I know I've been venting a lot of negativity around here lately, which isn't exactly super fun. I hope isn't driving people away! I promise there will be more sunshine and rainbows next week. (Or at least, more knitting.) But I had an experience yesterday that I feel I have to talk about somewhere, so excuse me while I get a little introspective/rantypants/outraged feminist once more.
Running-wise, Week 5 has been going really well. After the physical difficulty of Week 4, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed the first workout of Week 5. Maybe I've found a good pace, or last week was a hump I had to get over. Maybe Week 6 will be really difficult again. I don't know. I'm trying to hold onto how good I felt while doing the first two workouts of Week 5, because at the end of my run yesterday something happened that soured the whole running experience. I'm supposed to go running tomorrow, and I shouldn't let myself quit over one thing, but everything irrational in me is telling me not to go out tomorrow.
I usually run on a busy bike path. Whenever I've been out, there are people walking their dogs, riding bikes, pushing strollers, sitting on benches reading, and running. Although I wouldn't want to be alone there at night, during the day it's not very isolated and I've never felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
Yesterday, towards the end of my workout, I passed a group of teenaged boys. The two I passed were on foot, and one was on a bike up ahead. As I passed them I heard one of them say something inappropriate. I ignored it, not sure I'd heard correctly, not sure it was even directed at me, and kept going. Because I was walking at this point, I wasn't going much faster than they were, so they remained not far behind me.
It soon became clear that they were talking about me. They exchanged lewd remarks about my body, calling out to make sure I heard them. They started singing an out-of-tune parody of a pop song, with the lyrics changed to refer to my various body parts. They called back their friend on the bicycle, saying "Come here, I want to show you something," and as he cycled back towards them, "What do you think of the *insert lewd comment here* on that one?" All three of them took up the chorus again. The one on the bike came back and circled me, addressing me directly with his taunts.
I thought about starting to run again to get away from them more quickly, but I didn't want them to think I was feeling nervous or threatened - I worried they might give chase. So I did not respond, made up scathing retorts in my head that I would never say, and kept walking as they hurled abuse.
Eventually, I passed a couple with a dog going the opposite way, and I think the assholes fell back a bit. They started their harassment at a point when the four of us were alone, and nobody else was in earshot. Once more people appeared, they no longer called out to me. I'm not sure exactly when they stopped following me, since I didn't look behind me - I didn't want to acknowledge their presence. They had stopped by the time I left the bike path, and I made sure they didn't follow me home.
As sexual harassment goes, this was pretty mild, but it ruined my day and my workout, and I'm not feeling at all enthusiastic about going running tomorrow. When the cyclist was circling me and the two losers behind me were taunting, I felt the tiniest approximation of what it might feel like to be swarmed. There were only three of them, after all, but three idiot teenagers together will do more than one idiot teenager alone. I find myself completely unable to relate to people like that. What makes them think it's okay to ridicule other people?
I am not ashamed of my body, and I don't want to give anyone else the satisfaction of making me feel uncomfortable, but the whole situation left me a bit rattled.
I will probably run somewhere else if I go tomorrow. At the beginning of this exercise, I wanted to convince myself that running was an enjoyable and worthy activity. Just when I was starting to enjoy the exercise part, some losers came and made it suck. I hope I can make it good again.