One of my favorite things about running is my time alone. In the summer many of my runs are done as the sun is rising and morning mist meets the grass. I love the way the sunlight reflects off of it, tiny beads of water that shine like lights. The early morning sky displaying colors of pinks and reds painting the sky with it's beauty. I love the stillness in the air; the only sound is my feet on the pavement and the sound of my breath. I have said it before, the road is my church.
What happens when fear gets in the way of those runs? When it starts to scare you before you even get out there; fear that you are not safe. I practice safety on all my runs. If it is early I am sure to run main roads or neighborhoods I am familiar with. I carry mace with me in my running belt along with my phone. I am a strong woman yet that does not mean I am safe. None of it does. You can practice safety each and every day, on every run. Evil is out there and sadly none of us are ever truly safe.
I had just finished a eight and a half mile run on Saturday morning. I was just around the corner from my house. I was so close! I had a great run this morning. I had set out to do five but found myself farther out than I had planned. I would be heading with my family to Rhode Island for the night for my bestie and her hubby's epic summer party they throw every year. I was in a wonderful mood and feeling happy. A gold car drove by soon after I finished my run. I couldn't tell you what make or model it was, but I am sure I could point it out again if I saw it. The car beeped and waved. I thought it was someone I may know in town and without hesitation I waved back. I didn't think much of it in the moment, I am a friendly person and returning a hello is important to me. (BTW, I hate when other runners don't say HI! Big pet peeve!)
I was a few hundred yards away from where I needed to turn to get to my street when the car had turned around and was waiting at the intersection. Right away I felt nervous. Something didn't feel right to me and I can usually trust my gut. The man who was around my age, maybe a little younger, called out asking if I was Tanya. I replied no to which he creepily responded : "That's too bad." WTF! What did that even mean. I continued to walk which was only bringing me closer to the car. There was no traffic. No other walkers or runners. I felt so far from my house even though it was just around the corner. He then asked me how my run was. He started babbling about what a nice morning it was. I am not sure I heard everything he was saying. I was nervous. I didn't trust him. I did have my phone in my hand and was trying to figure out in my head what I would do if he got out of his car. It felt like ten minutes when in reality it was probably more like two or three minutes. Then he decided to drive off. He was gone and I was safe.
Who knows if this person had any intent. I hate to think that every person out there is bad, but reality is I need to be cautious, we all need to be cautious. I wish we lived in a world where there was more trust yet sadly we don't. The recent tragedies of fellow runners Alexandra Nicolette Bruger, Karina Vetrano, and Vanessa Marcotte hit close to home. All three were amazing women with so much ahead of them. Strong, independent and aspiring women who were taken from their loved ones. That could be any one of us out there running. Those women are more than just names that flash across the screen. They left their houses that day to embrace their time on the road. The one place they most likely felt at home was taken from them. They were taken from their family, their friends and from the running community. My heart aches for their families and the pain they have endured over the way these women lost their lives so unfairly.
Yes, their tragedies have put fear into me. As women runners I believe we are more of a target than male runners. Sadly, no matter how strong or fierce of the woman, evil itself is a strong force. As a woman runner I will not let this stop me from running, yet I will be sure that I do what I can to keep myself safe. I will do my best to be mindful. And always, trust my gut.
A few things we should always practice: Always carry mace! Tell your loved ones where you are running. Switch up your routes when you run. Be sure to have a phone with you. Run in areas where you will always be seen.
I vow not to let anyone ever take my passion of running away. I would like to think I will be one of those old ladies still doing 5K's when she is 80. Will I let fear get in the way? No, I will allow it to make me more cautious and practice safety. Fear will not take away what is important to me. Running is far more to me than just a way to stay in shape. It is where I find peace and solace. Running is where I can reflect and take the time to appreciate life and all it has given. The road is my safety blanket, the one place I can be and really connect with who I am. It is where I can give back to myself while being grateful that I am able to run. Nothing can take that away from me!
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