Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Student and the Gym with Gillian Burke

Been exceedingly busy the last few weeks but at last I'm settling down to write again! So for the second time, hello Bikini Brawn readers!!

The last 2months has been an absolutely blur! A cycle of training, eating, laughing, crying, good days, bad days, doing my college work (and then other days hiding from it!), late nights, early morning, bad moods, snappy comments, hysterical giggling, vibrating with excitement, crippling fear and at long last relief! 

I walked in the valley of broccoli and turkey and came out on the other side! I have to say that was one of the hardest things I have ever done to see that prep through; but it was immensely rewarding! I competed in my first competition on Saturday the 26th of April in the 2014 RIBBF Spring Classic, Waterford. The standard was the highest it’s ever been! Such incredible women, was so happy to meet them and make some new friends. Somehow I managed to place in the top 10, placing 9th out of 20 girls in my height class! 

The week leading up to comp was really exciting, just couldn't wait to get to the day and just do it! But when the big day arrived I was suddenly hit in the face with a truck-load of nerves. Waiting just off stage my heart was in my throat, palms were clammy, couldn't hear over the blood pounding in my ears, thought I was going to be sick! But there was no going back then. 1, 2, 3 girls went out, suddenly there was only one person in front of me. I started shaking head to toe, wasn't sure I could move! "Number 73, Gillian Burke", and I was up. I didn't feeling my feet go forward up the steps, didn't hear the friends and family cheering my name, I was deaf and blind moving forward! "Smile, just smile! Look at the judges and no one else, that's if you don't want to trip..." inner monologue the entire way. Hit the first pose, foot caught and stumbled a little, "SHIT! Keep smiling". The stage was carpeted and the soles of my shoe rubber, "doesn't matter, keep walking". Tan was smudged and I felt self-conscious, "fake it 'til you make it, act like you don't care!”. Panicking a little I raced through my T-walk and settled back into line. I was 5th out of the 20 to go out, so by the time all the girls had come out, performed their T-walk and then comparisons (6 girls called out at a time to do mandatory poses), I had been on stage over an hour, constantly smiling and posing; you are under constant scrutiny so can't relax for a second. I was exhausted, smile was borderline a grimace, must have looked demented by the end! Wide eyed baring my teeth ha ha ha. 

Coming off stage I was still shaking, adrenaline pumping and kicking myself for all the stumbles and slips ups. I felt a little defeated if I'm honest. "You can do better than that," was all I could think. Let the nerves get the better of me! But a proud coach came to meet and he couldn't understand my mood. I was disappointed in myself because I had set personal standards quite high and hadn't given the performance I felt I was capable of. It took about an hour for the mood to leave me, and for the reality of what I had done to take over. I had done it, start to finish, prep to stage, cellulite to striations, I had done my first comp! 

Suddenly I was hungry (and not just for pizza); hungry for stage I wanted to do it again, and again, to prove myself. The rush and reality that I was hooked on competition was an incredible feeling. You run the risk of going through all the crushing pressure and strict preparation and finding that being on stage isn't for you; the physical act of competing isn't suited to you. I've learned three elements make up a competitor: a love of weight training, to be highly competitive (everything is a race in your head, even if the other person isn't aware of it! “Dear stranger on the treadmill beside me, yes we are racing, and yes, you are losing”), and a natural born show off (Mom claims I was one from a very young age ha ha!). 

Within a week I went from Fitness Newbie to having two competitions completed: now what? It’s off-season baby!! Also known as “improvement season”; general feedback form judges was that I need to put on a bit of size, general symmetry was good it’s just a case of maturing my physique, which I knew going into the competition; that’s something that only comes with time (which only being 22 I have a lot of!). I was nearly immediately back in the gym doing heavier sessions with lower reps trying to grow, grow, grow, but stay within the criteria of Bikini. My calories and carb intake have gone up (which I am enjoying immensely!!). I’ve also just finished up a rest week, just to regroup (essential, you can’t go ALL the time), and now the countdown starts and prep begins! I made good use of the “rebound” period post-comp, which is when you can make your most gains and improvements (according to more experienced bodybuilders I talked to that is: it does makes sense though, after being depleted for so long to increase your carbs and calories and switch training styles it should shock the muscle into growing). I also had bloods run to check my liver and kidney functions, along with a few other things, and I am delighted to have confirmed that everything is in perfect working order! Pristine is what the doctor said!

So with a rested body and mind, a clean bill of health, I begin again feeling happy, healthy and strong! Nationals I’m coming for you!!

Thanks for reading!
Gill :D

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