In short: it was stressful, terrifying, shocking, then fun, and finally, exhausting.
Let me explain.
Registration and 'weigh-in' was at 1pm at the Beck Theatre in Hayes. Actually, I wasn't weighed (though I weighed myself that morning; lowest ever - 47kgs / 103lbs!). I think the 'weigh-in' thing was for the other categories (body builders, etc.)
Once I had my UKBFF (UK Body Building & Fitness Federation) wristband I gained access to the backstage and women's dressing rooms. This is definitely where the fun happens. I thought that was just for rock concerts but apparently athletes are no exception.
As soon as I entered the dressing room I spotted a beautiful lean woman taking a swig from a bottle of whiskey. Just like that. It wasn't to get drunk; it was to look better on the stage. Apparently alcohol will dehydrate you and give some muscular vascularity. That's a good thing I'm told. I'm not convinced this is a good and effective idea, but if nothing else, it probably helps with the nerves.
There was one thing everybody in the room could agree on; we were all looking forward to a big meal. I'd only spent two weeks watching my portion sizes; and I didn't lower my carb intake till the second week. On the last day I had stopped eating solid foods, sticking to citrus fruit and whey protein (though I did eat one proper meal on the Saturday). From what I could gather, these ladies had been dieting for a lot longer than I had. Oops, no wonder I looked fat next to them!
My time in the dressing room consisted of undressing, applying fake tan (which I now know was nowhere near dark enough), putting on my bikini and high heels, and applying lots of eye-shadow. I could have done with curling my hair, but never mind.
Soon enough, it was time for 'Bikini Short' to line up back stage. This was the term for our category (bikini fitness, under 163 cm in height).
This is when I began to get nervous. I hadn't really known what to expect. I just thought we'd all parade out on the stage together, smiling. Apparently not.