Nanowrimo novel "Flint: a last year on the mats".
I'd love to be able to get that novel right now, but my Macbook is having issues right now. I'm sorry to report I think it's dead. In any case ... without further ado ... I give you .... Feb 13, 1998.
You might ask how I can recall the date, years later with very little effort. That is the affect of the impact this day has had on my memory and who I am. When I met young people today who tell me they are hungry or tired, I laugh, since they know nothing of either. That day was a culmination of several months worth of work and a terrible mistake which was made up for with a lot of work.
As some of my readers know, I wrestled for the University of New Brunswick from 1997 to 99. In my middle year there, I was in my mid to late 20's. I weighed about 185 pounds (about 84 kilos) As there were tournaments most weekends in October, November and January and February, I had to keep a strict eye on my weight. The year before I had been about the same weight but was needed in the 198 lb catagory and so ...was on easy street. 1998, however, was another story.
When I came back from Christmas Break, I was met with some quiet discussion between the coach and another dude on the team. We'll call him Mongoose for the purposes of this post. Why? Shut up, that's why. Mongoose was not my favourite person on the planet and had, in fact, some really irritating habits. You'll see shortly.
Fact of the matter was that he didn't want to cut to 158lbs/72 kilos as he was "worried about his heart" - he'd had heart surgery as a child, still bore the scar. Since that time, he has gone on to fight as 155 pound MMA fighter. But in 1998 he was 174 lbs. So ... being in better shape, I got the request from my coach. Being a bit of a dick myself, I actually made him explicitly ask me to cut to 158. That was the first week of January, 1998. Weigh ins were in six weeks.
In the next few weeks, I got my routine down. Runs in the morning, shower, breakfast, walk to the University, classes, short stretching or nap time, study in the library, walk home, snack, walk back for wrestling session, walk home, dinner, homework, running session and then bed. I did that for January, cranking up the runs and intensity every few days.
My diet was not very creative and full of boredom, let me tell you. I did manage to get from 184 to 162 in that time, though. Feb 12, 1998, I left the last wrestling session weighing 162 or 161. Very little left to do except wait and not doing anything stupid.
I did something stupid, of course.
I got home and with a huge amount of hubris or stupidity or justification ideology... I had a bagel or two. With cream cheese. And maybe some extra Doritos I found. In any case ... I went back to check my weight at 9am and was 168. That was not a typo.
Weigh ins were at 6pm and I had until then to be 158. So, like Vin Diesel said in the film "Knockaround Guys", "I got started".
I went and got my stuff together. An orange (which I ate in front my coach, which to this day he doesn't let me forget) two lycra wrestling singlets, several t-shirts, turtle neck shirt, two pairs of track pants (one inner and one an outer "shell"), hooded sweatshirt, an outer "shell" jacket, two pairs of socks, gloves, touque, running shoes and my sauna suit.
The order that it went on was this: t-shirt, one singlet, one pair of socks, sauna suit, second singlet (why I will explain in a minute), second pair of socks, t-shirt, turtle necked shirt, long track pants, hooded sweat shirt, lower "shell", upper "shell", toque, the hoodie up, running shoes (double knotted) and then gloves. everything inside was tucked in. The only uncovered space was my face, from eyebrown to chin.
The first singlet acts to prevent chafing between the legs. I didn't know that runners put some special anti-chafing stuff between their legs. Sauna suits always rip in the crotch, regardless of which gender is using them, because they don't use the second singlet. There needs to be some upwards tension on the crotch of the suit to prevent this from tearing. Even a men's bathing suit with a mesh liner will do in a pinch, but I've found that the singlet does the trick. Of course nowadays you can use the UnderArmor shorts, too.
So after gearing up, what then? I'd love to tell you that there was some trick, but it was just a lot of exercise. I went for about a half hour run outside first, just to get myself warmed up. I spent the rest of the afternoon inside. I had access to a stationary bike, thick crash mats and a full wrestling mat. I got my heart rate up, got a good sweat going, then kept warm in between the crash pads. Twenty minutes of body weight exercises, then twenty minutes of sweating. 20 on, 20 off, 20 on, 20 off. It wasn't until about 2pm that I finally checked what I had lost; I was down to 160, just below what I had been the night before.
Which I was doing this, I learned a few things. For example, I learned that the stationary bike I was on had a name. It was "Youradickhead". I learned that I was partally to blame for this and so was Mongoose. Mostly me, though. I thought about the three wrestlers in the States that had died doing exactly the same thing I was doing that fall. The NCAA actually changed their rules as a direct result of the deaths of those young men. I thought about the girl I was dating and that she probably was "the One". I learned that eating the night before a weigh in is a painful lesson, too. I learned that I should accept punishment for my actions, which I did. I also learned that I wasn't going to do this again.
I then hit the sauna in the same outfit the US wrestlers had had on themselves. Which, give or take one or two items, is the exact stuff I listed above. I was in for 20, out for 5. For about three or four rounds. I stripped off a layer and a dude I'd never seen before asked me if he should call 911. I looked like and felt like living death. I probably got pretty close. Years later I laughed as people were shocked at UFC fighters doing exactly this on the UFC TV show.
I kept that exercise routine up for a few more hours, until about 5:30pm. I took a break, had a shower and checked my weight. I decided that, rather than sit there and wait for the referees to get themselves going, I was going to hit the weight room and get on Youradickhead one more time. Team Captain came in and admired how "Hardcore I was", which to me, struck me as funny at that moment, as I was put there by a fit of eating last night.
At 6pm, the referees started the weigh ins, and I had to be poked as a call to go weigh in. I'm normally a lot heavier, so I just tune out and wait, but this time I was one of the first guys weighing in. I made it -157.3, to be exact- but it was a horrible lesson to learn.
The next day I felt really really sore. It took me something like nine hours to cut the weight, and totalled about nine minutes to beat all of the other guys in my weight class. I was just too pissed off at myself to make a mistake that day.
Since I'd won the gold at the regional qualifiers. I'd have to weigh in two weeks later at the same weight. Mongoose came second at the weight class he particpated in (cough cough my real weight class cough cough 184lbs cough cough) to a guy I'd already beaten earlier that year. After weigh ins at Nationals, Mongoose says, with a straight face while pointing at another member of the team not in the van, "Be nice to that guy, he had to cut a lot of weight." I was glad when I'd heard that Mongoose decided not to return to UNB in the fall.
Just as an aside, the pic in the banner of this blog is me at 158lbs.
Finally, I'd like to point out that cutting weight is dumb, but I won MVP for my team that year. ;)