Last night was scary. I went for my run/walk about a quarter 'til 7:00, when it was still light out. I have a long, flat street for my run. It passes a little school and a few little houses, but it's mostly entrances to big neighborhoods. Let me just tell you, that is not a good place to run! I was about a half mile in, still on the first 10 min. of my walk, when a guy drove by too slowly for my comfort. He was slouched down in the seat of a beater blue car with tinted windows. I saw him, and it registered in the back of my mind that he was driving too slow. He drove down, turned around at a neighborhood entrance, and crept back by me a second time. This time I stared at the driver, trying my best to look angry and a little crazy-scary. He went up to the school, turned around and came back by a third time. Now I'm terrified. I've gotten in one of my one-minute runs. I'm wheezing, sweating, and because I'm scared, my adrenaline is pumping. I come to a side street, so I bolt up it.
Okay, we already know that I can't run. I wouldn't be torturing myself with this program if I could. I walked up that street on the first part of my walk, so I know there are older people who are home on the culdesac. By this point I'm thinking, "I'm freaking out. If I dive in these bushes, will the people who live here call the police because some crazy, sweaty girl is hiding in the front yard crying like a little girl? Is there anything laying around I can defend myself with? Dang it, why do I have a water bottle, but nothing else? You can't protect yourself with a water bottle, you stupid girl!" Now you may not know this about me, but I'm paranoid. Like crazy people, shirts with extra long arms, full fledged nutter-type paranoid. (All thanks to the Old Broad and her paranoia. Thanks Mom!) But paranoia is good. It keeps you alive. So I'm looking for a way out of this, all the time, checking the street, looking for the blue car. I didn't see him again, so I finished my run, but I stayed off the road, up on the grass as far as I could get.
My bff had something similar happen. She lives in the same general area as me - a fairly high-end part of a large city, but just far enough out of town that we usually feel pretty safe. She is a big, blond goddess. Six feet tall, and not a girl who looks like a victim. The Goddess was walking her pooch when she saw a guy on a bike. He was riding by, staring at her and the pooch, and it made her really uncomfortable. As soon as he passed, she reversed direction and The Goddess and her pooch high tailed it home, taking an indirect route, so he couldn't see where she lived. Now, I'm not saying that The Goddess, or I either one, were in any real danger, but we were uncomfortable. The hair on the backs of our necks stood up. That is your instinct. Listen to it! It will keep you safe....
I have some suggestions for you. All things I've learned myself, from friends who are police officers, and from some fellow paranoids:
- Don't ever run or walk in an area where you can't get to people quickly. Stick to populated neighborhoods, where people are out in their yards. If you live in a neighborhood where people don't go outside and aren't all that friendly, then find a track, or a mall, or someplace safe. (I'll be running in the neighborhood from now on. It's really, really hilly, but I'm going to deal with it.)
- Carry a whistle or some way of drawing attention to yourself. Don't think you can yell for help. By the time I sprinted up that hill, I couldn't catch my breath enough to choke out words, much less scream bloody murder! But if I'd had a whistle (which I'll be getting tonight), I could have blown it, because I was panting hard enough to get the whistle to make noise.
- If you can, run with a partner. There is safety in numbers.
- If you are on a road with no sidewalks, run against traffic. At least you can see what is coming. And when a truck, van or car comes, move up on the grass, as far as you can from the road. You don't want to be within arm's reach, in case someone tries to stop and snatch you.
- Always let someone know when you leave and when you get back. (I live alone, so I text the Old Broad when I leave and call or text her when I return. If she isn't around, or has plans that night, I'll tell my bff. The Goddess watches out for me anyway, so she'd freak if she didn't hear back in a few hours. And she lives a lot closer than the Old Broad.)
So those are my suggestions. If you have any other safety suggestions for us, please comment. I can tell you that I threw me off the rest of the night. I was jumpy all night. And the adrenaline rush took hours to abate, so I was wired until after midnight - not a good thing when you have to get up for work early!
Stay safe out there, and I'll be back tonight with weigh lifting updates!
~ The Fat Kid