Monday, September 24, 2012
I ran alone. In the dark. At 6:30 in the morning. On a Sunday. I'm a woman.
Please stop yelling.
I'm not gonna tell you who I am, because I don't need the lectures. In fact, the lectures are not required simply because I ran into trouble. And it scared the shit out of me.
6:30 A.M.: I thought I'd be smart and carry a flashlight with me, because most of my worries about running in the dark revolved around my not being able to see and tripping on a sidewalk. I put my phone in my shorts too. In case I fell and broke an ankle or something. I'd need to call an ambulance.
What I didn't think about were the warnings splashed all over facebook, twitter, and the news about the crazy man just out of prison for hacking up a woman's body.
Well, I didn't encounter that particular man. I didn't trip. I didn't break anything. And I didn't get attacked by an animal (another thought that randomly came into my mind while running).
What did happen was that my flashlight called unwanted attention to me as two men drove by in a tinted-window sports car on a completely deserted street. They slowed down as they passed, then stopped in the middle of the road around 40 feet in front of me. I stopped too. And tensed.
I considered running back in the direction of my house, but that was only going to put me in an even more secluded area—at this point, at least I was on a main road. They pulled into a parking lot, faced me, then shut their lights off. The parking lights were still on. Then those went off too. Just staring...
I shut my flashlight off and took off running.
I never looked back, my body racing so many miles an hour more than I knew I was capable of. I forgot I had a phone—which could have been handy in calling the police—so I ran through places I knew a car couldn't navigate very easily. At least part of my mind was still functioning. Through parking lots, down grassy hills, across construction sites. Basically, anywhere I didn't think they could go. I thought I had it figured out and had gotten away from them...
Then I saw them coming from a different direction. They'd circled around. They were clearly looking for me. And they saw me, but I don't think they realized I saw them. Ahead of me, in the direction I was heading, they creeped through a stop sign. I watched through the trees and realized they'd stopped behind them. Waiting. For me. After hiding behind some other trees for awhile, I took off, in another direction towards campus.
Thankfully, the sun came up around that time and I met up with some other runners as planned. It made for an interesting long run story, I suppose. Not one I ever want to tell again.
I was shaken, but fine. Nothing happened to me. I made it to where I was headed, and that was that. But my story could have ended very differently. And I always thought I was a smart person.
My stupidity made me...well, just that. Kind of stupid. Had something happened to me, would it have been "my fault"? I say yes. Some people might say no, that people are just crazy. Would it have mattered? Not at all.
My name is X, I'm XX years old, and I run to...feel alive. So let's stay alive.