After another blissful flight (aisle seat, exit row, free upgrade) the plane touched down at midday Tuesday with the Pro Qualifier on Saturday.
I had left my car, the affectionately named FitX Mobile, at Dohertys Brunswick, so I taxi'd it back to grab it, head home for a shower and to defrost some muscle meals. Instead what greeted me was the inevitable pre FitX chaos. My car (that Tony Doherty pays for) was on a run to the airport to pick up some pro bodybuilders, so I headed upstairs to the office....mistake.....no one escapes the FitX workload. I was quickly given some tasks to complete and exhibitors to contact. After a couple hours of work and a hastily prepared lunch my car returned and I won my reprieve.
The next couple of days were spent lightly training, eating up carbs, 1000 grams a day which is about the equivalent of 20 cups of rice, trying to organise a FitX Booth as well as tying up lose ends for FitX exhibitors and letting my girlfriend know she had not been forgotten despite my lack of attentiveness. I snuck in an airport pickup and hotel drop off, to help pay off my debts to the Schmid's for carting me around Columbus, Rinnah would be making her pro-debut. The fact that my store was exhibiting at FitX was not a stroke of genius on my behalf, as one of the event organisers I should have known how much hard work would go into organising stand. Luckily with the help of the director of Mass Nutrition Luke and one of my business partners Anita a lot of the burden was lifted from me, but I still felt responsible for making sure everything ran smoothly. My brain and body decided sleep would be unnecessary for the last few days leading up to the show, so I would briefly lay down and run through the mental checklist in my head of all the things I still had to get done.
Friday the day before the show saw me at the Exhibition Centre at 8am unloading boxes and setting up banners, chasing the expo builders, writing up last minute checklists of things that still needed to get done, double checking and confirming the staffing and pretty much carrying a level of stress that I have never carried the day before a show. It was beyond hectic but I managed to escape in time to race home, pack my bags and battle my way across the city in peak hour traffic, check into a hotel and go do an interview for a doco that was being made on the lead up to the Pro Qualifier. Finally at about 8pm after a 12 hour day I had time to relax and by relax I mean apply tan and lay down for another near sleepless night.
I pretty much woke up to cameras at 6am comp day as they would track my every move until the show was finished. At 6:30 Tania my girlfriend arrived to help apply the last coat of tan and be my support crew for the day. It's a strange thing but my recollection of a comp day is always sketchy, I never feel nervous at the time but looking back I am sure that I am just masking an underlying level of anxiety. This comp everything was magnified, the stakes were higher, the build up had been going on for months, I had a camera watching my every move, I had a girlfriend attending her first bodybuilding show and I had all sorts of family and friends in attendance, I felt a level of responsibility to the entire shows success and I had a booth on display. So naturally I did what I normally do before every show, I tuned in for the athletes meeting and then I went and had a quick nap.
Backstage everyone was cool, anxious but cool, there is a level of respect and camaraderie at least at the higher levels of Australian bodybuilding, we're all a little odd to society in general so we have a tendency to stick together. The show was running a little behind schedule as it normally does and as is normally the case I was the last to get up and actually get ready. I had the chance to see my opposition before we filed out onstage which was all going well until I saw the favorite for the show Luke Schembri, who looked his all time best. I figured he would probably be too good, but if there was one guy I was happy to lose to it was him and I planned on doing my best to out present him onstage.
I love the moment before my name is called to take my position under the bright lights. All the work, all the anticipation, knowing everything was leading up to this moment, I almost feel elated. I can't wait to get out there. I take a few deep calming breaths and try to stroll out like it's no big deal. I like to look at the audience and judges, see where their eyes are drawn and do my very best to draw them to me. I probably move around on stage more than most of my competitors, I strike poses in between poses, I shift my stance, all of it designed to draw the eye. I like to think of the mandatory poses as my own mini routine. I can't even remember how many times I was called out, but I know it was quite a lot, I know it was hard work up there and it felt like a real battle, I also knew Luke had it in the bag. It was all over before I knew it, routines done and the winner announced, big Luke Schembri. I applauded him from the side of the stage and watched him thank a few people and thought about how cool it would be to be in that position. Later when I watched him take the stage at the Pro Show I was genuinely envious, it was probably at that moment that my next goal was established. Win the Pro Qualifier in 2014.