Friday, October 7, 2011

A Competition Primer (Part 1)

If you have never competed you won't know any of this, and if you have, it may be different as each organization runs things differently. Or you may just be curious what happens! I thought it might be helpful to understand what you need to do, prepare for and bring if you will be competing.

The competition I was just in requires the Figure and Bikini gals to check in the night prior to the competition. Some gals will buy their NPC card there. The NPC (National Physique Committee) is the amateur branch of the IFBB (International Federation of Body Building) and is the organization that sponsors the competition, you must join every year, the cost is $100.00 and it allows you to compete in any of their events and provides insurance coverage. 

So, unless you live super close, you will stay the night at the host hotel. Usually your spray tan is scheduled for that evening also, and that is why I brought my own dark blue sheets to put on hotel bed.

I keep these sheets specifically for this purpose, I bought them at goodwill. The tan can transfer off the skin and leave a very dark imprint on the white sheets, it will wash out but the hotel doesn't know that, so don't take chances that they charge you $200.00 just throw them on top of the existing sheets.

I get a fridge and microwave too, since all of my cooked chicken, beef, sweet potatoes, rice and cheesecake is here I don't want to risk getting food poisoning. I also prefer my food hot, when I eat it if I have a choice.

Friday night I was leaving my room to tan and ran into a gal at the elevator with a container of food. She was heading down to the kitchen to warm it so I invited her to my room to heat it instead. I told her I have been down to the kitchen, it was a long way down there and rather she came back to my room and heated her food. Her name was Jen and it was her second competition. We chatted a few times after that the following day.

I bring some magazines and books, to kill time after my tan while I dry and to read backstage as I await my turn to go out.  Once you tan you are pretty much stuck standing around naked for a while (a long while) and then wearing loose fitting dark clothing as you lounge, avoiding sun and water.

Dinner the night before the competition. Flank steak, asparagus, and a whole baked potato with lemon and pepper. I cook and weigh it all out at home and just eat in my hotel room. The food is designed for me. I get too lean and really need to add back a lot of starches, not everyone must do this. Work with a coach or a nutritionist who specializes in competitors to figure it out! 

And my homemade cheesecake...I get a piece at night and one in the morning. The pieces were small so I have three...(I ate two at night and saved one for the morning).

Breakfast Saturday morning, the same thing as dinner but no asparagus. My first competition I had room service waffles...most women will eat something like this in the morning to fill the muscles and look better.

At the registration and check in they will usually have instructions of what you need, so you have an idea of what you need before you stand in line. Here is my checklist.

There were quite a few women. I counted 1 fitness competitor (there really are very few these days); 59 Figure competitors; and 43 Bikini competitors. The female Bodybuilders are checked in the following morning with the males, they need to be weighed in, and us? They just check out height.

The classes or divisions are broken down like this:

Unlimited: Also referred to as Open. This is any age (18 and over), and is divided into heights and assigned a letter. 

Unlimited A is up to and including 5'1
Unlimited B is over 5' 1 1/2 up to and including 5' 2"
Unlimited C is over 5' 2" up to and including 5' 4"
Unlimited D is over 5' 4" up to and including 5' 5 1/2"
Unlimited E is over 5' 5 1/2" up to and including 5' 7"
Unlimited F is over 5' 7"

If the show is small they can compress the groups, check out the rules here.

Then they also have a few groups of Masters. Usually 35+ (and it is divided into just a couple heights); 45+ (usually one height); and 50+ (one height).

I compete in both Masters 50+ and Unlimited, it's called "crossover". This gives me the opportunity to compare my physique against other women of the same height, and I know most of them are younger but this is more significant to me than placing in a Masters group.

I think I look quite remarkable for a woman of 50, so I should place well. To place high in open, against much younger women really gives me a thrill.

Also, to qualify for a National show, you must place in the to 5 of an Unlimited class to qualify for the Jr. USA's or the Team Universe; and in the top 3 in an Unlimited class to compete in any other National show. (So I placed 3rd in C which makes me eligible to compete in any National level show next year!) Check the rules.

I always pre register online, or they charge you more to do it the day of the registration. I also buy my NPC card at the start of the year, I think investing the money ahead of time further cements my mind that I will be competing. Waiting until the last minute always gives you the excuse of backing out for any little reason.

So I don't have to wait in any of the lines, except to have my height checked. They hand you a slip with your height on it and when the organizer calls your group up, you bring it to the table and they check you have paid, registered and get you a number and place you on the roster.

Then of course you need to listen to them telling you what you can and cannot do. They answer questions, and make sure we all understand what will happen. Here we are all sitting like nice young women, listening carefully. Actually we are all tired, hungry, thirsty and ready to end it all!

In the NPC shows I have done, they always call up the Masters first. I hang back and try to be the very last one to be given a number. The reason is that you go out on stage in the order of your number, so the first one in line is the first one out on stage. This is not a big deal with just a few competitors, but if there are lots, then that first one is standing on the side of the stage, feet and calves cramping up, trying to suck in her stomach, holding her breath, smiling, basically it's the pits!

If you are a crossover, as soon as you get your number and your space on the Masters roster, you are added to the top of the Unlimited roster you compete in, so almost every single time I am the first in my Unlimited class on stage because not many of the women my age crossover. 

Here is my friend Maria Adelus, after we registered. The nerve of them, having this HUGE stainless steel, icy cold vat of water right outside the door! All of us had cut water either earlier in the day, or early that evening, we were thirsty, but dared not drink.

Why the water? Fluid flattens out the muscles, you looked more defined with less water in your system, less "water retention". Again not everyone does this, but the majority do. 

I start cutting at 7:00p.m. the night prior, so from 7 until 10:30pm the following night, over the next 27.5 hours, I would have approximately 5 ounces of fluid. Not much. Another reason why you should never take diuretics. Combined with cutting water, you could become extremely dehydrated and kill yourself. There is nothing pretty or sexy about death. 

After we are done, about an hour and a half later, we wandered back to our rooms, some to tan, some to eat, some to sleep. The next day would be a long one!

More to come in a few days.
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