* Race Details
I just completed the 2015 Boston Marathon in 5 hours and 20 minutes this was my fourth year running the Boston Marathon and my second for the charity Joslin Diabetes Research Center, and it is my personal best time running this distance.
Running for the Joslin Diabetes Research Center is important to me because I have type one diabetes. I was diagnosed in 2004 at the Joslin Center In Nashoba Valley. Without the work of this group as well as other research centers I wouldn’t be alive today, much less able to run a marathon. My fundraiser is still open if you want to help me hit my goal, my domain will forward you to my Crowdrise page,http://chrismeusel.com.
The day started around 8:30 when I left my house in Ayer to head south on 495 to Hopkinton. This is normally a 40 minute ride and the day of the marathon was no different. We went down to route 85 but the state police turned us around. In previous years, I had gone down 85, following the path of the buses to a side street about a half-mile from Athletes Village. But since the 2013 marathon they’ve shut this down. So back up North 495 we went and I got off on W. Main St. and walked the 1.5 miles to the starting line. This year I did not make it to Athletes Village, instead I sat in the rain at Colella’s supermarket, which is also known as the last place to pee before you hit the starting line. They house more than 100 portapotties in their parking lot.
Fortunately, prior to leaving the house, my daughter Keira wisely went down to the basement and somehow procured a plastic poncho for me. I don’t know how she knew where it was or where it came from, but I was happy to have it sitting there in the wind and drizzle, waiting to start. I ended up running with it on me for the entire race.
On my hips I wore a waterbelt which secured 2 pint bottles filled with my running fluid. The zipper pocket held my license, $40, and my testing supplies for diabetes. Also, it was a nice place to hook my insulin pump. I also managed to stick two Clif Builders nutrition bars in with the water bottles. The little elastic flaps on the belt held two packages of Clif Bloks. My running fluid is an alchemist’s dream of water, pickle juice, 5 hour energy, taurine, l-glutamine, and Nuun salt tabs. It is truly a magical elixir.
Contrary to what most people say about trying new things, I coated my feet with a new cream called ChafeX, that I picked up at the Boston Marathon expo. It was kind of like putting crazy glue on your feet, it has an interesting bonding agent that lets the skin breathe but sort of gives you an extra layer or two of skin. When the cream dried, I pulled on my sparkly white Zensah compression socks and my Prophecy 3 Mizuno running shoes, the same pair that had previously seen the 2014 marathon, as well as the 2014 Spartan World Championship Beast in Vermont. It may be time to retire the shoes. Before I reached mile 6, an hour into the race, my feet were drenched, but even after 20 miles in wet shoes and socks, when I finally changed and looked at my bare feet, there was not a blister to be found. Nice job ChafeX.
I wore UA compression boxers, the 6 inch compression ones keep everything in place and lowers the likelihood of chafing. I then had a pair of Nike soccer shorts, and a cheap tech shirt (Target brand?) that I’ve worn for four years and is honestly the only shirt that doesn’t chafe the nipples past 10 miles. Additionally I had on a long sleeve tech shirt along with my New England Spahten arm sleeves, and pulled over this was my Joslin singlet which had my bib number on it, 30171. Over the entire ensemble was this wonderful blue poncho that my daughter found, it was thinner than a supermarket bag and transparent so you could see my bib. I bought a Boston Marathon running cap last year for my son, but he doesn’t wear hats, so I put that on to keep the rain out of my eyes and the hood of the poncho on my head. If I were alone, one might see a maniac hobo running down the street, but somehow I fit in with the rest of the horde.
As I shuffled over to the corrals, named I am sure, for their resemblance to cattle or sheep herding, I kept my eyes open for my friends’ pretzel stand, Wicked Twisted. They must have been set up deep in the common area though and not near the line, because I didn’t see them. Once into the corral it was a mere 5 minutes or so before the group started walking forward and then slightly trotting, and finally I was running and screaming and waving at the boom camera panning the crowd. Spectators are cheering 10 deep on either side of the road on the fast first mile downhill. People’s clothes are flying off as the runners warm up in the rainy wind. I kept all my outer clothes on, even when I warmed up.
I planned to set a 11:40 minutes per mile pace. It was my goal to beat 5 hours. The first 6 miles flew by though as I punched out 10:45 per mile instead. Each split after that added another 10 seconds per mile. I was walking here and there and trying not to get my heart rate too high. Since I wasn’t out to “win” the race and really just out to meet my own personal goals, I just enjoyed the day. Even in the rain and wind. I was comfortable as I cruised through Framingham and there was a bit of rain as I entered Natick. I’d like to thank the two women that were running at my pace for these 2 or 3 miles up to the 15k mark, because I just put my head down and followed their neon shoes to keep my face out of the rain and wind. As I crossed the 9 mile mark I put my head on a swivel and started looking for Heather. She said she’d be in Natick, but Natick is a big place. Crossing the street around mile 10 I saw her on the corner with a friend and one of her boys. I canâ
�™t say how much of a boost seeing a friend’s face and getting a hug helps move the miles.
The kissing girls in the Scream Tunnel of Wellesley College were great. This is around mile 12 and usually I am walking up the hill. This year, I ran by the girls and though I didn’t slow down for any kisses, I did get about 400 high fives and I just kept running up that hill. By the time I ran out of hands to slap I was up the hill and almost to the half. I crossed the half marathon mark at 2:26 and was feeling good, even if I was a little chilled. I ran into my friend Scott and his kids shortly after the half and he gave me a good bear hug to shake the chill. I wore a good smile all the way down to Wellesley center, where the Joslin tent was set up. I came upon Martha and the rest of the crew around 2:00pm, more high fives and I knew I could definitely finish before 5pm at this rate, though I had a feeling that my 5 hour finish was going to be pushing it. My friends Linda and Kayla were going to meet me somewhere between 16 and 17. And as I passed through Wellesley cente
r I checked my texts and Linda said they were at 17. Again I put my head down and plowed my way up the Route 128 overpass, it’s a good half mile of ascent and I didn’t want to stop before I met up with them at 17.
I hit mile 17 and there they were with a sign that read, “MEUSEL, You run better than the MBTA.” It was coated in glitter and 50 shades of awesomeness, on the bottom read my catch phrase, “Rock on!” Linda had dry shoes and shorts for me as well as four fresh bottles of my running fuel. I chugged one down and ate a Clif Builder bar. I chose to remain in my wet gear, since the thought of going through the motions of changing was not appetizing and I was bound to get the new gear wet in the next mile anyway. We walked together for about a quarter mile and I got hugs and took off down the hill towards the Firehouse turn.
I had long planned that the three big Newton hills were going to be walk/jog and I kept to the plan. I’d jog 200 yards or so, then walk 200. On the downhills and flats, I’d resume my pace. The Newton Hills are a really nice place to run and tons of people set up tents and campsites for the day in the median. There is lots of cheering, friendly faces and kids trying to hand you snacks. As I came down the final descent before Heartbreak Hill, I ran by Dan, the owner of Heartbreak Hill Running Company and my running coach this year. Though I only did one training run with him, and the Nike+ Run Club, his weekly emails were a fantastic inspiration to keep to the training regimen. Obviously, I couldn’t be walking as I ran by my coach, so I ran past and he gave me the big double thumbs up and a nice “Whoop.” About 100 yards up Heartbreak Hill I started walking, and I felt good. I chugged a half bottle of fluid and ate a few Clif Bloks.
At the top of the hill, like any good runner does, I took a selfie and posted it to Facebook as I started jogging again. Social Distortion was pounding in my headphones as I came down Chestnut Hill. It was mile 22 and I could feel my energy fading. I kept telling myself, “It’s all downhill from here…” but only half of me was listening. The other half was doing crazy math. “Well, it’s only 4 miles and that’s nothing, I could run 4 miles in my underwear at 2am, if I run 150 yards and walk 100 yards I’ll still get there before dark, and I can run way more than 150 yards for every 100 yard walk…” Crazy things go through your head, they really do.
I was looking for friends in the seas of people as I ran/walked/jogged through Brighton and Brookline, but it was windy, and raining and my concentration was fading as the crowds thickened. The BU crowds are amazingly loud. As I came down into Kenmore Square I ran into a Joslin teammate, Lori, and she continued running as I slowed to another 100 yard walk. At 25, my friend Rachel was working the Medical tent and waved me on shouting, “it’s only one more mile!” I set myself to running again and as I came out of the tunnel that goes under Mass Ave I almost cried. Everyone was yelling and cheering and I knew my family was on Hereford Street, so I turned on whatever fuel I had left in the tank and ran to meet them. Big hugs from my little girl and my mom then my Pop and my big girl Guin, and finally my son Riley and my biggest fan, my wife, Lori. I only stopped for a few seconds though and off I went to the end of the block to turn onto Boylston St. I smiled ear to ear as I
ran past the crowds, not a thought of slowing to a walk until I reached the finish line this year. And again, as I came up on the last 50 yards, and I heard my name over the loud speaker and crossed that line I almost started crying again. Such overwhelming adrenaline pounding in me. I quickly found my way to the water, then I received my finisher’s medal, then some bananas, a warm wrap was put on my shoulders and several people asked if I was “OK.” I knew I was alright, I felt a bit nauseous and I definitely needed to get water in me.
Next came the cold, I was soaking wet and my heartrate was coming back down to 55 or 60. I needed to get some dry clothes. I was going to meet Lori at the Common, but instead I ducked into Arlington station and asked my family to meet me there. I needed to get out of the weather. Unfortunately, they couldn’t cross the street to get to the Arlington Station, so instead I ended up riding the T to meet them out at Alewife, where the van was parked. They were about an hour behind me, and though I thought about asking any number of characters at the Alewife Station if they’d care to snuggle for warmth, I instead came to a clear decision to go to Bertucci’s with my two soaking wet twenty dollar bills. A half hour and 20 cups of hot tea later, my friends Michele and Matt showed up. Followed 15 minutes later by the rest of my family and dry clothes. Over the next hour or two I slowly came back to life as my core temperature came back and the hot water kept coming. My medal hun
g on my neck until I crashed into bed, and as I drifted off to sleep, I could still feel the ground moving under my feet.
Rain or shine, the Boston Marathon is an event that is truly wonderful. I have a goal to qualify during my lifetime. But running for a charity like Joslin isn’t too bad either. Please help me reach my goal of $7500 and go to http://chrismeusel.com to get to my Crowdrise funding page.