I’ve known Cindy Hicks Gibson for years; Rickey’s known her longer than that. She and hubby, Tommy, were high school sweethearts, dating from the time they were sophomores and then marrying in September after graduation.
“We graduated in May and married in September. How crazy is that?” Cindy laughed as we seated ourselves in her delightful kitchen.
And before I could even type my usual introduction, she exploded, “I’m going to Boston! There are times when I have to just sit and tell myself that this is real.”
I don’t really know what the big deal is. The pencil thin brunette has already run four marathons and something called an ultra, which is 31 miles. Thirty-one MILES! Can your mind even take that in?
“But they weren’t Boston!”
And then, I had to interrupt Cindy and ask her how, when, where, why, etc. After all, when I was running myself into the ground during our high school years, I had no idea that Cindy even liked running.
“I started running six years ago in November. I was always a walker and then one day I was out, and I thought I would see if I could run. Well, that didn’t last long!” she laughed at the memory.
“I can remember going to the track and not even being able to make it down one of the straights. My first real race was in Dublin, and it was the 4k. I walked the majority of it, but after that it was like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta do this!’”
Cindy began running some 5k and then 10k, “But I never even thought of a marathon and then one day, I just decided that I had to do one. So I got me a training plan and I started training.”
The plan she used was called Marathon 26.2, and 18-week plan that tells the runner exactly what to do every day for 18 days.
“When I was training for the first marathon, my workout really only consisted of running and a little bit of lifting. I trained for the second one much the same. Since then, however, I’ve added cycling and swimming because I want to enter a triathlon.
I must admit that I still don’t understand it all, but I did not say that. Instead, said, “You love it!”
“It’s like it’s my passion because I have seen how it has helped me, and I want to inspire other people, help other people. There’s so much more to it than just running. Nutrition is a huge factor, and you have to have the desire and the will to change your habits and, yes, that means eating healthy. I’m in some running communities, and I see people posting all the time about going to eat chocolate cake after running. They haven’t done themselves a bit of good.”
And, having spent a lot of years studying this very thing, I knew just what she meant. On an average marathon, Cindy will burn a total of $2,600 calories. Because she doesn’t need to lose weight, she does need to replenish those calories; however, burning 2,600 calories and eating half a chocolate cake will actually add enough calories to make you GAIN weight! Of course, Cindy is very, very careful to replenish with the right foods.
“I go for protein, good fats, and complex carbs. How much protein? “100-120 grams per day,” she explained.
“I also eat a lot of nuts, a lot of Greek yogurt, meat, especially turkey and chicken and even beef. My favorite meal is 4-6 ounces of chicken or beef and then whatever veggies I have, I chop and sauté together. Lots of times I eat quinoa with them. I just boil it in water, put it on my plate, and put the veggies on it. When I know I’m going to run, I eat more carbs the day before and then on the rest days, I cut back. When I bake, I use coconut sugar or cane juice sugar. It’s organic and made from cane, not refined so not chemically processed at all. I never use white or wheat flour.”
So how does she feel? Wonderful!
“I can tell if I eat something I’m not supposed to eat. Changing my habits has made a tremendous difference in my running.”
Cindy Gibson is a fanatic by the standards of the world, of course.
“I’ve been called a fanatic and obsessive; I just smile and tell them thank you. Just think of all of all of the people we know. What they could do for themselves and how much meds they could give up if they were willing to change their eating habits!”
And then I asked her the hard question because, after all, we are past that 60 mark, and I wanted to know just how long she thinks she can hang with this regime she has created for herself.
“Until the day I die. I plan on running marathons when I am 92 years old….or as long as God allows me. I don’t wait around any more because later might not happen. If something comes up, I’m gonna go do it.”
And with that, we had come full circle because, of course, something has “come up,” something called the Boston Marathon, and not just anyone is allowed to run in it!
Cindy has as of now run in four marathons, and to make it into Boston, she had to run in a qualifying race. She qualified at the Houston Marathon in January, where she beat her on personal time by 4:46.
“I actually knew that day in Houston that I should be qualified because I had looked at both the Boston and Houston qualifying times about three years ago. I knew back then that I could not do it, but I hoped I could qualify soon. The crazy thing is that three years later, I just happened to get online and check the Houston qualifying times. I had to look three times to be sure I was seeing it right because I was right there on my times!
“In five weeks time and between two marathons, I took nine minutes off of my time. When I crossed the finish line in Houston, I knew that maybe I had done it, but my legs had cramped up about four miles out. I was NOT going to stop so I finished like that. After I finished, I stopped in my tracks, and two guys caught me. My legs were so cramped, that I could not move. I had one of the racers who had also been taken to medic with cramps look my time up for me, and I had QUALIFIED!
“Then, came the waiting. This was in January. I knew I had qualified, but registration did not open till September 14. The only problem was that I had not beaten my best time by enough to let me register the first week. I had to wait until the second week. And then, it was another week of waiting to see if I got in.
“I was just so keyed up. I was pretty sure that I would be in with that time, but I just didn’t know. When September 30 got here, I was checking my email every five seconds,” she grimaced at the memory.
And the rest is history…well, all except the race, of course. Here at United on April 18, 2016, we will be cheering; you can bet on that!