2015 Pumpkinman 5K Race Report

Pumpkinman Triathlon logo and 2015 date

Logo belongs to BBSC Endurance Sports, LLC

Before each race, I’m not quite sure how well I’ll do. Pumpkinman was no exception.

The weather yesterday morning was perfect with clear blue skies and temperatures in the lower 60s. I decided to power walk my 5K race because I didn’t think I had enough “humph” to maintain strict race walking form.

The 5K and the 10K were separate races within the Pumpkinman Triathlon, a yearly and popular event produced by Colorado-based BBSC Endurance Sports, LLC. The sprint and Olympic-distance triathletes would swim at Lake Mead National Recreation Area for their swim, cycle the very challenging uphill bike course to Wilber Square in Boulder City, and then run the same 5K and 10K courses as my fellow runners and I were about to do.

Instead of full-paced racing, I planned to “just enjoy” the 5K distance because I was coming off a hectic race schedule in late September and early October:

  • Bellingham Bay Half Marathon, Sunday, Sept. 27
  • Nevada Senior Games’ 1500 meter race walk, Saturday, Oct. 3
  • Huntsman World Senior Games’ 3000 meter, 1500 meter, and 5K race walks, Monday, Oct. 5 – Wednesday, Oct. 7

It wasn’t until the week of Pumpkinman that my bruised toes (from doing the half marathon) no longer felt swollen and that my body felt well enough for walk training. My two so-called workouts were less two miles each and I averaged a very casual 20 minutes per mile.

After arriving at 7 a.m. and getting a nearby parking place, I donned a light jacket and started my warm-up. After a few trips to the porta-potties, I shed my jacket back at the car before heading over to the start area. I chatted with a few folks I knew and before long, the race was about to start.

Some 100 runners gathered in the starting area. I took up a position close to the start line but to the far left to avoid runners. I started up “Marvin,” my Garmin Forerunner 15 which often takes a couple minutes to get a GPS lock on my location. I bought this gizmo a couple months ago and really like how it keeps track of my pace-per-mile. That eliminates the subjectivity of “perceived exertion” and helps me balance effort and speed (the term “speed” being relative, of course!).

Within a few moments of the start, I’m in my usual position at the back of the pack. I started slow, trying to keep at an 18-minute-per-mile pace. By the time I turn off Utah Street, the majority of runners are far ahead of me, including a male walker (probably in his early thirties) with a strong power-style stride.

That’s when my inner critic started yapping at me. Gawd, you are soooo slow! You’re never gonna catch up. I mutter aloud, “I’m a race walker, for freakin’ sake. They’re runners!” The critic sneered. But some race walkers are faster than runners. That’s not you!

Yeah, it’s lots of fun listening in on my inner arguments.

Finally, I thought Oh shut up! I’m just here having some fun. The inner critic snorted but fell quiet.

About then I felt a few hunger pangs. Oh geez, how can I be hungry? Two hours ago I had Irish oatmeal with raisins and almond slivers for breakfast. Sigh. I fish a gel out of my waist pack and wash it down with water. I get so annoyed with my overactive appetite.

When the Garmin flashed my time for the first mile, I do a double-take. 17:36? Crap, I’ve gone out too fast! My shins are a bit whiney and I curse myself for opting out of wearing my compression calf sleeves because I didn’t think I needed to. Oh well. Suck it up, buttercup! Hmm, where have I heard that before?

At the aid station, I drank some water. When I saw the slight downhill grade in the course, I decided to speed up just a wee bit.

Within what seemed to be a few minutes, I made the turnaround for the 5K and headed back up the course. Now the downhill turned into an uphill. As I maintained my pace, breathing pattern changed to two-breaths-in/three-breaths-out as my exertion increased.

When I topped the rise (pretty easily, I might add), I saw that I gained ground on a group of three participants I had chatted with earlier in the morning. A few of the 10K male runners sped by me on their way to the finish line.

I still felt good – even strong. Usually at this point in a race, I’m beginning to tire, get winded, or wanting to slow my pace. When I reminded myself to relax my tight lower abs and hips, my strides became much smoother.

At mile two, my Garmin chirped and displayed 16:37. Oh my gawd, can I keep this pace up? I felt my heart rate was up but I wasn’t really out of breath.

Soon I could pass a young woman dressed in a Minnie Mouse costume who had been slow jogging and walking for quite some time. When I told her she looked strong, a big smile spread across her tired but determined face.

By now, the course was buzzing with male triathletes. I say “buzzing” because they seem to be flying by me. I wondered if any of them were the super-fast Olympic-distance guys.

About the time I completed 2.5 miles, I saw John Mercer heading towards me. I shouted something like “Hey, Kona Man!” We slap fingertips as he sped by me. Can I, by some freakin’ miracle, make it to the finish line before he passes me again?

Yep, that’s a great example of crazy mental tricks I play on myself to keep up the effort!

You see, John is an uber-fast, veteran Ironman-distance triathlete who recently qualified in his age group for the Ironman World Championship next year in Kona, Hawaii.

Ahead of me, I saw a light-shirted woman and that the group of three. Can I pass them? I could see they were tiring and not running as much.

Of course, the only chance I have is if they *don’t* start running!

Can I pass them before John passes me? I wonder as some other speedy dude passes me.

Color photo of Bonnie Parrish-Kell approaching Pumpkinman 5K finish line

So I cranked up my pace, teetering between a steady faster pace and the “I’m gonna blow up” sensation. Rounding the corner onto Utah Street again, I know I don’t have much further to go.

So with John somewhere behind me and those four people ahead of me, I just kept going. I pumped my arms faster which made my legs and feet move faster.

The light-shirted woman stepped up onto the sidewalk to avoid the congestion of triathletes on the run course. I now have a chance to pass her because she’ll have to go further to get to the finish. I just kept moving, imagining myself as a salmon going upstream against the triathletes.

With only 50 or 60 yards from the finish line, I hear “Go Bonnie!” I see triathlon coach Jackie Arcana clapping for me. She encourages her clients to tell themselves, Suck it up, buttercup, when things start getting dicey. Her enthusiasm spurred me to find one more gear – and I couldn’t believe I found one!

The trio enter the finish chute so I had no chance to catch them. But somewhere behind me was John and the woman in the light-colored shirt.

As I passed under the inflatable “Finish” arch, I glanced at my Garmin and it read 50:18. That’s one of the best times I’ve had in the last two years in the 5K!

Bonnie Parrish-Kell wearing finisher medal at 2015 Pumpkinman Triathlon's 5K raceIn my delirium I don’t see the light-shirted woman cross the finish line. Many thanks to the volunteer who printed out my official results.

  • Time: 50:17.15
  • Pace: 16:13 (per mile)

I turn around to see John cross the finish line. Really, I don’t think it’s been more than a minute since I finished.

Yep, he’s that fast! He won his age group.

Later, after calling my husband with the good news, I met two women who happily finished their races.

Photo of Karen Whelan and a friend after the Pumpkinman Triathlon road races. (Photo by Bonnie Parrish-Kell)

Karen Whelan and her running buddy Maggie proudly display their finisher medals. (Photo by Bonnie Parrish-Kell)

Karen is a veteran hiker and describes her adventures on her blog, Maggie is considering several upcoming races in the greater Las Vegas area. Both women enjoy racing to see how much improvement they can make each time…and to just have fun.

Congratulations to all the triathletes, runners, and my fellow Team XCELL members who raced yesterday!

In conclusion

I am so happy with my effort and the results!

I’ve never felt so good after a race where I put in an unplanned-for hard effort. My breathing and heart rate returned to normal quickly. My legs and feet weren’t sore. I didn’t feel I needed a nap when I got home.

And, right now, a day after the race, I don’t feel lethargic or stiff. However, I will continue to stretch over the next few days.

I suspect that by taking almost two weeks off from any sort of training allowed my body to recover and gain its strength.

I have two more races coming up so training resumes in the morning.

See you out there!

About Bonnie Parrish-Kell

Diva-in-Chief and Publisher of Slowpoke Divas who always feels better after a good workout or matter how sore she may become. Tweet me @bparrishkell

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