“It’s a treat, being a long-distance runner, out in the world by yourself with not a soul to make you bad-tempered or tell you what to do.”
~Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
Every ounce of joy from running was sucked out of me last September when I was followed by a man in a black pickup truck. Everything I loved about running suddenly terrified me: being alone, exploring trails, feeling free without a cell phone, getting lost in my thoughts.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 was the day that changed me. I was supposed to be running one of my usual 7-mile loops. From the minute I turned left onto the beach road, something didn’t feel right. It was the first week in fall that the Cape seemed empty. I did not pass any other runners or walkers. There were very few cars around. It appeared as if summer homes were abandoned. That black pickup truck kept passing me heading the same direction as I was. I remember his stare. I can honestly say I think my boss from the road race saved my life that day. Why did he turn around and go out of his way to say hi to me? Why did he take the scenic route home from work? I will never know but I am very thankful.
After the incident, running became a chore. For weeks I did not want to run. I was less than 3 weeks away from the Chicago Marathon and I considered quitting. I begged my parents to bike along side me on every single run leading up to Chicago (which they did because they are awesome).
Over a year later, I am still slightly paranoid. You will never see me running in the woods alone and you will never see me running in the dark. I also never leave home without a few key items:
1. Road ID bracelet. They make a great stocking stuffer!
2. Cell phone. I keep mine hidden in a sweet purple fanny pack.
3. Cell phone using the Road ID app. It’s free on the Apple App Store and it’s great. Every time I head out for a run, the app sends my mom a text message or email with a link to track my run. She can check in to see exactly where I’m at and she gets a notification if I don’t move for 5 minutes.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO DOWNLOAD THIS APP ASAP! http://www.roadid.com/ecrumbs
4. Mace. It’s pink! Two days after the incident I went to the police station to file for a FID card to carry Chemical Propellant. UPDATE: You no longer need an FID card to purchase mace in the state of Massachusetts. So this mean #noexcuses ladies!
5. I don’t bring it anymore, but my mom ordered me a pink runner’s alarm to carry with me while I was waiting the 6 weeks for my Mace permit. Also a good tool to have.
1. Change up your routine daily.
2. Drive to a location to run.
3. Run against traffic. I just read somewhere that’s its easier to get abducted if you are running on the side of the road in the same direction as a car. Scary.
4. Be aware of your surroundings.
5. Save headphones for the treadmill.
6. Tell someone your route. Again, download the Road ID app NOW! http://www.roadid.com/ecrumbs
7. Listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
If you have any other tips or your own stories, I'd love to hear them. Be smart and be safe out there!