Oh say can you see by the Dawn’s early light…
Here we go. This is the start of the four-mile Turkey run in Batavia, Illinois. And I am not a runner. I am 20 pounds overweight. Okay, 50 pounds depending on who you ask. I am short.
She’s a brick—house…mighty, mighty…
I started running in 1996 when I lived with my then-husband on an Air Force base in Columbus, Mississippi. Friends of our’s—real runners with those legs, arms, control, focus, discipline—got us started. There was not much else to do.
So we traveled to surrounding towns on the weekends and did runs. My best time was the Heart run in Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, where I finished with a just under 11 minute mile pace.
My worst was the Elvis Presley 5K in Memphis where I barely stumbled across the finish line with a 12 and 1/2 minute per mile pace. We had gone out the night before on Bourbon Street, and I was suffering from not only a hangover but had remnants of cigarette smoke floating around my lungs.
Did I mention I was a smoker?
I’m a joker. I’m a smoker. I’m a midnight toker. I sure don’t want to hurt no one.
It was August in Memphis and extremely hot, even at eight a.m. That was a difficult run. I remember thinking how fitting it would be to die of a heart attack right around poor Elvis’ home.
What the hell was I doing running?
I did a few more runs, and then the petered out. We were back in civilization and I had too many other things on my mind. We were headed to San Fran so my then-husband could start flying for United Airlines.
I had my first child while we were living outside of San Francisco. He turned one year old in August of 2001. We were moving up to the Chicago area the day of September 11th. I was zipping up my bag to go to the airport when one of my running friends called and told me to turn on the television—I wasn’t going anywhere.
Fast forward a decade.
Another child. A divorce. Single parenting. Another marriage and more children. I am running again.
My first run back was the very same Turkey Trot in Batavia, Illinois four years ago. My third child was eight months old. Let’s just say I finished it. Fourteen and a half minute pace. I walked a good portion of it.
I have this image in my mind of my life during my divorce and as a single parent. For so long, I was afloat in some body of water, struggling, desperately trying to keep my head above the surface while holding my two sons. And people kept passing me in boats.
It was frustrating.
Then a hand appeared and pulled me up into his boat. I was wet, shivering to the bone and tired, but so happy be safe with my children.
But it has not all been smooth sailing. Blended families, children and more children—he was thrown into instant parenthood and instant marriage, we have had to work hard.
I was pregnant with another child for my next run. Again, I was happy to finish. The previous year, I finished while pushing my then three-year old in a jogging stroller. At one point towards the end of the four-mile run, I contemplated stopping and curling up on the side of the track—I was exhausted.
Those runs were not pretty. But I finished them.
Yesterday, I did my fourth Turkey Trot. When I picked up my race packet the night before, there it was: ‘Karen Moon. Age 44 Female’.
Holy cow. Forty-four years old with four children ranging from 20 months old to 13 years old and in my second marriage. This was not the life I envisioned. How did I get here?
I think it burns my sense of truth…To hear me shouting at my youth..I need a way to sort it out.
I started the run and told myself that I was not stopping. That I was going to run (okay jog) the entire way. The only way I was not going to finish that race involved an ambulance.
Did I leave my life to chance…Or did I make you fucking dance?
In January, it will be 20 years since my father died. He was 52 years old. He went out to get milk on the morning of January 6th, 1994, had a massive heart attack, and died instantaneously. When they did the autopsy, they said he had a first heart attack a couple months before the fatal one. Which would have made it right about now twenty years ago.
And we danced, and we cried, and we laughed and had a really really really good time, take my hand, let’s have a blast…
Everyone comes to crossroads in life. Which path do you choose? Do you take the easy way out?
Or do you choose to dance?
The mind is so powerful.] I ran the entire four miles yesterday without stopping. I listened to my playlist of music. When I tired of that, I repeated a mantra ‘As Above, So Below’ – the title of a book I am reading and the subject of my next post.
I talked with my dad. I told him that I am not sure what tomorrow brings. I am not sure if I will be dead in two months time. The only thing that I am sure of is this moment.
And I choose to dance.
I will not, I will not give a damn who watches me
I will live, I will live liberate the fox in me
I will be the disco ball, freak and give my all…
*Playlist thanks to: ‘Running Down a Dream‘ by Tom Petty, ‘Brick House’ by the Commodores, ‘The Joker’ by Steve Miller, ‘Global Concepts’ by Robert DeLong and ‘And We Danced’ by Macklemore
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