Arnold Pump and Run Race Report

In November I registered for the Arnold Sports Festival Pump and Run– you bench press 70% of your body weight up to 30 times, then run a 5K. You get 30 second off your 5K time for each rep. So for the past few months, I’ve been steadily working on my bench press.

I’d planned on benching 80lbs (weighing in at 117lbs, including clothes and shoes). To prepare I’d alternate high reps and lower weight (30x45lbs or 50lbs) with lower reps and higher weight (I got up to 100lbs for a single rep). Going into the event I honestly wasn’t sure how many reps I’d get, but I knew the top ladies all got their 30 reps.

It was a fun weekend staying with Helen and seeing my old running buddies. Helen, Meredith and I went for dinner on Friday, then I met Doug for hot yoga on Saturday morning. While this could have helped me get my weight down, I think I easily replenished all the fluid I lost. We had a relaxing afternoon then the whole running gang met over at Brian and Bridget’s for dinner. (Brian and Bridget, Doug and Lisa, Helen and Andrew, Dave and Meredith, Rich, Big Jelly and his wife, Andy and Jen). I decided I was going to enjoy my dinner with my friends and that I HAD to enjoy some of Bridget’s cookies! (She used to run a cookie business). I went to bed feeling a little heavy from all the carbs. Uh oh..

Sure enough, I woke up Sunday morning 2lbs heavier than the day before. REALLY?? I couldn’t believe it. I drank coffee and had superpump max to get ready for the big day. It was a bit chilly but not horrible and thankfully the wind wasn’t the 10-20mph they’d forecast. We got downtown and met Doug and Lisa and Andrew’s friend. I weighed in… 118. Wha? I had BANKED on 117 (and earlier in the week, had wondered if I’d even make it down to 113). I tried the other scale. 118. Noooo… I had a little meltdown that I wasn’t going to be able to bench very many reps at 85lbs at all. The line to actually bench was long, which gave me more time to get anxious. Then the coffee did its work and I had to pee. When I left the restroom I looked over at the scales again and one of the measurers caught me looking. We chatted briefly and I told him that I’d been right on the cusp for the weight I wanted. He asked if I wanted to get weighed again. There was a girl on the other scale in just her shorts, shoes and sportsbra. Before I got on the scale I wondered how much my shirt weighed. I decided to see, and took it off. Annnndddd…. 117! I was SO relieved!

I think that the drama and then the relief of actually getting down to my planned target weight actually helped. After that, I was ready to go! I also noticed that despite the posted rules, people weren’t actually touching their chest, or locking out at the top. Finally it was my turn, and my friends watched (which made me a bit nervous, I’ll admit). I started going and realized that yes, I could cheat a little with not going all the way up or down. Cool – except then I started concentrating on that rather than just getting it done. I did manage to get to 23 reps before the bar stopped moving and they took it away. I was reasonably happy with 23 – it’s not 30, but I honestly had no real reason to believe I would get 30. So I went to the 5K with 11.5min to take off my time!

We had about an hour before the run started so I ate a PROBar and relaxed for awhile before I decided to go for a warmup jog. Doug came with me, and we had to wait forever for my watch to catch a signal. Then it was really spotty, which didn’t give me much confidence for the run. We were up around Goodale when Doug glanced at his watch and realized it was 10:23 – the race was set to start at 10:30! So we headed back and I jumped into the crowd. I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, shorts, calf sleeves (my right calf had been bothering me for a few days but was feeling fine) and gloves. I had had my headband on but took it off before we started running.

There was no timing mat at the start, which is always a bummer. Arnold drove up, said a few words and then we were on our way! The first part of the course is a slight uphill and we battled some wind. I felt like I was taking it comfortably, but I was actually going a pretty good clip. Just around mile 1 I caught up with a girl and her friend ran onto the course to pace her. I asked what her goal was: sub-21. I said mine was sub-20. We passed the first mile marker in 6:13 and were told we were 5th and 6th female. I picked it up a bit as we ran past the park, and caught at passed a few more ladies.

It was fun to be on my old stomping grounds again. How many times have I run up that stupid incline by the park?? They called out 12:38 as I passed the second mile (6:25), and I thought about how they say you should be sub-13 at the second mile to come in under 20. Nice!

We had a few other little ups and downs and then it was time to make the last loop behind the convention center. In the past this has been a really windy, tough part of the course. As I was running, a lone spectator was cheering maniacally for “Chelsey”. Hmm… apparently I had a woman coming up behind me. Then I heard the voice of the pacer from mile 1. Dangit.. I knew I’d been a target back around the park, and they were closing in. My lungs weren’t really liking this part, and my right foot felt weird too. I looked down, and my shoelace was flying in the wind. Uh oh… the shoelaces on my racers are these thin slippery things, not like a regular shoelace that more or less stays where it should. I honestly spent the last half mile steeling myself for losing my shoe and finishing the race without it. Chelsey and her pacer glided by me well en route to breaking her sub-21 goal while I focused on minimizing shoe-untie-edness.

Although it didn’t feel good, my 3rd mile came in at a 6:26. And I did manage to kick it up to a 5:46 pace for the final stretch, as I watched Chelsey’s pacer drop off the course as she finished some 10 seconds ahead of me. The announcers called out my name as the 4th female overall as I triumphantly passed the line with a clock reading 19:xx.

I’d broken 20 minutes and met my time goal! My watch said 19:50 but the official results came back as 19:49 – just 2 seconds shy of the AA corral for the Bolder Boulder.. dangit! But still, I was happy with how the race went and how I came in.

We waited to see how everyone else did – Doug ran fine, and Andrew met his time goal and beat his buddy for another year. Later that night they posted the official results, I placed 10th overall female. It’s actually funny to look at the results and see how important the bench press is. Places 1-15 were all women who’d gotten their 30 reps, except for me, and the official race recap mentioned it:

“Fourteen of the top fifteen women all successfully bench the maximum 30 times.-

The event was REALLY fun, in part I think because I know right away that I have something I can improve on. In a regular race you are racing against the clock as well as against others and you never know who else will show up. But with the bench press, I know there is tangible improvement that can be made regardless of the competition. I left saying I’d be back next year!

But then I got thinking… the Flying Pig actually has a pump and run associated with their halfmarathon and marathon. Lower percentage of weight, up to 50 reps and you get 2 minutes off per rep! So you can actually get 1:40 off your half marathon time! And part of me just thinks it makes more sense to fly to Ohio for a longer race than a 5K. Soo… I’ve already planted the seed for Helen and Doug. We’ll see if it pans out 🙂


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