Posted by: thehungryrunner | February 25, 2008

Diary of a National Fitness Competitor, Part 3 of 3

This is a reprint of an article series I’d published in my newsletter in fall of 2007.  Here, the final few days before I competed at the 2008 Ms. Fitness USA Finals – and WON the routine round!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dress rehearsal went well, so there’s a sigh of relief.  My only complaint is, the trunks of my costume are very unforgiving – tight to the point that they’re bordering on unflattering.  At least, that’s how they feel.  It may just be my perception.  But I’d ordered this very same costume on a different year of competing, same size and fabric, just a different color, and I know those trunks fit more comfortably.  Really, I can handle the tourniquet-like vice grip, it’s just the concern that my body could cause the pants to split open!  I’ve seen such mishaps happen in competitions, and it just ruins the poor athlete’s chances, as you’re so distracted by feeling sorry for the embarrassment it must be causing her.  Oh well, too late now.  I can’t even order a different pair if I wanted to.  I just found out that the company that sells those competition costumes and posing suits has decided to close up shop.  Actually, they did so in July, which means by now it’s probably slim pickings in terms of what’s left in “stock” (most items, while standard, were still made to order as opposed to inventoried).

If I have one complaint for this week, it’s that I probably should not have scheduled those yoga workshops when I did.  Given that I’m still carrying a heavy class and client load, this wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made.  Most of the time, the week before a major championship, your best advice is to try to lighten up your schedule as best as you can, allowing for those last-minute errands and the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of that final “crunch.”  My fellow competitor friends, some of whom aren’t competing at the moment, have been admonishing me via email all week about this.  They’re right, admittedly, as I’m definitely feeling more chaotic in the head than I probably should, given in just one week I’ll be thrown into Day 1 of nationals.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yikes, what happened?  It’s as though someone lit a fire under my appetite overnight!  Geez, I’m ravenous, despite the fact that I had a very nutritious breakfast.  In fact, I allowed a little extra from usual, in an effort to accommodate my hunger.  Doesn’t seem to have done anything.  I’m trying to stay busy, keep my mind off of it, but it’s not working very well.  Stranger still is what it is I seem to have a hankering for:  rice krispy treats.  Yep.  Rice krispy treats.  No, I have no idea where that’s coming from, as it’s not normally part of my menu or even anywhere on the radar screen.  But yep, that combination of crispness and chewyness and marshmallow sweetness (the only context in which I ever like anything marshmallow) is what seems to be what my mind is latching onto.  Weird!  Just goes to show you can’t ever assume anything; I typically don’t have much issue with cravings when I’m less than a week out of a competition, so this is really catching me by surprise.  I’m really hoping it’s Not What I Think It Is.  Then again, if it IS What I Think It Is (another down side to competing – it takes your biology on a Magical Mystery Tour)…..I guess better to have that happen now then a week from now.

I’ve discovered a new recipe that (save for today) has been just delicious, and so simple:  Take three different varieties of apples, cut each one of them in different ways (i.e. chunks for one, maybe grate the other, thinner slices for the third), then combine in a bowl with plenty of fresh lemon or lime juice and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors mellow out a bit.  It’s terrific!  The lemon and cinnamon almost create a caramel like quality with the apples.  Very, very tasty, and good for several servings (though it needs to be consumed very quickly or it will go bad).  I brought this to a party at my family’s house (always being the “designated healthy entrée/dessert bringer”) and got rave reviews.  The three types of apples I used were Golden Delicious, Pacific Rose, and Pink Lady.  The tartness of the Pink Ladies seemed nicely balanced by the sweetness of the others.

Friday, August 30, 2007

Went for a manicure/pedicure – the ones that hopefully will stay put for the competition.  People often ask, “Do you ever…uh…stop talking?”  Amazingly, yes, and it’s when I’m getting a pedicure (much to the relief, I’m sure, of the nail technician).  Today’s foot soak and treatment gave me a chance to gaze out and just watch.  The spa is at my gym, so people are coming and going constantly.  For once it felt good to not be in perpetual motion, instead contenting myself with being the observer!

I ran into a friend while at the gym (having worked out prior to my appointment at the spa), one who is also going to nationals.  I admire her deeply; she’s much more experienced at these than I am, with this probably being her fifth or sixth major show of the year.  I also can’t help but feel a bit intimidated; she’s one of these people who can do all sorts of back flips and other tumbling that is way out of my league.  I can pull that occasional aerial cartwheel, but had halted my not-quite-yet-started gymnastic studies at age 10, when my ballet agility was accelerating to the point where now things were “serious.”  I never lost the ability to walk on my hands and other acrobatic skills, but never got the chance to tackle tumbling passes.  I’m told that given my strength and ability, I would have no problem even now, as an adult, learning how to do a back flip.  But I’m not sure I agree.  The notion of having to leap backwards to a blind landing scares the bejeezus out of me, and I worry that my hypermobility would actually interfere with the ability to pull tightly into a back tuck position.  For the few times I’ve tried to do a complete back flip off a high dive, I’ve always belly-flopped, only later to learn it’s because I tried to do a layout and not a back tuck.  But that’s my back for you; hyperextensions and hypermobility have their downside, and I think that’s an example of mine!

Saturday, August 31, 2007

Saw my husband, Dan, off today.  He’s making a cross-country tour for himself, driving through Colorado and Utah en route to Las Vegas, allowing him to take photos at his leisure.  How strange is this:  I’ll then fly out to Vegas on Monday, where by then he’ll in all likelihood be able to pick me up at the airport!  Too funny.  We can’t ever seem to have a fully “normal” trip.  But I’m happy for him.  Truth be told, while they seem glamorous, these events become real boring, real fast if you’re not one of the participants.  There are only a few of us who are lucky enough to have willing spouses or boyfriends come show their support for the duration, and we try to remain appreciative and not take them for granted.  The good news in our case is, Dan has been granted limited permission to film.  This is good because without that, I would be unable to secure legal clearance to share the video of my routine – if I could access it at all.  As it is, Dan will not be allowed to film the evening show on Day 3, which is a shame as the quality of performance is almost always better, given we athletes have had the chance to become acquainted with the stage earlier with the first run of the routines.  But that’s okay, beggars can’t be choosers.

Sunday, September 1, 2007

Attended my cousin’s baby shower today.  I’m so glad I didn’t have to miss it, as I love any chance to see her (she’s the kind of person you want at your table at a wedding, cuz she’ll leave you in stitches the whole evening!).  But I feel bad as by now I absolutely cannot participate in whatever menu of food is being served.  With two days out from the competition, you just can’t take any chances that something will either disagree with your digestion or be loaded with sodium or simply be inappropriate for an athlete to be consuming under the demands of their final training preparations.  Still, this always creates an awkward moment with other guests, particularly if we’re arranged at tables in which servers are bringing plates to us.  I usually explain very early on what’s going on, poking fun at my behavior in an effort to keep the mood light, but trying hard to then leave it at that, to not bring it up again.  Well today, not to name names but the person I was attending the shower with kept making reference to my eating, over-explaining to the other people at the table why I need to do what I need to do.  I felt like this was just making the situation more uncomfortable.  Thankfully, eventually we moved away from it, but it just put more of a spotlight on it than I’d have wanted.

The only dilemma was that I had to go to Barrington for one of my final (if not final) routine practices, and given that the shower ran over and the park district would be closed soon, I had a very short time frame in which to get there, which meant no chance to stop for my regular food.  Normally I might just wait until later and eat my dinner after practice, but today I found my blood sugar careening all over the place as I drove, probably from the bottomless cup of coffee I’d been slurping at the shower.  With few other options, I swung by the health food store en route.  I hate turning to protein bars in lieu of “real” food – it’s been years since I’d eaten one – but there just didn’t seem any other option.  I quickly scanned some labels and made what seemed like the best two choices, both in terms of clean ingredients and the protein/sugar/saturated fat content.  To my surprise, they were both very tasty!  Too tasty, almost.  Sad but true, I’m going to try to erase the memory of these as quickly as I can.  It’s just too easy to rationalize eating what admittedly tasted like candy to me, under the rationalization that it’s a “nutrition bar.”

But practice went well, and dinner went on as scheduled.  I’m feeling pretty good about my readiness.  Now I just need to pack.  I’ve been slowly setting things out for the last week, but now comes the joy of making them fit.  They always recommend you keep in your carry-on all of the essentials you would need for the competition, in the event the airline loses your checked luggage.  Good advice, except when the list of items includes your evening gown, fitness costume, clear stiletto heels (hopefully ones that will both work for the bikini round and with your dress), your music, your makeup, athlete shoes for your routine, the fitness outfit they requested you bring (for photo shoots), bronzer, a “regular” bikini (again, requested for photo shoots), the “dress to impress” outfit they request you wear at the welcome dinner, all accessories needed (such as jewelry, hair items, etc….AND whatever minimal items you’ll need outside of the competition, such as personal toiletries, socks, street clothes, etc.  My strategy this year is to use quart, gallon and 2-gallon ziplocks, put each item in, then seal out all the air.  Even then, it’s going to be a challenge to squeeze it all in.  Um, why did I agree to do this again?

-ep

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