Always Trust Your Gut

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on May 15, 2010

Greetings!

Yesterday, was quite the interesting day and I am glad I finally have a chance to sit down and write about it.

The sun finally peaked out just before lunch hour yesterday. Actually, it wasn’t just peaking out, it was glorious outside. I was so excited to get out there and go for a run after a week of rain and cold.

Before I left, I had a raw and gluten-free Glo Bar for fuel, since I would not be having my lunch until I returned.

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I am finally in love with this bar with 100% of my heart and it feels so good. I will be announcing the release date on Tuesday!

I got my running stuff on, including my favourite Lululemon mesh shape jacket.

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However, about 15 minutes into the run, I got really warm. I decided to put my jacket by the woods under a couple of sticks. I would pick it up when I returned. There was this gravel pull-over spot where fishers sometimes stop to go fishing in the creek below, so it was probably about 30 feet away from the road and the jacket wasn’t very visible. I also moved a bigger stick over top of it in case the wind blew hard at some point.

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Then I was off for the rest of my run! I was super happy on this run for a few reasons:

  • The sun and warmth
  • My groin was 100% pain free and remained that way after each mile
  • I didn’t feel as winded on this run as the other night

 

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I rocked the hills…

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and I was just feeling all around good.

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After going out and back for about 25 minutes, I returned to where I dropped off my Lululemon jacket.

It was gone.

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There was also a car parked about 15 feet away from where I dropped my jacket and I assumed that it was a fisherman who had parked and gone to the creek.

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But I didn’t see anyone fishing.

I looked around for 10-15 more seconds and I did not see the jacket anywhere. Then, I noticed that someone was sitting in the car.

I decided to ask the person in the car if they had seen my jacket, but I kept back at least 6 feet from the car. There was a man in the car and I instantly regretted approaching the car at all. Instantly my guard went up, like hairs going up on a dogs back. I asked if he had seen a yellow jacket, and he said no, but there was just something very in strange about his response. He did not seem genuine, or at least, that was what my instincts were telling me. I said thanks anyways and I started to distance myself from the car about 20 feet or so, and then the man got out of the car, through the passenger side door which was facing the woods. Something about that was very strange to me. The man started looking for the jacket.

My gut was telling me one thing and one thing only- something is not right here. My body was screaming loud and clear, so I listened. I remember watching an Oprah show years and years ago on self-defense, and the man on the show said that women often get into trouble when they don’t listen to their gut feeling. I decided to listen, so I took off running.

Not more than a minute after I left, the man in his car drove by and continued on his way, wherever he was going. I didn’t make eye contact.

Adrenaline was pumping through my veins as I ran home. I was angry. I was upset. I was cursing being a woman and having to go through life feeling vulnerable and scared. I started thinking about all kinds of reasons that man was there in his car and why my jacket went missing. I tried to reassure myself that it was just a coincidence, but I couldn’t deny the feeling I had about the whole thing. The whole way home I watched my back and looked for his car, but did not see it. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being followed.

I got home and the first thing I did was call the local police. Note, I did not call 911- I called the non-emergency number. I didn’t think I was in immediate danger, but I wanted to report what happened because I did feel like it was suspicious and who knows, maybe someone else called in something similar, you never know.

The lady I spoke with said that someone would check the area, and then a couple hours later a policeman ended up coming to our house to speak with me. He said that you should always, always report something that you feel is suspicious and he said I did the right thing. He told me a couple things that made me feel better:

  • He said the area we live in is very, very safe and generally I don’t have anything to worry about (but obviously no one knows for sure)
  • He said since Ontario banned the use of cell phones in vehicles, many people are pulling off to the side of the road to make a call, at what seems to be, very random places. He said they see all kinds of cars pulled over in strange areas since the implementation of this law.

 

So yes, it could have been something very innocent, or it could have not. I was not going to take the chance and find out. For a split second I hesitated and I actually tried to deny what my gut was telling me. I think women do this A LOT for fear of insulting the other person or making them feel badly. For a split second, I thought, ‘If I run away this man is going to feel badly!’, but I had to ignore that thought. Women are naturally people pleasers. We are always, always thinking about other people first.

Well, I think we need to put an end to that NOW.

No one else is going to look after our safety except us!

Maybe that man did feel bad that I took off or maybe he was embarrassed that I seemed scared of him, but that is not my problem. My focus is keeping myself safe first and foremost.

Morale of the story: Trust your gut, always. If the hairs on your back go up and you feel uncomfortable leave the scene immediately!

A few things I learned from this situation that I wanted to share with you:

  • Never, ever approach a car. Thinking about it in retrospect makes me feel like a fool for what I did. Even though I stayed back a good 6-7 feet from the car, I should have never approached a suspicious vehicle (or any vehicle). Do not make the same mistake as me!
  • Do not abandon layers while on a run. If someone does have bad motives and they see a piece of women’s workout clothing left somewhere, it could be an invitation for trouble. I will never leave a piece of clothing on the road again.
  • Think about safety options to carry with you on your run. Eric and I are going to pick up a couple things today (I will blog about what I get) and I will be doing my long runs with him (on bike) for the next while. My shorter runs will be run in busier neighbourhoods.

 

Some of the things I already do when going on a run:

  • Let Eric know when I am leaving, when I plan to return, and the route I am taking (ALWAYS!)
  • I carry ID
  • I carry my cell phone

 

It was a bittersweet run because the run itself was actually the best one I have had in over 6 weeks!

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I did just over 8 miles in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Dwight says 7.58 miles, but that is because I was running with my watch paused for about 1/2 a mile. I felt really strong on this run and it made me feel much more confident about my half marathon on May 30th.

Today’s question: Do you feel like women have a 6th sense when it comes to potentially dangerous situations? Have you ever listened to your gut and got out of a bad situation? Do you carry any safety devices when running?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

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erika May 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I think it’s great you listened to your gut. That feeling was real; I always believe in that feeling even though I’m a people pleaser too. One thing, if you get spray, practice using it. I had spray in my hand, ready to use, on a walk through a rural neighborhood. A group of dogs approached me. One jumped up on me, paws on my chest and growled. Then he backed down and they all went away. I think it was to show their dominance? It was weird. I was shaking. When I got about 2 blocks away I realized it had NEVER occurred to me to use my red pepper spray. And it was in my HAND. I thought it would be instinct to use it, but I love animals, and it wasn’t at all. Anyways, glad you listened to your gut.

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Cindy May 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

You were absolutely right to listen to your gut! I am glad you are okay :)

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Alicia May 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I sometimes carry a whistle, which is really small and I wear around my neck. It’s extremely loud and small, so it’s perfect for running.
I refuse to be intimidated and I think ones attitude communicates a lot. That said, I only run outside in places where I’m confident that there will be other people around.

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Robin May 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Wow, what a story!! I’m sorry you lost your favorite jacket :( it was a cute one, too!
I have definitely felt similar while running. I’m now a student in NYC, and in certain areas, if I’m wearing underarmour leggings or sometjhing, I definitely feel creepy eyes following me & staring at my bum. I hate how women have to be worried about such things, and I always try to be careful, but one can never forget stories like ‘the central park jogger.’ I come from a small town, where the only car that ever approached me was a cute old man who rolled down his window and said to me “keep running, it’s the greatest thing you can do for yourself!” (THAT was an inspired run), but here I am always very wary. I feel a lot safer when I’m running in pedestrian areas with lots of other people around biking, running, and blading.

Hope this experience didn’t leave you too shaken up! :/

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melissa May 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I think trusting your gut is so right on. I often dont and just try to be brave but sometimes when I tell even my boyfriend about my fears going on a trail run solo or hiking a lot solo he does not seem to understand. When I travel and I want to run I ask any sporty lookin’ locals where is a good place and once a runner told me that in the morning where I was in Baltimore I would be foolish to run by myself. It was hard to listen to the advice but I would rather be safe- not totally paranoid and sheltered but safe.
There are some trails around here and about 10 years ago a female runner was assaulted, killed and taped to a tree. They found the guy- he was a perfectly decent looking middle class non scary looking guy and every time I run on those trail part of me is saddened of her memory. As women, we should be able to feel safe while running, walking, hiking or doing whatever we want to do when we want to do it. But it just is not that kind of world yet. We also have to stay safe and my hope is that men will support us with that and not think we are weak or incapable. It is a tough balance. Thanks for being honest and posting about it.

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Fae May 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Wow, what a scary situation!! I am so glad you listened to your guy and that you are ok!!!Thanks for sharing your story!

It sucks that your favourite jacket is gone! I have wanted that jacket since the first time I saw it on your site, however, Lululemon hardly ever has Shape jackets in any other colour then black and I have never seen their Define jacket in that great yellow colour. :(

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Amanda May 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Angela, so sorry you felt unsafe during your run and that your jacket was taken, but I think you handled it wonderfully. I am ALWAYS on my guard on my runs. I carry mace with me and try to be hyper-aware of my surroundings. Anything that seems a bit off, I get outta there!! Glad you’re safe! Amanda

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Jo May 15, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Don’t ever feel bad about trusting your gut instinct- definitely better to be safe than sorry. My sister was attacked when she was coming back after a night out- in a nice, affluent neighbourhood- but totally dead at night. She only got away by managing to stab his foot with her stilleto heel really, really hard. I just hate to think what might have happened to her otherwise. I find taking precautions with running really, really restricting, but necessary- I don’t run when I’m living in a less than salubrious area of a city, or empty countryside anymore- we’ve had a couple of horrible, horrible murders of women and their children out walking in the countryside by men in the U.K. recently. I’m very glad you’re safe- my heart stopped for a bit when I started reading! Tips I’ve picked up on is- if you are attacked- making noises like you are going to be sick really repulses attackers, and also peeing yourself (I know, I know!). Also, a rape alarm, not wearing anything too distinctive or running only at one time of day/the same route again and again. Randomly, if you have a can of fizzy drink on you- shaking it up and opening it in your attacker’s eyes apparently temporarily blinds then- so the police said to me! Sorry for the looong comment, I’m very glad you’re ok!

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Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers May 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm

hey angela! this story struck a cord w/ me b/c my friend called the police about a suspicious man. a couple months later she was interviewed & he was on the news b/c he was actually a sex offender, who raped a girl he brought back to ANOTHER girl’s apartment while she was away studying abroad. very scary stuff! you’re 100% correct to trust your instincts!

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[email protected] Optimistic Journey May 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi Angela,

As you can see I’m no women, but you did the right thing. That’s the most logical thing anyone could do, but especially women, is pay attention to their gut feeling. I think you did right about reporting suspicious activity to the local authorities. God bless you and have a great weekend!!

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Lauren May 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!!! So, so many women feel awkward standing up for themselves- we do not always feel entitled, but WE ARE. Oh yes we are!! This is such a good lesson for us all to remember. We can’t be naive or ignore or gut instinct. Like you said- that feeling we get is ALWAYS right. Period. So, so glad you are ok and you reported it to the police. Stay safe!!!

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Ruthiey May 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

You TOTALLY freaked me out with that story.

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Carolyn @ lovinlosing.com May 15, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I’m so sorry you had to deal with this, but I’m glad you trusted your gut. I once had a guy touch me inappropriately at a Wal-Mart. I told the manager (the guy took off) and then had him walk me to my car when I was done shopping.

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Marla May 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I have to be honest Angela and tell you I did actually wonder about youyr safety in the past with photos you take while running on pretty empty looking roads.
But I must warn you I get super anxious about that-running alone as a woman I believe is not the smartest thing for us all to do.
But maybe I am paranoid-sorry to spread that your way.
Be safe and very pleased to hear you will run with your hubby,and when by yourself you should always run with cellphone is possible as well as something like bearspray….

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Marla May 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm

PS
and I think women should NOT wear ipods etc when running on own-you may not he able to hear someone approaching and it makes you look more vulnerable too and less aware of surroundings in general….

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Kim May 16, 2010 at 12:45 am

I hate hearing that you had to deal with that on such a pleasant, exhilarating run! Because those are so few and far between.

I live in Alaska and the only runs I have ever truly enjoyed are trail runs in the mountains, well the foot hills of said mountains. I always, always took my dog with me on the runs when I wasn’t with girlfriends. She growled at every man that came running by. Whenever my dad would voice his concern about me running the trails with the moose I told him I am far more afraid of the 2 legged creatures than I am of the 4 legged ones. My husband bought me a small, key chain size, can of bear mace. Of course I forgot to take it more than I had it with me.

I went on a training run for and Xterra triathlon on the trail and a man completely gave me the weebie jeebies. I was so danged focused on him approaching me that I tripped over a tree root. He came up and stopped, looking at me on the ground, and then took off on the trail jogging away but kept looking back. I got up and promptly ran back the way I came from and needless to say did not finish my training run.

I completely agree with you Angela, we should not have to feel insecure or weak because we are women! It is beyond one of the most frustrating scenarios in my life. I am happy to be married to a strong, former Marine and to have 2 big dogs but really, I shouldn’t have to NEED that to be secure. My husband doesn’t need it. Now I have a beautiful teenage daughter and I worry all the time about what she is going to have to deal with. It is just wrong!

Thank God you are safe!

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Tara May 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

Absolutely, as women we have a 6th sense! – it took me awhile to recognize and understand my “woman’s intuition”. Now I never doubt it and act on what I am feeling. Glad you are safe, thanks for sharing an important message! I really connected with your emotion connected with feeling vulnerable – when I have an experience like you did, it makes me think of the lyrics to Gwen Stafani’s No Doubt song “I’m just a girl”:
This world is forcing me
To hold your hand
‘Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me
Don’t let me out of your sight
I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights

Oh…I’ve had it up to here!
The moment that I step outside
So many reasons
For me to run and hide
I can’t do the little things I hold so dear
‘Cause it’s all those little things
That I fear

‘Cause I’m just a girl I’d rather not be
‘Cause they won’t let me drive
Late at night I’m just a girl…

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Katie @ Katie's Healthy Discovery May 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

Good for you for trusting your gut! I am like you sometimes and get frustrated that being a women you need to be scared sometimes but I think it’s better to be scared then get yourself into trouble.

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I think it’s a great reminder for everyone to be safe :)

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Karly (Becoming My Best Self) May 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Ok, you should write suspense novels. I was on the edge of my seat reading this post. I am so glad you are alright and made it home safe.

I agree that it is unfair that women have to constantly have their guard up. Unfortunately, that’s the reality and we are forced to arm ourselves with pepper spray and always look over our shoulders.

Two Christmases ago, my mom got my sisters and I each a neon orange Fox 40 whistle. We all kind of laughed about it at the time thinking my mom was just being her protective self. A couple months later I travelled by myself to Philly for work. Since I was going to be alone and walking around a strange city by myself I put the whistle on my wristlet so that I knew it would not be far if I needed to use it.

While in the elevator in the hotel in Philly, a guy noticed my whistle (you can’t really miss it – super bright) and he said “Is the whistle to protect you from creeps like me?” I bee lined it off that elevator so fast! As much as I hope he was joking, it made me realize that at least by having the whistle visible it will hopefully deter anyone from messing with me. Now I keep the whistle on my wristlet all the time. I do a lot of walking by myself downtown on my lunch break and I don’t really care that it’s an eye sore – the whistle helps me feel a bit safer in a world where women are constantly reminded that they are not.

Thanks for sharing your story Angela. It’s a good reminder for us all.

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Anne P May 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Wow… that is SO scary. I’m so glad you are okay!!

xoxo

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Utah May 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm

So glad you are safe. It bugs me so much that some people ruin it for everyone else, who make it so you can’t enjoy the world and feel safe. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of listening to that sixth sense and to be careful. I wish you a lifetime of safe runs!!!

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[email protected] May 16, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Sounds like a sketchy situation, and you were smart to follow your gut and especially to call the police. It IS too bad that women tend to be fearful a lot of the time when we are out by ourselves. I carry my cell phone when I go running bc I have had two bad falls during runs, one where I got a bad cut on my knee, and the other when I banged up my face :-( I also carry benadryl in case I get stung by a bee- I’m allergic.

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San May 17, 2010 at 5:16 am

Thanks for the tips. I am so suspcicious of everything by nature though, so sometimes I am like, ‘well, maybe your intuition is just wrong, you’r overreacting.’ but now I think it’s always better to be overreacting, better safe than sorry. good post!

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Traci May 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi Angela –

I’m new to reading your blog and I love it. You have inspired me to become vegan! I’ve always been a healthy eater but I want to make changes that will also benefit the environment. Now I know it will take baby steps but eventually I will get there so I won’t be too hard on myself.

But when I run, I always carry runner’s pepper spray that is strapped on my hand. I live in a very safe city in Los Angeles but I feel you should never let your guard down. Besides pepper spray, I keep the volume on my IPod very low so I hear everything around me and always tell my bf where I’m running and text him when I’m finished. And like you said, always trust your gut!

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Sarah Ruth May 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I’m glad you’re ok! That is scary!!

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: : Christine : : May 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Oh Angela dearie! I’m so glad you are safe ((hug)).

I have often worried about you running because it seems like runners are often targets here in the states. Good girl that you trusted your instincts. I tell my children to never ignore your intuition. Those feelings you had about that man, were there for a reason. Who knows? perhaps he hoped to tell you he found the jacket and lure you closer to the car to get it. *chills* Be Blessed Little One and get thee to a store for some pepper spray ;-) It even works on animals if need be.

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yublocka May 31, 2010 at 6:13 am

I’m glad you had a great run, but even gladder you made it home safe. Sucks that we have to worry about this kind of thing sometimes hey!!!

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Paige June 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Wow, I just read this post (obviously quite late!) and it definitely gave me the heebie jeebies!

I carry pepper spray with me on my runs, but not ID or a phone…now I wonder if I should be! I’m very new to running–does anyone have tips for HOW one might carry all of these things with you? My shorts have little pockets which would sort of work…Any other ideas or product recommendations?

That said, I’m so glad to hear you trusted your gut on this one, Angela! Creepy.

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