Jimmie Johnson is a machine! Not only does he have seven NASCAR Championships and 83 wins in NASCAR's top tier, but he's also a fitness fanatic! One look at him and you can tell that he is in AMAZING shape, but I got to see his incredible level of fitness one day for myself. It was in May of 2016. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation used to host a 5k at Birkdale Village north of Charlotte, and in 2016, my boyfriend, some of his co-workers, and I all decided to run it. I enjoy 5ks, but I'm not fast. I never have been a fast runner. No matter how long and how hard I train, the best time I've ever been able to muster up is 32 minutes, 50 seconds. If you run 5ks regularly, you are laughing at me right now, and if you don't run 5ks, take my word for it...32 minutes and some change is nothing to brag about. Not compared to some of the other runners that typically show up.
The area we ran around Birkdale Village was reasonably hilly. Not only am I a slow runner, but hills KILL me. So there I was, if I had to guess, about 2 miles into the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 5k (5ks are 3.12 miles, if you are unaware), and there was a huge hill that led into a neighborhood. Once at the top of the hill, you would run through the neighborhood, back down the hill, and then to the finish line. So, as I'm struggling to get up this hill, here comes Jimmie running back down the hill. This means that he had already run the trek up the hill, through the neighborhood, and was on his way back down to the finish line. But the most impressive part? As he ran past me, he was CARRYING ON A NORMAL CONVERSATION with Marty Smith of ESPN, who is also in unbelievable shape. WHAT????
That really put into perspective for me just how good of shape Jimmie is in (and Marty too, for that matter). I mean, I don't consider myself to be in bad shape... I'm in decent shape...but he had nearly finished the 5k in the time that it took me to do about 2/3s of it, AND he was carrying on a conversation!!! Meanwhile, I was sloooowing down on the last mile. That hill though...
I had to be nosey and see his time... 20 minutes, 49 seconds. WOW! Imagine how fast he could've run that race had he not been talking!!! By way of comparison, my time that day was 35:49. Yeah, I averaged an 11 and a half minute mile while Jimmie pulled off a 6:42 minute mile. And to me, while I know I'm not a fast runner and slowed down on that big hill, I still felt like I was hitting blazing speeds! I guess not. I can't imagine what it must've felt like to run as fast as Jimmie! And by the way, the fastest runner that day did the course in 14:52. I can't imagine that either.
So, it's no surprise that Jimmie Johnson is running the Boston Marathon. I think the bigger surprise is that he hasn't done it before now! Actually, there is a reason that he has not done it before now, and that is his NASCAR schedule. This year, NASCAR will race Saturday night in Richmond (weather permitting and fingers crossed!!!), so he'll have that full day on Sunday to recover before taking to the streets of Boston on Monday. In previous years since Jimmie's desire to run the Boston Marathon, NASCAR has always been running on Sunday, prohibiting him from making the trip to Boston. And yeah, there's obviously a big difference between the 3.12 miles of a 5k and the 26.2 miles of a marathon, but again, he's in such great shape that training for the Boston Marathon probably wasn't much more on someone of his physique than training for the half marathons that he runs and everything else he does. He also rides bikes like a madman, participates in triathlons, etc. Have I mentioned he's in phenomenal shape?
The Charlotte Observer ran a great article on Jimmie and his Boston Marathon goals earlier this week. Here is the link if you'd like to read more. Either way, it's going to be really fun to check in during the day on Monday and see how Jimmie is doing. He'll be running bib number 4848, which is so cool! Good luck Jimmie!
Here is a picture that he was kind enough to take with me
just before I nearly died running up the hill in his 5k just before running the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 5k in 2016.