Saturday morning I had the most terrifying experience on a run that I have ever encountered.
I like to get my long run out of the way early and not take too much time away from my kids, so I headed out the door at 6:30am all set to run 10 miles. Typically, on my shorter runs, I will stay within the confines of my immediate community. I live in a gated community because while we certainly don’t live in the worst part of town, there are some sketchy areas in the vicinity of our community, so I do feel safer that every person entering our community has to pass through a guard first. But, on my longer runs, unless I want to run multiple loops around my community, I need to venture outside the gates. I’ve been doing this for over a year now with no issues at all. In fact, most of the people I encounter on my runs are very friendly. Usually I will see other runners, walkers, bicyclists, dog walkers, etc. But on Saturday, I had quite a scare.
I was on mile 7, and having a really great run. I was listening to my favorite Howard Stern and just in the zone, enjoying the crisp fall morning. The sky was so beautiful.
I was running down a street that borders my community, almost to my gates. To the left of the sidewalk is some landscaping with large bushes, apparently large enough for people to hide in because all of a sudden I was being verbally assaulted by someone next to me hiding in the bushes. This person started screaming gibberish laden with expletives at me at the top of their lungs as I ran by. I’m not going to lie, it scared the living shit out of me. Because the bushes are so large, I couldn’t see this person, I could only hear them. I had no idea if they were going to come out and attack me, if they had any weapons, or if there were more than one of them. My heart practically jumped out of my chest and I immediately ran as fast as I could across the street and into an apartment complex. From there, I could still hear the person screaming at me from their hiding place inside of the bushes. I called 911 and reported them, shaking like a leaf, and then called my husband to come pick me up.
When my husband arrived (armed with a baseball no less, haha) we drove past the area where the person or persons were hiding, but couldn’t see them, so we parked down the street and waited for the police to arrive. While waiting, we could hear voices from inside the bushes. About fifteen minutes later two Metro police cars showed up and we told them what happened and pointed them in the right direction of the perpetrator(s). We sat in the car and watched them pull out a lady, much to our surprise because either there was a man also hiding in there or this woman had a very, very deep voice and had been talking to herself. In any case, after that we went back home.
My husband thinks it would be best if I kept my running to the confines of our community from now on. Being somewhat shaken up, I have to agree, but with marathon training coming up soon, the thought of running 20 miles in loops around my neighborhood is enough to make me want to shoot myself. So, I will have to figure this all out.
This morning on my run, I was still a bit shaken up. When I first headed out at 5:30am, it was still completely dark outside and my usual neighbors that I see out there were not out yet, so I was running solo in the dark. And even though I stayed within my community, my eyes kept playing tricks on me. I kept thinking I was seeing the form of a person hiding in the trees up ahead. I actually turned around once and ran the other way because I could swear I saw someone up ahead just standing there. Needless to say, it was not an enjoyable run.
So, for now, I’m going to buy some runner’s mace, stick to running inside my community, and hope that this was an isolated incident.
Have you ever felt unsafe on a run?