The Emetophobe and the Marathon.

I didn’t really love this title but I didn’t know what to call it so let’s just run with it… excuse the pun! 😉 Now just to clarify, I didn’t do any running. I don’t run. I can barely even make it through the first 3 days of the couch to 5k programme. I would love to be a runner, my dad was a former runner and competitor whilst my two brothers currently put their life and soul into running. I’m more of a swimmer, and as much as people joke about running being the swimmer’s worst nightmare.. I think it is possibly true.

ANYWAY. Despite the fact I keep moaning about how I haven’t got a job since leaving university, I am lucky enough to be able to work within my Dad’s business as a photographer, attending a number of sporting events throughout the year (10ks, half marathons, marathons, triathlons ect) and taking pictures of all the runners, so they can then buy their photo as a memorabilia of one of their best attempts at smashing a PB or when they swore they would never run again. Although I’m not a runner (yet), I feel incredibly passionate about running. Is that the right word? I don’t know. It feels special to me. It’s important within my family and I feel as though I have a good understanding of it, through photographing these events and listening to the endless conversations within my family about split times and Strava.

Running makes me emotional as hell. From when runners cheer with joy when they see they’ve beaten their personal best, to those who limp across the line with tears streaming down their face from the pain of an injury. From those who grab their kids to cross the line with them, to those who blow a kiss up to the sky when they’ve completed a race for someone special. Even the people who are in fancy dress. You name it, I’ve seen it, and it’s probably made me cry. So whilst I snap away as each runner flies past, I’m secretly silently sobbing behind my camera. Luckily I don’t think anyone notices…

But sadly, these events are now probably when I experience the worst of my anxiety. I have been doing it for over 4 years and each time, no matter how big or small the event, my anxiety causes havoc. Yesterday’s event was our biggest one of the year and true to form, my anxiety was ready to play ball (against me, that is!)

Firstly, I get no sleep. I wake up literally every hour, counting down how long it is before I have to get up. But the worst problem is, too much information, my digestive system. I’m sure there really isn’t any need for me to get into full detail, it’s pretty self explanatory. Everyone gets a bit of a funny tummy when they’re nervous, but with anxiety, it is yet another vicious cycle. It’s fine while I’m at home but once we’ve left and we’re in the car, there is no where to go and this is the basis for disaster. I get the most excruciating stomach pains and genuinely worry there could be an accident sometimes, it is so painful! So this makes me panic, and the more I panic, the more churned up I get and the more it hurts. The cycle. What is even worse is for me it comes in waves, so when I think I’m over the worst, it creeps right back up on me. I sit in the car lathering Neal’s Yard Remedy on my wrists, Rescue Remedy drops on my tongue, rapidly chewing gum and gasping for air in a hope to calm myself down. My poor Dad asks if there is anything he can do. If only.

So once I survive the car journey, as I always do, I’m usually okay for the rest of the day. I watch what I eat and drink so I don’t upset my system anymore whilst my Dad tucks into a sausage and bacon baguette. Sob. Most of the time, the rest of the day is bearable and I go about my life as normal as I can. But yesterday was a little different.

Running any kind of distance is hard, running a marathon is unbelievable. I have nothing but admiration for anyone who attempts whatever distance, with no limit to what age, size or level of fitness they are. They all work damn hard. But sometimes, people work a little bit too hard and their bodies are not happy about it. Can you guess where this is going? Luckily, I’ve only timed taking one picture perfectly of a runner when he was sick and that was pretty spectacular. I can still picture it in my head now. Nice. Usually my Dad is the one who gets people being sick in front of him. To be honest, this is pretty rare or it happens where I don’t know about it, but looking through my lens you have a good view of the ones who are looking a little worse for wear.

*Trigger Warning* (I don’t really know how trigger warnings work, but after writing this I felt a little overwhelmed, so just a bit of a heads up for emetophobes!)

Firstly, a girl coming up to the finish line diverted towards the edge and was heading towards me. Oh god please don’t be sick. Turns out she had missed the turning for the full marathon and had ended up doing the half, she exasperates. What am I meant to do? I don’t know! Oh god why come to me? Please don’t hurt me, I’m just the photographer. Secondly, a girl in the background is approaching the finish and runs to the side, bent over. The crowd jeers and encourages her across the line. Oh god please don’t be sick. Please get across the line and away from me. Thirdly. A man comes hurriedly to the finish in a group of people, where he gags and obviously throws up a little. I see him smile sheepishly as if to apologise. Please make it across the line. Oh god please don’t be sick next to me.

Oh but he was. He was sick right on the finish line, between me and my Dad. Dad is oblivious. No one rushes to help this poor man or clear up the mess. Oh my god why is no one doing anything to clear it? And how can I get away from it? My heart was POUNDING to the dozen and soon the thoughts were flooding my mind about whether I would be sick. *Tries to shuffle chair away*. But I couldn’t get away. And no one came to clear it. I just had to suck it up and carry on photographing, I had a job to do. I don’t know how I did it, my pulse was racing and I was frightened. But I managed. Was this a step towards overcoming my fear? Probably not in the grand scheme of things, but it is still something.

I guess what I’m saying is even with my dodgy tummy and being in a situation where I was stuck with what I’m most afraid of, I was able to cope. I don’t know about you, but I find having anxiety bloody exhausting. But we find a way to manage. We have our ways to deal with things and even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, we come out okay at the other end. At the moment, an experience like this doesn’t make me stronger, because it will happen again the next time. I obviously have some kind of mindset or trigger when these events come up which I need to change. But these experiences will eventually get me where I want to be, because I can cope, and so can you.

Is there anything more inspirational to hear when your running down the finish line? I listened to this on repeat yesterday and I still love it. Yep, it makes me cry!

V 🙂


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