Sunday, July 4, 2010
Tara Ballard Column
Hi everyone! I, once again, must apologize for being MIA the past couple months. It has been a total whirlwind of activity between work travels, training, home life, and competing. Just when I think it's going to slow down, it gets even busier. But I am NOT complaining- I thrive off of staying busy and being productive. It seems I become self-destructive if I have too much time on my hands. Anyone else feel that way?
Before I get into contest wrap-ups, I just want to give a brief update on my dad's condition. If you remember, he had been in the hospital back in March. Things were pretty bad at that point, but after a week, he started doing much better. Also at that point, the health insurance company revised their decision to deny coverage of a drug that basically keeps his disease under control. Unfortunately, the decisions came a little too late- the damage to his kidney was too great, and now we are looking at another kidney transplant. My aunt donated the kidney he has now, but it is basically dying. So, my sister and I are planning to get match-tested- and I am ready to go with donating one of mine if I am a match. Dad is doing ok- he gets tired easily, but he is holding his own. He is probably the strongest person I've ever known- my hero for sure!
Here we go- contest wrap-ups!!!
Fame Carolinas- 5/29/10
Masters Fitness Model, Masters Figure
This was my first time competing in a FAME event, and I must say, it was a total blast!! The vibe of FAME is completely different than NPC, INBF or FAP. FAME is more about "positivity" and the accomplishment of reaching goals and being "Body Proud" (their slogan). As such, the mood was more relaxed and fun. The girls and guys were all great, and backstage was more like a party than anything. I met some great people, and got to hang with some good friends: Emily, Jillian, Maria, Nina, Leslie, Mare, Jenn, Kelley etc. Jill did a great job coordinating everything, and the emcees, Kevin Friesen and Amy Barnes, were hilarious. We all had a fabulous time, and I will definitely be doing another FAME show at some point! I'm happy to say that I went home with 1st place in both the Masters Fitness Model and Masters Figure categories! You can see pics from the FAME Carolinas show at www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2056171&id=1010882212&l=424380ab66
NPC Victory In The Valley- 6/26/10
40+ Figure, Open Figure Class B
After FAME was finished, I spent the next four weeks leaning out a bit more and "detailing" my legs. I had spent much of the off-season working on building my legs and trying to get those sought-after teardrop quads, and a nice hamstring-glute tie-in. Now was the time to stop building and just focus on bringing out definition and bringing them more in line with my shoulders. What a difference 3 weeks of this can make! We also made some tweaks to my one-week out diet that seemed to help the issue of my delts going flat in the last two days before showtime. Thanks so much to Dar, Kevin and Jill for getting me on track with that. This is where I feel it's important to note that no diet is good for every person. I'm a perfect example... I respond very quickly to carb depletion and dehydration, so it has been a process with each competition I do to find the right combination for me. I think we have finally found it- yay!!
I went into this show feeling confident, both physically and mentally. That is really the first time I felt that I really BELONGED on that stage, like I could hang. Of course, seeing how strong and beautiful the other ladies looked definitely made me very nervous, and I did feel my confidence start to wane!
The show itself was awesome- so organized and totally top notch. Dar Malecki and Kevin DeHaven of Main Stage Muscle really thought of everything. Neely Simmons once again did a great job with tanning, hair and makeup... I love all you guys. If you have the opportunity to do a Main Stage Muscle competition, I highly recommend it!
I drove down to Hickory on Friday afternoon- it's about an hour from where I live, so I went ahead and made plans to stay in the host hotel. I got my two coats of oompa loompa tan, and then it was time for the carb-up meal- filet mignon and baked potato with real butter- woo hoo! My good friend, Jillian Teta, who was competing the same day in the Natural Atlantic Coast, ate with me- she loves Neely so much that she travelled to Hickory to get the tan for her show! It was great chilling with her, although it was sad that we couldn't be together on show day. BIG shout-out to her though for winning her class AND OVERALL at the Damian Fisher Natural Atlantic Coast in High Point, NC!!
I didn't get too much sleep on Friday night, but awoke ready to go on Saturday. Neely did my hair and makeup and then it was off to the venue. I met up with Faizah, another Jillfit girl, and Christi Smith, a sweet girl who I had met in competitions last year. We hung together and waited to be called for pre-judging. I was really glad to have Christi and Faizah there- it's always nice to see familiar faces! I also saw some folks from last years' competitions- Stacey Parrish and Jaime McAlister- two total sweethearts who I will enjoy keeping in touch with.
Pre-judging went very smoothly, although I did get hit with some pretty bad muscle cramps in my feet and calves. I had forgotten to take my magnesium and mineral complex, so totally my fault! Some of the guys from my gym were there cheering very loudly for me, and that really helped lighten the mood! Thanks to Josh, Roberts, and all the F2K gang for being there...you guys rock!!
After the morning show, I came away not knowing at all how I did...both of my classes were tough and everyone looked great...this is where nerves, anxiety and insecurity set in...but you have to look inward and know that you did the very best you could. And I can honesty say that I was happy with how I came in and how I performed.
Finals started at 6pm, and from then on, it's kind of a blur! I was happy that Nick, and his nephew, Grant, drove down for the show- Nick has been dealing with some things with his own dad, who is in the final stages of melanoma. So, it was unsure whether Nick would even be able to come. I was so glad he was there!! And hopefully Grant had fun watching his first bodybuilding show.
Masters went first; I thought for sure I would be last, but when they didn't call me for fourth places, or third place...I was thinking "what???"... top two, really, no way!! I ended up with second, which was a total shock. Lee Lance took first, and what an honor it was for me to be on stage with such a wonderful person! I had the opportunity to chat with her afterward, and she is another one I'm excited about keeping in touch with.
Open went well too- super tough class, and I was thrilled to get 4th place... I don't think that would have happened just a few short months ago!!
Afterward, it was time to celebrate!! After relaxing with a nice glass of wine, Grant, Nick, and I headed out for dinner. I couldn't really decide what I wanted, but settled on a nice cheeseburger and fries! And some more wine :-) Nick and Grant headed home, and I met up with Dar, Denise, Neeely and Jason for a short while...it was great hanging and talking with them. I am so happy to have met and gotten to know all of them! By this time, it was going on midnight or so, and I went to SLEEP---relishing in the fact that I could sleep late on Sunday!! It was pure bliss.
All in all, this was a wonderful experience. I had a great time, I felt good with my performance and how I came in, and I got to reconnect with some old friends, and make some new ones....that's what it's all about...feeling good about reaching a goal and enjoying the experience! It's not necessarily always about "winning"!!
Next up is Musclemania Carolinas in August and then the Mid-Atlantic Classic in October... I am more motivated than ever; I can't wait to work even harder these next few months. Areas of focus will be delts and back- my favorite areas to work!
You can see some pics from Victory in the Valley here: www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2058830&id=1010882212&l=ce2d0707b5
That's it for now...until next time, train hard and find happiness in every day!!