We got a break from the weather Friday night for the Pump and Pant Extravaganza. It was not nearly as warm as it could have been. The race had got me back into the weight room at the gym for the last two months. In addition, I knew that I would have to watch my weight carefully. I do love the body weight lifts (or body weight calculated lifts). You can get stronger or lose weight to get more lifts. I was hoping to do both.
When I first started training for the lift my best was 32 reps (32 x 20 seconds = 10:40). That would not be enough to even place. I kept up the lifts twice a week and had some great gains. While I was training I realized that the bench press has a huge skill component. It is not simply how strong you are. I worked with the timing – I added a pause of the lift. I started to add segments to the lift. I also started to cheat a little bit with the bounce off of the chest. This allowed me to work my way up into the 40’s and then 50. I was stuck at exactly 50 reps for the last couple of weeks. And then I had a breakthrough and was able to push myself to 55 reps (55 x 20 seconds = 18:20). This would get me low – this could win the race. The bounce was saving my arms – it was not like I was being wild but I was getting more reps. The momentum allowed me to overcome the sticking point as my arms fatigued. This was working.
I made a few mistakes leading up to the race. With the run only being a 5k I continued with my normal run training. This meant intervals out on the trace on Tuesday. This was challenging – the speed stayed up (quarter miles at < 1:25) but the recovery dropped to 30 seconds. On top of this the heat and the humidity increased (as if it were possible). I failed on the intervals giving up after 9 repeats. I walked slowly back to campus. I also got back into the group ride on Thursday morning. For good measure I actually upped the swimming and had two breakthrough sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday. And if that was not enough of a ‘taper’ I challenged some friends to a flex arm hang throw down during lunch on Thursday. I could really feel this in my biceps on race morning.
I jumped on the scale Friday (race) morning and scale showed 158.0. This was not acceptable. You see I have been judging my performance on lifting 110 lbs (158.0 x 70% = 100.6). The race would be rounding up. I needed to lose a pound of weight while resting the legs and the upper body!
I was determined to not affect my performance but I need to drop a pound. I normally do not eat any salt in my meals and today would not be any different. That is just what I did not need – retain some water. I ate my normal oatmeal for breakfast and since I was not exercising there would be no second breakfast. I drank my normal coffee all morning.
Not knowing what to do with myself without being able to work out at lunch I grabbed a book and headed to the gym. I need to get my ‘lifting gloves’ from my locker. I also jumped in the sauna for 30 minutes and read my book. I was careful about the length of time.
For lunch I had another bowl of oatmeal. I had some homemade soup in the refrigerator but I knew there was a little bit of salt in the soup – so oatmeal again. I also limited myself to only 32 ounces of water for the afternoon. I normally drink about a gallon of water while sitting at my desk at work. I knew that this would not put me into dehydration but it would limit the extra weight.
After work I weighed again at home. I was seeing 156.6 (dressed in my running clothes but no shoes). This was perfect. However, it was still close. I grabbed 2 gels (with 2x caffeine) and 2 bottles of sports drink. I was going to load up on the sugars and caffeine right after I recorded my weight.
I arrived at the race site and had my bag of goodies. I got in line at the scale and took off my shoes. I nervously got on the scale. I know that scales can fluctuate. The reading was exactly 157 pounds. This was a huge relief (157.0 x 70% = 109.9). I had made my weight. I took a gel and downed a small sports drink. It took about 15 minutes before we were ready to start the lift. Robin explained all of the rules. For each lift to count - Feet had to be on the floor – check. The bar had to touch your check – check. Absolutely no bouncing off of the chest - what? Damn, damn, damn! I was going to have to lift legitimately.
The high school had 10 bench presses and they were doing different weights at each station. There were several people lifting less weight than 110 lbs but most had to lift more – some much more. The guy right before me was also lifting my weight. I let him go first and he put up a huge number – 40 reps! He was wearing board shorts and a wife beater undershirt – I was willing to bet that he could not run.
Feet on floor, bar at chest, no bounce!
Not sure what is up with my arm - fatigue.
I was next. I did a quick set of 10 pushups and I took that second gel– I take this stuff seriously. I mentally broke the lift up in 12 rep segments – I would pause for a second after each segment. In practice this would allow for me to lift 12 / 12 / 12 / 6 / 6 / ? / ? – We would see today. I was extra careful about the clean lifting. I knew that if any of the reps did not count that it would affect the entire lift. I did not want to fail mentally. I just wanted to put together a good set. It was tough. The first three segments went just like training but that is where the arms got heavy. Once I got to 36 reps I broke it down into sets of 3 – this did not work long. Then it was every single rep that I could get. This is where the bounce in practice had helped. I eked out a couple more reps for a total of 45 (45 x 20 = 15:00).
I watched my friends finish up their lifts and then we headed outside for the 2 loop 5k. My friend Neil was there and I was going to pace off of his shoulder. This strategy has allowed me to PR in the past. I saw the guy in the board shorts (he had taken off the wife beater). He was lined up right with me. A little bit of chit chat and then, bang, we were off. I settled in behind Neil and just ran. The pace was hard but manageable. I had my ‘virtual nemesis’ on my GPS watch set for a 19:00 5k. I was killing him. Putting 10’s of feet into him.
Neil and I stride for stride
However, as always, he generally is a much better pacer than I am. The pace started to get hard at the mile mark and I had to let Neil go after a mile and half (I was a couple of hundred feet ahead of the virtual trainer on my watch). My heart rate was sky high – like 190 BPM. This is okay at the end of a 5k but not in the middle. I tried to let my heart rate come back to me but it was not going to happen – I was not going to walk or anything – I just wanted to walk – NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
I watched Neil pull away. I was trying to maintain my pace and not lose too much ground. I was secure in 6th place. I was still running hard just not at the previous pace. My heart rate stayed high but my pace dropped. The race was hurting. I just went out too fast.
There were a lot of 90 degree turns during the race. I hate it when I do this but I started to look behind me during the turns – to see how ‘comfortable’ I was. He was a good ways back but that dude in the board shorts was right there! I was drifting back from Neil and this guy was gaining – it was all happening very slow but it WAS happening.
I would later look at my splits and see that the first 1.5 miles was clocked off at 9 minutes exactly (that is an 18:38 5k pace – My PR last year was 19:09) – too fast for me. No wonder I was blowing up!
There was a long straight away leading to a 90 degree turn around with a 200 yard sprint to the finish. On this first long straight way I started to hear someone coming up on me. Then I saw a shadow. @#$%!!! I was hurting but I picked the pace up. The shadow stayed with me. I rounded the 90 degree turn around and the guy was so close that I did not see him. He was right there on my shoulder! He was going to slingshot around me! I picked it up again! I was running as fast I could and just trying to hold on. It was dead heat. I crossed the finish line a few feet in front. I was able kept my 6th place finish!
Getting reeled in!
Foot race at the end
Giving it EVERYTHING
Why do we run? - because it feels so good to STOP!
As soon as I crossed the finish line I had to sit down. I have never kicked that hard at the end of a race – NEVER. A couple of minutes later I congratulated the guy behind me for a solid race and thanked him for pushing me. I needed the pressure.
Awards were given to the top 12 (there were 50 participants). I was really impressed with some of the placing. There were a couple of lifter type guys that put up more than 40 reps at very respectable weights. They placed high in the standings. The guy that I had the sprint with ended up with 3rd or 4th. And the second place participate was a young track girl that lifted 50% of her body weight 48 times. She also ran a 21:xx 5k. I only had a rep or so to spare. If the guy had not pushed in the race I could have drifted back in the standings – that is why I love competition.
I ended up taking first with a time of 4:54 (19:54 5K – 15:00 = 4:54). It was a great race and a lot closer than I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to run a little faster and I thought I was going to lift a little more. I got lucky. Everything came together just enough – my weight, my lifts, and my run.
Sometimes just enough really is enough! I look forward to the race next year.