Sunday was another day of dragging around for me. I wanted to do a long run so badly, but my body didn’t seem to get the memo. I decided to drag myself out to the trail anyway and see what happened.
I went out to Flint Hills since it was still pretty hot out when I started running. I thought the heavier canopy might help cool me down a bit. I was trotting along when I heard a commotion behind me to the right, and then to my left. I kept spinning around trying to find where the danger was coming from, and finally realized there were two geese flying above my head, fighting and making horrible sounds. It was tough to spot them with my hat on – the brim was blocking my view up! Once I determined I was not in danger of a chupacabra attack, I started running again.
I was making fine, if not sweaty progress, when I spotted a small car parked on the trail. Now, this made me nervous straight away as vehicles are not allowed on the trail at all. I guess the car was small enough to squeeze thru the posts at the trail head. As I approached, I couldn’t see if anyone was inside it. The window tinting and shadow from the trees made it too dark to see. I couldn’t decide what exactly to do, so I made a few mental notes about the car in case I needed to make a report later.
I ran by the driver’s side of the car, and saw two men sitting in the car. The driver’s window was down and he said hey, and I said hello back but kept running. When I was beside the rear window, a really big dog stuck his head out the window and let out some scary barks. This startled me and made me jump (and let out a couple curse words). I didn’t appreciate being startled like that, and really, the whole situation scared me. Those guys had no business being parked on the trail like that. It just felt wrong and gave me a bad feeling.
I starting running much faster and didn’t slow down until I was out of eyeshot. I called my crew on my phone and asked them to stay with me on the phone until I could reach the next crossing. I gave my location (distance I had run from the first trailhead), description of the car, plate and occupants as well.
When I made it safely out, I decided I was done running Flint for the day. Maybe the guys were harmless, but I wasn’t about to chance it. Two miles down there – I would get the rest in somewhere else.
I went over to the Prairie Spirit trail to finish up my run. There was less tree cover, so I felt like it was warmer. As I ran, it did seem to cool down, but I finished my run in a sweaty, nasty mess.
So I feel the need to talk a little about trail safety. People ask me a lot if I am afraid of running alone. I have mentioned that I have ran into a few scary people. But on the whole, I feel very safe and I feel like I actually am more worried about animals. I had been taking Atlas, my dog, with me. When I became a little fed up with his pee-breaks, I stopped taking him. (I guess I need to start again).
I do have pepper spray on a velcro strap that I often wrap around my arm. (I tend to carry this at night and it didn’t occur to me to carry it on my daytime run. Lesson learned).
I always tell my husband where I am running and how far I am going.
If I am running long, I often have “crew” drop me off at a trailhead and meet me either at the end, or regular intervals, depending on how my energy levels are doing. That way, I can bail early on a run if I need to, and in the instance above, they can get me if I feel I am in danger.
It is a little sad that we have to be leery. I don’t like assuming the worst of people. But when it comes to my safety, I don’t take chances. I will run for help if I think there is a chance someone will do me harm. Stay safe out there, folks!