“The best way to conquer London is to run London.”

Our very own Wellbeing Coach Wilna Gracias reflects on her experience of running the London marathon.

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“The best way to conquer London is to run London.”

This has been my motto from the very beginning of my relationship with London when I hopped across the pond in 2014.  It was a much-anticipated move and I looked forward to the many adventures this new home would have for me.  However, what I did not anticipate were the many challenges it would also bring.  From finding a job to making friends, I learned early on that establishing myself in a new country would take some time and effort.  So whenever I found myself frustrated or sad or anxious about my transition, I went for a run.  It was during these runs that I allowed myself room to feel every emotion, think about my next steps, play out all the possible outcomes, and build the courage to keep moving forward despite setbacks.  For me the running was all about keeping myself emotionally and mentally healthy.

It also gave me an opportunity to explore different neighborhoods and parks throughout the city.  For example, I enjoyed running along the trails of Richmond Park and seeing the hundreds of dear on the lawns.  I joined Nike’s Run Club last summer and ran my first race in Victoria Park.  This past year I started a half-marathon in front of Hampton Court Palace.  And with each run London became more familiar, more like home.

So when an opportunity arose to run the London Marathon with my charity from back home, Team for Kids, and I knew I had do it.  I’ve spent several hours each week for the past few months training for my first marathon in the UK. As I made my way to the marathon expo, I found myself feeling extremely emotional.  As I held back tears, I realized in many ways, my training for the marathon had been a metaphor for my transition to London. I have been challenged and stretched. I’ve loved it and hated it. I’ve thought “What the heck did I get myself into?” and “Thank you for this awesome experience!”

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On Sunday, 24th April, not only did I get to run London, I conquered it by spending 6 hours reminiscing over the almost past 2 years of experiences and planning for what is yet to come.  As I ran past iconic places such as the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, I paid my respects to London and gave it everything I had to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for being a part of my journey and this chapter in my life.  I’m excited for our future together.

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