Monday, January 25, 2010

Shattering the Illusion of Personal Safety

Today's post is decidely NOT sex related...consider yourself forewarned!

As some of my dear readers may know, I was bitten by the running bug a few years ago, and continue to derive great pleasure from it. My usual habit has been to run in the mornings before work, thereby freeing up the afternoon/evening for all the usual duties and chores that inevitably get packed in. A change in my work schedule this Fall required that I go out running around 5am in order to get my running in and make it in to work on time.

This schedule worked out perfectly well until about late October. One morning I went out for my usual run and was nearly done when a car approaching me in the dark stopped in the middle of the road shortly before I reached it. I was terrified and uncertain what to do. In the end, I'm sure I did the wrong thing...I continued on past it on the sidewalk as far away as I could get from the vehicle.

Although Jay tried to reassurre me he did not feel it was cause for alarm and it was likely perfectly innocent, I was so bothered by the incident and the thoughts of what could have happened that I had trouble sleeping for a few days, and decided to find a way to make my runs work in the afternoons.

That's just what I did. I began to make do with running up and down and up and down our street while my daughter and her friends played outside. It really wasn't so bad with my MP3 player, and it was highly preferable to the dreaded treadmill.

This was all perfectly fine until the weather began to turn too cold even in Hotlanta for the children to play outside plus I was getting a little tired of running the same street back and forth for 4-6 miles! So, after being a total slug for 3 weeks over Christmas vacation, and doing no running at all (a choice I am paying dearly for now in lost fitness!) I decided with the New Year that it was mostly likely perfectly safe to go out running in the mornings again. I convinced myself that I was just being overly cautious and could safely go back to my morning runs.

Everything was perfectly fine...until this morning. This morning I had nearly completed my first circuit around my neighborhood and noticed a car coming into the neighborhood. Remember, it's about 5:20 am. I encounter very few cars in our quiet neighborhood at that time other than the paper delivery which I have grown accustomed to, even knowing the days I can expect to see the paper delivery, and Monday's are not one of those days.

This car went the opposite way I was travelling. I took note of it, but continued along my route. After a few minutes this same car passed me, meaning it had gone to the opposite side of my neighborhood, made the circuit of one of the cul de sacs and come back. It passed me, went to the end of another cul de sac and passed me once again.

By this time my hackles were starting to raise, and I was growing more and more alert. I glanced back at the car a few times and noticed that it seemed to slow almost to a stop as it rounded a curve that would take it out of sight.

Now, at this point, I was near my own home. I should have simply returned home, however my run was going so well after several weeks of struggling to get back into that groove again that I really wanted to continue on. So I continued, but with hyper awareness.

As macbre as it sounds I reasoned that if someone were planning to grab someone from a neighborhood in the early morning hours they would likely plan to do it near the front of the neighborhood so as to make a fast get away. It probably took me about 5minutes or so to continue my run from the point I last encountered the car until I was approaching the front of my neighborhood again.

Being on hyper alert, I spotted taillights about 500 or so feet ahead of me as the car idled on the left hand side of the road. I stopped dead in my tracks and assessed the situation for a moment. As I stood there, this car began to back up and I spied that it was the same car before I turned and ran faster than I ever have back to my home which was very close by, all the while terrified I would feel headlights approaching me from behind!!

I was in such a state that I woke Jay to tell him what had just occured. My Jay being Jay, got up, got dressed, got a bat from our garage and headed out to his car to try to spot the vehicle. I pleaded with him not to go, but he assured me he just wanted to try to get a license tag.

The car was gone by the time he went out, but we did call the police and report it. I was assured a patrol car would be in our neighborhood for the next few days/weeks. Jay did a little more research on line and learned there have been a number of attacks on joggers in our scary I could pee my pants!! He actually found the name and number of the detective investigating the case, and gave him a call today. I am apparently to expect a call from the detective who wants any information I can provide him, which is sadly, not a whole lot.

I have been on edge and physically shaking off and on all day. I had a routine doctor's appointment today and my normally completely healthy blood pressure was actually a little high. My gut tells me this person had bad intentions. I can't even begin to ponder what could have happened to me and my family today.

I've never in my life been in a situation in which I felt I was in real physical danger until today. It's an awful, awful feeling. My whole mindset has changed today. I know it will pass, but I feel fearful and suspicious of everyone. I even had the thought that I need to walk my 16 year old son to the busstop since his bus comes around at 6:30am when it is still dark. This is irrational as my son is nearly 6 feet tall weighing in at well over 200 lbs, and would more likely be the one protecting me from an attacker than the other way around. However, fear makes you irrational and the mother's instinct is always to protect her child.

I want this fear to pass quickly and to return to my ability to trust others, but I fear it may have been foever altered just a bit today. As much as it pisses me off to alter my life for fear of some creep cruising my neighborhood up to no good, I'll be running again only in the daylight hours!


Anonymous said...

If I lived close by, I would gladly (ok, not really, but gotta be positive) ride my Harley through your neighborhood around that time. It makes enough noise to draw attention.

Grey Summer said...

Please be careful.

Love4her said...

If carrying a firearm is legal in your area.... a fanny pack and a Taurus Judge. It is a 5 shot hand gun that will shoot 45 Colt, 45 ACP or 410 shot shell... even mix them up from chamber to chamber.

Or in our area it is perfectly legal to carry a rifle or shotgun in the open. Can you run with a short Mossburg 12 Gauge personal defense shotgun?

Minimum.... carry a cell phone and the next time you see a strange car call 911.

I would still carry the judge.

Mimi said...

Steel Horseman...why thank you for your gentlemanly offer of protection.

Grey...thanks for the well wishes.

Love4her...I'm just not the kind of chick who would ever carry a gun. I am terrified of even being in the room with one. I do plan to get some pepper spray and of course will go back to only running in the daylight hours.

bigd44 said...

I'm with Steel, I'm 6'-2" 260, can't run like I used to because of knee injuries, but for you I would suffer the pain, to offer my protection!
It's sad that we have to change our way of life the idiots out there!
Like Jay, I've charged out of the house to chase down some punks with a bat. They threw some eggs at my house. My wife asked what I was going to to if I found them. I said they were about to learn a new and valuable lesson in life.
You be carefull out there, and make your son get up and run with you!

Mimi said...

Thanks for the encourgagement, BigD, and the sweet offer of protection :-)

Yeah, I'm not certain what my Jay would have done had he actually located this person. I was very frightened when he went out to his car in the dark with that bat. But part of what I find attractive about him is the fact that he is so assertive and physically imposing. I feel safe when I'm with him.

I've had folks tell me I should get a gun, but that's just not me. I'm terrified of guns, plus we do have small children in the house. Thirdly, I'm not sure I really want to find out the answer to the question of whether or not I could actually shoot/kill another human being. The fear I felt Monday morning makes me tend to think that if I felt my life were truely in danger I would be able to do such a thing and that bothers me in some ways.

pondering said...

ONLY ONE RULE with pepper spray. Spray with the wind at your BACK.

pondering said...

ONLY ONE RULE with pepper spray. Spray with the wind at your BACK.

R and D said...

Really good book recommended on Tiffany Granath's afternoon advice show is "The Gift of Fear". You are wise to listen to your instinct. We recently took concealed carry training. Guns are like anything else once you learn how they work and what they do, it takes away some of the natural distrust of them. Even if you just take a course it will enable you to make an informed decision about the appropriatness for you situation. But kids at home are a big concern, it raises the level of care and storage at home. Not saying you should carry or not, just make an informed decision. Keep listening to your inner voice. RandD

Mimi said...

R and D...thanks for the advice and book recommendation. My gut also tells me I want NOTHING to do with a gun!! I'm definately more careful and aware of my surroundings now and only running in daylight hours!