There’s a gravel road beside my family country home. It’s exactly one mile long with nothing but fields and an old, abandoned farming homestead –a leaning barn and a couple small accompanying buildings.
I’ve used this road quite some time now for my runs. There’s next to no traffic, its mile length is convenient and I love the view of big, open Indiana sky.
Last Friday came and went in a flurry. Before I knew it my to-do list was still not complete and the kitchen clock read five o’clock. I had not overcome my anti-morning person-ness that morning and failed to complete my morning exercise. I hopped up from my sedentary state, threw on some running shoes and grabbed my iPod before I could think twice about the intense humidity outside.
It didn’t take long for me to be covered in sweat. Half a mile in I was drenched. Flies and gnats were sticking to my skin. The faster I ran, the faster I could get back inside to the air conditioning, and so I pushed my speed and completed my first mile.
On the lap back the tiny breeze gave me a tiny bit of push. I was nearing the eerie old barn and automatically lengthened my stride. As much as abandoned places fascinate me, they still creep me out too. I glanced down at my watch. I was improving my time. I heard a slight noise over the roar of my iPod playlist and looked behind to see a car.
Doing what I always do, I hopped on over into the grass. I was slightly irritated that I had to slow up my pace. So much for improving my time. The worn green jeep slowed down, as most cars always do. I appreciated not having gravel dust thrown all over my body.
This jeep was slowing down too much. I pulled out one of my earphones and continued to jog. I turned my head to the side and observed the jeep’s driver—an older, grey-haired man, maybe in his 50s.
I had never seen this person before.
I continued to jog and the jeep pulled up to a stop just a tad ahead of me on the road. The driver rolled down the window, leaned over and looked at me. He said something but I’m not sure what.
I’ve always been a paranoid person, so I didn’t even think twice when I made a 180 degree turn and started running in the opposite direction, all the while checking behind to see what he was going to do. He looked irritated and said something else. I really couldn’t hear with my remaining headphone earpiece still in my ear. The jeep pulled slightly forward and paused.
I thought through my options and decided running, worse case scenario, I would take off into a field and zigzag. I knew I could outrun him on foot, but he had the advantage of a jeep. This is the one instance I was not happy to be running on a deserted road.
I keep running steadily away, still on the road. The jeep paused, as if he was thinking. I started to get a little mad. This was ridiculous. Let me run in peace. And then, thank goodness, the jeep continued driving forward and away.
I waited a bit, just to make sure this was the real deal, and then turned around to run towards my original ending destination.
It was weird. It was really weird. I didn’t like the looks of the guy. I had never seen him before and, after explaining the incident to my family, they hadn’t either. Maybe I’m overly paranoid. The driver could have been just being friendly, but then again, who stops to talk to a runner on a deserted road in the evening. I don’t know, and there was no way I was staying to find out.
Next time I’m running with mace and a phone.