February 16, 2012

Do Somethin'

[Britney Spears]

Last February, I went for a run at our apartment gym. The gym wasn't used often, so it was typical for me to be the only person up there. In the 3 years prior to that day, it hadn't been a problem.

Our gym had one entrance with a glass window. One way in, one way out.

About 2 miles into my run, another girl walked in through the green door. She jumped onto the elliptical and worked out.

At this point her back was to the door, but  from the treadmill I ran on I could see through the door by looking left and also by looking straight forward into the mirror.

At about mile 3, I noticed that there was someone standing at the door. I assumed it was someone coming to join us. But as I took a closer look saw a young, muscular man. Probably in his mid-20s. He seemed to be just lurking around.

I am a suspicious person. I always believe the horror stories about gangs slitting achilles tendons and have nightmares about Ted Bundy. So I immediately felt my heart rate speed up and my head thinking of the worst.

A few minutes went past before I took another glance. I had convinced myself during that time that I was safe and that it was just my imagination. But when I took a look to my left to see if the man was still there, he noticed my look and exposed himself. Then proceeded to masturbate.

The girl on the treadmill next to me. Oblivious.

At the time, I didn't own a cell phone. I didn't have anything to protect myself way. I couldn't run away, because the only exit was next to him. So I ran in place on the treadmill. I did have my iPod Touch and wifi, so I tried to reach my husband 3 flights away by tweeting him and posting a plee for help on facebook.

While I prayed that my husband would show up, the man lingered for what seemed like a lifetime, but I estimate was probably about 20 minutes. He tried to get my attention and further display himself. I just kept my attention away from him and proceeded on with my workout.

Eventually he walked away.

About the same moment my husband showed up. He went in search for the creep, but didn't find him.

We informed the girl in the room with us and offered to walk her back to her apartment.

I've had multiple stories similar to this one. Running is my passion, but can also be dangerous.

After my experience last year, I went to the police department to get a weapons permit and mace (which is the law in MA). The system was ridiculous and I ended up not getting any at the time.

Since I've moved back to UT, where there are no laws against carrying pepper spray, I've had this on my to-do list every since. Month after month I procrastinated.

When I heard about the saddening news of fellow runner, Sherry Arnold, I was sickened. My heart breaks for her family and friends. And I hope the rest of us can avoid this tragedy.

So as all actions, it starts with you/me. The day I read Sherry's story, I made a deadline for which I had to buy pepper spray.

This week I received my order, hooked mine to my key chain, and gave each of my sisters a canister.

This post by Miss Zippy says it well...we have to take our streets back, be safe, alert, and continue to enjoy running.

I ask that you each do the same and protect yourself, with either pepper spray, a running partner, or something of the sort. Please take care of yourselves.

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