First off – I apologize, but I don’t have many show pictures yet. Just ordered them. I have the shots my coach took with his phone during pre-judging, so I’ll include those in this post. Plus any other little things I grabbed with my phone. I didn’t take many pictures myself. I usually would, but I guess I was a little preoccupied looking for a quiet corner in a busy, small area backstage.
When I checked in on Friday afternoon and got my competitor number, I was happily surprised to see that it was…
I was born in 1962. I like little things like that.
When I asked how many competitors were in the women’s bodybuilding division, the promoter told me that up until the week before, only one – me. I didn’t think there would be many, but that was a surprise. This is usually a big show. People fly in from all over the world to do this show. And it was just me? She said that she worked on it and was able to convince four other women who were already doing figure to cross-over and do bodybuilding as a second division. She was happy about that because if there were five, it would become a pro-card qualifier. She was more excited about that than I was and that showed on my face. I think that surprised her. You see, at least three of the women crossing over were already pros in the figure division. I’ve made improvements, but I know where I’m at on the continuum. I am not at the point where I can stand in a line with figure pros and hang with them from the perspective of the judges table. Oh well. I was glad that more women were interested in competing in bodybuilding and grateful that there would be a line of athletes instead of just one. Just one competitor in a category called “women’s open bodybuilding” at a show this size would be really depressing.
The next morning, we found out one dropped out, so the division was down to four, which meant it was no longer a pro-qualifier. The three that were left were the figure pros. So it really was going to me, an amateur, in a line with three pros. Technically, they were amateurs in the bodybuilding division, but still farther down the road with training and development. Having already earned pro cards means they have done better with judging panels at some point in the past, while I haven’t earned anything in a judged competition. I reminded myself that it’s a logical progression for an athlete to change divisions as her physique develops and that they were probably excited to compete as bodybuilders because who wouldn’t be? Bodybuilding is an amazing division with plenty of opportunity for an athlete to show the results of her efforts. And I was grateful. I want them in that line. I want that competition – it’s fuel for me to push. I reminded myself that I have my own list of personal goals and my time will come. I put on my headphones, read literally hundreds of encouraging comments posted on my Facebook page, practiced my posing, and stayed focused on what I could accomplish on that day…
- Stay calm, remember cues, and hit my poses. I’ve been practicing every day for a couple of months, so I could lean on that. I also made a playlist on my phone with songs I listened do during my practices so that I could trigger muscle-memory for posing. (“Proud” by Heather Small was the main one.)
- Focus on enjoying the experience so that I can put 2015 behind me for good.
- Turn “stage” into my personal performance for the people who have been supporting me all this time. I wanted to honor them by keeping it together and making them proud. My friend Michelle from GarageGym107 flew across the country to be there to help me. (How amazingly generous is that?) She was doing live posts on the LMS page so people could watch in real time. I kept my focus on her when I was up there for that reason.
My 2017 General Goals
Come in with better conditioning and be leaner. Check
Bring up quads and delts. Check
Improve posing, look more relaxed, and don’t have a dizzy spell. Check
2017 Goal: Earn a placing. To me, that means to not be in last place. I am not particularly interested in “beating” anyone – it’s not about that. It’s just that “last place” is a given even if you don’t train, don’t prep, don’t practice…anyone who pays to play and get on stage can be placed last. To move forward from there feels like a validation of work – but that’s not really what it is. We are all compared to an aesthetic “standard” for a bodybuilder. The closer a competitor’s physique is to that standard, the higher they are placed. If I were going to be placed last, I wanted to make it harder for the judges to make that decision. I wanted to get more than four poses in before it happened. Nope. That did not happen. I was moved after the symmetry round just like before. Can’t lie. I’m annoyed by that because my symmetry round poses looked better in 2017 than they did in 2015, but there was no way to compete in symmetry against three figure pros. Those symmetry poses are practically the bread-and-butter of the figure division. I wasn’t surprised when I was asked to switch places.
This is the actual judging round. Nothing from the night show is judged for amateur divisions. (I’m the one with a half-shaved head who’s suit does not sparkle.)
After pre-judging, I knew the one goal I could not control – earn a placing – was out of reach on this day. My placement of 4th was appropriate. I’m used to having goals that are just beyond me, I’m also used to last place, so I just let it go and focused on things that were in my control – courage to face fear, improve presentation, and enjoy the experience.
I was blessed to have had some enriching backstage experiences this time around. Met a women’s bodybuilding pro and a figure pro that I’ve admired for a couple years. Found out both were teachers! How cool is that?? The first was a retired special ed elementary teacher and the other is a current US government teacher in a high school a little similar to my school. The bodybuilding pro shared a little wisdom learned from her long bodybuilding career. That was encouraging and inspiring.
These ladies are retired bodybuilders who were there helping competitors backstage. This picture was taken after a fairly aggressive Bikini-Bite (body glue) session for my posing suit top. What little I have left up top wasn’t cooperating. At one point, one person was holding something in place while the other was applying the glue, and I flexed a pec as a reflex. She screamed “OMG! That was like feeling a baby move!!” Holy crap that was funny!!!!
Last, but most certainly not least, was the time I was blessed to spend with this woman.
We’ve been online friends for years, but I was surprised when she said she was going to fly out to watch and support me. Had Michelle not come out, I would have had WAY too much time with my own thoughts and it would have been much harder to stay grounded and focused. Plus, she clued me in on the power of caramel M&Ms. Holy cow they are yummy!!!!
When I watched the videos Michelle took of the pre-judging and the night show routine, I saw basically what I practiced, which meant that my preparation paid off. I can tell you that while I was on stage for pre-judging, I was shaking a bit, but it was not noticeable. When I saw how my performance changed after something made an authentic smile pop up, I realized that was exactly what I needed to make happen as much as possible during the night show. Not a stage smile, but a real one from my heart. I needed to stay focused on WHY I was doing this – why I changed my life and trained for this – I LOVE BODYBUILDING!!! I needed to remember who I was on that stage for – my tribe – my husband, my coach, my friends, and the thousands of people I have never met but who graciously and generously offer encouragement and prayers whenever I feel afraid to do this thing. (I did meet one person- thanks for coming out Heather!!! That meant a lot to me. It was not a free event and I’m sure you had plenty to do on a Saturday.) My tribe gives me courage. I remind myself often that this stage thing doesn’t take as much courage as it did to walk into the gym and ask for help. Because I do this now, someone else will start and not stop. I know this happens because they tell me. It’s not my style to pump up my ego about something like this – this is how I’m paying it forward. It’s my honor to keep showing up now, no matter what happens. Plus, I promised to bring everyone along using Facebook Live, so there would be no edits. That’s how I wanted it. Real. I’m grateful I can even do this thing. I’m grateful for the people who step up to help me do it. I had to keep that feeling of gratitude right up front in my mind so it would show on my face. My face always reflects my heart and my fears. I hope the good stuff eventually comes through when you watch those videos over on the Facebook page, because that’s where I wanted to keep my head at on that day.
Not going to rehash it, but if you’ve followed along, you know 2015 rocked me. Getting back up on that stage and just doing it “better” – whatever that means – needed to happen. I needed to feel my passion for this sport again. I needed to feel it grow stronger than my fear. I knew if my physical goals were met and my presentation rose up to present that physique, I would see a glimpse of the bodybuilder I’m hoping to become. If I were afraid, I would appear timid and unsure. Once I realized I could not compete against these athletes, I accepted what was coming, but was surprised to see that they were being coached back stage on how to do the posing. It was then that I realized that they really didn’t think about crossing over until asked. They only had a couple of days to learn poses and come up with a routine. Based on some other things they told me that I won’t share here, they may not have considered competing as bodybuilder until the opportunity to earn another pro card became an option. I can only guess as to how they felt when the 5th person dropped out and that was off the table. (I still hope they liked it and will continue in the division.) So at that point, I found a mental hook to hang onto to pull up my own courage to do this thing – this was MY division. I trained for it. I might be going down in flames in last place, but this is MY DIVISION. I look like a bodybuilder. I pose like a bodybuilder. I trained my mind for this by watching videos of Ed Corney, Frank Zane, and all those female bodybuilders from the 80’s. MY. DIVISION. So yeah – that’s why, during the pose down, I saw an opportunity to make a statement and I took it. I moved to be in front of the woman who ended up taking the overall. (She got the pro-figure overall, too, by the way.) Yup. I stepped up, turned around, and stretched my arms out and displayed my best feature – my back. The whole time, two words were repeating my head…
During my routine, people in the audience cheered at the right spots. I designed it to be an homage to “old school” routines where those big poses landed at the most dramatic points in the music. Mr. Zane used to just hit those poses, hold them, and grin. So I did the same thing to the best of my current ability. Not nearly as epic, but I wanted to remind people of what this sport used to be. No dancing. No bouncing. No floor rolling. No hair and make up. No crystals. Old school bodybuilding. That’s what some people still buy tickets to see. That’s the direction I want to go. That’s how I want to play. Got some great feedback from someone I respect in this sport, Jeff Alberts, about how he could see my improvements, and the effort and practice I put into the presentation this time around.
At the end of this day, I was grateful and proud. Not a boastful proud, but a humble sort of proud, if that makes sense. I’m proud of what Alberto and I have accomplished. I could not have done it without his planning, intuition, and guidance, but his coaching would not have been effective without my commitment, discipline, precision, and passion. We are doing good work.
My husband’s support is “mission critical”. Knowing he supports what I’m doing empowers me to improve. He is an amazingly generous man, my best friend, and I love him dearly.
I am so grateful for my tribe from this blog and the Facebook page. When I describe you to others in real-life, I tell them to imagine a few thousand “momma-bears” who will have your back when you need it, but will turn on someone when necessary. That’s why I try to get to those trolls before anyone else sees them – not because they bother me, but I don’t want you all to turn on them using all your intellectual weapons! That’s just not a fair fight! And I LOVE that about you guys!!! Thank you for the enCOURAGEment!!!!
When I get the pictures from the show photographer, I will share them. I’ll put together a new before/after, too.
Also, there is another show coming up in October that I am planning to do. I didn’t save up for two shows, so it’s possible that I won’t be able to pull the funds together, but I’m going to try and I’m going to prep for it regardless. That means we are just inside of 12 weeks out now. It’s an NPC show so I will be doing women’s physique. The poses are similar, but I will need to practice to make the adjustments for the few poses that are different than traditional bodybuilding poses. I’ve done two NPC shows before, so this is not new stuff for me. The routine I have will work just fine. Just need to keep practicing it and fix some bumpy spots.
And no, I won’t glam up for NPC. I’m “old school” all the way. Keeping the racing stripes in my hair, though. 🙂