Monday, January 5, 2009

safety first...

As I was running this evening I was thinking about a blog post, wondering what to say for today and I was basically going to say that I was just happy I did my long run of six miles that I should have done this weekend. But as my run progressed, that became the least of my worries. In fact I didn't even make it my full six, I went only four, but today, I'm okay with that.

Since I refuse to do my long runs indoors, I left work a few minutes early so I could start my run right at 5p. I set out and decided to do my two-mile route, then do my four mile route in order to get to six. I called Ed to tell him my exact route and took off, without Milo, but with my iPod and cell phone (I heart running pants with pockets). A little over a mile into my run, a tan, two-door car with a man in it drove by me very slowly, I noticed him but didn't think too much of it. He turned off onto another street and I noticed when I caught up to his fumes, it smelled horribly of cigarettes, gross.

Then I hit the two mile mark and was still on the same street, and the same car turned from a different side street onto the street which I was running, driving even more slowly in the same direction as me. At this point I was directly in front of my own house so I slowed to a walk and kept going, kept my eye on him until he disappeared around the corner and turned around to start the four-mile route, this time taking greater note of his car. It had a 30-day tag, and was a early-90's Honda. I told myself if I saw him again, I would go with my instinct.

At mile four, I saw him again. This time I was running east down an almost ally-like street, not a lot of light, and only driveways facing it, no house fronts. I was about 100 yards away when I could tell it was that same tan car. I knew there was a woman walking behind me, we turned onto the same street at the same time, so I felt a little better. But the car was not sitting in front of a house, just directly on the corner of an intersection, lights on, car running, just sitting.

I knew the chance that he was following me in particular was slim. But to see the same car three times, in as many miles, made me think twice and I decided not to take any chances. So about two seconds after I realized it was him, I stopped short, grabbed my cell phone and called Ed. I told him to come and get me right away. It took the guy in the tan car about 30 seconds with me walking toward him while on my phone before he drove off, I'm wondering if he noticed I was on my phone and was blatantly glaring at him.

You know, I could have rationalized that he was looking at homes, but there were no homes for sale on the streets he was driving by me on. Or thought maybe he was looking for a particular house, but he had crossed a major street, and I thought he would not have crossed the major street looking for a house. Or maybe casing the houses, either way it just didn't seem quite right.

Ed made me stay on the phone with him as I turned onto a well lit street and started in the direction of the house where a partner at his firm lives (about a block from where I was). Luckily I know a lot of people who live in my neighborhood (which spans four square miles), so if nothing else I could always make it quickly to someones house.

I feel a little silly relaying this, wondering if I was being a drama queen, but my instincts smelled foul, and it was instinct that reached and grabbed my phone before I knew it. Ed has reassured me it sounded shady and it's always better safe than sorry, especially since it was getting dark. I was relieved that Ed made it to me in less than two minutes, he pulled up and I hopped in. We didn't see that car again.

So all in all, I didn't get my six miles in, only four, but I don't feel to bad about it. Like Ed said, better safe than sorry. So we were home within minutes and I immediately took a toasty shower to calm my slightly jittery nerves, stretched out and am now sitting here drinking an enormous glass of 'Relax' Riesling (how appropriate) while watching Ed make some yummy, healthy, chicken stir-fry. I'm so thankful for Ed, I don't find it surprising that his name literally means protector and provider, it fits him to perfection.

On that note, I think it's wise to share safety tips, Ed and I came up with a few rules tonight that I'll now follow while on runs alone:
1. Always take Milo (no matter the distance) if it will be or get dark
2. Carry a small can of mace
3. Have my cell phone
4. Don't turn my iPod up so loud I can't hear cars around me
5. Carry a small light if it will be dark

Feel free to offer any safety tips you use on your runs, alone, at night or in groups.


californiameaghan said...

jeremy just bought me some pepper spray and a running jacket that has zippy pockets so i can take it and my cell phone. now i feel safe running without kris and the doggies... :D not that i have actually ran yet in 2009. i did sign up for another triathlon though. wanna come out here in march and do it with me?

IzzyBubbles said...

I got a headlamp for Christmas, and I run with that now in the evenings. I love it. And the Road ID - it's not going to keep someone from attacking me, but it makes me feel better anyway.

T-Bone said...

Coming from a large law enforcement family I feel like I can safely say that situation definitely sounds shady and you did the right thing. You should always trust your instincts on things like that. Better to be wrong and feel a little silly than to ignore that internal warning and end up dead. It may sound corny, but i honestly believe that God gives us an almost supernatural ability to sense danger but most of the time we try to rationalize it away. It sounds like you really kept your head and it's great that you were so aware of your surroundings. Well done.