My First Creeper

After a great day on Saturday celebrating our anniversary in NYC with dinner and The Book of Mormon (holy crap was it funny!), I set out Sunday morning for my 8 mile run. Because I was drained from Saturday’s adventures, I missed my running club’s group run at 7am and instead decided to log the miles in my hilly hometown. After dragging ass down to the boat docks I used to work at in college, I greeted the sunrise and took off.

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This training cycle, I’m aiming to keep my long runs at around 1:00-1:30 slower than my race goal pace to save my legs for speedwork during the week, so I plodded along for the first few miles at 12:15/mile. The breeze was gorgeous, the roads were empty, the town was so peaceful! By mile 3.5 I had looped back to the waterfront where I used the blissfully clean bathrooms and set off in another direction.

IMG_0506The only thing better than a clean bathroom? A PINK bathroom.

For the last 4 miles, I took a more hilly route through my best friend’s old development. After years of exploring the area with her, I know those twisty roads like the back of my hand & I love the peaceful, Edward-Scissorhands-y vibe the rows of houses give me – plus, the folks there REALLY love their lawns, so the abundance of sprinklers makes summer running a joy.

IMG_0509Exhibit A: a joyful runner

But those hills were hard, and I fought through miles 4 and 5. By 5.7, the tightness in my hips was too much. All I could think of was sitting on the curb for a hot minute to stretch and gather my strength for the final 3. And once I sat, it was glorious.

Until HE pulled up: my first creeper.

He spotted me as he turned onto the street in front of me and started yelling out his window at me. “I just have to say, I know you’re busy, but you’re a beautiful woman!” I thought that’d be it so I just smiled and nodded in thanks and looked down at my watch as I continued to stretch. But he wasn’t moving. “You’re doing your thing, you look so peaceful and zen-like! You look so content and happy, you remind me of that movie, you know the one where the men are making their way to the end of the tunnel and they see the woman at the end and all they’re thinking of is one of three things: dying, sleeping, or having sex.” At this point I started laughing uncomfortably – he was more than your average encouraging passerby. I fiddled with my watch some more and ignored him but he kept going. I only caught snippets as other cars tried to get around him, honking at him. For a good 2-3 minutes he continued. “You’re like the warrior woman, dressed like that with her gun holster, at the end of the movie – she’s in pain, she wants it to be over, she knows the Illuminati are trying to kill her…” [editor’s note: “Illuminati”?!?!]

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At that point I nodded and did the “OK, yeah, thanks…” bit and stood up so he’d leave, but he kept going! “What does your husband think of you doing this? Does he support you?” I should have ignored him but instead I engaged him (I know, stupid Jess) and just said, “Yes, he does. He loves it.”

I don’t think he expected that – maybe he was waiting for me to say I didn’t have a husband? – because he paused, then said, “Well you tell him – you tenacious, beautiful, woman – that he should take you out for a wonderful dinner tonight, to Red Lobster, and that you drink all the wine you want, and then he needs to take you home and perform to your satisfaction, or someone else will.”

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WHAT?! Because I didn’t know what else to do, I just kind of laughed incredulously and turned my back and walked away. That’s when he got the hint and wished me a good day and drove away.

I won’t lie – it shook me up. I’ve been running for 5 years now, and this is the first time I’ve been legitimately disturbed by a creeper. I know I wasn’t in physical danger – he was in a car 20+ feet away from me – but it really rattled me. It was one of those situations where you don’t realize how creepy it is until you’re already IN it and can’t get out.

Once I watched him turn the corner in the opposite direction I was headed (and made a mental note of his car’s make/model/license plate/bumper stickers so I could spot him again if needed), I immediately took off at a full sprint out of that development and didn’t look back. Those final 2 miles were faster than planned, but all I wanted to do was go home and not go outside again.

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I’ve never sweat from my knees before those last 2 miles.

My final tally was 8.1 miles with an average page of 12:59 (thanks to the fact that I forgot to stop my watch during the harassment). My knees felt great, my lungs were burning from the final push to get back to the car, and my quads were fried from the hills. Overall, it was a good run, but once it was over, I started feeling all of the things.

I seriously doubt if I want to go back into that development even though it’s one of my favorite places to run! I’m even feeling guilty – did he go from zero to pervert in one sentence because I smiled and didn’t ignore him and walk away? And if he didn’t leave me alone even when cars were stopped behind him and honking at him to move, what’s to say he wouldn’t have followed me if I ignored him? I’m always smiling and love the friendly waves and “Keep up the good work!”‘s from random strangers I pass while I run. Do I just shut it down and avoid everyone now?

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I know I’m probably over-reacting. It wasn’t a guy chasing me or trying to attack me physically. I’m fine, and will live to run (albeit guardedly) another day. But this situation opened my eyes to the other, less apparent threats that I could face. As female runners we’re taught the obvious when it comes to protecting ourselves: go for the eyes if you’re attacked, never leave your phone at home, carry mace, etc. That’s all good for physical attacks, and I pray that none of us will ever have to put that knowledge to practice. But what about the random creepers that just don’t know when to quit?

What do you think – have you ever faced a creepy situation on a run? What did you do?

34 thoughts on “My First Creeper

  1. Wow. It’s guys like this that give other guys with good or no intentions a bad name. There are rules and and a casual “Hello, looks like your having a great workout” is fine but he stepped a bit to far a bit too many times. Rule #1 don’t shout form a vehicle, Rule #2 if you are going to have a conversation laced with innuendo make sure you know the person on a personal level. This dude sounds like he was at a bar half lit trying to take you home for the night. You had no fault in this and I am sorry, as a guy, that he made you feel so uncomfortable. I get the occasional whistle or cat call but I am guy and well it’s just not the same. It was a good thing that there were other cars passing by. Don’t let a single bad experience ruin that neighborhood or area for you if you like it. It’s your right to run there. Chalk it up to a single event run at a different time or take a buddy the next few times until you take it back and our confident it’s your place to run at. The only thing I would have maybe done different since you were being polite and conversing with him is a quick lie. When he asked you about your husband say something like yeah he just ran a bit and is headed back my way. This would then give him notice that you will not be alone very soon. Ok I am rambling and what not but it just makes me mad that some guys ruin the overall reps of others.

    • Thank you so much for this, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment! I’ve had a few other running guy friends say the same thing to me after hearing about this, and it’s so encouraging. Good idea about saying my husband was around – I just wish i was quicker to think of a good lie like that in the moment! It’s a different story when you’re in the middle of things I suppose πŸ™‚
      I’m definitely going to keep the hubby around FOR REAL on future runs though! Usually for shorter runs we’re in the same park and I just take off without him then pass him with each loop, but this is the perfect reason to have him come with me on the longer runs too!

  2. Oh wow, sorry you experienced that! That’s truly frustrating and a bit scary! I’m glad you’re okay! I understand what you mean about feeling uneasy about the whole situation and analyzing it! It’s hard to know exactly what to do, definitely. I’ve had creepy guys say stuff and I’m pretty bold with it- I first ignore them and then if they keep talking I tell them to leave me alone. I wish you many fabulous runs!! Happy Monday! XOXO

    • Thank you so much for your comment! It’s true – we always like to look at other people’s experiences and say “If I were them, I would have…” but we never know how we’ll react in a situation until we’re in it! Clearly my reaction is one of incredulous, uncomfortable laughter and running away for my life, lol!!

      • Haha no seriously in life I’m all about the uncomfortable laughter so I totally get it! It’s definitely hard to know what to say sometimes. I call my runner self “Runner Kristin” because although I can be kinda shy in life “Runner Kristin” is somewhat edgy from all the speed workouts she has to do each week. Hehe! It’s a joke my husband and I have. We are both pretty confident that Runner Kristin could kick some butt if she needed to! πŸ˜› You rock!! Excited to read your posts!

      • lol i LOVE the idea of the runner alter ego! I may have to explore what Runner Jess is all about, cause usually she’s just content to replace words of the songs on her iPod with lyrics about food while running hahahaha… maybe I need to unleash the beast once in a while! πŸ˜‰ thanks for the kind words, I’m glad to have you along for the journey!

  3. I absolutely HATE that type of stuff … I really don’t understand what motivates people to think that ANY of that stuff, from the hoots and hollers and honks and so on … is ok … ?!?

    I used to joke on my blog that I’d gotten a couple of honks and cat-calls from cars full of girls (‘girls’ because pretty sure they were in high school and almost certain one was friends with my kids and the child of a co-worker!) … and that while I should have been offended I was a bit flattered after my weight loss and hard work. But that is also something related to being a guy and not facing potential life-or-death situations when someone slows down in a car near me (often to ask for directions … and I don’t think twice). All of that only makes me more mad at what women have to endure.

    As a runner I LOVE seeing people out running – and I wave to everyone (heck, I always say hi to bikers and runners while I’m out as well). But I don’t ever feel it is ok to comment … and don’t get what makes people think it IS ok!

    • I completely agree with you on the “flattery” thing – honestly, as a woman whose lost a lot of weight, it does sometimes put a little pep in my step when people honk or guys wave as they’re passing by on a busy road. But the stopping and engaging is just wrong on a few levels.
      And I guess it’s the years of “stranger danger” training, but I’ve always been leery when people ask for directions, too! I never come to a full stop or approach a car AT ALL just as a general rule, which is why I kept my 20-30 foot distance from this guy.
      I appreciate your taking the time to comment, thank you!

  4. Okay, I’m deeply disturbed by this! Yes, maybe I’m overreacting, but I think if you’re out and about on your run early in the morning, your HUSBAND should be in the vicinity! Kick his butt out of bed and have him follow your path in the car. I tell both my GIRLS all the time to have their phones in hand and be ready to call for help. And it doesn’t hurt to take a pic of his car and license plate either in case a runner should go missing. Be careful out there, girl!!!!

  5. Like txa1265, I’m also very friendly. I would say don’t change who you are. If you’re friendly, then be friendly. I wave, say hi to almost everyone I come across: guys, girls, young, old, cyclists, you name it. I just like to share the warmth.
    But with that said, I think today was a reality check for you and probably many of your readers that these creeps do exists. Who knows or cares why they do what they do. But they exist, and for that, you just have to be cognizant of your route, where you’re at, who you’ve passed, who’s behind you and just have a little bit of you onguard at all times, especially being a woman. I would suggest carrying mace or pepper spray with you, too. Ive thought about carrying spray just fend off any animals that want to have me for breakfast.

    Great job on the run and you sweaty knees.

    • Exactly! We’re so used to seeing all the “What to do when attacked” articles and advice, we don’t really think that the more minor weird stuff is out there. But OH it’s out there, and you’re right – pepper spray or some other kind of deterrent is not a bad idea at all!!
      Lol – and thanks, those knees have seen some ish in their lifetime, but sweat beads were definitely new. I’m kind of hoping to see them again this week during speedwork, for a less stress-inducing reason! πŸ˜‰

  6. Totally creeped. “perform to your satisfaction, or someone else will” is way over the line! I’ll be honest, I don’t mind a little honk or whistle or just a “go run” or “lookin good girl” – sometimes it reminds me I still got it – but that is WAY over the line! You are absolutely right, this is total creeperville.

  7. This guy definitely represents a small minority of creepy men out there who feel the need to comment unsolicited. Don’t change your behaviour. Chances are it will be another 5 years before this happens again.

  8. Oh how creepy – and downright scary! I’ve had to deal with random remarks on my runs – and I’ve been running for more than 20 years now – but never anything like this. Seriously makes me think (again) about getting pepper spray. Most of my runner friends carry it on their runs and say it makes them feel safer, at the very least…

  9. Wow! I’m not sure what I would have done. Even though I do nod and say hello to other bikers/runners… I would have been creeped out by someone in a car saying anything… I’ve had a man and lady ask me directions and from a safe distance I gave them the shortest version of the directions I possibly could. Not being rude, but still keeping my safety in mind. Here’s to hoping this was a one time event!

  10. I’m so sorry that this happened to you on your run. 😦 I hope you are ok. I don’t understand why people think that this is an acceptable way to behave towards a fellow person. I hope it doesn’t change who you are when you run. x

  11. As a runner and a female I hate when people try and talk to me or honk during a run. First off because it startles me usually as I am in the zone and not really listening to outside noise. Secondly if they try to stop to talk to me it interrupts my workout. That being said, I usually smile or nod at people I pass on my routes. No one has ever stopped to tell me such creepy odd things before but a guy did once stop me in my neighborhood and try to talk to me while I was running with a friend. We kept going but kept looking back to make sure he didn’t follow us. I’m sorry he creeped you out! That was definitely a weird situation but in no way are you responsible for his lack of manners.

  12. Jess you are not overreacting! That was some serious boundary crossing there, and if he had a lack of boundaries there it’s hard telling how far his boundary crossing would go. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that, and I’m even more sorry that it’s affecting your choices of location. I wouldn’t be able to go back there, either. I wish had good advice for you. You are in NO way responsible for his behavior and don’t ever question yourself for being the polite, pleasant person you are. This was clearly his issue, and I don’t blame you for being freaked out.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them! I’m sure with a little bit of time I’ll head back to that area – at least I remember what his car looks like so I can spot him if I need! And I wont waste any time in calling for help if I need it, either! ❀

  13. Pingback: Keep it Sassy, Keep it Classy, Keep it Real | Jess Runs Happy

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