I can’t remember walking down the stairs, getting changed or making my way out to the foyer. I can remember that I was grinning from ear to ear and that my hands were shaking. I was also suddenly very, very tired and extremely hungry – a different kind of hunger to contest-prep hunger. I wanted a substantial savoury meal with chew, texture and crunch.
I walked out into the theatre foyer and two girls, there to support one of the male competitors, rushed up to me and told me I’d been fantastic. They gathered their big group of supporters – all in personalised t-shirts – and posed with the guy they were supporting. “Get her in it!” they said, and asked me to be in the front of their group photo, popping a pose (of course!)
One of the judges came to find me and said they’d managed to get my CD working, so I had my own music for my routine. I gave him a massive hug and told him I thought I loved him a little bit. Phew! Such a relief.
It took ages to get out of the theatre because I was on such a high. I wanted to talk to everyone, and a good few people stopped me to congratulate me, compliment my condition and wish me luck. What a fantastic feeling. One of my goals for stepping on stage had been to entertain and to give the audience and judges what they had travelled and paid to see. It was so rewarding to hear that I’d managed to do just that.
Mum, Kat, Annie and I went for lunch, ending up in a pub rather than sitting on a bench in the sun because Annie was worried about the slats on a bench leaving lines in my tan 😉 That woman thinks of everything!
I was allowed one of the things I’d been craving – a jacket potato – for lunch. It was OK. Not crispy enough by far. For the first time in months, I was actually banned from eating broccoli! So I just had a salmon fillet, jacket potato, and ice cubes. All of which tasted truly delicious.
We wandered back to the theatre to get ready for the night show, and my stomach started to complain about that small potato, salmon and ice cubes. I felt a bit like I was exploding. I just wanted to lie down and sleep for a little bit. The walk back was fun; one guy from the audience stopped me to announce “your tan is SICK!” and compliment me on my vascularity, and a group of local kids were taking photos of me on their phones, so I stopped and did a few poses for them which they rewarded with whoops.
By now my stomach was aching and I felt so dry. All day, I’d wondered why I didn’t feel more dehydrated. Other competitors had dry mouths, white lips. I’d been feeling OK. Not now! After lunch, I felt very dehydrated. My Mum, Kat and Mark went to take their seats and I joined them in the auditorium to watch a little bit of the night show, but soon decided that I’d be far better off lying down in peace somewhere.
I took my foam mat outside and lay down with my feet up, staring at the blue sunny sky. I felt so peaceful (apart from the drum-tight stomach). I felt serene and happy and at home. I napped briefly and then went back into the changing rooms to get ready for the night show. I ran through my routine a couple of times, put my sparkly bikini on and before much longer Annie was there again to glue me in, glaze me again and give me a pep talk. I had some chocolate and went to the pump up room where I ended up pumping up next to one of the class winners who told me I “had him” on conditioning in one of the poses (he was being kind).
Annie helped me run through my poses again and I felt so much more at home than I had first time round. “Yes! That! Do that – can you feel whatever you just did differently?” she said. I could.
Then I was following Carole up to the stage again – thank goodness she was with me as I couldn’t recall how we got up there for the pre-judging and didn’t even recognise it. At the last minute, I realised I’d left my number pinned to my plain bikini, so flew back downstairs to retrieve it. Then I was back, waiting in the wings, watching Eve perform her solo routine. 60 seconds to go, and it would be my turn. My heart was thumping.
“Nicola Joyce…” the MC said, and the friendly man backstage gave me a little push. I walked on, and lowered myself into my starting position. Someone in the crowd gave a little whoop (to be fair it was probably my husband). The music started and I began my routine.
I got through both the bits where I’d thought I might wobble. One pose in particular did draw a whoop or two from the crowd. As I strode forward to the front of the stage for the final section I looked up and out and smiled; I felt great.
I turned and hit my final pose on the beat, and then it was over. The judges were applauding. I jumped up, did a little wave and ran off stage. “That went in a flash!” I said to the nice man backstage.
There was still more to do. After Carole had done her routine, we were all called back on stage again, and were run through our compulsory poses once more. I was pleased; this way, my husband got to see them. I could hear my team calling instructions to me and I did my best to respond. After a couple of rounds, the MC announced it was time for the pose-down! I’ve never done a pose-down in my life and wasn’t sure what to do. I just wanted to give the audience some fun and entertainment. As it was, I kind of got stuck in one spot and totally forgot to move around the stage. Seasoned-competitor Eve kindly gave me a gentle nudge at one point in an attempt to help me, and I moved to the centre of the stage. I tried to remember my best poses and turned from side to side to show all the judges.
I can’t actually remember now if we went offstage and then got called back on. I think maybe we were asked to stop posing and just line up. Then the MC announced that the winner of the class was about to be revealed.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.