This winter when I was training for the marathon, I did the bulk of my running in pitch black darkness after work. It was always at Moss Wright Park and the only other people that were there around 6pm, were the regular runners (the big group of snooty, slightly faster than me runners) and the regular walkers (dog walker lady, two old men, and old couple). But, there was also Big Stick Guy. Big Stick Guy is well known to those who run at Moss Wright Park. He always walks alone, carries a HUGE walking stick (hence the name), and will carry on a lengthy conversation with every woman he comes into contact with, if you let him. He has this really creepy vibe to him (probably due to the fact that he carries around a huge stick with him). I never really thought too much of him initially, I always had my headphones on and sped up to get past him, so there was little interaction. One day, though, one of the snooty, slightly faster than me runners took me for one of them (she thought I was some girl named Rachel) and instead of running by herself, she ran with me for about a mile. She asked me some questions and then she said "You know, a group of us girls always meets on tuesdays and thursdays at 5:30 to run, if you ever want to run with us" (which was nice...). And I replied, "oh really? that's cool (Thinking to myself how much I enjoy the solitude of dark, evening runs). She said, "yeah, we like to run together because of big, scary guy." Big, Scary Guy? you mean, Big Stick Guy??? I thought to myself...and I asked... "You mean the guy that carries around the big stick?" "Yes, yes, he carries zee big stick (Did I mention this lady has accent? I dont think I did. She has an accent)." Then she proceeds to describe his car to me and recites his license plate number. This scared me. These other women felt so threatened by him, that they had his license plate number memorized. I immediately memorized it also. And so, that day, I made a pact with myself. If it was ever only me and big stick guy's car there in the parking lot. I would scrap whatever run I was doing and immediately go home. I had to do that twice the whole winter. This winter, I will follow the same pact.
Generally, I tend to think that bad things don't happen to me, they happen to other people. I am trusting and like to think... "why would anyone want do anything bad to me?" Naive. I know. It does keep me from being scared, and in my defense, I do always try to make sure that I am very aware of my surroundings.
Mornings are VERY dark right now. The sun doesnt officially come up until around 6:30, and I'm usually done with my run around 6:15 or so. Luckily, my mom is my running partner on these dark runs, otherwise, I'd be sticking to the treadmill every morning. We always see the same people in these early mornings... and it's always people out walking dogs. This morning though, as we approached a part of the route that is particularly dark and off the sidewalk and away from the road we saw a man walking towards us. We made our right hand turn to loop around through a school's driveway and parking lot (it adds about 3 tenths of a mile each way, which is why we run run it) and instead of the guy continuing along the sidewalk, he followed us on the driveway. Now, where I am trusting and don't let things bother me... my mom is a scare-dy pants and immediately started to sprint. She didn't have to say anything, I know her well enough to know why she had sped up and it didn't have anything to do with a fartlek.
We made the loop and I turned around to see if I could see him, but I couldn't. It was too dark. Which creeped me out even more. We finished our three miles and I went inside and got on the treadmill for another mile instead of continuing outside. It irritates me that other people can have an affect on my runs. Especially people I don't know. But, at least I realize that it's always better to err on the side of caution.