Friday, February 17, 2012
If you've never been 5'4" or 115lbs or female, you may not know what it feels like. On second thought, I wish I could say that was a true statement but far too many women, men, and children alike have had similar experiences. My new favorite place to run here is an uphill road that curves past the Alhambra and continues into the mountain for about 4 miles. Usually there are countless bikers, I know because I like to check out their bums while I run. Usually I run this route with Auxi. Today there was nobody on the road and I was enjoying the solitude. Maybe it was a foolish thing to do but it felt safe and the air up on the mountain just tastes so good. The downhill pressure always hurts my ankle so I walk on the way back. Halfway down I noticed a tall, lean man just hanging out in a little field to my right. I didn't think too much of it until I looked back and realized he was tailing me. He stayed just far enough behind me to be inconspicuous, but keeping up with my increasingly brisk pace. The feeling was a horrible one that started in my stomach but quickly became a pounding in my chest. I love the national geographic channel. I know what instincts feel like; I was being hunted, and that is not an exaggeration. I knew he knew I'd seen him. He was walking off the road in the bushes now but still keeping up with me, just far enough behind that I had to turn to see if he was still there. I took my phone out, which I always run with, and pretended to call someone, hoping to deter him. I wanted to run but all I could think of was mountain lions and how if you run they will chase you. The mocking, cheerful way he was walking made it clear that this was some kind of sick game to him. My mind was racing for an escape route. Even if you know you have a mean right hook, even if you know you can outrun the average person, it is clear that you will be utterly helpless if caught...and that realization is heartbreaking. He was probably just messing with me but I did not want to find out. It was a loathsome and terrifying feeling to suddenly recognize how vulnerable I actually am. I waited until I turned a bend and was out of view and then I started sprinting. I've never run that fast in my entire life. I don't think he tried to follow me. It took me about 10 minutes to get down, which felt like eternity. When I finally made it to the Alhambra I broke down sobbing in a crowd of confused tourists. I couldn't relieve myself from the anger I felt for being so vulnerable. I hated myself for hating myself for something so out of my control. I am shaken but okay. This is probably not the fun travel story any of you want to hear but life happens and if you're lucky you learn from it. No more solo runs. It is difficult to find the balance between being scared to do anything on your own, and putting yourself in vulnerable situations. I'm working on it. Looking forward to a fun weekend in Cadiz...hopefully less eventful. Off to do some food therapy and wait for Anna's bus to get in.