(gestures for people to lean in closer, clicks flashlight on underneath chin, spookily)
The day before the race?
Mabel and I took Katie and Ellie to this awesome playground and...
found a dead body!
(clicks off flashlight)
But first, come sidebar with me.
We all know that making up stories about finding dead bodies isn't funny. In fact, it's down right inappropriate behavior and frowned upon by all levels of law enforcement and all that.
How about, for the sake of the journalistic integrity of all that's written on the Internets, we just pretend that it's not. 'Kay? Awesome.
(clicks flashlight back on)
All good "I'm a Runner And Found A Dead Body At The Playground" stories have a beginning. And this is mine.
It started at 6:15 am on Saturday morning. We were staying over at Mabel and Clive's house to get a jump on the trip to Port Angeles for the drive to the North Olympic Discovery Marathon's expo that day and we had all been out until 1 am the night before celebrating Belinda's birthday with Japanese food, beer and roller skating. Which, I guess means, technically, my story started the night before while I was drinking beer and roller skating at the local rink during their 21 and over event. Because Belinda is just cool like that.
(Spoiler alert: I didn't actually drink beer while roller skating. Because someone who can't be trusted to skate with her child and not Frogger her to the floor shouldn't be trusted with both an alcoholic substance and wheels on her feet.)
Anyway, because Katie and Ellie were hanging with one of those good babysitters over at Mabel and Clive's that night they had been tucked into their beds at an appropriate hour. Which meant, that by 6:15 the next morning they were well rested. And awake. And talking. And starting to make giggly "we're sleeping on an air mattress" noises. That are loud. So, taking pity on the "I'm still tired" groans that were beginning to ooze out from under Jon's pillow, and the fact that Mabel and Clive were also still slumbering away, the girls and I tip toed out of the house for breakfast at our favorite restaurant with the disco ball in the bathroom and an Unofficial Thermos Museum. Because, even bleary eyed, that place is awesome!
Fast forward ten hours, numerous cups of coffee, more miles in the car with children than my caffeine meter said I should, a small running expo and a Cliff Bar later, to find Katie, Ellie, Mabel and I hanging at the park while Jon and Clive were off tossing anhyzers and tomahawks on the Frisbee golf course. And, after the girl's predictable race for the swings I found it.
So, sit back while I cue up the theme song from Jaws (because it's the only scary movie I've seen, and by seen I mean I watched the first 15 minutes and then hid in the bathroom for the rest of the movie) and sound bite the rest of the story: (And yes, I said that in my best Paul Harvey voice.)
Me: (trailing behind the kids but really heading towards a bench that wraps around the the tree by the swing, because I'm tired (please reference beginning of story above) then, noticing some sort of fabric? Large bag? shoved between the bench and the tree. Slowing, circling...startling when I notice a pony tail. And a head. Quickly walk toward Mabel who's pushing Ellie on the swing. Whispering.) Do you see that?
Mabel: (looks toward tree) Is that...?
Me: (eyes wide) Yeah.
Mabel: Maybe they're just playing hide and seek?
Mabel and Me: (glance around empty playground, the eerily empty playground)
Me: Maybe...? It looks like a really uncomfortable place to hide though.
Mabel: Should we give them five minutes? Then, if they haven't moved...?
Me: Go over and poke...it? (deep breath) Ok.
Mabel and Me: (set the timers on our phones, continue to push kids on swings, trying to pretend that there's not A DEAD BODY RIGHT OVER THERE!)
Four Minutes Later
Me: (still whispering, because there's A DEAD BODY RIGHT OVER THERE and, well, I don't want it to hear me) You know how on the news all these runners find dead bodies stashed places and how I've always complained that even though I've been a runner since fifth grade I hadn't found a single one?
Me: That was all talk. (looks over shoulder) Seriously all talk.
A Duck Quacks
(but only because I let Ellie pick my alarm sound)
Two boys: (like 11 and 13 years old, appear out of absolutely nowhere, because they're ninja assassins, race around the corner and head straight for the dead body tree, bellowing) WE FOUND YOU!
And, dudes, I kid you not, the Dead Body rises! It's arms are all akimbo from it's contorted position and it literally unfolds it's body piece by piece. And then? It laughs. Because Dead Body's a mom. Who was playing hide and seek with her kids. Who probably couldn't find her for like an hour. Because SHE LOOKED LIKE A DEAD BODY!
Then, as I thought over how much sleep I had gotten the night before, assessed the amount I was likely to get that night in a hotel room with two children, and mentally traced all 13.1 miles I would physically race the next day, I realized, Dead Body Mom is brilliant. And so much more well rested than I. And that's when I began to day dream about that time in the future when I too could freak out my running competition before the big race by imitating a dead body at the playground.
And, in case you're wondering? Yeah. Dead Body Mom's strategy is totally legit. Because Dead Body Mom crossed the finish line light years ahead of me. Believe me. I checked.
* I don't blame you.