As promised, a little catch up following my competition 3 weeks ago. I’d like to share a few of the highlights of the day competing at the British Finals and also some of my thoughts and feelings leading up to the actual day.

The PCA final was my 3rd competitive show and looking back it brings me fond memories and retrospective laughter. Following 2 weeks off and another week to get back into the swing of training again, I relax in front of the computer screen ready to write my blog. (It’s been nice receiving a few requests asking when the next blog will be) Thank you for those.

The finals were in Birmingham on Sunday 19th June. I decided to travel there on the train and opted to travel 1st class – I felt all posh and privileged for a moment – this would be my first ever experience of first class. The reality was that I managed to get the complete train fare for £5! Ever the bargain hunter, this definitely fitted the bill!

I imagined a quiet, peaceful train journey where I could gather my thoughts and think about the stage, my posing and just to chill out really. It didn’t quite work out how I’d planned. My husband dropped me at the train station; his brawn was very much needed as I had an exceptional amount of baggage. I had packed a lot of ‘just in case’ items. We took the lift up to the platform, my eyes darted towards the familiar Costa sign and I decided on a last minute Americano fix. Time passed in a flash, we said our goodbyes and I struggled with my suitcase, cool bag, other bag, some beautiful flowers and a black coffee. My hair scraped back, sunglasses on I felt similar to an actress I’d seen in a film rushing to catch a train. My thoughts were quickly broken when a bloke bumped straight into me and spilt my black coffee all down my……

Wait for it…..

White top!

I screamed inside.

A chap on the platform must have sensed I was on the verge of having a Diva tantrum there and then and quickly interjected with ‘may I take your bags?’

Plonking myself down in the extra wide seat and elegant 1st class area of the train, I felt and looked like a bedraggled old hag. Hardly the start I was after. But I did giggle to myself.

I enjoy long train journeys. I find them very relaxing and was happy when I found my reserved seat. This meant I had an hour and a half of just ‘me’ time. The seat opposite me was quickly occupied with a middle aged chap who immediately started chatting. He had a distinct Brummy accent and soon was answering my excitable questions about what you ‘get for free’ being a first class passenger. He explained he travelled back and forth every Friday and Sunday for work purposes.

Within about 15 minutes, he was crying. We got talking about life in general and he had had some really tough times which obviously upset him deeply. There were several occasions on the train journey we sat in silence as he cried. I listened and tried to console him as much as a stranger could. Between his emotions he did tell me some awesome stories about how he built the Bullring in Birmingham and was part of the build of the original building prior to the Bullring. Turns out his son works as a USN (a supplement company) representative and was probably going to be at the PCA Bodybuilding event I was going too as well. Small world.

Throughout the journey I was constantly distracted by itching, I soon realised I was having an allergic reaction to something. God knows what?!  I could feel the itchiness rising up my neck, around my mouth and eyes. I felt terrible and concerned but tried my best to listen to my new train companion. He must have thought I was mad. Oddly itching my chest, neck and constantly adjusting myself in the seat. Thankfully he guided me straight to a Boots store to buy anti-histamines; my skin was covered in Hives!

So, not exactly the peaceful start I’d planned but nethertheless, nothing seems straightforward when you want it to be; I took it in my stride.

I enjoyed some time looking around Birmingham, I walked to the Symphony Hall where the show was being held and managed to sneak in to have a look. It was beautiful and took my breath away; it was such a stunning venue. My friend Gemma was arriving in a few hours so I booked a restaurant for steak that night and returned to my room to prep myself for 2 spray tans.

It is always a little worrying when standing completely naked in a tanning booth; 3 ladies staring with their finger pushed against their lips and their heads cocked  to one side assessing the state of the tan they’ve just applied to you. I eagerly tried to re-read their expressions hoping for positive feedback. It didn’t happen. I’d turned green! My skin prep was the same as always, maybe it was something I ate, could it have been the allergic reaction? I’ve no idea what lead to my unwanted Hulk impression. I was assured all would be fine for the day and top up would be applied if required.

I had a lovely evening with Gemma although slightly humiliating as she couldn’t stop laughing and talking photos of me as I looked like a dark tanned turd.

 Sarah Blog 3 Weeks Post PCA

Even being at the expense of her amusement, I was happy with a glass of wine and steak. I’d been looking forward to this meal all week!

Show day arrives and I’m up at 5am. I meet my fellow competitor David and we travel to receive our 3rd spray tan together. The air is filled with excitement, apprehension and every girl checking each other out, assessing the competition. We all try not to look I’m sure, but it’s a dead cert, you just can’t help it. I remember seeing one girl with her ‘poker face’ on, no expression, no eye contact, just focused or sleep walking, I’m not sure now.

Gemma expertly applies my lashings of makeup and huge eyelashes. In no time at all she whips my hair into shape and it’s time to carefully slip into my stunning bikini. The tanning ladies try their best to cover up the green tinge and apply a glaze to make my skin shine. I devour rice cakes with strawberry jam and whack back 2 neat shots of raspberry vodka. Couple of toilet selfies later and off we trot to the ‘pump up’ area.

This is when I’m faced with 26 other scintillating bikini girls; I didn’t expect so many of us. We all struggled to get prime position in front of the mirrors; I think we resembled rugby players competing in a line out. Triple checking our hair, our bikinis, poses and finally bending over to get our bikini bottoms glued to our bum cheeks.

I decide to break away from the group, sink my earphones into my ears and listen to some very specific carefully chosen music. I remember one particular song really got me going. It was a latino track that immediately got my feet moving and my hips swaying. I didn’t care what the others may have thought; I was in my own little bubble, trying to enjoy the moment and get my ‘game face’ on as my husband puts it. The vodka had probably had its effects kicking in at this point too.

We line up in number order ready to be introduced onto the stage. I remember reminding myself to stand tall, walk semi-sexyish and make some eye contact with the judges and the audience.

The girls and I are ushered to squeeze up a few times, the stage was full from one side to the other with 27 sparkling beauties trying to get noticed by the judges. I revolve around my practiced poses, not moving too much but just enough when one position became too tough to hold any longer.

I received first call outs which means I was called forward with a few other ladies to undergo comparisons. Generally a good sign if you get 1st call outs but never guaranteed. We all present our front poses, side, back and other side before leaving the stage and individually coming back on stage to perform a front & back pose before the judges call their top 6.

I was thrilled to be called forward for 5th place. With so many other girls, I was pleased I’d been noticed and truly would have been bitterly disappointed if I hadn’t. Top 6 had a few photographs and off we walked back stage. It was done. The weeks and weeks of preparation for a mere 10 minute stage time to show off all our hard work was over in a flash. I met with my family, friends and my coach Rick. Relaxation washed over me and perfectly cooked SAUSAGES handed to me by my husband. (I managed 3). We stayed to watch a few other categories before heading to a restaurant with my dad to celebrate not only my achievement but also because it was father’s day. I had a massive burger!

Now 3 weeks on, I’m proud of my trophy but more so the package we brought to stage. I can see my improvements and I am truly happy with how my physique is coming along. For the moment I am enjoying getting back into my training, building my strength up again and deciding what’s next….!

I definitely would like to compete again, it’s just deciding when and where. The next few months will bring a couple of holidays, family time and regrouping with friends. The prep stages of competing can be very self-centred and due to my restrictions can lead to isolating yourself from functions or social events. I’m looking forward to having nights out and generally enjoying whatever we choose to do.

Thank you to all those who have read my blogs, I hope that it’s given some insight into competing but most of all the lifestyle changes I have made in 2 years. I hope I have shown what is achievable naturally and with some pure grit, discipline and determination, you can have a physique to be proud of.

Whilst I know I am one of the more extreme examples. Just ask yourself what small changes can you make to your daily routine? Be it exercise or diet. I promise you that not only will you be leading a healthier lifestyle your sense of wellbeing will improve.

Good luck.