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License Plate Leads Saucier On Personal Marathon Journey

Published: June 15, 2012

Nesha Saucier is a runner now, but she wasn’t always.

“I never really ran, but I had to do something,” said Saucier, the front office coordinator in CSULB’s Staff Human Services for the past 12 years. “I wanted to get in shape because I was starting to get sluggish. I was playing with my children and I would get tired too quickly. I didn’t want age to stop me so I wanted to do something to help me hold on to whatever youth I had left.”

But she didn’t take off running at first. Instead, in early 2010 she bought a DVD called “Hip Hop Abs,” a workout program she saw advertised on television.

“It wasn’t too expensive and it gave me a lot of good information about eating habits—how to plan my meals, how to buy food and how to cook it,” she said. She also began attending a lunch time weight conditioning class offered on campus through Club Sports and Recreation.

“I got stronger and I felt better and I could feel a real difference,” she said. “I changed my habits and began eating healthier. When I started, I was overweight. I had no idea I had gotten so big. I could see it, but it’s not like people would see me and go ‘Whoah!’ I just knew I could do better.”

Along with the Hip Hop Abs program came a free magazine subscription and one of the issues contained an article on doing your first 5K run.

“That’s where the idea to run actually came from,” she said.

So, as good friends do, she shared the article with co-worker Liliana Medrano, who was also not a runner, and persuaded her to begin training side-by-side in December 2010 for a 5K run on March 19, 2011. That 5K was the precursor to the Los Angeles Marathon the following day.

“We kept each other on track,” said Saucier. “Having a partner you can count on and someone who is counting on you definitely helps you to stay on track. For the 5K we started off with a walk/run three days a week and then it just increased and it challenged us. After a while we just ran a straight amount of time with no walking and we were amazed when it got to 25 minutes.

“Then when we did the 5K for the marathon warmup last year, I got excited because you get in the atmosphere of all the runners and it’s just an exuberating, exciting time,” she continued. “I got the bug and I thought to myself, ‘I can possibly do the marathon next year.’”

By her own admission, though, the excitement waned as did her training.

“Liliana trained with me for the 5K and we did it together and we were so excited and talked about possibly doing the marathon together,” she said, “but we failed to continue our training.”

Months went by and Saucier had a lot on her plate what with working her full-time job on campus, raising a family and traveling on weekends to care for her ailing mother. Still, running was on her mind.

Then one day in July 2011 while driving on campus, she got the jump start she needed. She came up behind a vehicle that had a license plate frame that read “26.2, Been There, Ran That.” The license plate itself contained the owner’s first name and first initial of her last—ALYSA M—which stood for Alysa Majer, who happened to be a senior academic resource analyst in Academic Affairs. They were virtually neighbors on Brotman Hall’s third floor; Majer having joined the campus just a couple of months prior.

Saucier and Majer
Alysa Majer (l) and Nesha Saucier.

“I looked her name up in the campus directory and e-mailed her right away,” said Saucier. “I titled my initial e-mail the same as her frame, ‘26.2, Been There, Ran That,’ but I didn’t know what to expect. I told her I was interested in possibly running a marathon and from there we set up a lunch. I had no idea she was an avid runner. I wanted to get a partner again and continue running and I wasn’t necessarily looking for her to help me train.”

“I loved her enthusiasm,” said Majer, who began running in 2006, taking it up for fun and exercise and as a way to spend time with family members. “I loved that she wanted to do it; she sought me out and I was also looking for someone to run with closer to campus. I didn’t see her as not a runner, it was just that she had not been doing it for very long.”

Soon thereafter they began running together after work, doing a four-mile loop on campus, and at some point the topic of running the Los Angeles Marathon the following March came up.

“At that time Alysa said I only had six months of training time left to be prepared for a marathon,” said Saucier, “so I had to get really serious about it and stay on it and be consistent.”

Majer, who had already completed three marathons, hadn’t planned on running the 2012 marathon. When Saucier told her she was going to do it, however, she said she would join her.

“I’m excited to help anyone who wants to run,” said Majer. “I’ve helped people train for 5K runs before. That’s the part I enjoy and then they help me commit. I was going to do the marathon next year (2013), but because she wanted to do it this year, I said I would do it with her.”

A key motivation for Saucier was her mother, who had a heart attack in June 2011 and who had also been diagnosed years ago with diabetes. She passed away in September 2011. It was another connection between the two women, Majer revealing her father died of a heart attack four years earlier.

“I saw myself possibly heading in that direction and figured if I am not doing a whole lot right now, when I get older I would probably do even less,” said Saucier, who plans on running the 2013 marathon, “so that certainly was another motivation. I have much more energy now. I don’t feel anything like I did before.”