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Sunday 26 January 2014

UltraMarathon Fear - Don't Forget the Monster Repellant

I may have mentioned this a couple of times but I've got a BIG run coming up … ok, ok. I get it. You know about the 50 miler. Well it's JUST sinking in for me. I've suddenly realised that I've got to run the equivalent of Coventry and back 2 and a half times. And that knackered I-want-to-lie-down-and-be-fed-creme-eggs feeling I get after a marathon? I've got to NOT STOP when I get that feeling … instead I have to RUN ANOTHER FRICKING MARATHON.


And breathe.

I may be slightly overreacting. Oh God. I'm really not.

OK. Let's break it down. What am I actually scared of?

The cut off times. What if I'm running too slow and don't make it to the checkpoints in time and I get disqualified?
Right let's be sensible. If I'm running at the pace I've chosen then I should have plenty of time. I'm not going to be near the front but unless something goes dramatically wrong (stuck in bog, stuck in loo, eaten by hiker) then I shouldn't be last either. I'm sure that if the paths are SO bad that I'm slower than the 10 min/miles then doing a 50 miler in such conditions will not be the best choice for my first. There will be other ultras.

What if my ITB plays up. It does sometimes.
If it does, it does. It will be one of those things. I can call it a day or push on depending on how bad it is. It will be a call I'll have to make on the day. If I keep up the exercises and stretches I'm doing now then I'm injury proofing myself for the future.

What if I need to poo and there are no pubs?
Suck it up, buttercup. There will be hedges. Don't forget loo roll.

What if I'm running too slow for my running buddies?
They'll either tell me to get a shift on or run ahead. You can only control your own race.

We're meant to be in pairs after 3pm. What if I'm too slow or no one wants to run with me ?
Well then it will be like being picked last in PE. You'll just have to run with the teacher.

What if I DNF?
You won't be the first to DNF ever. And you probably won't be the only one in the race. You can console yourself in the pub while eating the remains of the chocolate covered coffee beans.

What if I get lost
Don't get lost. (Note to self: attach self to another runner using a combination of liquorice whips and half chewed food)

What if I cry?
Hide tears by stuffing more chocolate covered coffee beans in mouth.

What if I forget to get checkpoint stamp thing stamped? Don't know much about this but apparently there is something to be stamped.
Get EVERYTHING stamped. Including backs of hands just to make sure correct items stamped. Don't want to be disqualified on a technicality.

What if I'm last?
I'll just have completed a 50 MILE RACE. I think I'll be ecstatic no matter what happens. Unless the pub near the finish has run out of cider. That would be BAD.

OK. Now I've written them down and broken them down a bit, I feel a lot better. Things could go wrong but they're mostly manageable things. However, this is my first proper ultra. Maybe there are things to be scared about that I don't even know about!

I decided to check and asked Twitter. Big mistake.

Answers ranged from
  • 'monsters' @theiron_bear
  • 'spiders' @smithy71 and @neily_wilko
  • 'Needing a poo and having no toilet roll. That's my biggest fear' @philippadavey
  • 'wanting to go further once you've finished' @teamb_o_b
  • 'the urge to sign up for more and further distances once you've finished. Ultras are mega.' @carl_ara
  • 'absolutely nothing' @ben_wittenberg
  • 'loneliness in the dark, buddy up if you can' @ultraboyruns
  • 'feet getting too wet and blisters. Take towel and dry socks to change into if need be.' @ayearforhope
  • 'you should be scared of being scared. Relax. Chill. Treat it as a jog and you'll nail it.' @louisbedwell
  • 'your alarm not going off. Forgetting your running fuel' @libeeloo67
  • 'nothing. Be excited, is ace! (oh, apart from if you have to swim through river water) Floods. Take your cossie.' @TheLozzatron
  • 'Lions n tigers n especially bears! I'd love to help but my longest run currently a 10th of that distance!! Food related issues?' @rach_2_oh
  • 'Starting too fast. Other than that, nothing. Relentless forward progress.' and 'just keep in mind the old saying … the 'wall' of the marathon is childs play compared to the death grip of the ultra.' @methill 
  • 'Scared it will be over too quickly. That you will want more. At some point it will beeping hurt but feel good at the same time.' @supersubfigo

So it looks as though my fears are unfounded.

So long as I remember food, loo roll, spider spray, alarm clock, to go slow, to want more, my swimsuit, my blister plasters, crème eggs and monster repellant it will be child's play.

I may need a bigger running pack though. Now where did I put that suitcase on wheels?


  1. I would offer to feed cream eggs after you finish but for reasons of personal and finger safety I will opt for just supplying you cream eggs!

    1. That sounds like a wonderful idea!! Although probably best to throw them at me after the race as may be a bit peckish!!

  2. Oh Sarah, I do love your blog, it makes me laugh! You won't be a DNF (even if you are, it takes guts, that's what I told myself after a DNF) and you are super hardcore. Take a creme egg or two for after - you'll deserve it!

    Helen x

    PS - I would be scared of getting lost. That's my fear.

    1. Oh I'm so pleased! LOVE getting comments like this! Thank you! Yes agree - choosing to DNF is sometimes the most sensible - and bravest option. I will be taking as many creme eggs as I can fit in my running pack! :)