After training for 3 years, training HARD for 18 months, after dieting for 3 years, but dieting HARD for 6 months, after the carb deplete/water cut/carb reload, after sucking ice cubes for 48 hours, after drinking vinegar, sucking lemons (more last minute coach torture), depriving myself of my favorite foods for so long that they aren’t my favorite foods anymore…after being sprayed with what seemed like cold motor oil, THREE TIMES, in a little popup thing called a “TikiTent”, naked, with 7 other naked competitors in their own little tents (we couldn’t see each other)… fake eyelashes!!…after standing back stage with about 150 other people in our “underwear” for the good part of an entire day, running on stage for just a few minutes to be judged on the results of what I’ve done for the last three years right up to that moment…I’m reflecting.

What did I LEARN??  I’m not sure I can recall everything that happened that week, so I won’t try.  My brain was “fuzzy”.  Now that I’m feeling like “me” again, I can joke about my “near death experience” – Peak Week.

First, I need to send a big THANK YOU to Dietrich Dejean, my coach.  He was very patient.  The carb deplete started a week before the show.  Before that, my carb levels were pretty constant and higher than most of my teammates’ levels. (Our gym sent 20 people – we were a team.)  I became forgetful right away.  My ability to focus was gone by Monday.  Probably the last useful thought I had was to tape D’s instructions so I could play them back.  And that’s all I’ve got.  Everything became a blur.  And then I was on stage.

Stage was only for a few minutes, but it was SO MUCH FUN!  I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much because it’s WAY outside my comfort zone.  But it wasn’t when I was there.  Maybe it was the makeup and hair – I felt like I was wearing a costume.  Maybe it was because there were so many of us in our “underwear” that day.  It seemed…normal.  It seemed like it was exactly what I was supposed to do.  Does that make any sense at all??

Pure joy and I was surprised by it.

The week after the competition was also a big surprise.  I called it “post-show-road-kill”.  You know how you feel the day before you get that horrible head cold?  I felt like that everyday.  I didn’t expect that.  I didn’t know what to do.  So I did what I do when I feel a cold coming on – I eat.  I drink a lot of water.  I down Airborne and vitamin C.  And I did all that, but I also loaded back up on the supplements.  Bumped up the glutamine, BCAA, and vitamin D.  Started creatine again.  Kept my protein intake high.  Coach sent a text – “get back to the gym” he said.  So I did easy cardio.  Couldn’t lift.  Just felt weak.  But I could walk on a treadmill, so I did that.  Got the blood moving.

Exactly one week to the day after the show, I felt “normal” again, but weak.  Today is 2 weeks since the show and the weights are climbing.  I got to use my belt and straps for RDL’s.  I haven’t worn my belt in months.  Damn near teared up.

Too many people who lift weights think they have clue about training to be a competitor.  If I ever came across that way before, I’m truly sorry.  I didn’t know what I was talking about.  And I certainly had no clue about Peak Week.  If you’re a lifter, you might be a bodybuilder.  But a “competitive bodybuilder” is a different beast.  Competition prep is a right of passage.

Bodybuilding is a strict discipline that impacts all aspects of your life – how you spend your free time, what you eat, even how long you sleep.    EVERYTHING becomes a variable to be managed to create the living sculpture you see in your head.

Now that I’ve done my first show, I’ve completed the cycle.  I now feel comfortable saying that I’m a “bodybuilder”.   I feel like I belong to the tribe now.  I’ve done my “vision quest”.  I see the other competitors at the gym and they acknowledge me now.  We don’t talk.  We just nod and say “hi”, but there’s a recognition in the eyes that comes from sharing that horribly wonderful, torturous experience together.

Remember when I was a little freaked out about so many people from my gym doing the same show as me?  So wrong to feel that way.  It was a great first competition for this newb.

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