A couple of weekends ago I was housesitting (and chicken sitting) in the country. There is a road from the house that just begs to be run on--it's lonely and romantic and undulating and beckoning. I started out on it twice, but I didn't get very far.
Initially I had a hang up about farm dogs. I love dogs. I get dogs. But I also know that farm dogs can be their own thing--free range and with a sense of duty to protect their space. I didn't have my alarm with me that might deter them and it held me back. Somewhat. The truth is I probably was never going to run down that road alone, and it's all I long to do. And it isn't because of a dog with a righteous mission.
Running alone on back roads and trails is one of the most appealing things about running for me. Running in the dark is even better. I'm Olympic material when I run in the dark, just like I'm a Grammy award winner when I sing in the shower. But I rarely run alone down back roads, and I almost never run in the dark. I do run on trails, but not without a lot of preparation, and a lot of trepidation. It makes me really sad, and it makes me really mad. And it's not likely to change.
Like everyone else today I'm sitting heavy with the news of the woman runner who was murdered when she was out for her early morning run. I don't know a woman runner who hasn't been harassed or felt in danger at some point. I don't know a woman who doesn't carry that awareness just in day to day life. It's our reality.
I felt compelled to write about this today, especially since I've already been thinking about that country road I couldn't bring myself to run down, but I couldn't find a remaining calendar page to match the sentiment. But that day I started out on the road and turned back? I ended up running on a mowed path in a meadow on the farm. I kept showing up, and I can give myself big credit for that. Women runners get creative and show up in all kinds of ways. And in spite of the unlevel playing field, they do tremendous things.
So here's to women runners who show up and give it their all. Here's to any runner who shows up and gives it their all. Here's to the runners who've suffered an undeserved fate while out running. And here's to that beautiful, earnest, collective running spirit that I feel so grateful to be a part of.