Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

22 July 2008

A humbling experience...lessens learned.

I have to tell this story. I have to get it 'out of my head'. (For those of you with conplusive minds that don't tend to shut off - yes, I have these tendancies too.) I am being completely honest. NO BS.

In March - 3 week after the Arnold I decided to do a small show here in Montreal Quebec. It was close to my home and I was 'in shape' from the Arnold (or so I thought). The show was to qualify me to attend the 'World Qualifier' which will be held in Laval Quebec in March of 2009. I had not planned to attend the world qualifier this year (which was in Winnipeg) but since the show was basically in my back yard next year it would have been good to go. Also if I do not win my pro card this year (the show coming up in 3 weeks), then this would be my back up plan for shows to compete in. (I would go to the Amateur again, and then the World Qualifier in 2009). So my reasons to do this show was:

1. to qualify me for WQ of 2009 &,
2. get my face out there in the Quebec fitness culture &,
3. show that I am serious about winning my pro card by only competing for CBBF events.

You might think that after all my years of competition and living in Quebec for the last 8 years, the FCPAQ (provincial body of the CBBF in Quebec) would have see my face before (and some have) but I wanted to be seen by the Quebec judges and see how the shows 'goes down' in this part of the CBBF. I knew that at Nationals some of the judges are the same and I just want to show them my stuff. This practice is nothing new. Many pros compete in many shows during the year, to hopefully get a better 'look' at the bigger shows.

I took a good friend of mine to the show with me for moral support.

When we arrived at the show, we went to the mandatory athlete meeting. At the meeting the regular things happened: sign in, hand in your music, show your bikini (making sure it was not too small), and that is about it. The guy signing us in was pleasant, and there was myself and one other girl competing. Great. Two fitness gals. The guy taking my music was asking me for my posing music - and well I never clued in - 'posing music?'. Fitness gals don't pose is what I thought. I told him that is my routine music and he responded like 'oh yeah' just the routine, shaking his head. I thought that was the end of it.

The next day, during the prelims everything went well. Everyone was back stage, tanning up. In Quebec they do things a little differently - for the figure girls - they do the quarter turns, but they also do individual posing routines of walking across a catwalk, and doing open handed bodybuilding poses. Kinda like strutting their stuff across the stage, and well 'prancing' is what I call it. Great that is what the figure girls do.

Fitness was up and we did the comparison round of the quarter turns. 3 weeks prior to this I did the Arnold show, and the 1/4 turn to the side, we face completely to the side now. Well, I did this in Quebec too. Apparently I was not to do this, and well was to the 1/4 to the side, the old way with my upper body facing front, lower trunk facing side. Seemingly no one corrected me as I stood onstage, and would feel the effects later.

The routine round was awesome. The crowd was nuts and loved watching my routine. I loved performing it for them as they were so responsive. Quebec has a great bodybuilding and fitness culture. They really understand the sport, and what it takes to get up on stage.

We wrapped up the morning prelims, and went back to the hotel for a nap.

During the evening show, as I was waiting backstage, I did have a girl come up to me and ask me if I was 'so and so'. I said sure, that is me. She wondered why I was here. And I explained to her my goals, and she seem to understand. She seemed to imply that this show was a bit small for me, and various others (her words) were wondering too why I was here.

I was a little bit taken a back by the implication that certain shows are perhaps beneath me just because I have some experience. I love to compete and well, regardless of the stature of the show, when you decide to change federations you have to follow the rules and well, start at the bottom and work your way back up. Sure the year previous I did go to Nationals, but that is a completely different stream of shows, from the WQ.

After we did a quick set of quarter turns, it was back into the fitness outfit for the routine. The crowd was even bigger than the morning. I was so pumped to be doing my routine. It went perfect, and the crowd applauded and cheered. I love that feeling. Perhaps that is what I am addicted to. The admiration of the crowd when a job well done is performed.

After that round, we were told to get back into our bikini's for the 3rd round - this is where I was confused.

The 3rd round consisted of the fitness gals, prancing like the figure gals and doing a posing routine to music - like bodybuilders. The other girl did not have music either and knew nothing of this round. (or at least she seemed to be on the same page with me - like hun? What are we to do?). This is something that i would have practiced had I known this round existed.
The other girl went first, and she looked as though she knew what she was doing. She did great. I however, I am sure, looked akward, and well out of sorts. I certainly felt off. When I got off stage the other girl and I exchanged high fives, to signify - wow, we got through it.

When it came time to announce the awards, 2 things always go through my mind.

1. Look happy for the other girl (s) when your name is not annouced, and

2. Answer to the question: Did you do the best you possibly could? If the answer is 'yes' the outcome for me (whichever placing - 'is what it is' - you will hear competitors say this a lot). If it is 'no' I still have to accept whatever placing I receive. (but I always try to prepare my training for a yes answer)

Well needless to say I was annouced 2nd. 2nd against a girl who has never competed before. I was a bit surprised. Even after they had given me the best routine award. I guess I did not know how to feel.

Many people came up to me afterward, and said that the federation was 'teaching me a lesson'. I was a 'transfer' from another federation or various other federations. Ok, I though well how long are they going to consider me 'not' to be apart of the family. I mean I have my membership with the federation, I have paid my money, what more do they want? Maybe I just don't believe that this would be the case. I really cannot believe the hype or that there is politics. I am perhaps still a bit naive or whatever you might call it. Or perhaps I just want to always believe that people do the right thing - all the time. I was asked many times who was my trainer and where did I train - maybe just for information purposes...but after telling them I do everything; confusion would appear on their faces.

After a while I did come to the conclusion that I was a bit embarrassed. Embarrassed that I lost to a girl who has never competed before. Why was this important? Well, since I want to have my pro card this year, and I cannot compete well against a girl who has no experience - how can I possibly best those girls at Nationals who have a lot of experience. (God, that feels so good to say it). This is my biggest fear, and why I probably was so upset at the time, but could not verbalize it.

I did wait around for the judges to see what feedback I could get - something I will never recommend for other girls to do in a such a subjective sport (and with your emotions running high & food running low, not a good idea - maybe a quick email a few days post show when you have recoved, but I digress) - I received so many pieces of advice - your shoulders are ok, your shoulders are to small, your butt is soft, your inner thigh you need to work on, your calves are too big - name it they mentioned it. The judges were arguing between themselves on what information to give me. I was even more confused and just thanked them so that I could go and drown my disappointment and embarrassment in some food.

After much reflection (in my friend) and various other friends in the industry - I have a new perspective on this show. What was I to learn?

You cannot have the highs without the lows, and well yes, maybe I was not at my best. I think I may have strayed a bit on my diet, and well I was not at MY best. I see that now. I did not bring the package I brought to the Arnolds, and well, did not even think anyone would be competing in fitness. (how many girls opt to do fitness nowadays....? Figure is stacked). Maybe (as some would mention to me, their words not mine) they were punishing me for competing for other federations years before. (I still don't believe this one...although have these thoughts...). I know now I needed to refocus and work harder for this show (for instance Nationals). This is where I really want to shine. I know that I am capable of good work, and just have to be on stage to show it.

But if I do look at my goals/reasons for doing the show - I accomplished them all. I met all my goals. The goal was not win, but the other 3 reasons mention - mostly to qualify for WQ next year in 2009 in Laval.

Nationals will be a good showing for me. I know what to present, and whatever the outcome I will still be working out at the gym the next day, eating well, and keeping active. That is just who I am. It would be amazing to be able to compete as a Pro in the IFBB representing Canada at least for one year. I mean, I am not getting any younger; but least with each show I am getting wiser.


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