….my pepper spray will do. Funny title perhaps; serious topic.
I’d have to describe my area of the world as bordering on rural, however it includes plenty of homes, businesses, industrial parks, major roads, etc. But I’m definitely not in the city. With that said, I always choose my solo long runs with safety in mind. I’m careful with avoiding secluded areas and I’m careful about not placing myself too far from home (should I become injured). And I always carry my pepper spray. I don’t believe my pepper spray makes me invincible, but I do believe it’s a means of buying me some time should I ever have to quickly escape a bad situation.
Saturday, I was half way through my 20 mile training run when I observed a car that seemed to be slowly trailing me….
The thing is, the car seemed to be so obvious, that for a second, I rationalized that they were looking for a business address (I was in an industrial park). It was late morning, there were people/cars/delivery trucks all around, but hey, sometimes bad things happen in the middle of the day with people around. So I quickly threw that rationale out the window and trusted my gut. I was already looking for an escape route or anyone around who might help if I should need it. I had a plan.
The creepy car backed off and seemed to be settled in for a minute or two as I continued to put more distance between me and them. Next, I was approached by a woman in a different car who pulled up next to me and said, “Hey, that car back there seems like they’re following you…..do you want a ride or something?” OK, if I wasn’t freaked out before, I was now. I declined (and let me add, she was a little creepy herself – enough to make me wonder if she wasn’t part of the creepy car team) and realized I needed to get out of the creepy car’s line of sight. I ducked into the parking lot of a business and hid amongst the parked cars. At least creepy car (or creepy woman) wouldn’t see which direction I was heading. Major paranoia had settled in at this point.
After a few minutes, I took off and boy did I fly. Who knew I had some speed in my legs after 10+ miles! I guess adrenaline is one of those untapped fuel sources that you’re able to tap into when you’re nervous. I spent the next several miles running a faster pace and craning my neck to make sure no creepy cars were following me.
Boy was I happy to see Scott at mile 15ish!!! I knew I’d see him, but didn’t know exactly when. He pulled up, just as I was retrieving my planted Gatorade from the
poison ivy patch shrubs. I told him what had happened and right then felt like I might cry – but not because of fear or being a girl; it was because of the feeling of frustration. I was so angry at creepy car and creepy woman for making me feel vulnerable. Damn them!
Scott leap-frogged me for the remaining 5 miles home. While he sat at a school entry waiting for me, a cruiser pulled in. He flagged him down and explained my experience back in the industrial park. The officer advised that I report it to the local police (he was technically in a different town) in case others have had a similar experience. By the time I got home, I started to feel a little silly about it all, but called the police anyway. I provided what details I could (description of the driver, the car) and was glad I called. If anything ever happened to someone else and I hadn’t called, I would never forgive myself.
I’m still a little freaked out about it all. I carry the pepper spray and I take my precautions because I REFUSE to be a victim. However, there are still people and situations that sadly make us vulnerable no matter how well we prepare. I will not be arming myself with a taser anytime soon, but I will continue to carry my spray, choose the safest routes possible, mix up my routes so I’m not predictable, and always let Scott know which route I’ve chosen.
I'll never know if they meant any harm or if they were just lost. But to all my real life and blogging friends, please use my experience as a reminder to take precautions and most importantly, to trust your gut.