Technically, “Still Running” is the team name I’ll be running with for Hood to Coast 2011. But it’s apropos today because I’m still running, even though it doesn’t always feel like something I want to do. Every time I lace up my shoes in spite of not feeling like it, I am reminded of why I run…because it frees me from the frustrations of my day. Running allows me to escape my demons for a few miles. But sometimes, running is also a reminder of those demons.
My preference is to go out with nothing but my headphones and running attire that makes me notice my body the least – good shoes, good seamless socks, and running shorts that don’t chafe or ride up. And I definitely don’t like to take anyone or anything with me that I may need to talk to or listen to. When I run, I don’t want to be a mom or an employee. I just want to be the simplest “me” I can be. In other words, I want to escape into the world of my head and listen to only my breath and the songs loaded up on my player.
But these days my runs include this dude. His name is Charlie. He’s a Boxhound, otherwise knows as a Boxer-Greyhound-Humane-Society-Special. He is fast, big, and very, very protective. Which is why he runs with me these days.
I don’t particularly appreciate the fast part of my running partner as he is a sprinter and I am not. But I do very much appreciate his size and his protection.
Because as a woman, running is never a fully safe endeavor. Case in point, the other day I went for a run. Charlie and I were running along at a fairly quick pace when I notice a bicyclist pass us. It is a man on an old-school ten-speed type of bike. At first I only register it’s a road bike and he’s not wearing a helmet or other “biking” attire. And then he starts circling. Every block he’d circle back so as to pass us again. Then, he started weaving in and out of the dotted lines alongside us. Finally, he pulled ahead of us and disappeared in the traffic ahead.
I was very glad to have my big dog running alongside me during the whole thing. While I don’t know what the bicyclist’s intent was nor what my dog would do if the bicyclist’s intent was malicious, I have a feeling that if my dog hadn’t been with me, I would not have been safe during that run.
In fact, most any activity you can think of is not particularly safe for most women at most times.
How many times have you heard this response to a female jogger slain, “well, she shouldn’t have been out so late.” Or some version which blames the woman for the actions done to her. When violence is done against women, too often the response is that the victim should have done something differently in order to maintain her safety.
Which gets at the real matter that keeps me running from my demons…why is it my responsibility to keep the morally impoverished from acting immorally? Shouldn’t they be responsible for their actions? And why oh why do we blame the victim for others’ inability to be “good”? The result is more and more people acting without regard for others and leaving more and more people trying to put their lives back together after the fact.
I may be cracked and battered from encounters with some but I refuse to stop running. To do so is to let them win. So tonight, when I lace up my shoes and strap on my iPod, I’ll be getting out the running leash for my dog. And together, we will run a few miles, exercising our muscles and our demons.