Your Stories: Lucy takes on Royal Parks
Lucy takes on the Royal Parks

It’s been just over 2 months since I ran the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon for the Family Holiday Association, and what an achievement it was!

When I was asked by my friend nearly a year in advance whether I’d be interested in running a half marathon on behalf of the charity, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. After all I was a regular runner of 5-6 miles so what a perfect opportunity to put my hobby to an amazing cause – and how hard would another 7 miles be on top of that? If only actually completing the 13.1 miles was as easy as signing up!

Well those months sure did fly by and before I knew it I was 4 months away from the day of the half marathon and needed to start training! Although a regular runner, I was nowhere near knowledgeable enough on long distance running nor did I have it in my budget to afford a personal trainer.

Luckily the organisers of the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon set up a 12 week training plan in advance of the half marathon and I couldn’t recommend it enough… with this being my first ever race of any kind I was relieved that they offered this and all free of charge too! They have three plans all aimed at different levels and pace times, and I knew I wanted to set myself a challenge and attempt to complete it at around the 2 hour mark. So I could easily set myself that target with their plan. It was really easy to follow and really helped me get into a training routine, and they provided a great playlist to keep me entertained on the way.

Now that the training was well underway it was time to start getting the sponsors in. I started by creating a JustGiving page, this was really easy to do and meant that people can sponsor you online. So even those half way across the globe don’t have an excuse!

I started by asking close family and friends which got me off to a good start, especially with it being my first race of any kind. I then started to post on social media to branch out to those not as close, and you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to sponsor you when it’s for such a great cause! I also baked some goodies for the office and took them in on a Monday morning and left them by the kitchen with a charity pot and asked people to leave a donation along with a link to my JustGiving page… enticing people with edible goodies worked like a charm!

With less than 4 weeks to go I was well into my training until….injury strikes! I was devastated! I had injured my lower back and neck which meant I was unable to train for over 2 weeks. I saw a physiotherapist twice a week to help get me back on track and I repeatedly asked him “Do you think I’ll be able to do it still?!” His answer was always “We shall see!” I was gutted, I had waited all year to do the half marathon and had to inform the charity that it wasn’t looking likely 🙁

However, with 1 week to go until the race I was making a very speedy recovery and felt so much better. I tried a few small runs and both were pain free – hooray! After getting some advice from some experienced friends and my physiotherapist I took myself on a longer run to see if it was do-able and well…. I was ecstatic to say I managed it without any discomfort – I was back on track to complete my first ever half marathon!

Race day… I was incredibly nervous considering my lack of training due to my injury but I had said to myself as long as I completed it, I didn’t mind what time I achieved it in.

The race was an incredible experience, and the route was phenomenal – it took you all around Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square –  amazing views to distract me from the challenge ahead!

The support was incredible as well. There were thousands of people cheering you on from the side! The Family Holiday Association provided a running vest with my name on it which did wonders during the race with many people on the side line shouting “Go on Lucy!” This really
helped spur me on! 2 hours and 3 minutes later I had completed the race… I managed to do it in the time frame I wanted to despite my injury, I was over the moon! I was on a high for the rest of that week, if not longer! And I can’t thank the Family Holiday Association enough for helping me tick this achievement off my bucket list….now for a whole marathon? Well, maybe one day!

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