Thursday, December 23, 2010


Any of you reading my blog for a while know I have a bunch of fears. Sometimes I control my fears but all too often, I let my fears control me. This coming summer when I face the biggest challenge of my life (at least that I have chosen to face) I will have to overcome many fears and will need to toughen up on many levels.

My biggest fears in life are

1) Serial Killers-this fear strikes me in ultras where I end up running alone in the dark extensively. Let me just say from experience reading the “Zodiac Killer” is not ideal pre-race reading.

I have no solution for this fear but considering I carry lots of lip balm, emergency poncho and salt/pepper maybe I can McGuyver something up if ever attacked. Actually I keep telling my husband Tristan that my pepper packets if I opened and tossed at someone is the poor/lazymans pepper spray.

2) Rattlesnakes-actually I fear all snakes but I am particularly worried about rattlesnakes. Maybe I have watched too much “Venom ER” and I have seen altogether too many rattlesnakes along trails. I just finished a book about the Grand Slam in which a paragraph talks about a rattlesnake crossing the course near an aid station. Yikes!!

I have no solution for this fear but I am thinking my “Pepper Spray” might come in handy.

3) Cougars-pumas, mountain lions, panthers are on my list because they are the same animal and if my cat roughs me up pretty badly at only 10 lbs I can only imagine what an animal 10X their size can do.

I have no solution for this but I think this is a job for my “Pepper Spray”

4) Falling-since gravity is a law, not a guidance falling is a big fear. I tend to be unstable on my feet and fall with moderate frequency.

I have no solution for falling but my previous strategy for runs in which falling is likely I tend to sit on my butt and work my way down (for big steps) and at times when courses are slippery I slam into tree’s or other immobile objects. This means after some races, I look like I have been in a WWF match (losing obviously) rather than a race.

5) Dirty Feet-I am fastidious about my feet in particular but actually hate being dirty at all. I may be in the wrong sport! I have been nearly in tears during a few races when the grim line to my foot is a dark brown and I have to touch all the dirt to get to my feet. Even worse is when this dirt has gotten through my gaiters, sneakers and socks and there are dirt gobs between my toes. Eww!!

I have no solution for avoiding dirt. Maybe I need to pick a new sport. I think I could really embrace ping pong except I think I might lack depth perception (although that might be why I fall a lot!).

6) Stream Crossings-my feet can get dirty, I could fall and I’ve seen a coral snake in a river in Florida and a rattlesnake along a river at Shenandoah Nat’l Park, so this is the triumvariate of my fears!

I have no solution for this fear. Even worse I just realized there are a bunch of stream crossings in Western States (and maybe Leadville & Wasatch 100 but please don’t burst this bubble quite yet if this is true, I can cross that river when I get to it). Speaking of my fear of stream crossings, I could pack a raft, a pair of galoshes or stilts, so I guess I do have a solution, although it probably is not optimal.

In all honesty and seriousness, I actually do get quite distressed at all of these issues. I try not to be paralyzed by them but there have been a few times where I nearly panic and have to repeat to myself “Go to your Happy Place” over and over. If anyone has suggestions I am happy to hear what you have done that has worked. Thanks!


S. said...

I can't decide if I am glad I read this post for purposes of preparedness or if I am un-glad I read this post for sharing several of those fears. I wasn't told there might be snakes and stream crossings when I signed up for this!! :)

Oh well, I guess we'll have to deal with those as they come.

Runner Tammy said...

Well, I will carry and share my pepper packet "pepper spray" with you.

And you and I can carry lots of lip balms. That will have to help us too!

Peter said...
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Peter said...
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Peter said...

Hi Tammy!
I have some of the same trail running concerns as you do.

Baby and Mother (Bear, Wolf, etc)
Not very likely to occur since mammals usually avoid people. On the other hand, mother bears are notoriously paranoid about protecting their young and documented cases are almost always posthumous. In any event, probably a DNF.

As I grow older injuries take longer to heal, many injuries never completely heal, no injury ever made anyone faster, and they add up. Falling can lead to a DNF.

Water In My Shoes
I hate water in my shoes. I'll pick my way through a stream crossing or mud bog. This can cost a lot of time and lead to a DNF.

Unreasonable Race Officials
There will be that one person strictly adhering to the cutoff times. Missing a cutoff can lead to a DNF.

Some of your worries that I don't worry about:

Serial killers
IMHO serial killers are usually neither nature lovers nor distance runners; I figure I'm unlikely to meet one either walking through the woods or running in a race. Murder is not a leading cause of DNFs.

Snakes are going to "hear" runners coming via ground vibrations and move to get away. Staying on the trail is the best plan here. I don't wear headphones so I hope I would hear a rattler before I saw it. Snakes are not a leading cause of DNFs.

Mountain Lion
Mountain lions typically hunt alone and are looking for animals smaller than them. Mountain lions are not a leading cause of DNFs.

On the canine side of the house, don't forget about

On the trail marathon I did in December I saw several coyotes on a ridge 200 feet from the trail. Coyotes usually hunt at night, prefer smaller animals (family dog or cat), but can also hunt in packs for larger animals. Coyotes are not a leading cause of DNFs.

And one more comment:

Pepper Spray
You should know that pepper spray is an
-Effective deterrent on mammals, unless they are angry
-Ineffective deterrent on birds and reptiles including snakes

See you at Disney!

dirty girl said...

Oh Tammy. I forgot about the serial killer fear actually. I would hate to ask if you're in the right sport, as then I wouldn't see you and all this pressure would be in me to take over the role solo at Niagara.

Well, you're doing smashing for a runner with all these fears!

Marina said...

I hear you tammy ! I especially hate getting my feet wet or dirty. I've had
scary bear encounters in the catskills. I was running down Kaaterskill high peak on the long path WAY too fast and out of control and i saw 2 bear cubs and their
mother. Bear cubs were on the right of the trail and mother was on the left. It was too steep and the trail was dusty and i could not stop. I just kept on going hoping i would not kill myself falling or hitting a tree or getting grabbed by mommy. I think i ran over a mile out of control downhill before i let up. It was one of my scarier trail moments. Nowadays the trail that seems to exact the most pain for me is a gentle bike path with stream crossings on concrete pilons. I have hurt myself
twice on those pilons - once last week
where i ended up bloodied and in the creek.