Not the most cheery title I'll admit, but true. A woman was running on Southampton Common and was stabbed by a man. She was running with her dog, at 9.45am. This information has come from the Southampton Echo so I cannot in any way vouch for it's validity.
Unusually for me, part of my running schedule for the Bournemouth Half Marathon I had one day without someone to run with and for 8 miles. And so in light of what happened I spent some time scouring the news for information, was it safe, should I carry some sort of 'weapon' with me; a nasty perfume that I could spray into an unsuspecting assailants eyes; or perhaps a tennis ball in one leg of a pair of tights that I could use to swing around their legs and trip them up while I make a run for it (only women of a certain age are likely to get the tennis ball in a leg of tights scenario); a rape alarm? I phoned the 24 hour police line (not the emergency one, of course) to be told to call back later they were busy. Questions running through my head; were the police worried, should women avoid the common at all costs? I didn't know, I couldn't find any helpful information.
I wasn't giving up my chosen run route without a fight
After a six mile run mid week, the eight mile run was part of my training plan, and was not something that I could, or wanted to miss. Nor did I want to restrict my eight miles solely to suburbia, roads, and traffic. My route took me through the Southampton Sports Centre, The Golf Club, the parts of the edge of the common in Highfield and down through the bottom of the common, Cemetery Road (to the locals known as Doggers Alley).
I also wanted to run with my outdated, classic, cheesey, hardcore, garage etc, etc dance music ringing in my ears. There is something in the rhythm of dance music like white noise to my mind and switches everything else off and allows my mind to open and let the thoughts flow.
I refused to let one incident affect what I now loved doing (well most of the time anyway), or let it affect my choices with regards to a route which I knew I would enjoy more. I was defiant against a potential risk. I would not let one person scare me from what I wanted to do, no matter what the perceived risk was. Now don't get me wrong if there was a very serious problem and multiple attacks had been made my choice would have been different. I was also aware that you have to take the media with a pinch of salt, how much of the reporting was 'exaggerated'?
And so I ran my route, the one I wanted to, part of it away from suburbia.
The first four miles were pretty much uphill culminating in Golf Course (add expletive) Road. It's very steep and it was at then end of the first half uphill route. At the top of Golf Course Road the route was much more pleasant. Part of which was running through the trees.
It was bright and sunny on Sunday morning and running through the shade and sunlight was like natures own strobe lighting, beautiful and perfect and cool.
As I ran, ignoring any sensible advice I'd been given I thought about the man who stabbed the woman in the park. What was, had been, his life experiences to lead him to do such a violent act? Did he have a mental illness, a mental breakdown, why would he do that? A random act of violence cannot come from a person who is happy.
With every step that I take on my training runs, getting ready for the half marathon it will result in raising some money for Mind, the mental health charity. Mind help those who need support and advice on a whole variety of issues; from anxiety and panic attacks, abuse, bereavement, phobias, depression, self esteem, the list goes on. My new burgeoning career is about helping people with a whole variety of issues and it's close to my heart. I wondered whether if that man, who stabbed the woman, knew about Mind and went to them for support before, then maybe he wouldn't have done what he did, something I'll never know.
So every step that I took in the woods, in the trees in the wonderful strobe lighting of nature, I knew that I'd done the right thing. I knew that any money I raise might help someone in need.
I say do what you love, take some risks, live life, help those that need it wherever you can.
I'll continue running all the while that I can, even though it's a love hate relationship. I took a risk when I started running, feeling like an idiot for even trying and here I am, planning a 9 mile run for tomorrow morning. Who'd have thought it.