In the jack-of-all-trades sport of triathlon, people ask what you "are." Swimmer? Cyclist? Runner?
My answer vacillates with the tides of my confidence. Swimmer-Cyclist-Runner?
I am none of the above. I am all of the above. I’m an accident-prone 40-year-old lefty vegetarian chick. I’m a girl who haphazardly signed up for her first tri one sunny Sunday as she sat at her cousin’s bridal shower debating the pros and cons of gastric bypass surgery and wondering whether sanity was still an option.
April 18, 2011 is mere hours away. Right now my answer is clear. I am a runner. Not just any old runner: I am No. 24777 in the 115th Boston Marathon.
This has been a journey of 152 days and 657.93 sneaker-miles (I insert here many thanks to Pairs A, B and C. Those miles took me past scenes that made me sad, (the crosswalk where 15-year-old Allie was killed in ’09), soar, (dogs, sunrises, sunsets) and scratch my head (“unique” lawn-ornamentation choices including this life-sized bull statue on 2nd Street).
Triathlon great Sally Edwards has been with me every crazy stride of the way. (Figuratively, folks. Not literally.)
Back before my first tri, I consumed Sally’s book Triathlons for Women with gypsy-moth-like voracity. One tip she offered newbies like me: Get yourself a balloon to mark the location of your wheels, lest you get lost trying to find your bicycle when you come out of the water.
I am truly talented at getting lost whenever called upon to transition, so I figured I’d best heed Sally’s advice; the night before my first tri I bee-lined to the balloonery and gave my girls license to choose my beacon.
I nixed their first choice (an uber-massive-neon-yellow smiley face), so they settled upon a multi-colored mylar butterfly.
Marlborough Triathlon August 1st 2010: me, a Cannondale named Maverick the Second and our admittedly unnecessary butterfly balloon
The metaphor lasted longer than the helium; I was different after that race. And the next. And the next. So began my tradition of collecting a glass butterfly to commemorate the effort it took to start and finish each “impossible” challenge.
The first year I got four butterflies. Three more recent additions represent the 2011 road races I took on to prepare me for the 26.2 jaunt to Boston: the BP-16, the Black Cat 20-Miler, and the New Bedford Half Marathon. An eighth, still boxed, awaits her turn to emerge. She is blue and gold (for the unindoctrinated: blue and gold are Boston Marathon colors) and trust me, she’s gorgeous.
Right now I am many things: Mother of Emma, Lida and one very well-loved, very goofy spotted beast of many nicknames. Daughter. Sister. Single-lefty-vegetarian PR chick. Owner of seven colorful glass butterflies and one black box. No. 24777.
Once I turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I will be something else, too.
It’s almost time to line up with 24,999 other runners—each bringing their own story to the start line. Some of those stories will be shared; most won’t. What an honor it will be to hit the pavement with all those amazing human beings and their Pair Cs.
Thank you for reading my ramblings. A special thank you to those of you who have supported my run. Because of you I’ve surpassed the $5K fundraising committment that back in October seemed pretty darn daunting in and of itself.
I truly hope that doesn’t dissuade those of you who were still planning to donate to Children’s from doing so. Just because I reached my goal doesn’t mean there isn’t more great work (maybe some BLIN’G?) that could be done at Children’s; I am so thankful for what Children’s does for 10-year-olds like Grace Neal-Briggs (Christine's patient partner) every day, and for what they do for 40-year-olds like me by giving us the chance to contribute and to run the world’s greatest footrace.
I would love to see us exceed their expectations. In the event you’re so inclined, here’s the link
See ya’ll on Boylston Street. Some literally, others figuratively. You are all a part of my story and you will all be there.
Christine Johansen is on the Children's Hospital Miles for Miracles team. You can sponsor her run at http://alturl.com/jcxn5 or by texting 4HOPE JC0027 to 20222. Visit her blog at http://irunlikeagrl.wordpress.com/