Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

CIM Six Years Ago

on December 5, 2014

In 2008, I decided to run a half dozen half marathons. I liked the symmetry of the goal. A half is a great distance. In early fall, Tim asked me, “With all the training you’re doing, why aren’t you doing a marathon?” I said, “I’m too old for that!” (I was 47.) He said, “That’s crazy,” and that’s how I ended up running the California International Marathon, 2008.

This weekend I’ll be following my crazy fast nephew who is aiming for a 2:40 finish. (Yes, he’s both crazy and fast.) In my own life I’m trying to get back to running after years of hip pain. If you’ve run for years, and then you can’t run for years, it takes a lot of humility to get going again. Thoughts of “this hill used to be easy” or “I used to be able to talk and run” or “I remember when 7 miles was my basic distance” are ones that I choose not to entertain. Meditation helps with this and the simple mantra “put one foot in front of the other and repeat.”

In the spirit of this weekend’s marathon, and to remind me of who I used to be, here’s my write up of marathon day from six years ago. I hope you like it.

California International Marathon, 2008

Got up. Did my normal computer thing. Got dressed and Tim drove me to the starting line (thanks again, Tim, for getting up so early the day after your oh-so-tough mountain bike ride).

5:50 am and nervously ready to head to the starting line.

Tim told me in the car, “You know how you’ve been wanting to run all week? Well today you get to run as many miles as you want to!” I kept that thought with me, and it helped me to remember that I really did want to be doing what I was doing.

So I got to the start with no problem. It seemed well organized and it was exciting being around so many runners. It was cold — I think 37 degrees or so. Sadly, I dropped a glove about 20 minutes before the race while texting. I looked for it and couldn’t find it, so I decided that maybe running with one glove would be a good thing, right? Right??? Then I found it a minute before the start and that was an even better thing. The Target sweatshirt was great, and I hung it nicely on a fence right before the race began.

I started with the 4:05 pace group, but after 5 miles, I felt good enough to go ahead and at some point before mile 10 I caught the 4:00 group. Note to anyone considering CIM: pace groups are the bomb!

The first 10 miles were easy as it was so exciting and I knew that my family would be at mile 10. When I got to that point, I didn’t see them and I thought I’d missed them. I was sad, but trying to convince myself that it was ok, and then THERE THEY WERE! Tucker gave me a huge hug, Tim and Austin cheered, and I dropped my jacket with Tim and gratefully accepted the banana and ibuprofen I’d asked him to have.

Although I had my iPod with me (security blanket of sorts), I never took it out. There was a man from Canada (I called him Canada, he called me Sacramento) running nearby and we chatted off and on for about 5 miles.

Around mile 12 and feeling good!

I saw Austin again at mile 12 — surprised and really happy. It’s true that family and friends can really pull you forward. The anticipation was good for a couple of miles, and the glow of “they’re here for me!” lasted for at least another mile.

Tim and the kids were planning to be at mile 20, so I had that to look forward to. Tucker managed to help hand out GU packs to the runners — that’s a very Tucker-like thing indeed. And unbeknownst to me, Tim’s parents were there too, but I never saw them. Wow — my MIL made veg stuffing at Thanksgiving, and then they were out in the 40 degree weather for over an hour? I have the BEST in-laws!

I’d read about running with your head to start, your legs next, and your heart at the end, and decided to run first 10 miles with my head, then the next 13 (not 10) with my legs, so after mile 20 when it started hurting, I kept telling myself, “I only need my legs to do 3 more miles, and then I’ll run with my heart.” It helped.

And guess what else helped? At mile 22 — SURPRISE! My bestest girlfriends, Laudon and Donna were there to run with me!!! I had no idea they’d be there, and it was perfect timing, as by that point, every step felt icky. I nearly cried when I saw them, and they talked and encouraged me for the next 3-1/2 miles — probably the toughest ones on the course.

Donna, me, and Laudon around mile 24?

Right before mile 26 I gave it everything I had. And when I could see the finish line and saw that I could come in under 4 hours on the clock, I pushed. Hard.

The finish line is in sight.

The clock said 3:59:54 when I went across, and after getting my space blanket and my medal, I dissolved into tears. And then there were my family and friends and hugs all around!

Tucker, me, Tim, and Austin — I feel so lucky!

My bestest girlfriends, Laudon (me) and Donna!


I didn’t know my official time at the finish, as we had to leave pretty quickly after the finish. But the results have been posted and here they are:

LESLIE GANDY 2009 F45-49 93 F 761 47 03:59:54 00:09:09 02:00:20 03:58:05 ROCKLIN CA

What does it all mean? My chip time, aka official time, is 3:58:05 and that means I qualified for Boston! I am stunned, amazed, and oh so thankful to everyone who was here today, who sent emails of encouragement, and to everyone who took the time to write words of support via comments.

And look what I came home to, courtesy of Tucker. I may never clean my mirror again!

100_0311 100_0310

2 responses to “CIM Six Years Ago

  1. Jacqui says:

    You helped pull me through and make my (only) marathon experience a great one. So happy you had good friends there doing the same for you! Wish I could have been one of them:))

  2. Natalie says:

    What an incredibly successful story of drive, encouragement, family, friends and most of all LOVE!!

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