I’ve been quiet on here for a while. I decided to give myself Easter weekend off. I was off work, I had four glorious days of nothing and I didn’t want to be sat in front of a computer screen when I wasn’t being paid for it. This blog is my little hobby, I guess. I enjoy writing and I’ve found that it’s a nice way to track my training progress, to inspire me to do new things so that I can tell you about them, to read more (a book a month, at least!) and to share stories and experiences (largely about my single life!). However, Easter weekend turned into the whole week and then another weekend and still I hadn’t written anything. I didn’t even exercise that much (only twice in the week following the bank holiday…) But then something happened and now I’m angry.
Bristol based people may have read a few stories in the news recently of a man attacking women on and near the Downs. Three women were attacked there in the past month and the perpetrator is thought to be the same man. The first two attacks were on women in their 50s, the first was a jogger at 7pm on a Wednesday night and the second was two days later in the same place. Both women were sexually assaulted. These two attacks are thought to be connected with a similar incident in Durdham Park on Sunday 1 March. So, we all stopped running on our own in the evenings. Well, all my female friends did.
Today, I planned to go to the gym after work, however, some of my friends were going to sit out and enjoy the sun so I decided that sounded like a much nicer idea. I mean, we have to make the most of the nice weather while we have it, don’t we?! So, instead of the gym I thought I’d just go for a run later in the evening, it’s lighter at night now after all. Plus, I did a 5km route yesterday and smashed my PB time, so I’m quite keen to have another go at it and see if I can get even faster! Decision made, I could enjoy the sun and still get my much loved (Ha!) exercise for the day J
I arrived home around 6.30pm, made myself a quick and light dinner so that I’d be okay to run about 7.30pm. While eating I decided to browse Facebook and saw that my friend had posted this story. A 25 year old woman was sexually assaulted while out for a run yesterday near Seamills train station at 3.30pm. Yep. In broad daylight. He punched her in the face and sexually assaulted her. Luckily (I say luckily as it stopped it going any further) she managed to punch him in the face and run away. So, now we can’t even run in the daytime on our own.
Perhaps selfishly, but I can’t help but think that it could have so easily been me. You see, she was attacked on my long run route. Yep, that area of grass is at the 6km mark of my long run. Two weeks ago when I ran 15km; I ran by Seamills train station. Yesterday, I was planning to do at least 10km and I was planning to go about 3.30/4pm. Only I didn’t go because I wanted to do a new class at the gym (new to me, not to the gym) that my flatmate had tried last week. I figured doing a 10km run followed by a really tough gym class would make me a bad ass, right? But then, I hadn’t been for a run in a while, well, not since Easter weekend when I went flying and skinned my knee and elbow. So maybe I’d just do a 5km, but see if I could do it really fast and then go to the gym. Perfect solution.
But what if I had decided to be bad ass? What if that poor girl had decided to do her short route instead of her long one? What if that was her short route and she just decided instead to stay home and eat ice cream. Then maybe I would have been that girl, running past the train station, only to be punched in the face and assaulted. It could have so easily been me. It could so easily be any one of us. When we’re running, we’re quite vulnerable; we’re tired, we’re listening to music, we’re concentrating on our pace, our breathing, our legs and pushing through the wall and actually not paying that much attention to our surroundings. It could have so easily been me, because now apparently, it’s no longer safe for women to run alone, even in the daytime. Even in a quiet residential area.
How do I feel about this? Well, I’m angry. Angry that because I’m a woman, I can’t go out on my own. Angry that some idiot feels the need to attack women. And the next poor girl (hopefully, they’ll catch him and there won’t be a next poor girl, but you know, go with me) who is attacked by this idiot, well, we’ll all think to ourselves ‘why was she out on her own? Didn’t she know the danger?’ Then comes the realisation that the world we live in sucks. Yep, really sucks. Why should we have to be afraid to run on our own because of some idiot? How dare he make us feel unsafe in broad daylight? So much is done to educate women about self-defense, making sensible decisions and not to leave ourselves vulnerable. Why do WE have to learn these things because of a handful of men who just take what they want from women, regardless of whether she’s offering it or not.
So yes, I’ll run in pairs. I’ll co-ordinate my training runs around my friends. I can probably kiss goodbye to practicing my pacing for the Bristol 10k, because when running with other people you either slow down or push harder to keep up. I’ll do all that, I’ll give up that aspect of my freedom, just for you Mr Sexual Assault, because you’re a (insert appropriate swear word here). Oh and by the way, I hope it really hurt when she punched you in the face.