Hello all, this update has been a long time coming but I've been very busy moving into my first apartment and getting adjusted to graduate school life at the University of Illinois where I will be pursuing my PhD in Nutritional Science.
In particular, I will be specializing in amino acid utilization and trying to find the upper limits of beneficial protein intake. Ok that's enough pimping of myself to all of you for now. This article will serve as a brief update to how I did in my contests this past summer.
I did a total of five contests in seven weeks and overall I was very happy with my performance. I hit my peak well almost every week and was almost ten pounds heavier onstage, and much more shredded than I ever had been in any previous contest.
Contest #1 - June 12th The NPC Tampa Bay Classic
I placed fourth in the light heavyweight division. I was a bit disappointed with my placing as the three competitors who placed in front of me were all bigger than me, however I felt I should have placed one spot higher in third place, as the third place finisher was somewhat out of condition.
The NPC tends to place more emphasis on size rather than conditioning however, and considering all the competitors who beat me were at least 6 years older than me, I was still somewhat satisfied with my placing.
I also had the opportunity to meet Pat Lee, a photographer for Repetrope/USA Muscle and Ted and Myself did an Impromptu photo shoot backstage after the show. I must say Pat's work is top notch, he is also a consummate professional and a really nice guy and I definitely recommend his services to anyone.
I placed 4th in the Heavyweight Division at this show.
Contest #2 - June 19th The NGA Internationals
This was the show that I was really hoping to do well in this show, as it was an NGA pro-qualifier. After prejudging I felt very good about how I was doing in the show. I was the only guy in the light-heavyweight class who had split hamstrings and glute tie-ins. I also had several competitors (in other classes) tell me that I "had it in the bag."
I was skeptical however, as there was one competitor who was also well conditioned and had better muscle maturity than myself (he was 44, I believe). I can only describe my reaction as being very disappointed when I was announced in third place. I could have understood placing second, but the competitor they placed in front of me, was the least conditioned competitor in the class.
There were no striations, no separation in his quads, and no lower abdominal separation; he was however, a bit bigger than myself. I thought perhaps they decided to place pure size over conditioning, so one can imagine my shock when the head judge said "you need to work on your conditioning" when I asked him what I needed to do to place better.
This blew my mind since the least conditioned competitor in my class placed in front of me. Several people in the audience later told me that they felt bad about my placing and they felt I was not treated fairly at all. I don't know if politics played a role or what happened, but I was thoroughly confused and disappointed by the entire affair.
Though on a positive note, it was great to compete with two of my best friends, Ted Fletcher (aka Fletch on the boards, as seen to the right on stage with me) and James Albury (aka Skip Podar, aka Abdominator on the boards).
Ted won his heavyweight class easily, and skip placed third in the middleweight class. I also felt Skip was not treated fairly, as they placed a very out of conditioned competitor in front of him. After that weekend, all I could do was look foreword to my upcoming shows.
I placed 3rd in my division at this show.
Contest #3 - July 10th INBA/ABA Midwestern Championships & Indiana State Championships
This show was interesting. It was actually two shows in one. I entered the medium class in the Midwestern Championships (a pro qualifier for the PNBA) and the tall division in Indiana State Championships (A Team USA Qualifier).
I felt that my physique probably looked the best at this show and definitely at least as good as I looked at the Tampa Bay Classic. I ended up winning the tall division in both shows, but it was not a cakewalk as there was a very good competitor who was about 15 lbs heavier than me in both shows.
In the end, my great conditioning ended up pushing me over the top. I also won the overall title at the Indiana State show, which was a big moment for me, as it was the first time I had ever won the overall at a show.
Finally, it was time to step out onstage with the short class winner and the tall class winner of the Midwestern Championships for a chance to compete for my pro card. I did not win the overall, losing to the tall class winner.
The judges however, said it was extremely close between the tall class competitor and myself and since he was ten years older than me, I left the show feeling very good about myself. A few people in the audience told me they thought I had it, but I felt the overall winner deserved it.
I had a better upper body, and slightly tighter conditioning on my backside, but he had much better symmetry and muscle maturity. In any case, I was not at all disappointed in anyway with ALMOST winning a natural pro card at age 22.
In fact, as I drove away from the show, with my Indiana State overall sword sitting next to me in the car, a feeling of vindication came over me, and I cracked one of the biggest smiles in my entire life as I told my girlfriend and family the news over the phone.
I won the tall division for both of these competitions. I won the overall for the Indiana State show but not in the Midwestern Championships.
Contest #4 - July 17th The INBA/ABA North American Championships & Illinois State Championships
This show was exactly the same format as the last show. The North American Championships was the pro qualifier while the Illinois State show was a Team USA qualifier. For the second consecutive week, I won the overall at the state level show, while winning my class in the pro-qualifier but placing runner up in the overall pose-down.
The overall pose-down was not as close as the past week however, as the gentleman who won his pro card had much more size and symmetry than myself, although to my credit, I was probably slightly better conditioned than him. Once again, though I felt very good about my placing as he was nine years older than me, and I am confident that eventually I can reach that level of development.
I won the overall at the state level, but only won my class in the pro-qualifier.
Contest #5 - July 24th The NPC Caveman Classic
This was the biggest show I have ever competed in. With well over 100 competitors and 15 in my class alone I knew it was going to be a dogfight. This show is also a national qualifier for the NPC and it is an untested show so I was already at somewhat of a disadvantage.
I ended up placing 6th out of 15 competitors and I was happy with that placing because I felt it was a fair assessment; I hit my peak well, and came in as hard as I could. This was also the only show out of my five that my entire family was able to come and watch and they made me feel like a winner.
I also got an opportunity to meet B-Boy from the message boards and got the chance to root him on as he won his class and eventually won the overall! It was quite funny to see such a massive guy smiling and acting as giddy as a teenage girl after he won, but I know the feeling so I was able to relate. Congratulations to Brad (B-Boy) and I wish him luck at Junior Nationals!
I was 6th out of 15 competitors in my class at the Caveman Classic in July.
Doing 5 contests in 7 weeks was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. I dieted for a total of 7 months, traveled from Tampa, to Coral Springs (near Miami), to Indianapolis, to Chicago, and finally St. Louis to compete in all of these shows.
After the first two shows I was so disappointed with my placings that I didn't really even feel like doing the other three. Thankfully, I have good friends, great family, and an amazingly supportive girlfriend who convinced me to stick it out and stay the course.
As I reflect back on this summer, I realize that it's not always necessarily how one places in a show, but the knowledge and experience one gleans from competing. Even though I didn't place as well as I thought I should have in a few shows, I can still take pride in the fact that I was able to do 5 shows in 7 weeks, stay on a diet for 7 months, and hit my peak right almost every week.
Click here to watch Layne's posing routine from the 2004 NGA Contest!
I'd would like to extend my deepest thanks to the following people as there is no way I could have done these shows without the help of the following people...
My wonderful girlfriend Isabel and her brother Jamie
Ted Fletcher (aka Fletch) and his wife Mandi
James (aka Skip) Albury (aka Podar) aka Abdominator… ok you get the idea
Ryan Deluca and the entire bodybuilding.com crew
Big Poppa Proppy (forum mod)
My cousin Lesti and her boyfriend Ashley
Caleb Stone and the rest of the Avant Labs crew
Dr. Joe Klemczewski - Just unmatched in his ability to help someone hit their peak week after week.