Run For Your Life: A Compelling and Witty Short by Nora Hahn


Guest Writer: Nora Hahn, Houston, Texas

I'm an old broad, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Well, I'm not THAT old -- still under sixty -- but getting there fast. And in all honesty, time has not been kind to me. I've never been that pretty, and I have a paunch that refuses to go away (I call it my "bread baby"). I have a decent physique, but some "sculpting," shall we say, is definitely in order. 

As I prepare to attend my 40th-anniversary high school reunion later this year (why in the heck am I even thinking about going?), I feel under-confident. Have I reached all my goals? No. I wish I had traveled more. I never learned to play the piano. I have yet to achieve the title of "Vice President" at work. Do I wish I'd done some things differently? Absolutely. I should have fed my kids more vegetables and fruit. I should have taught my dog not to beg for food from the table. I should have stopped nagging my husband about cleaning out the garage. 

But I did do one thing right: I kept trying new things. I started acting in community theater plays. I took flute lessons. And I found out I love to run.

About six years ago, I figured I'd been eating too many chips & queso when I read my doctor's notes on my annual physical: "She is very well-nourished." I knew then it was time for a change. 

I've never been much of an athlete, and my coordination is terrible, but I can put one foot in front of the other. So, one morning I threw on some shorts and a pair of tennies and ran around the block. 

Bad idea. I live in Texas and summer was approaching, and during that first run I almost passed out from the heat. It was brutal. But I kept going a little further every day, and soon I was able to run around the block three times -- roughly a 5K -- without passing out. When winter rolled around, I slipped into some leggings and threw on a hat, and I could withstand the cold weather during my runs. I went further and picked up the pace, and soon I was running 10Ks and half marathons.

Running makes me feel like I score a little victory every day. Can you do this? Run three miles in the blazing Texas heat? I don't think so. Not at 59. Can you jog 13 miles without stopping? I dare you. 

Well, maybe you can. I've discovered that lots of runners can run circles around me. But even on days when I feel like I can hardly make it down the street, if I keep picking 'em up and putting 'em down, eventually I can make it five miles. 

Last weekend, I ran my first marathon. It wasn't pretty, but the high-fives and free hugs along the way were worth it. And you know what? I came in towards the end of the pack, but I did it. I got the “Finisher” medal. And I'll bet 99.5% of the other people I went to high school with can't even touch their toes (or anyone else’s toes, for that matter). 

I can't afford a facelift, and I may not have a bank account full of cash, but dammit, I can run a marathon. And my legs look pretty good. And hell, I get to go to some amazing places to run amongst the most beautiful scenery in the country.

My point is this: under confidence can be a real buzz kill. Believing that everyone else has accomplished more than you will eat at your psyche. But there's always something you can do that your friends can't. Find what that is and do it. Maybe you can bake pies better than Martha Stewart, or plan amazing vacations better than Rick Steves, or even arrange your dresser drawers better than Marie Kondo. Whatever it is, you can do something every day that is medal-worthy.

For me, being a "finisher" is damned good. And just wait 'til you see my legs. 

Written by Nora Hahn. 2019

Edited by Sarah McKinnon