NUMBER FIVE AND STILL ALIVE!
ANBC Nationals, November, 1997
I’ve been negligent. Well, not really negligent, just too darn busy. Anyway, I’m reading my weights lists from over a week ago, and I read Nancy Andrews’ post about her winning the WNBF World Championships in New York on November 15. Her statement of the fact was typical understatement–you have to know Nancy. From what I understand, she won the contest over some mighty tough competition. I wish I could have been there to see.
But…I was in Pittsburgh doing the ANBC Nationals. And I’m only writing about it in a little more detail to share some of the humor of the experience for some of you who have read my posts last year relating my experiences in this arena. Of course, now–in my second year of competition–I am a “seasoned” competitor. Sort of.
My decision to compete a second year was based on the fact that the Nationals were in Pittsburgh, because I grew up 45 minutes from there. I thought that this would be a chance for my family to be a part of a bodybuilding event, allowing them to share in an activity which has become a fairly significant portion of my life. Some of you may remember that my mother is not terribly excited about bodybuilding. I was not really looking to convert her to a true fan, but rather to open her eyes a bit, and let her realize that it isn’t such a terrible thing afterall. Whether I succeeded or not is anyone’s guess.
Because I was going “home”, I decided to take a couple of extra days off and I flew to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. I stayed with my younger brother and his wife in their new home, arriving fairly late and dragging him to his gym so that I could get in my last workout. His wife was away on business, so he didn’t mind the company, and he even indulged me with his attention as I hit a few poses while training. Fortunately the gym–actually a health club (you understand the difference, I think)–was fairly empty, so I didn’t attract too many stares, which would have made him much more uncomfortable. For those of you who compete, I’m sure you know how it is to feel all eyes staring at you while you train, because people can’t figure out why you keep hitting poses and staring in the mirror. They probably assume that you’re so overwhelmed with your good looks, that you can’t help yourself. On the other hand, we know that we are looking, thinking, “Damn, why couldn’t my lats be wider?” or “Shoot, my thighs are still too smooth…” Narcissism has nothing to do with it. Rather, you are involved in construction, and the mirror is your tape measure. More often than not, you are not satisfied with the quality of your work.
That accomplished, we returned to his house and turned in. The next day, I got up late and eventually drove to New Castle, to my parents’ store. I took my computer so I could get some work done, and I took a bag of food. The computer seemed reasonable, but the bag of food confused everyone at first. I explained a little about my dietary activity at this point (I was carb depleting), and after a few questions, I was able to focus on other issues of interest. Surprisingly, my parents thought I looked great. I realized, though, that they were much more used to seeing me with a thinner face, so while I thought I looked like my cheeks had sucked in and I was all drawn and dehydrated looking, to them, I had a nice tan, and I looked healthy. That was a bit of luck. The day was uneventful, until my mother told me we were invited to some friends’ for dinner. I told her I’d have to eat my own food, which, amazingly, she accepted, passing the information on to our hostess. As it turned out, meatloaf was on the menu–with the only additives of carrots and onions–so I ate that and some carrots for my carbs, satisfying everyone involved.
That evening, I returned to my brother’s house, where I got him to apply the first bit of Pro Tan to my back–reluctantly. We’ve never been a real “touchy” sort of family, so between that and the fact that application of tanning agents is a pretty wierd activity anyway, I couldn’t blame him for his lack of enthusiasm. He performed the function adequately, however, and was relieved that his wife was there the next day to help me with my tanning process. Thursday was similar to Wednesday, with some visiting, relaxing, and eating. More of my parents’ friends wanted to see me, and the next thing I knew, we were going out to dinner again. It’s tough to eat out the week of a contest, but my mother decided on a little restaurant in New Wilmington, where the food was “home cooked”, and they could make me something without any salt. In the meantime, I was waiting for her to start offering me bowls of salted nuts or pretzels or something. I was wondering if she really did know more about bodybuilding competition than she let on, and she was working for the competition to prevent me from winning. Hmmm….
Thursday evening, my brother’s wife returned, and she was much more comfortable with this bodybuilding stuff, having been involved with it through the former boyfriend of one of her best friends. She helped me with my Pro Tan, after which I went through my mandatories for her and my brother. She was appropriately critical, which was good, while he just looked on curiously. After that, I practiced my routine, getting a few laughs at the right moments. When I finished for the second time, Randy got up to do his version. He is a big guy, my size actually, but his body composition is significantly different, needless to say. His lack of hardness and color only accentuated his twisting and turning imitations of front double biceps to a serratus shot to a twisted rear double biceps shot and so on. In fact, of course, he wasn’t nearly that accurate, but he was funny as hell.
Friday, I opted to forego visiting with my parents, who were too busy at work anyway, and instead stopped by a couple of places in the Pittsburgh area to visit an anesthetist who works with us in Ecuador, and also to stop and visit my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. John, the anesthetist, ended up coming to the contest on Saturday with his wife and kids, which was a great show of support. At my cousins’ house, I was conned into doing my routine, after which her 7 and 8 year old sons donned their speedo and bathing trunks and proceeded to try and imitate my contortions for their mother and grandparents. They were especially fascinated with my pectoral bouncing and abdominal rolling–you have to see the routine to know what I’m talking about. I left for my drug test, apologizing profusely to my cousin in advance for the torment she might go through with her kids and their new found entertainment. Interestingly, their imitation was remarkably similar to my younger brother’s imitation….I was starting to worry about how my routine looked to the untrained eye.
Saturday came soon enough. I headed into town early to help a friend put some color on his back, since his wife (about 8 months pregnant) didn’t join him for the weekend. We went to the Auditorium for the contestants’ meeting, and just hung out. While sitting there, a friend from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in at least 10 years, but who had called me the week before when she saw my name in a medical providers’ handbook (she works in “Claims” for a health care insurance company) showed up. We’d talked and I told her about the contest. She’d heard about my bodybuilding at our 20th high school reunion, which I’d missed several weeks prior. I was impressed that she showed up to check out the contest. When my parents finally arrived, they also brought two women who are friends of my mother, neighbors, and served to cheer me on during prejudging in clear, resounding voices. What a rush!
There were five guys in my class, but it seemed to me that it was between me and another guy for the top spot. I wasn’t certain, of course, but I felt like I was in the running. And this was the first time I’d ever competed that I felt like I actually could win. That can be good or bad. On the side of good, I felt somewhat greater confidence, hitting my poses a little harder, and energized by the voices shouting my name. Prejudging seemed to go well, and I was in the middle position–until the last two poses. That was a touch of reality, and probably a good thing so that I wasn’t completely shocked when I didn’t win. Oh, well, I guess I gave it away. Finals went rapidly, with a strict control on the time limit of routines: 60 seconds. I snuck my 72 second routine under the wire, explaining to the sound people that my routine actually had a beginning and an end, and if they stopped me at 60 seconds I’d be facing the back wall scratching my head or something like that. They let me slide…
My parents and friends were very encouraging as they left to get some dinner…never to return until after the awards were distributed. Not that that had any effect on the outcome. I won best poser, which I was excited about, and then when it came down to 1st and 2nd place, the other guy, Harold, and I sort of huddled backstage waiting for the announcement of runner-up. My name was called. I congratulated him and went out to get my trophy. I was happy and disappointed at the same time, which is a wierd feeling. I had improved from the year before, and I had been judged fairly–Harold was sharper than I was, which is saying a fair bit, since I think I was as sharp as I’d ever been. I was bigger, by about 30 pounds, and taller too (height class was tall, over 5’8″…Harold was about 168, maybe 5’9″, I am 6’1″, around 200 lbs.) I was missing that “paper-thin skin” thing…which he had. I will figure it out by next year!
And that’s what I told my parents when they reappeared as we were all leaving the auditorium. They’d gotten delayed at the restaurant they went to. When I told them how it came out, my father commented on the sharpness of the other competitor, which I’d seen as well. And as I said the words, “…next year”, my mother looked at me, deflated, and queried, “Next year??”
It’s just a phase, Mom…