Catching Up Etc

I’ve been keeping relatively busy since the Olympics. This past weekend I went to an outdoor retreat sort of thing at a camp called Indian Head in Equinunk, PA. The retreat was being run by a local outdoor adventure company called Trap Door Athletics that was recently started by two of the members from my gym. They asked me to come along and take pictures for them and I agreed because I love action photography, especially outdoors. It would take awhile to write a recap of the weekend because there were a lot of events from Olympic weightlifting to gymnastics to a ropes course to an obstacle course and so on. I didn’t participate in much due to the photography stuff but I did do a little bit of weightlifting on Friday — including a 401lb deadlift in flip flops. It wasn’t a personal record or very tough but it was a personal record in flip flops! Although, except for the excess padding in flip flops, they are not really a bad piece of footwear for deadlifting. Anyway, there are a few hundred pictures (including one of me deadlifting) in this album so you can check it out to get a feel for the weekend. Everyone seems to really like my photography so I’m happy about that.

Speaking of photography, I’ve amassed a nice little lens collection. At this point I have my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II (my main workhorse), 50mm f/1.8 D (a cheap lens, but good), 85mm f/1.8 D (really good portrait lens) and 17-35mm f/2.8 (one of Nikon’s two top of the line wide angle zooms). I also have the 1.7x teleconverter which I used with my 70-200mm at the Olympics to give myself 340mm of zoom with a max aperture of f/4.8 (using the teleconverter decreases the max aperture of a lens). A few days ago, via Craigslist, I expanded my lens collection in a big way. Literally. I added this beast:

nikon 300mm lens

That’s the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AF-S II lens. It was manufactured from 2001-2004 and has since been replaced by a lens with VR which is basically something that helps to compensate for hand shake while holding the lens. Outside of the VR addition, this lens is essentially on par with the latest lens that’s being sold today for nearly $6000. I got it for way less than that. And given that high-end lenses tend to hold their value VERY well (think 80%+ value retention) I got a very good deal. In fact, the exact lens that I bought recently sold on eBay for $1000 more than I bought it for. I anticipate using the lens relatively rarely. Maybe once a year. I will use it at weightlifting meets where I need a lot of reach and I need f/2.8 in order to get enough light to stop the action. And if I ever get into indoor action photography other than weightlifting, this lens will be incredibly useful. It’s not quite as big/heavy as it looks. It weighs about 5.5lbs and that big thing on the top of it is simply a hood that’s used to prevent dust accumulation and to keep out unwanted light. The reason the hood is so big is because it’s a super telephoto so it essentially doesn’t need to see anything outside of the field of view that the hood restricts it to. It’s akin to cupping your hands over your eyes when looking at something. Anyway, I am pumped to have this lens in my collection. I will still use the 70-200mm for almost all of my shooting though.

Outside of the weekend in Equinunk and the lens, I’ve just been spending a lot of time with the usual lifting stuff. I have made a bit of a dietary change over the last month and it has worked wonders for me. I have had a lot of bad quad pain since early March. Basically March, April, May, June and July. It had gone on for a loooong time. It would get better and get worse in cycles. A few times I thought I’d found something that was helping but in the end it always came back. I made almost zero progress on lifts during that timeframe. In late February I squatted 150kg/330lbs. To date, I still haven’t done more than 151kg. So from the start of my training in essentially early Nov of last year, I progressed up to a 150kg squat (from basically 70kg, LOL) in four months. Then I made zero progress in five months. While I know that progress slows down, 150kg isn’t heavy enough for progress to stop. Especially considering that the squat is the core of my training programming. My lack of progress is basically attributable to me not being able to train properly because my quad kept giving me problems and messing with everything from my form to my ability to recruit the proper muscles during the lift. Anyway, I thought it over and the only thing that I added to my diet around the time I started to have the quad pain was whey protein. In March I decided that it would be a good idea to have a post-workout shake and I had one after pretty much every workout from March through when I left for the Olympics at the end of July. So I let my quad recover over the nine day period that I had off during the Olympics. And when I came back, I just cut out the post-workout shake. I know how silly that sounds given that you need protein to recover. But the fact is that I went from 70kg to 150kg in four months without whey protein and it was worth it for me to see if cutting it out helped. Well, three weeks later I can say that the quad pain has not come back. At all. My squats feel great and I’ve been hitting 140-145kg squats with regularity and they don’t feel that bad. I did a 130kg (286lb) front squat the other day (video) and as you can see it really wasn’t that hard either. So given that I’ve deadlifted 182kg, squatted 145kg and front squatted 130kg all in the last week, I’m feeling better about making some real progress over the next few months. I really want a 182kg squat and 227kg deadlift. If the quad pain doesn’t come back and I stay relatively injury free, I know I can hit those numbers pretty soon. For right now though, I am going to focus on the next “CrossFit Total” workout at my gym which is happening in October (see my post from the last one, in January). At the last one I did 142.5/184/58 (or, in lbs, 315/405/130 = 850). At the time I was SURE that I would hit 1000 for my total at the next one. I’m not so sure about that now after five months without much progress at all. We’ll see how training goes but it will be close. I definitely want 155/195/70 (or 341/430/154 = 925) at least because I feel those numbers are totally within reach. The next 75 pounds will be tough going in two months or less. I will try my best though!

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