The easiest time of the day to pat myself on the back is when I am outside, running the trails with my kid. I am grateful to have a strong body that can run. I am glad that I have the motivation to do so. I am glad that in my post-forty age that I can still get out there and put a couple of miles in.
I am glad to teach my kid to love it, which my kid does. I love teaching that tough can be taught. I love looking at the local birds with my kid. I love seeing the greenery around us. I love watching how the seasons color the flowers and leaves. I love deliberately running into the leaves of an overhanging branch and catching the cold morning dew on my face. I love the way the sunrise paints the trail in shades of orange and pink. I even love smiling and greeting the regulars I see on the trail.
I don’t love the feeling of having to commit to memory the faces I see while running. I am not that threatening-looking a woman. I run with my kid. But I do greet every runner I see and I look them in the eye. I don’t let heat, humidity, rain, cold, or snow stop me from my runs. I don’t want a dangerous person to stop me, either. My cell phone is in easy reach, as is my bottle of pepper spray.
Men have been a danger to women from the beginning of time. It’ll never stop, I know. I hope that I can teach my kid how to act when a stranger becomes a danger. Because we can’t always tell. It’s kind of sad to think that “stranger danger” never stops being a thing. Running makes it trickier, because you put yourself into a more vulnerable position for a longer period of time.
But I’ll keep going out there. Hopefully my face will become a familiar one to many. We’ll see.
Get outside. It is worth it. (So is staying safe).