A Cautionary Tale

And the lake path and I are breaking up again.   There are a few reasons but let’s chat about the main one.  Remember this post?

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So yeah.  I crack jokes at work that one of the unstated descriptions of my job is that I have to have stalker skills.     I need to be able to pay attention but not seem like I am totally creeping on conversations.    I like to think that some of that “talent” comes in handy when running.    I try to always pay attention to my surroundings and the people around me.  Being honest, 2 of the places I run can get a little sketchy at times.    I love them but there have been a few shady incidents.    If I run with headphones, I only have one earbud in and the other is usually tucked under my bra strap.   Lately, I don’t even run with them.   But I know I miss things.  Like tonight, when I ran by a house I don’t recall noticing before.  Oops.  But I do my best to keep an eye out.  As all runners should.

Last Tuesday I headed out for a run.  Still being super sore after Firehouse, I figured the nice flat lake path would be a good place to run.   Plus if it hurt too badly, I was always fairly close to my car.    Once I parked I realized that I had forgotten my running belt.  My belt has my pepper spray.   Oops.   So I ran with my phone in my hand.   It wasn’t horrible.   Full disclosure- I was running and tweeting at the same time.     I wanted to run and participate in BibChat at the same time.  Silly, I know but I was still paying attention to my surroundings.   I said hi to all the usuals and nodded to all the other runners.   I also dodged all the road construction (the other reason the path and I are taking a break).

I did my 3 miles and walked back to my stretching area.   The lake has 3 exercise stations around it and I love the ones with the parallel bars.     They are the best way to stretch my legs.  They hit me around mid rib cage.  So again, full disclosure- my leg gets kind of high, but I was also wearing pants.   However, even if I had been in booty shorts, what happened next was still not ok.

As I was stretching, I was listening to the people walking or running past.  They would pick up in volume as they grew closer to me and fade as they moved away.  One lingered longer than it should- it hadn’t faded and seemed very one-sided.    First, I figured I was overly paranoid but I looked around stealth-ily.    A man was standing behind a tree, staring at me.    He was on the cell phone so I gave him a little benefit of the doubt, maybe he didn’t realize how creepy he was being.

I made eye contact.  He noticed and starting walking again.  I went back to stretching but watched him out of the corner of my eye.    He got about 20 feet away, stopped, turned and stared again.  WTF?!     I made eye contact again; once again he moved on.   Another 20 feet, another stop and stare.   He moved on without my prompting this time but only to go another 20 or so feet before venturing down the side of the lake to stand behind a bush and stare some more.

I’m out.  I headed back towards the lot acting like I was looking at my phone.     Dude changed direction and followed me.  I did my best to ditch him in the lot, found my car and bolted.  I watched the rear view mirror for the next 10 miles.

Could I be paranoid?  Yes.  Could it be coincidence?  Yes.   Either way, why risk it?  Bail.  No workout is worth it.   Move on and change your patterns.    I try to be careful about what I post.  I never post town names or even name the river or lake but if you know the area, you know where I am running.    I would like to trust everyone but unfortunately things are just not that rosy colored.   It’s life but I hate being reminded of it.

Every run now will be shaded by this. It may have been nothing but it’s going to feel like something for a long time.

Keep running and stay safe everyone. 

No questions today, just share your thoughts please.

38 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale

  1. Yuck! I’m so sorry that some people just suck 😦 I can only imagine the heart palpitations you probably had as you were driving away and I’m glad that you sensed and confronted his action! No, that action is never acceptable and you did great at dealing with it!

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  2. So creepy!! That’s why I like to take my dog along, he’s big enough no one will bother me (I hope). It’s so scary though, wanting to share stuff but hoping there’s not some psycho out there. Stay safe and maybe get one of those running bras that hides a knife in it!! Lol

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    1. They make those?!! My coworkers think I should get a taser but I would likely end up tasing myself. 🙂
      Yeah, I had hoped Zoey would be a good running dog but umm, no. She would growl and bark at everyone though so maybe I should try again, ha!

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      1. I saw them somewhere, they may still be a prototype. Tasers are terrifying, my mom bought me one once and I went as far as charging it and then pressing the button and now I’m scared of it!! I guarantee if you had a barking growling dog, no one would follow you!! lol

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  3. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    Yikes! That’s really creepy. I’m glad that didn’t turn into anything more.

    I really, really hate hearing the stories of things that happen to runners, particularly women, because it so easily could have been me. It’s truly scary. My mom told me that someone attempted to grab a female runner on the trail where she usually runs, only an hour after she had been there. Last year a woman was assualted in my town on a trail I’ve run on before – in BROAD DAYLIGHT, and it wasn’t even that secluded. As much as it’s a pain to run on busy city streets, I’m really grateful for the “safety in numbers” advantage. It’s scary how often this happens but it’s even scarier how often we get comfortable and forget to be vigilant – I know I do. And it’s infuriating that we live in a world where this has to be a concern.

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    1. I hate those stories! I usually try to avoid reading or hearing about them but it can be hard to do that. Particularly when my brother always tells me about them- his way of making sure I am aware. The path was my safety in numbers place, now I have to find another. It pisses me off that I have to adapt my plans for creepy people but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Now I just need to figure where the heck to do my tempo runs when the time comes.

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  4. dgobs

    Dude. So not cool, and super creepy!! I’m with you – bailing and cutting a workout short, or being extra cautious in general, is better than the alternative. I’d rather be paranoid and safe than oblivious and… I don’t even want to think about it. I used to always feel safe when I ran with my ex-running buddy, Colin, because 1) safety in numbers, and 2) he’s a man, so I felt extra safe. Now that he’s not around to run with, I’ve been limiting my runs to daytime hours (we used to run around the pond at night a lot) or, more likely, I’ve been only going with my running club. It sucks sometimes, but I feel safer that way. (Fun fact: you can’t legally carry pepper spray in Massachusetts unless you get a Firearms ID card. Plus it’s difficult to buy here. I’m always amazed to see it out in stores when I visit California or other states!)

    Anyway, I’m sorry you had such a creepy experience. Glad you listened to your gut!

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    1. You have to have a Firearms ID to carry pepper spray?! We need a license for Mace out here but pepper spray is pretty easy to come by. I’ve thought about looking for a running club but nothing seems to work with my schedule. I am running more with others now but I can’t always make that work. I hate the gym but I get the feeling that I may running there more often.

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  5. Ugh! I don’t like creepy people and that guy was crossing the line. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I almost never run with music due to trying to be aware. But I also notice some things I haven’t before and wonder where my head was! I would stay away from that path for awhile for sure.

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  6. Eeek- I’m sorry that happened. It is hard- I find myself avoiding situations like this but every now and again something happens that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I have a similar path that i used to love but will no longer go on without company because of a few incidents (not to me but that I’ve read.) Sending you good vibes!

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    1. I try to run at bright and public times, I would never run that path in the early, early morning or late evening. Now I need to find a new one. I can’t win- creepy people or mountain lions. Though, thankfully I’ve only ever read about the last ones.

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  7. What a creep! Definitely better to be safe than sorry. I think that people – and especially women – are conditioned to not make a scene or embarrass people but you should always trust your gut. Such a shame that he ruined this run and trail for you.

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  8. Yikes! I’m so sorry! You definitely did the right thing. I’ve only had a couple of creepy moments, but the last time I got cat called I pulled out my phone and made it look like I was taking a picture of the license plate – the jerk sped up pretty quick.

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    1. I’ve never been cat called, I read about it happening but have never experienced it. As I was driving away, I realized that I maybe should have tried to take a picture. But what if I was over reacting? It’s so hard to know what we should do and what is going too far.

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  9. charissarunning

    So creepy – ugh! This is exactly why I don’t do trail running. I sometimes wish I could but I don’t want to wind up lost and all alone without a clue as to how to defend myself should the situation arise. I tend to stay on roads or in parks that have more activity. It definitely sucks that we have to think about these things though. Glad you got out of there safely!

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    1. One of the reasons that I like the lake path is that it is always full of people, in city limits but not surrounded by crazy busy roads. This makes my second creeper experience there though. I think it’s time to go back to drawing board for routes though.

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  10. Ew creeper alert! That is not fun. Glad you were cautious and safe!! This is another reason why I love the option of running with friends/a running group. I don’t see a lot of creeper dudes around here but sometimes when I run alone I see coyotes. Gotta love Texas. hahaha!!

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    1. I am learning to love running with people, I just can’t always make the schedules work. My commute tends to foul things up. I don’t think we have coyotes around here but we do get mountain lion warnings every now and then. A few years ago a wolf escaped from a nearby sanctuary. Hmmm, the treadmill is looking better. Nah, no it’s not.

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  11. GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. Oh, Fallon. That’s awful. And not ok. And not paranoid. Go with your gut. It makes me so angry to hear these kind of stories from women. I have had two sketchy incidents on the road and one on trails which freaked me out far worse. I’ve taken to running trails with my trusty running partner in crime, Drunk Otis. I wish I lived near you- you could take that mess of a dog with you! Stay safe!

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    1. I wish Zoey was a runner but she is a very lazy dog. The path is more city than not but this is the second time something really creepy has happened there. And it’s never the vagrant population, they were who worried me in the beginning but they’ve always been super polite! It makes me angry that we have to worry about things like this when we run. Grrr.

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  13. Joey

    You did the correct thing. Believe me there are quite a few people who want to do bad things to people. Retired Law enforcement officer here. You really should buddy up on runs in the woods or carry a box cutter! We had a saying in our unit, when there is any doubt there is no doubt! Stay safe.

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      1. htt573

        That poor girl was killed in Queens a few weeks ago. Sadly, her father was retired FDNY and normally ran with her. He missed that night due to a bad back. A pocket knife is good. However, it takes time to get out and open. A box cutter can be held and just pushed up easily. Guys we locked up always tried that. But hey, use what you feel good with. Due to quite a few late night runs I carry a 38 in a waist band so I don’t really worry. ( Legal – conceal and carry permit – Retired LEO). Stay safe! As I’am sure you know, always let someone know where you are running and when you should return!

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        1. I’ve never thought about a box cutter like that- it’s a very good point. It would be a lot easier to use if you ever actually had to instead of fumbling to get a pocketknife open. My only concern with it is my inherent clumsiness.

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