Thursday, May 5, 2016

Competitive Cross Training in the Ballroom

Last week was awesome! I was present in every difficult and easy moment, enjoying it all. It was a state of training, friends, performance and competition.

I love performing. Aside from the several showcases I’ve done since taking up ballroom in January 2013, I haven’t had a scrutinized performance since I did standup comedy in 2008. 

The Emerald Ball Competition is one of the biggest ballroom competitions in the country. Preparing for it was a physical challenge and I knew it would be a big mental challenge. Big challenges call for big guns. I broke out the CD my hypnotherapist, Brennan Smith, made for me in 2008 to have a first successful comedy set. I mentally adjusted the comedy-specific suggestions to a ballroom competition. I had one last listen before driving to the South Bay to spend the night with running friends so I could sleep in until 4:30am for my 6:15am hair and makeup appointment.

All the comp prep was similar to race prep. Friends. Food/Fuel. Bed (at a reasonable time). Like usual, I set several alarms and triple checked them, convinced something would go wrong. I changed only one thing: I put my own sheets on the bed, so the ballroom-dark spray tan I was rocking wouldn’t come off on their sheets. I woke up several times in the night (like normal), convinced it was 4:30am and I had to go get my hair and makeup done.  All of a sudden, I heard an alarm that wasn’t mine.

Holy smokes!

Thank goodness, the husband is the kind of guy that wants to walk a lady to her car. He set an alarm so he could wake up and escort me out.

I prep as quickly as I can.

I forgot I brought breakfast and went out to find food.

Foraging for food at 5am is not an easy task, and if you’ve stayed away from fast food for years, you’ll be very disappointed. I eventually found something and modified it enough, (asking for no bacon and throwing out the bread) and made something reasonably palatable. More importantly, there was coffee.

Hair and makeup was going to be at LeNique, the dancewear shop where I (and so many dancers) get their dresses. It was so early, there was even parking by the Culver City Steps, which never happens. I was breathing easy. Jim (my coach)and I were going to meet at 8:30 and my first heat wasn’t until 11. Endurance racing mentality wins out again. Biggest difference. You need hair and makeup for a ballroom dance performance.

The hair and makeup Snow Urbin gave me was spectacular. I rarely feel super girly, but Snow made me feel the most girly I’ve ever felt. The amazing thing is she did it all in an hour.

I changed into my dress so that way I could jump out of my car and run into the ballroom. I met Jim, my instructor and the other dancer who was competing. 

The ballroom was not intimidating. I had been there before, last year supporting friends.

Besides, I like preforming. It’s easier than standup. And, it’s certainly easier than walking from your hospital room to a gurney to get wheeled to brain surgery.

My heats came up. Pre-Bronze Rhumba, Swing, Salsa... quickly followed by Newcomer Rhumba, Swing, Salsa. There were other styles peppered in, so it gave me time to relax and work on dance combinations. The bonus is my ankles didn’t get tired because I’m dancing in heals that are .5” taller than what I normally do.

I ultimately finished with two 2nds in Pre-Bronze Rhumba and Swing. A 1st in Pre-Bronze Salsa.  And, firsts across the board for Newcomer Rhumba, Swing and Salsa. 

I was happy with how I did, but naturally, I want to do better. There’s always room for improvement, with everything. I like chasing that next P.R. (in whatever it may be).  So while working to get in marathon shape, I’m now working towards being able to do more styles without my ankles giving out while really getting my arms and hips to move.

I took Wednesday off, and resumed workouts on Thursday. Friday became my long run day since I had plans with a friend Saturday morning.

 How else does one cap off a week of being one of their most girly? A little boxing and kickboxing at LAKO. Between the weight training and running I’ve been doing for the past month, I didn’t die. And, the bonus is that the ballroom dance adds a great element of stability and hip action.  I was so excited, I tweeted out that I felt like Paige VanZant. As of this post, Paige is a UFC fighter and on this seasons Dancing With the Stars. I was excited to have this commonality with a supreme athlete. I didn’t expect her to respond.
Yes, it was a good week. Now, to jump back into a training schedule and add hills so I can have a successful trail half marathon this fall. I feel like more and more I’m stepping into my athletic prime.

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