It was 4 O’clock in the morning when the ducks began to quack.
My wife and I have been having a minor battle over what our alarm should sound like for some time. I’m a very light sleeper, by nature. She is the opposite. This has meant that for nearly 8 years, my ears have been subject to a barrage of strange forms of loud music, sounds, and noises designed to jolt her out of a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber.
In practice, this means that I wake up long before she does. She’s a four snooze-button-smacks kind of girl, meaning that it generally takes the alarm four solid attempts to get her out of bed. I’ll wake up at the first sound.
Given that I’m a morning person, and that I like to get my day started early, that isn’t a big problem, unless I actually planned to sleep in that day. (Which would likely mean that I was either up late working, or am sick.) The truth is, I wake up before 5AM most days anyway, which is a good hour before the first of the sonic attacks begins.
Lately, she’s been trying some new sounds on her iPhone.
The day I was scheduled to leave to Columbus, Ohio for the Olympic Weightlifting National Championships, I awoke to the sound of ducks quacking for the first time and I laughed myself awake. There was something truly absurd going on here.
What kind of world do we live in when a man has to have robotic ducks wake him up at 4 in the morning?
Still Not Packed
I’d been mired in the deep dark waters of reality over the last month trying to launch a new product, working at getting some new members into our gym – because we’re going to be expanding into a larger space in the summer, starting the new Weightlifting Academy vidcast, and expanding the work that Peter and I are doing with our Fat Loss program High Octane Body.
This meant that I was sleeping no more than about 4 hours a night. I hadn’t worked out in two weeks. And I was on the verge of bleeding out of my eyeballs.
I honestly hadn’t thought twice about the fact that I was going to be going to Columbus for about a month other than to book our hotel – which I did at the last minute.
I jumped out of bed, threw some clothes into my backpack; put my iPad, a notepad, and some pens into a smaller carry bag (One of those little draw-string bags made for shoes … only this one has pink stars on it); and then stuffed the carry bag into the backpack so that I didn’t have to carry two things to the car … God forbid.
By the time Leslie and I were ready to go, we were already running late. We hit traffic on the way to the airport. And I got the check-in station just in time.
I quickly signed in both Brandon and I – he met me there – and we checked our bags.
About halfway through the security line … I realized my ingenious plan to avoid carrying two bags had resulted in me forgetting my iPad in my checked bag!
I was facing a flight from Portland, OR to Washington DC, with no iPad upon which to do work. That’ll show me.
We got through the security check without any issues, and I grabbed a last second cup of coffee before we boarded.
The next 5 or 6 hours consisted of Brandon playing on his Nintendo DS and me reading a book on my Kindle app on my iPhone until my battery life was down to 8%.
Layover in DC
Looking out the window as we were landing in Washington DC reminded me why I love Oregon so much. Once you’ve lived here, everywhere else looks remarkably Brown.
Yes, we have to deal with a lot of rain here in Portland (It’s raining as I write this …), but that makes for one hell of a green environment that becomes the standard in your mind against which every other place on the planet will be judged.
Very few locales can rival the natural beauty of the North West. It is literally a rain forest here (albeit a temperate one), and with that comes all the perks of a lush natural landscape.
Looking down on the dirt colored hills below the plane made me wonder just where in the world I was. Was this a desert? No … that’s not right.
It didn’t help my confusion that the temperature was above 70 degrees and the cabin was starting to heat up.
It was quite cold, near freezing, in Portland when we left, and my attire reflected that fact. I very quickly started stripping down, but it wasn’t making much of a difference.
It was hot, and I was just going to have to deal …
We touched down and Brandon and I decided we needed to get something to eat. We had a two hour layover, so we had plenty of time. But, he looked like he couldn’t wait.
It was hard to blame him. He’d been dieting his ass off for quite some time to make weight, and in the last few days his diet had consisted largely of water, vegetables, and chicken breast.
Brandon is more naturally a 69 kilo lifter than the 62 he was about to compete as. His build, his bone structure, his height lend him in that direction. And most of the time in training he weighs about 67k. But, we’d made the decision to bring him down to 62k this year as we felt like it was his last chance to compete in that low category before he fully grew into the 69 kilo class.
It also meant that he could go to Nationals this year and place higher than if he went in as a 69. Yes, he was going to lose strength to get so small. But, even with that loss, he’d be more competitive.
Now … competitiveness still wasn’t the real concern. He’s less than 2 years into the sport. Given that it takes 5 to 10 years to really hit your stride in Olympic Weightlifting, it would silly to focus too much on that. But, the experience of coming into Nationals and placing in the top 10 was something worth going after.
He’d dieted down and qualified as a 62k for the Las Vegas Open at Average Broz gym in Vegas. He crash dieted there, and was remarkably weak and miserable.
In contrast to that, this time, he’d just had to maintain and lose weight slowly. So while he was very hungry, and thinner than I normally like to see him, he was actually quite strong and felt pretty good – all things considered.
Much of that was fading, however, before my eyes. Plane rides can take it out of you. And this one had taken a toll on Brandon.
He needed chicken, and he needed it fast!
We went to Subway and I got a footlong tuna sandwich with all the fixings … he got 2 chicken breasts, plain.
As little food as it sounds, it did the trick. He perked right up and we went off to solve another problem.
My not having my iPad meant that I couldn’t do any real work. That was bad on a number of counts.
The first was simply because I didn’t want to be idle. The second was because the work is ever mounting … not the least of which was an article I was supposed to have already turned in for Breaking Muscle.
I’d really tried to plan it so that I wouldn’t have to do any writing while in Columbus, but that didn’t work out. So, the secondary plan was to write the article on the plane ride out … That didn’t happen either.
So, I decided to give up on these silly notions and just buy a book so that I at least had something to do other than stare at clouds for the next few hours on the ride from DC to Columbus!
I’ve been reading a lot of business books over the last year. Not surprising I suppose, given that as an Entrepreneur I either get it right … or I go bankrupt.
The problem is that most business books are remarkably bad – total shit.
You have to wade through a lot of crap to find any real gems. And even then, those gems are buried in a single chapter (chapter 6), and the rest is fluff.
Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t ALL like that. There are some amazing books on business out there. And they, like great books in the “personal development” arena can really transform everything you do for the better … if you pay attention, take action, and stick to it.
The book I bought is one of the few good ones.
I bought the book, “Delivering Happiness,” by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. It’s a memoir of his struggles to build his company on a foundation of costumer service and the principle of making others happier, as strange as that may sound for a business that primarily sells shoes and clothes over the internet.
But it struck a cord with me.
The entire reason I stick with all the over-the-top hours and hard work it takes to run my own business and keep this site going and create new products about something as obscure as Olympic Weightlifting is because when it is done well, it makes people happy.
I’m in the business of helping others to lead more fulfilling lives. That is motivating in a way few things are.
Sometimes, the best books on business are the ones that help keep you “on mission”. This one did just that.
Touch Down in Ohio
We landed in Ohio at 7:45pm, grabbed our bags, jumped into a cab, and checked into our hotel.
There was a Walgreens next door, so we went in there to get Brandon some Powerade that he could drink after weigh-ins the next morning.
He was scheduled to weigh in at 7am, which would be 4am our time, which would require us to be up at 3am our time to get there. Ouch!
BUt, we lucked out. My friend, Mighty Kat, who was already in town, texted me and told me that the 62k class had been moved up to 10:45am – which put the weigh-in at 8:45am.
That little change would give Brandon a much needed extra hour and a half of sleep before his first ever showing at Nationals.
Little did I know then, just how important that extra sleep was going to be …
Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll go over in detail both the good things and the really crappy things that happened during the 62k class competition the next day, as well as an insiders look at the entire first days events – both on the platform and (just as importantly) OFF the platform …