I wake up at 5:30 in the morning to run. The reason is simple, I get to be alone. I love the silence early in the morning and there is something calming about seeing lights flick on, one by one, as I jog past homes along my route. The air is crisper, no one is out,and on my way back I get to catch the sunrise over the tree tops. I can listen to music and enjoy the fresh air. It’s the only real time I take just for myself during the day and it helps me clear my head, plan, and focus on everything that comes next for me. I would be lying if I made it sound perfect, because let’s face it, I’m a woman and it can’t be this easy.
So yes, I wake up at 5:30 to run, but while I’m getting dressed I run into my first problem. What can I wear that is appropriate? I have large boobs, so definitely a sports bra. Now the shirt I have chosen dips too far, showing a lot of cleavage, which defeats the purpose of wearing a shirt to cover my boobs, now pasted to my chest. So I have to put on a third shirt and hope I don’t get too hot and that it doesn’t press against my neck (If you read the blog, you will understand why). I put my headphones in, but only one ear bud so I can stay aware and hear my surroundings. I have to keep the music pretty low because I need to be able to hear another set of foot steps should someone come up from behind me.
As I start to run, my eyes are always scanning around. I’m in a constant state of alert, scanning some heavily treed areas, behind cars parked on the street, and when I catch a glimpse of a male jogger, my heart stops for a second. I prepare to pick up speed and cross the street, until I see his wife jogging up behind him. So why? Why the fuck do we do it? It truly is the most peaceful time, but it is terrifying for me. I run for fun, so I know if someone was to grab me, I’m probably not out running them. I am not fast, and I startle easily. I also know that about half way through my run, I am exhausted; fall on the floor exhausted. If at that point I was attacked, I do not know that I would have the strength to fight someone off of me; especially someone who has not been running for 30 minutes.
My workout clothes don’t have pockets, and let’s face it, most women’s athletic clothing is form fitting and tight, so concealing a weapon just doesn’t work for me. That’s why I needed a self defense weapon that I could train to use, not accidentally hurt myself with (or someone else, unintentionally), and I couldn’t drop or have taken from, or used against, me. When it comes to fighting for your life, your best weapon is the one you have and most of the time that is just your hands. Don’t get me wrong, if you are fighting for your life, use everything at your disposal. Whether that’s a self defense weapon, your hands or a rock you grab quickly; use it! Fuck that guy up for trying to hurt you!
I like to run and be alone. Me being by myself is not consent to be raped, although a lot of people may see it that way. I’m not even talking about the assaulter, because let’s face it, of course a rapist sees it as consent. Another battle in the war on women is the placing of blame on survivors. Peers, friends, family, a judge and law enforcement may ask this question, “why were you alone?” It’s no different than the “look what she was wearing" comments. It’s victim shaming, and damn, they are good at it. Because it works. You actually feel ashamed. Ashamed that your action caused this to happen.
Even knowing all of this, I choose to go out and run and bike alone, because it is what I enjoy. If they can take that away from me before I even had a chance to enjoy it, then what’s the point? So yes, I will wake up and enjoy my little neighborhood before anyone else has the opportunity. I will see the sunrise over the tree tops and breathe in the crisp air as I plan my day, but I will also be prepared and ready for whatever may happen. My mind won’t stop planning and I will make 100 decisions before I hit the street running, based on what could happen to me. Because it only takes one second, and one mistake, and just like that- everything can be taken.