Medford bodybuilder Jack Friend won his first national championship at the Team Collegiate Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh July 21-22.

Medford bodybuilder Jack Friend won his first national championship at the Team Collegiate Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh July 21-22.

But Friend was almost denied an opportunity to compete at all.

On his trip to Pittsburgh, Friend got stuck in the Chicago airport because of airline delays.

"I had to go to a different airport to get there on time," said Friend. "I was thinking here goes a whole year of training."

The 261/2-hour trip didn't deter Friend from being a unanimous choice by the judges in the Masters over-50 super-heavyweight class during his fourth trip to the amateur competition.

After looking at photographs of the pre-judging someone in the audience had on their computer, the California native felt confident about winning the division. In 2005, Friend was the runner-up in the heavyweight class.

"At that point, I already knew from looking at the pictures that I won my class," said Friend.

Then the 5-foot-103/4, 230-pound bodybuilder just missed capturing the overall title against the winners of the five classes.

"It was between me and the heavyweight," said Friend. "The judges pick the best of the best and the winner turns pro. I'm going to do everything I need to do to win next year."

Friend began his quest for a national championship in 2001 when he finished 13th at the event.

"When I went the first time it was a shock because everyone was so good," said Friend. "I knew I had a lot more homework to do."

After finishing a disappointing sixth in the 2006 competition, Friend rededicated himself.

"The whole thing was never going off the diet all year long," said Friend. "I put on 13 pounds of lean mass from real strict dieting."

Friend eats eight meals a day. His primary foods are chicken, buffalo, top sirloin, salmon, sweet potatoes, oat meal, brown rice, lots of vegetables and two gallons of water daily.

He begins the day with a meal of 12 egg whites and three 1/2-cup servings of oat meal. He eats every two hours and usually finishes the day with a meal of salmon and vegetables at about 9:30-10:30 p.m.

"The principle I'm using is two grams of protein per pound of body weight," explains Friend. "I have about 500 grams of protein per day."

This year the retired former print shop worker added the Muscle Tech supplement line to his diet. Friend uses five different supplements that cost about $400 a month.

Additionally, he does 1 to 11/2-hour workouts on different muscle groups four days a week. "It's important to recuperate from your workouts," said Friend. "If you over train, the muscles won't grow. You have to give them time to rebuild."

He also does a one-hour cardiac workout on a stair climber six days a week.

Friend followed his father's footsteps as a bodybuilder. He began lifting weights as a teenager in his parent's garage in Southern California, but didn't become a serious body builder until he moved to Medford 10 years ago.

Now he has his sights set on getting his International Federation of Bodybuilders pro card.

"My goal is to turn pro and compete into my 60's," said Friend. "If you have goals you have something to shoot for instead of getting stagnant."

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail fsilow@mailtribune.com