I Am Woman, I Am A Runner, & I Am Strong
Tonight I heard a story of a woman runner who was attacked by a man, a pariah and cowardly individual who preyed on what he thought to be a helpless woman. She had just finished the first part of her early morning run with one girlfriend and planned a loop around the block alone to met her other run friend. In that short span of time she was attacked. It was only minutes after she was off on her own that she heard something from behind, turned around and found this loser with a bat swinging at her. He hit her in the face, shattering her check and broke her arm. In the end, she escaped him, but not until after she turned on him and chased him off. I am sure adrenaline was pumping through her and in a fight or flight situation she fought. I am in awe of her personal strength, her will to fight back.
As a woman runner myself, who runs solo quite often, I am always aware of the fact that plain and simple: Women get attacked. Men sometimes scoff when I tell them I don’t feel safe running a path/trail alone. I don’t think they fully understand the severity of such a situation. That was why I chose to run on my treadmill on Christmas day. I wanted to run those fourteen long miles outside. I really did. But a few days earlier I had a scare from a man, a potential stalker, and the holiday did not seem an appropriate time to run that far on vacant streets and paths alone. I imagined most folks stayed indoors that day.
Earlier this year, I ordered some pepper spray for joggers. It is a little device that slips over your index finger. I have never worn it. When I hear stories like the one above, when I feel a little unsettled on some runs I’ve done where men have been obvious in there stares from their cars, I always think I should pull that out next time I run. After hearing that story tonight, I will use it on my next scheduled run this weekend of sixteen miles, my longest to date. It sucks though. It makes me sad and angry. I shouldn’t have to worry about that when I am doing something that I enjoy. Why do these idiots have to f*#k it up for us? I carry enough crap when I run thank you very much… chapstick, tissue, GU, water/gatorade, house key, cell phone and then gloves if it’s cold (not to mention when it’s that time of the month!). Now I gotta add pepper spray? I feel like a freakin’ pack mule!
So… wear my pepper spray?… maybe. I don’t like living in fear and if that sort of situation ever should arise, I hope I can face it and fight back like that woman above did. In the meantime, it will be my choice if I want to lug the spray. Damn it! I will not run in fear and let someone else dictate whether or not I run outdoors.
What do you do to feel safe when running?
Have you ever had any close calls?
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every expierence in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself.
“I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
~ Elenor Roosevelt, You Learn By Living. 1960