There are certain tenets by which I live my life.

1.)  Don’t steal.

2.)  Don’t overcook your meat (unless it’s chicken or pork -- and then just make sure it’s cooked through.)

3.)  Be prepared for what to do in unexpected situations.

I’d like to say I learned that last bit when I was in the Girl Scouts, but honestly, in my very small hometown, we only had a fledgling Brownie troop – and that was quickly disbanded after the leader’s son took a pair of scissors to the drapery behind the pulpit of the congregational church in which we met.

Actually, that last bit I’ve come to perfect over years of long distance running – which is the real subject of this week’s blog – my constant lookout for dead bodies as I run, my action plan for when I find said body and how, despite feeling cheated that this running rite of passage has been denied to me, I have a new plan for making other runners’ dreams come true.

Now, anyone who watches television knows that the most likely people to find dead bodies are runners, teenagers looking for someplace to make out, and people walking their dogs. Law and Order (both US and UK versions) … Dexter … Dateline on ID TV … they all prove this point. But never, in the 30 years I’ve been a runner, have I stumbled, literally or figuratively, onto what other runners seem to find every time they go out for a spin around the park. And the thing is, unlike many runners, I actually have an action plan for when it happens.

Here’s how it unfolds:  I sneak into the woods to go to the bathroom. And just as I find a promising spot to squat, I see it. My heart begins to thump rapidly. I step closer on shaky legs. I lean forward to look. It’s a dead body. (For whatever reason, in my mind, it’s always a Mafia hit. Always.) So, anyway, I lean forward. Yep, dead body. And then I scan the scene for details that I can supply to the police. (Cheryl suggested that I instead look to make sure the murderer isn’t still around – probably good advice but if I’m going to help in the investigation, I’ll need to note important clues.)

So, I scan the crime scene, my mind latching onto each and every detail with steel trap precision. And then, I back slowly out of the clearing, careful not to disturb anything with my footprints (which will be clearly discernible by the tread marks unless the Mafia hit man ALSO was wearing tennis shoes. But I put that thought down as unlikely because … well … it’s unprofessional for a hit man to wear running shoes. Isn't it?) It’s only when I’m back on the trail do I call it in. I’m cool as a cucumber as I dial 9-1-1. I’ve prepared for this moment for years so when the dispatcher picks up, I give her a speech I’ve practiced until I know it by heart.

“My name is Sandra Moran,” I say. “I’m a runner (of course) and while attempting to urinate in the woods, I found a dead body. I’m pretty sure from the evidence that it’s a Mafia hit. I was careful not to contaminate the scene. Please send the police. This is my location ...”

The next stage in my plan is crowd control. Again, television has prepared me for a small crowd of curious onlookers, so I’m fully prepared to stand on the trail and, as other runners go by, say things like, “Keep moving. There’s nothing to see here.” Or, if I get tired of that, I can also say, “There’s not a dead body or anything in the woods so just go on about your business.”

As you can see, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to handle this situation. I have a great plan. But the problem is, I’ve never had cause to use it. And I’m not convinced with my aging knees and bad back, I ever will. So, the other day while running, I came up with a new plan. Rather than looking for dead bodies, I’m going to hire myself out and pretend to be dead so that other runners can find me. Now, mind you, this plan is just in the beginning stages and I haven’t had enough trail-time to cement all the details, but when I do, you can be sure you’ll be the first to know. Or who knows, maybe you’ll be the first to find me.

Until next week, Moran …out.