Thursday, November 08, 2007

Part II

Sorry, I totally spaced! I said I was going to post about getting chased and then just completely forgot to do it.

Last Thursday, my regular running group was meeting for a Halloween/Dia de los Muertos run through Concordia Cemetary. I decided not to go because it is about a 25 minute drive from my house and it was my last week of serious training. I didn't want to waste a bunch of time driving. So, Tim and I headed out for a 6 mile loop at 5:30, after which I dropped him off and went back out to get in 4 more. Because I was just running around the neighborhood, even though it was still pitch dark (the time had not changed yet), I wasn't scared. I always figure it is safer to run alone early in the morning when everyone is still home than later when everyone has gone to work. Anyway, I'm running down a road that is divided by a tree lined median, when I notice a car driving towards me on the wrong side of the road. I assumed he must be drunk or lost, so I cross over the median to get out of his way. He then crosses over and drives up onto the lawn of the house I'm running in front of, essentially cutting me off. Again, I'm concerned but not frightened (uh, duh) because I don't actually believe he is trying to get me. Yet.

While keeping my eyes on the guy (or at least his car), I cross back over the median. I'm just jogging, so that I can keep an eye on him. He gets out of his car, puts his hands in his pockets, and starts walking casually in my direction. He is wearing dark pants, a baseball cap, and a hoody over the cap. He definitely doesn't look like a service person (which is what I was trying to convince myself of when he got out of his car). At this point, I start getting a little more nervous. I resume running and go about 10 yards before glancing back. Now he is running. Behind me. Aaaaahhhh! I speed up and take a right on the next street, trying to decide what to do. I'm looking to see who has lights on in their houses when I see my neighbor walking her dog about 100 yards down the street. I start yelling her name - "Blythe! Blythe!" We meet up, discuss the situation, and head back to where the guy was parked. And he's gone. The only evidence that I wasn't hallucinating were his tire tracks left in the grass.

The weirdest part of this whole ordeal (aside from the obvious) was my post-event attempt at rationalization. When I recounted the scare to my husband, I kept trying to explain away the guy's behavior. Maybe he was looking for something ("yeah, a runner," my husband replied). Maybe he was a worker and he got to the job early. Maybe he was a lost paperboy. My husband wasn't buying any of it. And now, he won't let me run alone in the dark.

In retrospect, I think those of us who tend to take some risk on a regular basis have to rationalize, or explain away as random, dangers that we encounter. If not, I don't know that we could continue to justify what we do. With the recent death of Ryan Shay at the Olympic Time Trials, I have definitely been a little freaked out about the risk of dropping dead after running 100 plus miles. Is it really justifiable? Is it a real risk? I know we all face some level of risk every day, but it is hard to know what is a reasonable amount. I do know, though, that I love to run. I love to run far. That is my motivation. Sitting home is not an option.

Run safely out there.

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