Thursday, August 18, 2016

Running Safely While Female

Big news this summer on the murders of three women runners in three different states over the course of nine days from July 30 to August 7. It's news because it's rare. Even so, the Internet is abuzz with asinine safety tips for women runners.

People sometimes ask if I'm afraid to run alone before dawn and what I do for safety. They blanch when I answer: I'm not afraid, and I don't take safety precautions against potential attackers.

I've been running for seven years now, primarily outside, usually before sunrise. So it's lonely and it's dark. It's the only part of the day I can stand Texas summer, and it's the only time I don't get cat-called, wolf-whistled, and honked at by passersby. Because there are no passersby. I rarely see another soul; only the neighborhood rabbits startle me when they dart suddenly in corners of my vision. (I don't wear my glasses to run either.)

Fact is, I've had more scary run-ins with dogs than I have with people, and only one of those dogs was ever aggressive—a little yappy one of course. All the off-leash big dogs and bully breeds only always want pats and to go run with me. The soundest piece of running safety advice I've ever received is from a police officer who told me that most dogs will respond if you stop, stand firm, and shout "NO!" That's what I did when the little yappy dog came after me, though I had to say it twice before its owner showed up.

A photo posted by Kayla Foster (@knfoster22) on

I do wear an ID band with an emergency contact in case I'm incapacitated such as if a car hit me. Drivers barely miss me on a regular basis, despite my neon hues in broad daylight when they're about and my presence in clearly marked crosswalks with the light in my favor. There's little I can do to protect against that sort of accident. I do use the Road ID app, which will alert my designated contacts if I stop moving for more than 5 minutes and send them a link to my location, but it's glitchy.

But muggers, rapists, and murderers? Nah. I have a mini-size, belt-clip pepper spray that I've never carried; I highly doubt my ability to unclip it quickly and use it effectively. They make collapsible poles for runners' protection and hiking, but I don't want to carry extra crap on top of my car key, water bottle, cell phone, GUs, lip balm, flashlight, and anti-chafe cream; so don't even suggest a gun either. I've taken a few self-defense courses here and there, and the main thing I've learned is that running away is always the best option. Realistically, how much time and money would it take for me to effectively train to protect myself in a combat situation with someone bigger, stronger, and very probably armed?

I'm 5'3". If someone's determined to get me, they're gonna get me. Statistically speaking, though. I'm far more likely to be raped or murdered by an intimate partner.

And until then, I've got running to do.

A photo posted by BMW Dallas Marathon (@bmwdallasmarathon) on

Monday, August 15, 2016

Birthday Racing

I registered for the Cobra Brewing 5k this year because I enjoyed last year's vibe and post-race porter so much. I was really lucky the weather shifted this weekend, giving us a slightly cooler, though very humid, Saturday morning. It really sucked that they decided to start the race as late as 9:30 a.m., but I knew to expect the ugly two-loop course. What I didn't expect was the brewery not offering their porter to race participants, so I went home beer-less and thoroughly disappointed. I definitely won't be registering for that one again. The race photos kinda sucked, too. I might just dress up again and stage my own shoot.

But I ran an awesome 38:03, whereas I've mostly been running 14:30-miles on all my shorter summer runs, and I looked great as Wonder Woman.

Sunday being my birthday, I signed up for the Hottest Half and 10k and ran the 10k. The weather was quite a bit cooler and actually pleasant. The event ran out of race shirts even near my size before I arrived, so I have YET ANOTHER garbage race shirt for which I paid just as much as anyone else and won't get to wear. The course also sucked and I won't be doing this race again either. It was predominantly concrete with a smattering of asphalt and no small bit of painful, rocky, trail. My feet were bruised and cramping because of it.

On the bright side, my costume was inexpensive and far more comfortable than I expected, and I got lots of compliments. I asked a volunteer to write "BDAY" on the back of one of my calves and "BIG 30" on the other, so I got lots of birthday wishes, too. The course had LOTS of support and water stations. I felt strong and really enjoyed myself, even after racing the day before, and I finished with a 13:36 average per-mile pace, WAY better than all my 14-16 training runs.

The pro pics were great and I got a free one, too, as well as a badass medal with my birthday on it. The venue, Community Beer, offered a rich Russian imperial stout called Legion, which went beautifully with my garb and more than made up for the previous day's disappointment.