OMG I JUST HATE RUNNERS/CYCLISTS WHY WON’T THEY JUST GO AWAY!

Okay real life first.  I attended a very lovely wedding today of some close friends of ours.  It was unique in that, 1, they did it at a neighborhood bar/cafe, and 2, they did it on a Sunday.  It was a lovely time, and it’s wonderful to get some ideas for our upcoming nuptials.

Pint

The favors were super cute, personalized pint glasses, and the company was divine. Congrats to the happy couple!

Moving right along. 

The issue with cyclists/runners came up last week when a good friend asked a legitimate questions about whether cyclists had to abide by the same rules that cars did.  (Absolutely yes).  Another friend, (this took place on Facebook,) sort of jokingly commented that all cyclists were idiots and that they should get off the road.

All jokes aside, this sentiment is not a rare one.  The following was a huge deal in Raleigh, after a local morning DJ made some nasty comments about local cyclists.

“On September 22 and 23 of 2003, Dumas encouraged listeners to call in and relate stories about how they terrorized bicyclists. In the course of that show, he said that he kept empty bottles in his vehicle so that he could throw them at cyclists. [2] These statements caused protests from the local community,[3] who successfully lobbied for an official resolution that the capital of the state was friendly to bicyclists[4] and convinced some local businesses to pull their advertising. Bob was suspended for two days and station management aired an apology.[5] Eventually a compromise was reached between the community and station management.[6]” 

And folks wonder why I literally hate morning radio with such a passion.

The point is, cyclists and runners alike aren’t looked upon favorably by non-runners and cyclists.  I get it, there are some folks who act like a-holes when they get on bikes and go for a run.  Don’t follow the rules.  But the majority of us follow the rules, and generally just don’t want to be killed by a driver who’s texting their friends on the way to work.

The Accident

About a year ago, I was coming home from a party around 1 am, and I happened upon a cyclist who’d been hit by a car.  The car had clearly left the scene, and he lay in shock while a few of us tried to figure out what to do.  He was doing what he was supposed to.  He was wearing a helmet, had a blinky on his bike, and was riding in a well-lit, well-populated area.  As it turns out, the driver was driving without a license, and was impaired when she hit him and left the scene.  Poor guy was in shock, and I believe he survived, but broke his leg and got 70+ stitches out of the deal.

Cyclists + Runners

All this said, most of us cyclists, walkers, and runners are doing what we can.  We wear our bright clothing, follow the rules of the road, turn down our iPods, and pay attention,  And at least once a run, I’m forced to give folks the “what the hell!” hands because they’re flying out of a right turn so quickly that had not jumped out of the way, I’d be a goner.  The few of us that act like a bunch of wieners don’t represent us as a whole.

So please, please, if we follow our rules, 

  • Put down the cell phones.  Usually when I almost get run over, it’s because someone is texting, or dialing a call out of their phone.  It’s illegal in most of the Northeast, but we know that the South doesn’t always catch onto these things quickly.  So be proactive, and put it down.  ESPECIALLY those of you with kids in the backseat.  Seriously, what the heck are you teaching your kids?  And how is that safe?
  • Be careful pulling out of your driveway. 
  • Likewise with the right turns.  Please resist the urge to slam out of the neighborhood, doing 50.
  • Be aware, especially if you’re driving a newer car or a hybrid, that we can’t hear you coming.  They manufacture those cars to be quiet, which is fancy and great, but we can’t hear you, so be cool coming around curves and coming out of your driveway.
  • Obeying the speed limit is crucial, especially in pedestrian heavy areas.  That way, if you do hit someone, death isn’t eminent.

 

I don’t want to die during a run. That’s not how I pictured it going down. So I don’t care if you saw a cyclist being a jerk in Cary once. I don’t care if you don’t get why they can’t just ride their 30 miles in a cul-de-sac somewhere. I don’t care if you don’t understand why runners don’t always opt to find a greenway. It doesn’t matter. It literally does not matter. Share the road, and avoid a situation where we’re reading an avoidable obit in local news.

This one’s for the ladies (mostly).

A few months ago, on an unseasonably warm winter evening, after teaching a Zumba class, I set off to do a quick tempo run.  My legs were still itching to move, so I put on my highlighter pink top (so I could be seen), laced up my Tempos, and headed out, headphone free.  I looped around for about 3 miles, and was passing the bus stop in front of the Y when I was quickly reminded that running alone as a woman could be dangerous.  As I ran past the bus stop, I turned to look at who was sitting in it, when the folks inside, thinking I was someone else, stood up, and began to yell at me.  The last thing I realized before I turned on the turbo spoilers and sprinted out of sight, is that the gentleman in the stop had gotten up, presumably to accost me for whatever it was I’d done, and as I ran out of sight, he threw his bicycle in my general direction.

When I reflected on the strange situation later, I realized, I’m not the only young woman who’s experienced some weirdness or danger on runs.  Yesterday morning, two women, one city over on a morning run, were followed in a car by some men who tried to exit their vehicle, presumably, to do some harm to them.

And the absolute worst case?  Meredith Emerson, a 24-year-old graduate student in Georgia, was murdered in a State Park on a hike by a man who’d made a career out of similar attacks.

It absolutely sucks, and it’s not fair, but especially as women, we have to pay special attention to take care of ourselves on our runs.  It may be really tempting to put in the headphones and zone out, but it’s just not safe.  Attackers are looking for that person that may be able to be caught off-guard in order to mug, rob, steal, or worst case?  Rape or murder them.

So a few tips to stay safe on your run?

  • Let someone know where you will be.  Call your mom.  Call your dad.  Call your boyfriend.  Text your sister.  Just let  someone know where you’ll be, so that if you don’t return, you don’t show up for work, even if it’s just because you’ve sprained your ankle?  They’ll be able to say, “Hm, I think she said she was running!”
  • Lower your earbuds!  I won’t tell you not to listen to your music, because I do it.  But save the zoning out for the treadmill.  When you’re running around your city, it’s not the time to zone out.  You should be able to hear traffic, hear folks on the sidewalk, and your ears shouldn’t ring for hours after the run.
  • This stun gun. 

Sparks

I was given this as a gift, and it’s to the point now, that I’m just sick of hearing about folks being attacked. But if you have one? Seriously know how to use it. It’s not going to do you any good if the best you can do with it is throw it at your attacker.

  • If you can help it (which I know you can’t always), but if you can?  Stay home between 6pm-6am.  That’s when the majority of attacks will happen.
  • It may be tempting.  But do not run the same route, day after day.  Do. Not.  Change it up.  Because unfortunately  people take notice.  And you may get so comfy in your route that you do each day, that you’re not paying as much attention as you should.
  • Cash/ID.  Carry it with you.  
  • Use your spidey senses.  If it feels wrong, it’s just wrong.  You know what this means.
  • And you’re going to make fun of me for this.  But Oprah taught me.  Never get taken to the second location.   Ever.  If someone is going to kill you, the second location is where it’s gonna happen.  So, in the super unlikely event someone tries to force you into their vehicle?  Kick, scream, yell, honk the horn, run, and do whatever you need to do to stay exactly there.

So ladies (and the guys reading this too!), I’m sorry for the dark subject matter, but it’s SO necessary, especially as more of you embark on new running journeys as it warms up. I’ll deliver a more fun post soon!

Technology rocks….sorta?

When you’re training for stuff, you spend a lot of time out on the road.  And technology can make double-digit mileage not just bearable, but enjoyable!  Seriously, I listened to a book on tape during my 20-miler a little over a month ago and I was laughing at one point.  Laughing.  During a 20-mile run.

kathy-griffin-book-cover-front

As an aside, Kathy Griffin’s book was nothing short of hysterical.  Read it.  The only thing?  Kathy’s a little mean, and I don’t feel like you have to be mean to be funny.  But you know, what, the book totally humanizes her.  She’s a person, and her mean jokes sometimes are the way she’s coped with a sometimes icky situation.

Moving right along.  So every single time I lace my my shoes, and head out, chances are, I interact with cars.  Which means I’m forced to interact with drivers.  Ugh.

The biggest danger to runners?  People.  We’ve already gone over the whole dog thing, but truthfully, other people, their inattention, and their stupidity are what’s probably going to kill you should you run into misfortune out on the road.

Issue 1: Hybrid Cars – Hybrids are great.  If I could afford one, I’d get one.  But when they get under speeds of like 20 mph (which usually happens for a right turn), they’re almost silent.  So even when you’re being good and relying on your senses, hearing, to cross the street, you still run the risk of being mowed down my a Prius.  That’s not a good way to go out.

Solution – when you’re crossing the street, first listen, then LOOK over your shoulder to see if a car is trying to turn down the street you’re crossing.  Simple, but often forgotten!

Issue 2: Inattentive drivers – The worst I’ve seen most often is a driver, looking to turn out of somewhere (a side street, or a road), staring too intently at the traffic to see you approaching.  Perfect opportunity for another terrible run in with a vehicle.

Solution – Approach the vehicle, and try to make eye contact.  If need be, give a little wave.  The motion should break the traffic trance the driver is in.  Usually the driver will give an “OOH SORRY” look + wave.  When that happens, you know you’re good to go.

Issue 3: Texting – Sigh.  It’s every time I go out and run now.  Every single time, drivers have their head down, texting.

Solution – Stop. Friggin. Texting. You friggin monsters.  Seriously!  Put your phone away away away, and let it wait.  Please?

And runners and walkers?   In order to stay safe, pay attention to your surrounds.  That means turn the headphones down, or take them out completely, and you’ve reduced your chances of having a run-in with trouble by like a billion percent.