Lucie Nestrasilova: A Hockey Mom Who Traveled Across Half the World to Run Her Dream Race | Runner Spotlight Series

When Lucie Nestrasilova was 45 years old, she decided she wanted to do something big for her 50th birthday. Inspired by a book and her wish to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, she said she’d run a half marathon in San Francisco. Eventually, she found time in her incredibly busy life to travel across half of the globe to do run her dream race. This is Lucie’s Runner Spotlight story.

Translated, written, and edited by Pavlína Marek

Who is Lucie?

“I’m definitely a mom,” Lucie said. However, she’s also the manager of the Homeopathic Medical Association, founder and editor-in-chief of Svět Homeopatie (“the World of Homeopathy”), and host of her podcast called Na Vlně Zdraví (“On the Wave of Health”). For the last fifteen years, she’s been working hard to help people in the Czech Republic navigate their way through illness and a system that, according to her words, doesn’t take good care of its people.

“When someone is ill, whether it’s your kid or you, you’re thrown into the water without knowing how to swim. People expect to be taken care of, and the system doesn’t take care of them,” she said. Every day, she clears new pathways between professionals and parents to help the dads and moms know what their possibilities are when their child is ill.

Lucie Nestrasilova, the Bridge Between Medicine and People

Lucie has been wandering around the world of medicine for over a decade and is a connector between professionals and everyday people. She founded the World of Homeopathy nearly thirteen years ago to help share information about the power of homeopathy in combination with traditional medicine.

I try to take the information doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals share and formulate it in easier language to make it more accessible to the public,” Lucie said.

Lucie connects holistic medicine with traditional medical knowledge and, thanks to her podcast, she’s been sharing the possibilities this holistic care provides with the wider public for three years now.

Hockey and Holistic Care

Lucie and her husband have raised five children, four of them successful hockey players. Throughout the years, she’s gained insight into all the good, the bad, and the ugly of the intersection between sports and health in the Czech Republic.

“I’m a hockey mom,” Lucie said. “That’s our big world in which I’m very happy, and I try to educate parents of sports kids who are hitting their growth period, who are in their teenage years, about how these kids should eat, how they should compensate training, how their training sessions should actually look.”

Lucie looks for the best professionals in their respective fields, be it coaches, nutrition experts, or physiotherapists, and brings their knowledge into the hockey environment.

“Oh, and of course, I’m a wife, too,” she laughed.


Lucie Nestrasilova walking across a street in San Francisco

Lucie Nestrasilova walks across a street in San Francisco

On the Wave of Health

“The goal is to open pathways to health.”

Lucie’s podcast focuses mainly on two topic areas: holistic care in connection with traditional medicine, and youth sports. Interestingly, it came to be almost by accident.

The Czech Republic has a problem, according to Lucie.

“We expect that when we’re ill, the system will take care of us. However, that’s not the case,” she said.

Whenever her chidren are ill, this hockey mom goes on a mission to find the best professionals in their respective fields and gain as much information as she can to make informed decisions. That was also the case several years ago when her youngest son had a severe growth-related knee problem. Lucie found out that she had to be the one to look for alternatives to the one solution their doctor offered.

“I knew that either they’ll cut his knee up and put screws in it or I’ll have to do something myself,” she said. “I found out what needs to be done and what professionals I want to talk to.”

Lucie Nestrasilova during an interview with the San Francisco Marathon

Lucie Nestrasilova does an interview after the San Francisco Marathon

As Lucie’s son was growing and dealing with the problem, she kept searching for alternatives. She spoke with healthcare professionals, got many different opinions and alternative solutions, and was able to make the best decisions for her son. However, not everybody has that luxury. Cost and the professionals’ availability are big hurdles for many people.

“We are a famous hockey family in Czechia, therefore, I have access to people who are good at what they do. I know that the everyday person doesn’t have a chance to reach them,” she said. “However, thanks to the podcast, people can hear their opinions and find a similar healthcare professional to help them with their problem.”

Homeopathy and Holistic Care

“People in Czechia still think that homeopaths are crazy, that what they do is not medicine,” Lucie said.

She’s working tirelessly with doctors to show people that she’s “a completely normal girl, mother, and modern woman” and that she combines traditional medicine with homeopathy to get the best result.

I want to show people that it’s a completely normal part of medicine, that one doesn’t exclude the other, and that they can do a lot of good when combined,” she said.

According to Lucie, the media doesn’t care about homeopathy and holistic care unless there’s some kind of problem. Even then, it usually shares the opinions of loud opposers instead of people who actually know things about the subject. She gives a platform to those people who “don’t know how to sell themselves, those who are humble and nobody invites them anywhere to share their expertise.”

Lucie and Running

“I didn’t like running,” said Lucie. “Sport actually feels very natural to me but I’ve become a runner some 15 years ago and only because I had to. I used to be a sprinter back in high school but I loathed long-distance running.”

She started to run when she was on parental leave with her youngest son. Lucie wanted to do a sport where she wouldn’t have to rely on others. She liked tennis and squash but that required being able to coordinate game times with others, a luxury moms don’t always get to enjoy. Therefore, she started to run at a gym where she could bring her son with her.

Because of her extremely busy life, Lucie isn’t an all-time runner. She uses it more as a way to keep fit, having been doing sports for the past 25 years.

“There’s always a period when I run, and then there’s time when I don’t,” she said. “But I really like challenges and goals so whenever I set a goal, I usually complete it.”

Lucie Nestrasilova’s Dream Race: the San Francisco Half Marathon

“I love challenges and I get a lot of ideas. I’m a very creative person,” said Lucie. Some 5 years ago, she got one the best ideas of her life: “When I’m 50, I’m going to run a half marathon in San Francisco.”

Lucie thinks she was probably inspired by a book or an interview. No matter the source, her dream of running across the Golden Gate Bridge was born.

I didn’t even know where San Francisco is, I didn’t know what it looks like. I thought it was flat as a pancake, that I’d run along the ocean, then across the bridge,” she said. “It was my dream. I’ve loved orange since I was a little girl. It’s my brand color. Then I found out that even the Golden Gate Bridge is orange and thought that it couldn’t be a coincidence.”

For a few years, that dream was pushed to the back of her mind. Life happened, then the pandemic came. When Lucie was 49 years old, she remembered her wish.

“I thought, ‘I’ll be 50 soon, I had that wish to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, but I’m sure I can’t make it,'” she said. She found out that San Francisco is “terribly far away” and that “it would be nonsense” to fly across half a continent, an entire ocean and another whole continent just to run a half marathon. She let it go.

The Greatest Birthday Gift

At the beginning of 2023, Lucie started to train for a half marathon. She decided to choose a European race to stay closer to her home and to choose a fall race to avoid the heat.

“There’s a similar bridge in Lisbon so I’ll just run there,” she had told her husband. However, on June 18th, she got a birthday present from her husband. It wasn’t a fall half marathon in Lisbon.

Mr. Nestrasil hates flying. He used to fly only when the Nestrasilovi’s sons played hockey in the US NHL. Lucie and her husband had never flown to the US for any other reason. Leading up to that faithful day, Lucie knew that Mr. Nestrasil wanted to give her a trip for her 50th birthday.

“I had the feeling that wherever we were going to go, it was going to be quite far. I knew that his sacrifice would be that long flight. So I told him, ‘Hey, if this was to be the marathon, you’d tell me, right? Because we’re not going there just because of it, it’s so far away!'”

On June 18th, Mr. Nestrasil revealed his big secret; Lucie would run at the San Francisco Marathon. She’d run across the Golden Gate Bridge as she had dreamed.

“I cried when I found out. It was the greatest gift for me,” Lucie said. Immediately after that, she found out that San Francisco was, in fact, not flat.

Training Tribulations

Lucie found out she’d be running the San Francisco Marathon on June 18th. The race was to take place on July 23rd. Even though she’d been training since the beginning of the year, Lucie felt extremely unprepared.

Lucie Nestrasilova runing past the Golden Gate Bridge

Lucie Nestrasilova running past the Golden Gate Bridge

“Until then, I avoided hills,” she said. “I live in a beautiful place with hills all around and I always drive to a parking lot in the valley to run only on the flats.”

Feeling the weight of responsibility, she ramped up her training. She started to hit the steepest hills she could find, completely changing her training and race plans at the last minute. Even though it was a tough month, “I’m incredibly happy because it was an unbelievable experience.”

Running the Dream Race

“It was fantastic. I cried for a full 30 minutes before the race, I was so moved,” said Lucie.

When she toed the start line and the hymn was played, a new wave of emotion washed over her. She cried again—she remembered hearing the American hymn from the time her son played in the NHL. Now, the hymn was played for her, and she couldn’t contain the happiness from simply standing at the start of her dream race.

I couldn’t manage that powerful emotion at all,” Lucie said.

However, the moment, she crossed under the arch, something in her switched.

“It was very peculiar. The moment I heard the gun, I turned on my watch, started moving, and suddenly, I was in a state of absolute flow. I knew I was there to enjoy it.”

The emotional rollercoaster was over and the miles started to pass as Lucie stuck to her planned race pace.

“I loved it,” she said. “I felt amazing. There I was, expecting all the things that could go wrong to go wrong, waiting for some terrible hill to crush me, but it all went perfectly. I was halfway through the race and no horrors had come to me. Then I was running back across the bridge and I remembered, ‘Pavlina said that if I make it across the bridge, it’ll all be fine.’ I realized how long I still had until the bridge cut-off and knew that I’d be alright all the way through.”

Lucie Nestrasilova poses with her San Francisco Marathon medal

Lucie Nestrasilova poses with her San Francisco Marathon medal

The Best Part

“There’s one thing that I loved immensely,” said Lucie. “I see very little of it [in my everyday life], but there’s this huge diversity in nations, cultures, and people here. I ran with people from so many different places, and they were all beautiful.”

The people of the San Francisco Marathon were Lucie’s favorite part. From her fellow runners to those who can’t run anymore, all of them altered her journey through the streets of San Francisco as much as they influenced her as a runner.

It moved me so much, and it’s something I won’t ever forget. When we were running out of Sausalito, there were photos of the dead military. Then there were people with American flags. It was the most moving thing; they were all young, beautiful people, fathers and mothers,… it was a strong experience. I think that’s one thing that Americans can really do.”

The medal itself was a perfect ending to a great day. As a hockey mom, Lucie loved one thing about it in particular; “It looks like Nagano.”

The race itself was nothing like she expected.

“Paradoxically, we teach this to our children but I fail to apply it to myself. When you expect something to be a little worse than it could be, you can only ever be pleasantly surprised,” Lucie said. “I was nervous yesterday. I got stuck, I didn’t know what I was going to have for breakfast, I was worried I wouldn’t make it. And I loved every minute of the race in the end.”

Parting Words from Lucie Nestrasilova

“I have only thanks to give to the organizers of the race, it has to be an unimaginable amount of work. Thank you for how organized it was, for the atmosphere it had, and for the nice flow of events from the moment when you picked up your bib… I will forever know I was here. Therefore, the biggest thanks to the team, mainly to the people behind the scenes, the ones we don’t see in the spotlight but who make all this happen because it’s incredible.”

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