I competed in my first ever Pump and Run today!
I trained for one back in 2001 but didn’t actually compete. The way it works is this:
We weigh in and then have to bench press 90% of our bodyweight for as many reps as possible. Then once everyone has lifted, we all line up and run a 5k (3.1 mile race). Once we’re done, we get 20 seconds deducted from our running time for each completed rep in the bench press. Older groups (40 and older get 30 seconds, 50 and older get 40 seconds deducted from each rep).
I was in the age group 39 and under.
I haven’t been training for this event much. I spent the last couple of weeks focusing on benching around 160 (90% of my bodyweight), but I didn’t put too much time into it. I competed in a bodybuilding competition a week ago as well. I haven’t run much at all in the past 5 years, and have only run up to 3 miles in a whole day twice in the past couple of years.
My goal was just to have fun and I LOVE competing so it was going to be a great event. A friend of my from the gym was also competing so I was looking forward to it.
I went to bed at 1:30AM and woke up at 6:00AM to get ready. Following Brendan Brazier’s pre-race program he shows in our movie, I had organic yerba mate this morning as well as some Vega, a banana and water.
I showed up in my Vega warm-ups (gear I have as a sponsored athlete) with my Vegan Bodybuilding tank-top underneath.
With my energy and enthusiasm, I volunteered to go first out of about 60 athletes. I weighed in at 175.6 lbs. (I know weak!) and was scheduled to bench 160 lbs.
Regardless of how silly it sounds, as I was preparing and as I was lifting I was saying Alex’s name (Daywalker, an inspiration for me). I was saying in my head (1….Alex…..2……Alex…..3…..Alex…etc.
I completed full reps and ended up with an even 20. I couldn’t quite get that 21st rep. It was my first ever bench contest. Then I sat back and watched for the next 1 ½ hours other competitors doing ½-3/4 reps as fast as possible, jerking the weight all around and getting more like 30 reps, some over 40!!! Being first, I didn’t know that was allowed. There was a judge saying “all the way up, touch your chest,” etc. But anyway, no big deal, I probably could have only done 5-7 more reps had I gone really quickly. There were others who did full reps too, but I’d say over 50% did not do full reps, and everyone did them so fast!
I knew I’d be in trouble because the lifting was supposed to be my strong event. There were tons of runners there, light in bodyweight and doing tons of reps at like 120 lbs and I knew they’d totally haul in the race.
My goal was just to finish the run without having to walk. I expected to be in the top 30 perhaps running 8-minute miles. I’m a bodybuilder, after all.
So to my surprise, amongst tons of good runners, I started out in the lead for the first 20-50 meters and then after 200 meters I was in 5th. Amazingly as we passed the 1 mile mark, I was still in 5th. I ran the first mile in about 5 minutes and 40 seconds! I had no idea what was happening. I’ve been the joke among friends because now that I’m a bodybuilder I get tired after just a few minutes of basketball. I had no business being in 5th after a mile.
For sure I’ll start to fade any moment. Well, that didn’t happen. At the 2 mile mark I was still in 5th place. I had been trailing the defending champion (an obvious avid solid runner) the whole race. Finally after a little over 2 miles I was passed by someone from behind me.
But I kept going even though my lungs were shot, I couldn’t breathe very well and I was hurting. Not to mention I had to pee so badly! My bladder was aching. Funny thing is that I only picked up the pace in the final mile and when I saw an opening, I passed the defending champion to move back into 5th place. And as runners know, when I passed him I gave a good 40 meter acceleration to break him psychologically. As soon as he saw me pass, I never gave him the opportunity to keep up or try to pass me back. I had my sights set on the guy in front of me.
At this time there was less than ½ mile left and my body wanted to quit. I really couldn’t go much more and wasn’t sure I’d finish. I drew upon the strongest muscle in my body. It sounds cheesy, but I’m certain my heart worked harder than anyone else. The whole race I was thinking of quotes from #1 hero of all time, Steve Prefontaine (PRE, America’s Greatest Running Legend). Phrases like, “somebody may beat me but they’ll have to bleed to do it,” and “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
I was in a lot of pain but as I ran up the hill and rounded the turn I could see the finish line 250 meters away. As I was fading I looked over my shoulder and the defending champ wasn’t in site. Even still, I kicked it up a notched and gritted my teeth, nearly crying, and flexed every muscle in my neck and I ran down the final stretch.
I never caught the guy who passed me, but I crossed the finish line in 5th place, something I had no business doing. There is absolutely no reason a bodybuilder who hasn’t run in 5 years should beat good runners who run 5-10 miles everyday. I’m still not sure what happened out there.
As soon as I finished I kinda fell to the ground and needed someone to help me up. My body was spent. Then 45 seconds later I walked out 100 meters before the finish line and spent the next 40 minutes cheering for everyone else as they approached the finish line. I was the only one who did that.
Then I reflected on what I was able to do in that race and wondered how it was possible for an out of aerobic shape vegan bodybuilder to do so well.
As I’m typing this I’m looking up at a poster of PRE, which is strategically placed above my computer. That man helped be somehow beat the defending champ.
After the race, I had 3 people come up to me asking me about Vegan Bodybuilding and requesting business cards wanted to check it out.
Results were posted and I was surprised to see that I had run a 6:02.9 mile pace for the 3.1 mile race, when I didn’t think it was possible for me to run a single mile in under 7 or 8 minutes. My official time was 18:45, a full two minutes behind my best 5k time of 16:46, but it was still great for a non-runner!
Of course, I did poorly in the bench so I waited for the tallied results.
I ended up 2nd in my age group (39 and under) in the run, and 10th overall out of 33 in my age group.
If I can just work on the bench a little more, and maybe go for a jog once or twice next year….lookout!
Still shocked with the run, I immediately phoned my mother, and then one of our forum members, and then Brendan Brazier, than my boss at Vega, then my website creator (Khan a former champion runner), then my Dad, then my running friends, and then some other friends. Then I bumped into my vegan friend Nettie at the farmer’s market and told her how it went.
Anyway, it was a ton of fun and I have no idea how I did so poorly in the bench and excelled in the run….that was Not supposed to happen!
Hope you enjoyed reading my race results
My friend Larry was 3rd in the over 40 age group and my friend Paul was the only guy over 60 (he’s 69, turning 70 in a few months) finished strong as well as I cheered him to the line.