respect of fight fans / his peers and the world by coming out and fighting the brawling style of Duran blow for blow and almost winning.
Sugar said of his decision to keep going, ” I had not other choice. I had to continue. It was the only thing to do.”
It was an intriguing moment in the documentary. One that hit home with me at the moment as I asked myself and actually verbalized to Amanda – “I wonder how I would react in that situation?”
Many times I have the ” I want to quit” sensation in strongman. It’s bred in me for some reason. It was nice to see another athlete willing to admit it.
Strongman is fucking hard. Its brutal hard. Its much different than getting punched in the face of course, but the implements do not grow tired or scared. They are a determined value. No changing their mind. No backing them off or falling to intimidation.
The onus is placed upon yourself as a competitor. Do I have the will to overcome this ? The want ? The strength ? The stamina ?
Little did I know how much I would literally rely on Sugar’s words to get me through one of my darkest points in the sport.
My Training for this Nationals was absolutely 100% spot on. Sleep, Training, Nutrition – It was all the best I’ve ever done. After placing so well at the Arnold I had promised myself to finish off this dream, get the win and pro card at nationals and go enjoy the Arnold in 2014.
All indicators and metrics that I use to gauge success going into a show seemed to be pointing to this happy little daydream actually coming to fruition. My motivation was there, my body felt great, we arrived a day early with the IRONMILL crew and felt ready to all out ROCK!!!
AXLE CLEAN AND PRESS – 325 LBS.
Going into warmups I felt freaking jump- out- of -my -skin ready !!!! Beside the nearly 3 hour delay that preceded the announced start time of the show of course. I stopped taking C4 and Dark Rage recently along with all the other pre workout stimulants I previously relied on for energy due to what we will call “sever stomach irritation.”
I knew that electric feeling was my body telling me things were going to go really well and not just too much C4 about to be avulsed from my intestines.
I stepped up to the Axle and everything felt ridiculously easy but the judge was holding me about a second too long on each rep and threw me off big time. He was doing it for everyone and the guy before me did 9 reps so I really have no excuse.
It took me out of my groove and after feeling incredible I only posted a score of 5 reps. Put me about mid pack to start and frustrated the hell out of me absolutely knowing that 8 or 9 was in my wheel house. My shoulder flexibility does kills me and saps wayyyy too much energy holding the clean once and press for reps.
“So be it, ” I said to myself. “I have plenty of time to make it up.”
KEG LOAD AND WHEELBARROW MEDLEY – 220/250/270 kegs – Wheelbarrow back 75 ft.
This was close to the exact medley at the Arnold last year. Let me tell you it absolutely sucked then and it was going to suck now.
It was maybe a tiff light on the last keg compared to the Arnold but being so late at night – We had about 6 hours standing around and only 1 event in by this point – I was not looking forward to this.
That being said. I was determined to win this event. I told myself, literally, die out there and put yourself back in the drivers position. You can see on the video I went full Lou Retard (Something i learned from Andy Deck) and smoked through the course.
I was in second place in this event when I finished just being edged out by Big John Posen and fell to 4th or 5th after the entire field went. I was a bit surprised thinking I was flying through this medley but it is a testament to how deep this field of athletes really was with my best shot not getting the job done for 1st.
It surprised me and silently I gulped very hardly at the idea my best was getting beat. I was still very happy with how I placed – I gained a ton of points – was going to be one of the last ones to go on my best event the car deadlift – life is good right ?
I crawled into a dirty corner of Smitty’s Bar outside patio somewhere near the port -a -johns and laid on the concrete trying to get rid of the brain Itis from pushing my bloated strongman body to the edges of its sub par conditioning.
I laid, gasping for air, hoping for death and gazing at the Texas sky lit with stars and listened to the shrieks of torture as the first heavies started pulling on the now infamous CarDeadlift. Like a prisoner hearing the gallows’s fate befall his fellow inmates.
I thought to myself: Dear God, Make me a bird, So I can fly straight into Dione’s face and get out of this horrible event.
CAR DEADLIFT – BALLS HEAVY
Watching everyone pull and strain and struggle with this car was not really evoking confidence within myself. I was hitting the frame periodically staying warmed up awaiting my turn. I was angry. I envisioned myself pulling 10 reps. Tearing into the handles. The previous brain-Itis from the kegs was gone and I remembered last year seeing the same exact thing: guys mostly failing on the cardeadlift.
I watched a few guys pull 2 and 3 reps on my exact car so I knew that all that incredibly hard training of mine would carry me through. I dreamed of pulling 10 – jumping on the car and dancing badly to celebrate my victory.
Nothing would’ve led me to believe other wise. I’m good at this remember ???
I stepped up. Mike Johnston hurried us through our strap ups – I actually use versa grips so my strap time is minimal – but no worry…we definitely wont be going for the full minute. I Set my foot position – listened to everyone screaming at me and ripped into this godamned heavy beast car.
It lifted up – and then I felt like I was going to meet god. Or rip out my lat, pec and have a heart attack. First time in my life I have never not been able to pick something up. Especially something like this I am so confident in. I didn’t even get nervous.
I thought “….Ok. Now: Damage control. 10 reps on this event is definitely out. We need to get 1 rep because so many people zeroed this event.”
Infact I spent the whole training cycle telling Jeremy Harrison my training partner that 1 rep would mean a world of points on this event because of the scoring in strongman. 0 reps = 0 points
Regrouping – I reset my feet – dug in. The car lifted and I felt pressure like I have never felt across my chest. I kept pulling. Abruptly coming close to passing out and dying as everyone jumped out to grab me.
Look, I’m a gamer. But even old Lou would’ve said go ahead and take a break. But that was not happening at this point. I went back. Dug down against my better judgement and tried one more time to lift the car. Not happening. I scream some profanity like a bad child and instantly I knew my chance to win Nationals was over as my best event failed me. Sad little Louis at this point. Actually super pissed off Louis.
Matt Makara, Jeremy and myself sat for an hour doing contrast baths in the pool/jacuzzi later that night and I bitched and moaned and talked myself into a pissed off fury.
Amanda cried on the way back to the hotel. I asked her “Honey what is wrong?!” She replied with little welled up tears in her eyes and pregnant belly, “I just know you’ve worked so hard for this and to watch you try so hard is making me cry!!” – I gave her a little hug, said everything will be ok, plenty of show left and tried to convince myself that was actually true.
The truth be told I was confused. Was my training not right anymore ? Was the IRONMILL way failing me? Am I just not strong enough? Was it motivation ? Attitude ? It was confusing. Very low point and very hard to sleep.
I was staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night and decided to turn back on the ” NO MAS ” 30 for 30 Documentary. At this point it was almost uncanny the resemblance in positioning – attitude and feeling that Sugar Ray described. You have to wonder on some level if it was not a self fulfilling prophecy to put myself in this position. To ask myself, “Do I really have what it is made of?”
My answer was basic and what I tell everyone. I can only try my best, trust in my training and absolutely go for it. I decided I would not quit. I would not fake like I was trying. I would come back, show up and go all out and hope things turned for the better.
Day 2: Yoke and Frame Medley / Press Medley / Stone Carry Over Bar
After my fifth day of eating Best Western’s free complimentary eggs, sausage, biscuits topped with weird sausage gravy and delicious croissants; this once delightful meal at this point became bland and somewhat unbearable. I gagged down some extra biscuit with blood pressure gravy and headed off to my pre morning ritual – FACEBOOK ON THE CAN.
I used to be politically savvy, informed and could hold intellectual conversations with people. Now, I unfortunately know what you all had for dinner and your thoughts on ObamaCare instead. My reading actual world events has been replaced with steamy Kalle Beck “selfie” ab shots and witty Iron Sport Strength Gossip. What a use of technology!
As I sat and wrote a rare self motivating / explanation of my shoddy day 1 performance on Facebook I felt like channeling my inner R. Kelly on what was going to happen during Day 2 of Nationals.
My own version of, “Now I don’t usually do this but – Let me go ahead and break you off a little preview of the remix.” I tried to vent my anger to the furthest expanse of my Facebook grasp and headed angrily for Day 2.
As soon as we got to the venue, we were treated to change # 54 for the show. There will no longer be 4 events on this day. Only 3 and they were combining the Frame and Yoke ( My best two events ) into 1 big medley.
2 thoughts –
1- I was pissed that I trained heavy sled drag so much and was expecting to do really well here. Half of the Heavies didn’t even want to be there anymore and the drag is a guts event. I wanted it.
2. Combining two of my very good events in the Frame and Yoke would lead to less chances of points for me and considering I was sitting in 30TH F’N PLACE starting day 2 – I needed all the chances to make ground up I could.
I thought I’m going to annihilate these events and I still not make it to the top 15 ( Arnold Qualification ) and the only real reason I was here.
Time to do work.
Yoke – 870 lb. / Frame – 720lb. Medley
2 day contests are tricky. To me, It really separates the competitors and the guys that just like doing strongman. The soreness, the wait, the ability to peak and rest 6 or 7 times over 2 days I have learned is an art form. I have too much of a football background but I like watching the opponent’s eyes and I get off on seeing people’s will get broken. During warmup’s and in the faces of a lot of guys I saw they wanted no part of these heavy ass Day 2 events and It excited me. I trained for this, I saved money for this, I killed myself for this and I was going to make good on my R. Kelly Facebook Promises and make godamned well sure I was not going to go out quietly.
Warmups went fine. When it was my turn to go on the frame I felt like caged lion. I was mad at the spotters for not moving stuff fast enough. I was mad at Mike for not announcing quick enough. I was mad at my stupid yellow shirt. I was mad at the little kids looking so happy in the audience. I was obviously just pissed at myself for ruining this opportunity and what better event to take it out on then YOKE.
Amanda and Myself talked and I said – If I were leading the overall show ( which I obviously was not) – I would just take it nice and smooth through this run not making mistakes.
REALITY – and placings being where they were- I absolutely needed to be reckless.
Whistle sounded. Took off and almost tipped the damn yoke over. Gritted my teeth, bore down and took off. Snarling the whole fucking way. I wanted to run that thing into a wall and try and break it.
Transition into Frame went well. I picked the 720lb. frame and was disgusted at how lite it felt. I thought, “How dare they insult me with these boring ass weights.” You can hear the warrior yell as I knew I was going to finish and FAST. I was yelling for my body to pick up the pace! ” Come On! ” I willed my neoprene clad legs as I sprinted through the finish line. Glasses flying off. Weights Crashing. Crowd Screaming. My time was 28 seconds here. Missed 1st by 4 tenths of a second. Gained a lot of ground.
I felt like I was the f’n man and I wanted people to know I didn’t come here to play. Obviously that is all the adrenaline and anger coming out but you have to have that inside you to be successful in this sport. If your not confident and borderline insane your in the wrong sport.
I watched 20 guys go home with injuries. This is tough. You must be an F’n Man and insane to compete here and survive.
Everyone asks me to write a training manual for IRONMILL. THE IRONMILL WAY. I reply, “What am I going to write ???” – BE INTENSE and yell like an IDIOT? It may be a best seller We’ll call it the L’UBE METHOD.
After this event I felt like good ol’ George W. Standing in front of the Mission Accomplished sign. Just feelin’ all RETARDLY PROUD.
Press Medley – 350 Log / 305 Axle / 210 Circus Dumbell / 270 Keg
In strongman. It’s obviously an advantage to go last in a certain event to see how many number of reps you need to beat your competition by.
For this medley, it was damn near imperative to have that advantage.
The Log was upped 20lbs to 350lbs and everything else stayed the same. Strategy is key if you are not strong enough to press all 4, playing to your strengths and hiding your weakness in these style events are fun strategically to plan out, bullshit about and ultimately constantly worry about for the 4 training months leading up to it.
After the disappointing press number from the day before, I was cautiously optimistic about how this would go. Only 5 or 6 out of the 64 person heavyweight field ended up finishing all 4 implements and some really strong pressers were having a helleva time with the implements. Couple that with the fact I still was only in 20th place at this point – a bad showing could very well of cost the coveted Top 15 Arnold Invite, even after placing so well the event before.
Honestly, I felt really good. I wasn’t really sore, I was still frothing at the mouth and super eager to get out there and show off the training. I love competing. I never get to do this. Most of our lifting is done in private, for only the dusty ass IRONMILL walls to witness. To me: this is the time to have fun and shine.
Being in the last heat due to placings from previous events I couldn’t believe how fast the few finishers were. In training, I had managed only 62 seconds while some guys were finishing in 40 here. I knew I had better bring the HEAT like PACINO.
Cleaned the 350 lb. log. Took an extra second to be absolutely sure it was stable and it blasted off my shoulders like it was nothing. I was surging with adrenaline after this because I knew the rest was already in the books.
The dumbbell. The Axle. Both easy. Ripped belt off. Cleaned the keg and screamed as I felt it locking out. Celebrated like a wild animal, scared some young children and felt like a million bucks.
Finished in 42 seconds. Huge PR.
Ended up 3rd overall here beating almost all of the guys that had beaten me the day before on Axle. Felt vindicated and slightly bloated. $6.99 All you can eat hamburgers at Smitty’s will do that to a lad.
Stone Carry Over Bar – 310 / 330 / 350
I had moved up into 10th place at this point with a comfortable distance between myself and 15th place. The stones have turned into a very good event for me after training them feverishly for the past 2 years.
We had walked and loaded our 410 in practice so I was not concerned with the weight of the stones, but more over the fact that 5 guys in the first 6 heats were clutching their hamstrings and screaming in agony.
Its slightly off putting watching 300 + lb men scream in pain at an event you are about to partake in. It felt like a much less lethal version of the beaches at Normandy. Saving Private Costa style.
Not very many guys were finishing all 3 stones so I knew that’s all I would need. I stayed warmed up, infact I probably wasted more energy warming up for this event than I had the entire show. It was freezing and I really like my hamstrings, biceps ect. where they are currently placed so I wanted to make sure they were ready to rock out as well.
Finished first two stones pretty easy. Got to the 3rd and final 350lb. stone and it was a mess. Dusty. Heavy. Freezing. I knew I just had to finish so I took my time, walked it in. Tacked up and loaded it with 1 second left. All in the master design my friends cutting it that close to wire
That last stone load solidified my Arnold Qualification and put a stamp on a second day in which I told myself, you either have it or you don’t, show it now if you do.
It feels amazing to have a terrible day and to comeback ask your body for more and have it respond brilliantly. To believe it’s there inside of you, to trust in what you’ve done and come back and perform how you know your capable. It was a moving experience for me.
This NATIONALS was the hardest and longest show I’ve had to go through mentally. Two 8 hour days. Trying to stay positive. Trying to believe in what we do as a gym and myself.
Physically I was ready for the extra event, I wanted to compete! Mentally is was a struggle.
I will say this. With all of the IRONMILL immediate family and extended family. It was so nice having all of you there physically or in spirit.
The fact that I had so many people text me, say something in person, Facebook, the phone calls, it was really an amazing experience to OVERCOME ! I had to plug it sorry But when you get it tattooed on your chest and you wear it on the back of your shirts it would be pretty silly to give in when things get hard.
I can’t Thank Amanda and Jeremy enough for being there every step of the way. What a terrible trip, but when your with the best people in the world its always atleast worthwhile.
Love All You –
Looking forward to flat out bringing it at the ARNOLD. There is no stopping now.
Lift intensely, Be smart in your training, Watch 30 for 30 and NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER.
Lou – OUT