My Journey To The 2003 USA Naturals - Final Week!

Find out what happened at my contest, my thoughts about it, my future plans and much more...
Final Week

Back to week one.

Alright, sorry for the late update, but as soon as I arrived home in Atlanta on Monday I found out I had to be in Raleigh, NC for work Tuesday morning so I had to unpack, pack, book a flight and hotel all very quickly and have not had a chance to update my training journal until now.

Overall, my first bodybuilding competition experience this weekend at the Pacific USA Naturals in Anaheim was very good. It is hard to believe that this journey is now over.

The Two Ways Of Looking At The Outcome...

There are really two ways to look at the outcome of the contest. I will start with the negative so that I can end on a positive note. My final placing in the contest was very disappointing. I placed 4th out of 4 in the Novice Heavyweight Division and 10th out of 12 in the largest and toughest class of the contest, the Open Lightheavyweight Division.

I followed the diet plan outlined in last Wednesday's journal entry and was looking better and better every day leading up to the show. I felt like I had done everything in my power to be prepared and was pleased with how everything was coming together. I practiced my posing some more in the hotel on Thursday and Friday and was then ready for showtime on Saturday morning.

I stopped eating and only sipped on water a couple of hours before weighing in, in an effort to make the lightheavyweight class, which turns out to have been a mistake as far as increasing my chances of higher placing in the contest. I weighed in at a tight and shredded 195 lbs. The lightheavyweight class had more competitors than any other division (the heavyweight open men's division had only 6 competitors) and most of the competitors in the lightheavyweight division were very tough. Seeing the other competitors at weigh-ins, I knew it was going to be tough, but I was confident that my conditioning would pay dividends.

After weighing in, it was time for pre-judging to start. I sat and watched the Master's Men and Open Women Classes before going backstage to the pump-up room. They never actually called back the lightheavyweights so I was rushed to pump up and get my oil on, but still had enough time to do what I needed to do. I was nervous and my heart was racing as my group walked upstairs getting ready to go on stage.

Once I got out on stage it was just like I was in my apartment by myself practicing. I stood solid in the front relaxed position and hit every pose and quarter turn right on the money. They started calling out the competitors for the comparisons and I was in the last group, which let me know my placing was not going to be very good. At this point I was pretty disappointed, but kept standing tall and strong until we were let off the stage. I performed my 60 second individual routine for the judges flawlessly.

After a brief break, it was time to go back up for the Novice Heavyweight division. All of the competitors had already competed in another class so we just quickly went through the quarter turns and the mandatory poses. I then had a couple of hours to go back to the hotel and rest before the finals Saturday evening.

Before I knew it, it was time to go back to the auditorium. My body was exhausted and I knew I was not going to place well, but I was determined to perform my routine for the crowd, the judges, and most importantly for myself to the best of my abilities. After a quick athlete briefing, the individual routines to music started. I performed my routine with the Novice Men's Division, which was the 4th group to go and pretty early in the show. I went back stage and mustering up the little energy I had left pumped up and got ready to go.

I was the first to pose in my class and when Chingy's "Right Tharr" (Big Thanks to Jeff for the CD!) started playing my body took over because I had programmed it to do this routine with hours and hours of practice. I nailed every pose and really had a good time in front of the crowd. I could hear people cheering with approval as I went through the routine flawlessly.

After the other competitors completed their routines, they brought out the four Novice heavyweights for final placings. They called out my number (72) first for 4th place. Honestly, at that moment I wanted to lay down and cry. I thought about how much work I had put into this contest. All of the cardio sessions were I felt like I was going to die that I did not give up, but only pushed harder. Every day when I felt like I could not physically keep going, but stuck to my diet plan 100%.

All of the pain I went through in an effort to achieve outstanding conditioning. The hours and hours of posing practice and videotaping and analyzing my posing. All of the attention I paid to detail day in and day out, such as daily saunas, tanning, and Thiomucase application. I felt like it was all for nothing and I was being cheated and beaten by others who had not put nearly as much into this contest as I did.

I went back to my seat with my 4th place trophy. Tennelle, my fiancé, knew that I was very disappointed. She tried to comfort me by explaining that it was simply that fact that I was a foot taller than most of the other competitors and comparing my physique to theirs' was very difficult. Tennelle made me feel better and provided a tremendous amount of physical and emotional support during the entire weekend. She listened to all of my worries before the contest and all of my complaining and "what-ifs" afterwards and calmly helped talk me through all of it.

I also have to give Tennelle 100% credit for my tan during the show. She applied all coats of my coloring products and did about a 1000 times better than I ever could have done on my own! I used 3 coats of Jan Tana Show Tan and then 2 coats of Jan Tana Competition Tan. I started the coloring process Thursday night and my color was looking great for Saturday, plenty dark and very even.

I talked to the judges after the show and asked them what I should work to improve on besides gaining 50 lbs. They all said that was IT. They told me that it did not go unrecognized that you could see every single muscle and striation in my body and that my posing and stage presence was very good. They told me I did everything right. It is just the fact that in the sport of bodybuilding 195 lbs on a 6'6 frame simply is not big enough. I must be a heavyweight at my height. Period.

Hey, this is bodybuilding, not a fitness contest. My conditioning was some of the best at the contest, if not the best, but that is only part of the equation. The judges were looking for mass and width as well, and in this particular contest it was the consensus that size and width outweighed conditioning. That is the way it goes. Bodybuilding is a very subjective sport, which makes it a very risky sport. There is ALWAYS going to be the possibility of busting your ass for months upon months, doing everything right, and then not placing how you would like to. There is nothing you can do about it except learn and try to improve for next time, which is what I am going to do.

I picked a big-time natural show for my first show and got a big-time wake-up call. I think my expectations were too high and this gave me a sense of reality. If I want to compete as a bodybuilder at a significant level then I am going to HAVE to pack on more mass onto my 6'6 frame. Sure, I could have placed much better at a local show, but I do not regret laying it on the line and entering the big show right off the bat. I received a lot of positive feedback on my physique during the weekend and no one could believe it was my first show.

I also met a lot of really great people and gained a lot of valuable experience I feel I can use to build on in the future. I have memories and pictures of this contest that will last forever. Most importantly, I set the goal of getting into the best shape of my life and I met it. There is no doubt that my conditioning and level of muscularity was improved from last year in the AST World Championships and that is what bodybuilding is all about, or at least it should be…challenging yourself to improve. I did this and I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish. I am also proud that I had the courage to take it to the stage and to fly across country for a big show not knowing what to expect.

After talking to the judges I felt much better and then it was time to EAT! After putting down as much pizza, cheese sticks, ice cream, and pie as I could I went to bed and had one of the best night's sleep I have had in a long time. The interesting thing is that I woke up Sunday morning looking my best. My muscles were tighter and fuller, and I was completely dry and vascular. This lets me know that I definitely did not carb up enough for the show. I will definitely have to consider this for my next show.

Tennelle and I went to Venice Beach on Sunday before our flight left, which was a really cool experience. We checked out Muscle Beach, all of the "freaks", and enjoyed a hotdog and some ice cream J.

My Plans

I am taking this week completely off from training and letting my body and mind recover after an extremely demanding 4 months of contest preparation. Unfortunately, I left my digital camera USB cord at home this week, but I will add pictures to the site as soon as possible. I also had professional pictures taken after my pre-judging and during my nighttime routine. I will post these as well as soon as I receive them. I also ordered the official video of the contest and can give anyone interested in a video information on how to get a copy.

Well, this will be the final journal entry for a while, but be sure to check back to see what my plans are for future contests. I want to thank everyone again for all of your support and encouragement along the way. Everyone make sure to keep training hard and staying strong everyday! Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Back to week one.