And Then My Shiny, Happy Bubble Was Popped.

I’ve totally been in a running groove lately. Three times a week, I have been hitting the pavement. I’m injury free. I’m feeling strong. I have a new running friend. I’ve got a couple fun races coming up. I’m actually starting to like running.

But all that came crashing down yesterday afternoon.


I’ve been trying to reincorporate some speedwork sessions back into my running regime. We did a little bit of it for our last half but it’d been awhile…

Last week, I went to the local middle school track and got in some 400’s while watching little league practices.

Yesterday, I was going to attempt a ladder – 200, 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400, 200.

I arrived at the track in the early afternoon. The parking lot was full but the track was dead. For the first time ever, I was alone. I actually really liked it. I could totally zone out, focus on my pacing and my breathing and just be one with the track.

Just as I was finishing the first 800 (successfully, I might add), I was rudely pulled out of my Lady Gaga-filled bubble and noticed a young man, a teenager, on the opposite end of the track, fidgeting oddly.

I pulled over, grabbed my water bottle and snuck peeks at him to try and figure out what he was doing. I honestly thought he was mentally disabled or something – gawking at me with his mouth hanging open, messing with the bottom of his shirt.

I was highly uncomfortable but I didn’t want some challenged kid to scare me out of a good workout so I decided to investigate further. I slowly ran past him, in lane 1 while he was in lane 6, and I realized what he was doing.

My friends. That kid was masturbating. At a middle school. In the middle of the day. In the middle of a track. Staring. At. Me.

I bolted back to grab my water bottle and car key, sprinted up a hill to my car, and shakily drove my car to the upper parking lot by the main road and called my husband. He encouraged me to drive a little bit further away, to a neighborhood, then call the police. He left work and met me at home shortly after.

We hung up, I reported it and they said they would send a patrol car.

I sat in my car. Sweaty. Shaky. Sobbing. Just some kid, being a perv, has totally ruined running for me. Now, I have to worry about running alone. Now, I don’t want to go to the track alone. My beloved speedwork? Gone. Unless I want to wait a couple hours for the Huz to get off work to escort me. My world is shattered. I don’t feel safe. My little, tiny, podunk of a town. At a middle school. Really? The look on his face is burned into my brain. I’ve already had one sleepless night. I expect more.

Obviously, they didn’t find the punk but they notified the school which was my main concern.

Just saying the story out loud, it doesn’t seem like it is really that bad of a thing. It’s just a perv. But it has me totally shaken up. I actually feel violated. I have no idea what I would have done should he have confronted me, said anything, done anything else. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out.

Runners – please report lewd activity. Always. And always have a cell phone close by. And always have someone that knows where you are. And always wear your Road ID. And always trust your gut.

No workout is worth it.


19 Responses

  1. OMG. This is nuts! I’m kinda speechless. I’m so sorry you had to see this. I can totally understand how you feel violated. That kid has issues. Future sex offender for sure. I hope they can catch him before anybody else has to bear witness, and before escalates into something worse. Very scary indeed!

    So sorry girl!

  2. That’s so horrible! That’s terrible that that happened to you. I would be just as upset as you. I shuddered reading your story. euh.

  3. Yuck! So sad that you had this happen. It’s no fun. I rejoice however that it wasn’t someone intent on doing worse things to you. Please, always have a partner.

    Love you
    Oma Lea

  4. Wow. I just can’t believe that, it is nuts. I’m so sorry you had to go through that experience. I know I would be just as shaken up and violated as you are. But you have to go on! Maybe you can find a track with runners on it or measure a place in your neighborhood. Bad experiences change us, but we can try and use them to become stronger, more aware.
    I have had one creepy encounter while running, although it doesn’t really compare to yours…a stranger in an SUV pulled up to me early one morning, on an empty street, and asked me to come get in the car to help fill out some paperwork for her kids school. She was shouting and telling me I needed to come in the car. I got a really creepy vibe, as I was on foot and she had a car? I said I needed to get to work and sprinted home…looking behind me the whole time. I even went in a neighbors driveway instead of my own.

  5. My good friend who used to work at a bookstore found a guy masturbating in the book stacks once. She was traumatized. And it wasn’t even at her. I am so sorry this happened to you Leah. I think we often forget how vulnerable we are as women out running by ourselves. It’s just such a shame that vulnerability exists in the first place.

  6. I had this happen to me when I was in high school. A decade later, it still creeps me out a little when I think about it.


  7. ugh. I am so disgusted. And sorry that you have to feel uncomfortable about running by yourself due to this creep.

    This happened to me and my best friend when we were walking home from high school and it’s been in my head on and off since. I try to make sure I stay around lots of people so I feel safer. It’s shitty that someone has to come and pop our shiny, happy bubbles. I’m really sorry.

  8. Ack! That is awful that you had to experience that! I hope they arrested that guy! I hope you are recovering from that! The safety reminders are always a good thing, thank you for sharing your experience with us. So sorry.

  9. How creepy and gross!!! I don’t blame you for being upset. To do that out in the open at a middle school track is disgusting. Perhaps he does have some issues. But, like others have said, this was an extreme situation and you can’t let it bring you down! I would either find a new track or I would avoid going there if you are going to be all alone!

  10. EW….So sorry Leah!!! How creepy for you – I would have never thought out in the open like that!!!!

  11. Nasty, sorry, that is disturbing. I’m glad you reported it. A good reminder for all of us to be aware and extra careful. I am lucky my husband and I work out together most of the time.

  12. Don’t give him any power over you. That’s his goal. To EFFECT you! Don’t let him!

  13. Whoever he is, he’s disgusting. Don’t give up on your workout, change locations, find a buddy, do whatever you have to do. You did the right thing by reporting him. The incident will stay with you for a while, but you’ll be back in great form and stronger than ever. Hang in there!

  14. That’s a little insane – what a jerk! Glad you are safe though and I hope running isn’t completely ruined by that moron!

  15. So sorry to hear about your encounter – sadly I had something similar happen while kayaking in Austin with a girl friend quite a few years ago, and was equally disgusted! It was very frustrating and felt violated like you said. I think it is great that you reported it, and I hope your enthusiasm for workouts doesn’t change because of this!

  16. Ugh, that’s awful. Running in a major city like Chicago, I’ve seen some really horrific things, too. I had to take a little break from running (especially on my favorite path) for a few weeks after seeing something that I’m still pretty shaken up over, so I feel your pain. It’s a good reminder to be super careful when you get out there on your own!

  17. Wow – that is crazy! I realize it was just a middle school kid, but that is just scary. Just because they might be 13 doesn’t mean they aren’t bigger or stronger than you, and could hurt you. I mean – I am only 5’1′, so there are plenty kids of all ages that could over power me. Sorry you had to go through that. I hope it hasn’t ruined running for you forever!

  18. How disgusting. I’ve never understood what goes through people’s minds sometimes. As a female who enjoys running alone, I find it absolutely disgusting how some men think it’s totally okay to say lewd things, make gestures or just make you uncomfortable in general when you’re just trying to get on with your day like everyone else and make some time for yourself.

    I’m so sorry you had to deal with this and I hope that you’re able to feel comfortable running again soon.

  19. What a terrible experience! I’m sorry you had to go through that 😦

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