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Buccos1

10 years of (bi-weekly) Ironmind Red Nail bends

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Buccos1

I have been thinking about how to tell this story for years, and always end up putting it on the back-burner, due to its complexity and not wanting to face reality, that this journey is near-complete, and with it, the end of a huge chapter of my life.  Getting into the final year, the time is now, I guess.  Onward ...

After my Red Nail certification in August, 2010, I was trying to think of something unique, in that I could do long-term, that no one else had ever done.  From the beginning, when I started bending steel, I wanted to become one of the best all-around benders in the world and sustain this over (at the time) at least 5 years (which of course, turned out to be 10+ years).

After my Red cert, I decided to undertake a personal challenge: to bend an Ironmind Red Nail, under official cert. conditions, every 7-10 days, for as long as I could sustain it.  I do not have my old log from Benders Battlefield in its entirely, but kept notes from the first few years.  Years 1-3 were typically done once per-week.  I did a bunch of other bends (cut-Reds for certs etc.) that I did not include as part of this challenge in the overall count.  Also, there were a lot of days that I bent 2-3 Reds in the same session.  These were not included; just the Red bend for that week.

The first few years were easy, in retrospect, especially as I compare those years to the past few years' attempts.  During those first few years, Reds were usually the easiest of 2-3 "challenge bars" I would do during weekly sessions.  It wasn't until I hit 40 years old around 2014 that things started to hurt more and these weekly/bi-weekly sessions became much more challenging.  There were several instances where I thought about stopping, but kept going.  When I hit 5 years, I told myself that I would keep doing this as long as I was physically able, and set my sights on 10 years.

I have told a few people over the years about the 10 year Red challenge, but never officially posted or wrote about it in detail until now.  As I type this, I am at 9 years of bending a Ironmind Red Nail every 1-2 weeks, nonstop.  This was through a lot of challenges, aside from the obvious.  A few of the major things I encountered that almost derailed things were:

  • Birth of my first son, where I stayed in the hospital for multiple days, with little sleep and no one really making it easy to bend in the hospital (had to hide everything).  When I made the actual attempt, it was on a few hours of sleep, just a few seconds before the nurse came into the room.  She definitely would not have been happy if she walked in when I was bending the Red at this time.
  • PRK eye surgery - I planned my bends around my surgery date, to give myself about 12 days after the surgery to bend the Red.
  • Kidney stone surgery (invasive) - This one was tough.  They told me I could resume light training after 4-5 days, and then "normal" activities after 10 days.  I just figured bending was not "normal" so didn't bother even trying to explain to the doctor.
  • Multiple injuries - After turning 40, things started to break down a lot more frequently.  I haven't really changed too much in training, but aches and pains have been nonstop for the past 5 years; especially the past 1-2 years.
  • KTA/RRBT - I did both of these programs multiple times and had great As gains with grippers.  My hands were destroyed for the better part of a year, which really made bending tough, but did not stop it.

As I worked through week-after-week, and month-after-month of bends, I began thinking about the gravity of this endeavor; mainly, that if I would stop, it would be over for good.  It took me over a year of dedicated training to cert. the Red back when I was in my mid-30s, in much better shape and condition.  After 40, I was fully aware of some of my newfound limitations, and the reality, if I would stop bending Reds, it would likely be over for good.  And I wasn't willing to give this up just yet.  Bending, and by extension the Red Nail, were so intertwined into my personality, identity, and weekly routine, that I have been fighting to keep this going as long as possible.

At 9 years, the end is in sight.  And that is partly why I am writing this now.  This is probably a little too much rambling, and I might go back and fine-tune it a little later on, but I know the last year is going to be a challenge and I am hoping to use the board as a platform for accountability, and more importantly, motivation.  As such, I will post updates here in this thread over the next year, and hopefully, wrap it up after 10 years of continuous, bi-weekly Red Nail bends.

In the picture below are most of the Reds during this streak.  I counted 292 Red Nails.  As mentioned above, this does not include all of the nails, including some of the shorter (5.5") Reds and the official cert. nail, which are in the "big bend" box.

It kinda makes me sad typing this up, as I know that this cannot go on forever.  It;s been such a huge part of my life for so long, that I cannot remember when I wasn't bending.  And wasn't waiting for the weekly/bi-weekly Red Nail bend to keep it going.

 

20190808_170023.jpg

 

 

 

 

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FrankSobotka

This is an awesome, incredibly motivating post. 

But one question. 

Why stop?

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Raymond

That's a lot of nails. how do you think your hands would go if you only bent one every five days or one a week?

 

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gripmaniac

It caught my eye that hardly any are noticeably off center. . . . .and to me that is nearly as impressive as bending them for 9 years.

 

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Frank Pizzo

This is a really incredible thing your doing here.  I've noticed you've kept bending for a long time now, but to keep it up rain or shine, sick or healthy, busy or not, and surgeries be damned!  Is highly commendable, highly motivating, and just darn-right cool.  

Good luck on the last leg of this journey (if it is indeed the final year...) and I'm sure many here will be looking forward to seeing you through this.

Man...that's a lot of Reds!!!...

 

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Mike Rinderle
14 hours ago, FrankSobotka said:

This is an awesome, incredibly motivating post. 

But one question. 

Why stop?

It takes a huge toll on the body to bend at a high level.  The length of time most people go after getting to this level is probably an average of a couple years.  3 smoked me to the point I didn't want to do anything for about 5 years.  Doing it for 10 years is nuts.

 

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Mike Rinderle

Awesome feat and post.  I'll be rooting you on buddy.

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Joefrey

Amazing ! Great picture ! Very inspiring post Indeed.

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Buccos1
18 hours ago, FrankSobotka said:

This is an awesome, incredibly motivating post. 

But one question. 

Why stop?

Thanks!  Like Mike mentioned below, it just beats you up pretty bad over time.  I plan on continuing to bend another 5-10 years, just not a weekly Red anymore.  Never taken longer than 2 weeks off to rest, which I know would really help things overall.

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Buccos1
13 hours ago, Raymond said:

That's a lot of nails. how do you think your hands would go if you only bent one every five days or one a week?

 

Gonna keep plugging away with bends but on a reduced scale. I hope.  Probably going to have a hard time giving this streak up, but body can't keep this up year round much longer.

 

11 hours ago, gripmaniac said:

It caught my eye that hardly any are noticeably off center. . . . .and to me that is nearly as impressive as bending them for 9 years.

 

Thanks! 

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Buccos1
7 hours ago, Frank Pizzo said:

This is a really incredible thing your doing here.  I've noticed you've kept bending for a long time now, but to keep it up rain or shine, sick or healthy, busy or not, and surgeries be damned!  Is highly commendable, highly motivating, and just darn-right cool.  

Good luck on the last leg of this journey (if it is indeed the final year...) and I'm sure many here will be looking forward to seeing you through this.

Man...that's a lot of Reds!!!...

 

Thanks Frank!  Appreciate it.  Wanted to do something unique, which would be a continuous challenge.  Just can't believe 9 years has gone by of this.

3 hours ago, Mike Rinderle said:

Awesome feat and post.  I'll be rooting you on buddy.

Thanks Mike!  I'm probably going to need it for the last year.  Been having a lot of issues lately with unusual pains in middle knuckle, biceps and forearm.  Mostly with double-overhand bending.  Stiff that doesn't really seem to be going away anymore.  

3 hours ago, Joefrey said:

Amazing ! Great picture ! Very inspiring post Indeed.

Thank you!

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climber511

First of all congratulations for what may be (is) the longest running high level bending I've ever heard of!   I don't want to make this about me but the number of times I have written something like (and thought something like this) as I've aged and hurt trying to prepare for just one more "comp".  But what you have done with this kind of consistency and difficulty is off the charts crazy - I could take time off (sometimes months at a time to heal up).  The end is in sight - hang in there - you're gonna make it!

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Sean Cashman

Amazing stuff Carl! You should be very proud of everything you've accomplished. I remember back in the old Benders Battlefield days seeing you cert the Red, that was a huge motivating factor for me wanting to push to get there. What you've done for nearly 10 years is just almost physically impossible. Very inspiring Carl! 

 

 

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Buccos1
On 8/9/2019 at 3:24 PM, climber511 said:

First of all congratulations for what may be (is) the longest running high level bending I've ever heard of!   I don't want to make this about me but the number of times I have written something like (and thought something like this) as I've aged and hurt trying to prepare for just one more "comp".  But what you have done with this kind of consistency and difficulty is off the charts crazy - I could take time off (sometimes months at a time to heal up).  The end is in sight - hang in there - you're gonna make it!

Thanks Chris!  I appreciate the kind words.  I am going to really hit it with everything I have left this last year.  Then hopefully take a few months off and then keep bending into my 50s.

On 8/9/2019 at 7:10 PM, Sean Cashman said:

Amazing stuff Carl! You should be very proud of everything you've accomplished. I remember back in the old Benders Battlefield days seeing you cert the Red, that was a huge motivating factor for me wanting to push to get there. What you've done for nearly 10 years is just almost physically impossible. Very inspiring Carl! 

 

 

Thanks Sean!  I miss those days ... good times.  Your bends back then were very inspiring too.  

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David_wigren

Very inspirational read, Carl! You’ve had great longevity in this sport. Though I remember it like it was only yesterday when you certed on the red with Chad P. Rickicki as your judge. 

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Anton.Torrella

Congrats on the 9 years Carl! I have no doubt you'll make it to 10. I remember the first time I met you at one of  Chez's comps and I was just getting into steel bending and you were casually like, "yea, I've bent a red nail every 7-10 days since my cert so I don't lose it" - still mind-blowing. Always a pleasure to see you at competitions and I'm never surprised to lose to you haha. Its an awesome legacy and thanks as always for the inspiration and sharing your experience!

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Donc101

Great post Carl and awesome accomplishment! I was thinking you were going to say you were stopping bending after the 10 yr mark while I was reading the post. I was very happy to read you will keep bending after the 10 yrs. Great job brother!

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Buccos1
On 8/11/2019 at 6:33 AM, David_wigren said:

Very inspirational read, Carl! You’ve had great longevity in this sport. Though I remember it like it was only yesterday when you certed on the red with Chad P. Rickicki as your judge. 

Thanks David!  It does feel like yesterday.  I was actually Chad's judge a few months before my attempt.  A huge help too, to actually see someone doing it in person.

On 8/11/2019 at 9:53 AM, Anton.Torrella said:

Congrats on the 9 years Carl! I have no doubt you'll make it to 10. I remember the first time I met you at one of  Chez's comps and I was just getting into steel bending and you were casually like, "yea, I've bent a red nail every 7-10 days since my cert so I don't lose it" - still mind-blowing. Always a pleasure to see you at competitions and I'm never surprised to lose to you haha. Its an awesome legacy and thanks as always for the inspiration and sharing your experience!

Thanks Anton!  I remember that.  LOL

On 8/11/2019 at 9:57 AM, Donc101 said:

Great post Carl and awesome accomplishment! I was thinking you were going to say you were stopping bending after the 10 yr mark while I was reading the post. I was very happy to read you will keep bending after the 10 yrs. Great job brother!

Thanks Don!  No way I'm stopping.  Bending is one of the handful of things I really love to do each week.  Just going to slow down a little and work some more breaks in.

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Horrido

Huge thanks for the insight and congrats for this long term bending feat.

Nice to see that there is a bender active for this many years.

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Buccos1
4 hours ago, Horrido said:

Huge thanks for the insight and congrats for this long term bending feat.

Nice to see that there is a bender active for this many years.

Thanks man!

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svr

Funny.

I read this post yesterday but it took a while for the totality of the achievement to sink in.

Incredible commitment that was not driven by the need for external approval.

It must have been quite introspective - I bet you learned a lot about yourself.

 

 

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Buccos1
4 hours ago, svr said:

Funny.

I read this post yesterday but it took a while for the totality of the achievement to sink in.

Incredible commitment that was not driven by the need for external approval.

It must have been quite introspective - I bet you learned a lot about yourself.

 

 

Thanks!  Yes, absolutely, this thing week-after-week has kept me focused (short- and long-term), grounded (good and bad) of my capabilities, shortcomings and helped steer me in different directions, of which I might not have gone otherwise.  

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Anthony C.

Carl, we had a conversation about this once at one of the contests we were in together. This is absolutely remarkable. This level of sustained strength for this many years is more impressive to me than the guys who burst onto the screen with ridiculous strength and are then gone quicker than they came. Congrats to you.

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Buccos1
On 8/14/2019 at 3:50 PM, Anthony C. said:

Carl, we had a conversation about this once at one of the contests we were in together. This is absolutely remarkable. This level of sustained strength for this many years is more impressive to me than the guys who burst onto the screen with ridiculous strength and are then gone quicker than they came. Congrats to you.

Thanks, Anthony!  I remember that well ... time flies!  

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Tom Flesher
On 8/12/2019 at 3:33 PM, Horrido said:

Huge thanks for the insight and congrats for this long term bending feat.

Nice to see that there is a bender active for this many years.

I think that’s what’s most impressive about this - we talk about how bending careers are short because high-level bends are so hard on the body, but Carl has been consistently doing high-level work for this long. I know you said you’re starting to feel your age a bit, but this level of consistent strength is awesome. 

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