It was a big day. I planned to run the farthest that I had run since injuring my hip and I was excited. For the last few months, because of the injury, because of the weather, because of my schedule, because of a million other things, I had been running inside on the treadmill. But that day all the stars had aligned: my hip felt good, all my kids were in school, and the weather was perfect. I was eager to see how far I could go.
My expectation was to clear my head and enjoy a relaxing run, but reality quickly set in. The moment I hit the pavement, my mind started running faster than I was.
“Did I remember to pack a water bottle for all the kids today? I think forgot one of them yesterday.”
“Which test was my son having today? I know he was nervous and I told him I would pray for him, but I can’t remember which class it was.”
“Why is that guy staring at me? I can’t tell if he is creepy or if he is just reading my shirt. I knew I shouldn’t have worn a shirt with words on it.”
“How is it possible to have this much goose poop and not see a single goose around? I bet you could collect it somehow and sell it for a fertilizer, I wonder if there is any money in that.”
“OK, I turned a corner and I don’t see anyone else out here walking or running. I’ll just take out one of my AirPods and turn the music down.”
“Why do they keep throwing up all these houses? Where are they going to send all of these kids to school? Our schools are already so crowded.”
“I should probably slow down a little bit. I feel like I’m getting out of breath and I want to make sure that I have enough energy to fight off an attacker if I need to.”
“Oh my gosh, that baby in the stroller is so cute! Maybe we should have another baby!
What am I thinking? I am way too old and tired for all that and we already have more kids than we can handle. We should definitely not have another baby!”
“I can’t believe that I forgot to bring the pepper spray that my husband got me.
I wonder if I should tell him where I am. I’ll just share my location with him on my phone.”
“It really is a beautiful day. I wonder what it would be like to live in California where the weather is always this nice. Actually, living in California can’t be that great if they are all trying to move here.”
“Why is that car driving so slowly? Is that a man or a woman driving? I can’t tell with the tinted windows. I’ll just turn onto a main road just in case.”
And so it continued for about an hour as I ran. As nice as it was to be outside and to be able to push myself towards a goal, it wasn’t exactly relaxing run that I had hoped for. What happened to Eliza was constantly in the back of my mind, as I imagine it is for countless other female runners.
That first solo run was 6 months ago and we are now at the one year anniversary of her abduction and murder. My runs are not the same as they once were. No longer am I naive to the threats that we face. Eliza has taught us to be more vigilant and prepared, and to not take our safety for granted. I now come home to my family, thankful to have survived my run.
Over the last year, I thought it would get easier, but it hasn’t. I thought I would worry less, but I don’t. Despite the heightened sense of danger, I refuse to stop. I won’t let the bad guys win. I am determined to keep running after Eliza.