I'm lucky in that I've never had anything remotely scary happen to me while out running. I'm always a little on guard--particularly running alone early in the morning--but so far nothing...until this afternoon.
It was pouring, but I had gotten a little off my training schedule this past weekend so I really wanted to get in my miles for the day. I stopped at Sweet Husband's work to leave him the car keys, and stepped back out into the tiny garden behind his shop to queue up my Garmin.
As I was waiting to connect with the Garmin mothership, an older woman stepped into the garden. She was dressed almost like a nun, with a black hood and robe that completely covered her body. She was carrying a rather large crucifix out in front of her like a priest leading mass. That seemed a little odd in a rainy alley, but when she stopped to pick up litter in the garden I gave her a hesitant smile. I'm quite agnostic, but any religion that directs people to clean up strangers' gardens is wonderful by me.
But then she shouted at me, angrily, "Your dress is scandalously short!"
I had on my favorite running skirt. When I first tried it on I was a wee bit self-concious about it's length, myself, but it reaches just below mid-thigh, well covering up my bootie. Further, it's the most comfortable summer running gear I've found. It doesn't ride up like shorts do, and I feel like I can fly in it.
I forced my smile a bit harder, and moved to walk past her so that I could leave the garden. And that's when things got alarming.
Trapping me on the narrow pathway out, she moved towards me, shaking the crucifix like she was going to smite me down with it. "Your dress is scandalously short!" she shouted even more angrily as she stalked closer.
With my fight or flight response kicking in hardcore, I jumped sideways, trampling Sweet Husband's boss's wife's beautiful plants to get away. (Sorry Debbie!) I ran down the block, making sure she wasn't following before I finally stopped to gather myself.
And then I got mad. Pissed-off, shaking, spitting mad. How dare she judge me! How dare she try to scare and shame me like that! I ran my three miles in the pouring rain--hard and with fury flowing off me like the water.
I couldn't believe I didn't say anything back to her. I've never been able to come up with witty retorts in situations like that, but I didn't even get out an "F-you, lady!" Or better yet, "I'm calling the cops and reporting you for assault." I was mad that it happened, but I was even more mad that I'd let her chase me away like a naughty little girl.
As I toweled myself off at home, I told Sweet Sister the story. I got about to the part of her shaking the crucifix, when Sweet Sister started to crack-up. "She was shaking a cross at you!" she exclaimed, in between peals of laughter.
And then I started laughing myself. After all, lots of runners can say they've been followed by a creepy guy, but being accosted by an old lady bearing Christ on the cross? That, my friends, is a good story.