Racing on a Treadmill

Screenshot_20170822-132532I ran my first-ever treadmill race on Sunday, and boy was it weird. Long story short, I got accepted via the lottery system to the Falmouth Road Race. However, money was due in May, when I was broke and had also just rescued Chip. I knew registering meant not being able to afford my monthly T pass. I also knew that there was no day-of bib pickup for this race, so that meant needing to spend the night in town on the busiest weekend of the year. I didn’t know where I would stay or what I would do with Chip (I wasn’t yet enlightened about dog-sitting). So even though I was so fortunate to get into this bucket list race, I gave up my spot and was so sad about it.

Turns out, I could’ve stayed with my friend Jess and had someone stay at my apartment with Chip for only $50. Oh well. 

In the last month, there have been several giveaways for official race entries. I entered every single one of them, desperate to get it now that I knew how I would handle the weekend logistics. But I didn’t get in.

Screenshot_20170822-132715Then, a week before the race, a running studio in Boston that I follow on Instagram posted about how you could run the race virtually at their studio and then receive a guaranteed 2018 race entry. What?! Naturally, I signed up immediately. I pay $40 plus some dumb $5 processing fee and got an email with a bib I could print out. The studio offered free use of their treadmills. All I had to do was download an app to my iPad and then download the actual race video. Amazing!

Turns out, the downloading process was much more complicated than it seemed. For one, I didn’t own an iPad. I had been toying with the idea of buying one for a while, since my laptop is all-but-dead and I am saving up for a great one that will cost close to $1,000. I have a lot more saving to do, but I need a way to putz around the internet and watch Netflix that doesn’t involve my phone (I hate small screens) or the living room TV, which I share with my brother. So a $200 refurbished iPad sounded perfect, and what better reason to pull the trigger than needing one for this virtual race.

Thanks to Amazon, I had the iPad and a case 36 hours after I purchased it. Downloading the app was easy, but downloading the official race video was a nightmare. It took 7 attempts, 1 computer restart, 1 iPad restart, and countless app restarts over the course of 2+ hours. Thankfully, I got it all squared away on Friday so all I had t do on Sunday was show up, connect to the studio’s wifi, connect my iPad to the treadmill, and start running!

Of course, I got to the studio at 8:15 for a 9:00 race. I was going to take the T but I was already so hot and didn’t want to walk 15 minutes to the T and then another 15 minutes to the studio and show up soaked. So I called an UberPOOL but the trip was much faster than anticipated. The doors were still locked and I had to pee SO BAD. I went into a convenience store and a laundromat, but neither would let me use their bathroom. Fortunately the nice firemen at the fire station let me. I still had another 15 minutes to kill so I sat on a stoop across from the studio until 8:45, and was still the first person there aside from the instructor.

I have never been to MYSTRYDE before but it’s a pretty neat place in the North End. It looks tiny from the outside because you can only see the lobby, but through a door reveals a dark room filled with about a dozen treadmills. It’s pretty cramped but that’s the North End for ya. The treadmills are made by Woodway, known as the best treadmills on the planet because they are so much softer on your joints.

The instructor told me 6 people were doing the virtual race but only 2 others ended up showing. One didn’t bring an iPad so I’m not sure if her race actually counted, and the other was having problems with hers so she could see the video but the treadmill wasn’t connected. Oh if only my treadmill hadn’t connected, then I wouldn’t have had to run the same hills as everyone in Falmouth. But I did! The treadmill automatically inclined to mimic the hills and let me tell you, those first 3 miles were rough. And then the last hill at the end – brutal! I thought I had my negative splits in the bag but my right foot went completely numb constantly from Miles 3-6. It’s been doing that intermittently for a few weeks now and I can’t seem to figure out why. My shoes fit correctly and are the same model of shoes I’ve always worn. Same with my socks. Maybe this intense heat is causing my feet to swell? I don’t know, but it gets to the point where the numbness becomes pain. If I try to run though the complete numbness, I feel a searing pain across the top of my foot. The only remedy is to walk for a bit, which was very inconvenient during the race. The numbness gradually builds so every half-mile for 3 miles, I had to walk for about 30 seconds when I was otherwise feeling really good and strong.

The cool thing was that when I slowed down, so did the video. And when I sped up, it made the video move faster. So responsive! I took a picture every mile – blurry because I was bouncing around on the treadmill – but forgot to take one at the finish. At the end, you click “submit” and your official time is submitted to the race organizers.

I finished in 1:14.03, and the average finish time for all 11,000+ runners was 1:13.08 (1:18.38 for the 6,100+ women!) so I’m feeling pretty dang good about my time. Granted, it was much hotter (and sunnier) out on the real course, but running 7 miles on the dreadmill is pretty miserable and the studio was pretty warm, so I might’ve been 2-3 minutes slower had I run the real thing.


Now I have 364 days to wait until I get to run the 2018 Falmouth Road Race…in Falmouth!


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