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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Accosted

I was running with Larry in Prospect Park this past Wednesday and I got to talking with him about how much better it is to train in the city rather than in the suburbs. Here we were running around a perfectly paved road free of traffic under the cover of darkness. Those in the country don’t have that sort of luxury. We both agreed it is far more dangerous to be running on country roads with their blind turns than to be in a city park at night with plenty of other like minded people.

Well my confidence in that belief was somewhat shaken last night. I was running on my own down by the skating rink (sometimes known as the low rent section of the park) when several young punks started to approach me from an angle. As soon as I saw them I knew I was in for a bit of trouble. The leader of them came directly across the road, up from behind me and then paced me on my left hand side. He asked me for money, to which I replied excuse me (I was listening to my mp3 player). He asked me again and I told him I didn’t have any. He then replied “What if I hit you”. I could hear his friend laughing and running up to my right had side while this was happening.

I was glancing over my shoulder to see where his friend was (he was just about on top of me), when the leader called out to him “Yo Chill”. I am not sure what happened to make them suddenly stop and I just kept on running. Perhaps he didn’t like the look on my face or the fact that my demeanor didn’t change at all. I don’t think I changed my pace a bit during the entire time, but I was ready to start to make a break for it. I just wasn’t sure if I could outrun them. Fortunately I didn’t have to find out. Possibly they were just kids looking to horse around, but you wonder what type of parents bring up kids who think scaring people is a good time.

Besides thinking about how I was going to get out of the situation, I kept thinking about how my kids were waiting for me at home and how it would really be sub-optimal to get hurt while out for a run. What scared me even more was my daughter was a fraction of a second away from coming with me this evening and I had no idea how I would have handled the situation had she been with me.

I am really pissed off over this. Running is one of the ways I can relieve my stress and I enjoy my time being out in the park where I can let my thoughts and worries disappear. To have that solitude disturbed by several assholes is extremely disturbing. I am now worried about taking my kids out with me at night and resent having that pleasure taken away from me.

After the incident had passed, it took a while for me to pass anyone else in the park. I finally saw a single woman walking towards me into the direction of the incident. I stopped and warned her along with another male runner who happened to come up on me. Finally a Parks Department vehicle came up from behind me and I flagged it down. The people I warned must have already told the officers, because they already knew about the hooligans and were heading towards the area. At that point the alert was sent out and I saw several police vehicle enter the park.
This was not the way to end my week. Or perhaps it was a fitting ending to a crappy week. It seemed as though everything that could go wrong at work did. It was a stressful week and a stressful way to end it. At least in the end I had a good run and my legs felt great. I have a 3-day weekend now, thanks to MLK, so hopefully it will be restful and peaceful.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh. I'm so glad you're okay Charles. I hear from lots of people (while at JackRabbit) about incidents like that in the park at night, and even during the day. I think you should start leaving your mp3 player at home so you know what's going around you at ALL times.

To repeat: I'm really glad you're okay.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

Sorry about your incident in the park. That kind of stuff is always scary. I still believe it is safer to run in the city than the suburbs. Suburbs can be very isolated and night as it seems most people hide in their homes. Rural areas are also tricky because you're always alone. Even in my small town I've had people throw garbage out a car window at me & now I avoid running on holiday weekends at night when the tourist arrive. Keep safe!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

Just wanted to let you know I tagged you with a meme. Sorry if it's not your thing. I meant no harm:)

6:16 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn said...

Damn, this is not good news. I don't often run the park in the dark, for just this reason. I do think you could have easily outrun them - I've seen your faster splits, after all.

I think if your daughter had been with you, they probably wouldn't have messed with you at all - shitheads like that target people who are alone; but I'm glad she wasn't there all the same. YOu did right to talk to the parks people. If we want to keep the park a nice place for everybody, we've got to stay vigilant and keep chasing off the shitheads.

Anyway, be safe.

Doing the Manhattan Half?

12:06 AM  
Blogger Morrissey said...

kids these days are literally so fucked up.....glad you are ok. it is stuff like this that really disturbs me where we can't run safely in the parks of our community without any sense of prudence....

11:35 AM  

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