By Jennifer Lowe

NASCAR columnist

Who said NASCAR drivers aren’t athletes?

OK, OK, I know they’re speaking of actually being in the car and racing. But, seriously, many of the drivers are athletes on and off the track. Perhaps one of the most prolific athletes among drivers is Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson, who has been an avid runner and biker for quite some time, just completed his first Boston Marathon. Johnson typically shares his adventures with his followers on social media and this one was no exception. 

Johnson completed the prestigious 26.2-mile run in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 7 seconds, and he did it all 36 hours after the night race at Richmond Raceway on Saturday. That puts his pace at 7 minutes, 13 seconds per mile. I’m impressed. I can run, but I don’t like it and I certainly couldn’t do 26.2 miles that quickly… or without falling out and needing an ambulance, really.

Johnson called the event the most challenging thing he’s ever done, specifically on Heartbreak Hill, which is an uphill portion known to be the most difficult of the race.

“I wish I had my car for Heartbreak Hill, it would have made that a lot easier,” Johnson told CBS Boston after the race. “What an incredible experience.”

Johnson isn’t new to marathons in general. He ran a half-marathon at Daytona Beach, Fla., during Speedweeks this year. He did say he had a heart rate and time in mind that he didn’t quite achieve, but he’s happy to be in the low threes.

From what I found online, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya holds the record for fastest time at 2 hours, 3 minutes and 59 seconds. 

One thing racing and running have in common has got to be mental focus and sometimes that can be more challenging than the physical aspects. I don’t imagine it would take long to lose focus and quit or screw up in either activity. I admire Johnson’s physical and mental abilities to do these activities and almost want to start training to run a marathon of my own … almost.

Martin Truex Jr. had a big day on Saturday. Truex finally scored his first victory on a short track, his first at Richmond Raceway and his first for Joe Gibbs Racing. Truex has come close many times at Richmond but wasn’t able to seal the deal until Saturday. 

Joey Logano finished second, Clint Bowyer finished third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Talladega is coming up and, man, I wish I was going and taking my son. But it’s challenging to get there when I also have a 4-month-old at home. Perhaps my son is still a bit young anyway, but I can’t wait to take him for the first time.

However, we still have to wait another weekend because drivers and teams are off this weekend due to Easter. So, I hope you all have a wonderful and happy Easter weekend!

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