On March 22, the BAA emailed all registered runners for the 115th Boston Marathon.
Time-stamped 7:49 p.m., the email said we were exactly 26.2 days away from the 115th Boston Marathon. While I’ve been counting down the days, I never thought to do that division–very very cool.
The email also announced that all runner bib numbers have been assigned; you can search for any registered runner’s number here. My number is fantastically memorable with a wildly long string of super-lucky 7s: I am runner number 24777.
I am tickled pink about this. I am driving my family crazy. They would love it if I would stop yammering on about the brilliance of 24777. Sorry guys, I’ve tried. I appear to be incapable of stopping. I just love my number!
When I met with my coach after the late-March New Bedford Half Marathon, I asked him what the plan was from then on out.
I wanted to know what I was supposed to during the end-of-March 21-miler on the Boston Marathon course with my Children’s Hospital teammates. That was the longest run of my entire 16-week marathon training plan.
I braced for some specific and challenging directive. At New Bedford, he had assigned me to hold an 8:30 pace for the whole 13.1 mile race. At Salem’s Black Cat, I was to run as many super-fast miles as I could and switch to Long Slow Distance only when exhaustion set in.
At the Boston Prep-16, I was ordered to negative split (run the second half faster than the first). So there was some serious precedent here and I was eager to know what gauntlet he’d throw down for the 21-miler.
Much to my surprise, he did not even encourage me to finish the 21-miler. In fact, I was told to ditch the run at the slightest hint of angst.
“Your work is pretty much done,” he said, showing me various signs of this work and its doneness on charts he generates from my Garmin (global positioning system) data.
“Your main job now is to stay healthy and uninjured," he said. "Have fun with your team. Enjoy the course. If you feel the least bit negative at any point, stop running and go home.”
He went on to say that I am now physically capable of running a qualifying time at Boston—of qualifying for Boston at Boston. Whether or not I will is dependent on the weather, on my mood, on whether my heart breaks on Heartbreak Hill.
It’s dependent on my heel and on my neck—on too many things to enumerate. The question isn’t whether I am capable of achieving my goal but whether I will on a certain day in April on a certain stretch of asphalt connecting Hopkinton and Boston.
To further stress his point, my coach told me about another athlete he coaches, Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker. (Yes, I know it is crazy that I share a coach with an Olympian. Pure wackiness.)
He has been working with Jarrod to get him to the point where he can run a sub-14-minute 5k (wow!). He showed me charts and graphs of Jarrod’s workouts that scientifically prove this awesome athlete is fully capable of this feat (in case you’re wondering, the male 5K world record is 12:37:35).
“Jarrod is capable of a a sub-14-minute 5K. You are capable of a sub-four-hour marathon. Will he do it? Will you do it? There’s only one way to find out.”
Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.
Bye for now. Chase those negative thoughts away–just don’t injure yourself in the process!
- #24777 (aka Christine Johansen)
Christine Johansen is on the Children's Hospital Miles for Miracles team. You can sponsor her run at https://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=JC0027 or by texting 4HOPE JC0027 to 20222