A plea from an athlete

This morning I was running with Blue just before 7am. My runs have been pushed back later and later these days because the dark mornings make it hard for me to find safe paths. We had just finished our first loop and were about to turn the corner and head back for the lake when I heard the familiar sounds of a dog closing in on our heels. I turned and yelled for the dog to stop, but he didn't. I pulled Blue close by his nearly broken leash, and I walked ahead, trying to escape future bite marks. I didn't dare run; I've made that mistake before. The dog continued to follow us, growling and barking intermittently. I turned every once in awhile to shew him away, but he would not go. He got so close to us that I was forced to stop and wait. I turned with Blue (who was being a total nutcase at the time) and I told the dog to go. Just as I did so a car whipped around the turn going far too fast for our sleepy neighborhood. I stood there yelling at the dog and the car, but the sound of engine drowned my groggy voice. I was sure the dog or I had lived our last day. But somehow the car narrowly missed the dog, which scared the dog enough that it turned and ran back to its home in the darkness. My knees nearly buckled, and my legs shook the rest of my run. It was one of the scariest moments I have had on a run ever.

Running the streets of Elkhart has become therapeutic for me. I know each invisible mile marker, and I know when I'll settle into my pace and run freely without pain or discomfort. I know when I'll start to get tired. I know the longer paths, but I'm definitely no stranger to the short cuts. Running helps me feel so alive when everyone is sleeping or barely waking up.

But as much as running fills my lungs with the air they'll need to chase two tiny toddlers around, running has also become scary to me lately. Too many people text and drive. I have to hop onto so many lawns to avoid distracted drivers that it messes with my pace. I wish people could know all the precautions I take before leaving my house. I know the best routes, I wear the reflective gear and I run on the opposite side of the road, but no matter what I do, it's not enough.

People aren't watching for runners. They're not watching for me.

Please be careful. My life matters to 6 humans and 1 dog-who-thinks-he's-a-human in this home. I assume it's the same for every other athlete on the streets. Please watch for us.

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley