• Nerves

    Tomorrow I will be running my first ultra and I'm feeling incredibly nervous. I don't remember feeling this nervous before 26 marathons so I'm also feeling a bit surprised!

    This ultra is an organised event: the Saltmarsh 75. It is a 75 mile run over two days, travelling along the Saltmarshes in Essex. Apparently it is easy to navigate as you always keep the water on your right, but it can be cold as you are pretty exposed to the elements. I had a practice trot along a section of it a couple of weeks back, starting at Heybridge Basin and going out for 10 miles before turning round and coming back. I was taken aback at the stuning scenery; I am a big fan of Essex and I think it is a beautiful part of the country but I've never really had a chance to savour this section of it before. Because the land is flat there is a large expanse of sky, and this, coupled with the water gently lapping on your right helps you to feel really connected with the landscape and the environment. Although the vastness of it also keeps your ego in check and reminds that that you are a small part of a much bigger picture.

    There are 162 people taking part in the event, some of them relay teams and some of them walking. There is also the option to camp overnight at Steeple. I'm doing this - although I'd like to think I'm too high maintenance for camping, deep down I know this isn't true! This is the part I'm really looking forward to. I don't know anyone else running at this event, although I have connected with a couple of them over twitter; it will be great to put faces to tweets and also to get to know some like-minded people!

    I'm also looking forward to the running; I'm reasonably happy with the training I've done, I've got enough food to keep about 10 people going and I love my running shoes. My only concern is that my rucksack is quite heavy (even with leaving most of my food at different checkpoints) so I might have sore shoulders after a while. But then I seem to be incapable of packing light so that's a burden I'll just have to carry (quite literally!)

    So I'm not even sure why I'm nervous: I'm looking forward to the running, to being outside for that length of time, I'm looking forward to meeting people, I think I've trained well, I know I can be on my feet for that amount of time even if I haven't covered that distance before and I know I can get up and do it all again the next day.

    So why the nerves? Without warning I keep getting a wave of nerves passing through my stomach, almost like a series of mexican waves. They take me by surprise - perhaps my body knows what to expect and is setting up a little protest? Perhaps, without even realising it, I am concerned about the challenge: do I have the strength of mind and body not only to face the challenge but to smash through it and come out the other side smiling? Maybe I do realise it but I've been trying to ignore it (until I sit down and write about it that is!)

    But even as I type that, I think back to the marathons and my mantra then: Failure is not an option. But then I was doing it on my own, this time there are 161 other people facing the same challenge, the same fears and the same nerves and wondering if they can conquer it, and I think they can, and that means I can too, because we are all there together, chasing the same dream.

    After all, all we need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.


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