And so it ends. This video is of my routine last night. The evening performance. The finale. My exhale moment.
The morning started with coffee...and then I was in the high school auditorium, surrounded by 170 strangers all chasing the same dream as I; this moment, this competition. Some newbies much like myself, others exuding experience and calm confidence. I had a plan for the day provided by my trainer and I focused on it and followed it. Warm up at this time, eat at this time, pump up at this time....and then the call. "Women's Masters Bodybuilding line up."
So there we were, 8 competitors in a line, sizing each other up, but trying to look like we weren't sizing each other up. I wasn't the biggest or the smallest, the shortest or the tallest, and with one glance I knew I was definitely not going to win. We were led out the door and up to the stage where we waited our turn. As we walked out into the lights, I took a very deep breath. As I left the safety of the curtains and saw the judges, the crowd, the X marked where we all would stand, I knew fear. A fleeting thought...I could just turn around right now and walk right out. Yet my feet proceeded, I took my spot in line, and began to hit the poses I had practiced for months, albeit along side 7 strangers this time rather than the comfort of my teammates. It was all a blur, went quick, my mind raced but my heart raced faster. And I knew that I was not as tight as I should be, my legs were not as wide as I wanted them to be, my arms, my abs, my calves. Overwhelming would not do it justice. I tried to smile and my mouth shook more than my muscles straining to flex. Then we were done....A video would later let me know that this entire process took all of 4 minutes. Somehow it seemed much longer and shorter all at the same time.
But I was done and there I was in the lobby, facing my biggest fan and safe again. And I was proud of myself and what I had done. I shed tears of relief...but the satisfaction of what I had accomplished moved me as well. And his smile spoke more than any words. We had worked very hard, together, on this goal and we had done well!
The competition is divided into a morning session, where the judging takes place and an evening session, which is geared toward entertaining. In between contestants go home or back to their hotels to eat, sleep, whatever they choose to pass this time. I ate a small portion of chicken and some brown rice, tried to sleep, and then began to practice my routine.
THIS routine?!?!?!? Performing a routine set to music very nearly was a deal breaker for me. And I had still not convinced myself I could do it. I certainly knew, and so did everyone involved with this endeavor, that I despised the very idea of having to do it. But when the question became compete or not...the answer was always the same; compete. So that was all that was left of my journey...the routine. I practiced it alone, over and over. Listening to the words, connecting the movements and poses with each word that led to a transition, yet again. "60 seconds of music" I told myself. "It's one minute out of your life" I repeated like a mantra. And I practiced as I had for the last 10 weeks.
And again I found myself in the auditorium with those same strangers. Many more relaxed now. The judging was over, this was all for fun, no more stress. Little did they know. Now I would have to take that stage alone and perform. Perform?!?!? I was not a performer, much less on a stage alone in front of a panel of judges and an audience. I stood in front of the mirror and went through each motion, repeating the lyrics from the song with each movement, each transition. I didn't dare visualize it because all of my visuals leading up to this were of a variety of disasters. So I practiced...until again I was called.
Up to the stage we went again. Same path, same 8, same destination. This time we went out one by one. Then my name was called....and again my feet went even though I didn't want them to go. Right to the X, and I took my spot...and I heard the cheers from the friends and family who had come to support me and then I heard my music. And my body began to perform the routine it had practiced and then I was smiling. Smiling and performing, as if it was indeed my destiny. 60 seconds later I walked off the stage exuding the confidence of a person who had just chased down their dream and made it a reality, carried through on the cheers of family and friends both near and far who had showered me with support.
I smiled all the way off that stage, all the way down to that auditorium, barely noticing the strangers, all the way to the locker room, and then up to the lobby...where the first face I saw was again my biggest fan. And again I shed tears of relief and accomplishment and again I saw a look of pride on his face that matched the feeling inside of me beat for beat.
And then the rest of my family, my girls!!, my friends and coworkers! My girls bearing handmade signs and wearing t-shirts: Strong is the New Beautiful, Doing It!, and a custom made tshirt with the name of this blog and "Thats My Mom" carefully ironed on! Surrounded by all of these people who had seen me through this journey, each struggle, each triumph...my journey was complete.
No more waiting to exhale...