It's hard to believe that eight weeks ago the thought of running five miles made me groan. Eight weeks into the training for the News and Sentinel's Half Marathon, a lot of the members of the River City Runners and Walkers Club are starting to hit their stride. At least, I am.
This week's run took us back to the Belpre loop for nine miles. Starting at City Park, you head downtown via Marketing Street, down fifth, and over the Belpre Bridge. You run up Washington Blvd. and take a quick left on Blennerhassett Ave., then another left on Walnut Street, and from there it's as simple as retracing your steps back to the park. (That 'simple' is sarcasm, by the way.)
On one of my solo runs this week, I had to deal with a situation that isn't new to me, but was just as unnerving as when presented with similar cases in the past. While running Thursday, a very vocal West Virginia resident and his buddy (judging by the license plate on the car they were in) started to catcall me and didn't relent for an entire block. Since this wasn't my first time dealing with street harassment, I knew not to let his disgusting remarks rile me. Most of the time, these people are looking to get a rise out of the females they so desperately try to contact. (In my younger days, I would have ripped into these guys, no matter the personal safety risk.) I was more irritated with this interaction than similar past interactions, and I figured out why (aside from being older, and wiser, and better informed on an entire range of social issues).
If I'm out running, sweating so much my shirt is a different hue than when I began, just trying to keep moving, the very last thing I need are leers and catcalls. On what planet has a woman on the receiving end of a catcall ever wanted anything more from the perpetrator other than to get as far away from that person, as fast as humanly possible? Oh, that's right, none! You do not impress anyone (especially me), little boys. I'm not out there for your consumption, your enjoyment, your eyes, or your pleasure. I'm out there for me.
For far too many women, street harassment, and personal safety concerns when out alone are sad realities of everyday life. Look, I'm thankful that this was one of the first incidents I've had to deal with in eight weeks, but that doesn't make the action excusable, and that doesn't mean street harassment is not an issue. It is an issue, and it's an issue no matter your gender
All I can ask is my fellow female runners be strong and brave in similar situations, and react as best you can without putting your safety at risk. Male runners, you're our allies. If you ever see, or have to experience this harassment, be strong and brave, and react as best you can without putting your safety at risk.
Personally, the best way I can respond when provoked is to not react at all. Nobody will take the joy out of something I worked this hard to attain. Nobody will intimidate me to stay inside my house. And nobody determines when I call it a day, but me. I will not be stopped!