As a woman who runs alone, I am constantly aware of my surroundings. You just can't be too careful, I guess.
These are the things I look out for while I run:
- Big white vans
- Dog poop
- Killer bees
- Drunk drivers
- Stupid drivers
- Stray dogs
- Crows sitting above me on tree branches
- Horse poop
- Rattle Snakes (on trails)
I live in an area of San Diego County that has a lot of open spaces. Near my home there are hills, open fields, and avocado groves. As a result, we also have a lot of coyotes. Mostly they come out at night and their prey usually consists of bunnies, gophers, cats, and other small animals.
It seems that they are becoming more bold these days as more and more people move into their stomping grounds. It's not uncommon to see them in the daytime, wandering around on the outskirts of populated neighborhoods.
I was about three-quarters of my way through my run this afternoon, when I saw what looked like a small, funny-looking dog cross the street ahead of me. As a recovering dog-fearing person, I was immediately on the alert. I watched from a short distance as it disappeared into a group of eucalyptus trees. I decided to keep going since the dog looked like it could do only minimal damage if it decided to attack my heels.
As I approached the spot where I saw the little "dog" go into the trees, I watched another dog- a much bigger dog- cross the street ahead of me. At first glance, it could have been a German Shepard. Its tail, legs, and gait gave it away. It was a coyote. It, too, disappeared into the trees. I then realized that the first dog was a coyote, as well.
My heart started pounding and I debated turning around and heading back the way I came. It was late in the afternoon and my husband was expecting me home soon. To run back the way I came would be way too far. It would get dark and my husband would start to worry.
I decided to keep going since there were enough cars coming and going to give me some confidence that the coyotes would not come out and attack me. I also kept my hand close to my canister of pepper spray (I don't run alone without it).
I crossed to the opposite side of the street from the trees where the coyotes ventured. I kept my ears and eyes alert for signs of other coyotes that might come out of hiding in order to join their buddies in the trees.
While that was the last I saw of the coyotes, I have to admit I was spooked. Spooked enough to pick up my pace and run -not walk- up a big hill. Every little noise I heard after that made me nervous. I even saw a huge black dog staring at me from behind a flimsy, little fence. I almost started to panic when I realized it was just a small horse.
I was glad when I finally reached my cul-de-sac. I felt a little foolish being afraid but I think I did pretty well for someone who used to fear being mauled to death by the yappy little chijaujau down the street.
So, here are a couple questions for you:
- What do you fear while you run?
- Have you ever been spooked by something during a run?
The following are pictures I took of a coyote near our house a few weeks ago. It was out in the middle of the day and seemed to be looking for gophers.