I do most of my long training runs through Rock Creek Park. The largest urban green space in the country (yes, bigger than NYC's Central Park!!), Rock Creek is a wonderful place to run. The path through the park takes me from home past the National Zoo, into Georgetown, onto the National Mall, and for those terribly long runs I can loop around Haines Point or jog into Virginia towards National Airport and Alexandria. Running through the park is a pleasant change from my normal runs in the city. I love that there are no stoplights or bad/aggressive drivers and there is a ton of shade (which is great when training for a marathon in the middle of a hot summer).
Prior to training for this marathon I seldom ventured into Rock Creek Park alone. D and I used to run together. Now that I'm running alone, I have time to think and think about the Park. And as much as I love the Park, two fears keep reoccurring...
First, Rock Creek Park is where Chandra Levy was killed more than eight years ago. Not to minimize her death, but she was running alone on a secluded trail when she was killed. On top of that she was out running in the middle of the day on a work day when few, if any, people are out in the Park. Although I'm cautious and stay on well traveled paths, it is hard not to think of Chandra while I'm out there running.
Not wanting to find myself in her position/state, I have come up with a series of safety measures while running through the Park: 1) never go off the asphalt path - this means no trail running what-so-ever; 2) stay on the path closest to Rock Creek Parkway whenever possible; 3) attempt to keep another runner/walker/biker within sight at all times - that way I never feel truly alone out there; 5) never run through the Park before sunrise or after sunset - NO EXCEPTIONS; 6) take the time to look behind you and know who is in the surrounding area; and 7) always carry a cell phone...just in case.
My second fear of running in Rock Creek Park is completely unfounded and I'm sort of embarrassed to say/write it out loud. But I am afraid that an animal at the National Zoo will get loose and chase/hunt me in the Park. I'm most afraid of being attacked by one of the giant snakes that the Zoo has or by an alligator. I'm waiting for the day when I see something skimming the surface of the creek and coming after me; or when a giant snake appears out of nowhere ready to swallow me whole.
I've spent much time focusing on these fears while running lately. Sometimes I swear I can feel a snake coming after me. When a squirrel crossed my path yesterday I screamed out loud. My plan is to focus on happier thoughts during my long runs in the future. Stay tuned...
Late afternoon plans: K and I are off to the spray park to play in the water. Wonderful distraction and great way to end a long hot day.
Running: did a 8 mile maintenance run yesterday at a lightening fast pace. I was exhausted and soaking wet by the end, but it felt good. I have a 13 mile run scheduled for this weekend. Thinking I might do it on Friday AM and just get it over with...
Online: found the site mapmyrun.com and love mapping out runs and knowing exactly how far I have gone.
Looking forward to: my mom coming to visit on Wednesday.